October 20, 2014

H.G. Wells on Editors.

No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft.

--H.G. Wells (1866-1946)


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October 19, 2014

The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, 1858, by John Quidor


The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, 1858, by John Quidor (1801-1881) Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

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Answering Interrogatories.

A couple of years ago, my friend and Renaissance man Ray Ward at his superb the (new) legal writer flagged a nicely done nuts-and-bolts resource for answering written interrogatories by Manhattan's Judge Gerald Lebovits which appeared in the January 2012 New York State Bar Association Journal.

What? You've seen this post before?

Good. It's one of our many "evergreen" pieces on working and practicing law. We will post it again and again until maybe we start hearing and reading reports that exemplary standards and uncannily high quality lawyering are taking over the profession--and it's all that clients, GCs, lawyers, judges and law school profs ever talk about.

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October 18, 2014

Has the NRDC Gone Hollywood?

NRDC's Hinerfeld: "They win lawsuits."

Several years ago, I wrote "Has the NRDC Gone Hollywood?" at the request of Environmental Protection Magazine, where I had a bi-monthly column and feature commitment. Based on my trip to the Robert Redford house in Santa Monica, California, and my interviews with environmental activists and strategists with offices there, "Has the NRDC Gone Hollywood?" is about white-hat environmental attorneys at the Los Angeles office of the well-regarded Natural Resources Defense Council, a national public interest lobby now in its 45th year. I'm told the piece is still hip and funny. We are not certain if it was ever linked to by this blog. So I am sharing this with you now.

Has the NRDC Gone Hollywood?

By J. Daniel Hull

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Daniel Hinerfeld, the young, ultra-articulate director of communications for the Southern California office of the Natural Resources Defense Council ("NRDC"), agreed to let me drop by in mid-September to interview him and some other NRDC staffers so I could write this installment.

I was slightly nervous about visiting. It was a little unseemly, I thought, for me to mingle brazenly with the Los Angeles office of the smartest, hippest, and arguably most successful public interest group in the world. I grew up in the Midwest, and as an environmental lawyer, I have represented chiefly companies -- some quite large and many of them processors, transporters, or storers of fossil fuels.

While several clients have been laudably progressive in their environmental quality management, more than a few of them allegedly violated their National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits or were driven into consent orders under the Clean Water Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or Resource Conservation Recovery Act.

Plenty troubling was one ex-client: an operator of 50 underground storage tanks outside of Pittsburgh with a history of alleged groundwater contamination violations and a compliance program which, in the good years, consisted of sporadically checking properties to see if the ground had caught fire.

So, I wasn't really sure if I had the cultural, political, or professional qualifications to visit the NRDC's Los Angeles office and write this article. But the energetic Hinerfeld was quick to point out that, as a single issue, protection of the environment often transcends politics and culture wars.

"It's really a bi-partisan issue," he noted. "Everyone wants clean air and clean water." Hinerfeld, of course, is right. Although it's true that environmental compliance costs on occasion have put good companies out of business and good people out of jobs, strictly speaking, we all -- Republicans, Democrats, Independents, whatever -- want a healthy planet.

Continue reading...

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October 17, 2014

Tarrytown Dutch

Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, New York

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Photoshop This: Say it ain't so, Tom Corbett.

Since 2011, a former law partner of mine, Tom Corbett, a first-rate trial lawyer and past U.S. Attorney, has been the Republican governor of Pennsylvania. Not bad, considering that Pennsylvania, like its neighbor New Jersey, has been steadily morphing from GOP to Democratic in the last 25 years. In the November 2010 election, Corbett was able to take control back from Democrats, who had enjoyed 8 years under the popular Ed Rendell. Now running for his second term in a close race, Corbett is again hardworking and people-savvy as a campaigner. He generally picks topflight staff for everything. So he is way too smart to let this happen, via the Philadelphia Daily News: "Smiling black woman next to Corbett on his website was Photo-shopped." According the Corbett campaign, others in the offending image were photoshopped, too. Not the best damage control, either, guys. Finally, not too good picture of you, Governor. Bad week, I'd say.

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October 15, 2014

October 15, 1764

On this day in 1764, Edward Gibbon, historian and Member of Parliament, saw friars singing in the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter in Rome. The experience inspires him to write what would become the controversial History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. His best reason for Rome's fall: Romans had become decadent and soft.


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October 14, 2014

The Holy Surprise of The 12 Rules of Client Service.

Our world-famous 12 Rules of Client Service. Revel in their wisdom. Ignore them at your peril. Teach them to your coworkers. Argue about them. Improve them.

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To: Dudes. It's October 14 and after Labor Day. No khaki pants. Or suits.

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No bueno.

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October 13, 2014

Stormy Monday: Good morning, Buckeyes!

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October 11, 2014

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Chiem

Melrose Market, Seattle, 5:00 pm, October 11, 2014. Officiant: John Daniel Hull

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October 10, 2014

Si'ahl or Chief Seattle (1780-1866)


Continue reading...

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A Nod to Old Blighty

Ray Davies cries "Victoria", Glastonbury 2010

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October 09, 2014

Doing business in America: The informality, the openness, the feigned familiarity, the gall.


People will not wait to be introduced and will even begin to speak with strangers as they stand in a line, sit next to each other at an event, or gather in a crowd.

--Kwintessential, a London-based consultancy on what to expect in America

One of my best Brit friends is a City (central London) lawyer who lives part of the time in Kent. He and his wife live in a very old village which is about the same population it was 1000 years ago: about 200. To a degree, and at only certain times, I like making him uncomfortable with my American colonial manners, and in some situations work at it pretty hard. In most respects, however, I do as my European hosts do wherever I am and wherever they take me. But there are exceptions. For one thing, I refuse to park my friendliness and open curiosity about people, places and things. I can't help it. Even when I am trying to tone things down.

Like the time I upset everyone by chatting up my Kent friend's butcher early one quiet Saturday morning while the butcher was cutting up something that we would prepare later for dinner. Just the three of us. No one else was in the store. It was quite tiny but had a prosperous look. The butcher was clearly proud of his shop. I started asking the butcher about the store, how business and even his hat, which I complimented him on. Which took me only about 30 seconds. The butcher looked a bit frantic, said nothing and turned to my friend for help or an explanation. The butcher got both. My friend quickly said something like "He's an American...very friendly you know...what are we to do?"

It's true. American manners drives Brits, Germans and most northern Europeans nuts: American informality, openness, curiosity non-stop cheerfulness and friendliness. Over on their side of the pond, even a very self-assured and accomplished southern England executive, consultant, lawyer or other professional, for example, would rather choke to death than talk to strangers in a subway or ask how to get to a bank or money exchange. But wide-open is what Americans are and have always been; if you want to do business in the U.S., you need to step up. Or at least tolerate us. When we Yanks are over there, you guys can complain and be mortified all you want. And you do.

There is no end to multi-cultural etiquette primers on "doing business internationally", and most of them are of course drivel. The best advice in a nutshell? Go where you need to go, and watch your American hosts carefully as you work--but do "go native". Be prepared to amp yourself up just a notch. The website of UK-based Kwintessential does a nice job of laying out the overall business atmosphere here in a few sentences:

American friendliness and informality is legendary. People will not wait to be introduced and will even begin to speak with strangers as they stand in a line, sit next to each other at an event, or gather in a crowd.

Americans are direct in the way they communicate. They value logic and linear thinking [note: not sure I agree with foregoing clause] and expect people to speak clearly and in a straightforward manner. Time is money in the U.S. so people tend to get to the point quickly and are annoyed by beating around the bush.

Communicating virtually (i.e. through email, SMS, Skype, etc) is very common with very little protocol or formality in the interaction. If you are from a culture that is more subtle in communication style, try not to be insulted by the directness.

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October 08, 2014

Irving: On Writing Well.

Half my life is an act of revision.

--John Irving (1942-)


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October 07, 2014

Rule One: Represent Only Clients You "Like".

Rule One: Represent Only Clients You "Like". Life's short. The profession is demanding enough. From our annoying but dead-on accurate, world-famous, wise and must-follow 12 Rules of Client Service.


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Ben Bradlee Story #2: "What did you do in WWII, Ben?"

In our series, and also from the June 6, 2012 edition of Vanity Fair:

in 1984, the Washington Post published data it had obtained about a satellite payload, and some officials in the Reagan administration were not pleased. Managing editor Bradlee's patriotism was publicly questioned. There were even suggestions that at one time he had worked for the Kremlin. Bradlee, like his friend John Kennedy, was a World War II veteran who had served in the Navy. One right wing writer made the mistake of asking Bradlee "What did you do during WWII?". Bradlee's response began:

Dear Asshole:

I suspect I did more for my country in the war than you did. I spent four years in destroyers in the Pacific Ocean. My theatre ribbon has 10 battle stars on it.

That's just for starters.

Bradlee receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 20, 2013.

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October 05, 2014

Pantheon: Sarah Silverman.

"I don't set out to offend or shock, but I also don't do anything to avoid it."


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Junior Walker: "Shoot 'em 'for he run now."

For all you prisoners of rock 'n' roll.

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October 04, 2014

Storytelling: "Show me the glint of light on broken glass."

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

--Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

Chekov in Melikhovo, Russia, 1897

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October 03, 2014

Want to find out what pros think of your unpublished novel?

Double Bridge Publishing Company, Inc.. Double Bridge is a new online publishing service based in Washington, D.C. launched last month by Florida businessman Richard O'Brien. Double Bridge uses a crowdsourcing model to identify, evaluate, edit, market and publish fiction and nonfiction works of published, unpublished and new authors. It was established to get the best writing to an eager reading public without the usual bottlenecks caused by entrenched literary agent-publishing house regimes that affirmatively limit the number of titles published each year.

Unlike most established brick and mortar publishers, Double Bridge relies on crowdsourcing for much of its publishing functions, and provides valuable review services, close to cost, to writers and the public. A manuscript is reviewed for a small fee by several qualified reviewers who help decide the next steps for the work. Double Bridge has over 100 reviewers to critique and edit manuscripts quickly, usually within 24 hours, to get the process moving in the right direction. If you indeed know writers who are seeking publication of their work, please let me know who they are or have them contact me by our blog, by Messenger or by emails. Just find me. See also www.doublebridgepublishing.com.

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Prisoner of Rock 'n' Roll: The Eagle Flies on Friday.

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Over-Communicate: Bombard, Copy and Confirm.

Over-Communicate: Bombard, Copy Confirm. It's from our annoying but dead-on accurate 12 Rules. Our eternal debt to Jay Foonberg for this rule. We just changed the words.


Over-Communicate--just don't spazz it up too much.

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October 02, 2014

Authentic and American: Ben Bradlee Story #1

Earlier this week we weighed in briefly on the life of former Washington Post managing editor Bill Bradlee, now 93 and ailing. Bradlee served at the Post during a long and often-turbulent period in American history (1968-1991). There are lots of great stories about Bradlee--who was outspoken, forceful, combative and funny. Many highlight verbal or written comebacks Bradlee made to those who made unfriendly or hostile remarks about the Post or him. During a spat with the publisher of another newspaper, Bradlee once wrote:

To the Publisher:

Editors do run the risk of appearing arrogant if they choose to disagree with anyone who calls them arrogant.

You sound like one of those publishers who aims to please his pals in the community and give the what they want.

No one will call you arrogant that way. No one will call you a newspaperman, either.

Source: Vanity Fair, June 6, 2012

Bradlee and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward circa 1980.

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October 01, 2014

Desperately Seeking: Who is the Blonde Woman who first appears at 2:30 in the clip?

Guess I'm hooked. Who is she? She would have been born around 1956 at latest, I think.

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September 30, 2014

No closure on Maggie's farm.

Well, I try my best to be just like I am.
But everybody wants you to be just like them
They say sing while you slave--and I just get bored.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

--Maggie's Farm, Robert Allen Zimmerman (1941- )

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September 29, 2014

American Authentic: Ben Bradlee is 93, ailing and irreplaceable.

You had a lot of Cuban or Spanish-speaking guys in masks and rubber gloves, with walkie-talkies, arrested in the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at 2:00 in the morning. What the hell were they in there for? What were they doing?

--Ben Bradlee

If you read this blog and don't know who Ben Bradlee is, you should, and so we are going pretend that you know anyway. Tons has been written about Bradlee (and will continue to be written about him) due to his colorful management style, years as a reporter, close friendship with President Kennedy and celebrated mentor-editor role in the two years of coverage of the Watergate break-in of June 1972. Patrician yet famously profane and often hilariously bawdy in his language around the newsroom, Bradlee as Managing Editor of the Washington Post (1968-1991) supported reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward in their reporting on Watergate which, with Bradlee playing stage manager at the Post, prematurely ended Richard Nixon's presidency. Nixon resigned in August of 1974. There are lots of interesting stories down through the years about Bradlee himself--but lately the news is sad. Based on a recent C-Span interview with Bradlee's wife, soulmate and fellow Post star Sally Quinn, Politico notes that Bradlee, now 93, is suffering from dementia, sleeping most days away in a hospice, and apparently steadily declining. When Bradlee does leave us, there will be no one left in American journalism or letters who is even remotely like him. We will start today rounding up a few of the better stories. Bradlee was a storyteller with a powerful intellect, and he was funny as hell.

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Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, circa 1971

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September 28, 2014

Sunday: "There's a man down there. Might be your man..."

Ain't no way in the world I'm going out that front door.

--Sonny Boy Williamson, Marshall Sehorn and Elmore James

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September 26, 2014

America's Swan Song in South Vietnam: Don't miss Rory Kennedy's new documentary.

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Last Friday night I saw Rory Kennedy's documentary Last Days in Viet Nam at the E Street Cinema, in Northwest Washington, D.C. a few blocks from the White House. It combines new interviews with recently found film footage (for real, no hype) shot in Saigon in the spring of 1975 when U.S. military and civilian staff coped with a well-meaning but half delusional American ambassador and the wrenching question of who would/would not be evacuated out on U.S. flights as the North Vietnamese army moved triumphantly into the city. Nicely done, apolitical and poignant. Boomers--most of us were in our 20s at the time--will like it especially. I've met and spent a little time with the film's quiet, hardworking and unassuming director-producer. A full-time filmmaker with several fine documentaries under her belt, Kennedy, 45, is the youngest child of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY).

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September 23, 2014

Go somewhere different. Meet someone different.

Aldeburgh, Suffolk, East Anglia. Always a festival.


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September 22, 2014

More Germans.

The most civilized nations of modern Europe issued from the woods of Germany; in the rude institutions of those Barbarians we [received] the original principles of our present laws and manners.

--Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter IX (1782)


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An Equinox on Stormy Monday: A German author checks in.

It is hard to find this track of the divine in the midst of this life we lead.

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927)


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September 21, 2014

Pantheon: Audrey Tautou.

Source: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe (2011)

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September 20, 2014

Hôtel Costes, Paris, 239 rue Saint-Honoré.

All things in excess.

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