September 13, 2017

Speaking of The Weather: One Night. One Person. Season Four.

Some of you are familiar with One Night, One Person, the program to help homeless outdoor sleepers on the 30 or so coldest nights a year when hypothermia thresholds are exceeded in certain American and European cities. This is year 4 of One Night, One Person. Cleveland lawyer Peter Friedman and I started it in the winter of 2014-2015. It's really simple. Bear with me a moment.

In short, it's a keep-people-alive initiative for the coldest nights.

As an (a) Eagle Scout, (b) Lifelong Camper and (c) All-Weather Philanderer, I assure you that sleeping in cold or the snow is not all that fun. At times, it's not even a choice. Jack London and Hans Christian Andersen wrote enduring stories about death from hypothermia. Happens above freezing temps, too. So consider more than ever (and right now) One Night, One Person. Instructions below.

You're a Yuppie, professional or other generic dweeb between the ages of 22 and 82. You live in towns like New York City, Philly, Boston, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Wilmington, DC or Chicago. You may live in the suburbs or in a downtown neighborhood of these cities. But if you work during the day in a downtown area of any of them, you and yours will go forth and do this:

1. Pick out and ask a homeless woman or man what articles of warm clothing she or he needs that you already have at home or in storage--thermal gloves, wool scarfs, warm hats and beanies, big sweaters, winter coats, thermal underwear, socks, etc.

2. Ask just one person at a time.

3. Agree on a time to meet (preferably at the same place) later that day or the next day.

4. Find the winter stuff you have at home or in storage.

5. Bring said stuff to the homeless woman or man as agreed.

6. Nine out of ten times, your new friend will be there when you show up.

7. Wait for forecasts of the next super-cold night--and repeat.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2017

Caravaggio. Quality. Endurance.

Quality has a yen for resurrection. It endures; it repeats. Quality has great legs.


Above: Caravaggio's "The Cardsharps", c. 1594. Oil on canvas, 37" x 52". Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2017

St. Genevieve: "I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come..."

Get down on your knees and pray! I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come.

Sainte Genevieve (422-512) saved Parisians from the Huns, the legend goes, in 451. People had started to flee Paris in anticipation of the invasion led by Attila--but stopped when she told them she had a vision that the Huns would not enter Paris. She became the city's patron saint. In 1928, a grateful Paris erected a statue to her on the Pont de la Tournelle (now about 400 years old). Genevieve is facing east, the direction from which the Huns approached. She is also said to have converted Clovis, king of the pagan Franks, to Christianity. If you walk from the Right Bank to the Left Bank near the Ile Saint Louis, you walk right under her, with Notre Dame on your right.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2017

John Keats (1795-1821): All Ye Need.

Ode On A Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.


Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

Posted by JD Hull at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2017

Gonzoid Specimen # 1 from Duke Chanticleer 1975

Duke Chronicle piece 10/22/74
Duke Chanticleer piece August 1975
Original WAC/P? blog post 10/22/16

People don't want to accept that about themselves, that they're part of the general rot, and they react to that angrily, which is a very pure reaction, and it's good that it happened in a sense. For even the most politicized people here at Duke, they share a common dream, and that dream has to do with finding an interesting profession, a stable job that will allow them to rise on the ladder, a marriage that's stable and sustains them for a long time, a sheltered kind of environment where they're protected against not only misfortune, but surprise. There's that certainty of waking up and knowing that that day's not going to be different from the day before — it's all part of that myth. And here comes this nut on stage with his Wild Turkey swinging from his hips telling them not only is that image crap, filled with rot and corruption, but it ain't gonna happen. No matter how much you invest and how many chips you put on the table and how many graduate schools you attend and how many teachers you suck up to and how many unintelligible theses you write, it ain't gonna happen. Because somewhere at the center of this society something is broken, and it's not gonna be repaired by dreaming a myth or believing in a myth. When someone presents that kind of truth it's so incomprehensible it's really tough to deal with.

— From November, 1974, interview with

Bernard Lefkowitz, journalist and visiting Duke professor.

Reporter, ri por ter, n. One who reports; a
member of a newspaper staff whose duty it is
to give an account of the proceedings of
public meetings and entertainments, collects
information respecting interesting or
important events, and the like.

— Webster, not a Duke professor or a journalist.

gonzoid specimen number 1

Page Auditorium. October 22, about nine-thirty. This will be hard.

Leaving with the chaos vibes I kick a paper airplane that somehow got long-armed to the back rows and wonder how this will be done. Cannot find Dean Griffith but talk briefly to badly shaken Denise Creech in Flowers Lounge. Leave the poor girl alone. Deliberately shirk my responsibility to COVER (the whole) STORY and go with Jane to the CI
where people jokingly console me about having to resurrect some front page fire from the ashes of this whiskeyed journalist's "speech." I make notes. My head has been spinning all evening long from this darvon Pickens gave me for the eye infection and it makes the two beers go twice as far, so am roughly in Hunter's shape when I get around
to mounting two flights of stairs, open a closed door that says "Editor" on it. I am not up to this.

"Where have you been anyway?" David asks. The bad stare is justified, of course. I have been fucking around in the Cambridge Inn instead of transforming myself into the relentless amphetemined lemming that all good reporters are. He is used to this kind of flaming imcompetence on the Chronicle, only not so carefully planned and executed. Steve
is staring blankly at the floor, thinking, hopefully, and some Union heavies are assembled for their official backstage report to the press. Tried to find Dean Griffith, I explain, talked to Denise there a little — uh, hi Denise — but mainly went to the CI. Didn't want to go into it, really, that dinner at the pits, my eye, the coffee to kill the darvon, the speech bummer and now these beers were making me ill. My eye throbbed and I wanted to go to bed.

Steve finally lifts his head. "Look, it's manageable, it's manageable. Dan does the speech story, David, you do the Union side of it. We'll run two stories."

It is 10:30. Leave with my notebook for the managing editor's cubby hole to start typing, pause briefly to notice perhaps for the hundredth time that magic-markered gem scribbled over the drinking fountain: 'The only dope worth shooting is Nixon." At least four years old, it is — even if half-serious — a vestige of the political pretensions the Chronicle once had or pretended to have. Maybe they have never been more than nice, introverted suburban kids exchanging polo shirts and Bass Weejuns for workshirts and sandals (but with tweed in the closet), their cocktail party civility for a little rhetoric, but they could be very serious people. It was not just the political tone then, wrought through tough editorials on everything from the war, sexism and racism to scum in the garden pond, but the corresponding energies. At three in the morning in 1971 I once watched in horror as the managing editor penned a steamy half-edit essentially accusing UNC football coach Bill Dooley of murdering that player who dropped dead while running around the track. Something which could never happen now, the country, Duke students and so the Chronicle having "mellowed out." Everybody but Thompson: "No one has beaten him as bad as he deserves, and no one really comprehends how evil he is. The horror of it all is that he reflects the rot in all of us."

I grab a fat stack of eight-and-a-half by eleven yellow copy paper out of a drawer. Up at third floor Flowers the stuff is everywhere, strewn on the floor, tacked up on walls and slipped into typewriter carriages for memos between staff people. The first time I used it was early in 1971 for an article on the new West campus tennis courts. The piece is short, not very good and (to let me know this) crammed under the Spectrum section on page two. The assistant managing editor that night was very nice about it, maybe too kind, since the short messy, poorly worded blurb
would have sent most newspaper vets screaming down the stairs, doubled up in hysterics, and into the CI for sanctuary. But he printed the damn thing anyway.... Along with the yellow, the mad urgency of the NYT wire machine though not cacaphonous chugga-chugga which, being both frantic and seductive, is the perfect metaphor for
newspaper work. It never stops, and the mind tends to look back into it as you think and type. Jane, from whom night editing has robbed a night's sleep, suggests some lines. "Beer cans and an occasional joint passed
among the rows of Page as Thompson..."

Around 11 :00 Harriet from the Tar Heel calls and asks what's happening "officially" between Thompson, his agency and the Union. Tell her to talk to David or Rick or John Miller or anyone but me. I am much more obsessed with capturing on this yellow paper what happened at something I actually saw but cannot comprehend. Anne mercifully
shows up with beer and wine, John Miller stops in. Rick caiis. Spending the day with Thompson has taken its awful toll, shoving him to the brink of a minor nervous breakdown. Terrible, terrible, he moans, the Doctor started right in by ripping the headrest of the passenger seat of his Volvo, kept stopping for beers and jabbering about his need for "medicine." Could I lash together a story on this? Am I even going to attempt if? he asks.


Close to midnight there is another disturbance. A Chronicle hangout type comes in to put the mock moves on Jane, half-asleep over a typewriter. I politely tell this asshole to go away and shut the door; some screechy Bitch is croaking for my story so she can go home. Remember that guy from freshman year, when we were both new reporters and he was a YAFer with short hair, a big car and a rich father? A long-locked "radical" now, he is still tainted with that garrish piece of Detroit iron and, like many of these paper people, tends to choose his women, like the Bitch, and good buddies from Chroniclites. This practice inevitably turns up in love affairs, friendships, cliques, love triangles, frail egos and much fear and loathing on the Chronicle. Newspapers tend to breed incestuous offspring. Many new children die off quickly, the rest left to carry on comraderies and plot the editorships, ineptly pimping freshman reporters for their edit council vote in the Spring. Very arm-pitsy, so there are many good reasons not to attend edit council meetings or go on the retreats. God, drinking a lot of wine in the woods with a bunch of Chronicle people has always seemed about as exciting as playing poker with a bunch of nuns. "It's just another place at Duke for boys
and girls to meet other boys and girls," an ex-Chronicle heavy once told me. If they weren't so damn close socially —but professionally instead, he added, the Chronicle could be a really great collegepaper. Maybe so, but at this hour, who cares?

My notes are hard to read, eye hurts. Where is Thompson now? Never occurred to me to hunt him down for a statement. Is that Thompson aficianado Morris getting an interview, like he said he would, feeding the Doctor Wild Turkey and stuffing a microphone in his face? It's late, and the repetition of images has no mercy on the deadened mind. The Thompson movie keeps attacking, reeling away those jerky movements and gritty speed-laced squawks
of a whiskey man fished out of a hotel bathtub, hauled over to Page, and thrown like meat to the wired gargoyles, restless and knowing that anyone this tanked up, this crazy, is easy prey, naked lunch. Those stupid Union people, they're responsible for this — a very bad set-up, ambush, really. Suggested column for Friday's paper:

"Poetic justice and Hunter Thompson would both insist the person whose idea it was to cast the journalist in a podium/stage/lecture setting in Page Wednesday night be flogged into unconsciousness, carted out to Hillsboro in a wagon and stretched in two by sinewy field beasts, then ground into fine pinkish powder for snorting purposes..."

Finished at 1:00. I like the story. David's been in for thirty minutes and Annie N. begins to type mine, dutifully checking my messy copy for errors and suggesting changes. Cod, forgot about finishing up the edit pages but, great, Larry has cropped the Rockefeller picture for the Lewis column, Ralph, the paste-up man, will do the rest. Do
not worry, these are very competent people up here tonight. Relax.

1:30. The story is ready. After changing the pasteup a bit and correcting a few typos we have a four-column two-deck headline space to fill — tastefully. This takes two hours of rummaging through tired brains. Steve, evidently, still has great deal of energy. He is over there insisting that night editor Zipp's suggestion of "Thompson, Crowd Run Amuck" does not cut the mustard, is not journalistically or aesthetically pleasing. This starts people making up weird headlines, laughing over them. People are giddy. Around 3:00 the right head emerges: "Thompson, Audience Clash in Page Chaos." Am amazed by Steve's meticulous quest when no one really cares any longer.

3:00. Walking around, drinking coffee, doing nothing really. I watch Steve and Zipp do national news heads and jump pages. Ralph has gone home, Zipp is about to — he has a test in six hours. My body is numb but the head still a grey circus of the Page Chaos as I stare at the too-familiar-now words and pictures people will see tomorrow, while I am
still asleep. Paper goes to Mebane and I to Buchanan Avenue, exhausted. But there is no falling off so I read fifty or sixty pages of Steve's On the Campaign Trail (all the while the demon wire machine keeps beating through me) until the sun comes up and there is battered, reluctant sleep.

Thompson, audience clash in Page chaos

By Dan Hull

"Is there any coherence in this thing? I feel like I'm in a hicking slaughterhouse in Chicago early in the morning."

In a pathetic attempt to slide something coherent through his staccato mumble, Gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was met last night at Page Auditorium with a bevy of jeers, curses, and a request by the Duke University Union to leave the stage.

According to Union spokespersons, it was expected that the slightly inebriated Thompson would drive away the audience if his talk turned out particularly monotonous.

Frustrated by the dialogue between the disjointed speaker and the belligerent audience, some did leave while others, many of whom were as well-oiled as Thompson, remained until the journalist was escorted off the stage.

Beer and joints

Beer cans and an occasional joint passed among the rows of the auditorium as Thompson, forty minutes late an looking more like a lanky tourist than a radical journalist, poked across the stage to the podium.

Slouching there, Thompson began: "I have no speech, nothing to say. I feel like a piece of meat," referring to his marketing by his lecture agency.

Having tossed aside the index cards on which were written questions from the audience, Thompson received few serious oral questions from the audience.

"What I'd really like to be in is an argimient," he said.

When a baby cried Thompson miunbled, "That's the most coherent fucking thing I've heard all night."

In most cases, serious questions and Thompson's responses to them were inaudible or incoherent.

Visibly put off by the belligerent Duke audience whom he repeatedly referred to as "beer hippies," Thompson was most relaxed and clear when talking about Richard Nixon.

"Nobody's beaten him as bad as he deserves," Thompson emphasized. "And nobody really comprehends how evil he is. The real horror of it all is that he reflects the rot in all of us."

"Hell, we elected him. The bastard won by the greatest majority since George Washington."

Thompson then urged the audience to "go out and vote."

Maintaining that the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago "kicked off an era," Thompson recalled somewhat disjointedly that before going there he took along his motorcycle helmet left over from his Hell's Angels days. (In the
sixties he rode with the Angels in order to research a book on the group).

"After I got there, I found out why I had brought it with me," he said.

During the forty minute encounter [he was asked to leave at about 9:30), Thompson commented briefly on other subjects.

The 1976 Democratic Presidential candidate: "Mondale."

Terry Sanford's possibly candidacy: "I hope not."

Gary Hart, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Colorado "He'll win, but he's a sell-out."

England: "A coal mine in the Atlantic. Next to a potato farm."

When asked a serious but largely inaudible question concerning the rise of consumer politics, Thompson yanked the shotgun-style microphone around the podium attempting to focus it in the direction of the questioner, a good 25 yards away.

"Violence is always sort of a self-satisfying thing," he added.

It was at this point, reportedly, that the Union people began to seriously considered pulling Thompson from the stage. Asked by someone whether the Rockefeller family was encouraging
"canabalism in South America," an incredulous Thompson tossed up the remainder of his Wild Turkey onto the velvet curtain behind him, and scattered the rest of his unused index cards.

Amidst jeering and confusion. Union program advisor Linda Simmons escorted Thompson off stage. Afterwards Thompson talked for an hour with about 100 students in the garden behind Page Auditorium.

Post mortems on Thompson's abbreviated Duke debut varied.

One rather inebriated disciple was overheard saying, "I thought it was great, anyway. Just great."

But another student remarked, "I'm totally embarrassed — ^for everyone."

A third student commented, "This was fantastic — guerrilla theater, theater of the
absurd — all in one night. Good times at Duke."

Reality is a crutch for those too weak to face up to drugs.

Duke Chronicle piece 10/22/74
Duke Chanticleer piece August 1975
WAC/P? blog piece 10/22/16

Posted by JD Hull at 04:56 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2017

Thinking on Your Own: The Holy Surprise of a Child's First Look.

He was a loner with an intimate bond to humanity, a rebel who was suffused with reverence. An imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the universe, the locksmith of mysteries of the atom and the universe.

--Walter Issacson, in Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon & Schuster, 2007)

Children come with Imagination. It's standard issue.

--Holden Oliver in 2009

"E" at the beach: Another fresh take.

Try this at home and work: The Holy Surprise of a Child's First Look. Forget for a moment, if you can, about Clients and Paris. This blog is at heart about Quality, Old Verities, and Values--the things no business, government, non-profit group, religion, politician or leader (a) wants to give you or (b) can give you. No, not even family and friends can. You have to find them on your own. Work and Service, whether you are paid for them or not, are inseparable from these things.

At the blog, at our firm, and in our lives, we seek--in the largest sense--serious overachievers, and aficionados of life, past and present: identifying them, learning from them, having them as friends, hiring them and above all, never holding them back. It is often hard to find these people--or even to remember that they once existed. We do, after all, live in a cookie-cutter world. Originality, intuition, authentic spirituality, and even taste are not valued--these traits are often feared and attacked--in most of the West. This is especially true in America, where we continue to be geographically, culturally and (some think) cosmically isolated. The United States, despite its successes, high standard of living and exciting possibilities, has become world headquarters of both moral pretension and dumbing life down. Besides, fresh thinking leads to painful recognitions. It's easier to let something else do the thinking for us.

"Fragmentation" is a word some people (including those with better credentials than the undersigned to write this) have used for decades to describe modern humans all over the world: lots of wonderful, intricate and even elegant pieces--but no whole. So, in our search for coherence, we look for clues. We look to television, advertising, and malls. To work, and to professional organizations. To secondary schools, universities, and any number of religions (none of the latter seem "special"--they say identical intuitive and common sense good things, but just say them differently), and to an array of other well-meaning institutions. In fairness, all of these have their moments (hey, we all like our insular clubs).

And, importantly, we seek answers from others we know and love--family and friends--who have been soaked in the same messages and reveries, who make us feel comfortable with the same choices, values and lives that gnaw at us all in rare moments of clarity and solitude, and who are able to "reassure" us so we can get back "on track".

So what's missing? We think it's Imagination. Children come with Imagination. It's standard issue. Some lucky adults hold onto Imagination, even as it is bombarded with a tricky, confusing, and lob-sided mix of messages favoring mediocrity over quality. Until Imagination becomes a value in and of itself, a lot us will "shuffle off" life on earth without even knowing what happened in the past 80-odd years. We denied ourselves (a) thinking our own thoughts and (b) acting on our own. We would not even fight for these qualities. We would not take chances. We built, embraced and often defended a Cliff's Notes life. We were uninspired, desperate to fit in, and frightened. We "missed it". We missed it All--like drunks who slept through the Super Bowl. Our children, friends and people who respected and loved us even took notes on what we thought, said and did here as "spiritual beings" having a "human experience. They emulated us. That means you and me, Jack. How do you feel about that? Oh well. Next time, maybe?

Which brings us, finally, to Albert Einstein. True, few of us can have Einstein's talent for Western logic, or his IQ. But Einstein's advantage over other physicists may have been that he was a "new soul". He looked at everything as if he were seeing it for the first time. Imagination.

Take work. He approached it from a wellspring of joy. There are, and have been, others like Einstein in that respect. Those are the kind of people we want as friends to inspire us, and as co-workers to solve clients' problems. His IQ and genius is not the point. We'll take an IQ a lot lower than Einstein's (for associates, though, Coif or Law Review would be nice).

Reverence and a child's awe. Imagination. That's the outlook we prize here at WAC? Energy, intensity and creativity always seem to come with it. If it comes with serious brains, we'll take that, too.

From past posts since 2007, and with grateful nods to Samuel John Hazo and Cleveland's Peter B. Friedman.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2017

Emerson and Thompson.

Writing in 1841, Emerson, essayist, poet and deeply spiritual Transcendentalist, is almost derisive about our progress. Hamstrung by tradition, routine and yearnings for safety, we (non-Emersonian mere mortals) cannot or will not grow:

To us, in our lapsed estate, resting, not advancing, resisting, not cooperating with the divine expansion, this growth comes by shocks. We cannot part with our friends. We cannot let our angels go. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in.

We are idolaters of the Old. We do not believe in the riches of the soul, in its proper eternity and omnipresence. We do not believe there is any force in to-day to rival or recreate that beautiful yesterday. We linger in the ruins of the old tent

--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): Essays, First Series, "Compensation" (1841)

Emerson in 1857

Thompson, writing about 130 years later, while covering the turbulent, exhausting contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, including George McGovern's star-crossed campaign against Richard Nixon for the White House, is far more charitable, struggling to be emphatic with 20th century Everyman, and funny, as always--but he seems to reach the same conclusion:

Once they let you get away with running around for ten years like a king hoodlum, you tend to forget now and then that about half the people you meet live from one day to the next in a state of such fear and uncertainty that about half the time they honestly doubt their own sanity. These are not the kind of people who really need to get hung up in depressing political trips. They are not ready for it. Their boats are rocking so badly that all they want to do is get level long enough to think straight and avoid the next nightmare.

--Thompson in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

Thompson circa 2003. He died in 2005.

And what would each of them, Yankee mystic Emerson and unruly, feral Thompson, in mid-2017, think about our progress now? Have we learned to "let our angels go"?

Posted by JD Hull at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2017

Stand-up Guys: Daniel O'Connell, Trial Lawyer.

Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847), the "Liberator of Ireland", led a movement that forced the British to pass the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, allowing Catholics to become members of the British House of Commons. History knows him as a witty, eloquent and formidable politician, and the Member of Parliament for Clare. The English found him infuriating. But O'Connell was first and foremost a consummate and thorough trial lawyer, called to the bar at age 23 in 1798. As a cross-examiner, one modern writer has said, "he had no equal at the Irish bar." And not surprisingly O'Connell was a bit of a showman. In lectures published in 1901, Prof. John L. Stoddard said of him:

He was a typical Irishman of the best stock--wily, witty, eloquent, emotional and magnetic. His arrival in town was often an occasion for public rejoicing. His clever repartees were passed from lip to lip, until the island shook with laughter.

In court, he sometimes kept the spectators, jury, judge and even the prisoner, alternating between tears and roars of merriment. Celtic to the core, his subtle mind knew every trick peculiar to the Irish character, and he divined instinctively the shrewdest subterfuges of a shifty witness.

Daniel O'Connell.gif

Posted by JD Hull at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

Stand-up Guys: John Henry Holliday, Gambler.

John Henry Holliday in 1872.

He despised and, whenever he could, preferred to engage bullies. He had a knee-jerk resistance to following the crowd in anything. He thought for himself. He argued with everyone (including the Earp family) about everything. He liked underdogs.

The Gift of Loyalty, Being There, Standing Up. Nine-tenths of what has been said or written about him, including Hollywood's versions, is hype. Doc Holliday wasn't a great shot, or anything like an artist with that big knife he carried around with him. He didn't kill scores of people. He wasn't drunk 24/7. Not everyone hated or feared him. Yes, he could be as mean as a snake.

But when you clear away the Old West myth, he's still a tragic but compelling and often admirable loner. Biographers do agree that John Henry Holliday (1851-1887) was fiercely loyal and could be counted on to stand up for friends--not just the Earp family--and a few others who might need a bold if flamboyant assist.

To be honest, I wish more lawyers--too many of us are cowards and wimps--had Doc's pluck, his ever-readiness to "be there" for you and his fine madness. Most of us? We don't come by strong character, action or decisiveness naturally. Face it: as a group, we are barely above-average Dorks. We've raised holding back, and even common cowardice, to an acceptable art.

Like many lawyers-to-be, Doc grew up comfortably and was well-educated. He was raised in Georgia as a popular and bright youngster in a close, supportive and fairly well-to-do family in which, among other things, he learned about card games. His clan's fortunes were badly set back, but not destroyed, by the Civil War and the subsequent occupation by Union soldiers.

He started out adulthood in 1872 as a 20-year-old graduate of a fine dental surgery school in Philadelphia. But Holliday caught Tuberculosis from either his stepmother or a patient in his first year of practice. At 22, still the beginning of his dental practice, he was diagnosed as "consumptive"--and told that he had but a few months to live.

This shock, coupled with what some researchers believe was a star-crossed love affair with a first cousin, made Holliday move West for his health. Dentistry quickly took a back seat to gambling. He became a binge-drinking rogue with only a few friends, professional gambler, resident wit, expert womanizer and prankster who was somehow menacing to most of the people he met, even at a weight of around 140 pounds. Although he was clearly an emotional and in some respects volatile man, most reports have him clear-headed, quick-witted and even strangely calm in violent situations the moment they erupted.

This was a bit of Social Critic and Philosopher in Holliday, too. I've read three bios now on Doc. (The best, to me, is Doc Holliday by Gary L. Roberts, John Wiley & Sons (2006)). Even when drunk, or when he had lost his temper (both happened a lot), Holliday was clear-eyed in a number of respects.

He wouldn't beat up on weaklings. He despised--and, whenever he could, preferred to engage--straight-up bullies and self-hating creeps. He had a knee-jerk resistance to following the crowd in anything. He thought for himself; he argued with everyone (including the Earp family) about everything. He liked underdogs. And even when cornered--or was about to be hauled off to jail (also happened a lot)--he had something caustic and often incredibly funny to say.

Tuberculosis did finally claim him in Colorado at age 37. There is no end to the lore about what he did and said, or to the speculation about what made him tick in those last 15 years. But even the most sober historical sources on Holliday do agree on one thing. Over and over again, if a friend--in a few cases a total stranger--needed him, he was there immediately.

Instinctive. No hesitation. An angry yet adept explosion. None of the pathetic step-by-step "analysis" of modern white collars that should shame us deeply every time and never does. You didn't need to ask Doc to help. Doc didn't need to think about it.

He just did it.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2017

Virgina-Missouri Hulls at The Willard.

From a Facebook post I did Monday, July 31:

Yesterday I had the pleasure (no, thrill) of seeing my cousin Nan Hall for the first time since my grandad's funeral in Springfield, Missouri 20 years ago. And I had the honor to meet for the first time 2 other cousins: the fabulous and authentic-as-hell Jean James (Jean is also independently related to Missourians Jesse and Frank James) and Nan's bright strong son Jim Hall, a well-regarded nuclear plant engineer. Finally, I met Jim's energetic fun wife Donna Bowers Hall and Jean's partner Grace Palmer, who reminds me of a movie actress who plays smart beautiful women.

The Virginia-Missouri Hull family hatches or attracts strong women. No one need sign up for assertiveness training any time soon...I'm missing these guys already. And I was amazed to hear stories about my Dad, grandad and great-grandad I'd never heard or had heard incompletely. The six of us all met at the new WWII Memorial on the Mall and then had lunch at the Willard.

This was a thrill. Even my extended family is pretty small. Nan and Jean are 2 of four first cousins my Dad had. Wish I'd done it earlier but will surely do it again.

Thank you Nan, Jean, Jim, Donna and Grace. Thanks so much cousin Mary Helen Allen for suggesting this.

c: Kristi Towe Diane Healey

Posted by JD Hull at 01:58 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2017

Hermann Hesse on Real Life.

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

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927)


Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2017

You think you're a Rebel? Hear John L. Stoddard on Jonathan Swift.

Swift was a Titan in rebellion against Heaven.

-- John L. Stoddard, 1901

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Anglo-Irish, Angry and Brave: See one of our past tributes to Dean Swift (1667–1745) in "Heroes and Leaders: Anyone out there with soul and sand?"

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2017

Pat Moynihan: The Irish.

There's no point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually.

I guess that we thought we had a little more time.

--Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then-Assistant Secretary for Labor, a few days after November 22, 1963

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January 26, 1976, Time Magazine. Moynihan was then the United States Ambassador to United Nations.

Posted by JD Hull at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2017

Make Yours Moxie.


Your business, your rules. Get off your knees. Demand things of yourself--and of others. (1) What did you do this past week? (2) What did your employees do for you this week? (3) What did you all do for customers and clients?

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2017

Born Outlaws: Americans.


Posted by JD Hull at 06:29 AM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2017

July 3, 1863. Heroes.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2017

What's "offensive" changes--and quickly: Frank Zappa on CNN's Crossfire 1986.

A 21-minute discussion over 30 years ago about "filthy rock lyrics" with right-leaning Zappa, "conservative" Novak, "liberal" Braden and a respected if tad-demented Washington Times reporter on CNN's Crossfire. Also featuring the U.S. Const. amend. I, the function of government and, well, Real Life. What's offensive? It changes with the scopes, kaleidoscopes and gyres of time. And pretty quickly. E.g., remind yourselves that in 1900 an Oberlin or Harvard prof with the most liberal possible views on race would be viewed as a racist pariah on September 28, 2015. Expand your minds this week, and get off your knees, Campers. Thank you the late Duke history prof and changing South expert Lawrence Goodwyn.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)


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Happy Birthday, and much love, to Penny Hull. Chicago Girl. Uber-Mom. Last of the Grande Dames. Tolerator of Difficult Men. Source of my Hollywood good looks, charm and annoying patrician manner. Healthy, energetic, blessed with longevity, you will likely supervise at my funeral. We love you, Mom. Have the best day today.


Posted by JD Hull at 04:50 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2017

July 1, 1950


John D. Hull III and Arlene ("Penny") Reemer Hull
Rivo Alto Island, Miami, Florida July 1, 1950

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June 26, 2017

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)

Thank you for free verse, young Arthur Rimbaud. We owe you a great debt.

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Posted by JD Hull at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2017

Pantheon: Natalie Portman.


You don't need the money with a face like that. Born in Israel, she's only 36. Veteran film and stage actress. Harvard grad with blue Ashkenazi blood. Easy one. Enter our Cosmos and Pantheon.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2017

Another Great Dad: J. Dan Hull, II (1900 - 1987)


J. Dan Hull, II, 1933. Above is his Yale Ph.D picture. Class act. American dream overachiever and gentlemen's gentlemen. Authentic and honest--and never went out of his way to trumpet either trait. My Grandpop.

First Hull in Virginia-Missouri line to even go to college. His dad self-educated John Hull (JDH I) made his first stake as a laborer building railroads out West and ended up owning a drug store and a bank in Mountain Grove, Missouri. Grandpop, who fought with his own dad a lot (as I did with mine), entered University of Missouri at 16 years old and and got his Masters degree from University of Chicago at age 20. Grandpop's family were relative newcomers to the colonies compared to my Mom's side of the family, who got to Massachusetts in 1634. Born in Mountain Grove, Missouri, he ended his career as a player in the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, author (including co-authoring the standard text for many years on secondary American education), Renaissance man and member of the Cosmos Club, the merit-based club for D.C.'s intellectual elite.

Grandpop's great-great-great grandfather came to America as a teen with his own father from Germany and landed Middlebrook, Virginia in about 1750. Three generations later, in 1858, just before the Civil War, another earlier Dan Hull, a miller and farmer, moved his large family from Virginia to Missouri in a what sounds like an ingenious "tricked-out" family carriage reputedly-handy old Dan had built especially for the trip. Old Dan drove the carriage. A wagon hitched to a four-horse team driven by a Bill Argenbright hauled the family goods. The journey to Missouri took 2 months, with then teenage Bill Hull--my great-great grandfather--serving on horseback as scout and advance man for supplies and campsites. Old Dan's other two sons, also on saddle horse, helped guide the trip. Just before making the trip, the family freed the slaves (at least 3) they had. They rested once a week to do washing, rest and attend church if possible. Old Dan's wife, who I'll write about some other time, was a devout Lutheran, as were all the 100 years of German-descended kin they were leaving back in Middlebrook, Virginia.

Two generations later, Grandpop was born in 1900, 50 years after that westward trip led by his grandfather Bill. Given his roots and his low-key, always-dignified personality, his career and unpretentious leap into elite American circles is amazing. Educator. Diplomat. World Traveler. Teacher. Manager. Executive. Musical. Great card player. Sportsman. Fisherman. He had taste, too. Aggressive and strong but often quiet--sometimes too quiet, with a tinge of melancholy that moved me. Like me, not completely knowable. Well-read and well-traveled. Effortlessly well-dressed at all times. (Slim but well-built, he looked more elegant in T-shirt than most men do in a tux.) Loved, admired and respected by the cream of Missourians and Washington, D.C. Member of DC's famous merit-based Cosmos Club. Hung out with John Kenneth Galbraith and Elliot Richardson. Not bad for an Ozarks mountain boy. And great, I'm told, with women folk. Raised 3 sisters after his young mother, Nancy Susan McQuitty--who he adored--died in 1917 on Christmas Eve, when he was always strangely quiet. He lived 87.5 years. (March 11, 1900 - October 13, 1987).

Both his Dad JDH I and his granddad Bill (a confederate soldier) lived even longer lives, dying in 1929 and 1953. His wife--and my pistol of a grandmother, Alene Oliver Hull--died in their house in Springfield, MO at 101. Grandpop taught me a lot. I miss him a lot. If it were not for 3 Missourians--Pat Bevier and Mary Helen Allen, my Dad's first cousins, and my marvelous new-found cousin, Super-Mom and Walmart exec Kristi Towe--I would have had a very hard time putting all this together accurately over the past few years. (Well, I may never have; it's time-consuming and I was always doing it half-assed and guessing based on things Grandpop told me, the Internet and 3 "mysterious" not-so-mysterious wills dating back to the 1700s my Dad John Hull gave me.) But 99.5% of the German Hulls is knowable--just not as well-kept as the history of my Mom's family (Holden) who've been keeping accurate records through the Colonial Dames organizations for several generations. Thanks for the work, you 3.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day John Daniel Hull, III (1928-2012)

They broke the mold, Dad. I could write about you endlessly. You were my hero, my foil and a pain in the ass. The eldest, I was Mom when Mom wasn't there. Fun, funny, smart, strong, lyrical, eccentric. Nothing and no one bothered you. There was so much to you. No one knew you better than me. No one was your harsher critic or greater admirer. You are missed, sir. No, you were not the perfect Dad. Not even close. More like a big older brother. But nothing was unsaid. By you or by me. You left us with no warning. We wanted even more. In all ways, you were "big enough to go bear huntin' with a switch." Here's your obit again. It appeared in papers in Ohio, Indiana and Florida on January 1, 2013:

John Daniel Hull III (May 17, 1928 - December 27, 2012) of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Marco Island, Florida, a longtime executive of the Procter & Gamble Distributing Company, died on December 27, 2012 in Marco Island, Florida. He was 84. The cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Arlene "Penny" Hull, and their children, J. Daniel Hull of San Diego, David A. Hull (Maureen) of Cincinnati and Rebecca Gorman (David) of Atlanta, daughter-in-law Pamela Larsen (Dan), and seven grandchildren: David Hull, Jr., Kelley Hull, Katie Hull, David (Erin) Gorman, Jr., Chris Gorman, Carrie Gorman, and James Gorman. He is also survived by a sister, Nancy Hull McCracken, of Robinson, Illinois.

John was born in Springfield, Missouri in 1928. His parents were J. Dan Hull, an educator, and Alene Oliver, a home economics teacher. John graduated from Indianapolis's Shortridge High School in 1945. He attended Wabash College, and DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, graduating in 1949. In both high school and college, he excelled in varsity football and basketball. At DePauw, he met Penny Reemer, his future wife. John and Penny were married in 1950.

After graduating from DePauw, John began a 41-year career with Procter & Gamble in sales. When P&G purchased the Charmin Paper Company in 1959, John played a key role leading the integration of Charmin into P&G. He stayed in the Paper Division for the balance of his career in several executive roles. He trained, coached and mentored many P&G people throughout his career. He was known for his unpretentious management style, and willingness to share his knowledge and experience with others. John Hull had an impact on countless P&G people over the years.

During the Korean War, and between 1952 and 1954, he served in the U.S. Army, and was honorably discharged.

John and Penny raised their family in Aberdeen, Maryland, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Cincinnati. All his life, John was a sportsman who loved lakes and the sea. He was a dedicated fisherman and was especially enthusiastic about fishing trips to Central America, Alaska and lakes and streams in the U.S. where smallmouth bass ran. He enjoyed golf, and was an avid tennis player. John and Penny were members of Cincinnati's Kenwood Country Club.

John Hull was known to everyone he met as a larger-than-life personality, curious about the world he lived in, and an engaging storyteller.

A short memorial service celebrating John's life was conducted by family and close friends at Marco Island on New Year's Eve. In the Spring of 2013, on a date to be announced by the family, there will be second memorial service in Cincinnati, and John's ashes will be interred at Old Armstrong Chapel Cemetery in Indian Hill, Ohio.

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Posted by JD Hull at 07:24 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2017

Elvoy Raines (1951-1999)

I still miss my friend and old drinking pal Elvoy Raines, writer, lawyer-lobbyist, outlaw. We were very much alike; he was a toper, a writer, a life-long philanderer, a nightmare husband. He was on Oprah once. He checked into Harvard in his 40s like it was a rehab. He liked women. A lot. Anyway, with Elvoy, they broke the mold. I remember every conversation. He called me the "craziest white man in America." I called him Dr. Raines. He once said: "It's been good for our careers that bars in Georgetown close down during the week by 2 or 3 am, don't you think?" An American authentic. I hope some of his writing--of several genres--is still around.

His Washington Post obituary in fall of 1999:

Elvoy Raines Dies at Age 48

October 23, 1999

Elvoy Raines, 48, executive vice president of the Hawthorn Group, an Alexandria public affairs and public relations company, died Oct. 21 at Georgetown University Hospital after a stroke.

Before coming to the Hawthorn Group in 1997, Mr. Raines was a vice president of Ogilvy & Mather Public Affairs and later senior vice president of the Powell Tate public relations firm, both in Washington.

A native of Lakeland, Fla., Mr. Raines graduated from Florida State University. He earned a law degree at the University of Florida and a master's degree in labor law at the Georgetown University law school. He then attended the Harvard University School of Public Health, where he did doctoral work in public health.

He came to Washington in the 1980s. His positions included deputy executive director of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics, chief lobbyist for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and director of education for the American Social Health Association, the nation's oldest nonprofit organization providing information and education on the subject of the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. During that time he served as liaison between ASHA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the federal government initiated its national AIDS information and education program.

Mr. Raines continued to work in the area of public health during his service at Ogilvy & Mather and Powell Tate, where he was a founding principal. At the Hawthorn Group, he oversaw the company's strategic planning.

He is survived by his wife, Angela T. Thimis, of Washington; a daughter, Brooke Raines of Mooresville, N.C.; and a sister, Rhea Edwards of Bartow, Fla.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2017

Mountain Grove, Mo. goes to Washington, DC: J. Dan Hull, Jr.

My grandfather was born in 1900. He died in 1988. I still miss him. He grew up in the Ozarks in a town called Mountain Grove and, at a very young age, started taking degrees at the University of Missouri, Chicago and Yale. In my family in the 1920s, going to college would have been a very big deal, and granddad was the first in his branch to do that. He was of the sixth American generation of a family of German farmers who arrived in Philadelphia in the early 1700s and started out life Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They later moved to Middlebrook, Virginia where they would stay for 100 years. In the 1850s, they oved to southern Missouri where, 50 years later, grandad would be born and grow up. My grandfather was at heart a schoolteacher. He was principal of Shortridge High School in Indianapolis during the mid-1940s. He also managed people, authored books and eventually became a government official in the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. He traveled globally and extensively in his HEW position. "J. Dan" Hull wrote a standard text on high school administration that was used for decades. In the 1950s, he was elected to Cosmos Club in Washington. He taught me things no one else in my family could teach. And he gave me the Great Books. This giving started after he had finished his career in Washington, D.C., and had returned to Springfield, Missouri. Most were written centuries ago, and lived in his library long before I was born. He seemed to love Cicero's known works as much as any of his books. Now, I have all those volumes. They are, to me, like parts of him--and like very old friends of his in my care who've finally agreed to live with me indefinitely.

*from past posts

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J. Dan Hull II in 1933

Posted by JD Hull at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2017

D-Day and the Normandy Landings was June 6, 1944.

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73 years ago today about 1:30 am EST

Posted by JD Hull at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2017

William Beard Hull (1837-1929), C.S.A.

William Beard Hull (1837-1929). Born Augusta County, Virginia. In 1858, as oldest son, Bill, 21, on saddle horse served as his family's scout to move his parents Dan and "Mae" and his six brothers and sisters to Kansas. They were not super-rich but from strain of the Hull family of German Lutheran farmers who had been settled in Middlebrook, Virginia since 1750. They freed the three slaves they owned before the trip west. They took two wagons, including a special "contraption" built by Dan, and driven by one of their servants from Middlebrook. Although they were headed to Kansas, they liked what is now Mountain Grove, Missouri. They stayed there. In 1861 Bill went back to Virginia to fight for the Confederacy, and he ended the war with the Missouri 10th Infantry, or Steen's Regiment. He died at 91 in Oklahoma at a Confederate Soldiers home. He must have seen amazing things and changes in the American South. He married. He had at six kids, including my great-grandfather, John Daniel Hull I.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2017

American Badass: Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884 –1980).

If you have nothing nice to say, come sit by me.

-- Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Died on February 20, 1980 at 96.

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Posted by JD Hull at 12:36 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2017

Euripides: About Free Speech.

This is slavery: not to speak one's thought.

Euripides, stand-up Greek (480-406 B.C.)


Posted by JD Hull at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2017

Ray Davies: A Nod to Old Blighty.

Ray Davies cries "Victoria", Glastonbury 2010

Posted by JD Hull at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2017

Churchill in Paris.

A photo from Paris-based A Clear Blue Sky.


Winston Churchill in front of the Petit Palais, Av. Winston-Churchill, 8th Arrondissement.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2017

Memorial Day is not about barbecue, chili or hoovering drugs with cousin Jasper.

For us Yanks, Memorial Day is about resolute if terrified men and women, innocents all, who died, sometimes horribly and in confusion, in American military engagements.


June 6, 1944. U.S. army officer watching Norman coast as his landing craft approaches Omaha Beach.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2017

Ireland's Book of Kells: Humans, Gods, at Serious Play.

The Book of Kells: Is there anything more beautiful? Below is Folio 292r (circa 800) of The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament. It's housed at Trinity College Library, in Dublin, Ireland. This page opens the Gospel of John. Illustrations in the Book of Kells are bursting with pre-Christian, pagan and Celtic symbols and motifs that had evolving, mixing and merging in Ireland for nearly 8000 years before Christianity. The result is a religious document and montage of mixed media that is at once playful, quirky, sexual, mystical and a deeply devout mainstream Christian tract. 680 pages of the work survives.

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Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2017

John Daniel Hull III (1928-2012). Happy 89th, Big John.

John Daniel Hull III. May 17, 1928 - December 27, 2012. My Dad's 89th birthday would have been May 17, 2017. This blog has posted pictures of him at various ages. Below is one of his favorite places in the world. He loved water, boats, smallmouth bass and his family. He was authentic, original at all times, funny, aggressive, bold, robust and healthy, had a gift with spoken & written words and simply did not care what anyone thought about what he said or did. Ever. Playful is the word. He was, too, a celebrated athlete, a standout in both football and basketball at Shortridge High School and DePauw, both in Indiana. The last male Hull in my line born in the Ozarks, he was self-made, and storied, at Procter & Gamble. At age 84 he died suddenly and unexpectedly but happy. It was a lesson. His own Mom lived to be a happy and similarly feisty 101. His own Dad, paternal grandfather and paternal great-grandfather (a Confederate soldier born in 1837) all lived longer lives. Best genes a male Hull ever had or will have. But he had no regrets. And nothing was ever unsaid. Happy Birthday, Big John. They broke the mold, Dad.

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Posted by JD Hull at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2017

Mother's Day.

July 1, 1950

My mother--to us, "Mom"--was and is that mom all the other kids in the neighborhoods we lived in wanted to be their mom. In Grand Rapids, Detroit, Chicago and finally Cincinnati. Before that, way before, she and her ancestors were part of one of the most romantic stories ever told. I imagine first thousands, and then tens of thousands, and then even more, of people out of Suffolk via Ipswich to Groton and other towns and slowly invading America, Massachusetts, Canada, and Three Oaks, Michigan.

But she never let on as we grew up that her family--and therefore mine--had been in America so long. We'd only heard about Hulls or Holles--German Protestant minsters and farmer stock in the Palatine who come over on a ship from Rotterdam in the just-yesterday mid-1700s. I had to piece it together myself with some colonial organization records prepared in the late 1940s (at the request of a patron great aunt in Jacksonville, Florida who threw my parents' wedding in 1950) she had kept from everyone and finally gave me; it's actually typed before my birth and condensed to 6 pages. And a little help from Google on the part of Suffolk they came from via Ipswich. It turns out Mom all along was a Colonial Dame.

Her family came from the still-tiny village of Lindsey, England, to Massachusetts in 1634. This is mainstream early Yank history. (I visit Lindsey, in Suffolk, in 2003. Her family's name is still on some of the stones in the churchyard, and in recent records of weddings still kept in the church.)

Exactly three centuries later, a photogenic only child is growing up in Chicago. It's the Depression. She starts working as a model when she is quite young. She's a bit quiet and sweet. And tall. Her own mother is strong, "well-raised", and with an Auntie Mame/stage mother quality she had until her death in 1970. In the late 1930s and 40s, the agencies love Mom's "all-American" girl next door face and smile. In photos, commercial or not, they jump off a page at you. Without makeup, she comes by a young yet "all grown-up" look at a very young age.

I am looking at one of them hung in my home right now.

Her face: Strength. Spirit. Fun. Femininity. A real but completely natural Charisma. In this one agency photo, that she's classically beautiful is nearly besides the point. At thirteen, she's an experienced model. Looks aren't everything--but in the 1940s they are still the pinnacle for a girl or woman. Times are hard. You're female? You're an off-the-charts pretty girl from Evanston? You've a natural figure? Well, use it, honey. She has some other breaks. She's good at language--and college bound. A pretty good athlete. A relative in the American South offers to pays for much of her education.

And then there's this one: she actually spends much of her teen and early adult years trying to gain weight. Milkshakes and candy bars. Anything is okay--and that continued. Here's someone put on earth to compensate for some of the rest of us: she has brains, smarts and charm. And an enviable--no maddening--metabolism. She can't gain weight. She even tries. I have the same gift/problem as a kid. I drink milkshakes with her. But I am 11 and she is 35.

But mainly, and here's The Gift: she loves people. I mean, she really, really loves them.

Today, in her eighties, she is still tall, almost 5'10", angular, with dark hair, and fresh, friendly, athletic, striking. In boarding school and college, she is always the homecoming queen, or "May Queen", or something--but that rare and somewhat quiet one without enemies.

All my life, I've heard both men and women remark how beautiful she is--and how nice she is to them.

People talk about the two qualities almost interchangeably--as if they go together. Usually, folks, they do not. With the exception of her, and just one other person, I consider humans without enemies as sad, low and worthless. They're either spineless soulless schemers or straight-up lily white wimps who must be 'liked' by everyone, and won't play in The Game of Real Life. But not Mom.

She is modest, and very private about her own needs, my brother and sister and I learn over time. The eldest, I am most 40 when I first see her entire modelling portfolio--scores of 1940s and 1950s glossies and pictures in magazines I heard about growing up. It is all stunning covering 15 years. Yet she quits it all early--because of us.

Lindsey, England 2003. Some Holdens (from Houlden, probably a Norman name, at some point) left here for Massachusetts in 1634.

A late-coming family beef: Sorry, Dad, and Mom--but why not haul out those pictures earlier? I love black and whites of my Dad playing Hoosier basketball and football, both at Shortridge and college. And then color came slowly to the pictures in the post-college 1960 pictures. Who would not love the glories of Tide, Jif, Bounty and Charmin? Who isn't glued once they start looking through them to our albums of fishing trips and Pointe Aux Barques years? Vacations with 3 cousins named McCracken. A few male Holdens from Michigan. The pictures show how few in number--but how amazingly healthy--the last three generations of our family had become. One aunt. One uncle. The neighborhoods in La Grange, Grand Rapids, Detroit, then Chicago again.

Finally lots of images of Cincinnati: the promised land and, as it turned out, a class act. A true City-State with real city government that attracted talent. True, Cincy's a bit stiff but hardworking. True, it seems like we're a "tolerated minority" again. In Highland Park, Chicago, we weren't Jewish. In Cincinnati, we weren't Catholic--or of the "old German 'Zinzinnati stock". But nothing beats these Indian Hill schools. Like Braeside, another life-changer. It's the teachers--and the kids. The luck on us. Even my grandparents (the youngest of the four was born in 1900) are lucky enough to graduate from college And Mom tells us to notice it all. And I do.

In the pictures, she always looks as if she is quietly celebrating. Is she in prayer?

There are even some some black and white photos of my first real home: Aberdeen Proving Grounds. G.W. Hospital. Washington Circle. Beginnings I can't quite see. Anyway, lots of images: places and people we met. Musical instruments. Tennis rackets. Teachers for both. Much later Marco Island. Naples. French Lick. Kiawah summers with a new grandkid each one. Even meeting in Paris (my parents and me only; they were my first docents and guides). The 50-year anniversary trip. A 100th birthday party for a grandparent in Springfield, Missouri. Hey, I was there, too. We all were. Great photos--and I treasure them.

But when your smart French-speaking mom men are whispering about all through high school and college looks, and talks, better than "either Hepburn", and so many people like her, show me that stuff at sixteen, okay? Why the silence? Because she's a Greatest Generation-era woman? Here is the main event and fact of our lives: Our mother, Mom, is never interested in herself. Not ever. (It bothers us all). The past-glories portfolio can stay in the trunks, she must have thought to herself.

Beginning at 25, things change. She now loves noisy children and sloppy dogs. Too energetic and too physical, she still does things too quickly. I got this from her: an odd mixture of athleticism and metabolism that yields accidents.

But she, unlike me, always moves too fast for the sake of others. Fond of the troubled, those with raw deals, the strays, she must get things done for them. This, to me, is drive at its purest. She sizes them (and the rest of us) up in seconds. Notwithstanding the judgment you do get, everyone gets a pass. Street people, the mailman, animals and executives and wives.

Yes, our animals, too. She thinks of them as friends. Real friends. Word's been out for some time that Mom speaks several dialects of American Dog.

Each of the above creatures, human or not, is part of Life. All are equally considered. At our house it is always Christmas Eve. "Here," her voice seems to say in our house, "we will consider you. That is what we do here? Got it?" And with a determined let's-go smile: "Let's get this done. Now, please." Or "We have a problem to solve."

She has a very private but active spiritual life, and a natural class and ease with others. She is comfortable with, and genuinely interested in, everyone she meets, anywhere in the world. She wants to know them. She interviews you--but only out of curiosity, genuine interest and an enduring love for humankind most of us lose by 25.

Bear with me. I like movies, and they are often part of my firm's work. Think for a moment of the characters in the 1939 movie "Gone with the Wind". Imagine in one person a fusion of Melanie's love and compassion with Scarlett's resolve and strength.

Are these gifts to us all? Or challenges? Is God throwing down a gauntlet here? It doesn't matter. I want to age that well. I want to care about others that much. I want my laugh, like hers, to ring with the joy and humor of unfinished growth and adventure.

She has put up with me, and my father, and I wish I could be more like her. As the eldest, I am far more of a pain-in-the-ass than either my brother or sister, even though we are all just 2 years apart. (Fair warning: If you eat with me, I may make you finish your vegetables. I will tell you what I think. Maybe who to marry. Who to divorce. Whatever will help you that day.) I compete with my Dad only for a mother-and-wife's worry and angst.

Mom's led a very charmed life, which she views with gratitude, humility and grace. Nothing is taken for granted. She knows. My father, also an American success story (hard work does work), was a big part of that.

We three kids were, too. And our friends, new neighborhoods, adult friends, other people's noisy kids, animals, the happiest dogs on earth, oceans, rivers, lakes, always perch and smallmouth bass, some less edible or less noble fish, ravines, Mountain Grove, Chevy Chase, Port Austin, Alpena, 8 Mile Road, Pleasant Ridge, the Braeside and later Indian Hill schools, Duke (all three changed my life), North Deere Park, church in Glencoe for us red-haired protestants, Drake Road, the Cosmos Club, Mr. Whipple commercials, tennis, basketball, golf, more animals, more dogs, 8 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren foster kids, even foster people--all manner of events and creatures including, of course, human strays.

But she. She lights up all rooms--not just ours.

Happy Mother's Day, Penny Hull. Chicago Girl. Boarding School Sweetie. Ferry Hall May Queen. DePauw Campus Crush. Fashion Model. Keeper of Cockers. Keeper-Carer-Feeder-Trainer of John Hull III. Athlete. Task Master. Social Worker. Patrician Role Model. Angel to Strays and Mutts. Colonial Dame. Last Hull with natural class. Super-Mommy.

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May 05, 2017

Mexico as Hero: Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862.

Today, other nations in the Americas honor Mexico. In the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, 4,000 Mexican soldiers defeated a much better-equipped invading French army of 8,000. Since the Battle of Puebla, no nation in the Americas has been invaded by any other European military force.


Posted by JD Hull at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2017

Happy 4-20. “Thompson, Audience Clash in Page Chaos."

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Editor's Note: The following is a verbatim reproduction of an article appearing in The Chronicle, Duke University's student daily on October 23, 1974. Page Auditorium is on Duke's West campus.

Thompson, Audience Clash in Page Chaos

By Dan Hull

"Is there any coherence in this thing? I feel like I'm in a fucking slaughterhouse in Chicago early in the morning."

DURHAM, N.C.--In a pathetic attempt to slide something coherent through his staccato mumble, Gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was met last night at Page Auditorium with a bevy of jeers, curses, and a request by the Duke University Union to leave the stage.

According to Union spokespersons, it was expected that the slightly inebriated Thompson would drive away the audience if his talk turned out particularly monotonous.

Frustrated by the dialogue between the disjointed speaker and the belligerent audience, some did leave while others, many of whom were as well-oiled as Thompson, remained until the journalist was escorted off the stage.

Beer cans and joints

Beer cans and an occasional joint passed among the rows of the auditorium as Thompson, forty minutes late and looking more like a lanky tourist than a radical journalist, poked across the stage to the podium.

Slouching there, Thompson began: "I have no speech, nothing to say. I feel like a piece of meat," referring to his marketing by his lecture agency.

Having tossed aside the index cards on which were written questions from the audience, Thompson received few serious oral questions from the audience.

"What I'd really like to be in is an argument" he said.

When a baby cried Thompson mumbled, "That's the most coherent fucking thing I've heard all night."

In most cases, serious questions, and Thompson's responses to them were inaudible or incoherent.

Visibly put off by the belligerent Duke audience whom he repeatedly referred to as "beer hippies," Thompson was most relaxed and clear when talking about Richard Nixon.

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Photos: The Chronicle.

"Nobody's beaten him as bad as he deserves," Thompson emphasized. "And nobody really comprehends how evil he is. The real horror of it all is that he reflects the rot in all of us."

"Hell, we elected him. The bastard won by the greatest majority since George Washington."

Thompson then suddenly urged the audience to "go out and vote."

Maintaining that the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago "kicked off an era," Thompson recalled somewhat disjointedly that before going there he took along his motorcycle helmet left over from his Hell's Angels days. (In the sixties he rode with the Angels in order to research a book on the group).

"After I got there, I found out why I had brought it with me," he said.

During the forty minute encounter (he was asked to leave at about 9:30), Thompson commented briefly on other subjects. The 1976 Democratic Presidential candidate: "Mondale."

Terry Sanford's [former North Carolina governor and then Duke president] possibly candidacy: "I hope not."

Gary Hart, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Colorado: "He'll win, but he's a sell-out."

England: "A coal mine in the Atlantic. Next to a potato farm."

When asked a serious but largely inaudible question concerning the rise of consumer politics, Thompson yanked the shotgun-style microphone off the podium attempting to focus it in the direction of the questioner, a good 25 yards away.

"Violence is always sort of a self-satisfying thing," he added.

It was at this point, reportedly, that the Union people began to seriously considered pulling Thompson from the stage.

Asked by someone whether the Rockefeller family was encouraging "cannibalism in South America," an incredulous Thompson tossed up the remainder of his Wild Turkey onto the velvet curtain behind him, and scattered the rest of his unused index cards.

Amidst jeering and confusion, Union program advisor Linda Simmons escorted Thompson off stage.

Afterwards Thompson talked for an hour with about 100 students in the garden behind Page Auditorium.

Post mortems on Thompson's abbreviated Duke debut varied. One rather inebriated disciple was overheard saying, "I thought it was great, anyway. Just great."

"But another student remarked, "I'm totally embarrassed -- for everyone."

A third student commented, "This was fantastic — guerrilla theater, theater of the absurd — - all in one night. Good times at Duke."

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April 17, 2017

Pieter Bruegel (The Elder), Peasant Wedding Dance, 1566.


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April 01, 2017

Hull McGuire PC Lands New Digs at Pennsylvania & Fourth, Southeast.

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The Tune Inn, 331 1/2 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Washington, DC

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March 25, 2017

Karl Llewellyn.

Karl Nickerson Llewellyn

You expect me to tell you that you should be earnest about your work, and get your back into it for dear old Siwash, and that he who lets work slide will stumble by the way.

The above of course is from the opening chapter of the The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study (1931), which sprung from a series of introductory lectures Karl Llewellyn (1893–1962) gave to first-year law students during the 1929-30 academic year, when he was appointed the first Betts Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia. The book's title is from a poem "The Bramble Bush" by Robert Penn Warren, excerpted here:

There was a man in our town
and he was wondrous wise:
he jumped into a bramble bush
and scratched out both his eyes--

and when he found that he was blind,
with all his might and maine,
He jumped into another one,
and scratched them in again.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2017

Work-Life Pulitzer.

The difference between a job and a career is the difference between forty and sixty hours a week.

Robert Frost (1874-1963) spent his life as a poet, student, teacher, newspaper reporter, farmer, factory worker, father, husband and accomplished Yankee. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize four times.

(New York World-Telegram & Sun)

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March 19, 2017

Irish Pantheon: Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

There's no point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually. I guess that we thought we had a little more time.

--Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then-Assistant Secretary for Labor, a few days after November 22, 1963

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March 15, 2017

The Ides of March: Death of an Alpha Male.

First, when the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents, Caesar burst out laughing. They did not know, he said, who it was that they had captured, and he volunteered to pay fifty...

--Plutarch, on young Caesar

Today is the Ides of March, death date of Gaius Julius Caesar (July 13, 100 BC-March 15, 44 BC), general, politician, schemer, explorer, writer, alpha male, womanizer, patrician and, as we begin to observe St. Patrick's day, no friend of Gaelic peoples. Grandiose, flawed, and truly great, he made Rome an empire. Caesar conquered what is now France and Belgium--and got Rome more interested in taking on an assortment of Celtic tribes in Britain after his death.

An egomaniac, he was both charming vain dandy, and a skilled military leader, with a surprising compassionate streak. A century after his death, the Greek historian Plutarch wrote an enduring bio. Plutarch even mixed it up with armchair psychoanalysis, treating Caesar's life in "parallel" with that of Alexander the Great, another wildly self-assured fellow. The term Ides of March ("March 15") has nothing to do with our hero; "ides" means middle in the earliest Roman calendar, which some say was devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome.

Nicolas Coustou, 1713, Louvre: You talking to me?

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March 11, 2017

Happy Birthday, JDH, Jr.

John Daniel Hull, II, 1900 - 1988. My grandfather - always a class act. I spent his last 15 or so Thanksgivings with him in Missouri with just him & my grandmother Alene, who died in 1998 at 102. J. Dan had quiet energy, poise & quality. Elegant. Amazingly accomplished. Author, educator, JFK administration mainstay. Cosmos Club. Ozark boy who wanted to go to Yale and much more. He did it all. Born March 11.

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John Daniel Hull, II, 1933, New Haven, Connecticut

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March 07, 2017

2017 Edition: 107 Wild Men. And Wild Women.

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Wild Men. Wild Women. The Rankings 1 through 106 as this blog sees them in 2017. Wild Men and Wild Women are people who listen only to the little voice in their head. They get things done. They build things. They don't care what you think. Uncertainty and turbulence--in the economy, stock markets, governments, the weather, bad odds, you name it--only get their juices flowing. True, they often have dark and self-destructive sides, but we seem to like giving them a pass. A few lawyers on this list--but not enough. Lawyers. Are we just risk-averse uber-weenies? Sideline players? Bag carriers? Are we not Men, and Women?

1. Ben Franklin
2. Ted Turner
3. Dr. Johnson
4. Dr. Thompson
5. Theodore Roosevelt
6. Carl Bernstein
7. Michelangelo
8. Ayn Rand
9. Ana Marie Cox
10. Japan
11. Boudica
12. Winston Churchill
12. Benjamin Disraeli
14. Arianna Huffington
15. Bucky Fuller
16. Nino Scalia
17. Bill Buckley
18. Bill Clinton
19. Steve Jobs
20. Christopher Columbus
21. Nick Nolte
22. Jerry Lee Lewis

Plato (#27) was way Wild. Read the Timaeus.

23. The Welsh
24. Jann Wenner
25. Sean Penn
26. Ken Wilbur
27. Plato
28. Catherine the Great
29. Val Kilmer (way wilder than Jim Morrison)
30. Harry Dean Stanton
31. Scott Greenfield
32. Julius Caesar
33. Pete Seeger
34. John Lennon
35. Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
36. Peter Sheridan
37. Christopher Hitchens
38. Jerry Brown
39. Warren Beatty
40. Jack Nicholson
41. John the Baptist
42. Rahm Emanuel
43. Robert Mitchum
44. Joan of Arc and Charles Barkley (tie)
45. Dylan Thomas
46. Quentin Crisp
46. "E"
47. Boswell (he was Wild, too)
48. Ben Jonson
49. Mae West
50. Daniel Pinchbeck

Zelda Fitzgerald (#90) was Wild. So was her childhood friend Tallulah Bankhead (#91).

51. Daniel O'Connell
53. David Boies
54. Elizabeth Wurtzel
55. St. John of Patmos
56. John Henry "Doc" Holliday
57. Genghis Khan
58. Alexander
59. Charles Bukowski
60. Gordon Liddy
61. Malcolm Lowry
63. Keith Moon
64. Charlie Munger
65. Babe Ruth
66. Chrissie Hynde
67. Colin Farell
68. Warren Zevon
69. Kim Jong-un (unknowable but one far-out little dude)
70. Billy Martin
71. Joe Namath
72. Guy de Maupassant
73. Grace Slick
74. Edna St. Vincent Millay
75. Mickey Mantle
76. François Villon
77. Friedrich Nietzsche
78. Rep. Bob Eckhardt (Texas-D) (gifted, eloquent, exotic)
79. Rachel Maddow
80. Ray Davies
81. Marc Randazza
82. Jennifer Randaza
83. Alec Baldwin
84. John Huston
85. Australia
86. Gertrude Stein
87. Oscar Levant
88. Ava Gardner
89. Frank Sinatra
90. Zelda Fitzgerald
91. Tallulah Bankhead
92. Ted Kennedy
93. Frances Farmer
94. Richard Burton
95. Elizabeth Taylor
96. Marion Barry
97. Racehorse Haynes
98. Ben Bradlee
99. Davey Crockett
100. William Randolph Hearst
101. Steve Bannon
102. Donald Trump
103. Smokestack Lightning III
104. Ronald Coleman
105. Clark Hat
106. The Scofflaw Mayor of New Orleans
107. Bobby Knight

Meet Ted (#2). He never cared what you thought.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2017

The Judgment of Paris

Paris was a bold man who presum’d
To judge the beauty of a Goddess.

-John Dryden


The Judgment of Paris, Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553)

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February 18, 2017

Men of Letters: Charlie Rose, Hunter Thompson.

Never write a letter, never throw one away.

--Attributed to the late private investigator and consultant Thomas Corbally, two medieval priests, and three U.S. mayors.

For reasons which go back to 1974, WAC? misses Hunter Thompson. This son of Louisville put some of his best and funniest stuff in personal letters--and he wrote volumes and volumes of them. Over 20,000. I've read some off and on for years; my favorites (and the funniest) are his with boss Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone magazine's founder and editor, in the 1970s and 1980s. Others are published in Thompson's books over the years. See this clip from a Charlie Rose interview, undated, but his Rose's with Thompson, likely about 1997. HST talks about letter-writing here.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2017

Llewellyn: "You expect me to tell you that you should be earnest about your work."

Karl Nickerson Llewellyn

You expect me to tell you that you should be earnest about your work, and get your back into it for dear old Siwash, and that he who lets work slide will stumble by the way.

The above of course is from the opening chapter of the The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study (1931), which sprung from a series of introductory lectures Karl Llewellyn (1893–1962) gave to first-year law students during the 1929-30 academic year, when he was appointed the first Betts Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia. The book's title is from a poem "The Bramble Bush" by Robert Penn Warren, excerpted here:

There was a man in our town
and he was wondrous wise:
he jumped into a bramble bush
and scratched out both his eyes--

and when he found that he was blind,
with all his might and maine,
He jumped into another one,
and scratched them in again.


Posted by JD Hull at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2017

Henry Miller's Heir.

Half the people you meet live from one day to the next in a state of such fear and uncertainty that about half the time they doubt their own sanity. Their boats are rocking so badly that all they want to do is get level long enough to think straight and avoid the next nightmare.

--HST, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72


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January 14, 2017

Hermann Hesse: Deliverance.

It was at a concert of lovely old music. After two or three notes of the piano the door was the other world. I sped through heaven and saw God at work. I suffered holy pains. I dropped all my defences and was afraid of nothing in the world. I accepted all things and to all things gave up my heart.

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.


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January 07, 2017

Storytelling: Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler.

Great characters never go out of date.

When the lights go down and the curtain rises on the magic square of life, Ibsen's men and women will always hold the audience in their spell.

--S. L. Flaxman, January 1959, on dramatist Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)


Making Blind Men See: Rosamund Pike in 2010 as Hedda Gabler at London's Richmond Theatre. Photo: John Swannell.

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January 06, 2017

Beyond King or Country.

A wise man's country is the world.

--Aristippus (435-360 BC), as quoted by Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosphers


"There is hope. I see traces of men." Aristippus was shipwrecked on the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. He and his fellow survivors did not know where they were or if the island was inhabited. But he sees geometric figures drawn on the sand.

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January 01, 2017

'Oh New York City you talk a lot...'

You look like a city. You feel like a religion.

--L. Nyro, 1969

Paramount newsreel cameraman works the Easter Parade, 1948. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

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December 25, 2016

Speakers' Corner, Marble Arch, London: "Merry Christmas, you bastards..."

Since 1866, Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park (northeast corner near Marble Arch) has been important in Britain's demonstrations, protests and debate. In 1872, the area was specifically set aside for those purposes. Here are among the best and most eccentric daily shows in London. Marx, Lenin and Orwell all spoke at Speakers'Corner there on Sundays, the traditional speaking day. For the dark history of this area of Hyde Park as the execution place know as Tyburn Gallows for nearly six centuries--everyone condemned to die could make a final speech--see the website of the Royal Parks. Below: uncredited photo from a Sunday in 1930s.

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Posted by JD Hull at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2016

Check out the real St. Nick: 4th century bishop, philanthropist, pol, crowdpleaser.


Happy Holidays from What About Paris? Our best wishes for you and yours--and for whatever celebrations or rites you find time for this week. A word about the real Santa, however, is in order, and we are happy to report that the real Santa is not a misty pagan or Druid hangover, as is so often the case with Christmas lore. He is based on a real and really admirable guy. The Bishop of Myra--or Santa Claus to most of the world--lived around 270-345 AD in what is now the Lycian region of Turkey. Both of Nicholas's parents died during an outbreak of the plague, leaving him a great sum of money. This Byzantine trust-fund baby entered the clergy, and became popular for his kindness, generosity, willingness to take on Rome on behalf of Myra, the town he served, and many instances of anonymous and secret gift-giving that his fortune made possible. After he died, the area around Myra became a major pilgrimage center dotted with new churches, including a church named after Nicholas, which is still popular with visitors to this region of Turkey. Anonymous giving, by the way, is the best kind. I like to believe that the life of St. Nicholas was a major inspiration for Magnificent Obsession, the acclaimed 1929 novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, which twice was made into a movie. One theme of Douglas's book is the importance of giving, and other acts of kindness, without wanting or expecting any type of private or public recognition.

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Fresco of St. Nicholas in the Church of St. Nicholas in Demre, Turkey

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December 07, 2016

December 7, 1941


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November 27, 2016

Guy de Maupassant: The Natural.


Bel-Ami: Guy de Maupassant, 1850-1893

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November 22, 2016

"Johnny, we hardly knew ye."

A stick in me hand and a tear in me eye
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

--from "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye", a popular Irish anti-war song written in early 1800s.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963. Our post this day last year.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2016

The Blood Red Beauties of Flanders Fields: John Alexander McCrae and Poppies.

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McCrae in 1912

Today, November 11, America's Veterans Day, honors all U.S. military veterans. However, it was originally only a day set aside by the participating combatant countries to honor the dead of World War I, or The Great War, and to celebrate the Armistice with Germany which had commenced November 11, 1918 at 11:00 am. As Remembrance Day, also called Poppy Day, the Commonwealth nations today still honor military veterans who died in the line of duty.

The name Poppy Day, and the holiday's moving symbolism you see in British homes and streets today and on Remembrance Sunday (always the preceding Sunday to the 11th) derive solely from a famous three-stanza poem by Lt. John Alexander McCrae, a Canadian soldier and physician, believed to be written on May 3, 1915. Early in the war, and in his forties, McCrae served as a front-line surgeon, including in the Second Battle of Ypres (April 21-May 25, 1915).

The poem first appeared in Punch in December of 1915, while McCrae was still alive. In early 1918, he died of pneumonia while still commanding a Canadian military hospital in northern France.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

--John Alexander McCrae (1872–1918) Poet, physician, Lieutenant Colonel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.


Posted by JD Hull at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2016

Henry Valentine Miller (1891-1980)

You were born an original. Don't die a copy.

--John Mason

Henry Miller

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September 29, 2016

Good v. Bad Choices: Do most people make any choices at all?

Don't mean to go all Sartre on you guys but I'm always amused at the concept of "making bad choices" in life. How many of us on this earth really make any important "choices" AT ALL? Don't most people just do (a) as their parents did, (b) as society does or (c) what someone else tells them to do? Aren't most of us really on our knees most of the time? Crawling around like curs for a cue or sign of what next step to take? How many of us lead authentic and original lives? How many of us have ever had a truly original thought in our entire lives? End of Sartre. Back to regular bourgeois blog programming.

How many of us have ever made an important choice at all?

Posted by JD Hull at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2016

Duke upsets Notre Dame, 38-35. In South Bend.

Amazing Saturday college football news. And in South Bend. Whoa. When I was a Duke student, few ever attended football games. Soccer and of course basketball is what drew student crowds.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2016

Sterling Hayden: Our Purest Lover of Being Alive.

Although Hayden (1916-1986) was not in love with Hollywood or acting, he was a highly regarded actor who was cast in westerns, action films and film noir for over forty years, usually as a leading man. He was also a spy, war hero, seeker, sailor, adventurer, rebel, gifted writer and eccentric's eccentric, all six foot five of him. He was authentic. Never contrived, posed, phony or obliged to be different. Never sucking up. A pure lover of being alive. Read his biography, artful screed and best work, in "Wanderer" (1977).

Posted by JD Hull at 03:17 AM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2016

Indian Summer, Hudson River 1861

Indian Summer, Hudson River 1861, Albert Bierstadt, oil on canvas, 24 x 41 inches.

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September 06, 2016

Stephen Fry: The Joys of Swearing

Actor, Writer, Renaissance Man, Polymath: London's Stephen Fry.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:34 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2016

Montgomery, Alabama, September 4, 1958.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968). He is 29.

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August 19, 2016

Disraeli on Lawyering: Is Law just life on the sidelines?

Young Ben Disraeli: "I rust like a Damascus sabre in the sheath of a poltroon."

Is being a good lawyer enough?

Consider what the young, precocious, mega-talented, persistent and world class pain-in-the-ass Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) thought--years before becoming Prime Minster of England--as he abandoned his legal career before it really started, in favor of writing and politics. According to one biographer, he exclaimed:

The Bar: pooh! law and bad tricks till we are forty, and then, with the most brilliant success, the prospect of gout and a coronet. Besides, to succeed as an advocate, I must be a great lawyer, and to be a great lawyer, I must give up my chance of being a great man.

--A. Maurois, Disraeli (Random House 1928)

Sidelined? Hobbled? Self-discarded in the great race of life? Maybe it's true. Hard-driving lawyer friends (both in-house and in law firms) do articulate a feeling of being "sidelined"--yet they are very proud of what they do as lawyers. They may think: Why merely advise--when you could lead, create boldly, and command? And do that every day? Lots of lawyers are Type-As. Yes, some of us who advise great companies really end up as officers, CEOs, and COOs? Sure, many more of us run for office.

But most of us are at best mousy posturing technicians. Should more and more of us throw our golfing hat in the ring of other life, the fields of commerce, and bigger--or at least different--ponds? Does law school and the profession make many of us so risk-averse, passive and routinely academic in our approach to life that it knocks the will and energy to lead out of us? Or were we just that way from the beginning?

Lawyers used to lead. Will that ever happen again?

(Image above: Family Guy Wiki)

Posted by JD Hull at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2016

Botticelli's Venus and Mars, c. 1483.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2016

Hell's Kitchen, NYC: Old 'hoods, like old people, are feisty as hell.

Jacob Riis photo of Bandits' Roost (1890)

Old neighborhoods, like old people, have strong personalities. And they are feisty as Hell.

The above photograph of an alley in Hell's Kitchen, then in its second century, was taken long before the midtown Manhattan neighborhood got cute and trendy again. The work, images and outcry of Jacob Riis were famous at the time. So was this photograph.

But Hell's Kitchen actually started out cute and even pastoral. Three hundred years ago there were farms. Then came suburbs, and it was not really a "bad" neighborhood until around the time of the Civil War. Movies and novels maybe over-covered that second 150 years. Hell's Kitchen kept changing but stayed famous: from Irish and German immigrant sub-city to gangland neighborhood to actors' quarter to, these days, more of a yuppie heaven.

People feared the second round of "cute"--the gentrification of recent years--would destroy it. It didn't. It's still authentic in pulse and atmosphere. A few (not many) old families could afford to stay. Real estate brokers years ago came up with the new labels of Clinton and "Midtown West"--but those did not work. They could never replace the real name, the one that no one can even trace.

Yeah, older neighborhoods, like older people, have personalities--and they are feisty as Hell.

Personally, I think of the area as smaller and more compact than most descriptions. For me, it does not start until just north of the Lincoln Tunnel at 40th and then goes up to 57th Street. Its width, of course: West of 8th all the way to the Hudson. Yet it always seems worlds away from Times Square, right next door, and Midtown East.

If you are in Manhattan some weekend, stroll around there on a Sunday morning early, when it groans, complains and even growls like its old self. You will not head east. You won't even think about leaving Hell's Kitchen for a while. Too seductive. The uneasy mixes of Irish, German, Italian, and Everyone Else that dominated it--especially in the last 150 years--left certain imprints and energies. You can still feel and hear them in the stone of the buildings and street.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2016

Great-Granddad's Great-Granddad: Daniel E. Hull, Sr. (1768-1854)

Missourian John Daniel Hull I (1866-1953) was my great-grandfather. He crowed about my birth and I got to meet him before he died. Below in turn is the grave of his own great-grandfather Virginian Daniel E. Hull, Sr. (1768-1854). With 12 years separating their lives, they unfortunately never met. They were, respectively, 87 and 85 at death. I first visited Daniel's grave on May 6, 2015. It's beautifully kept by church people I don't know and have not met. Compared to my mother's family, my father's German side of family from the Palatine were relative newcomers to America. My mother's family came from Suffolk, England to Massachusetts in 1634.


Posted by JD Hull at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2016

John Barry (1745 –1803): Irish boy does good in America (Part I)

Every work day thousands of Washingtonians pass an imposing six-foot statue mounted on an impressive pedestal a few feet away from 14th Street (right or northbound lane) on Franklin Square, on 14th and K Streets, Northwest. It is of Captain John Barry, a Wexford, Ireland-born U.S. naval officer who quickly became one of George Washington's wartime favorites. Two hundred and forty years ago today, 31-year-old Captain Barry and his crew had just slipped his warship the Lexington through a British blockade on the Delaware River. The Lexington encountered, defeated and captured the British sloop Edward, a tender to the frigate Liverpool. Barry took the Edward into Philadelphia, turned it over to the Continental Army, repaired his ship the Lexington and put out to sea again.


"Washington presents Captain Barry with his Commission [1797]", 1839, Alfred M. Hoffy, American (1790-1860), Yale Art Gallery.

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July 04, 2016

Born Outlaws: The Americans


Belle Starr: Non-Hollywood/non-Wanker version, circa 1885.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2016

July 1, 1950. Rivo Alto, Miami.


Posted by JD Hull at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2016

Before The Great Neutering: Free Speech Word of the Week is "Stewardess" or "Stew"

Before the Great Neutering, flight attendants were women known as "stewardesses" or "stews". Generally they were young, energetic, attractive and in good physical shape. Not big enough to have their own zip codes. They were kind. And smart, too. They cared about your safety. You could take one to dinner without having NPR or Anita Hill buzzing about it the next day. They looked you in the eye when they talked. They never said tacky things in bed.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2016

William Buckley interviews polymath Anthony Burgess on Firing Line (1972)

Posted by JD Hull at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2016

Where in the World is Partner Emeritus?

A recent dispatch from my friend Partner Emeritus, who for political reasons is touring familiar points south and scouting residential properties:

Dan, one of the sexual fantasies on my bucket list entails me dressing up as a British naval officer and proceeding to declare occupation on a local Buenos Aires beauty and reenact the Fuckland Islands War. I have my missile on standby. Dan, the last time I was in Buenos Aires, "eche tanto polvo con huesitas que me llamaban 'Dusty.'"


Posted by JD Hull at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2016

What do you really know about Jerry Springer, folks?

I often think about Jerry Springer.

Yeah, that Jerry Springer. Pre-TV circus fame, Springer was a talented lawyer, gifted politician, civil rights activist, respected city councilman and Cincinnati mayor (i.e., weak-mayor system slot) three decades ago. Springer was the Jewish Bobby Kennedy--who he had worked for and even looked a lot like.

Talk about Born to Run. A credible and polished liberal Democrat, for Pete's sake, in staid Republican stronghold Cincinnati, Ohio. Young London-born Jerry Springer in a place like Cincinnati was Unheard Of. He was first pol I ever volunteered to campaign for--and did that as a high school student. And I lived less than a mile from Senator Taft's family's house.

In fact, the Queen City and the very Eastern Hills neighborhood and school district I grew up in is home to President Taft, Taft's U.S. senator son ("Mr. Republican"), Taft's U.S. senator grandson and Taft's Ohio governor great-grandson. Respected GOP Senator Rob Portman went to private school down the street from me. Ex-Speaker John Boehner is from the eastern suburb next door. And Cincinnati generally is a hard-working and mainly white-collar GOP German-Catholic reactionary part of Ohio and America. Partly Midwestern, and a bit Southern, the city is nestled in green hills and greenbelt overlooking the Ohio River and the State of Kentucky.

Jerry Springer was the Anointed One: a pre-Rahm Rahm. Born to run for office, and active politically as a carpetbagger in Southwestern Ohio. Springer worked at BigLaw's now-Frost Brown, then Frost & Jacobs, conservative by even Cincinnati standards. Springer was the brave golden boy with almost shockingly progressive, liberal ideas for that region. A true Natural. Born to run.

In the summer of 1977, as part of a summer gig for the Cincinnati Legal Aid Society, I interviewed Councilman Springer for forty-five minutes with another law student--an also very young law student at HLS from Cincinnati named Keith Glaser--in connection with a Justice Department DOJ Voting Rights Act investigation of Cincinnati's city at-large councilmanic election schemata Keith and I were helping with. Springer was genuinely supportive of our effort to have more Cincinnati blacks--35% of the city proper--on city council, where they were under-represented.*

Anyway, Jerry Springer. I'm not easily charmed by politicians, men women, actors, actresses or other humans. I've met and spoken at length with only two other pols in my life that are in Jerry Springer's Charm League: GOP mainstay Richard Thornburgh and one ex-POTUS named William Jefferson Clinton. All three are very close on the head-spinning meter.

It's a very long story--one I am sure will be a movie some day. But Jerry Springer liked publicity, money, being famous and getting laid more than The Cause itself. And who am I to blame him? Those are exactly the things I like, too. But as Springer approaches his 72nd birthday, I wonder if we'll ever get him back. I hope we do. This is a great and talented human and leader.

*See, if you are interested, something I wrote back then which unexpectedly (to me, anyway) won two awards, including a national one, which article I recall my own father thought was uninteresting and irrelevant. Hull, Challenges to At-Large Election Plans: Modern Local Government on Trial, 47 U.CIN.L. REV. 64 (1978)

Posted by JD Hull at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2016

May Day.

O, look! the sun begins to rise, the heavens are in a glow;
He shines upon a hundred fields, and all of them I know.
And there I move no longer now, and there his light may shine–
Wild flowers in the valley for other hands than mine.

--from The May Queen, Alfred Tennyson, 1842


Posted by JD Hull at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2016

Happy Passover.

Gifts of the Jews.jpg
Thoughtful book by an Irishman about my favorite tribe.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2016

Heroes: WFB2

He was not always my favorite thinker--but William Frank Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008) was one of the greatest men in my lifetime. I saw him speak in the 1970s and he wowed even die-hard New Deal lefties in the overwhelmingly liberal audience with his wit and intelligence, appearing on campus a few weeks after Hunter Thompson. He was smart, funny, warm. And a fun kind of arrogant. An American standout from an early age.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2016

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

"Portrait of Chess Player"

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2016

Happy 209th, Mr. Longfellow.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born February 27, 1807 in Portland, Maine. He died on March 24, 1882 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2016

Cold Again in Yuppie Land, Y 'all: Consider "1 Night, 1 Person."


You say you would really like to help the urban homeless on both cold and super-cold Northeastern and Midwestern nights? Both plain cold and the bitterly cold, often unpredictable nights that many cities are prepared to accommodate more homeless residents at shelters but for a number of reasons (both good and bad) thousands of Americas's rough sleepers take their chances outside?

Good. So see our inaugural post about our One Night, Person (March 5, 2015) campaign and our follow-up March 7, 2015 post. No, we don't have time to go over all of this again; we're working stiffs like you. Just read the posts.

In short, here is the idea and rules:

You're a Yuppie, professional or other generic dweeb between the ages of 22 and 82.

You live in towns like New York City, Philly, Boston, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Wilmington, DC or Chicago.

You may live in the suburbs or in a downtown neighborhood of these cities. But if you work during the day in a downtown area of any of them, you and yours will go forth and do this:

1. Pick out and ask a homeless woman or man what articles of warm clothing she or he needs that you already have at home or in storage--thermal gloves, wool scarfs, warm hats and beanies, big sweaters, winter coats, thermal underwear, socks, etc.

2. Ask just one person at a time.

3. Agree on a time to meet (preferably at the same place) later that day or the next day.

4. Find the winter stuff you have at home or in storage.

5. Bring said stuff to the homeless woman or man as agreed.

6. Nine out of ten times, your new friend will be there when you show up.

7. Wait for forecasts of the next super-cold night--and repeat.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2016

Nelle Harper Lee (1926 - 2016)

Harper Lee 1926-2016.jpg
Pulitzer winner Lee in 1961, Monroeville, Alabama (Getty)

Posted by JD Hull at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2016

Antonin Gregory Scalia (March 11, 1936 - February 13, 2016)

Nino Scalia.jpg

Brilliant, a fighter, larger than life: Nino Scalia high school photo 1953.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2016

Mike Cernovich interview on Mirriam Seddiq's Not Guilty No Way podcast show.

Author, original thinker, lawyer and commentator Mike Cernovich, an American authentic who comes with brains and balls, was interviewed by Mirriam Seddiq last week on her Not Guilty No Way radio podcast show. The show with Cernovich is right here. If you want to meet a man whose three years at a fine California law school didn't rob him of his ability to think on his own, don't miss his segment in Episode 104. Much about the politics of men, women and real life gets covered in a compelling chat with a guy who does more to advance free speech/expression in one day than yours truly does in a year. Mike's a pioneer.

In Episode 104, host Seddiq is again assisted by Justin the Lawyer, Steven the Law Clerk and Katie the Hot Receptionist. However, she conducts Cernovich's interview alone. She does especially well in a necessarily more complex interview than, for example, when she interviewed me three weeks ago today. In addition to being a trial lawyer, Seddiq's a natural journalist, and getting better and better. The Cernovich interview was her third as a show host and interviewer. More importantly, she's good-looking and doesn't ditz out, get hysterical about issues or talk all the time. My kind of broad.

Above: Mike Cernovich

Posted by JD Hull at 12:57 AM | Comments (0)

JDH and WJC, New Year's Day, Charleston, South Carolina. No. 3

JDH WFC 3.jpg

Posted by JD Hull at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2016

American Pantheon: Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander is the 27-year-old Swedish actress who plays painter and historical figure Gerda Wegener in the new film The Danish Girl, with Eddie Redmayne. Wegener plays the wife of Einar Wegener (Redmayne's), also an artist, and one of the first known people to undergo a sex-change operation. As usual, Redmayne is first-rate, and nearly flawless in communicating what Wegener likely went through. Alica Vikander, however, is a revelation--at least to me. She shows each of the intertwining, never-ending, conflicting emotions she struggles with as she consistently supports her husband--turning from a man into a woman before her eyes--in a way that riveted me. This is a film about true romantic love. It may stretch you a bit.


Original posting date: December 23, 2015

Posted by JD Hull at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2016

Against the Great Neutering: Mr. Cage, thank you for being a Man.

On Twitter this morning I found the below Tweet. I was moved. Via Mr. Cage @I_AmAmerica "I'm Young, Black, Married, Father, Christian Conservative with a Huge Attitude":

Dear Men of America

Our women and children need us to be leaders, not some emotional, docile, weak cry baby.



Posted by JD Hull at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2016

J. Dan Hull, II (March 11, 1900 - October 13, 1987)

JDH JR  1933.jpg

J. Dan Hull, II, 1933. Above is his Yale Ph.D picture. Class act. American dream overachiever and gentlemen's gentlemen. Authentic and honest--and never went out of his way to trumpet either trait. My Grandpop. First Hull in Virginia-Missouri line to even go to college. His dad self-educated John Hull (JDH I) made his first stake as a laborer building railroads out West and ended up owning a drug store in Mountain Grove, Missouri. Grandpop, who fought with his own dad a lot (as I did with mine), entered University of Missouri at 16 years old and and got his Masters degree from University of Chicago at age 20. Grandpop's family were relative newcomers to the colonies compared to my Mom's side of the family, who got to Massachusetts in 1634. Born in Mountain Grove, Missouri, he ended his career as a player in the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, author (including co-authoring the standard text for many years on secondary American education), Renaissance man and member of the Cosmos Club, the merit-based club for D.C.'s intellectual elite.

Grandpop's great-great-great grandfather came to America as a teen with his own father from Germany and landed Middlebrook, Virginia in about 1750. Three generations later, just before the Civil War, another earlier Dan Hull, a miller and farmer, moved his large family from Virginia to Missouri in a what sounds like an ingenious "tricked-out" family carriage reputedly-handy old Dan had built especially for the trip. Old Dan drove the carriage. A wagon hitched to a four-horse team driven by a Bill Argenbright hauled the family goods. The journey to Missouri took 2 months, with then teenage Bill Hull--my great-great grandfather--serving on horseback as scout and advance man for supplies and campsites. Old Dan's other two sons, also on saddle horse, helped guide the trip. Just before making the trip, the family freed the slaves (at least 2) they had. They rested once a week to do washing, rest and attend church if possible. Old Dan's wife, who I'll write about some other time, was a devout Lutheran, as were all the 100 years of German-descended kin they were leaving back in Middlebrook, Virginia.

Two generations later, Grandpop was born in 1900, 50 years after that westward trip led by his grandfather Bill. Given his roots and his low-key, always-dignified personality, his career and unpretentious leap into elite American circles is amazing. Educator. Diplomat. World Traveler. Teacher. Manager. Executive. Musical. Great card player. Sportsman. Fisherman. He had taste, too. Aggressive and strong but often quiet--sometimes too quiet, with a tinge of melancholy that moved me. Like me, not completely knowable. Well-read and well-traveled. Effortlessly well-dressed at all times. (Slim but well-built, he looked more elegant in T-shirt than most men do in a tux.) Loved, admired and respected by the cream of Missourians and Washington, D.C. Member of DC's famous merit-based Cosmos Club. Hung out with John Kenneth Galbraith and Elliot Richardson. Not bad for an Ozarks mountain boy. And great, I'm told, with women folk. Raised 3 sisters after his young mother, Nancy Susan McQuitty--who he adored--died in 1917 on Christmas Eve, when he was always strangely quiet. He lived 87.5 years. (March 11, 1900 - October 13, 1987).

Both his Dad JDH I and his granddad Bill (a confederate soldier) lived even longer lives, dying in 1929 and 1953. His wife--and my pistol of a grandmother, Alene Oliver Hull--died in their house in Springfield, MO at 101. Grandpop taught me a lot. I miss him a lot. If it were not for 3 Missourians--Pat Bevier and Mary Helen Allen, my Dad's first cousins, and my marvelous new-found cousin, Super-Mom and Walmart exec Kristi Towe--I would have had a very hard time putting all this together accurately over the past few years. (Well, I may never have; it's time-consuming and I was always doing it half-assed and guessing based on things Grandpop told me, the Internet and 3 "mysterious" not-so-mysterious wills dating back to the 1700s my Dad John Hull gave me.) But 99.5% of the German Hulls is knowable--just not as well-kept as the history of my Mom's family (Holden) who've been keeping accurate records through the Colonial Dames organizations for several generations. Thanks for the work, you 3.

Posted by JD Hull at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2016

Snow Storm Jonas: Coping in D.C.

The Snowstorm has severely disrupted normal Washington, D.C. downtown street life. Can't even find a 280-pound senior hooker willing to call me Smokestack Lightning.


Gen. Joe Hooker's statue, Boston, February 18, 1928 by Leslie Jones (1886-1967)

Posted by JD Hull at 12:51 AM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2016

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (1946 – 2016)

British actor's actor Alan Rickman died yesterday at the age of 69.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:21 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2016

Janus, Roman god of Beginnings.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2015

Heroes: James M. Edwards.


Below: WWII picture of Jim Edwards (left), one of my Dad John Hull's best and oldest friends--and a hero of mine from the time I met him, which was right after we moved from Chicago to Cincinnati in the Spring of 1962. Quiet and self-effacing with (I thought) the most amazing eyes. 57 missions as fighter pilot in the China-Burma-India Theater before being shot down by ground fire behind enemy lines. Shortly before he died he told my Dad for the first time about how he escaped capture with a pistol and the help of local pro-Allies natives. Saw him and his new wife Shirley a lot in his last years. I was very close to his oldest son Bobby in elementary and middle school. I played at Jim's house on Brillwood Lane, both football and basketball, and the house next door where the Harness family lived. Jim was a genuinely brilliant, cultured, hardworking and good man. Brains behind P&G's paper products (Charmin) success. See James M. Edwards was P&G engineer, manufacturing leader. Like no P&G top executive you could meet. Serious. Intellectual. Playful. Athletic. Self-made. A well-read engineer who loved opera and theater. Liked to fish. And a Democrat. Unique. Boola Boola, sir.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2015

This Dude's Funny: "The Snooze Button", by Joshua Pierce.

Says author, comic, scholar, linguist, cyclist, philosopher and DC-based polymath Joshua Pierce: "This book is about stuff that annoys me, like waiting in lines, babies, boring sports, and job interviews. It's also about awesome things such as animals and boiled peanuts."

It's Funny. You can get it on Amazon. I've 3 copies and no you can't have one.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2015

December 7, 1941

Seventy-four years ago today, a Sunday, my Dad, 13, came home in the afternoon with a basketball as usual under his arm. He was surprised to find both his parents in the living room of their new house in Indianapolis, where the family had moved from Missouri the year before and my grandfather J. Dan Hull was now the new principal of storied Shortridge High School. They were listening intently to the radio, heads bowed to their Emerson tabletop model. His mom, and my grandmother, Alene Oliver Hull, mother of two, one girl and one boy, and tough-as-nails, outspoken Kentuckian schoolteacher (she died at 101), looked up from the radio at my Dad and started to softly cry.

Damaged Pearl Harbor destroyers USS Cassin and USS Downes

Posted by JD Hull at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2015

Aka Dr. Ruth: Karola Ruth Siegel is a major piece of work.

There is no one on earth quite like my friend Dr. Ruth. Holocaust survivor, soldier, sniper, grandmother, sex therapist, the subject of a play, New Yorker, mensch. Read the Washington Post feature about her in June around the time of her 87th birthday.

a dr ruth.jpg

Posted by JD Hull at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2015

Partner Emeritus, Où tu d'art?

Sir, it's just no good anymore at ATL since you went away. Now I spend my time just making rhymes of yesterday.


Posted by JD Hull at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2015

On all Humanity: Pluralist Paris, November 13, 2015.

Our best thoughts tonight with all those who live/work/play in Planet Earth's hands-down best city. One hundred and forty nine dead when I last looked up at the news at 2:30 am Paris time. Look, President Obama is not my favorite president. As an internationalist American president, however, he has had no peer, is not likely to ever have one and broke new ground as a transformational global seer. He was right tonight. Modern Paris is a kind of uber-human zoo and living library of old verities and new truths. It picked up and stood sentry over everything fine and good to be salvaged from the spirit-shattering middle ages; it keeps adding more. An attack on Paris, the West's best face, and where the entire world reposes mankind's best thoughts, hopes, work and art, is indeed an attack on all humanity. Pierre Rousselin Haywood Wise Richard Nahem Philip Jenkinson. Lucy Andre. Joseph Andre. Hope you guys are okay.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt (1918-2015)

Helmut Schmidt, German father figure and Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982, died on November 10. He was 96. Schmidt was a brilliant, rude, savvy far-out mother. RIP, old man. See in this week's The Economist his obituary in Smoke and fire, as only TE can do one. Excerpts:

Helmut Schmidt did not just find fools tiresome. He obliterated them. The facts were clear and the logic impeccable. So disagreement was a sign of idiocy.

He was impatient, too, with his own party, which failed to realise the constraints and dilemmas of power. It wanted him to spend money West Germany did not have, and to compromise with terrorists who belonged in jail. He was impatient with the anti-nuclear left, who failed to realise that nuclear-power stations were safe, and that the Soviet empire thrived on allies’ weakness. And he was impatient with post-Watergate America, which seemed to have lost its will to lead.

In good causes and in bad he was imperious. His addiction to nicotine trumped convention and courtesy. He smoked whenever and wherever he felt like it, even in non-smoking compartments of railway carriages. “Can you ask Mr Schmidt to put his cigarette out?” a passenger asked the conductor. “Would you mind telling him yourself?” came the timid reply.

Yet his brains, eloquence and willpower were unmatched in German politics. They brought him through the Nazi period, thrown out of the Hitler Youth for disloyalty but with an Iron Cross for bravery. He was one-quarter Jewish, which he concealed when he married his wife Loki and needed to prove his Aryan background.

In post-war West Germany he flourished, making a successful career in Hamburg’s city government. By commandeering army units to deal with the floods of 1962 he broke a taboo, and the law, but gaining a deserved reputation as a doer.

Helmut Schmidt.jpg

Posted by JD Hull at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2015

395 years

On November 9, 1620, 102 mainly English puritans first caught sight of the shoreline of what is now Cape Cod, Massachusetts, eventually anchoring in the fishhook of Plymouth (later Provincetown) Harbor. The boat called the Mayflower was about 110 feet long and 25 feet across at its widest point. About 25 crew accompanied them. Called Pilgrims, the 102 settlers were from one of the many sects of alienated Protestant "separatists" in England and Europe at the time. However, the Pilgrims were unique in one important respect. They would brook no union of church and state.

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)


Posted by JD Hull at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2015

This is what lawyers are good for.

In the movies, at long last, there's a portrait of a lawyer I would claim as one of my own: James B. Donovan (1916-1970). Unfortunately, the exception, not the rule. See Steven Spielberg's new film Bridge of Spies.


Posted by JD Hull at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2015

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. October 2015.

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, October 2015. "Takes dynamite to get me up. Too much of everything is just enough." Thank you Dana, Bill, Brad, Bruce, Larry, Planet Dembrow and Gregory Alexander Robertson (June 15, 1953 - June 15, 1990). All of you are miracles. Thank you, Greg, for teaching us without even trying.


Posted by JD Hull at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2015

In Miami New Times: John Pate's Venezuela.

See feature in the Miami New Times this week on the killing of expat American lawyer John Pate two months ago in Venezuela. Thanks to my friend, international IP lawyer and fellow Ohioan Richard Holzer for sending this. I would not have seen it otherwise.

John Pate Library.jpg

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Presentism, Evil Depraved Christopher Columbus and Real Life.

Presentism should be self-explanatory. Think of it as the tunnel vision you get using a stuck or broken kaleidoscope. A broken kaleidoscope for time instead of for space. You judge long past times and human actions with conventions and values of 2015.

This week New York City criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice wrote a blog post on the real if arguably witless controversy about continuing to observe Columbus Day given some of Christopher Columbus' predatory activities in Hispania and the New World. Ever since The Great Neutering, and in English-speaking nations in particular, some perspective-challenged white liberals--the kind of visionary folk who using a 2015 baseline would demonize uber-Virginian Robert E. Lee given his leadership of Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War--have had a big problem with Chris Columbus and his long-respected holiday.

There is apparently a name for this syndrome. Our mutual friend Stephanie West Allen, lawyer, writer, speaker and how-your-brain-works blogger who from time to time colludes with a neurologist and physician in Denver circles known only as Dr. Quaalude, introduced Scott and I both this week to a term for this historical perspective dysfunction and possibly new mental disorder: "Presentism." Presentism. As a scientific term or DSM label, granted, it's a bit goofy. But it's hands down more viable and appropriate than my past candidates brain damage and Grosse Pointe voodoo.

Presentism should be self-explanatory. Think of it as the tunnel vision you get using a stuck or broken kaleidoscope--but a broken kaleidoscope for time instead of space. Below and indented is my verbatim if imperfectly-worded comment (one of 38 Simple Justice readers have made to date) to Greenfield's able piece, entitled "Columbus Day at the Outrage Factory." I'd have spent more time polishing my comment to his post but The Twins came over unexpectedly that morning with new purchases from

However, and not to excuse my imperfect prose, if you read Greenfield's Simple Justice piece and some of the other comments, you will get the idea. Also featured in the main Greenfield post is one Marc John Randazza, an Italian-American and respected 1st amendment lawyer who owes me $20, a case of Diet Coke and the number of a new brothel hidden away in east Georgetown. Finally, my comment to the Greenfield article:

I majored in southern American history (and later Japanese history to get a different perspective) at Duke University. I fled the Duke English department and switched majors because the history courses I had dabbled in were better, I thought, for teaching 19-year-olds how to think.

My family here in America is white European English and German. We have been in America nearly 400 years on one side and a mere 265 years on the other. All were devout Protestants or at least claimed to be.

As lowly English artisans and trades people in the New World we killed-–and were killed by, some of us dying very bad deaths–-Indians in Massachusetts. In the American south, we were at first poor German farmers and eventually owned slaves in Virginia in a number of businesses. We freed slaves voluntarily, too–-but we might not have but for a move west to Missouri by one family branch.

All-–yes all; no exceptions-–white liberal academics and political pundits in 1900 would have been considered racists and in most cases vile racists today. It would be good to expand our minds a bit. This should not be a difficult concept for bright people in 2015. Time changes what is “offensive, hurtful and wrong.” All who commented here-–yes all; no exceptions–will be regarded as racists and in most cases vile racists a hundred years from now.

(Especially Greenfield because I’m told that among other things he secretly hates and wants to exterminate all philandering WASP fucks like me and because he heard that I once said to my wife at a Jewish wedding I attended at Tavern on the Green in 1990 that “Muffy, these people really got rhythm.”)

Anyway I’ll tie my cultural horse to all of the forgoing and honor my “vicious” European ancestors in America. I’m proud of them all. They were doing the best they could with their circumstances. Their parents were different and their own ancestors were different. They were all religious people, for fuck’s sake. And they were creatures and to some extent prisoners of the mores of the time they inhabited-–just as we are now.

Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo c. 1519

Posted by JD Hull at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2015

Heroes: ARH

My Mom, 87, just told me on her cell phone that she's driving over to her 10:00 AM workout class and will need to call me back "around noon." Check.

Lindsey, Suffolk, England

Posted by JD Hull at 11:42 PM | Comments (1)

October 09, 2015

Rude but heartfelt plea to DC's talented, independent, ever-expanding GenY women attorneys.

To the District of Columbia's oversupply of rotund GenY professional women, especially lawyers:

1. Whoa. What's going on? You girls beefin' up, or what? Ladies in their twenties and thirties typically emulate Audrey Hepburn--not Kim Davis. This is Washington, D.C. It's the East Coast--not Flint, Cincinnati or Omaha. Listen. Young women here need not be big enough to have their own zip codes. Dang.

2. Yes, I know that law students during those three years are famously unfit--yes, same with the guys--and it's hard to get through school, interviews, take the bar exam and start that plum job looking like a total Betty. However, being fleshy, fat or generally dumpy and unhealthy are not yet suspect classes for 5th and 14th Amendment purposes. No ADA safe harbor or affirmative action bootstrapping yet.

3. Yes, you will work, live, look and feel better if you exercise 30 minutes four times a week.

4. No, I don't want to date you folks. You're too young. And you're too busy and happy pursuing your infamous sport-hobby of slowly, incrementally, steadily finishing the job of neutering your spineless same-aged boyfriends to be doing 10Ks and triathlons every weekend. I get it.

5. But, ladies, you're putting the Big Hurt on my vision. Bike rentals, gyms & jogging paths are at every corner in this world class city. Try the crystal meth. Dirt cheap, I hear. Something. Blimey.

audrey on bike.jpg
Audrey Hepburn riding a bike.

Posted by JD Hull at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2015

Hull in 2016: Motherhood. Good crops. A thin Marie Osmond. Sweetness. Light. Nicer flight attendants.

Hull for President 2016. WTF not? I'm fed up. How about you? Walker out. Carson around the bend. Carly has about 4 weeks left in sun. The Donald? Fun but no bueno. 16 others going nowhere.

Time for Hull Exploratory Committee? Why not? You know, years ago I helped work up and file one of these things for Dick Thornburg, then in his mid-60s. Was a young DC partner then working for the late Republican kingmaker Evans Rose Jr., my senior partner. Wasn't that hard to do. Can one of the looters--uh, associates, rather--get me that form?

Hull-Clinton e.jpg
Good crops. Motherhood. Sweetness. Light. Thin women. Nicer stews.

Posted by JD Hull at 05:42 PM | Comments (2)

August 23, 2015

Soupy Sales with Pookie and White Fang.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2015

Best of Partner Emeritus No. 3: Summering Correctly in Gotham.

Two days ago our hero Partner Emeritus commented in response to an Above the Law piece on summer associate offers:

It's a sad world we live in where kids think they are having the time of their lives by raising bottles of Korbel champagne adorned with cheap sparklers. The video [in the ATL article] is proof that law firms are not celebrating like it was 1984 or 2007 for that matter.

When I was a younger partner, I would take a handful of summer associates to Smith & Wollensky or Peter Luger's in Brooklyn and then party hard at the VIP lounge at Flash Dancers ('80s) or Scores ('90s). Most of the summer associates were caught in compromising positions during these soirees. For example, I had many Polaroids with SAs who were photographed in salacious positions with female entertainers. I even photographed a few doing lines of coke in the VIP lounge.

Once the summer associates became associates I would bring them into my office and give them copies of the Polaroids and remind them that I was the last person they ever wanted to cross if they wanted to keep their job or law license. Most of these folks became partners, which proves my methods for inspiring peak performance were quite effective.

Photo taken in 1986 believed to be PE instructing summer associates.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2015

Chicago boy continues to make good: Happy Birthday, Mr. Hemingway.


Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899–July 2, 1961) at the stone mansion on Whitehead Street in Key West with one of the many famous, if often deranged or six-toed, Hemingway cats.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2015

A Father's Day.

Two days after Christmas of 2012, John Hull, my father, died suddenly, unexpectedly. He had not been ill, or feeling ill, in the weeks or days before. For that matter, other than a head cold every 3 or 4 years, he had not to my knowledge been ill at any time during his 84 years. I went over to my parents' condo with my brother David after getting a call from our mother that something had just happened she didn't understand. She said that after dinner Dad suddenly mentioned to her he felt strangely, and collapsed in a big easy chair with his head on his chest as he headed toward his bedroom.

I did cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Dad for what seemed like a very long time while we waited for an ambulance. He seemed to respond once. But seeing that the muscles in his face and around his mouth remained in a state of total collapse for at least a half hour, and were continuing to form a facial expression that was beyond sad and lifeless, I suspected that he was gone forever. I think everyone else in the room knew just from that. Any response from him now was either in my head or more likely his body's swansong of liquids, gases and tissues shutting down together.

Dad died on my last night of a week-long stay with him and my mother at a condo they've had for 20 years on Florida's gulf coast. Born May 17, 1928, he was 84 years and 7 months old. Eighty-four is an age that when reached by most driven, Alpha-male retired corporate executives loved and admired by three generations of family and friends--even after a long illness--we will all applaud and celebrate. Surviving family and friends are comforted with accolades and kudos directed to the fresh memory of a life fully, happily and productively lived. Well done, sir, we are saying to the deceased and family. Nothing for you or yours to be ashamed of. You're a stud for the ages, valued friend.

And so in Dad's case, it's been hard to convey to anyone how disappointing, strange and premature his death seemed, even as he was approaching his 85th birthday. Of course, if anyone outside the family, or outside my parents' small community, simply read the obituary I and others wrote for him the day after he died, you would surely say to yourself, this man John Daniel Hull, III, lived quite a life: 6'3" and 220 pounds in his younger years, an outstanding athletic career in both football and basketball at storied Shortridge High School (Indianapolis) and in college at DePauw, a successful and genuinely exciting 40-plus year career at P&G, his building a new brand called Charmin, the astonishing variety of people, from mighty to meek, he knew and influenced, his world travel (often with our mother), the long and idyllic--there is no better word than idyllic to describe year after year of June-July in a timeless Michigan community called Pointe Aux Barques, or to describe the outlandishly isolated fishing weeks in Alaska, Beliz or Panama--summers, holidays and trips abroad and, finally, the most important thing in his life, his storybook 62-year marriage to an authentic American beauty, true humanitarian and can-do super-mommy from Chicago everyone just called "Penny". Oh. And grandchildren. There were eight.


So what's not to like, admire and even envy this man's life? Well, for me, many of my family and others, Dad's life ended way too soon. It was somehow unfinished. Unfair. Too soon.

Yes, sir. Eighty-four. Eighty-four to most people is an advanced and admirable senior credential. To me, and likely to others who loved Dad and found his lack of health issues admirable and intimidating, it was a major disappointment and medical aberration, not to mention the name of the western Pennsylvania town near the Pittsburgh airport where one of our railway-building clients decided to put its national headquarters. True, Dad did exhibit some small but obvious declines you see in all aging people at those last two Christmases in Cincinnati and Marco Island. A high school football field injury to one of his feet had continued to make walking without a cane or walker painful and, despite working regularly with trainers in both Ohio and Florida, he wasn't shedding the extra 30 or 40 pounds that made walking increasingly painful.

Otherwise? Otherwise, Dan seemed to everyone to be doing just fine. Dad said throughout his life, and had said it again and to me during that visit, that he always "felt good" physically. An hour or two before he died, I left him to eat alone with my mother so I could spend time with my brother, who had just arrived, before my departure early the next morning. He was standing up, drink in hand, making fun of an MSNBC reporter, even though he liked the MSNBC anchors. He told me to have a good time out to dinner with my brother David, and that he would see me in the morning before I headed to the airport.

I had every reason to think I'd see him on the morning of December 28th, and for many Christmas visits to come. Dad should have had the best genes of any male Hull/Holl/Hohl in America since a mix of farmers with that name arrived here from the German Palatine in 1750. Dad's own father (JDH II) died at 87, his grandfather (JDH I) at 87, and his great-grandfather at 91. The first male in his line to be born in the colonies was a Daniel Hull, Dad's great-great-great-grandfather, who died at 85 in 1854. Finally, Dad's own pistol of a mom (Alene Oliver Hull) had died in 1998 at 101 with a narrative of health, perfect homemaker, school teacher, bourbon fancier, Southern Democrat, fun and humor until her last week. Ironically, Dad died younger than all but one of his American direct male ancestors going back eight generations. 270 years. That, folks, is just wrong.

More importantly, it was a good life. Dad struck everyone he ever met as strong, full of fun and happy. He was, as many have said in the past two years, "good company". His wit and storytelling were, well, hilarious and on occasion hopelessly wicked. Like many P&G people, Dad was a disciplined thinker and an excellent and succinct writer. He spoke simply, looked for the right word and used as few words as possible. He let inflection, emotion and humor do most of the work.

But he was also, in my view, gifted, and gifted extravagantly, in language. You picked up on this mainly in his speech. By all this, I mean gifted poetically and lyrically. He had uncanny feels for language and speech and he used that gift daily. His speech could be beautifully sounded out, and balanced, bursting all over you as tightly-constructed but witty, playful verse. It was often in a joke or a come-back. Hiding behind the funniness was a creature with an ear for words and how words could work together to make pleasing or compelling sounds, and especially sounds tailored to the idea expressed. He did not, however, and perhaps for understandable reasons, fully develop this smoldering talent. Was he aware of this? Yes, I think so, and he skillfully hid it.

John Hull circa 2010.jpg

Related to his sense of language, I was eternally amused that this world-class story-teller I grew up with thought of himself as 100% German stock--and nothing else, not Scottish, Irish or French and he was also all 3 in big doses--despite (a) a paternal grandmother being named McQuitty, (b) a face like the map of Ireland (c) the ability to talk about anything to anyone and (d) a simply out-sized verbal audacity that the Irish invented and still own that made you want to buy him another bourbon and run him for Congress. Me? I know I'm a small-part Irish. Irish is powerful stuff, though. I've felt its power and play every day of my life. Devil Irish. It blows away nearly everything, and often it's not good. So for years after I left home, I'd do a lot of the heavy Gaelic lifting to keep bonding with my not-Irish Dad. We met often for fun and often unpredictable week night dinners in cities where one or both of us would be working. We kept that up, too--until I stopped drinking in 1986.

[Special Nature v. Nurture note.] I happen to think that while both are important, genes are way more important than environment. Way more. Most of me, thanks to my Mom, seems to be East Anglia-descended, or British, an amalgam of most tribes in northern Europe, and then some, including old Roman, and in me it's similarly powerful, just saner. Then there is big dose of French from Dad and my elegant Granddad J. Dan which I like to think of as the Who's Your Daddy? gene or Name's Hull, Buy You A Drink? gene. The remaining, say, 35% of me is German and apparently dormant; anyone will tell you there is nothing actively German about me or Dad. Dad and I both make true rule-following linear-thinking Germanic types panicky and crazy, and do it of course on purpose. The rationale: anyone can do Western Logic; real men play mix it up and mess with your head just a bit.]

Like me, Dad had a temper, and was opinionated. Like me, he was often, if not on a day-to-day basis, a pain in the ass who could care less what people thought. Like me, he disliked religion but had lots of friends in organized religion, and like me he instead worshiped beautiful and outrageously photogenic boarding school girls with energy, moxie and patrician sensibilities--and in his case fortunately there could be only one. I fought with Dad on every bullet point in life for a half-century. To be honest, he was more like a fun big brother than a dad. He also could throw you off track by making you angry in a heartbeat and with little effort, which in time I got good at, too.

Did I have "closure" with him? Did a lack of closure make his death seem premature. Yes, I had closure with him. We had a scorched-earth rapport. No, and again, lack of closure or remorse was NOT the reason I and others felt "cheated" two-and-a-half years ago. He should have lived at least another 10 years. Had Dad himself done this or not done that, worked a little harder to solve his creeping mobility issues or perhaps made a slight lifestyle change here or there, I think he might be with us today and still doing the things he loved. Besides, I do like in-person debates, folks. I need him here and not wherever he was sent, if anywhere, which was likely not heaven. Dad and I addressed every possible issue from a fleeting news item on a West African nation to to our differing views of how the the Hull family was stacking up so far in America. We agreed on very little. An exception: both of us wanted to be more like his own dad, and my grandfather, the quiet, strong and often world-changing Dr. J. Dan Hull.

But the status quo? Most of the time Dad didn't like me, and I didn't like Dad. Any type of disagreement, express or implied, would do to alienate him. And in particular, as much as Dad hated Yes Men (and he did), it can be said he fairly demanded Yes Kids. I think it killed him every time you did not adopt his view on world issues or politics or marriage or child-raising or the correct necktie. It hurt him if you didn't agree with him on pretty much Anything, or didn't brag on him or took up a different career. Especially lawyering--which he was right about. (Lawyers, it turns out, are indeed mainly side-liners and wimps. Hopefully I've been a warrior and an true advocate.)

But we loved each other, I think. Dad was interesting, and Dad was entertaining. He was a powerful, funny and sometimes frightening piece of work. He could use used that Ozark country boy personality like a weapon. I still want to argue with him. I still want to know what he thinks. And I can't always explain it, but I miss him almost every day.


Posted by JD Hull at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2015

71st anniversary of D-Day.

On June 6, 1944, 160,000 troops from America, Canada, Britain, Canada and Poland landed on a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast of France. D-Day was the first day of Operation Overlord, which ended on August 30. Over 29,000 troops were killed in the engagement. Hungarian war photographer Robert Capa (1913-1954) asked to be amongst the first wave on the Normandy beach. Below is one the eleven Capa photographs of the fighting on Omaha Beach which survive, most taken right after landing. The helmeted GI in the water was identified as Private Huston S. Riley, who survived the war and died at age 90 in a Seattle hospital in 2011. Capa was also half-submerged and under fire when he took Hu Riley's photograph. He took another 100 photographs in the next 90 minutes--but they were ruined before being developed back in America. Capa died in 1954 in Vietnam covering the First Indochina War. He was 40.

Capa Omaha Beach.jpg

Posted by JD Hull at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2015

Happy 87, Big John.


Happy 87th, Big John. May 17, 1928 - December 27, 2012.

A stick in me hand and a tear in me eye
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

--1800s Irish war tune

Obituary for John Daniel Hull III
Cincinnati, OH and Marco Island, FL
January 1 , 2013

John D. Hull, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Marco Island, Florida, a longtime executive of the Procter & Gamble Distributing Company, died on December 27, 2012 in Marco Island, Florida. He was 84. The cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Arlene “Penny” Hull, and their children, J. Daniel Hull of San Diego, David A. Hull (Maureen) of Cincinnati and Rebecca Gorman (David) of Atlanta, daughter-in-law Pamela Larsen (Dan), and seven grandchildren: David Hull, Jr. , Kelley Hull, Katie Hull, David Gorman, Jr. (Erin), Chris Gorman, Carrie Gorman, and James Gorman. He is also survived by a sister, Nancy Hull McCracken, of Robinson, Illinois.

John was born in Springfield, Missouri in 1928. His parents were J. Dan Hull, an educator, and Alene Oliver, a home economics teacher. John graduated from Indianapolis’s Shortridge High School in 1945. He attended Wabash College, and DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, graduating in 1949. In both high school and college, he excelled in varsity football and basketball. At DePauw, he met Penny Reemer, his future wife. John and Penny were married in 1950.

After graduating from DePauw, John began a 41-year career with Procter & Gamble in sales. When P&G purchased the Charmin Paper Company in 1959, John played a key role leading the integration of Charmin into P&G. He stayed in the Paper Division for the balance of his career in several executive roles. He trained, coached and mentored many P&G people throughout his career. He was known for his unpretentious management style, and willingness to share his knowledge and experience with others. John Hull had an impact on countless P&G people over the years.

During the Korean War, and between 1952 and 1954, he served in the U.S. Army, and was honorably discharged.

John and Penny raised their family in Aberdeen, Maryland, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Cincinnati. All his life, John was a sportsman who loved lakes and the sea. He was a dedicated fisherman and was especially enthusiastic about fishing trips to Central America, Alaska and lakes and streams in the U.S. where smallmouth bass ran. He enjoyed golf, and was an avid tennis player. John and Penny were members of Cincinnati’s Kenwood Country Club.

John Hull was known to everyone he met as a larger-than-life personality, curious about the world he lived in, and an engaging storyteller.

A short memorial service celebrating John’s life was conducted by family and close friends at Marco Island on New Year’s Eve. In the Spring of 2013, on a date to be announced by the family [May 16, 2013], there will be second memorial service in Cincinnati, and John’s ashes will be interred at Old Armstrong Chapel Cemetery in Indian Hill, Ohio.

Posted by JD Hull at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2015

Ultimate Ode to the Slackoisie: Jeff Bridges as The Dude.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2015

Round 2: "One Night, One Person".


Lots of us who work somewhere "downtown" during the day have a chance to participate in Round 2 of "One Night, One Person". See our March 5 and March 7 posts. Over the next 10 days, temperatures in virtually all of the Northeastern and Midwestern Yuppie-laden cities will hit freezing or well below, especially in Boston, Cleveland, Detroit and NYC. Others like Chicago, DC, Indianapolis, Columbus and Wilmington will approach or hit freezing. The "rules" here are simple. And intuitive. You find out--and you do this in person--exactly who on the streets needs warm wraps a night or two before they will really need it, and get that stuff to them directly within, say, 24 hours. Oh, and you may need to check weather forecasts in your cities. Cold winter nights are back for a while. For some, your excess winter clothing--and believe me, you have some--could certainly lessen what can only be described as suffering and even save a life. How much fleecy stuff from The North Face do you need to keep around the house anyway?

Here again are "rules" from our March 7 post:

1. Pick out and ask a homeless woman or man what articles of warm clothing she or he needs that you already have at home or in storage, for examples thermal gloves, wool scarfs, warm hats and beanies, big sweaters, winter coats, thermal underwear, socks, etc. Ask just one person at a time.

2. Agree on a time to meet (preferably at the same place) later that day or the next day.

3. Find the winter stuff you have at home or in storage.

4. Bring said stuff to the homeless woman or man as agreed. Nine out of ten times, your new friend will be there when you show up.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2015

Jack Kerouac, The James Dean of Letters.

It's Jack Kerouac's 93rd birthday today. Since you talk about the work that made him famous On The Road so much at parties and in bars, it's high time you read it. Truman Capote called it "typing". I call it "reflective" and "ambitious" with moments of greatness in language. Here is the full if imperfect text:

On The Road


I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead. With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road. Before that I'd often dreamed of going West to see the country, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he actually was born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy, on their way to Los Angeles. First reports of him came to me through Chad King, who'd shown me a few letters from him written in a New Mexico reform school. I was tremendously interested in the letters because they so naively and sweetly asked Chad to teach him all about Nietzsche and all the wonderful intellectual things that Chad knew. At one point Carlo and I talked about the letters and wondered if we would ever meet the strange Dean Moriarty. This is all far back, when Dean was not the way he is today, when he was a young jail kid shrouded in mystery. Then news came that Dean was out of reform school and was coming to New York for the first time; also there was talk that he had just married a girl called Marylou.

One day I was hanging around the campus and Chad and Tim Gray told me Dean was staying in a cold-water pad in East Harlem, the Spanish Harlem. Dean had arrived the night before, the first time in New York, with his beautiful little sharp chick Marylou; they got off the Greyhound bus at 50th Street and cut around the comer looking for a place to eat and went right in Hector's, and since then Hector's cafeteria has always been a big symbol of New York for Dean. They spent money on beautiful big glazed cakes and creampuffs.

Above: Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty) and Jack Kerouac

All this time Dean was telling Marylou things like this: «Now, darling, here we are in New York and although I haven't quite told you everything that I was tliinking about when we crossed Missouri
and especially at the point when we passed the Booneville reformatory which reminded me of my jail problem, it is absolutely necessary now to postpone all those leftover things concerning our personal lovethings and at once begin thinking of specific worklife plans . . . and so on in the way that he had in those early days.

I went to the cold-water flat with the boys, and Dean came to the door in his shorts. Marylou was jumping off the couch; Dean had dispatched the occupant of the apartment to the kitchen, probably
to make coffee, while he proceeded with his loveproblems, for to him sex was the one and only holy and important thing in life, although he had to sweat and curse to make a living and so on. You saw
that in the way he stood bobbing his head, always looking down, nodding, like a young boxer to instructions, to make you think he was listening to every word, throwing in a thousand «Yeses» and
«That's rights.» My first impression of Dean was of a young Gene Autry - trim, thin-hipped, blue-eyed, with a real Oklahoma accent - a sidebumed hero of the snowy West. In fact he'd just been
working on a ranch, Ed Wall's in Colorado, before marrying Marylou and coming East. Marylou was a pretty blonde with immense ringlets of hair like a sea of golden tresses; she sat there on the
edge of the couch with her hands hanging in her lap and her smoky blue country eyes fixed in a wide stare because she was in an evil gray New York pad that she'd heard about back West, and waiting
like a longbodied emaciated Modigliani surrealist woman in a serious room. But, outside of being a sweet lMe girl, she was awfully dumb and capable of doing horrible things. That night we all drank
beer and pulled wrists and talked till dawn, and in the morning, while we sat around dumbly smoking butts from ashtrays in the gray light of a gloomy day, Dean got up nervously, paced around, thinking,
and decided the thing to do was to have Marylou make breakfast and sweep the floor. "In other words we've got to get on the ball, darling, what I'm saying, otherwise it'll be fluctuating and lack of
true knowledge or crystallization of our plans.» Then I went away.

During the following week he confided in Chad King that he absolutely had to learn how to write
from him; Chad said I was a writer and he should come to me for advice. Meanwhile Dean had
gotten a job in a parking lot, had a fight with Marylou in their Hoboken apartment - God knows why
they went there - and she was so mad and so down deep vindictive that she reported to the police
some false trumped-up hysterical crazy charge, and Dean had to lam from Hoboken. So he had no
place to live. He came right out to Paterson, New Jersey, where I was living with my aunt, and one
night while I was studying there was a knock on the door, and there was Dean, bowing, shuffling
obsequiously in the dark of the hall, and saying, «Hello, you remember me - Dean Moriarty? I've
come to ask you to show me how to write.»

«And where's Marylou?» I asked, and Dean said she'd apparently whored a few dollars together
and gone back to Denver - »the whore!» So we went out to have a few beers because we couldn't
talk like we wanted to talk in front of my aunt, who sat in the living room reading her paper. She
took one look at Dean and decided that he was a madman.

In the bar I told Dean, «Hell, man, I know very well you didn't come to me only to want to
become a writer, and after all what do I really know about it except you've got to stick to it with the
energy of a benny addict.» And he said, «Yes, of course, I know exactly what you mean and in fact
all those problems have occurred to me, but the thing that I want is the realization of those factors
that should one depend on Schopenhauer's dichotomy for any inwardly realized . . .» and so on in
that way, things I understood not a bit and he himself didn't. In those days he really didn't know
what he was talking about; that is to say, he was a young jailkid all hung-up on the wonderful
possibilities of becoming a real intellectual, and he liked to talk in the tone and using the words, but in
a jumbled way, that he had heard from «real intellectuals* - although, mind you, he wasn't so naive
as that in all other things, and it took him just a few months with Carlo Marx to become completely
in there with all the terms and jargon. Nonetheless we understood each other on other levels of
madness, and I agreed that he could stay at my house till he found a job and furthermore we agreed
to go out West sometime. That was the winter of 1947.

One night when Dean ate supper at my house - he already had the parking-lot job in New York -
he leaned over my shoulder as I typed rapidly away and said, «Come on man, those girls won't wait,
make it fast.»

I said, «Hold on just a minute, I'll be right with you soon as I finish this chapter,» and it was one
of the best chapters in the book. Then I dressed and off we flew to New York to meet some girls.
As we rode in the bus in the weird phosphorescent void of the Lincoln Tunnel we leaned on each
other with fingers waving and yelled and talked excitedly, and I was beginning to get the bug like
Dean. He was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man, he was
only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would
otherwise pay no attention to him. He was conning me and I knew it (for room and board and «how-
to-write,» etc.), and he knew I knew (this has been the basis of our relationship), but I didn't care
and we got along fine - no pestering, no catering; we tiptoed around each other like heartbreaking
new friends. I began to learn from him as much as he probably learned from me. As far as my work
was concerned he said, «Go ahead, everything you do is great. » He watched over my shoulder as I
wrote stories, yelling, «Yes! That's right! Wow! Man!» and «Phew!» and wiped his face with his
handkerchief. «Man, wow, there's so many things to do, so many things to write! How to even
begin to get it all down and without modified restraints and all hung-up on like literary inhibitions and
grammatical fears . . .»

«That's right, man, now you're talking.» And a kind of holy Ughtning I saw flashing from his
excitement and his visions, which he described so torrentially that people in buses looked around to
see the «overexcited nut.» In the West he'd spent a third of his time in the poolhall, a third in jail, and
a third in the public library. They'd seen him rushing eagerly down the winter streets, bareheaded,
carrying books to the poolhall, or climbing trees to get into the attics of buddies where he spent days
reading or hiding from the law.

We went to New York - 1 forget what the situation was, two colored girls - there were no girls
there; they were supposed to meet him in a diner and didn't show up. We went to his parking lot
where he had a few things to do - change his clothes in the shack in back and spruce up a bit in front
of a cracked mirror and so on, and then we took off. And that was the night Dean met Carlo Marx.
A tremendous thing happened when Dean met Carlo Marx. Two keen minds that they are, they took
to each other at the drop of a hat. Two piercing eyes glanced into two piercing eyes - the holy con-
man with the shining mind, and the sorrowful poetic con-man with the dark mind that is Carlo Marx.
From that moment on I saw very little of Dean, and I was a little sorry too. Their energies met head-
on, I was a lout compared, I couldn't keep up with them.

The whole mad swirl of everything that was to come began then; it would mix up all my friends
and all I had left of my family in a big dust cloud over the American Night. Carlo told him of Old Bull
Lee, Elmer Hassel, Jane: Lee in Texas growing weed, Hassel on Riker's Island, Jane wandering on
Times Square in a benzedrine hallucination, with her baby girl in her arms and ending up in Bellevue.
And Dean told Carlo of unknown people in the West like Tommy Snark, the clubfooted poolhall
rotation shark and cardplayer and queer saint. He told him of Roy Johnson, Big Ed Dunkel, his
boyhood buddies, his street buddies, his innumerable girls and sex-parties and pornographic
pictures, his heroes, heroines, adventures. They rushed down the street together, digging everything
in the early way they had, which later became so much sadder and perceptive and blank. But then
they danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life
after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are
mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who
never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but bum, bum, bum like fabulous yellow roman candles
exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and
everybody goes «Awww!» What did they call such young people in Goethe's Germany? Wanting
dearly to learn how to write like Carlo, the first thing you know, Dean was attacking him with a great
amorous soul such as only a con-man can have. «Now, Carlo, let me speak - here's what I'm
saying ...» I didn't see them for about two weeks, during which time they cemented their relationship
to fiendish allday-allnight-talk proportions.

Then came spring, the great time of traveling, and everybody in the scattered gang was getting
ready to take one trip or another. I was busily at work on my novel and when I came to the halfway
mark, after a trip down South with my aunt to visit my brother Rocco, I got ready to travel West for
the very first time.

Dean had already left. Carlo and I saw him off at the 34th Street Greyhound station. Upstairs
they had a place where you could make pictures for a quarter. Carlo took off his glasses and looked
sinister. Dean made a profile shot and looked coyly around. I took a straight picture that made me
look like a thirty-year-old Italian who'd kill anybody who said anything against his mother. This
picture Carlo and Dean neatly cut down the middle with a razor and saved a half each in their
wallets. Dean was wearing a real Western business suit for his big trip back to Denver; he'd finished
his first fling in New York. I say fling, but he only worked like a dog in parking lots. The most
fantastic parking-lot attendant in the world, he can back a car forty miles an hour into a tight squeeze

and stop at the wall, jump out, race among fenders, leap into another car, circle it fifty miles an hour
in a narrow space, back swiftly into tight spot, hump, snap the car with the emergency so that you
see it bounce as he flies out; then clear to the ticket shack, sprinting like a track star, hand a ticket,
leap into a newly arrived car before the owner's half out, leap literally under him as he steps out, start
the car with the door flapping, and roar off to the next available spot, arc, pop in, brake, out, run;
working like that without pause eight hours a night, evening rush hours and after-theater rush hours,
in greasy wino pants with a frayed fur-lined jacket and beat shoes that flap. Now he'd bought a new
suit to go back in; blue with pencil stripes, vest and all - eleven dollars on Third Avenue, with a
watch and watch chain, and a portable typewriter with which he was going to start writing in a
Denver rooming house as soon as he got a job there. We had a farewell meal of franks and beans in
a Seventh Avenue Riker's, and then Dean got on the bus that said Chicago and roared off into the
night. There went our wrangler. I promised myself to go the same way when spring really bloomed
and opened up the land.

And this was really the way that my whole road experience began, and the things that were to
come are too fantastic not to tell.

Yes, and it wasn't only because I was a writer and needed new experiences that I wanted to
know Dean more, and because my life hanging around the campus had reached the completion of its
cycle and was stultified, but because, somehow, in spite of our difference in character, he reminded
me of some long-lost brother; the sight of his suffering bony face with the long sideburns and his
straining muscular sweating neck made me remember my boyhood in those dye-dumps and swim-
holes and riversides of Paterson and the Passaic. His dirty workclothes clung to him so gracefully, as
though you couldn't buy a better fit from a custom tailor but only earn it from the Natural Tailor of
Natural Joy, as Dean had, in his stresses. And in his excited way of speaking I heard again the voices
of old companions and brothers under the bridge, among the motorcycles, along the wash-lined
neighborhood and drowsy doorsteps of afternoon where boys played guitars while their older
brothers worked in the mills. All my other current friends were «intellectuals» - Chad the Nietzschean
anthropologist, Carlo Marx and his nutty surrealist low-voiced serious staring talk, Old Bull Lee and
his critical anti-every-thing drawl - or else they were slinking criminals like Elmer Hassel, with that hip
sneer; Jane Lee the same, sprawled on the Oriental cover of her couch, sniffing at the New Yorker.
But Dean's intelligence was every bit as formal and shining and complete, without the tedious
intellectualness. And his <> was not something that sulked and sneered; it was a wild yea-
saying overburst of American joy; it was Western, the west wind, an ode from the Plains, something
new, long prophesied, long a-coming (he only stole cars for joy rides). Besides, all my New York
friends were in the negative, nightmare position of putting down society and giving their tired bookish
or political or psychoanalytical reasons, but Dean just raced in society, eager for bread and love; he
didn't care one way or the other, «so long's I can get that lil ole gal with that lil sumpin down there
tween her legs, boy,» and «so long's we can eat, son, y'ear me? I'm hungry, I'm starving, let's eat
right now\» - and off we'd rush to eat, whereof, as saith Ecclesiastes, «It is your portion under the

A western kinsman of the sun, Dean. Although my aunt warned me that he would get me in
trouble, I could hear a new call and see a new horizon, and believe it at my young age; and a little bit
of trouble or even Dean's eventual rejection of me as a buddy, putting me down, as he would later,
on starving sidewalks and sickbeds - what did it matter? I was a young writer and I wanted to take

Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line

the pearl would be handed to me.

In the month of July 1947, having saved about fifty dollars from old veteran benefits, I was ready
to go to the West Coast. My friend Remi Boncceur had written me a letter from San Francisco,
saying I should come and ship out with him on an around-the- world liner. He swore he could get me
into the engine room. I wrote back and said I'd be satisfied with any old freighter so long as I could
take a few long Pacific trips and come back with enough money to support myself in my aunt's
house while I finished my book. He said he had a shack in Mill City and I would have all the time in
the world to write there while we went through the rigmarole of getting the ship. He was living with a
girl called Lee Ann; he said she was a marvelous cook and everything would jump. Remi was an old
prep-school friend, a Frenchman brought up in Paris and a really mad guy - 1 didn't know how mad
at this time. So he expected me to arrive in ten days. My aunt was all in accord with my trip to the
West; she said it would do me good, I'd been working so hard all winter and staying in too much;
she even didn't complain when I told her I'd have to hitchhike some. All she wanted was for me to
come back in one piece. So, leaving my big half-manuscript sitting on top of my desk, and folding
back my comfortable home sheets for the last time one morning, I left with my canvas bag in which a
few fundamental things were packed and took off for the Pacific Ocean with the fifty dollars in my

I'd been poring over maps of the United States in Paterson for months, even reading books about
the pioneers and savoring names like Platte and Cimarron and so on, and on the road-map was one
long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada, and there
dipped down to Los Angeles. I'll just stay on 6 all the way to Ely, I said to myself and confidently
started. To get to 6 I had to go up to Bear Mountain. Filled with dreams of what I'd do in Chicago,
in Denver, and then finally in San Fran, I took the Seventh Avenue subway to the end of the line at
242nd Street, and there took a trolley into Yonkers; in downtown Yonkers I transferred to an
outgoing trolley and went to the city limits on the east bank of the Hudson River. If you drop a rose
in the Hudson River at its mysterious source in the Adirondacks, think of all the places it journeys by
as it goes out to sea forever - think of that wonderful Hudson Valley. I started hitching up the thing.
Five scattered rides took me to the desired Bear Mountain Fridge, where Route 6 arched in from
New England. It began to rain in torrents when I was let off there. It was mountainous. Route 6
came over the river, wound around a traffic circle, and disappeared into the wilderness. Not only
was there no traffic but the rain came down in buckets and I had no shelter. I had to run under some
pines to take cover; this did no good; I began crying and swearing and socking myself on the head
for being such a damn fool. I was forty miles north of New York; all the way up I'd been worried
about the fact that on this, my big opening day, I was only moving north instead of the so-longed-for
west. Now I was stuck on my northernmost hangup. I ran a quarter-mile to an abandoned cute
English-style filling station and stood under the dripping eaves. High up over my head the great hairy
Bear Mountain sent down thunderclaps that put the fear of God in me. All I could see were smoky
trees and dismal wilderness rising to the skies. «What the hell am I doing up here?»

I cursed, I cried for Chicago. «Even now they're all having a big time, they're doing this, I'm not
there, when will I get there !» - and so on. Finally a car stopped at the empty filling station; the man
and the two women in it wanted to study a map. I stepped right up and gestured in the rain; they
consulted; I looked like a maniac, of course, with my hair all wet, my shoes sopping. My shoes,
damn fool that I am, were Mexican huaraches, plantlike sieves not fit for the rainy night of America
and the raw road night. But the people let me in and rode me north to Newburgh, which I accepted


as a better alternative than being trapped in the Bear Mountain wilderness all night. «Besides,» said
the man, «there's no traffic passes through 6. If you want to go to Chicago you'd do better going
across the Holland Tunnel in New York and head for Pittsburgh,* and I knew he was right. It was
my dream that screwed up, the stupid hearthside idea that it would be wonderful to follow one great
red line across America instead of trying various roads and routes.

In Newburgh it had stopped raining. I walked down to the river, and I had to ride back to New
York in a bus with a delegation of schoolteachers coming back from a weekend in the mountains -
chatter-chatter blah-blah, and me swearing for all the time and the money I'd wasted, and telling
myself, I wanted to go west and here I've been all day and into the night going up and down, north
and south, like something that can't get started. And I swore I'd be in Chicago tomorrow, and made
sure of that, taking a bus to Chicago, spending most of my money, and didn't give a damn, just as
long as I'd be in Chicago tomorrow.


It was an ordinary bus trip with crying babies and hot sun, and countryfolk getting on at one Penn
town after another, till we got on the plain of Ohio and really rolled, up by Ashtabula and straight
across Indiana in the night. I arrived in Chi quite early in the morning, got a room in the Y, and went
to bed with a very few dollars in my pocket. I dug Chicago after a good day's sleep.

The wind from Lake Michigan, bop at the Loop, long walks around South Halsted and North
Clark, and one long walk after midnight into the jungles, where a cruising car followed me as a
suspicious character. At this time, 1947, bop was going like mad all over America. The fellows at the
Loop blew, but with a tired air, because bop was somewhere between its Charlie Parker
Ornithology period and another period that began with Miles Davis. And as I sat there listening to
that sound of the .light which bop has come to represent for all of us, I thought of all my friends from
one end of the country to the other and how they were really all in the same vast backyard doing
something so frantic and rushing-about. And for the first time in my life, the following afternoon, I
went into the West. It was a warm and beautiful day for hitchhiking. To get out of the impossible
complexities of Chicago traffic I took a bus to Joliet, Illinois, went by the Joliet pen, stationed myself
just outside town after a walk through its leafy rickety streets behind, and pointed my way. All the
way from New York to Joliet by bus, and I had spent more than half my money.

My first ride was a dynamite truck with a red flag, about thirty miles into great green Illinois, the
truckdriver pointing out the place where Route 6, which we were on, intersects Route 66 before they
both shoot west for incredible distances. Along about three in the afternoon, after an apple pie and
ice cream in a roadside stand, a woman stopped for me in a little coupe. I had a twinge of hard joy
as I ran after the car. But she was a middle-aged woman, actually the mother of sons my age, and
wanted somebody to help her drive to Iowa. I was all for it. Iowa! Not so far from Denver, and
once I got to Denver I could relax. She drove the first few hours, at one point insisted on visiting an
old church somewhere, as if we were tourists, and then I took over the wheel and, though I'm not
much of a driver, drove clear through the rest of Illinois to Davenport, Iowa, via Rock Island. And
here for the first time in my life I saw my beloved Mississippi River, dry in the summer haze, low
water, with its big rank smell that smells like the raw body of America itself because it washes it up.
Rock Island - railroad tracks, shacks, small downtown section; and over the bridge to Davenport,
same kind of town, all smelling of sawdust in the warm midwest sun. Here the lady had to go on to
her Iowa hometown by another route, and I got out.

The sun was going down. I walked, after a few cold beers, to the edge of town, and it was a long
walk. All the men were driving home from work, wearing railroad hats, baseball hats, all kinds of
hats, just like after work in any town anywhere. One of them gave me a ride up the hill and left me at
a lonely crossroads on the edge of the prairie. It was beautiful there. The only cars that came by
were farmer-cars; they gave me suspicious looks, they clanked along, the cows were coming home.
Not a truck. A few cars zipped by. A hotrod kid came by with his scarf flying. The sun went all the
way down and I was standing in the purple darkness. Now I was scared. There weren't even any
lights in the Iowa countryside; in a minute nobody would be able to see me. Luckily a man going
back to Davenport gave me a lift downtown. But I was right where I started from.

I went to sit in the bus station and think this over. I ate another apple pie and ice cream; that's
practically all I ate all the way across the country, I knew it was nutritious and it was delicious, of
course. I decided to gamble. I took a bus in downtown Davenport, after spending a half-hour
watching a waitress in the bus-station cafe, and rode to the city limits, but this time near the gas


stations. Here the big tracks roared, wham, and inside two minutes one of them cranked to a stop
for me. I ran for it with my soul whoopeeing. And what a driver - a great big tough truckdriver with
popping eyes and a hoarse raspy voice who just slammed and kicked at everything and got his rig
under way and paid hardly any attention to me. So I could rest my tired soul a little, for one of the
biggest troubles Wtchhiking is having to talk to innumerable people, make them feel that they didn't
make a mistake picking you up, even entertain them almost, all of which is a great strain when you're
going all the way and don't plan to sleep in hotels. The guy just yelled above the roar, and all I had to
do was yell back, and we relaxed. And he balled that thing clear to Iowa City and yelled me the
funniest stories about how he got around the law in every town that had an unfair speed limit, saying
over and over again, «Them goddam cops can't put no flies on my ass!» Just as we rolled into Iowa
Qty he saw another truck coming behind us, and because he had to turn off at Iowa City he blinked
his tail lights at the other guy and slowed down for me to jump out, which I did with my bag, and the
other truck, acknowledging this exchange, stopped for me, and once again, in the twink of nothing, I
was in another big high cab, all set to go hundreds of miles across the night, and was I happy! And
the new truckdriver was as crazy as the other and yelled just as much, and all I had to do was lean
back and roll on. Now I could see Denver looming ahead of me like the Promised Land, way out
there beneath the stars, across the prairie of Iowa and the plains of Nebraska, and I could see the
greater vision of San Francisco beyond, like jewels in the night. He balled the jack and told stories
for a couple of hours, then, at a town in Iowa where years later Dean and I were stopped on
suspicion in what looked like a stolen Cadillac, he slept a few hours in the seat. I slept too, and took
one little walk along the lonely brick walls illuminated by one lamp, with the prairie brooding at the
end of each little street and the smell of the com like dew in the night.

He woke up with a start at dawn. Off we roared, and an hour later the smoke of Des Moines
appeared ahead over the green cornfields. He had to eat his breakfast now and wanted to take it
easy, so I went right on into Des Moines, about four miles, hitching a ride with two boys from the
University of Iowa; and it was strange sitting in their brand-new comfortable car and hearing them
talk of exams as we zoomed smoothly into town. Now I wanted to sleep a whole day. So I went to
the Y to get a room; they didn't have any, and by instinct I wandered down to the railroad tracks -
and there're a lot of them in Des Moines - and wound up in a gloomy old Plains inn of a hotel by the
locomotive roundhouse, and spent a long day sleeping on a big clean hard white bed with dirty
remarks carved in the wall beside my pillow and the beat yellow windowshades pulled over the
smoky scene of the rail-yards. I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct
time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was - I was far away from
home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam
outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds,
and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange
seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted
life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my
youth and the West of my future, and maybe that's why it happened right there and then, that strange
red afternoon.

But I had to get going and stop moaning, so I picked up my bag, said so long to the old
hotelkeeper sitting by his spittoon, and went to eat. I ate apple pie and ice cream - it was getting
better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer. There were the most beautiful
bevies of girls everywhere I looked in Des Moines that afternoon - they were coming home from
high school - but I had no time now for thoughts like that and promised myself a ball in Denver.
Carlo Marx was already in Denver; Dean was there; Chad King and Tim Gray were there, it was


their hometown; Marylou was there; and there was mention of a mighty gang including Ray Rawlins
and his beautiful blond sister Babe Rawlins; two waitresses Dean knew, the Bettencourt sisters; and
even Roland Major, my old college writing buddy, was there. I looked forward to all of them with
joy and anticipation. So I rushed .past the pretty girls, and the prettiest girls in the world live in Des

A guy with a kind of toolshack on wheels, a truck full of tools that he drove standing up like a
modem milkman, gave me a ride up the long hill, where I immediately got a ride from a farmer and
his son heading out for Adel in Iowa. In this town, under a big elm tree near a gas station, I made the
acquaintance of another hitchhiker, a typical New Yorker, an Irishman who'd been driving a truck
for the post office most of his work years and was now headed for a girl in Denver and a new life. I
think he was mnning away from something in New York, the law most likely. He was a real red-
nose young drunk of thirty and would have bored me ordinarily, except that my senses were sharp
for any kind of human friendship. He wore a beat sweater and baggy pants and had nothing with him
in the way of a bag - just a toothbrush and handkerchiefs. He said we ought to hitch together. I
should have said no, because he looked pretty awful on the road. But we stuck together and got a
ride with a taciturn man to Stuart, Iowa, a town in which we were really stranded. We stood in front
of the railroad-ticket shack in Stuart, waiting for the westbound traffic till the sun went down, a good
five hours, dawdling away the time, at first telling about ourselves, then he told dirty stories, then we
just kicked pebbles and made goofy noises of one kind and another. We got bored. I decided to
spend a buck on beer; we went to an old saloon in Stuart and had a few. There he got as drunk as
he ever did in his Ninth Avenue night back home, and yelled joyously in my ear all the sordid dreams
of his life. I kind of liked him; not because he was a good sort, as he later proved to be, but because
he was enthusiastic about things. We got back on the road in the darkness, and of course nobody
stopped and nobody came by much. That went on till three o'clock in the morning. We spent some
time trying to sleep on the bench at the railroad ticket office, but the telegraph clicked all night and
we couldn't sleep, and big freights were slamming around outside. We didn't know how to hop a
proper chain gang; we'd never done it before; we didn't know whether they were going east or west
or how to find out or what boxcars and flats and de-iced reefers to pick, and so on. So when the
Omaha bus came through just before dawn we hopped on it and joined the sleeping passengers - 1
paid for his fare as well as mine. His name was Eddie. He reminded me of my cousin-in-law from the
Bronx. That was why I stuck with him. It was like having an old friend along, a smiling good-natured
sort to goof along with.

We arrived at Council Bluffs at dawn; I looked out. All winter I'd been reading of the great
wagon parties that held council there before hitting the Oregon and Santa Fe trails; and of course
now it was only cute suburban cottages of one damn kind and another, all laid out in the dismal gray
dawn. Then Omaha, and, by God, the first cowboy I saw, walking along the bleak walls of the
wholesale meat warehouses in a ten-gallon hat and Texas boots, looked like any beat character of
the brickwall dawns of the East except for the getup. We got off the bus and walked clear up the hill,
the long hill formed over the millenniums by the mighty Missouri, alongside of which Omaha is built,
and got out to the country and stuck our thumbs out. We got a brief ride from a wealthy rancher in a
ten-gallon hat, who said the valley of the Platte was as great as the Nile Valley of Egypt, and as he
said so I saw the great trees in the distance that snaked with the riverbed and the great verdant fields
around it, and almost agreed with him. Then as we were standing at another crossroads and it was
starting to get cloudy another cowboy, this one six feet tall in a modest half-gallon hat, called us over
and wanted to know if either one of us could drive. Of course Eddie could drive, and he had a
license and I didn't. Cowboy had two cars with him that he was driving back to Montana,


His wife was at Grand Island, and he wanted us to drive one of the cars there, where she'd take
over. At that point he was going north, and that would be the limit of our ride with him. But it was a
good hundred miles into Nebraska, and of course ,we jumped for it. Eddie drove alone, the cowboy
and myself following, and no sooner were we out of town than Eddie started to ball that jack ninety
miles an hour out of sheer exuberance. «Damn me, what's that boy doing !» the cowboy shouted,
and took off after him. It began to be like a race. For a minute I thought Eddie was trying to get
away with the car - and for all I know that's what he meant to do. But the cowboy stuck to him and
caught up with him and tooted the horn. Eddie slowed down. The cowboy tooted to stop. «Damn,
boy, you're liable to get a flat going that speed. Can't you drive a little slower?»

«Well, I'll be damned, was I really going ninety ?» said Eddie. «I didn't realize it on this smooth

«Just take it a little easy and we'll all get to Grand Island in one piece.»

«Sure thing.» And we resumed our journey. Eddie had calmed down and probably even got
sleepy. So we drove a hundred miles across Nebraska, following the winding Platte with its verdant

«During the depression,* said the cowboy to me, «I used to hop freights at least once a month. In
those days you'd see hundreds of men riding a flatcar or in a boxcar, and they weren't just bums,
they were all kinds of men out of work and going from one place to another and some of them just
wandering. It was like that all over the West. Brakemen never bothered you in those days. I don't
know about today. Nebraska I ain't got no use for. Why in the middle nineteen thirties this place
wasn't nothing but a big dustcloud as far as the eye could see. You couldn't breathe. The ground
was black. I was here in those days. They can give Nebraska back to the Indians far as I'm
concerned. I hate this damn place more than' any place in the world. Montana's my home now -
Missoula. You come up there sometime and see God's country. » Later in the afternoon I slept when
he got tired talking - he was an interesting talker.

We stopped along the road for a bite to eat. The cowboy went off to have a spare tire patched,
and Eddie and I sat down in a kind of homemade diner. I heard a great laugh, the greatest laugh in
the world, and here came this rawhide old-timer Nebraska farmer with a bunch of other boys into
the diner; you could hear his raspy cries clear across the plains, across the whole gray world of them
that day. Everybody else laughed with him. He didn't have a care in the world and had the hugest
regard for everybody. I said to myself, Wham, listen to that man laugh. That's the West, here I am in
the West. He came booming into the diner, calling Maw's name, and she made the sweetest cherry
pie in Nebraska, and I had some with a mountainous scoop of ice cream on top. «Maw, rustle me
up some grub afore I have to start eatin myself raw or some damn silly idee like that.» And he threw
himself on a stool and went hyaw hyaw hyaw hyaw. «And throw some beans in it.» It was the spirit
of the West sitting right next to me. I wished I knew his whole raw life and what the hell he'd been
doing all these years besides laughing and yelling like that. Whooee, I told my soul, and the cowboy
came back and off we went to Grand Island.

We got there in no time flat. He went to fetch his wife and off to whatever fate awaited him, and
Eddie and I resumed on the road. We got a ride from a couple of young fellows - wranglers,
teenagers, country boys in a put-together jalopy - and were left off somewhere up the line in a thin
drizzle of rain. Then an old man who said nothing - and God knows why he picked us up - took us
to Shelton. Here Eddie stood forlornly in the road in front of a staring bunch of short, squat Omaha
Indians who had nowhere to go and nothing to do. Across the road was the railroad track and the
watertank saying SHELTON. «Damn me,» said Eddie with amazement, «I've been in this town
before. It was years ago, during the war, at night, late at night when everybody was sleeping. I went


out on the platform to smoke, and there we was in the middle of nowhere and black as hell, and I
look up and see that name Shelton written on the watertank. Bound for the Pacific, everybody
snoring, every damn dumb sucker, and we only stayed a few minutes, stoking up or something, and
off we went. Damn me, this Shelton! I hated this place ever since !» And we were stuck in Shelton.
As in Davenport, Iowa, somehow all the cars were farmer-cars, and once in a while a tourist car,
which is worse, with old men driving and their wives pointing out the sights or poring over maps, and
sitting back looking at everything with suspicious faces.

The drizzle increased and Eddie got cold; he had very little clothing. I fished a wool plaid shirt
from my canvas bag and he put it on. He felt a little better. I had a cold. I bought cough drops in a
rickety Indian store of some kind. I went to the little two-by-four post office and wrote my aunt a
penny postcard. We went back to the gray road. There she was in front of us, Shelton, written on
the watertank. The Rock Island balled by. We saw the faces of Pullman passengers go by in a blur.
The train howled off across the plains in the direction of our desires. It started to rain harder.

A tall, lanky fellow in a gallon hat stopped his car on the wrong side of the road and came over to
us; he looked like a sheriff. We prepared our stories secretly. He took his time coming over. «You
boys going to get somewhere, or just going?» We didn't understand his question, and it was a
damned good question.

«Why?» we said.

«Well, I own a lMe carnival that's pitched a few mile down the road and I'm looking for some
old boys willing to work and make a buck for themselves. I've got a roulette concession and a
wooden-ring concession, you know, the kind you throw around dolls and take your luck. You boys
want to work for me, you can get thirty per cent of the take.»

«Room and board?»

«You can get a bed but no food. You'll have to eat in town. We travel some.» We thought it
over. «It's a good opportunity, » he said, and waited patiently for us to make up our minds. We felt
silly and didn't know what to say, and I for one didn't want to get hung-up with a carnival. I was in
such a bloody hurry to get to the gang in Denver.

I said, «I don't know, I'm going as fast as I can and I don't think I have the time.» Eddie said the
same thing, and the old man waved his hand and casually sauntered back to his car and drove off.
And that was that. We laughed about it awhile and speculated about what it would have been like. I
had visions of a dark and dusty night on the plains, and the faces of Nebraska families wandering by,
with their rosy children looking at everything with awe, and I know I would have felt like the devil
himself rooking them with all those cheap carnival tricks. And the Ferris wheel revolving in the
flatlands darkness, and, God almighty, the sad music of the merry-go-round and me wanting to get
on to my goal - and sleeping in some gilt wagon on a bed of burlap.

Eddie turned out to be a pretty absent-minded pal of the road. A funny old contraption rolled by,
driven by an old man; it was made of some kind of aluminum, square as a box - a trailer, no doubt,
but a weird, crazy Nebraska homemade trailer. He was going very slow and stopped. We rushed
up; he said he could only take one; without a word Eddie jumped in and slowly rattled from my sight,
and wearing my wool plaid shirt. Well, alackaday, I kissed the shirt good-by; it had only sentimental
value in any case. I waited in our personal godawful Shelton for a long, long time, several hours, and
I kept thinking it was getting night; actually it was only early afternoon, but dark. Denver, Denver,
how would I ever get to Denver? I was just about giving up and planning to sit over coffee when a
fairly new car stopped, driven by a young guy. I ran like mad.

«Where you going?»



«Well, I can take you a hundred miles up the line.»

«Grand, grand, you saved my life.»

«I used to hitchhike myself, that's why I always pick up a fellow.»
«I would too if I had a car.» And so we talked, and he told me about his life, which wasn't very
interesting, and I started to sleep some and woke up right outside the town of Gothenburg, where he
let me off


The greatest ride in my life was about to come up, a truck, with a flatboard at the back, with
about six or seven boys sprawled out on it, and the drivers, two young blond farmers from
Minnesota, were picking up every single soul they found on that road - the most smiling, cheerful
couple of handsome bumpkins you could ever wish to see, both wearing cotton shirts and overalls,
nothing else; both thick- wristed and earnest, with broad howareyou smiles for anybody and anything
that came across their path. I ran up, said «Is there room?» They said, «Sure, hop on, 'sroom for
everybody. »

I wasn't on the flatboard before the truck roared off; I lurched, a rider grabbed me, and I sat
down. Somebody passed a bottle of rotgut, the bottom of it. I took a big swig in the wild, lyrical,
drizzling air of Nebraska. «Whooee, here we go!» yelled a kid in a baseball cap, and they gunned up
the truck to seventy and passed everybody on the road. «We been riding this sonofabitch since Des
Moines. These guys never stop. Every now and then you have to yell for pisscall, otherwise you have
to piss off the air, and hang on, brother, hang on.»

I looked at the company. There were two young farmer boys from North Dakota in red baseball
caps, which is the standard North Dakota farmer-boy hat, and they were headed for the harvests;
their old men had given them leave to hit the road for a summer. There were two young city boys
from Columbus, Ohio, high-school football players, chewing gum, winking, singing in the breeze, and
they said they were hitchhiking around the United States for the summer. «We're going to LA! «they

«What are you going to do there?»

«Hell, we don't know. Who cares?»

Then there was a tall slim fellow who had a sneaky look. «Where you from?» I asked. I was lying
next to him on the platform; you couldn't sit without bouncing off, it had no rails. And he turned
slowly to me, opened his mouth, and said, «Mon-ta-na.»

Finally there were Mississippi Gene and his charge. Mississippi Gene was a little dark guy who
rode freight trains around the country, a thirty-year-old hobo but with a youthful look so you couldn't
tell exactiy what age he was. And he sat on the boards crosslegged, looking out over the fields
without saying anything for hundreds of miles, and finally at one point he turned to me and said,
« Where j/om headed ?»

I said Denver.

«I got a sister there but I ain't seed her for several couple years.» His language was melodious
and slow. He was patient. His charge was a sixteen-year-old tall blond kid, also in hobo rags; that is
to say, they wore old clothes that had been turned black by the soot of railroads and the dirt of
boxcars and sleeping on the ground. The blond kid was also quiet and he seemed to be running
away from something, and it figured to be the law the way he looked straight ahead and wet his lips
in worried thought. Montana Slim spoke to them occasionally with a sardonic and insinuating smile.
They paid no attention to him. Slim was all insinuation. I was afraid of his long goofy grin that he
opened up straight in your face and held there half-moronically.

«You got any money ?» he said to me.

«Hell no, maybe enough for a pint of whisky till I get to Denver. What about you?»

«I know where I can get some.»

«Anywhere. You can always folly a man down an alley, can't you?»


«Yeah, I guess you can.»

«I ain't beyond doing it when I really need some dough. Headed up to Montana to see my father.
I'll have to get off this rig at Cheyenne and move up some other way. These crazy boys are going to
Los Angeles.»


«A11 the way - if you want to go to LA you got a ride.»

I mulled this over; the thought of zooming all night across Nebraska, Wyoming, and the Utah
desert in the morning, and then most likely the Nevada desert in the afternoon, and actually arriving in
Los Angeles within a foreseeable space of time almost made me change my plans. But I had to go to
Denver. I'd have to get off at Cheyenne too, and hitch south ninety miles to Denver.

I was glad when the two Minnesota farmboys who owned the truck decided to stop in North
Platte and eat; I wanted to have a look at them. They came out of the cab and smiled at all of us.
«Pisscall!» said one. «Time to eat!» said the other. But they were the only ones in the party who had
money to buy food. We all shambled after them to a restaurant run by a bunch of women, and sat
around over hamburgers and coffee while they wrapped away enormous meals just as if they were
back in their mother's kitchen. They were brothers; they were transporting farm machinery from Los
Angeles to Minnesota and making good money at it. So on their trip to the Coast empty they picked
up everybody on the road. They'd done this about five times now; they were having a hell of a time.
They liked everything. They never stopped smiling. I tried to talk to them - a kind of dumb attempt
on my part to befriend the captains of our ship - and the only responses I got were two sunny smiles
and large white corn-fed teeth.

Everybody had joined them in the restaurant except the two hobo kids, Gene and his boy. When
we all got back they were still sitting in the truck, forlorn and disconsolate. Now the darkness was
falling. The drivers had a smoke; I jumped at the chance to go buy a bottle of whisky to keep warm
in the rushing cold air of night. They smiled when I told them. «Go ahead, hurry up.»

«You can have a couple shots !» I reassured them.

«Oh no, we never drink, go ahead.»

Montana Slim and the two high-school boys wandered the streets of North Platte with me till I
found a whisky store. They chipped in some, and Slim some, and I bought a fifth. Tall, sullen men
watched us go by from false-front buildings; the main street was lined with square box-houses. There
were immense vistas of the plains beyond every sad street. I felt something different in the air in
North Platte, I didn't know what it was. In five minutes I did. We got back on the truck and roared
off. It got dark quickly. We all had a shot, and suddenly I looked, and the verdant farmfields of the
Platte began to disappear and in their stead, so far you couldn't see to the end, appeared long flat
wastelands of sand and sagebrush. I was astounded.

«What in the hell is this?» I cried out to Slim.

«This is the beginning of the rangelands, boy. Hand me another drink.»

«Whoopee!» yelled the high-school boys. «Columbus, so long! What would Sparkie and the
boys say if they was here. Yow!»

The drivers had switched up front; the fresh brother was gunning the truck to the limit. The road
changed too: humpy in the middle, with soft shoulders and a ditch on both sides about four feet deep,
so that the truck bounced and teetered from one side of the road to the other - miraculously only
when there were no cars coming the opposite way - and I thought we'd all take a somersault. But
they were tremendous drivers. How that truck disposed of the Nebraska nub - the nub that sticks
out over Colorado! And soon I realized I was actually at last over Colorado, though not officially in
it, but looking southwest toward Denver itself a few hundred miles away. I yelled for joy. We passed


the bottle. The great blazing stars came out, the far-receding sand hills got dim. I felt like an arrow
that could shoot out all the way.

And suddenly Mississippi Gene turned to me from his crosslegged, patient reverie, and opened
his mouth, and leaned close, and said, «These plains put me in the mind of Texas.»

«Are you from Texas ?»

«No sir, I'm from Green-veil Muzz-sippy.» And that was the way he said it.

«Where's that kid from?»

«He got into some kind of trouble back in Mississippi, so I offered to help him out. Boy's never
been out on his own. I take care of him best as I can, he's only a child.» Although Gene was white
there was something of the wise and tired old Negro in him, and something very much like Elmer
Hassel, the New York dope addict, in him, but a railroad Hassel, a traveling epic Hassel, crossing
and recrossing the country every year, south in the winter and north in the summer, and only because
he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but
everywhere, keep rolling under the stars, generally the Western stars.

«I been to Ogden a couple times. If you want to ride on to Ogden I got some friends there we
could hole up with.»

«I'm going to Denver from Cheyenne. »

«Hell, go right straight thu, you don't get a ride like this every day.»

This too was a tempting offer. What was in Ogden? «What's Ogden?» I said.

«It's the place where most of the boys pass thu and always meet there; you're liable to see
anybody there.»

In my earlier days I'd been to sea with a tall rawboned fellow from Louisiana called Big Slim
Hazard, William Holmes Hazard, who was hobo by choice. As a little boy he'd seen a hobo come
up to ask his mother for a piece of pie, and she had given it to him, and when the hobo went off
down the road the little boy had said, «Ma, what is that fellow?» «Why. that's a ho-bo.» «Ma, I
want to be a ho-bo someday.» «Shut your mouth, that's not for the like of the Hazards.» But he
never forgot that day, and when he grew up, after a shortspell playing football at LSU, he did
become a hobo. Big Slim and I spent many nights telling stories and spitting tobacco juice in paper
containers. There was something so indubitably reminiscent of Big Slim Hazard in Mississippi Gene's
demeanor that I said, «Do you happen to have met a fellow called Big Slim Hazard somewhere?»

And he said, «You mean the tall fellow with the big laugh?»

«Well, that sounds like him. He came from Ruston, Louisiana. »

«That's right. Louisiana Slim he's sometimes called. Yes-sir, I shore have met Big Slim.»

«And he used to work in the East Texas oil fields?»

«East Texas is right. And now he's punching cows.»

And that was exactiy right; and still I couldn't believe Gene could have really known Slim, whom
I'd been looking for, more or less, for years. «And he used to work in tugboats in New York?»

«Well now, I don't know about that.»

«I guess you only knew him in the West.»

«I reckon. I ain't never been to New York.»

«Well, damn me, I'm amazed you know him. This is a big country. Yet I knew you must have
known him.»

«Yessir, I know Big Slim pretty well. Always generous with his money when he's got some.
Mean, tough fellow, too; I seen him flatten a policeman in the yards at Cheyenne, one punch.» That
sounded like Big Slim; he was always practicing that one punch in the air; he looked like Jack
Dempsey, but a young Jack Dempsey who drank.


«Damn!» I yelled into the wind, and I had another shot, and by now I was feeling pretty good.
Every shot was wiped away by the rushing wind of the open truck, wiped away of its bad effects,
and the good effect sank in my stomach. «Cheyenne, here I come!» I sang. «Denver, look out for
your boy. »

Montana Slim turned to me, pointed at my shoes, and commented, «You reckon if you put them
things in the ground something' 11 grow up?» - without cracking a smile, of course, and the other boys
heard him and laughed. And they were the silliest shoes in America; I brought them along specifically
because I didn't want my feet to sweat in the hot road, and except for the rain in Bear Mountain they
proved to be the best possible shoes for my journey. So I laughed with them. And the shoes were
pretty ragged by now, the bits of colored leather sticking up like pieces of a fresh pineapple and my
toes showing through. Well, we had another shot and laughed. As in a dream we zoomed through
small crossroads towns smack out of the darkness, and passed long lines of lounging harvest hands
and cowboys in the night. They watched us pass in one motion of the head, and we saw them slap
their thighs from the continuing dark the other side of town - we were a funny-looking crew.

A lot of men were in this country at that time of the year; it was harvest time. The Dakota boys
were fidgeting. «I think we'll get off at the next pisscall; seems like there's a lot of work around

«A11 you got to do is move north when it's over here,» counseled Montana Slim, «and jes follow
the harvest till you get to Canada.» The boys nodded vaguely; they didn't take much stock in his

Meanwhile the blond young fugitive sat the same way; every now and then Gene leaned out of his
Buddhistic trance over the rushing dark plains and said something tenderly in the boy's ear. The boy
nodded. Gene was taking care of him, of his moods and his fears. I wondered where the hell they
would go and what they would do. They had no cigarettes. I squandered my pack on them, I loved
them so. They were grateful and gracious. They never asked, I kept offering. Montana Slim had his
own but never passed the pack. We zoomed through another crossroads town, passed another line
of tall lanky men in jeans clustered in the dim light like moths on the desert, and returned to the
tremendous darkness, and the stars overhead were pure and bright because of the increasingly thin
air as we mounted the high hill of the western plateau, about a foot a mile, so they say, and no trees
obstructing any low-leveled stars anywhere. And once I saw a moody whitefaced cow in the sage by
the road as we flitted by. It was like riding a railroad train, just as steady and just as straight.

By and by we came to a town, slowed down, and Montana Slim said, «Ah, pisscall,» but the
Minnesotans didn't stop and went right on through. «Damn, I gotta go,» said Slim.

«Go over the side,» said somebody.

«Well, I will» he said, and slowly, as we all watched, he inched to the back of the platform on his
haunch, holding on as best he could, till his legs dangled over. Somebody knocked on the window of
the cab to bring this to the attention of the brothers. Their great smiles broke as they turned. And just
as Slim was ready to proceed, precarious as it was already, they began zigzagging the truck at
seventy miles an hour. He fell back a moment; we saw a whale's spout in the air; he struggled back
to a sitting position. They swung the truck. Wham, over he went on his side, watering all over
himself. In the roar we could hear him faintly cursing, like the whine of a man far across the hills.
«Damn . . . damn . . .» He never knew we were doing this deliberately; he just struggled, as grim as
Job. When he was finished, as such, he was wringing wet, and now he had to edge and shimmy his
way back, and with a most woebegone look, and everybody laughing, except the sad blond boy,
and the Minnesotans roaring in the cab. I handed him the bottle to make up for it.

«What the hail,» he said, «was they doing that on purpose?»


«They sure were.»

«Well, damn me, I didn't know that. I know I tried it back in Nebraska and didn't have half so
much trouble.»

We came suddenly into the town of Ogallala, and here the fellows in the cab called out,
«Pisscall\» and with great good delight. Slim stood sullenly by the truck, ruing a lost opportunity.
The two Dakota boys said good-by to everybody and figured they'd start harvesting here. We
watched them disappear in the night toward the shacks at the end of town where lights were burning,
where a watcher of the night in jeans said the employment men would be. I had to buy more
cigarettes. Gene and the blond boy followed me to stretch their legs. I walked into the least likely
place in the world, a kind of lonely Plains soda fountain for the local teenage girls and boys. They
were dancing, a few of them, to the music on the jukebox. There was a lull when we came in. Gene
and Blondey just stood there, looking at nobody; all they wanted was cigarettes. There were some
pretty girls, too. And one of them made eyes at Blondey and he never saw it, and if he had he
wouldn't have cared, he was so sad and gone.

I bought a pack each for them; they thanked me. The truck was ready to go. It was getting on
midnight now, and cold. Gene, who'd been around the country more times than he could count on
his fingers and toes, said the best thing to do now was for all of us to bundle up under the big
tarpaulin or we'd freeze. In this manner, and with the rest of the bottle, we kept warm as the air grew
ice-cold and pinged our ears. The stars seemed to get brighter the more we climbed the High Plains.
We were in Wyoming now. Flat on my back, I stared straight up at the magnificent firmament,
glorying in the time I was making, in how far I had come from sad Bear Mountain after all, and
tingling with kicks at the thought of what lay ahead of me in Denver - whatever, whatever it would
be. And Mississippi Gene began to sing a song. He sang it in a melodious, quiet voice, with a river
accent, and it was simple, just «I got a purty little girl, she's sweet six-teen, she's the purti-est thing
you ever seen,» repeating it with other lines thrown in, all concerning how far he'd been and how he
wished he could go back to her but he done lost her.

I said, «Gene, that's the prettiest song.»

«It's the sweetest I know,» he said with a smile.

«I hope you get where you're going, and be happy when you do.»

«I always make out and move along one way or the other.»,

Montana Slim was asleep. He woke up and said to me,' «Hey, Blackie, how about you and me
investigatin' Cheyenne \ together tonight before you go to Denver?»

«Sure thing.» I was drunk enough to go for anything.

As the truck reached the outskirts of Cheyenne, we saw the high red lights of the local radio
station, and suddenly we were bucking through a great crowd of people that poured along both
sidewalks. «Hell's bells, it's Wild West Week,» said Slim. Big crowds of businessmen, fat
businessmen in boots and ten-gallon hats, with their hefty wives in cowgirl attire, bustled and
whoopeed on the wooden sidewalks of old Cheyenne; farther down were the long stringy boulevard
lights of new downtown Cheyenne, but the celebration was focusing on Oldtown. Blank guns went
off. The saloons were crowded to the sidewalk. I was amazed, and at the same time I felt it was
ridiculous: in my first shot at the West I was seeing to what absurd devices it had fallen to keep its
proud tradition. We had to jump off the truck and say good-by; the Minnesotans weren't interested
in hanging around. It was sad to see them go, and I realized that I would never see any of them
again, but that's the way it was. «You'll freeze your ass tonight,» I warned. «Then you'll bum 'em in
the desert tomorrow afternoon.»

«That's all right with me long's as we get out of this cold night,» said Gene. And the truck left,


threading its way through the crowds, and nobody paying attention to the strangeness of the kids
inside the tarpaulin, staring at the town like babes from a coverlet. I watched it disappear into the


I was with Montana Slim and we started hitting the bars. I had about seven dollars, five of which I
foolishly squandered that night. First we milled with all the cowboy-dudded tourists and oilmen and
ranchers, at bars, in doorways, on the sidewalk; then for a while I shook Slim, who was wandering a
little slaphappy in the street from all the whisky and beer: he was that kind of drinker; his eyes got
glazed, and in a minute he'd be telling an absolute stranger about things. I went into a chili joint and
the waitress was Mexican and beautiful. I ate, and then I wrote her a little love note on the back of
the bill. The chili joint was deserted; everybody was somewhere else, drinking. I told her to turn the
bill over. She read it and laughed. It was a little poem about how I wanted her to come and see the
night with me.

«I'd love to, Chiquito, but I have a date with my boy friend.»

«Can't you shake him?»

«No, no, I don't,» she said sadly, and I loved the way she said it.

«Some other time I'll come by here,» I said, and she said, «Any time, kid.» Still I hung around,
just to look at her, and had another cup of coffee. Her boy friend came in sullenly and wanted to
know when she was off. She bustled around to close the place quick. I had to get out. I gave her a
smile when I left. Things were going on as wild as ever outside, except that the fat burpers were
getting drunker and whooping up louder. It was funny. There were Indian chiefs wandering around in
big headdresses and really solemn among the flushed drunken faces. I saw Slim tottering along and
joined him.

He said, «I just wrote a postcard to my Paw in Montana. You reckon you can find a mailbox and
put it in?» It was a strange request; he gave me the postcard and tottered through the swinging doors
of a saloon. I took the card, went to the box, and took a quick look at it. «Dear Paw, I'll be home
Wednesday. Everything's all right with me and I hope the same is with you. Richard.» It gave me a
different idea of him; how tenderly polite he was with his father. I went in the bar and joined him. We
picked up two girls, a pretty young blonde and a fat brunette. They were dumb and sullen, but we
wanted to make them. We took them to a rickety nightclub that was already closing, and there I
spent all but two dollars on Scotches for them and beer for us. I was getting drunk and didn't care;
everything was fine. My whole being and purpose was pointed at the little blonde. I wanted to go in
there with all my strength. I hugged her and wanted to tell her. The nightclub closed and we all
wandered out in the rickety dusty streets. I looked up at the sky; the pure, wonderful stars were still
there, burning. The girls wanted to go to the bus station, so we all went, but they apparently wanted
to meet some sailor who was there waiting for them, a cousin of the fat girl's, and the sailor had
friends with him. I said to the blonde, «What's up?» She said she wanted to go home, in Colorado
just over the line south of Cheyenne. «I'll take you in a bus,» I said.

«No, the bus stops on the highway and I have to walk across that damn prairie all by myself. I
spend all afternoon looking at the damn thing and I don't aim to walk over it tonight.»

«Ah, listen, we'll take a nice walk in the prairie flowers.»

«There ain't no flowers there,» she said. «I want to go to New York. I'm sick and tired of this.
Ain't no place to go but Cheyenne and ain't nothin in Cheyenne.»

«Ain't nothin in New York.»

«Hell there ain't,» she said with a curl of her lips.

The bus station was crowded to the doors. All kinds of people were waiting for buses or just
standing around; there were a lot of Indians, who watched everything with their stony eyes. The girl


disengaged herself from my talk and joined the sailor and the others. Slim was dozing on a bench. I
sat down. The floors of bus stations are the same all over the country, always covered with butts and
spit and they give a feeling of sadness that only bus stations have. For a moment it was no different

Posted by JD Hull at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

Happy 93rd Birthday Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac

Mad to live.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2015

Report on Inaugural "One Night, One Person": Thank you, a few good Yuppies--and there is lots more work to do.

Thank you, a few good Yuppies.

Let's do it again. Soon. With more people. With more soul.

Happy to hear that a few of you in the larger American northeastern cities--23-year-old GenY/Slackoisies at Boston offices of big consulting firms to late-60ish hard-driving Baby Boomer law firm partners in DC and Chicago who will die happy at their desks--participated in "One Night, One Person" in anticipation of the very cold last two nights (March 5 and 6). See our christening post last week, A Proposal For Cold City Nights: "One Night, One Person", which attracted a very respectable number of hits, by the way.

Nicely done. But we can do better than "a few". The bitter cold forecasted for the nights of March 5th and 6th hung on in some of the affected cities. In Washington, D.C. this fine bright morning it's 27 degrees at 11:15 AM. And certainly we can expect more cold nights before Spring finally takes over--so we have time and opportunity for you to get your "white collar angel" thing on and pick out a street sleeper to help. We can practice a little. Also: my guess is that some of you have problems engaging strangers anyway--not in your nature--and that chatting up street people is a pretty advanced exercise for a novice. Try it anyway. Take someone with you or whatever. Or I can help you with it if you ask. Just call. Below, and for your convenience, is ONOP in a nutshell and its four steps:

Whether you live in the suburbs or in a downtown neighborhood, if you work during the day in downtown areas of American cities with cold climate winters and significant homeless populations, go forth and do this:

1. Pick out and ask a homeless woman or man what articles of warm clothing she or he needs that you already have at home or in storage--thermal gloves, wool scarfs, warm hats and beanies, big sweaters, winter coats, thermal underwear, socks, etc. Ask just one person at a time.

2. Agree on a time to meet (preferably at the same place) later that day or the next day.

3. Find the winter stuff you have at home or in storage.

4. Bring said stuff to the homeless woman or man as agreed. Nine out of ten times, your new friend will be there when you show up.


Posted by JD Hull at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2015

Congratulations to Washington, D.C. lawyer Eric O'Neill on 14th anniversary of capture and arrest of FBI double agent Robert Hanssen.

Congratulations to Renaissance man, Washington, D.C. super-lawyer, super-friend and American hero Eric O'Neill on the 14th anniversary of the February 18, 2001 arrest and capture of FBI agent-Soviet spy Robert Hanssen, in which Eric played the pivotal role. Eric is a former FBI counter-terrorism and investigative specialist with the Bureau's Special Surveillance Group (SSG). He played a major role in the arrest, conviction, and life imprisonment of double agent Hanssen for spying on behalf of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation for over 25 years. Hanssen's capture occurred at a drop near the Soviet spy's Virginia home. Eric's extraordinary contribution is recounted in the 2007 Hollywood feature film Breach. These days Eric is a corporate lawyer who runs a DC-based global investigations company, a writer, a film producer and a sought-after speaker.

Eric was 27 years old at the time of Hanssen's capture.

Every American owes you a debt of gratitude, Eric.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2015

Happy Birthday, EJB

We met 11 years ago today.


Posted by JD Hull at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2015

The Teaching President: Obama got it right at the prayer breakfast. He was pitch perfect.

Last week when President Obama pointed out that "slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ”, lots of people blew tubes. To be fair, however, his observation is not only true, it's an understatement. If you are not convinced, for whatever reasons, do see Joshua Rothman's President Obama, the National Prayer Breakfast, and Slavery at We're History, an interesting and much-needed site which in large part focuses on history behind the news. Rothman, a professor of Southern History at the University of Alabama, obviously has the chops to write this article. Some Rothman excerpts:

It is hardly unusual for President Obama to elicit criticism, of course, but the criticisms in this instance are particularly odd because, as a matter of history, the contention he put forth at the National Prayer Breakfast is so obviously true. With regard to the defense of slavery especially, Christian justifications for the institution were so ubiquitous in the American South before the Civil War that the only real challenge is in listing their variations. Slavery’s defenders routinely turned to the Old Testament and observed that the Hebrew patriarchs were all slaveholders and that the laws of the ancient Israelites were rife with rules about slaveholding.

Looking to the New Testament, they pointed out that Christ himself never condemned slavery, took comfort from the Epistle to Philemon in which Paul urged the enslaved fugitive Onesimus to return to his master, and regularly cited verses commanding that slaves be obedient and submissive. Some defenders made a case for the notion that people of African descent were the lineage of Noah’s son Ham condemned by God to be eternal servants and thus a divinely sanctioned enslaved race, and others argued that slaveholding was part of white southerners’ religious duty to bring Christianity to African heathens.

So vital was Christianity to the southern defense of slavery that some historians have estimated that ministers penned roughly half of all proslavery literature in the decades after 1830, though it was hardly only ministers like Baptist leader Richard Furman who one might have heard state that “the right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures.”

I'm not a rah-rah true believer Obama person--but I think he's one of the most interesting public figures in history. I voted for Obama only the second time around and even then reluctantly. (Part of it is when I look at Romney's eyes while he's talking I always get the strange feeling that someone or something else is driving...) But Obama's comments at the breakfast were historically accurate and pitch perfect, even if you view them as superfluous.


Posted by JD Hull at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2015

Real heroes.

A dog, not a boy, is the hero of this story. Animals have as much heart and soul as some kid on a bike. I don't watch much television but I do have Facebook going on all day--often when I am work--even though I still distrust the often-shallow and culturally illiterate Wild West Show that is the Internet. I've never been an early adopter of anything digital except to get work done when co-workers are in different time zones. And I certainly haven't figured out why I'm on Facebook yet. Anyway, here's a Facebook post I did this morning about this article: He didn't die alone: Boy carries neglected dog for half mile, stays by his side which appeared in something called the Examiner based in Denver:

Animals have souls. The animals in my home. The one in this story. The many we see every day. I will quickly regret writing this--99% sure I'll delete it--but this story had tears streaming down my face before I was halfway though reading it. Me: Tough if erudite and well-traveled irreverent fearless aggressive formerly hard-drinking trial lawyer with enough sand, energy and moxie to alter the outcome of 6 Superbowls. Color me a fraud and a sap. The boy in the story? I'm not impressed or moved by him in the least. Any human being should and would do the same. No big deal, kid. So what? Congrats that you can take up space on my planet.


Posted by JD Hull at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2014

Is Sen. Elizabeth Warren fun or what?

Not sure I would vote for her for anything. But I do like her in the conversation. She scares the smug and comfortable shitless. In fact, she reminds me of what H.L. Mencken once said about newspapers.


Posted by JD Hull at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2014

Pantheon: Happy Birthday, Ms. Remick.


Actress Lee Remick died of liver and kidney cancer in 1991 at the age of 55. If she were alive today, she would only be 79 and, I like to think, still working. Born this day in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1935, Remick was 5'8", with amber hair and stunning blue eyes. She studied acting and dance as a teenager and continued with drama at both Barnard College and at the Actor's Studio in New York City. Although she is best known for her roles in two iconic movies, Days of Wine and Roses and The Omen, she worked both stage and screen during her busy career, which started at the age of 18. She had grace and natural class. She lit up rooms without smiling, moving or gesturing. In 1988, near the end of her life and in her early fifties, Remick sat in the row behind me during hearings in the Rayburn Building. I was attending as an associate for a firm client. (Unannounced and not testifying, she was there as an observer.) I have no idea why I looked to the row behind me but, after I did, it was hard for me to keep my eyes off Remick, even in her obviously plain clothing, and with little makeup. I was staring. She was 25 years older. I still can't explain it.

Posted by JD Hull at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2014

I hardly knew ye: John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963)

Tomorrow, November 22, marks the 51st anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination in downtown Dallas, Texas. He was 46 years old. If Kennedy had lived, and were alive today, he would be 97--not a completely inconceivable age for him to have attained given the longevity of some on his mother Rose's side. Below is my favorite photograph of him, likely taken in his late 20s.


A stick in me hand and a tear in me eye
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

--from "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye", a popular Irish anti-war song written in early 1800s.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2014

John Michael Doar (1921-2014)

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In 1962, Doar and U.S. Marshals escort James Meredith to class at the then-segregated University of Mississippi. Meredith was its first black student. (Photo: AP)

A Midwesterner who wryly called himself a "Lincoln Republican", John Doar, who died at 92 yesterday, made American legal history more than once. Doar worked in the Justice Department's civil rights division between 1960 and 1967, initially as a high-ranking lawyer and soon as its hands-on chief. He was well-regarded nationally in the early 1960s not only for his creative legal mind but also for his moral and (yes) physical courage. A lawyer with sand. The tall, quiet, athletic and thoroughly unflashy John Doar risked injury and his life on several occasions in the early days of the civil rights movement as the federal government's main actor and front man. Alone, unapologetically, on behalf of the federal government in some of the most racially volatile parts of the American South, he confronted crowds on their way to becoming mobs, and talked the angriest ones out of violence. Doar even lived for two weeks with black University of Mississippi student James Meredith (see above), in effect becoming his body guard. Importantly, he had a major hand in drafting the 1964 civil rights legislation passed under the Johnson administration.

Doar also played a unique role in the Watergate scandal of 1972-1974. In the summer of 1974, I had a paid internship in Washington, D.C. (and my first "desk job") in the office of a Wisconsin senator, thanks to what is now the Sanford School of Public Policy. That summer, for Americans then in their twenties or older, John Doar became a household name. He was Special Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee on the question of President Richard Nixon's impeachment. In often televised proceedings, the Judiciary Committee worked and deliberated for three months and eventually voted to submit three articles of impeachment to the full House. On August 9, 1974, Nixon resigned before the House considered the articles. Republican Doar lead the drafting and convinced key Republicans on the committee to vote in favor of impeachment. Quite a career, and one which kept flourishing after Watergate. See yesterday's New York Times coverage.

Posted by JD Hull at 06:02 AM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2014

Jack Symon Asher (Jack) Bruce (1943-2014)

Introductory note: What does a Superstar Scot musician's passing have to do with a legal weblog or "blawg" started in 2005 about quality lawyering, the magic of travel, who to fire, who to hire, Paris and making your life a work of art? Everything. If you don't get it, see me after the meeting.

Rock, blues and jazz superstar bassist Jack Bruce died Saturday at his home in Suffolk, England. Classically trained and famously versatile as a musician, Bruce was--among many, many other things in his life and career--co-founder of both Cream and (Leslie) West, Bruce and (Corky) Laing, an exceptional bassist, singer, composer, arranger and producer. He even played the blues harmonica spectacularly. Bruce played with nearly everyone significant in British music. In his first band, which he joined in 1962, his drummer was Charlie Watts. A Scot, musical polymath and quiet madman, Like many other musicians in history, Bruce had a self-destructive streak. He struggled with alcohol and drugs, losing nearly his entire fortune before he stopped using. Bruce was/is several times more interesting than fellow Cream band member and lead guitarist Eric Clapton--and musically just as talented.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2014

Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee (1921-2014)

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Bradlee with Washington Post owner Katherine Graham in 1971.

Ben Bradlee's death saddens me and many, many other people. In the 1970s and 1980s, Washington Post managing editor Bradlee was an idol to me and most of my friends in college, in Washington, D.C. or in New York when we were writing or editing student dailies, selling our first freelance piece, doing our first jobs with a newspaper or wire service or writing a first book. Bradlee set the standard; he was the standard. He was brave, smart, patrician, demanding, salty, funny and fun.

No one was more dedicated to journalism done right, done under pressure and done both for its art and for the public good. No one was cooler. We felt like we knew him. We wanted to be him.

Last night around midnight, the Washington Post published this comprehensive biography and obituary, written by another Post former managing editor:

Ben Bradlee Dies at 93

By Robert G. Kaiser

Benjamin C. Bradlee, who presided over The Washington Post newsroom for 26 years and guided The Post’s transformation into one of the world’s leading newspapers, died Oct. 21 at his home in Washington of natural causes. He was 93.

From the moment he took over The Post newsroom in 1965, Mr. Bradlee sought to create an important newspaper that would go far beyond the traditional model of a metropolitan daily. He achieved that goal by combining compelling news stories based on aggressive reporting with engaging feature pieces of a kind previously associated with the best magazines. His charm and gift for leadership helped him hire and inspire a talented staff and eventually made him the most celebrated newspaper editor of his era.

The most compelling story of Mr. Bradlee’s tenure, almost certainly the one of greatest consequence, was Watergate, a political scandal touched off by The Post’s reporting that ended in the only resignation of a president in U.S. history.

But Mr. Bradlee’s most important decision, made with Katharine Graham, The Post’s publisher, may have been to print stories based on the Pentagon Papers, a secret Pentagon history of the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration went to court to try to quash those stories, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the New York Times and The Post to publish them.

President Obama recalled Mr. Bradlee’s legacy on Tuesday night in a statement that said: “For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession — it was a public good vital to our democracy. A true newspaperman, he transformed the Washington Post into one of the country’s finest newspapers, and with him at the helm, a growing army of reporters published the Pentagon Papers, exposed Watergate, and told stories that needed to be told — stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better. The standard he set — a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting — encouraged so many others to enter the profession. And that standard is why, last year, I was proud to honor Ben with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Today, we offer our thoughts and prayers to Ben’s family, and all who were fortunate to share in what truly was a good life.”

The Post’s circulation nearly doubled while Mr. Bradlee was in charge of the newsroom — first as managing editor and then as executive editor — as did the size of its newsroom staff. And he gave the paper ambition.

Mr. Bradlee stationed correspondents around the globe, opened bureaus across the Washington region and from coast to coast in the United States, and he created features and sections — most notably Style, one of his proudest inventions — that were widely copied by others.

During his tenure, a paper that had previously won just four Pulitzer Prizes, only one of which was for reporting, won 17 more, including the Public Service award for the Watergate coverage.

“Ben Bradlee was the best American newspaper editor of his time and had the greatest impact on his newspaper of any modern editor,” said Donald E. Graham, who succeeded his mother as publisher of The Post and Mr. Brad­lee’s boss.

“So much of The Post is Ben,” Mrs. Graham said in 1994, three years after Mr. Bradlee retired as editor. “He created it as we know it today.”

Leonard Downie Jr., who succeeded Mr. Brad­lee as The Post’s executive editor in 1991, said, “Ben’s influence remained very much alive at The Washington Post long after he retired, distinguishing the newspaper and our newsroom as unique in journalism.” President Obama saluted Mr. Bradlee’s role at The Post when giving him the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2013: “He transformed that newspaper into one of the finest in the world.”

Mr. Bradlee’s patrician good looks, gravelly voice, profane vocabulary and zest for journalism and for life all contributed to the charismatic personality that dominated and shaped The Post. Modern American newspaper editors rarely achieve much fame, but Mr. Bradlee became a celebrity and loved the status.

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Jason Robards played him in the movie “All the President’s Men,” based on Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s book about Watergate. Two books Mr. Bradlee wrote — “Conversations With Kennedy” and his memoir, “A Good Life” — were bestsellers. His craggy face became a familiar sight on television. In public and in private, he always played his part with theatrical enthusiasm.

“He was a presence, a force,” Woodward recalled of Mr. Bradlee’s role during the Watergate period, 1972 to 1974. “And he was a doubter, a skeptic — ‘Do we have it yet?’ ‘Have we proved it?’ ” Decades later, Woodward remembered the words that he most hated to hear from Mr. Bradlee then: “You don’t have it yet, kid.”

Mr. Bradlee loved the Watergate story, not least because it gave the newspaper “impact,” his favorite word in his first years as editor. He wanted the paper to be noticed. In his personal vernacular — a vivid, blasphemous argot that combined the swearwords he mastered in the Navy during World War II with the impeccable enunciation of a blue-blooded Bostonian — a great story was “a real tube-ripper.”

This meant a story was so hot that Post readers would rip the paper out of the tubes into which the paperboy delivered it. A bad story was “mego” — the acronym for “my eyes glaze over” — applied to anything that bored him. Maximizing the number of tube-rippers and minimizing mego was the Bradlee strategy.

Mr. Bradlee’s tactics were also simple: “Hire people smarter than you are” and encourage them to bloom. His energy and his mystique were infectious.

“It was hard to explain the full force of his personality to people who never met him,” said Ward Just, the reporter-turned-novelist whom Mr. Bradlee sent to cover the Vietnam War for The Post in 1966-1967. “He really was one of those guys you’d take a machine-gun bullet for. You only meet three or four of them in an entire lifetime.”

But his strengths sometimes became weaknesses. The editor who could inspire his troops to do some of the best journalism ever published in America also fell for an artful hoax by a young reporter, Janet Cooke. Cooke invented an 8-year-old heroin addict named Jimmy and wrote a moving story about him. After the story won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981, Cooke was exposed as an impostor who invented not only Jimmy but also her own life story.

When they realized that Cooke had concocted an imaginary résumé, Mr. Bradlee and his editors interrogated her and extracted a confession. Mr. Bradlee quickly returned the Pulitzer, then encouraged The Post’s ombudsman, Bill Green, to investigate and report how the incident could have happened. This was the biggest assignment ever given to the in-house reader’s representative. Mr. Bradlee had created the position in 1970, making The Post the first major paper to employ an independent, in-house critic.

Green produced a detailed, embarrassing report about a newsroom where the urge for journalistic impact overrode several experienced reporters’ doubts about Jimmy’s existence. “Bradlee was really hurt” by the Cooke affair, recalled Peter Silberman, who served under Mr. Bradlee as a senior editor.

Mr. Bradlee had a notoriously short attention span. He rarely dug into the details of an issue himself, leaving that to the people he had hired. He managed The Post newsroom with a combination of viscera and intellect, often judging people by his personal reaction to them. He or she “makes me laugh” was perhaps Mr. Bradlee’s greatest compliment. He never enjoyed the minutiae of management and spent as little time on administrative work as he could get away with.

But Mr. Bradlee coped successfully with many crises. “Ben’s famous drive for a good story makes it easy to overlook his good judgment on matters ranging from national security to personal privacy,” observed Boisfeuillet Jones Jr., who was The Post’s lawyer when Mr. Bradlee was editor and who later became publisher.

Although he graduated from St. Mark’s School and Harvard University, the Navy left as much of a mark on Mr. Bradlee as did his early life among Boston’s WASP aristocracy. The Navy taught him to swear, as well as to respect talent wherever it appeared.

He made friends easily with important people — his most famous friend was John F. Kennedy — but he also had pals among printers at The Post and farmers in Southern Maryland, where he spent weekends at his country estate for many years.

He and his third wife, the writer Sally Quinn, loved to give parties at their big Georgetown house. In his 80s, Mr. Bradlee still caroused energetically with people 30 and 40 years younger, amazing his old friends. “He gave a whole new meaning to ‘over 80,’ ” Don Graham said.

Mr. Bradlee’s wartime experience left him an unabashed patriot who bristled whenever critics of the newspaper accused it of helping America’s enemies. He sometimes agreed to keep stories out of the paper when government officials convinced him that they might cause serious harm. But he also reacted angrily to what he considered phony attempts to invoke “national security” by officials who were really just trying to avoid embarrassment.

Lying, especially lying by public officials, particularly offended Mr. Bradlee. He wrote and lectured on the subject for decades.

“The values that Ben instilled in our newsroom — independence and fairness, aggressive reporting, compelling writing and individual initiative — will long outlive him,” Downie said. “And it will always be a newsroom where everyone has fun, as Ben did.”

Mr. Bradlee’s relationship with Mrs. Graham was critical. She allowed him to spend money, ultimately many millions of dollars, to build a great newspaper. At key moments — particularly the 1971 decision to publish excerpts from the Pentagon Papers and later during Watergate — she stood squarely behind him, defying the advice of her attorneys and business advisers and her powerful Washington friends.

Mr. Bradlee “was just what Kay needed — somebody who built her confidence and worked hard at it,” said the late Philip L. Geyelin, who was editor of The Post’s editorial page from 1968 to 1979. “He made her comfortable. He called her up and told her dirty jokes and told her the latest skinny. It was a wonderful relationship. I can’t remember any time they had any quarrel. She was nuts about him.”

Mrs. Graham had said as much herself. In one of the end-of-year letters she and Mr. Bradlee came to exchange annually — warm, intimate notes of mutual appreciation — she wrote: “Over the years, I have been spoiled by you and I hope most of the time, it’s been reciprocated, in sharing the best, most productive, rewarding working combo that I’ve had or even know of. And best of all, it’s been fun.”

She also teased him sometimes and criticized his erratic management of the newsroom, including impetuous hiring decisions that sometimes turned out badly. One year, she sent him a list of 15 names, his hiring “mistakes,” as she called them, and asked how he could avoid such errors in the future. But mostly she sang his praises, as in her end-of-1974 letter to Mr. Brad­lee: “The things [about you] that people don’t know — that I know — are style, generosity, class and decency, as well as an understanding of other people’s weaknesses.”

When Mrs. Graham died in July 2001, Mr. Bradlee spoke at her funeral. “She was a spectacular dame, and I loved her very much,” he said, looking down on the vast crowd from the lectern at the east end of Washington National Cathedral. Walking back to his pew, Mr. Bradlee took a slight detour to pass her coffin and give it an affectionate pat.

Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee was born into the old aristocracy of white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant Boston on Aug. 26, 1921. His father, Frederick Josiah Bradlee Jr., known as “B,” could trace his American ancestry back through 10 generations of Bradlees. B was an all-American football star at Harvard who became an investment banker in the booming 1920s. He married Josephine deGersdorff, daughter of a prominent New York lawyer and a New England aristocrat named Helen Crowninshield.

Benjamin was the second of three children. At first, he was surrounded by domestic staff and other signs of wealth, but the stock market crash of 1929 ended all that. During the Great Depression, his father had to improvise a living for many years, keeping the books for various clubs and institutions and supervising the janitors at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (for $3,000 a year). The family had free use of a summer house in Beverly, Mass., whose owners couldn’t find a buyer for it. Rich relations paid the Bradlee children’s tuition to private schools.

“Benny,” as the family called him, was a 14-year-old ninth-grader at the venerable St. Mark’s School in Southboro, Mass., when polio broke out at the campus in the spring of 1936. He was stricken with the fearful disease on the same day as a close friend. An ambulance that carried both boys dropped Mr. Bradlee at his Beacon Street home, then took Fred Hubbell to Massachusetts General Hospital. Mr. Bradlee was paralyzed from the waist down; Hubbell died.

Even his polio proved to be an example of Mr. Bradlee’s lifelong good luck — bolstered, as usual, by his own determination. A young coach who had encouraged Mr. Bradlee’s athletic pursuits, a working-class Irishman from Boston named Leo Cronan, visited him in the Beverly house almost nightly during his summer with polio.

Cronan introduced the idea of walking again at a time when Mr. Bradlee’s legs lay helpless and numb in clunky metal braces. Cronan got him on his feet and then helped him learn how to stand without the braces. Within eight weeks, thanks to rigorous rehabilitation, Mr. Bradlee was playing a clumsy game of golf. Two years later, he was playing varsity baseball for St. Mark’s. The physical therapy he did to fight off the effects of polio left him with a barrel chest and powerful arms for the rest of his life.

Mr. Bradlee got his first whiff of the newspaper business at age 15, when his father arranged a job for him as a copy boy on the Beverly (Mass.) Evening Times. He could augment his $5-a-week salary by reporting events in the lives of local citizens, which he loved to do. “I learned a vital lesson: People will talk if they feel comfortable,” Mr. Bradlee wrote in “A Good Life.”

He was the 52nd male Bradlee to enter Harvard since 1795 — “no alternatives were suggested, or contemplated,” he wrote. He arrived at Harvard Yard just as war in Europe was beginning and decided to join the Naval ROTC to improve his initial posting in the war he and his contemporaries knew they would soon be fighting. With that threat hovering over him, Mr. Bradlee found it hard to be serious about college. Only in his third year, with the war ever more ominous, did he buckle down.

He took a double academic load, which, after summer school, allowed him to graduate in August 1942 with majors in Greek and English. On the same day he received his diploma and his naval commission, Mr. Bradlee married his college sweetheart, Jean Saltonstall, a member of one of Massachusetts’s best-known families. After a short honeymoon, just as he was turning 21, he was off to war.

Mr. Bradlee’s three years in the wartime Navy had a lasting influence on him. As a young officer, he learned empathy for the enlisted men and developed a style of leadership that he relied on throughout his professional life. As recounted in his memoirs, it combined an easy authority with tolerance for the irrepressible enthusiasm of those under his command. Even as a young officer, he never enjoyed a confrontation and preferred accommodation to the aggressive use of authority.

After the war, Mr. Bradlee got his first real job in journalism, working with a St. Mark’s friend, Blair Clark, to create the New Hampshire Sunday News. Mr. Bradlee was one of seven staff members who filled the 64-page paper every week. The editor, Ralph M. Blagden, “had an almost contagious sense of how to find a story and where it might go,” Mr. Bradlee wrote in his memoirs. “For every answer we gave him, he had 50 more questions, and I learned everything from him in two years.”

But the Sunday News couldn’t make money, and it failed. Family friends offered to help Mr. Bradlee find a new job. Edward A. Weeks, the editor of the Atlantic Monthly, wrote a friend at the Baltimore Sun about Mr. Bradlee; Christian A. Herter, the congressman and former governor of Massachusetts, wrote to The Post. In November 1948, Mr. Bradlee set out on a train trip, bound from Boston to Baltimore to Washington to Salt Lake City to Santa Barbara. When his overnight train reached Baltimore, a heavy rainstorm discouraged him from getting off, so he decided to go first to Washington. The day before he arrived for an interview, a Post reporter had quit unexpectedly, creating a vacancy. Mr. Bradlee charmed The Post’s editors, who offered him a job for $80 a week, starting on Christmas Eve.

In his first days at the paper, he impressed The Post’s managing editor, J. Russell Wiggins, by producing a list of the city’s 10 leading bookies. He didn’t tell Wiggins that he got the names from Morris Siegel, his new pal, who was a Post sportswriter. Mr. Bradlee covered the municipal court, the attempted assassination of President Harry S. Truman by Puerto Rican nationalists, the gambling industry in Washington and life in the city’s alleys, still home to tens of thousands of poor African Americans.

He liked The Post, but he wanted to cover big national stories, and it was clear to him that he wouldn’t get a chance to do that for years. The Post, which Mrs. Graham’s father, Eugene Meyer, had bought at a bankruptcy auction in 1933, was still losing money, $1 million a year in 1951. Mr. Bradlee concluded that the paper would not be growing anytime soon. So when an old friend said he could help him become the press attache at the American Embassy in Paris, he jumped.

Mr. Bradlee loved life in Paris, but he was not a natural diplomat or bureaucrat. After 21 / 2 years, he found a way to return to journalism. Newsweek, then a struggling imitation of Time and owned by Vincent Astor, needed a European correspondent. The magazine’s foreign editor was delighted to discover that Mr. Bradlee’s mother had been a friend of Brooke Astor, the boss’s wife. He got the job.

“The sheer joy and romance of being a foreign correspondent is hard to explain, even harder to exaggerate,” Mr. Bradlee wrote in his memoirs. In four years, he covered wars in Algeria and the Middle East, peace conferences in Geneva, the wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier in Monte Carlo.

One summer, he and his wife, Jean, joined several couples in renting a huge, old French chateau, where they gave house parties every weekend. One of the guests was an old friend from Washington, Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Pittman, wife of a Washington lawyer and mother of four young children. She and Mr. Bradlee fell in love on the spot, he recounted, an unexpected turn of events that led to their divorces and their eventual marriage.

Bradlee and his second wife, Tony, with President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy at the White House in 1963. The couples had become friends as Georgetown neighbors. (Cecil Stoughton)
In 1957, Mr. Bradlee and his new wife returned to Washington. As a 36-year-old junior reporter in the capital, Mr. Bradlee began conspiratorial conversations with Osborne Elliott, another well-born WASP, also in his 30s, who was Newsweek’s managing editor. They knew that the magazine was likely to be sold.

“One night, after a bad day of brooding and a few shooters, I called Elliott in New York and told him I was damn well going to pick up the phone — it was almost 11 p.m. — and call Phil Graham right then,” Mr. Bradlee wrote in his memoirs. And he did.

Philip L. Graham, publisher and owner of The Post and husband of Katharine Graham, invited Mr. Bradlee over to his home immediately. They stayed up until 5 a.m. talking about Newsweek. Within days, The Washington Post Co. had bought the magazine for $15 million.

This business transaction changed Mr. Brad­lee’s life. Ultimately, it made him wealthy: Phil Graham bestowed a considerable block of ­Washington Post stock on him as a “finder’s fee” for putting him onto the Newsweek deal. The shares Graham gave Mr. Bradlee were eventually worth millions.

Phil Graham decided that once he owned Newsweek, Mr. Bradlee should be its Washington bureau chief. This promotion brought him into the inner sanctum of The Post Co. Mr. Bradlee befriended the Grahams, as well as their attorney and key financial adviser, Frederick “Fritz” Beebe, who soon left his New York law firm to become chairman of The Post Co.

The Post Co. bought Newsweek in March 1961, barely six weeks after the inauguration of Mr. Bradlee’s friend, John F. Kennedy, as president. The two young men (Mr. Bradlee was 39 in early 1961; Kennedy, 43) had been neighbors in the 3300 block of N Street NW, where both bought houses in 1957. They met walking baby carriages through Georgetown with their wives. Soon the couples were having dinner together on a regular basis, and Mr. Bradlee was developing what turned out to be the best source of his career.

Mr. Bradlee’s friendship with Kennedy produced complex feelings that lasted for decades after the president’s 1963 assassination. Mr. Brad­lee knew reporters shouldn’t become close friends with politicians. At the same time, Mr. Bradlee loved bright, lively, charming people, and he had great confidence in his own ability to stay straight journalistically in all circumstances. “If I was had, so be it,” Mr. Bradlee wrote in his 1974 bestseller, “Conversations With Kennedy.”

Mr. Bradlee insisted that he never had an inkling that the president was carrying on with numerous other women, from Mafia molls to Mr. Bradlee’s sister-in-law, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Tony Bradlee’s sister. Mr. Bradlee acknowledged that this obliviousness seemed improbable, but no evidence ever emerged to challenge his protestations of ignorance.

This friendship was a journalistic boon to Mr. Bradlee, who received a stream of scoops from Kennedy and his entourage that made him a highly visible figure in the competitive world of Washington journalism. He became a certifiable member of the journalistic elite in a capital city where reporters were just starting to become more glamorous and prominent.

Two deaths in 1963 altered Mr. Bradlee’s life. The first was Philip Graham’s suicide that August, after a struggle with bipolar disorder. Then in November, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. A fortnight before his death, the Bradlees had spent a glamorous weekend with the Kennedys at their new retreat in Middleburg, Va.

On Nov. 22, 1963, “life changed, forever, in the middle of a nice day, at the end of a good week, in a wonderful year of what looked like an extraordinary decade of promise,” Mr. Bradlee wrote.

After her husband’s death, Mrs. Graham took responsibility for the family business. By her own account, she assumed that all was well with her newspaper. It was in its ninth straight year of profitability, circulation was growing steadily and its competitive position against the Evening Star improved every year. Alfred Friendly, The Post’s managing editor, who ran the news department, was a close friend whom Mrs. Graham relied on.

But soon she began to hear expert opinions — from James Reston of the New York Times and columnist Walter Lippmann, especially — that her paper was far from as good as it could or should be.

Nineteen months after her husband died, Mrs. Graham invited Mr. Bradlee to lunch. She wanted to find out what his ambitions were. She proposed the 1925 F Street Club, where a female member could pay for lunch by signing the bill without causing a stir. It was the first time she had taken a man to lunch for business purposes, and it began awkwardly.

“All of a sudden,” Mr. Bradlee later wrote, “I heard myself say: ‘If Al Friendly’s job ever opened up, I’d give my left one for it.’ ” In her memoirs, Mrs. Graham recalled the same “picturesque” language. She was noncommittal. But she did tell Mr. Bradlee that she had talked to Lippmann about the idea that The Post might benefit from “an infusion of some sort from outside.” That was enough to give Mr. Bradlee “a tingle of excitement in my arms and legs. Lippmann was my pal.”

Why? “Because my mom and his second wife were in Miss Chapin’s School together in New York. They were joint holders of the high-jump record,” Mr. Bradlee replied in an interview for this article in 2000. Lippmann had watched Mr. Bradlee grow up and had taken a shine to him.

Several months after that lunch, Mrs. Graham told her editor, J. Russell Wiggins, and Friendly of her interest in Mr. Bradlee. They reacted negatively. Nevertheless, she proposed that Mr. Bradlee join The Post as a deputy managing editor responsible for national and foreign news with the understanding that he would succeed Friendly “sometime.” She told Mr. Bradlee that it would be in a year; Friendly proposed three years. Mr. Bradlee’s appointment was announced July 7, 1965.

That fall, Lippmann and Friendly had lunch together, a meeting Mrs. Graham had suggested so Friendly could hear Lippmann’s criticisms of The Post. But Lippmann used the occasion to tell Friendly that administrative jobs in newsrooms burned people out and that he should consider returning to reporting.

Friendly, shaken, went right from the lunch to Mrs. Graham’s office, asking whether she wanted him to step down. She was stunned by the speed of events but said yes. On Nov. 15, The Post announced that Mr. Bradlee would be the paper’s new managing editor, a title he would hold until 1968, when he was named to the newly created position of executive editor.

In 1965, The Post had a relatively small staff that included no more than a dozen distinguished reporters. Its most famous writer was Shirley Povich, a sports columnist. Its Pentagon correspondent was on the Navy payroll as a reserve captain. The newspaper had a half-dozen foreign correspondents and no reporter based outside the Washington area in the United States. The paper had no real feature section and provided little serious cultural coverage, but it did carry a daily page called “For and About Women.”

Apart from its famous editorial page (including the renowned cartoonist, Herblock), which had challenged Sen. Joseph McCarthy and vigorously promoted civil rights for African Americans, and which remained Wiggins’s domain after Mr. Bradlee’s arrival, the paper generally had modest expectations for itself, and it calmly fulfilled them.

At the outset, Mr. Bradlee decided “to concentrate on the one thing I did know about: good reporters.” He relied heavily on one good reporter at The Post: Laurence Stern, who proved to be his most important sidekick in the early years. Stern was a wry, irreverent intellectual with ambitious ideas for journalism. Mr. Bradlee named him The Post’s national editor.

Mr. Bradlee brought Ward Just to The Post from Newsweek and soon sent him to Vietnam, where he wrote eloquent, gritty dispatches that undermined the Johnson administration’s public optimism about the course of the war in 1966 and ’67. He hired Richard Harwood from the Louisville Courier-Journal, a brilliant and dogged reporter who became one of the most important editors of the Bradlee era. He found George Wilson, a writer for Aviation Week, who became a distinguished Pentagon correspondent. He hired an old friend from Paris, Stanley Karnow, a Time magazine correspondent in Asia, to be The Post’s China watcher, based in Hong Kong.

Mr. Bradlee’s biggest coup, in his estimation, was hiring David S. Broder from the New York Times. He had to get the approval of Beebe, Mrs. Graham’s most influential colleague, to offer Broder $19,000 a year to leave the Times for The Post. Hiring Broder in September 1966, Mr. Bradlee recalled in 2000, “was of course frightfully important, because then outsiders began to say, ‘Oh my God, did they get Broder? Why did they get Broder? What did Broder see there that we don’t know anything about?’”

Soon after he joined The Post, Broder said, “I knew it was heaven for me.” Mr. Bradlee’s Post was fast, loose and fun, and it gave Broder and other self-starting reporters plenty of room to flourish. Laughter and irreverence were crucial ingredients. Mr. Bradlee played favorites, so the people who made him laugh, or who wrote those tube-rippers, agreed that working for him at The Post was a heavenly experience. Those left out of Mr. Bradlee’s magic circle could feel their exclusion with some pain.

Confronted with a staff that included reporters he considered mediocre but who all enjoyed job security, Mr. Bradlee felt he had to encourage some people to leave — by “abusing people,” as he put it in 2000. “That’s what it was — mistreating people, not treating them the way you treated the people you really cared about.” He did it with no pleasure, his words and his body language made clear, but “I did it, to try to get rid of people, to try to persuade people to leave.”

Mr. Bradlee had the reputation of a tough guy. But after that initial period, he avoided confrontations and almost never fired an employee.

The changes he made were not guided by any grand design or elaborate philosophy of journalism. “I was simplistic,” he said in 1991, discussing those early days. “If you made the paper better every day, and you got better people working for you, and you reached higher, the paper would get better.” It was a lesson he said he learned from Miss Fisk at the Dexter School, his private grade school in Boston: “Our best today, our better tomorrow.”

When he came to The Post, Mr. Bradlee did have in mind one departure from the traditional view of daily journalism: “There [was] no reason why you couldn’t do daily what the news magazines were doing weekly,” he said. “On main news events, tell [readers] what it meant as well as what happened, and put it in some kind of historical and social perspective. And as far as the back of the book was concerned [the phrase used at Time and Newsweek to describe the magazines’ feature sections] to tell [readers] what was going on in the cultural divisions of society. And to entertain them. Those magazines were more entertaining than newspapers.”

Post reporters such as Just, Harwood and Nicholas von Hoffman, a daring writer who learned his craft at the old Chicago Daily News, began to write with a confidence and an edge that was seen in the “new journalism” being published in Esquire magazine but was rarely on display in daily newspapers. Broder, Harwood, Haynes Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize-winner from the Evening Star, and their colleagues made The Post the country’s leading chronicler of national politics, Mr. Bradlee’s favorite subject.

In the late 1960s, Mr. Bradlee began work on a new section for The Post that would give the paper a “back of the book” like Time’s or Newsweek’s — a place for cultural news, entertaining stories and journalism about the way people conducted their lives. Mr. Bradlee wanted a section devoted to “how men and women lived — together and apart — what they liked and what they were like, what they did when they were not at the office. We wanted profiles . . . that went way beyond the bare bones of biography. We wanted to look at the culture of America as it was changing in front of our eyes. The sexual revolution, the drug culture, the women’s movement. And we wanted it to be interesting, exciting, different.”

The Style section first appeared Jan. 6, 1969. It was not an immediate hit with everyone. Some female readers missed “For and About Women,” which Style replaced. One of them, at least briefly, was Mrs. Graham, who provoked Mr. Bradlee’s ire with questions and complaints about Style.

“Damn it, Katharine,” he finally blurted out, “get your finger out of my eye. Give us six weeks to get it right, and then if you don’t like it, we’ll talk.” Both said later that this spat improved their relations.

Local news was never a favorite Bradlee topic, but he understood its importance and encouraged the editors and reporters who cared about aggressive coverage of the Washington region. The Post expanded into the suburbs just as they were becoming the dominant force in the regional economy, a critical element in the paper’s successful competition with the Evening Star.

Mr. Bradlee was especially proud of one of the changes he made during his first years at The Post that wasn’t as tangible as a new section of the paper but ultimately might have been more significant. The Post he inherited was intertwined with power in a way that made him uncomfortable. As publisher, Philip Graham had often used his stature and personal charm to meddle in politics and influence events behind the scenes. For example, he encouraged Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to agree to be running mates in 1960. Post editors also sometimes used their power to achieve objectives that were not entirely journalistic.

Mr. Bradlee wanted none of this. He announced a new approach through a series of confrontations with Ben Gilbert, the longtime city editor, who cultivated friendships with city officials. One was Walter E. Washington, a former local and federal housing official who was married in Gilbert’s living room.

President Johnson had decided to name Washington the first black “mayor” of the District of Columbia. Mr. Bradlee first heard about this when he was invited to The Post’s executive dining room to have lunch with two of Johnson’s aides.

“I asked around about what the purpose of the lunch was,” Mr. Bradlee recalled in 1991. “Believe it or not, the purpose was to clear the appointment of Walter Washington with The Post’s hierarchy. And I refused to go to the lunch. . . . And not a goddam word of it has been in The Washington Post!’ . . . I was just determined to get it into the paper.”

Before long, the city staff had prepared a thorough story about Washington’s appointment. Mr. Bradlee ran it on the front page in August 1967. By 1969, Gilbert had left the newspaper.

Watergate made Mr. Bradlee’s Post famous, but the story that probably made the Watergate coverage possible was the Pentagon Papers, initially a New York Times scoop. Daniel Ellsberg, a disaffected former government official, gave the Times a set of the papers, a compilation of historical documents about U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Times journalists worked for months on stories about them, which began to appear June 13, 1971. The stories created a sensation, even though they contained very little dramatic revelation. After three days of stories, the Nixon administration successfully sought a federal court injunction blocking further publication, the first such “prior restraint” in the nation’s history.

Ellsberg then offered the documents to The Post. Two days after the court order, Post editors and reporters were plowing through the Pentagon Papers and planning to write about them.

The Post’s attorneys were extremely nervous that the paper might publish stories based on material already deemed sensitive national security information by a federal judge in New York. The Post was about to sell shares to the public for the first time, hoping to raise $35 million. And the government licenses of The Post’s television stations would be vulnerable if the paper was convicted of a crime.

The reporters and editors all believed that The Post had to report on the papers. Mr. Bradlee called one of the two friends he kept throughout his adult life, Edward Bennett Williams, the famous lawyer. (The other long-term pal was Art Buchwald, the humorist. The three regularly ate lunch together, boisterously. Williams died in 1988; Buchwald in 2007.)

After hearing Mr. Bradlee’s description of the situation, Williams thought for a moment and said: “Well, Benjy, you got to go with it. You got no choice. That’s your business.”

Armed with Williams’s judgment, Mr. Brad­lee called Mrs. Graham, who was hosting a retirement party for a Post business manager. Beebe was on an extension phone. When Mrs. Graham asked his advice, he tepidly said he didn’t think he would publish. She disagreed. “I say let’s go,” she told Mr. Bradlee. “Let’s publish.”

That moment, Mr. Bradlee wrote in his memoir, “crystallized for editors and reporters everywhere how independent and determined and confident of its purpose the new Washington Post had become.” Defying the government in printing those stories proved that The Post was “a paper that holds its head high, committed unshakably to principle.”

The Post did publish, and did end up in court, with the Times. The Nixon administration argued that publication of stories based on the Pentagon Papers could undermine national security, an argument that infuriated Mr. Bradlee. But the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that the government could not restrain the newspapers.

Eighteen years later, the man who had argued the government’s case before the Supreme Court, former solicitor general Erwin Griswold, admitted in a Washington Post op-ed essay that the national security argument was phony.

“I have never seen any trace of a threat to the national security from the publication” of the Pentagon Papers, Griswold wrote in 1989. Mr. Bradlee loved that article, and he carried a copy in his jacket pocket for weeks afterward.

The sense of independence earned in 1971 was critical to The Post’s pursuit of Watergate, which began the next June. At every stage, it was a compelling yarn, from the days when Woodward and Bernstein established connections between the burglars and President Richard M. Nixon’s reelection campaign to the amazing weeks, more than two years later, when it became clear that the president would not survive in office.

“Newspapering deals with small daily bites from a fruit of indeterminate size,” Mr. Bradlee wrote later. “It may take dozens of bites before you are sure it’s an apple. Dozens and dozens more bites before you have any real idea how big the apple might be. It was that way with Watergate.”

Mr. Bradlee called it “the story that put us all on the map.” Neither he nor The Post was ever the same again. The recognition grew after the movie made from “All the President’s Men” appeared. Mr. Bradlee was relieved that director Alan J. Pakula made a good and essentially accurate movie that seemed to capture the real spirit of The Post and the story.

Mr. Bradlee enjoyed “life on the ladder of fame,” as he described it in his memoirs. Characteristically, he made a pal of Robards as a result of the movie. He had no complaints when glamorous people in Hollywood and New York sought him out.

Mr. Bradlee’s life changed in another important way in the early 1970s. He fell in love with Sally Quinn, a vivacious, high-energy soul mate, 20 years his junior, whom he had hired as a party reporter for the Style section. With no journalistic training or background, Quinn wrote her way into a prominent role at The Post, profiling the mighty and hoping-to-be-mighty of Washington with a sharp eye and sharper pen.

“People were going to be sad again,” Mr. Brad­lee wrote in his memoir, a reference to the second family he would break up in two decades, this time to be with Quinn. They moved in together in October 1973, at the height of the Watergate excitement, and were married five years later.

Mr. Bradlee had edited The Post for nearly nine years when Nixon resigned in August 1974. In those years, he had created a great newspaper and made it famous. Nothing that happened in the newsroom in the 17 years he remained as executive editor was as dramatic as the events of those first nine, with one unhappy exception: the Janet Cooke affair in 1981.

Cooke’s deception was a jolt for Mr. Bradlee and his colleagues. Personnel management was not one of his strong suits. Female and black reporters had brought formal complaints of discrimination against Mr. Bradlee’s Post, to his great frustration. He thought he was open and fair but didn’t realize that the lack of any reliable system for evaluating journalists and developing their careers made some people feel they weren’t appreciated.

In 1984, at Don Graham’s urging, Mr. Bradlee named Downie managing editor. Downie, 21 years younger than Mr. Bradlee, had won his stripes as an investigative reporter and as an editor on the Watergate story. He was not one of Mr. Bradlee’s favorites and wasn’t his first choice to be managing editor. But he won Mr. Bradlee’s respect, and they were soon working easily together. In 1991, on the eve of his 70th birthday, Mr. Bradlee retired. He still looked and acted like a man much younger.

The staff drenched him in an outpouring of emotion on his last day in the newsroom, July 31, 1991. Most of the men and women on the staff had bought, borrowed or faked a striped shirt with a white collar and cuffs, mimicking those made by Turnbull & Asser in London that Mr. Bradlee had been wearing for years. For tribute after tribute, Mr. Bradlee kept his eyes dry. But then he heard the telegram from Nora Boustany, who had covered the war in Lebanon for The Post and was back in Beirut for a visit at the time of the retirement party. Her comments were read aloud:

“Whenever I found myself alone on the streets of Beirut, I would just shrug off the shelling, the gunmen, and the dark corners, telling myself there is this distinguished eminence up there who really appreciates and understands the true meaning of courage in journalism. . . . For me you will always be the grand, brave man of the news who watched over me and made me want to give just a little bit more. Thank you for giving us all something so special to believe in.”

Don Graham made Mr. Bradlee a director of The Washington Post Co. and a vice president of the newspaper. Graham spent some time coming up with an appropriate title. He chose “vice president at large,” a generous signal that Mr. Bradlee remained a big figure but had no particular responsibilities.

In retirement, Mr. Bradlee wrote his highly successful memoir. He and Quinn raised millions of dollars for Children’s National Medical Center, which had done so much for their son, Quinn, who was born with serious disabilities in 1982. He also gave money away, endowing the Bradlee Professorship of Government and the Press at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

He joined the International Advisory Board of Independent News & Media, a global media company that owns newspapers and other properties in Ireland, England and South Africa. Into his 80s, he enjoyed traveling to board meetings in those countries. Mr. Bradlee also served as chairman of the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission, the nonprofit organization that maintains the historical relics of St. Mary’s, the oldest European settlement in Maryland. In 2007, the French government awarded him its Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration.

Mr. Bradlee and Quinn maintained residences in St. Mary’s County, Md., in East Hampton, N.Y., and in Georgetown. Besides his wife, survivors include a son from his first marriage, Benjamin C. Bradlee Jr. of Boston; two children from his second marriage, Dominic Bradlee of Hydra, Greece, and Marina Murdock of Purcellville, Va.; a son from his third marriage, Quinn Bradlee of Washington; 10 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

The late David Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the New York Times and devoted much of his book “The Powers That Be” to Mr. Bradlee’s Washington Post, offered this valedictory in an interview:

“He took The Post, then affluent and filled with underutilized potential, and made it a formidable national newspaper worthy of a head-to-head competition with the [New York] Times. He did it in a way that made the paper itself a joyous place to work. The paper reflected his personality. He was exuberant, competitive and combative if challenged. He made The Post a magnet for young reporters looking for a chance to play in a very high-stakes game.”

Robert G. Kaiser is a former managing editor of The Washington Post.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2014

"It's nice to be Dr. Ruth..."

Long story, but yesterday morning I had breakfast here in New York with Ruth Westheimer (Dr. Ruth) who at 86 is just one month older than my own Mom and just as sharp and vibrant. I met her about 10 years ago and see her every 2 years or so--but I never really talked her longer than a couple of minutes before yesterday. She is funny and classy and bawdy all at once.

And, as I told her in the middle of breakfast, she's got big ones.

Google Dr. Ruth some time.

She was born in Bavaria in 1929. Just a few months older than Anne Frank, she lost both parents in the Holocaust after they were taken from her in 1941, but did not really learn of their deaths until 1945. She escaped the Nazis and spent her early teen years in a Swiss orphanage. She was trained and served as a scout and sniper in the late 1940s after moving to Palestine. That career was cut short when she was seriously injured by a shell in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. She spent months in the hospital. She speaks four languages (including Hebrew) but spoke no English when she arrived in NYC in the mid-1950s. She has lived in the same Washington Heights apartment for 50 years. She has been married 2 times and has been widowed since 1997. She has kids and grandkids. She is a single mother, survivor, winner, dreamer and doer. A problem solver.

And a joy to be around. I gather that she is totally incapable of feeling sorry for herself, even for a minute.

She is 4' 7" in height. That's right. 4 feet 7 inches.

An off-Broadway play about her is still running.

And she is precocious and funny. Yesterday a waiter recognized her and eagerly offered to go to the buffet for her almost as soon as we entered the dining room and before we even sat down. She quickly but graciously allowed him to do so--and then gave the star-struck waiter and fan her food preferences. Off to the buffet he went. She smiled mischievously and said: "It's nice to be Dr. Ruth."


Posted by JD Hull at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2014

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.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

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

Posted by JD Hull at 05:50 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2014

Checking in with Maraym Montague: Marrakech, Morocco, Peacock Pavilions Design Hotel.

Over the past 8 years we've marveled at and fallen hopelessly in love with the peripatetic Ms. Montague, an American expat of French-Persian extraction, Smith grad (we're unashamedly elitist about education, and celebrate the few great women's colleges still on the planet), writer, photographer, award-winning blogger, new author, economic development government contractor and proprietor of the Peacock Pavilions Design Hotel which she runs with her husband Chris in Marrakech, Morocco. How did we find her? In the spring of 2006, one of our older, hopelessly romantic and famously exclusive (i.e., picky about people, especially women) editors discovered Maryam by accident in a photo of her inside a Parisian bistro he'd been in only a few weeks before. It took our normally workaholic nose-to-the-grindstone comrade an afternoon of scouring the Net to find out who she was, what she did and where she was living. Anyway, here's a post heralding the beginning of the 2014 fall season at the elegant Peacock Pavilions which European and American magazines discovered about the same time we discovered Maryam, her hotel and her world. See her post yesterday, Marrakech, Morocco: and a tale of Peacock Pavilions design hotel - Part 1.

Owners Maryam and Chris at Peacock Pavilions. Photo: Elle Magazine.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2014

New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer kicks out the jams.

Last night at the Staples Center.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2014

Robin McLaurin Williams (1951-2014)

Rest in Peace, Sir Robin. Man-Child. Preacher. Madman. Rogue. You were truly touched by fire. See NBC coverage.


Posted by JD Hull at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2014

(And since Thursday is the new Friday.)

"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

--Samuel Johnson

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Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2014

On the good foot.

An American story. While my fellow James Brown fan Holden Oliver (see post below) has not yet had the opportunity to see the movie because he lives in a Stepford-like rural part of northern Austria which may not have the market to support showing it at local theaters, last night I did see Get On Up, the new movie on the life of James Brown produced by Mick Jagger. I will give it an A-/B+. Cast and music outstanding. Some of the story, even if you know lots about James Brown, is unfortunately a bit confusing and hard to follow. Our suggestion: re-edit that bad boy. Or it could just be me and/or the Ibogaine my doctor made me take before the movie. N.B. Seriously, two things. First, do re-edit this movie so that people can get it. Second, don't underestimate its appeal. I saw Get On Up in whitest part of seriously white and tacky Orange County--and was surprised that most of the audience liked it. I have been wrong about many things...Anyway, good god. On the good foot. Maceo! Maceo! Tim! Tim! Walk for me, Tim.

Posted by JD Hull at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2014

Germany 1 Argentina 0

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Well-played, both clubs.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2014

Recession Story: This is what humility, courage and resilience look like.

This op-ed/story has made the rounds since we discovered it last night. Originally, it may have appeared in Newsday on July 8--but it's getting hard to tell as it's been popping up everywhere, albeit with different titles. Anyway, we don't want you to miss it. Darlena Cunha, writer, former television producer and stay-at-home young mother of twins, tells her story in the Washington Post: "This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to to pick up food stamps".

Darlena Cunha and Family

Posted by JD Hull at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2014

U.S. Senator Howard Henry Baker, Jr. (1925-2014)


Class Act: Sen. Baker (R-TN) at Watergate Hearings, 1973. See Chicago Tribune

Posted by JD Hull at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2014

Happy 799th, Magna Carta.

The Magna Carta (Great Charter) celebrated its 799th birthday yesterday. The Charter was of course imposed by feudal barons on King John at the banks of the Thames near Windsor, England, on June 15, 1215. By limiting the king's absolute power, and protecting the rights of at least some of his subjects, the document wisely signed that day by King John became a critical building block in both English and American constitutional law.

The Magna Carta did mainly two groundbreaking things. It acknowledged that punishment of citizens must be under the law of the land. More generally, it also gave rise to a settled notion, and expectation, that a monarch should not and cannot act on a completely arbitrary basis.

What spurred the barons to confront King John? Answer: Taxes, mainly, without notice, over and over again, to pay for John's lackluster military campaigns on the continent.

What? You know all about the Great Charter. Okay, then by all means take this test one of our Brit cousins over at The Telegraph devised over the weekend for countrymen and colonials alike. At our shop, only the patrician Holden Oliver, with his first rate 17th century mind, got all the answers right.

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A reprinting in London in 1600s.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2014

For the Love of Cuba: Rick Garcia, an artist's artist.


Above: "Love and Hate", by Rick Garcia. Born to Cuban parents, Miami native Rick Garcia was raised in a household where Cuba and the Cuban people was a daily subject of discussion. As an artist, Garcia in recent years began to mix images of "old" Cuba with a more contemporary pop treatment to capture Cuba's sounds, colors, textures, energies and spirit. Rick Garcia's websites are here and here.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:38 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2014

Normandy, 6:30 a.m., June 6, 1944: Our fathers and grandfathers. My heroes. The last American class.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Allied forces' invasion of Normandy. Although June 6, 1944 would be celebrated as the eventual end of the war in Europe, much (if not most) of the execution of the plan for the invasion's earliest hours was botched. Improvisation by the first American, British and Canadian soldiers to reach French soil won the day.

But before any of that success could be achieved, the men who were the first to arrive would experience, and eventually overcome, unexpected hell, horror and carnage that no training could have prepared them for.

This was especially true of the landing at Omaha beach. For too many--military historians think this was deliberate if strategic--Omaha was their first time in combat. At Omaha alone, there were nearly 2500 casualties, mostly in the first 2 hours, so that 34,000 could be landed on the beach by the end of the day.

It was our fathers and grandfathers, for the most part frightened but dutiful young men, who struggled onto Omaha and those five other Normandy beaches that day. These are the guys I think about more and more as I get older. We will never equal them in character, grit or resilience. That day and what they did? This is our real American class.

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16th Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Easy Red Sector, Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944. © Robert Capa.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2014

Sharp Dressed Men.

Cuff links, stick pin. When I step out I'm gonna do you in.

--Gibbons, Hill and Beard

Raoul Duke (1937-2005)

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2014


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In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

--John Alexander McCrae (1872–1918)

Poet and physician, McCrae was a Lieutenant Colonel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and served as a field surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium (April 21–May 25 1915). He wrote this famous and much beloved poem on May 3, 1915. It first appeared in Punch in December of 1915. McCrae preferred the front lines. On June 1, 1915, despite his protests, McCrae was asked to set up a hospital away from the front and near Boulogne, France. In January 1918, he died of pneumonia and meningitis while still commanding that hospital.

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Posted by JD Hull at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2014

Happy 450th, Mr. Shakespeare.

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Posted by JD Hull at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2014

Statesboro, Bulloch County, Georgia.

Mother died and left me reckless,
Daddy died and left me wild.
No, I'm not good lookin',
I'm some sweet woman's angel child.

--William Samuel McTier (1898–1959)

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2014

Mr. Chavez

Today, the American states of California, Colorado and Texas observe an official state holiday to honor the late Cesar Chavez. Chavez was a Mexican-American civil rights and labor leader who, beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s, brought worldwide attention to the low pay, poor living conditions and poor working conditions of American farm workers, including the health threat posed by pesticides to workers' health. A tireless organizer of non-violent strikes and boycotts, Chavez was instrumental in the formation of the United Farm Workers, and guided the UFW until his death in 1993. For his work, he earned the respect and admiration of countless contemporary American leaders and politicians.

César Estrada Chávez (March 31, 1927 - April 23, 1993)

Posted by JD Hull at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2014

Peter Paul Rubens: The painter loved a great feast.

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The Feast of Venus, circa 1630-1640. By Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). Flemish Baroque Painter, Diplomat, Charmer, Father, Husband, Savvy Businessman, Fluent in Six Languages, Workaholic, Renaissance Man. Raised in Cologne and Antwerp.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2014

The Role of Irish Guys on the World Stage.

The purpose of the Irish guy is to drink and wear trousers.

--Anonymous Irish Woman

There are of course exceptions to the above view. This day--St. Patrick's Day--is in honor of a Brit captured and sold into slavery by "Irish marauders" to the chieftain Mil uh in the year 403 to work in what is now the County of Antrim. Patrick died on March 17--in either 493 or 460. In the intervening years, Patrick changed Ireland forever. Never underestimate Irish guys.

Seamus Oliver, Dublin, Week Days.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2014

UPDATED: A Better Class of Libidinous at Duke. Meet Lauren.

Unexpectedly, and going on a decade*, Duke University has been building a somewhat unruly, vaguely feral and decidedly Epicurean--let's just call it "libidinous"--reputation in the popular media.

First, it was Tom Wolfe's 2004 novel 'I Am Charlotte Simmons', exploring the hookup culture at fictional "Dupont University." Next, a national spotlight was trained on Duke's 2006 lacrosse team, and in particular an off-campus party setting off rape allegations; although the charges there were false, and eventually dropped, the scandal and its residual civil litigation painted a wild, testosterone-drenched portrait of the Duke lacrosse program and several of it players. Finally, the 2010 publication of The Duke F*ck List, a Duke woman's explicit and often hilarious review of bedroom performances by several identified Duke men, took hookup culture at Duke to painful new depths.

And now this, stuff even Tom Wolfe can't make up:

During the 2013-14 school year, a determined and apparently open and engaging Duke freshman is moonlighting in adult films to help pay tuition. She gets outed by a male student. But, to her credit, she doesn't hide. She steps up to talk about it, defending herself and humanizing herself and the porn industry. And this has made most of her critics and others involved in her story to appear small, prissy, hypocritical, bad.

There have been scads of articles on this unusual story in last two weeks.

So in case you missed it on February 14, in one of the best early stories on this, Katie Fernelius, a reporter on The Chronicle, Duke's highly-regarded 110-year-old student daily, interviewed the co-ed in "Portrait of a porn star: Duke freshman stands behind her alter-ego". Her name is "Lauren". Lauren has this more recent interview in on February 21. And we, like many others, are beginning to admire her. Lauren has grit and soul. Hat tip to Chicago's Andrew Johnston for the idea and the interview.

*If you go back more than 20 years, you encounter a West campus out-of-doors institution for only the most sporting student couples known as "The Order of the Chair", spoken about in hushed tones by those who participated. Those rituals merit a separate post.

Photo: Elysia Su/Duke Chronicle

Posted by JD Hull at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2014

Blind Willie McTell: Statesboro Blues.

Woke up this morning,
We had them Statesboro blues.
I looked over in the corner,
Grandma and Grandpa had 'em too.

--Blind Willie McTell

Posted by JD Hull at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, EJB.

Ellen Bry 01.jpg
Image: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2014

Sharp Dressed Man

Cuff links, stick pin.
When I step out
I'm gonna do you in.

--Gibbons, Hill and Beard (ZZ Top)


Posted by JD Hull at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2014

Aristide Maillol: Dina in 1939.


"The Sky", 1939, Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2014


Like many of my peers, I've been interested in politics--the "art of controlling your environment", as one Hunter Stockton Thompson used to define politics broadly--since I was 15. I lived on Capitol Hill for years, and worked there twice. At this point, I think can tell sincere versus feigned shows of partisanship or bipartisanship in politicians posturing/reacting to a question, to a speech or to an event. Even when "on duty", pols actually are human beings with their guards down from time to time. They are not all bluster, speciousness and lies 24/7. I keep watching for those rare moments of real. I think that anyone last night who watched the State of the Union address witnessed one of those moments in the prolonged applause and show of appreciation for wounded Sgt. First Class Cory Remburg. I expect more than a few members of Congress, journalists and watchers of the event around the world both cheered and teared up. See, e.g., NBC news: "Army Ranger Cory Remsburg honored as hero during State of the Union address."

Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Posted by JD Hull at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2014

Los Angeles and the Music Business: "A cruel and shallow money trench."

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.

There's also a negative side.



Posted by JD Hull at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2014

Janus: God of Beginnings.

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Posted by JD Hull at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2013

Gratitude: A Superior State of Mind.

For what else can I do, a lame old man, but sing hymns to the gods?*

--Epictetus (55-135 AD), The Discourses, Book I, 101 AD

*Epictetus used gods, Zeus and God interchangeably.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2013

Builders. Innovators. Drivers. Creators.

There is no joy except in creation. There are no living beings but those who create. All the rest are shadows, hovering over the earth, strangers to life. All the joys of life are the joys of creation: love, genius, action...

--Romain Rolland (1866-1944), Nobel Prize winner, in "Lightning Strikes Christophe".


Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2013

November 11: "Though Poppies Grow In Flanders Fields."

Observed today as a day off work for many in the United States, Veterans Day is always on November 11, and comes to us from World War I, or the Great War. The first and most horrific of modern wars was officially over with the Treaty of Versailles in June of 1919. But November 11 is observed in about 60 (mostly Commonwealth nations) as Remembrance Day, Poppy Day or Armistice Day to mark the end of major fighting in World War I in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when Germany had signed the Armistice. As "Poppy Day", it derives its name from John McCrae's short but famous poem.

In Flanders Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

--John Alexander McCrae (1872–1918). Poet, physician, Lieutenant Colonel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The poem first appeared in Punch in December of 1915.

McCrae in 1912

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2013

Goodbye, Old Friend.


"Ed. Post" (? - 2013), the anonymous editor of Blawg Review. Thank you. Rest in peace. And make it count, sir. I am sorry we quarreled so much.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2013

Gaius Julius Caesar: General, Statesman, Conqueror, Writer.


D. March 15, 44 BC. Above: Vincenzo Camuccini, Mort de Caesar, 1798.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2013

Samuel Johnson: Dry Drunks, Wet Drunks, Bullies and Boors.

He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.

--Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784


North of Fleet Street: 17 Gough Square. Built 1700.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2013


Que beaultè ot trop plus qu'humaine.
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

--François Villon (1431-1463)

Villon_Francois.jpg Poet, Drifter, Dreamer, Thief.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2013

Heroes: Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Jr.

When I step out I'm gonna do you in.

--Gibbons, Hill and Beard


Man in Full: Tom Wolfe. Prince of journalism, risk-taker, Virginian, original. "Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man."

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2013

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Get to know his City of Man.

To us, in our lapsed estate, resting, not advancing, resisting, not cooperating with the divine expansion, this growth comes by shocks. We cannot part with our friends. We cannot let our angels go. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in.

We are idolaters of the Old. We do not believe in the riches of the soul, in its proper eternity and omnipresence.

We do not believe there is any force in today to rival or recreate that beautiful yesterday.

We linger in the ruins of the old tent.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): Essays, First Series, "Compensation" (1841)


Emerson, 1857. Pain? It's optional, Justin.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2013

One Stand-up Guy: Daniel O'Connell, Trial Lawyer.

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An Irishman of the best stock--wily, witty, eloquent, emotional and magnetic.

Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847), "Liberator of Ireland", led a movement that forced the British to pass the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, allowing Catholics to become members of the British House of Commons. As a leader, O'Connell had moxie, brains, drive, patience, organizational skills, and big personality. More about him here and here.

O'Connell was also a consummate and legendary trial lawyer, a bit of an actor, and way-fun just to be around. In a set of lectures published in 1901, John L. Stoddard said of him:

He was a typical Irishman of the best stock--wily, witty, eloquent, emotional and magnetic. His arrival in town was often an occasion for public rejoicing. His clever repartees were passed from lip to lip, until the island shook with laughter.

In court, he sometimes kept the spectators, jury, judge and even the prisoner, alternating between tears and roars of merriment. Celtic to the core, his subtle mind knew every trick peculiar to the Irish character, and he divined instinctively the shrewdest subterfuges of a shifty witness.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2013

Reason to Live.

They don't know what love is.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2013

Heroes: Benjamin Disraeli.

I cannot be silent. I have had to struggle against a storm of political hate and malice which few men ever experienced.

--Young MP Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), asking Robert Peel for a post in the Peel Ministry in an 1841 letter. Peel refused him.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

Guernica. The German Officer to Picasso: "Did you paint this?"


Here's a WWII story I first heard in 1992 in Paris from a struggling young Irish painter named Richard hustling his drinks and living by his wit, humor, charm and talent on a few choice blocks of the Right Bank. I never found out what happened to Richard. But ever since I've thought about this simple and apparently fairly well-known Picasso story, and more and more since 2005.

In the Fall of that year, Julie McGuire and I were together in Madrid. We made time to see Guernica, very likely Pablo Picasso's most famous painting, and some other great modern Spanish works, at the Museo Reina Sofia in central Madrid. Picasso painted Guernica in 1937 after both German and Italian bombers shelled Guernica, in Spain's Basque Country, on April 26 of that year, during the Spanish Civil War. The bombing by Germany and Italy happened at the request of Spanish Nationalist forces. The painting is an outcry, protest and lament of the self-assured, polite, smooth and famously composed Picasso.

The smallest details of the story seem to change. But historians and journalists seem to agree on the following:

In 1942, during the 1940-1944 German occupation of Paris, German officers often visited Picasso's Paris studio at a time when some of his paintings were being burned as decadent. On one visit, an aggressive Gestapo officer found a simple postcard with an image of Guernica in the studio. The officer confronted the painter, and held before Picasso's face the postcard with its breathtaking indictments of war, national pride, meaningless death, pointless suffering, waste, government hypocrisy, inflamed leadership and self-destruction.

"Did you do this?", the officer asked.

“No, sir. You did."

Posted by JD Hull at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2013

Living in America: On the Good Foot.

James Brown, Godfather of Soul, was the hardest-working poor kid ever.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2013

You work like Pete Townshend plays? Well, do you?

Got Fire? "I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it."

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2013

Heroes: E.D. Hirsch, Jr. and Core Knowledge Foundation.


Eric Hirsch founded the Charlottesville-based Core Knowledge Foundation in 1986.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2013

Heroes: Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963).

You think you're scrappy, resourceful, resilient and tough? Robert Frost spent his life as a poet, student, teacher, newspaper reporter, farmer, factory worker, father, husband, plugger and accomplished Yankee. Personally, he lived through a never-ending series of tragic and painful episodes. Both his parents died young. When his father died, leaving the family $7, Frost was 11 years old. Fifteen years later, his mother died of cancer. Four of Frost's own six children died prematurely. Only two survived him.

He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize four times: 1924, 1931, 1937 and 1943. The first, in 1924, came at age 50.

Robert Frost - The Poetry of Robert Frost.jpg

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2012

Rozann Stayden.

My friend Rozann Stayden died on February 24 this year. We met in Cincinnati as students in 1977 and, a few years later, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she eventually attended law school.

In both of these very different cities, Rozann Stayden knew everyone. And she seemed to meet anyone interesting, compelling or promising before anyone else did: the rich, poor, powerful, famous, struggling, bohemian, academic, literary, political, young, old, displaced, exotic. She was attracted to the genuinely interesting.

That Rozann was a lawyer does not begin to describe her, or help in the least to explain her influence on every man or woman who ever met her. That fact just gets in the way of the portrait. At best, that was a small, possibly important and probably amusing detail. Lawyer-ness wasn't finishing or defining for her. In others, without a lot more to show for themselves, it simply did not impress her. It was like a high school degree.

She demanded much, sometimes too much, from herself and others. She had way too much energy, moxie and wants for one human. Passionate, smart, funny, driven, opinionated, difficult, organized, fearless, hopelessly irreverent, inpatient, kind and warlike. She was never politically correct, thought of it as a comical but unfortunate character defect, and tended to dislike people who were.

Rozann intrigued and startled you. She came on strong, was opinionated and often frightened, especially at first, all but the strongest men and the most curious, discerning women. She had hundreds of longtime friends from all walks of life in the United States, Europe and Asia. She laughed a lot, and uproariously.

Rozann, words like authentic or original to describe you fail in understatement. You were Self-Made in every respect. You were "highly-correct" even when we fought, disagreed or misunderstood each other. Happy Birthday, Girlfriend.

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Posted by JD Hull at 03:21 AM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2012

Don't miss GWENorg's powerful, uplifting video about child sexual abuse starring ABC's Chelsea Tavares.

Los Angeles-based Global Women's Empowerment Network (GWEN or GWENorg at has produced this public service announcement based on a poem of Chelsea Tavares, the actress, singer and dancer who is also a celebrity spokesperson for GWEN. Released yesterday, "Still Music Box" echoes the pain of a child's sexual abuse happening behind closed doors on a daily basis.

The poem is personal to Tavares, an established 21 year old actress who has also starred in the ABC Family series "Make it or Break It". In that show, Taveres played the character of Jordan Randall, who confronted the abuser who had sexually molested her at an early age. GWEN co-founder Tess Cacciatore heard this poem and was moved to produce, shoot and edit the piece, so that the story could live on to inspire others.

Posted by JD Hull at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2012

“My dear young lady, I’m a lawyer, and I’m used to lying on both sides.”

See Charon QC's Report No. 4: Lawyers: What They Are and What They Do at his Van Rouge UK Law Tour.


Posted by JD Hull at 09:38 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2012

Day of the Innocents: Henri 2, Paw de Deux.

Existential cat hero Henri is the creation of Seattle's Will Braden.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 03:50 AM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2012

All Hail The Charon QC Van Rouge Tour: A Modern Legal Domesday Census, Sort Of, Starting With Kent.

It will be a real pleasure to get out and talk to lawyers and non-lawyers all over the country to see what they think about our legal system. A mix of podcasts, blog posts, tweets, photos, and even the odd video--with me behind the camera.

--Charon QC, London and Kent

In October, the popular and highly-regarded British law prof, writer, podcaster and pundit Charon QC will start from Kent his Van Rouge Tour of England. A kind of modern Legal Domesday adventure, Charon (pronounced "Karen") will indulge us with a fine Celtic romp throughout most of Britain for several months "doing podcasts with lawyers and non-lawyers [plus posts and tweets about them] as I go with a detailed commentary on law, life and other matters as I find them." Sponsorships are still available; given Charon's wide following and readership, that's an opportunity for both Brit and non-Brit law firms to share in the magic of our hero's velvet-voiced reporting and always-compelling interviews (incidently, he has interviewed me either in or from London four times, to much fanfare and heightened interest in our firm). More details on Charon's trip are here and coming up shortly on Charon's blog.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2012

Congratulations, Geeklawyer and Jess.

The House of Geeklawyer announces the arrival of a new 8.5 pound male litigator.

20th Century Fox

Posted by JD Hull at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2012

Bill Clinton's Only Tragedy.

It's that he has never made a closing argument to a jury. I watched his speech last night at the Democratic convention. Even though I have raised money for Dem pols, I don't think, act or vote along party lines and hopefully never will. I voted "R" in the last presidential election. But I am also--no matter what I do or think--a lawyer who has made pitches before federal and state courts for nearly 25 years. There is no one living better at making ideas come alive, putting arcane ideas in people-speak and summing up than one William Jefferson Clinton. No one. Amazing. He's always prepared, too. The boy comes to play, doesn't he?

Photo: NY Daily News.

Posted by JD Hull at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2012

Burning Man: Day 8.



Back off, man. We know a great alternate reality when we see one.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2012

Burning Man Festival 2012: Day 4.

The festival began in earnest in 1986 with about ten people on San Francisco's Baker Beach. The idea was, in part, to observe and celebrate the summer solstice with an evening bonfire. The event grew quickly and moved to the desert in 1990. Burning Man Festival is now an eagerly-awaited 8-day gathering, romp, art show, living experiment of "radical inclusion" and alternate reality held and experienced each year in Back Rock Desert, Nevada. Interestingly, and to the festival's great credit, each of the 50,000 gushing aficionados and devoted tribesman who do regularly attend describe it a bit differently. This year (August 27 through September 3) our firm is honored, amused and a tad horrified that the entire board of directors of one of our few start-up clients--they are grads of fancy B-schools back East but dress year-round like extras from "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome"--are shilling a few ideas of their own at 2012 Burning Man. Good luck, guys.

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Posted by JD Hull at 02:49 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2012

Caravaggio's madrigal on lost love.

The Lute Player.jpg
Caravaggio, "The Lute Player", c. 1596, Wildenstein Collection

Posted by JD Hull at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2012

Obey-DC-Henry Rollins.

To celebrate D.C. native Henry Rollins and his 50th birthday last year, Obey--Shepard Fairey's empire--created and released two Obey-esque limited edition renderings of Rollins for sale. Here's one of them.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2012

You gotta love the British press at the Olympics: "A raucous pageant of popular culture".

When did America's Fourth Estate last use "raucous" in a headline? Ah, but Britain, she really did deliver, didn't she? See The Guardian's artful swan song for London's two week-long moment: "London 2012: This closing ceremony was a raucous pageant of popular culture." Excerpt from the piece by Richard Williams:

Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz performed from moving Rolls-Royce convertibles, like an extended advert for the best of British bling, while Russell Brand sang I Am the Walrus from a psychedelic bus that metamorphosed into a giant transparent octopus from which Fatboy Slim delivered a short DJ set. When the Spice Girls sang from the top of black cabs, the Olympics seemed to have turned into the Motor Show.

Last of all, after the speeches, Rio de Janeiro's preview of 2016 and the extinguishing of Thomas Heatherwick's cauldron, came the surviving members of the Who, closing the Games with the adrenaline shot of My Generation, although the real anthem of London 2012 had undoubtedly been David Bowie's Heroes.

There was no message, and nor did there need to be, except "Wasn't it fun?" and "Aren't we great?" But Damien Hirst's tie-dyed rendering of the union flag, filling the ground on which the world's finest athletes had run and jumped and thrown their way into history, reminded those suspicious of raucous patriotism of how great the union flag suddenly looked when it was ripped out of the hands of the extreme right and wrapped around the shoulders of Jessica Ennis or Mo Farah.

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The Pet Shop Boys get down, as it were. (Photo: Julien Behal/PA)

Posted by JD Hull at 05:12 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2012

The Oversoul on Crack: Burning Man is August 27 to September 3. Peace, Love, Absurdity, Art.

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Burning Man Festival, September 2, 2011: Black Rock Desert, Nevada (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2012

East London Janus.


Samantha Janus, "Guys and Dolls", 2006, London

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2012

My Life Online.

I don't have one.

A "life online". A Life on the Internet, I mean.

I don't want one, either.

For me, the Net is one rung on the ladder to meeting people, learning, growing and testing your own mettle. A tool for my flesh-and-blood journey--and not ever a destination. If it makes money, all the better. But please don't blog, tweet, Facebook, e-mail, Skype, Four Square or do LinkedIn for the money--because you'll be hatin' life. That's the 2% by-product, if even that.

To do well on the Net, when you need to be in that 'hood, you DO need to like/love other humans, meeting them, learning from them and be curious about them and the worlds they occupy. And, of course, you need to have a serious drive to absorb all those Ideas--both new ones and old verities--that inevitably accompany any new person, place or thing.

You need to be driven, first, about who and what is out there. If at first you can't meet people in person, in the interim, please call or Skype. You need live voices and moving images. And, ultimately, live bodies and all that goes with them. They are the best. This week I had the honor--and fun--of finally meeting Portland's David Sugerman, even it was only over the phone on a Thursday morning when neither of us really had the time.

He is quite a guy, lawyer, native Texan, Warrior, father, husband and Human's Human. Trust me. I know these things. And I will give him a mob name: The SweetMan. If I still did insurance defense work, however, he would scare me incontinent--and I would love fighting him off. Dave Sugerman's a guy who gets his clients in his DNA; his clients, I suspect, hold him in their hearts the same way.

SweetMan, we may not be worthy.


Portland's David F. Sugerman

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2012

On The Great Eagle Scout Backlash: Two Great Posts.


I am an Eagle Scout. Generally, and consistently, I have been enormously proud of that. For examples, I "rank" it above my Law Review editor position in law school, seeing my writing published in major newspapers at a young age, making partner in my previous firm or founding Hull McGuire. The more I think about it, being an Eagle Scout is second only to one thing: giving up booze 26 years ago.

So these two pieces written this week interested me greatly. Each post takes a very similar view of the BSA's recent if repackaged stand against openly homosexual scouts within its ranks. Each, however, suggests a different remedy. Me? I am not sure yet about the remedy. Thinking. I can only tell you that I deplore the policy, even while I find it legally unassailable. The two posts:

More Men Join the Ranks of Former Eagle Scout by Maggie Koerth-Baker, the wife of Eagle Scout Chris Baker, at BoingBoing. This is powerful and persuasive--and moving. Let her introduce you to some interesting, and inspiring, Eagle Scouts.

A Word About Awards by defense trial lawyer Eric Mayer, also an Eagle Scout, at his always-sane and thoughtful Unwashed Advocate. It's also powerful and persuasive--and smart. Two excerpts from Mayer, but do read the entire post:

From 2004 to 2010, the published policy of the BSA was as follows:

Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting’s values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.

In 2010, this statement disappeared from official publication. In June 2012, they published a much colder explanation:

The BSA policy is: “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics.

The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path.


Juxtaposing this policy upon the Boy Scout Law, I find, independently, that it is not Friendly, nor Courteous, nor Kind, nor Brave, nor Clean. And, as for Reverent. Anyone who finds themselves moved to tears by the Sermon on the Mount (regardless of religious affiliation or subscriptions) should taste the bile welling in their throats at such blatant and disgusting discrimination by an organization claiming to uphold the highest of moral values.

Next, let me be clear about something else. Do not confuse the organization with the program.

The program is a warm and inviting place where caring and conscientious volunteers facilitate the emotional and physical growth of young men by using a structured learning and leadership environment in order to teach them valuable life skills and lessons. The vast majority of volunteers are dedicated to assisting these kids in becoming good men, regardless of sexuality, religion, or background. One does not need to earn the Eagle Scout award to gain benefit from the program, but the award does recognize significant dedication and work in the program.

The organization is cold. Detached “professionals” operate a not-for-profit organization consisting of nearly 3 million members, paying their higher leadership handsome salaries for sustaining growth and organizational integrity. They receive significant support from christian denominations throughout the US, and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) make participation largely mandatory for its male youth.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2012

It's Thursday. Play Loud, Campers.

Morris, Jay and Silent Bob check back in.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2012

Congrats, Rep. Barney Frank. And thanks for showing us in all walks of life the 24/7 importance being who you are.

We do not share the same politics. But Barney's unusually smart, tough, authentic. He gets lots done. And he's got big ones. We will all miss him when he leaves Congress. NBC: Barney Frank weds longtime partner; first congressman in same-sex marriage.


Posted by JD Hull at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2012

These brutal Thursday summer nights are ruining my health.

The best thing about summer nights in the authentic American cities? All the girls walk by dressed up for each other, and the boys do the boogie-woogie on the corner of the street.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2012

Herbert Lomas (1924-2011)

Recently, I learned that Herbert "Bertie" Lomas, a Suffolk-based poet, editor and translator, died on September 9, 2011 at the age of 87. I met Bertie in England in 2003. We became pen pals. Sometimes we'd exchange books. He was highly respected, followed, read and affectionately regarded as a writer and human being by a variety of European communities throughout his life. This piece in The Independent that appeared on September 15 comes as close as any of the many obits or tributes I've read about his passing of capturing the kind of person he was--and his unusual life and role as poet, writer and participant in the events that forged Europe in the last century.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2012

Lawyers with Fight.


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June 27, 2012

A Few Words About Nora Ephron (1941-2012).

We should have put her in our Pantheon long ago. In 1972, in her essay "A Few Words About Breasts", she changed things for me and others who aspired to be writers and journalists. Why? It was the fun and moxie of her. And of course that killer last sentence of the now-famous Esquire piece no one will ever forget. Essayist. Funny Girl. Author. Screenwriter. Director. Mother. Role model for women and writers. She was, everyone learned in a flash, and then over and over again, much more than talented Carl Bernstein's talented writer ex-wife. Too young, at 71, but what a life. LA Times obit here but none of the hundreds of pieces in last 24 hours really do it for me. Ephron was, in a sense, the classic comic. She was at heart a soldier, a survivor and brilliant essayist who could take her own pain, face it, learn from it, use it--and make us all feel more alive. And make both herself and us laugh about it a bit.

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Nora/Meryl and Carl/Jack


Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2012

Dee Briggs Studio: This Summer in Pittsburgh and New York.

Dee Briggs Studio

Dee Briggs

Intimate Friction
The Mattress Factory
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Curated by Mary-Lou Arscott
Now through September 1

Group exhibition: Dee Briggs, Nina Barbuto, Nick Durrant, Jeremy Ficca, Pablo Garcia, Jenn Gooch, Claire He, Matt Huber, Nick Liadis, Transformazium, Gill Wildman, and

Factory Direct
The Warhol Museum
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Curated by Eric Shiner
Now through September 9

Group exhibition including: Chakaia Booker, Dee Briggs, Thorsten Brinkmann, Todd Eberle, Jeanette Doyle, Fabrizio Gerbino, Ann Hamilton, William Earl Kofmehl III, Ryan McGinness, Mark Neville, Sarah Oppenheimer, Edgar Orlaineta, Orlan, and Tomoko Sawada.

55th Chautauqua Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art
Chautauqua Institution
Chautauqua, New York
Curated by Judy Barie
Now through August 25

Posted by JD Hull at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2012

Pantheon: Chrissie Hynde, Pluperfect Anti-Peasant.

They say that Midwest-bred rocker Chrissie Hynde--and it started way before before the acclaim, fame and money--has no fear of Anything or Anyone. Can you say that? Ms. Hynde resides in our Roman Pantheon.

Way to go Ohio.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2012

Silverman, Allen & Bruce

Posted by JD Hull at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2012

June 6, 1944: Normandy.

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68 Years Ago: 16th Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Easy Red Sector, Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944. © Robert Capa.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2012

60th Jubilee: In our book, Brits are tougher & stronger than Americans--and certainly more respectful of their history.

Been seeing it my whole life. Below in NBC photo: Yesterday Londoners wait for the second launch of 1,000 ships in 350 years on the River Thames. This time it is to celebrate Elizabeth II's 60th year as Queen. In America, this would be The Lost Barbecue Weekend, Price-Cut Madness or Tailgating Without A Point.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2012

Charles Thomas Munger: Tycoon, Sage, Piece of Work.

Acquire worldly wisdom and adjust your behavior accordingly. If your new behavior gives you a little temporary unpopularity with your peer group, then to hell with them.

--Charlie Munger, 88, ex-lawyer, investor. Net worth: $1.5 billion.


Posted by JD Hull at 03:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2012

Marrakesh by Design.

Buy this book, okay?

marrakesh (1).jpg


Posted by JD Hull at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2012

What do GCs, CEOs and savvy clients want from a law firm?

1. Quarterbacks. Not mechanics and generic dweebs.

2. Value. Not reduced rates.

3. Verve. Not risk aversion.

4. Straight Talk. Not lawyer-accountant wank-speak.

5. Sane Writing. No typing with a lisp, either.


Lord Chief Justice John ("Pompous") Popham, 1603.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2012

No Sleep till Brooklyn: Adam Yauch (1964-2012)

Real music for real kids in NYC. Non-wimpy with satiric flair. RIP, sir.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2012

Myron Leon Wallace (1918-2012). Journalism as a warrior-thinker-hustler's art form.

Mike Wallace. Whether you liked him or not, you had to admit this: no one worked harder at fact-gathering and journalism than this guy. He was always prepared. CBS's Wallace was perhaps the biggest, and certainly the most aggressive, major chord in the media soundtrack for us American Boomers growing up. He made journalism a warrior-thinker-hustler's art form. After he and others at 60 Minutes were on for a year or two, beat reporters at AnyPaper, AnyWhere, were are a lot less likely to be looked own on as losers and screw-ups. Like Mencken and Murrow before him, he gave the whole neighborhood more class and gravitas. RIP, sir. Thank you. See CBS reporting.


Posted by JD Hull at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2012

G.M. Wallace in my kind of writer, polymath, lawyer and faux fool.


In case you missed it, as we did, Blawg Review 315 this first week in April was hosted by one erudite mother, writer and Pasadena-based commercial trial lawyer named G.M. Wallace. A seer, polymath and a river to his people, George, simply put, is the kind of guy who beats crested newts to death with his bare hands. You can visit him right here.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2012

Still Smokin' in North Braddock, PA: Edgar Thomson Works.



The Edgar Thomson Works, just a few miles from downtown Pittsburgh, has produced steel since 1872.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2012

100 years. 3000 trees. The only important thing about D.C. this morning.

Real Heroes: The People of Japan.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2012

Catholic, Anglican or Belfast Protestant, it will still break your heart.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2012

Think I'm turning Ayn Rand again. I really think so.

Only Twitter Wisdom so far in 2012:

@robdelaney Hey Ayn Rand's ghost, what if Atlas *HUGGED* instead? Think about it, get back to me.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2012

So is it okay to admire Ernest Hemingway again?

Hemingway was proud that his books were so close to the earth and yet so high in the heaven of art.

--Milan Kundera, in Immortality


The author in 1918. Is the Weenie Era over yet?

Posted by JD Hull at 02:51 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2012

NH 1st Congressional District in 2014: Sarah Kate Silverman.

We need leaders who will lead. Originally from Bedford, New Hampshire, Sarah Silverman is Smart, Young, Brave and Magic. Seriously, folks.

Posted by JD Hull at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2012

Happy 200th, Boz.


Charles J. H. Dickens (February 7, 1812 – June 9, 1870)

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2012

That's what I'm talking about.

How often have you felt like this? We hope it's a lot.


Injured 2 weeks ago, Rafael Nadal celebrates beating Roger Federer yesterday in the Australian Open semifinal in Melbourne. (Photo: Daniel Munoz/Reuters)

Posted by JD Hull at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2011

World-Class Talent in the Queen City: Megan Heekin Triantafillou.

Get to know the artist Megan Triantafillou now. Revel in her work. Tell people you discovered her. I am doing all three.

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Posted by JD Hull at 02:08 AM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2011

Queen of the Pantheon: Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor (1932-2011).

Seventy years as a stand-out in the toughest profession there is. Mean, beautiful, elegant, driven, funny-catty, suffering, sensitive, compassionate and enormously and mystifyingly gifted, both Dame and Gorgeous Auntie Mame, she was the Goddess of the Greatest Generation. Forget about husbands and tabloids and gossip and Burton-era schmaltz. Remember her for talent, hard work, spirit and endurance--all in proportions we may never see again. Elizabeth Taylor is the violet-eyed Queen of the only Pantheon that matters at WAP.

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February 27, 1932 - March 23, 2011.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2011

"Nihil est incertius volgo." In 2012, may bloggers everywhere Think On Their Own again. Too much "me, too" Lemming-Think in 2011.

Nothing is more unpredictable [or wimpier] than the mob.

--Cicero, Pro Murena 36

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Franciabigio, "The Triumph of Cicero" (c. 1520), fresco at Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano, Florence.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2011

An Irish Guy Delivers the 2011 Dartmouth College Commencement Address.

Conan O'Brien delivered this address on June 12 at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire--where I would have attended college if it had only been fully co-ed when I was accepted there long ago. But is Hanover a great place to play in the snow and drink or what?

Posted by JD Hull at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2011

Eric O'Neill on CNN's The Situation Room: Rep. King's call to expel Iranian 'spies' from U.S.

Our friend, client and "Breach" hero Eric O'Neill is now a familiar voice and face on CNN's The Situation Room. See him in last week's segment with CNN's Brian Todd. Are Iranian spooks using D.C.'s diplomatic community to spy on the U.S.?

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (2)

November 01, 2011

Lawyers & Law Firms: We Still Need That "New Mind", My Friends.

Our thinking tends to circle around established conventions whose basis is forgotten or obscure. --Daniel Pinchbeck in The Return of Quetzalcoatl (2006)

Unless there is a new mind, there cannot be a new line; the old will go on repeating itself with recurring deadliness. --William Carlos Williams in Paterson (1948), Book 2, Sunday in the Park

Lawyers are world-class followers. We are members of just another insular dopey club.--WAC?

Okay, you get the idea. For all of this blog's well-known tangents, flaws, pet issues, quirks and prejudices, since 2005 we have been as constant, serious and relentless about one thing: ideas to change law practice and to put clients and lawyers on common ground. Available right here, right now, and free of charge, are different ways to deliver legal services to higher-end clients who, we are quite sure, have been getting shortchanged on value for decades--if not for centuries. See, from the categories set out on your right, these three topics: Clients: Getting Them, Clients: Keeping Them and Running Firms.

They are ideas any of you could have had--but we put them together, for whatever reasons, for you. For our part, we regret that we never had them and/or reported them until many years into practice. We delayed. We could have instituted and enforced at our own shop the techniques, rules and "habits" set out here in 20 years ago.

But we did not.

Reason: the vast majority of us lawyers have our heads way, way, way up our Wazoos. We think we're special--whether we do billion dollar deals or car accidents. And we are notoriously undisciplined and half-assed about the ways we do everything. We are so special. We still think that even at a time in American history when it is relatively easy for an average college student to become a lawyer.

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E and Elsa, circa 1915

Clients as the Main Event fell out of the equation eons ago. It is no longer the touchstone, a value, or an organizing principle. We've become members of just another goofy insular Western club, and we are for good reason laughed at behind our backs.

Add to this the problem that many of us (I think most) secretly dislike being lawyers. But it's not about us--it's "about clients"--and the happiest of us are hard-working and passionate about the Law and Service in one short happy synapse.

For those lucky lawyers, high quality but client-centric legal products have gone from good habits to instinct.

However, these days, especially, precisely many, many of the wrong people keep coming into the profession at all levels. And they stay in when they would be happier doing something else. We've written a lot about that, too. Paying clients--and in droves--are hurt by an "accepted mediocrity" every day.

More importantly, the current Recession--which at this point is about a click away from a Depression--really has made it clear to me, and others, that general counsel and lawyers inside the companies many of us covet are not going let any of us "return to the good old days".

Inside counsel. They are a smarter, bolder and better paid lot than they were when I started practicing in the 1980s. They see more big-picture things in the delivery of services by outside firms--and very few of them at the better client shops are checking with officers and directors about the right time to take lunch. They are stronger and more autonomous. And they include some very fine thinkers.

Lawyers, bless us, are valuable for the same instincts that hold us back. We like slow, and deliberate, change. We are cautious. In our own business models, perhaps we have been too risk-averse. But there has never been a better time in the history of markets, nations, the West, and the American free enterprise experiment for us to change.

Time to step up. Get in the game. One notion here: it's okay to be cautious with work for clients--but not okay anymore to be such staid robots and frightened myopic weenies about the running of our own businesses so that we can truly serve clients, be excellent, and make money.

The now-sputtering economy will drive some of this. Outside lawyers are about to become the servants we were always supposed to be. Still, truly dedicated and skillful lawyers (charitably, about 15 to 20% of us) will be in demand. But we can assume that new role and still make great money--and have lots of fun. Excuse me if that sounds anti-intellectual or pedestrian--but at my firm we are trying to have fun and make money doing what we love.

Anyway, we can fix all this. This blog has six years worth of ideas and techniques on advising and guiding clients without "feeding the monster". Feel free to browse through it critically--and tell us what you think. No "hiding" though--if you have something to say, tell us who you are.

E and friends, New York City, 1921

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2011

Phillips Collection in D.C. Right Now: Edgar Degas.


This month through January 8 the Phillips Collection at Dupont Circle features Degas’s Dancers at the Barre which Lily and I had the pleasure of seeing on this cold rainy afternoon in the eclectic and never-disappointing zoo and celebration of life that is Washington, D.C. Degas was student of movement, dance and dancers. He painted over 1,500 works on that theme alone. "Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint" is the first exhibition of Degas’s dancers in D.C. in 25 years.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2011

London, 1835: Young Disraeli Disses Daniel O'Connell.

Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.

--Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), Parliament, 1835.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2011

Kabul: The Innocent's Shining Eye.

Give us that old-time ambition. In case you never worked it out, What About Clients?/What About Paris? is merely about Quality. Values. Old Verities. It's the Enduring Stuff no one nation, religion, community, family, school, employer or profession can pretend to give you.

Maryam, a heroine in our story, is a photojournalist who lives with her family in Marrakech, Morocco. She traveled to Kabul and Herat in January of last year. She has an innocent's shining eye for everyday beauty and courage.

All photos below, and behind the links, are by Maryam and My Marrakesh.





Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2011

The Great Shark Hunt: "When the going gets weird."

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

--"Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl", Rolling Stone #155, February 28, 1974) republished in Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979) at 49.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2011


Cream: Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton.

Posted by JD Hull at 03:57 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2011

Marrakesh in Egypt: Did You Ever Love a Gifted Woman?

He told me that the secret to marrying a successful woman was to realize that you had married not just the woman but the talent, too.

My Marrakesh, an elegant mix of photography, writing and charm by an American girl living in Morocco, deserves several of your real-world minutes every day. See this December 2010 post: "Cairo, Egypt: A Tale of Love and Egyptian Journalist Louis Greiss". Learn, too, something about the regal actress Sanaa Gamil, who died in 2002.

Photo by M. Montague

Posted by JD Hull at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2011

Well, here's our 9-11 Ten Years After Post: American Life, Fear and Squeak-Squeak.

Once they let you get away with running around for ten years like a king hoodlum, you tend to forget now and then that about half the people you meet live from one day to the next in a state of such fear and uncertainty that about half the time they doubt their own sanity. Their boats are rocking so badly that all they want to do is get level long enough to think straight and avoid the next nightmare.

--HST, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail (1972)


Americans learned nothing--i.e., zilch--from the Tragedy of 9-11-01. We still prefer to live in our own remote, insulated caves. Hey, we like it in here.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

September 10, 2011

Man, Reach and Wonder. "...him we can save."

Wer immer strebend sich bemüht, den können wir erlösen.

Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than Man.
--Sophocles in Antigone

"Whosoever increasingly strives upward...him we can save."

Goethe in the Compagna, 1787, JHW Tischbein (1751-1829), Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2011

My Marrakesh: Mirleft, Morocco--and Life's Big Waters. The Strength and Passion of a Mother's Love.

Do see at My Marrakesh my stalwart friend Maryam's Mirleft, Morocco: and a Tale of Watery Treachery.


Posted by JD Hull at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2011

Jorge Luis Borges: Happy Birthday, Old Man.

And sorry we are one day late. No one in the history of letters has ever had your courage or imagination. I read you in Spanish growing up in Ohio--and am still in awe of the ease with which you applied the Mysterious and the Metaphysical to the Mundane World. Drop back in to this plane some time. Tell us How We Humans are Doing. Tell us again Who We Really Are. Spin those Universes once again and all at once.

(August 24, 1899 - June 14, 1986)

Posted by JD Hull at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2011

Dance, robots, dance.

Ancient Galleries, Ancient Faces. New Haven, 1968.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2011

Storytelling--and Anton Chekov.

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

--Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)


Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2011

Professionalism, Actually.

Let’s say you’re a blues guitarist with a broken ring finger on your fretboard hand. What do you do? If you’re Albert King, you put a splint on it, and you get out there and play.

--The RainMan

Clients. Consumers. Buyers. It's about "the customers"--and not just about being polite and courtly to other attorneys. It's not a club. Lawyers are a dime a dozen. Not that big a deal anymore. No one cares. For example, every single person waiting tables in Washington D.C. last week was a graduate of Georgetown, Hastings or Yale Law. (Eventually they will eat your lunch.) It's true. We checked. So get over yourself. Think about the Main Event. Remove your head from your Wazoo. Work harder to distinguish yourself. Join a better club. For starters, visit Ray Ward's Minor Wisdom or his the (new) legal writer.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2011

Some, Too, Are Talented.

"All heiresses are beautiful." --John Dryden


Dylan Lauren (1974- )


Dryden (1631-1700)

Photo: Rabbani & Solimene

Posted by JD Hull at 11:47 PM | Comments (1)

July 19, 2011

Speaking of Lafayette Park: Rep. Daniel Sickles was a Far-Out Mother.


In 1859, in Lafayette Park, U.S. Representative Daniel Sickles shot and killed fellow lawyer Philip Barton Key II, son of Francis Scott Key. Sickles was a talented, ambitious, somewhat shady and philandering Manhattan politician who counted President Lincoln among his many friends. He discovered that Key was having an affair with Sickles's young yet long-neglected wife, Teresa. During his life, Sickles made American foreign policy, helped create New York's Central Park, had a hand in the development of the modern insanity defense, and was a celebrated if controversial Union Army field general. The best book on Sickle's amazing, checkered and long public life is Thomas Keneally's American Scoundrel: The Life of the Notorious Civil War General Dan Sickles.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:15 PM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2011

Picasso, Guernica and the German Officer: "Did you paint this?"


Here's a WWII story I first heard in 1992 in Paris from a struggling young Irish painter named Richard hustling his drinks and a living by his wit, humor, charm and talent on a few choice blocks of the Right Bank. I never found out what happened to Richard. But ever since I've thought about this simple and apparently fairly well-known Picasso story at least once a week, and especially lately.

Thinking about the story accelerated in 2005.

In the Fall of that year, Julie McGuire and I were together in Madrid. We made time to see Guernica, very likely Pablo Picasso's most famous painting, and some other great modern Spanish works, at the Museo Reina Sofia in central Madrid. Picasso painted Guernica in 1937 after both German and Italian bombers shelled Guernica, in Spain's Basque Country, on April 26 of that year, during the Spanish Civil War. The bombing by Germany and Italy happened at the request of Spanish Nationalist forces. The painting is an outcry, protest and lament of the self-assured, polite, smooth and famously composed Picasso.

The smallest details of the story seem to change. But historians and journalists seem to agree on the following:

In 1942, during the 1940-1944 German occupation of Paris, German officers often visited Picasso's Paris studio at a time when some of his paintings were being burned as decadent. On one visit, an aggressive Gestapo officer found a simple postcard with an image of Guernica in the studio. The officer confronted the painter, and held before Picasso's face the postcard with its breathtaking indictments of war, national pride, meaningless death, pointless suffering, waste, government hypocrisy, inflamed leadership and self-destruction.

"Did you do this?", the officer asked.

“No, sir. You did."

(from a 6/1/11 JDH post)

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 03:31 AM | Comments (0)

John Herschel Glenn, Jr: Happy Birthday to a Crowdpleaser's Crowdpleaser.

This, Willy Loman, is what well-liked looks like. Twelve years after his 1962 earth orbits, John Glenn began to represent Ohio in the Senate. No one I know can remember anything he did in those 4 terms. But he didn't need to do anything. My fellow Buckeye was hands down the the most popular American from 1962 until 1999, his last year in Congress. He out-Iked Ike, and even seized upon the power of television before JFK. Ballsy. Unflappable. Our only Superstar Astronaut.


Born July 18, 1921, Cambridge, Ohio.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2011

Elizabeth Bloomer Ford (1918-2011)


Posted by JD Hull at 04:07 AM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2011

Hull McGuire's Bennet Kelley: He's First in the 'Hood.

Bennet Kelley's Cyber Report on internet law just won First Place at the Los Angeles Press Club's Southern California Journalism Awards for Best In-House or Corporate Publication. Judges Comments: "Lots of news and info on an emerging field of law (and business), presented simply with lots of links for even more information." We take back some of our comments in previous posts about Bennet. So Internet Law has a future, eh?


Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2011

Well done, New York. GOP-dominant NY state senate votes to legalize gay marriage.

Fresh pepper? Fresh pepper? Last night New York became the sixth state to legalize gay marriage. Governor Andrew Cuomo finally lead on a tough issue in a state that always mattters. New York Daily News: "Passage of gay marriage bill tops amazing year for Gov. Andrew Cuomo".

So what are you guys doing later on?

Posted by JD Hull at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2011

You thinkin' Evil?

Posted by JD Hull at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2011

Real Fathers Day: Nature, Unreconstructed Men and The Wolf's Mannish Boys.

Steve Winwood in 1967: "Well my pad is very messy and there’s whiskers on my chin."

Posted by JD Hull at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2011

Be bad like Jesse James. Do something. Anything.

Get off your knees. Stop hiding. Life's short.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2011

Doing Duke: John Chambers does Commencement.

Sunday, May 15, 2011. An "R" who admires Bill Clinton. The light bathroom humor worked. Reputed to be a fine fly fisherman, too.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Oliver. D-d-d-d-Dartmouth, Dude.

Holden H. Oliver (1968- ).



Posted by JD Hull at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2011

June 16, 1904.

June 16th will mark the 107th Bloomsday, honoring James Joyce and recreating the events of his novel Ulysses, all of which take place on June 16, 1904 in Dublin. It's celebrated dutifully in Dublin, New York City, Paris and every city, village and hamlet on the planet with pluck, verve, and a spring in its stagger or step.


Joyce and Sylvia Beach at her Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2011

50 Years of Spaced Out.


Alan Shepard went up on May 5, 1961.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Pantheon: Chrissie Hynde.

Midwest-bred rocker Hynde is said to have no fear of anything or anyone. One of the earliest inductees into our Pantheon.


Way to go Ohio: Firestone High School, Akron, Ohio, 1969.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2011

Redux - Scott Greenfield: Real Rebel. Real Lawyer. Rare Straight-Up Sane.

(From a May 23, 2009 post, "Slackoisie-Fest: Fighting Loserism")

Ben Franklin, Tom Edison and Clarence Darrow root for Greenfield in Doers' Heaven.

--Holden Oliver (2009)

Listen, you creeps, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the filth and the crap. Here is a man who stood up.

--Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver (1976)

Fighting Wankers at Work. Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice rails, too often alone, against The Slackoisie: our Cliff Notes kids, workplace weenies, and new Maynard G. Krebses with a straight-faced argument on the right to be barely adequate at work. This is Gen-Y. You were born after 1978. You demand--with no real bargaining power--that employers buy into "work-life balance". You want a family-life "lifestyle". You call yourself Super-Daddy. Or Concerned Humanist. Or Non-Selfish Sensitive New Age Person. You want The Life--but without The Responsibility.

Some trendy if wimpy U.S. employers are increasingly buying into this. But sometimes "different" is plain bad. Different-ness need not always be accommodated, coddled or worshiped.


Enemy of Looters: Scott Greenfield (photo taken pre-industrial accident)

The truth: you're lazier and more incompetent than WAC?'s old Southern Ohio whiskey-swilling doped-up hound dog "Craps".

Since 1997 at Hull McGuire--the firm for which I co-write this blog, and clerked for last summer--such workers have been referred to openly as the Slackoisie, the 'Slack and (on bad days) "Looters". The firm was alone in its dismay for many years. Then other firms in the U.S. experienced the same problem. No one, it seemed, wanted to talk about it--even as higher-end clients worried increasingly about getting real value from their planners and problem solvers.

But, in Scott Greenfield, last year we finally found a talented and spirited ally. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. He is hero to the quiet legions of builders, planners, inventors and yeoman lawyers who know what problem-solving takes, and what sacrifices are demanded to get things done for clients and customers.

Ben Franklin, Tom Edison and Clarence Darrow root for Greenfield in Doers' Heaven. The Immortals do watch us. They hope that America's shameful, and ill-timed, work-life balance charade will soon die the vampire's death it deserves. Enough is enough, they think; this is not what we Yanks are all about. Get "balance" on your own time, in your own way, or through a less demanding career.

Young lawyers need to learn the tough and hard-learned art of practicing law. Older lawyers need to work hard at teaching them, and serving valued clients.

We serve. Clients and customers are "always"--and they come first. See Scott's "First, You Have To Get The Job". About 30 comments so far.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (4)

April 03, 2011

Confucius Said: Un-Friend Lames. Un-Follow Beavis/Butthead. Surround Yourself with Equals or Betters.

Have no friends not equal to yourself.

-- Confucius (551 BC–479 BC)

The unproductive Age of PC Nice of the last several decades is Over. Get a better standard. True, the virtues of Warmth, Charity and Civility are always important--and always will be. But Growth tops all three. And to grow, you'll need new skin. Hang with equals--and if at all possible with your "betters".

Learn more. Challenge yourself. Stop surrounding yourself and your employees with people who merely make you and yours feel "comfortable". And maybe even feel superior.

Un-friend and un-follow the "not growing" on your Social Media accounts: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Dump bad clients. Phase out bad GCs.

Give marginal employees the old Heave-Ho. Fire bad employees. Do it now. Stretch yourself. Save your firm.

Play tennis with people who rarely double fault--but the ones with first serves which (at first) you can barely even see.

Grow. Advance. Get further down the road. It's either you or them, Jack. Sure, be "Nice". But do save yourself. Don't let people lacking your energy and drive hold you or yours back.

Confucius, by Wu Daozi (680–740)

Posted by JD Hull at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2011

Looking Back at Women's History Month: Interview with Jack Nicholson.

The third and final installment--Hour Three--of Dan Hull's recent 3-hour podcast with Jack Nicholson airs on Wednesday, April 6 at 12:00 noon EST on this blog. In Hour Three, hear Jack and Dan discuss "Problems Women Will Always Have".


"Jesus Christ, Holden, we could have done this whole thing over at Sheen's place, if you know what I mean."

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2011

Our Tribute to Women's Month, Teletubbies & Neutered U.S. Males.

Greaseman: Power Boaters v. Sail Boaters.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2011

Heroes and Leaders: Anyone out there with Soul and Sand?


Pro bono work for the poor and disenfranchised? Bar association causes and events? The Rotary?

Insular church groups? Work soup kitchens on Thanksgiving? An occasional letter to the editor? Chamber of Commerce membership for people who look and talk just like you?

Give us a break. Why don't you just put on a little hat, play the banjo and do a self-congratulatory dance for co-workers, friends and neighbors? You're barely living. You reside in a Deluxe Cave for Dorks.

Reach higher.

Anglo-Irish, Angry and Brave. So now add this Clergyman and Satirist to our Cosmos of Heroes. He was a unique and rare gent. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), the author of Gulliver's Travels, was truly authentic, and maybe not quite as sick and strange as his contemporary critics thought; they saw him through the lens of the many illnesses that plagued his last decade and put him in a permanently bad mood. Certainly, he had no fair shake from any of us in the last century, when we all went nuts on Freud.

Sure, Swift could be abrasive. And hyper-aggressive. He made enemies, both literary and political. But he was influential. We still talk about and, when at our best, emulate the purity underneath his anger and sarcasm. He is of course the man who, in his pursuit of Irish causes, and fighting the alternating apathy and arrogance of the English, suggested that Ireland's poorest address their poverty by selling their children as food to the rich.

Those who knew Dean Swift were impressed that he put his ideas and notions of wrongs to be righted ahead of all of his many simultaneous careers. He put ideas and the plights of others ahead of his own comfort and popularity.

Big Moxie--it fueled Swift's desire for justice and his need to end the suffering of others--had a life-long hold on Swift.

Yet he was very much part of The Establishment of the England and Ireland of his time. In fact, a mainstay.

So who's brave these days?

Are Americans "stand up" people anymore? We live in a consensus society and, if you are a lawyer, or some other kind of Western "professional", it's perhaps even worse.

You get patted on the head for making your thoughts and actions risk-averse and business as usual. It's safe that way. You never need to lead. And you are actually rewarded for "it"--i.e., Flying the Colors of Sameness--in the short term.

Who apart from clever publicity hounds thinks on their own, acts, embraces unpopular but sound ideas about new practice models, and are not afraid of the consequences in our conservative, conformist and essentially tradition-for-tradition's sake calling?

Just pro bono work for the poor and disenfranchised? Bar association causes and events? The Rotary? Insular church groups? Work soup kitchens on Thanksgiving? An occasional letter to the editor? Chamber of Commerce membership for people who look and talk just like you?

Give us a break. Why don't you just put on a little hat, play the banjo and do a self-congratulatory dance for co-workers, friends and neighbors?

Reach higher. For starters, what about the 24/7 primacy of the main event: everyday buyers, customers and clients as a focus which never changes? Doing your jobs with skill and pride. Never taking them for granted. Inspiring others with your passion.

What about real innovation? What about thinking and acting on your own--and away from the Change-Hating Mediocre Herd? Never Reading Self-Improvement or "Business Leadership" books? Why not use your "educations" and too-often stagnant minds to think, create, act and lead?

And be like Dean Swift? Substance. Soul. Style. Sand.

Who leads? Which execs? Which lawyers? Which doctors? Which humans who have been given things many others don't have?

(from past posts)


Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2011

Ash Wednesday: Sarah Silverman Repents.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Wakened.

Stand Up Loud: Dance. Off Your Limp & Faggy White-Collar Knees.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2011


The first day I heard him play?
I thought he was the best.
I still think he's the best.

--Felix Pappalardi on Leslie West, December 30, 1974, Passaic, New Jersey

leslie-west-sm (1).jpg

Leslie Weinstein, aka Leslie West, 65

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2011

Wake Up, Campers.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:59 AM | Comments (1)

January 29, 2011

Samuel Hazo: Poet, Novelist, Man in Full.

Poet-dramatist-novelist, gift of America's Industrial Heartland, always a man in full. Pittsburgh's Sam Hazo writes simple, thoughtful and pregnant prose.


This Part of the World, by Pittsburgh's Samuel Hazo.

Posted by JD Hull at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2011

Wake up loud, Teacups.

Spread out the oil, the gasoline.
My hands are greasy.
She's a mean, mean machine.

Start it up. We're waiting.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:23 AM | Comments (0)

We Lawyers: The Undisciplined. The Disorganized. The Miserable.

"What ever is he talking about?"

Western business schools, and especially the training programs of large global and publicly-traded companies, do a much, much better job than do law schools or law firms of training people (1) to plan work and (2) to get it done. Or even to value that.

Do we lawyers know how to get things done, done right and done on time? Do we even value that? I wonder.

I am not talking here about the simple "keeping face" and survival requirements of meeting client deal or court deadlines, or even about the cliches of working hard, creative thinking, "out of the box", working smart or being persistent. I mean structure, a real standard, and "practicing structure" every day--the discipline of (1) having a plan or strategy for any one project, client or non-client, (2) meeting internal project deadlines no matter what, and (3) applying the will to work that plan and timetable.

And making it a habit until it's natural--and (gulp) fun.

"Structure" is not just the hard process of getting things done. It's a frame of mind and a value which must be sold to others in your shop--like the importance of making that 5 minute call to a client about a loose end at the end of the worst day you can remember, even while you could do it the next morning at 8:00. It's realizing that letting anything but emergency tasks "slide" makes you inefficient, unlikely to meet your real goals, and tired.

Do you get up early every day with a idea of what needs to be done on each project, and knowing the difference between "important" and "urgent"? Example: Monday is your deadline to have the final changes and notes to your web designer on your new firm website, an important but not urgent project you've talked about at internal meetings for months. So far, for once, you have been on track.

But on Monday a longstanding client calls with two new projects; the new projects are exciting but not THAT urgent in the sense they need to cut into internal deadlines and other goals for Monday. You need to take some first steps, though, to get on top of the new matters for your client. After all, these folks are the main event.

Key ongoing internal project v. new client project. Which gets the most attention that day? Which slides? Answer: they both get attention, and neither slides. The website (long-term important) and the new client project (short-term important) are both critical projects. Years ago the Stephen Coveys and Edwards Demings out there pointed out that business people burn themselves out by waiting around only for "the urgent" in a kind of manic crisis management that keeps other important things from ever getting done or ONLY getting them done when they morph into a crisis. For lawyers, other examples would be only respecting deadlines like transaction closing dates and court-filing deadlines--to hell with everything else.

For a long time I've thought that American business schools and the training programs of global and often publicly-traded companies do a much, much better job than do law firms of training recruits to value and adhere to the structure of a plan on an item for action. It's almost as if law school and firms deem us all such "professionals" and "artists" that we are beyond learning skills of project planning and execution. What a crock. Not learning the value of pushing non-urgent but important things along at a steady pace has cost us dearly. As motivated as lawyers often are, our discipline for sticking to anything and seeing it through is often poor; again, unless it's urgent, we just don't see its value. Do our best clients run their businesses that way?

This attitude is the norm, and we lawyers--who rarely innovate or take a leadership position on anything in commerce--are just fine, thank you, with it. After all, "all the other law firms" are mediocre on the discipline of getting things done, and have "crisis-only" mentalities--why shouldn't we be that way? So we waste time blowing off important but longer term projects. Worst of all, we send to others in our firms, and especially to younger lawyers, the message: "No worries--just work on a barely adequate level; don't do things until you have to; and if it's not urgent, let it slide." As with client care and service, our standard is not only embarrassingly low, we are exporting that low standard internally whenever and wherever we can.

(from past posts)

Posted by JD Hull at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2011

Saturday's Charon QC: A Whole Man Endures.

The man's an artist. For a few days in March 2007, short fleshy German women in bad moods were attractive.

Now in his 24/7 twittering days (he's good at it, too)--which we hope soon morph into an even better chapter--there is no better writer or broadcaster on Law in the West, global commerce, politics, European culture (they have quite a bit there), England's course, America in perspective, art, Beauty and Truth. He writes, and lives, from that wellspring of joy most of us can't ever locate on the cosmic map. Be envious.

He's charming in person, too. He's got this patrician but velvet voice that could make any demented ex-wife totally heel, zip it and think straight and clearly for, say, 5 or 6 minutes. And while we'd like him to blow the tobacco smoke and Rioja out of his tubes a bit more with a few more trips each week to the gym, there is no better showcaser of the qualities that make the Whole Man.

Very whole. As in well-rounded. Remember that?

We know, too, that Mike is a straight-up Lower England Stud with Taste. He once showed up to do a live interview of me at a Mayfair hotel room with a very bright, tall and ravishing chestnut haired 27-year-old girl, uh, technical assistant. So our meeting that March in 2007 started us off well--and hey got me jazzed enough to swive a snake in a sandstorm for four or five days, or at least until I reached Mainz. German women in bad moods were attractive.

See Charon's recent Law Review on "Coulson resignation, Regulatory Ambush, Client Care (but not how we know it), Have lawyers escaped culpability for credit-crunch?"

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

January 20, 2011

Chris Abraham: Seer, Force, Renaissance Man, Your Future.

He's a Force of Nature and there's nothing anyone can do about it so just follow his career and eventually join him. Berlin and DC-based, on fire, a Renaissance Man and a mainstay Hull McGuire mentor and friend, he's the human reason--together with Washington, D.C.'s Mark Del Bianco and Chicago's Patrick Lamb--What About Clients/Paris? even exists. So we are in his debt.

He moves (i.e., vibrates), he talks, he laughs, he persuades--and he brims with ideas and joy. And, like the undersigned, he is infuriatingly right about too many things. Chris Abraham over at The Marketing Conversation is someone you should get to know. Chris is probably going to find you anyway. I see him in D.C., California, Charleston and--well, I could not avoid him anywhere I go.

Chris found me seven years ago--and explained what a "blog" is. He was just warming up. Since then, he and Abraham Harrison probably have been doing more to change the way people think, live, gesture, market, connect and otherwise collaborate together globally--and, yes, the ways we view ourselves, view each other and talk to one another in the Cosmos--than Buckminster Fuller, Edwards Deming and Marshall McLuhan combined.

You might as well give in to the guy. We did.

images (44).jpg

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

January 19, 2011

Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. (1915-2011)

The Natural: He liked people.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (6)

January 18, 2011

Duke: Cisco Systems' John Chambers to give 2011 graduation main address.

See The Chronicle, Duke's daily.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2011

My Marrakesh: No "Ordinary Life".

...don’t live an ordinary life--anyone can do that. Be brave. Live a life filled with adventure.

It's short. Don't divert its natural exciting course with cookie-cutter moves--followed by years of regretful reveries and those awful "what ifs". In a popular movie of the 1970s, Ruth Gordon, a wonderful writer and actress, quipped in character to a young man named Harold 60 years her junior: "If you don't go out there and try, young man, you won't have much to talk about in the locker room".

Gordon, in that movie, and in real life, played a dame, advisor, teacher, elder seer. Grande Dame. Great Lady.

Ah, Great Ladies. I had two very strong, vibrant grandmothers. Each urged authenticity and drive in all things. Each had very strong children: my parents. My grandmothers even greatly liked each other. Both were well-traveled, well-educated and well-read. Both had long lives. One died very recently, and the other when I was a senior in high school. The two are always in my head; I still seek them out.

Great Ladies are still around if you look hard enough. But we know that a certain breed of them--the ones with lives that straddle the mind-numbing changes of the last 80 to 100 years--are vanishing every day. Our peripatetic friend Maryam had at least one of her grandmothers taken from the same inspired and celestial fabric as mine. Do visit today's My Marrakesh and "Essaouira: And a Tale of Jean and a Life Filled with Adventure". Don't be envious what you read there. But do change your life, if you need to.


Photo by Maryam

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Martin Luther King Day: BR #294 by A Public Defender, "Gideon".

The bright and way feisty if thin-skinned anonymous young guy "Gideon", who writes the fine A Public Defender, has a very first-rate BR #294 you can see right here. Class Factor: High. Lots. Humor: Much. Forced PC Compliance: None. Gooey Hallmark MLK Stuff for People Not Alive in 1968: Mercifully Virtually None. Blawg Review is now in its 6th year. Well done. And well done.

If King has not been killed, he would have turned 82, two days ago, on the 15th.

Eighty-two is the same age as my own father, who told me about it at the time, and who is still very much alive and thriving. My Dad was then 39. I remember exactly where I was when I was told, and what time of the day it was. Although my father was and is no liberal, he--like everyone sane and decent--grieved over what had happened.

For months and months, even in most southern Ohio, the balcony stills of that Memphis hotel were etched in the minds of anyone old enough to read and watch television. We had all been through this kind of thing before, in 1963, in Dallas. And later in 1968, and just 8 weeks later, it would happen again, at a Los Angeles hotel.

KingArrested in Montgomery.jpg

Montgomery, Alabama, September 4, 1958. King was 28.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2011

Life is Short. Opera is Long. Wagner Longer.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Some Good Tucson News: Representative Giffords is Alive.

Not much good news. And at one point Saturday afternoon Fox News was the first media source to report that Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona's 8th Congressional District had died in Saturday's shootings. Other outlets followed. Many of us--who had turned off the news eventually---went through Saturday (and possibly Sunday) thinking that Giffords, 40, had not survived. She's alive. E.g., BBC and LA Times. There are optimistic reports on her recovery. Tough girl. We already knew you were talented, interesting and brave. Hang in there, Gabby (and husband Mark Kelly). Fight.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2011

Romain Rolland: On Builders.

There is no joy except in creation. There are no living beings but those who create. All the rest are shadows, hovering over the earth, strangers to life. All the joys of life are the joys of creation: love, genius, action...

--Romain Rolland (1866-1944), Nobel Prize winner, in "Lightning Strikes Christophe".


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2011

Ed Rendell: A Democrat with Sand.

Last week's National Journal showed the outgoing Pennsylvania Governor riled: "The Wussification of America". Keep doing that, sir. New male interviewees are whistling "The Sound of Music" score in our anterooms.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2010

Vote for The Legal Satyricon in the ABA Blawg 100--or we'll pull the trigger.

kill this dog.jpg
Rags the Dog this morning in Salzburg, Austria.

You've only a few hours left. Same for Rags. So Vote Here Now.

Yeah, you know us--and we'll do it. In previous posts, we've written about Marc Randazza and his The Legal Satyricon because we admire his Brains, Moxie, Lawyerness and his flat-out king-hell expert's-refined respect for the First Amendment. We are also a little afraid of Marc--for reasons we can't go into right now, and are only marginally related to the fact that we've met with him in San Diego several times, know him personally pretty well and suspect he's at least part Italian--and do not wish to incur his ire. We strive, always, to please him. We do hedge our bets.

But Rags the Dog is way more afraid; he knows he'll go down and decorate a nice Austrian hotel room if there's not a big win today for LS in the ABA Blawg 100 category for IMHO. Voting ends close-of-business today (for us Dorks that's 6:00 ET). Holden Oliver, who cares little for canine life, has Rags right now in an undisclosed Salzburg inn in the old part of the city up against that big-ass cliff near St. Peter's cemetery. Once given an order, Holden cannot be expected to alter his course. For Rags, please vote now.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2010

Has Everyone Except Scott Greenfield Died and Gone to Hallmark?

Many law firms are now like a small town homeowners' association whose key members just learned that the monthly meeting was changed to their bowling night. They are pissed off, torn, confused. The screams out there for quality and value have not been convenient.

"America Lawyers in 2010: "A Passion for Excellence". No one, I'm afraid, is writing a book right now with that title and subtitle. Or books with the same subtitle about Client Service, Retail-level Customer Service, American Education, U.S. Cultural and Geographic Literacy, "Bar Leadership" (let's tell the truth: Western lawyers don't lead anyone or anything anymore) or, say, consistently providing value for to-die-for clients, customers and buyers in the American workplace. Even a world-wide Recession has not made many of us re-think Value--in the marketplace and in our lives--and demand anything new, different and harder of ourselves and others. See our posts over the past two years.

During the Holiday Season, however, we give humans a pass. We accommodate shortcomings, even cookie-cutter living and barely working. But should we tolerate imperfection as much in those who should know better? Those of us with fine educations that others paid for? Those of us in the law firms and other institutions that represent large and publicly-traded clients in corporate America and Western Europe? The firms I see in my work every day? My take: we are all over the board--but very dumb-downed and diluted from 20 years ago. The Recession has not improved quality here either. We are really not leading and "up to it" yet--we still hire and keep mediocre people.

And we are in turmoil. Many law firms are now like a small town homeowners' association whose key members just learned that the monthly meeting was changed to their bowling night. They are pissed off, torn and confused. They know there is work to do--and it must be done more efficiently, more inexpensively and with a valuable return to the real boss: the Client and Customer. The Recession was the biggest wake-up call of all. But most of us have not seized the day. We continue to want to make money doing what they have always have done, working and thinking in a prison of old patterns, and surrounding ourselves with the same goofy people. The screams for quality and value out there in the legal marketplace have not been all that convenient.

Can we just start with the worthless words and phrases we use? Would that help to take quality to "the next level". Scott Greenfield, a noted Manhattan corporate trial lawyer, my friend and a man who beats fish to death with bare hands, has been an ally generally and on specific issues. Do read Simple Justice every day. Like Scott, it defies political labeling, and seems to be read by as many corporate apologists like me as it is read by the criminal defense bar. See also last week's post "What's The Buzz? Scott knows that no one listens anyway--so when you are persuading try not to sound like Mr. Rogers with a Tuck M.B.A. and a lifelong fondness for ether and nitrous oxide. There are others like Scott, who fight WeenieSpeak, Bad Working, Bad Lawyering and Bad Internet. There's this feisty fellow Tannebaum in Miami, D.C.'s Ernie from Glen Burnie, Walter Olson and...well, I'm sure there are others, too. They would all agree with Holden Oliver's remark that "a man who embraces mediocrity and schmaltz says no to life".

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

December 10, 2010

Stickin': To the few you meet who always join your fight.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2010

Got Rage? It's that time of year, too.

What can a poor boy do?

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2010

Generation Weenie: America's still offended by Everything and Everyone.

They've stopped growing--and they are very happy with that, thank you very much. These people have children. It's worrisome.

What if being "just a copy" were outlawed? For the second time this week, I just left Los Angeles, where it's tough to offend anyone about anything. Like NYC, LA is not for everyone. Generally, no one cares what you think in either city. It's wonderful. You can diss, deride and belittle Los Angeles itself in downtown LA, or the middle of Santa Monica or Brentwood; people just laugh. In Manhattan, it's required.

Folks in those two American cities know who they are. My take: both LA and NYC these days make even Chicago seem like an effeminate Alan Alda-land. PC and unoriginal thought are frowned upon in America's two most important cities. In New York, they "manned up"--and started thinking their own thoughts--nearly four centuries ago. In LA, it's been about 120 years. LA and NYC tend to look down on Weenies.

If you live somewhere else--as I must for now when not traveling--you can still try not to be a Weenie. It's good for you. Give it a shot, Justin.

Frankly, I've been running into a lot of Weenies these days--from cultural limousine liberals who keep surrounding themselves with no one but like-minded people, to "Christian" and "educated" white collars too afraid or too lazy to think anymore on their own, to "professionals" who always reserve the right to do third-rate work. They have this in common: they are highly emotional about, and protective of, their low aspirations and narrow views of the world.

If you are not sure if you are a Weenie, do see Generation Weenie, for humans who tend to be insulted, outraged, offended, or traumatized. According to the definition section, you may be one if you: (1) utilize the words offended, outraged, insulted, or traumatized whenever possible, (2) believe nothing is your fault, and you are a victim of circumstance, (3) wear a dorky little ribbon in a half figure eight pattern to signify your solidarity, and (4) sue everybody because you have been wronged.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2010

Heroes: The Real Paris.


In this illustration (here's one from the 1400s) of an important Greek myth, Paris, the Trojan prince, judges a beauty contest. The goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite compete for a golden apple.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2010

Heroes: Jill Clayburgh (1944-2010)


New Yorker. Artist. Warrior. Survivor.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2010

Bill Gates and his IBM moment.

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

--Wild Bill Gates


Posted by JD Hull at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2010

Ted Sorenson (1928-2010)


Lawyer's lawyer, Kennedy's wordsmith, pluperfect international advisor.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2010

Dante's Charon: Crossings.


The Ferryman Charon. Gustave Doré's illustration to Dante's Inferno. Plate IX: Canto III:

And lo! towards us coming in a boat
An old man, hoary with the hair of eld,
Crying: 'Woe unto you, ye souls depraved!'

In Greek mythology, non-lawyer Charon took souls to Hades--the entrance to the underworld. He did, however, have a standard fee agreement. Supernatural Charon ferried the newly dead across the river Acheron other if they had an obolus (a silver coin worth a sixth of a drachma) to pay for the ride. If you couldn't pay him, you had to wander the shores for a period of one hundred years.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2010

Men in Full: Duncan Campbell King


No, no, he's not from the chubby U.S. Midwest--too erudite, measured, svelte, and well-read--but good guess. We admire Albion's new star Duncan Campbell King at Wrath of a Sumo King. He has given up all hope of ever behaving normally--and raised that to an art form. "I am Duncan Phebus Sumo Mercutius Steerpike Campbell King, Litigator Extraordinaire, and I do not want you to like me." Venting, feral women, Silicon Valley, and the First Amendment are some of recurring events here. He just says it. Like in olden days before we liberals ruined our speech and children with PC agendas--so your boys could grow up to sound like Mr. Rogers, or maybe your great-grandmother in St. Cloud. Duncan is hereby given a Club Ned pass for life: authentic, experimental, un-PC, way-feral.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2010

"We like Rahm."

Chicago can wait. And we always have liked former Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois) but wish he'd put being the Mayor of Chicago on the shelf for a while. See at Politico yesterday's "Hizzoner? Emanuel Must Decide Fast". Our mild-mannered president Obama needs him to remain as Chief of Staff. From a party standpoint, this man is the "Anti-Democrat": Competent and Non-Wimpy. Dems are lucky to have him. He is not afraid to make enemies--most pols are--and he generally upsets/destroys only the "right" people. Bonus: he curses properly and wonderfully--and is in fact ranked in the Western world. (Top six, English/Street Swearing Division, according to Holden Oliver's research.)

Anyway, please talk him out of it, someone--or I'll be turning "R" again. Rahm's just 50. He'll keep. So will the City of Chicago.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2010

Proust: To those that make us grow.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

-- Marcel Proust, 1871–1922, French novelist and critic.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Living in America: Grit and Guts.

"Everyone's working overtime," James Brown sang proudly. Still true? Are each of us Yank working stiffs stepping up to the Recession and looking it in the eye? Working and thinking better and harder? Seeing cutbacks, problems and heartache as opportunities when we can? Well, WAC/P is not so sure these days. It's good that by mid-2009 work-life balance and most other looter regimes finally died quick deaths. But surely the Children of the Greatest Generation--we Boomers--can do even better. Let's get off our own smug post-WWII prosperity asses shall we? Let's stop complaining for one hour about our beloved if completely useless and "wimpified" kids, Gen-Y and the Slackiosie. We Boomers. "Tough and passionate", still? Are we? Or are we becoming tired old lightweights, pansies and Canadians?

Godfather of Soul: The hardest-working poor kid ever.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2010

Mali Laughter

Here's the Net at an infrequent good moment. And perhaps at its best. About people--and not about "alternate realities", SEO, insular robot students, delusional young office workers, pretend lawyers, faux wisdom, and other human and digital garbage bringing the West down.

Here's quality and courage. See Maryam's My Marrakesh.


All photos at link by Maryam.

Posted by JD Hull at 05:05 PM | Comments (1)

July 24, 2010

Daniel Louis Schorr (1916-2010)

Liberal" versus "conservative" are not labels that can be used or should be used to define anyone of quality. An original, an original Murrow boy, and a class human. See yesterday's NYT piece. He was so good and often terrifying that a U.S. president sicked the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover on him.

By the way, Schorr used his real name when he worked. If you comment here, and especially if you are a hater, please use your real name. Have some respect for Schorr, and for yourself.

Our rules here: Happy but "angry" folks may comment. No spineless wonders. No whack jobs. No bitter and lazy males who hate their careers and won't do anything about it. Or the usual blogger or frequent commenter who is too socially-inept, ugly or fat to get laid.

So no losers and looters. Just seekers and builders. Like Schorr.

Daniel Schorrx-wide-community.jpg

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hemingway (1899–1961)


The Anti-Teacup. Papa wrote the book on cool quality-of-life ideas for Tubbies who just can't take it anymore. Try them at home today.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2010

Leave Indianapolis or Albany for a few minutes. Visit this guy.

Blue Lupines, wild roses, Moxie, fireweed. See A Public Defender's Life in Alaska.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2010

Lawyer, Journalist, and Magic Show: London's Charon QC

You just haven't been to London this week unless you've checked in with our friend Charon QC. Below Professor Charon wonders about delivery of services to elite clients trading in global markets.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2010

Saturday's Ruthie: The Get-Real New Age.

From a friend of ours in Cambridgeshire. "Introspection will be the watchword of the next decade...people have no money to go out and there is a dawning realisation that our current western lifestyle is unsustainable in the long term. Greed and instant gratification is finally out of fashion. Put your money into new spirituality."

Posted by JD Hull at 11:27 PM | Comments (2)

June 25, 2010

Get off your knees. Lead.

Stop whimpering, groveling, and apologetically asking employees to do their jobs.

Make yours moxie. It's your business, and your rules. Get off your knees. Demand things first of yourself--and then of others. (1) What are you doing this week at your firm? (2) What are your employees doing for you and your partners this week? (3) What did you all do together for customers, buyers and clients?

It's time for lawyers and other service providers to lead. At your shop, refuse to be a slave to lawyer-centric and employees-first popular cultures. Stop whimpering, groveling, and apologetically asking employees to do their jobs. Don't bargain with them. Show them. Lead.

Put customers, buyers and clients first. Let go of the notion that you and other lawyers--your partners, your adversaries, and your competitors--are special and in a special club. You are not special. Clients are special. Make customers, buyers and clients your club. Clients still wait for us to evolve into their trusted partners and advisors. And to lead.

Follow me, stereo jungle child
Love is the kill...your heart's still wild
. --P. Smyth

Posted by JD Hull at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2010

Holden Oliver: Turning Dem we really think so.

Buy Killdozer. Dump BP stock. Lose the Law Thing. Fight the Power.
Above all: be a man/woman (you cannot be both), think your own thoughts, stand up for something or somebody, ya' big wimps.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2010

Change, and its basics: Nova ex veteris

W.C. Williams (1883-1963)

But the trick in mid-2010 is to think new but fast. Change in human thinking likely occurs in the extraordinary moments of the most ordinary, the most "dumbed down", and the least enlightened times--but only if you add some painful "stressors". We've got all those.

And regarding ordinary and dumbed down. My travels have convinced me of this: despite the love and light that struggle to shine through in every human being I meet, we a truly "devo". Five hundred years from now, we will be referred to as living in the Age of Human Spam. We hide, rationalize and cower. We are desperate to conform the lowest and most common form of activity. We have not learned anything from our old men or from history. We have no genuine class--we don't even want it. Very few of our children are "special"; most of them are educational failures, sloths and cultural retards. The self-esteem thing backfired. The best these kids will contribute is a masterful command of Cliff Notes.

If T.S. Eliot were alive today, chances are good that a misanthropic stroke, heart attack or other breakdown would have prevented his completion of "The Hollow Men". We not only love mediocrity, we compete on it, and for it. On standards alone, Eliot would have flipped out on this planet right now.

So much for sweetness, light and puppies from me today. But June 5, 2010 certainly qualifies as our extraordinary moment in this the most dumbed down of all human times. That's wonderful. An opportunity. This Saturday morning, three problems with "no end in sight"--nearly everyone (including elites) with less money, global political tensions, and the Gulf oil spill (day 47) with no end in sight and too close for anyone's comfort--might amount to the right formula.

This is the way the world begins. My fellow suits call it a new paradigm. Poets have called it lots of mysterious--if less goofy and annoying--things. William Carlos Williams called it a New Mind, and Dr. Williams thought of it as "the cure". He wrote that

unless there is
a new mind there cannot be a new
line, the old will go on
repeating itself with recurring

without invention
nothing lies under the witch-hazel

(By the word "invention" Williams did not mean a better mouse trap or a new widget.)

So what do you do? You pick the New Mind you want everyone else to have--and get to work. Chances are your peers are thinking the same thing.

We say whip it.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2010

Akron: We Are Devo.

Editor's note: This week Holden does time in northern Ohio. Dude, it's not so bad. Ever been to Ada? A corn-fed girl works hard, tells the truth. She can hurl an over-sized fridge 50 feet.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:17 AM | Comments (2)

May 30, 2010

Dennis Lee Hopper (1936-2010)

"Zap 'em with your sirens! Zap 'em with your sirens!"


Posted by JD Hull at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2010

P&G's Alan Lafley: Examine the "meaningful outside".

The Consumer as Boss and Laboratory. For nine years, from 2000 to mid-2009, A.G. Lafley served as chairman of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble. Lafley got the CEO job when he got it--in June 2000--in large part because the company was experiencing downturns, and stock price fluctuations, seldom seen in its 163-year history.

During his watch, however, P&G doubled it sales, and grew its line of billion-dollar brands from 10 to 23. Some say the even-keeled and reflective Lafley elevated P&G's "art of the customer" to new levels.

What is brand loyalty? What "moments of truth" lead a housewife, grocery chain, or government buyer to prefer Tide, Pampers, Crest or Pringles over competing brands? Who, exactly, are our customers? Why do they buy from us? When is price not so important?

In May of 2009, and just before he stepped down as CEO, Lafley wrote "What Only the CEO Can Do" in the Harvard Business Review. Here's an excerpt, in which Lafley quotes the consultant-writer Peter Drucker (1909-2005) in comments Drucker made in 2004:

"Inside there are only costs. Results are only on the outside."

The CEO alone experiences the meaningful outside at an enterprise level and is responsible for understanding it, interpreting it, advocating for it, and presenting it so that the company can respond in a way that enables sustainable sales, profit, and total shareholder return growth.


Alan George Lafley

Posted by JD Hull at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2010

Penny from Evanston 1928

Posted by JD Hull at 11:34 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2010

A Man in Full: Duncan Campbell King


It is only through work and strife that either nation or individual moves on to greatness. The great man is always the man of mighty effort, and usually the man whom grinding need has trained to mighty effort.

--D.C. King, quoting Teddy Roosevelt, in a speech about U.S. Grant, Galena, Illinois, April 27, 1900*

No, no, he's not from Pittsburgh--too small, frail and well-read--but damn good guess. We admire Albion's new star Duncan Campbell King at Wrath of a Sumo King. Not just because he has given up all hope of ever behaving normally--and raised that to an art form. "I am Duncan Phebus Sumo Mercutius Steerpike Campbell King, Litigator Extraordinaire, and I do not want you to like me." But there's more, and a method here.

Yes, venting, sporting women and an American style "First Amendment" focus--but an un-conflicted, non-double standard one--are the main events. Like in olden days before we liberals ruined our speech and children with PC agendas--so your boys could grow up to sound like Mr. Rogers, Liberace, or maybe your great-grandmother in St. Cloud.

But through all his Triple-X venting on these subjects we also detect a great caring about quality, hard work, truth, beauty. Duncan is hereby given a Club Ned anonymity pass/exemption for life. Grounds: authentic, experimental, un-PC and feral.

Rise, Sir Duncan. Try not to maim anyone on the way out.

*Nota bene King's dictum to TeleTubbies, Teacups, Slackoisie, other New Age Looters: "Contrary to the horrific woolly bullshit you are fed it is a tough, competitive world."

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 09:35 PM | Comments (2)

March 18, 2010

Real Heroes: Parker Posey

They're picking up prisoners and putting 'em in a pen. And all she wants to do is dance.

--Danny Kortchmar/WB Music Corp. ASCAP (1984)

parker_posey (1).jpg

Rent "Party Girl" (1995) and watch her dance in the last scene. Parker Posey is her own World: picaresque, funny and eccentric, all without being contrived. This is the intensely pretty Bohemian girl next door. Playing the floundering Manhattan girl-turned-librarian, Posey has you convinced by the end of the movie that, when she's nervous or uncomfortable in her real non-actress life, she automatically just starts to dance. It's like having Katharine Hepburn, Neal Cassady and François Villon in one person.

In 2006, I met Posey in the Newark Airport when I was on the way to Manchester, and would have been happy to miss my plane. She was headed to New Mexico to work. When she speaks, she has the slightest trace of an American southern accent, having grown up in both Maryland and Mississippi. She is unassuming and subtle, only fleetingly hip and ironic, and looks you in the eye. What surprised me about her in person the most was this: her authenticity and smarts cannot hide how gorgeous she is.

So there's lots going on here. It's easier to understand why for years Posey has turned down money and type-casting (urban bimbette was always a risk) in favor of brave, odd and "forward" roles. She's an actress first, and a celebrity somewhat reluctantly. And only then if it doesn't get in the way.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2010

Big Moxie in Greensboro: Kyle Singler.

Want a job, Kyle? Call us. Let's talk. From The Chronicle, Duke's daily: "Singler’s dive into stands, solid shooting lead Duke to title".

Ian Soileau, Duke Chronicle

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2010

The Dude finally abides.

Bravo, Mr. Bridges. A win for the real-life opposite of The Slackoisie--or The Anti-Slackoisie. See The Los Angeles Times. We are not always right at this blog--it's strikes and gutters, man. But here's a strike for huntin' dogs at the Oscars. "His Jeffness". That does sound good.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2010

Rue du Vaux

Are you positive Mademoiselle Clotilde du Vaux sparked a religion? Ever wonder about place names in Paris? There are about 6200 of them. Read about Clotilde-Marie de Ficquelmont in Invisible Paris.


Auguste Comte's "muse"

Posted by JD Hull at 05:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2010

Jerome David Salinger (1919-2010)

Salinger changed writing. He died Wednesday. There are hundreds of articles out today but see The Boston Globe.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2010

Greenfield: When is anonymity "all talk, no responsibility"?

"Okay, kids, get your learn on. Today we will learn about the right of all Americans to throw stones at your house and run away like thieves into the night." Do see "All Talk, No Responsibility" at Scott Greenfield's Simple Justice. It's a piece we wish we had written about a new U.S. Supreme Court case (cert. just granted) that we will follow. Doe v. Reed, No. 09-559, concerns the "right" of Washington state petitioners to be anonymous after successfully bringing a referendum to the ballot for the November 2010 general election. The referendum seeks repeal of a controversial law on domestic partnership rights. Frankly, we could care less about the law at stake here. (We haven't read it.) The item on the ballot is not the issue. Anonymity in "getting it there" is. The Supreme Court's decision is expected early this summer.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2009


No computer will ever win a case. No gadget will replace the mind that drives the fingers that push the buttons.

SHG, Simple Justice, November 24, 2009


NYC's Scott Greenfield in November 2004, days before alleged hunting accident in Hamptons.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:00 PM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2009

Disraeli on books.

Books are fatal: they are the curse of the human race. Nine-tenths of existing books are nonsense, and the clever books are the refutation of that nonsense.

--Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)


Posted by Rob Bodine at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2009

These Days Drink Moxie--And Lots of It.

Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye and deny it.

--Garrison Keillor


Posted by JD Hull at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2009

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1921-2009)


I grew up in a family of Depression Era-WWII Parents and Boomer Kids. For us, the U.S. economy overall was very good in the 1950s-1970s as we moved around in corporate America from D.C. to Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Chicago again, and finally southern Ohio. We were not poor. My brother, sister and I attended some of the finest secondary schools in the U.S. My parents--especially my mother, a 1960s prototype of the Strong Suburban Super-Mommy, and one with a caregiver's heart--stressed not only achievement in school and sports, and having constant paid part-time jobs, but also on working with the physically or mentally handicapped, or the otherwise unlucky.

And we were to do that without telling the world about what completely lucky and swell people we were. It meant spending your time, and part of your soul. Bonus: You need not be paid money in those part-time jobs. Secret: You got more than you ever gave. We volunteered--Stepping Stones Center in Cincinnati was just one venue--and my mother and sister each entered careers to work with special adults or special children. Eunice Kennedy died yesterday. No matter what your age, your politics, or your tolerance for social welfare programs, the middle child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy was a very big deal in making lucky people realize how much unlucky people had to give to them. See in the Washington Post this editorial.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2009

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. (1916-2009)

Yesterday's NYT: "Walter Cronkite, Voice of TV News, Dies". Cronkite was part-Midwesterner, part-Southerner, and started out in print journalism. He earned his reputation as a war correspondent in Europe, covering some of WWII's major campaigns. Recruited to CBS in 1950 by Ed Murrow, he was America's first "celebrity" anchor, and we saw him nightly from 1962 to 1981. He took what he did very seriously: broadcast journalism as religion, the fourth branch, and something to be done the right way.

A studious-looking Lefty, Cronkite likely thought of JFK as "his" president. The two men were born eight months apart. We and our parents saw him choke up on the air--even if barely--just that one time: November 22, 1963, reporting JFK's death in Dallas. Cronkite had just turned 47. But he always seemed older somehow. He had this reassuring voice: authoritative but never affected or self-important. You never got the impression when he reported one crisis after another--there was a new one every month from 1963 until 1975--that he was telling you that things would be "okay". Rather, he was telling you the truth--and that it was his mission to get it right.

He served you. He was the soundtrack of every American Boomer's youth: from Kennedy's somehow promising but wistful and aborted New Frontier, Viet Nam, more assassinations, GOP and Dem party conventions that were serious brawls or riots, the Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Jimmy Carter administrations, and up to the start of the overly-serious, and some think seriously-demented, Reagan Revolution that gave us the Newt Brigades. Nearly 20 years.

(Photo: Washington Post)

Posted by JD Hull at 02:14 AM | Comments (0)


There is no joy except in creation. There are no living beings but those who create. All the rest are shadows, hovering over the earth, strangers to life. All the joys of life are the joys of creation: love, genius, action...

--Romain Rolland (1866-1944), Nobel Prize winner, in "Lightning Strikes Christophe".


Posted by Rob Bodine at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2009

More Crossroads: Boomers ask "Who is John Mayer?"

Would prefer a good video/audio of 1968 live version but this--with lame but short introduction--will have to do for this former U.S. national anthem:

Posted by JD Hull at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

The late-2008 Recession: A Crossroads for Corporate Law?

I'm staying at the crossroads, believe I'm sinking down.

If you can navigate through all the painstaking diplomacy without pulling a hamstring, do visit ALM's Legal Blog Watch and read "Are the BigLaw Layoffs a Good Thing?", and the related links. It was inspired by a provocative and courageous Dan Slater column July 1 at NYT's Deal Book. Note: In writing the op-ed piece, Slater, of course, used his real name. Most of the twenty-five commenters--presumably Cuban dissidents, battered housewives and former Tony Soprano crew in the Witness Protection Program--did not.

"I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees. Asked the Lord above, have mercy now, save poor Bob if you please." Robert Leroy Johnson (1911-1938) used his real name when writing and performing.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2009

Breaking: Local Boy Makes Good

Scott Greenfield of Simple Justice. NY Law Journal: "Free: Court Finds Attorney's Unsolicited Faxes Did Not Violate Communications Act".


Greenfield (client cropped from picture) celebrating.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:37 PM | Comments (1)

June 14, 2009

John Hope Franklin

And Bill Clinton does Duke--but let's not miss the point. On Friday Bill Clinton gave a eulogy in the Duke Chapel for John Hope Franklin, the historian and civil rights figure who died in late March at 94. See The Miami Herald. Franklin wrote From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, a classic first published in 1947. As is often the case with Clinton, his arrival on campus eclipsed his reason for being there. Nathan Freeman, a columnist at The Chronicle, the school's enduring student daily, certainly liked the idea of having the ex-president in the Gothic wonderland that is Duke University. Even before Clinton spoke, Freeman wrote: "Bring Bubba Back Again".


The real deal at Duke last week: John Hope Franklin

Posted by JD Hull at 02:17 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2009

John Arthur Carradine (1936-2009)

One of us, if you grew up in the 1960s-1970s. Forget about Shane and Kung Fu, which likely embarrassed him. A brilliant guy from a celebrated acting family of three generations: the New Age Barrymores. Way meaner, edgier, smarter and tougher than Cole Younger, who he played in the James-Younger Northfield raid saga. Eldest son, Alpha male, part-Beat, part-Hip. Seeker. He didn't care what you thought.

David Carradine was on a short list of people who got right to the point--and told you the brutal truth. Authentic. A non-wimp's evil answer to Phil Donahue. Could not be bothered with trendy people, weenies, hedgers or metro-sexuals--or anyone else who forgot who they really are. AP: "Actor David Carradine found dead in Bangkok."


Posted by JD Hull at 04:32 PM | Comments (4)

May 29, 2009

Breaking news: GeekLawyer sued, finally.

The Romans at Teutoburg Forest, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the Oscar Wilde trial, the death of Bambi's mother. And now this. We bump our in-progress pieces on SCOTUS nominee Sotomayor, "the end of the recession", the GM bankruptcy, and a tip we got about the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa to note that GeekLawyer--soft-spoken and mild Brit barrister, writer and IP specialist WAC? befriended in 2005, and recently drank Diet Cokes with in Mayfair--has been finally sued. See Geeklawyer sued--finally!

Details are sketchy at this point.

But who would want to sue this guy? No matter what he's done (within reason), he is "one of us". Let's circle the wagons for our cousin in Albion. He's done scads to help us get over our fears of really having a First Amendment culture here in the States. At a minimum, he's unwittingly lowered--and quite drastically--FCC standards.

Here are excerpts from the milder parts of yesterday's GL post, edited by WAC? for Yanks of PC-persuasion and/or moral majority sensibilities:

GeekLawyer has taunted many a [phallic, arguably anti-gay and un-PC imagery expletive deleted] who has huffed and puffed but climbed down: billionaire [F-word imagery implying cretin-esque qualities deleted] Stelios for example.

Mercifully this litigation, for a piffling £300,000, was unrelated to GeekLawyer's profession and his capacity to entertain the judiciary while [violent and horribly un-PC client service imagery deleted] punters and opponents alike remains unimpeded.

keith moon.jpg

Outrage in London--how will it end?

Above: Well-loved Brit pundit GeekLawyer at Epsom Downs racetrack just days before vicious and groundless lawsuit for doing something.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:35 PM | Comments (3)

May 26, 2009

Holden Oliver (2007-2009): Done, out, onward.

As planned, and dreaded, "old" law student Holden Oliver, a WAC? co-blogger, is leaving us. He graduates, takes a bar exam, and takes his "outfit" (his term) to Europe for a year. And then? Well, he's not sure. But the guy sure has options: journalism, law, maybe both. Some of us see him in politics. (He doesn't.) In addition to being a fine (and fast) writer, Holden's unusually well-read, and leading a down-East life that's "on purpose and examined".

The only serious Libertarian I've ever liked, he's taught me, and Tom Welshonce, the real brains behind What About Clients?, much. We're sorry, sir, that we killed you off the last couple of years on April 1. But we were insanely jealous of your easy charm with everyone, and every thing. You could be arrogant and droll and funny all at once; yet you still enriched our lives beyond our capacity to ever repay you.

Posted by JD Hull at 02:43 AM | Comments (1)

April 01, 2009

Holden H. Oliver (1968-2009)

WAC? co-writer, former reporter and third-year law student Holden Oliver died Tuesday in Palo Alto at Stanford University Medical Center. A Boston native, and from a family that has lived in eastern Massachusetts for nearly 380 years, Holden graduated with a degree in English (highest honors) from Williams College in 1990. A former reporter for the Kansas City Star in its Washington, D.C. office, he also worked for ten years in the London and Frankfurt bureaus of the New York Times. Holden entered Stanford Law School in 2006, and joined WAC? "out of boredom" while still a student in early 2007. Last year, he was elected to the Managing Board of the Stanford Law Review, and worked in July in Hull McGuire's Pittsburgh office. His death was the result of a kiln explosion in which his ex-girlfriend, a Stanford undergraduate co-ed half his age, was apparently not injured in any respect. If you wish to help us honor Holden's life, his sarcastic uber-WASP prose style, his support of the profession's growing value movement, and his energetic if, frankly, amoral lifestyle, donations can be made in his name to the Nantucket Preservation Trust, the Cosmos Club or Kelly's Irish Times in Washington, D.C.

Posted by JD Hull at 06:49 AM | Comments (3)

March 28, 2009

Saturday's Charon QC: Meet the Prime Minister

Charon After Dark: An interview with Gordon Brown? "Few people get a chance to interview an unelected serving Prime Minister and I am no different." And why not, sir? The real one we urge you to do may even be as good as this.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:56 PM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2009

A moving tribute to the Human Spirit.

And to drunkenness, madness, small animals, the secret Ree-Lax Parlor in DC's West End, "dooce"-bags, Kelly's Irish Times Saloon, Ruthie, and far more deplorable pleasures of the flesh. Enough to curl Freud's hair. To make a blind man see. To send a Good Man straight to Hell laughing about it. Some really sick stuff--especially if you're from Elkhart, Indiana. Slick, too. It's rendered under a cheap, transparent pretext and gloss of Art, Literature and The Classics. Long. Larry Flynt and Madonna were each too freaked out and flustered to get through the whole thing.

Well-written, though. Very.

In short, Blawg Review this week does not disappoint. It is the real Barrister-Prince of Darkness in rare form--even for him. But there are far more unsettling things in this world than a London Lawyer messing with you: reading the books of Mormon or Revelation for the first or twentieth time, an hour in any Target store, or watching American lawyers employed by insurance companies (their real clients, as they see it) argue discovery motions on Fridays in courts all over and knowing they will get paid for it.

So in perspective, but still out of its head, GeekLawyer's Blawg Review #203 is wonderfully eccentric, even revolting, but it hits home, and (gulp) it's dang funny, if you have any sense of the English: XXX-rated, in campy vile taste, and arguably pregnant with a new industry of actions for defamation, slander per se and false light privacy that will pump new life into any lulls currently experienced by First Amendment lawyers in New York, DC and LA.

Just kidding. In your button-down lawyer world today, you may behold offensive movies, "bad" pictures, "bad" language, the F-word all over the place, by golly. If you are appalled, don't read it all, dog. Bonus Badness: it will set back trans-Atlantic relationships about 50 years.


Southern Brits: a quirky but sick race. We've tried to tell you.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 10:14 PM | Comments (2)

LexThink March 29-30: Head Heartland, Young Man.

The next LexThink is Sunday and Monday, March 29-30, 2009 at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.

Even the payment terms are innovative. If we can, we will send someone from Hull McGuire PC. Will all depend of course on actual length of this year's St. Patrick's Day recovery period--generally a fortnight (about 13.5 days average) so we'll be cutting it close.

Do visit LexThink: Innovate for details. Designed by Matt Homann, our friend, adviser and entrepreneur-lawyer-international consultant--his recent travel schedule makes WAC?'s seem provincial, pedestrian, pint-sized, paltry--who was looking freshly at things before that was cool. Go see Matt in Missouri this month. Catch him in the Heartland before he heads back to Europe.


Matthew Homann in repose.

(photo by E.T.Attorney)

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2009

U.S. Const. Amend. I: GeekLawyer Test on 3.16.09


Heads up for Yanks of the Weenie persuasion. See Blawg Review #666.

Posted by JD Hull at 03:54 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2009

The Return of Legal Sanity

We are not worthy. Not an overstatement. New York's wise and inspirational Arnie Herz at Legal Sanity is back--and we noticed this happily. I admire him--despite the fact that reading him for me is always daunting, even threatening. Arnie Herz is a lawyer who makes way too much sense; he knows and acts on things we all know and should act on but work too hard to avoid even admitting. When tradition-and-Western-logic-bound lawyers grow up, or become sane, which ever happens first, I hope we become like Arnie. See "Life and Business Lessons on Resilience from a Young Point Guard".


Posted by JD Hull at 11:46 PM | Comments (1)

March 07, 2009

Save the country. Save yourself.

Save the country. Save the children. Up in heaven, Laura Nyro is watching. I saw Nyro on my 18th birthday. She thought you could be angry and happy at the same time; I feel that every day. Laura got really angry at you if you had "no gospel, no guts, no brain". Because you are missing life, work, relationships, ideas, growth,the separate magics of the West and the East, old verities--and joy.

Be inspired--or hang it up. If you're "blocked", head to your Lake District. Wait for a sign. Get your sign. Say thanks to Whoever.

Then come out of your woods swinging and angry: like a bad-ass preacher of the Church of the Final Thunder.

Like Laura Nyro.

Laura Nyro (1947-1997) wanted you to have fury in your soul.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2009

Notes From the Breadline (continued)

Among the things that I do care about is insurance, or, specifically, making sure that I have some.

--RST, March 4, 2009

Re: Keep on Keepin' On. The Notes. "Roxanna St. Thomas" keeps writing them and Above The Law is savvy enough to never miss printing them. See "I Have My Freedom, but I Don't Have Much Time". Past Roxanna Notes are collected here.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2009

GeekLawyer is coming to America. Again. (Update)

Weekends are the only times I can write on this thing about important national and world events. We then communicate with our sixteen loyal but isolated non-American readers who want all the skinny on the States in towns like Aldeburgh, England, Mainz, Germany and Tooele, Utah.

During the week, I help my firm make money defending people who are accused for no reason at all of: spilling, copying, making too much money, and suddenly breaking promises with people who suddenly have no money. Many of these business disputes, ironically, have their roots in a law firm making world-class transactional and "just-wrong" advice mistakes which could have been avoided by a smart third year associate on Methaqualones who shows up at work most days; it would be funny except for the expense to their clients.

Best of all, and the most fun, I also make sure that former employees, often highly-paid ones, of some companies wish they had thought twice about getting mad about something my client did. I talk with them for a few hours--well, sometimes two or three days--with a court reporter, people they don't like anymore, and people who work for me, in the room. You can see the lights go on. They learn with me. I feel I am of service. We have windowless rooms for those talks.

Lots of free coffee, though. If Elizabeth or Lauren is at lunch, or gone for the day, or sleeping, or it's the weekend, or Christmas Day, I often serve the coffee myself--always slowly, deliberately and with a head waiter's flourish, and from the left--hopefully while they are reading something they signed back in 1999. I get to sport bow ties for these little talks, but my office said the black cape, hat and eye-patch were a bit much, so I stopped all that. I still wear the spats, though.

All wonderful work, if you can get it--I still can't believe you can get paid for it. So I am reconsidering my lapsed relationship with the Episcopal Church. It reminds me of a couplet in the Celtic prayer-poem "Purple Haze", in which a picaresque left-handed genius named Jimi gets a little grateful himself. Visit Tower Records for a copy.

Seriously, though, here's a major happening, and an extremely controversial one. Apart from monetary strategy to jump-start the economy, President Obama's current foreign policy plans, and the advent of useful new Covey-esque seminars you pay for on "How To Accommodate Young People Born After 1974 At Your Failing Business", the big news in America is that GeekLawyer--who I was unfortunate enough to meet and have 13 Diet Cokes with in Mayfair last September--will again (see Edition #666 of July 1, 2008) host Blawg Review* on March 16.

A friend of mine, an inspired and quite sober Charon QC in London, even crafted a short film about the nervously-anticipated return of a man whom Elkhart, Indiana and many other U.S. venues can do just fine without thank you very much. It's the guy's language. He likes words (all of them), he's British (they are all quirky creatures, but GL has raised High Brit Quirk to a "potty-mouth" if intelligent art form) and so you get the idea (but maybe not; this is off-the-charts stuff, Jack). Charon's sensitive film, a labor of Lud, is below.

*Now edited by a dead guy, apparently, but a minor detail for Americans, like Ed., with moxie and grit.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:44 PM | Comments (1)

January 29, 2009

Hesse's main point.

Ah, but it is hard to find this track of the divine in the midst of this life we lead...

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927)


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2009

John Hoyer Updike (1932-2009)

That something-is-missing in the suburbs was one of his great themes, and no one did that better. Although I liked his Bech character (and alter-ego) the best, the Rabbit books made him famous. None of us growing up in the 1960s and 1970s wanted to end up like Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, the reluctant small town family man who made choices in life that hardened around him quickly. Updike won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction twice, both for "Rabbit" books. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, who for decades has done great work covering other writers, has this article in the New York Times, via the International Herald Tribune.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2009

American Signage: Bed-Stuy, Seattle and Johnstown PA

New York Times: "‘Not Much of a Block,’ but It’s Named for a King". The Seattle Times: "Dream Remains Alive on Seattle's Street Named for King". The Tribune-Democrat: "Johnstown Bridge Renamed in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr.".


NYT: Martin Luther King Jr. Place, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Posted by JD Hull at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2009

Andrew Newell Wyeth (1917–2009)


"Weatherside", 1965

Posted by JD Hull at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2008

Nicholas, again.


"Be excellent to one another."

--From fragment written circa 340 A.D., recently discovered in Demre, formerly Myra, in Antalya Province of Turkey.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2008

Saturday's Charon QC

London's Charon QC is doing wonderful things these days. He's versatile, in a Renaissance Man way, and with the promise of fine quirk: a lawyer-pundit-radio host who can think, opine, write and talk, deftly moving in and out of all manner of issues with considerable elan, even when half in the bag. If he were a Yank, he's be a university president, the Congressman from Nantucket, or the host of a Brit version of "The Dick Cavett Show". Read his meanderings through the streets of 2000-year-old London. Listen to his many well-done podcasts, in which WAC? has twice been a guest, once in London, and once by phone in America.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2008

Yours in the struggle, dudes.

Usually, and as important as they are, observances like Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Human Rights Week, 2008 make me feel like: (a) I died and went to Hallmark, (b) I should give up everything and join Che and his guys in the hills, waiting for the right time to eradicate bourgeois fascist death forms (at least Indianapolis), or (c) I should at least learn to play the lute. But Blawg Review's hosts this week, The Legal Satyricon, did it all such justice at Blawg Review 190: Bill of Rights Day that I am feeling guilty about voting for John McCain last month. I am also thinking about giving up acting for corporate Europe and America, and representing the oppressed, and real street crime defendants under the CJA program, and helping poor people, maybe. This is a very fine Blawg Review performance, and WAC? will check in with this blog a lot in the future. Moxie everywhere, humor, and these folks can write. They get the Constitution and its first ten amendments--the most important Thing Western In Ink. And, like me, they think it's important. Bravo.


Read revolutionary Blawg Review 190.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

December 07, 2008

London's GeekLawyer seeks U.S. lawyer to craft "Limeyism" suit against ABA Journal.

He's out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct.

--General Corman to Willard, briefing him about Colonel Walt Kurtz, Apocalypse Now (1979)

Over in the UK, GeekLawyer, the normally reserved and self-effacing product of Eton and Oxford, and rightful heir to some strange ancient crown in Ceylon who hosted Blawg Review earlier this year, is angry.

He is more disturbed than usual that he was not included in the ABA Journal's "Blawg 100". We received the below message very early Friday morning, when most Americans were still asleep. He apparently read our post of Thursday night. In response he was very matter of fact. He wants a pro-bono lawyer for his crusade.

Any takers? We know him as a persistent if frugal human who will press this until he gets want he wants. He would be a cooperative client, and he understands the trial process in the U.S. and the UK. He is, after all, under his real name, a key player in Legal London. He has contacts, influence, Inn membership and a motorcycle called "The Terrible and Inexorable Wrath of God". If you are a man, he can introduce you to lots of professional women. Anyway, his request:

Can you recommend a good lawyer who'll act for me against the ABA? This is clear Limeyism - it cannot stand. They'll need to work pro-bono because although I have plenty of money I need to keep it for mead and hookers.


Lincoln's Inn, Holborn, London

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:00 PM | Comments (2)

November 28, 2008

Formerly Known As a privilege, an honor, a trust: Lawyering.

The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die. With apologies to Uncle Ted's writer of the 1980 speech, we refer here to the search for Value to Clients. We do revel in a fleeting glimpse of it now and then. More on clients, hard work, marginal work, associate bonuses, real life and common sense at David Giacalone's always superb and thoughtful f/k/a... See "Smart Clients Care About Bonuses and Marketplace 'Value'". He gives you all the parts, and then puts it all together himself.

"I showed. I suffered. Pay me."

Alternate universe: no one loses, everyone gets a trophy.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 09:51 PM | Comments (1)

November 21, 2008

"I'm good enough, smart enough, close enough."

Forget your politics. Norm Coleman isn't fun. And Franken's (gulp) just smarter than Norm, when Al is calm. Finally, this Minnesota U.S. Senate race annoys the right people. Think of it as a cattle prod. The Hill: "Franken narrows Coleman lead in Recount".

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2008

Voting, stepping up and America.

No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.

--Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

For most of us, given the apparent complexity of the world, universe and whatever else is out there, there aren't many absolute principles in play these days. But here's one: All Americans who can vote should vote, even if--as I am doing tomorrow--you are holding your nose and voting for the "least objectionable alternative." The American vote is a special and very hard won thing.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

November 02, 2008

Studs Terkel (1912-2008)

He was a writer, journalist, interviewer, broadcaster, oral history pioneer, Pulitzer Prize winner, UC-educated lawyer who never practiced, part-time actor (query: what famous movie about baseball did he have a big role in?) and Chicago's main Renaissance man. He died Friday home in Chicago at age 96. If you are an American under 60 and don't know who he is, or have never heard of him, feel free to sue the secondary schools and colleges you attended.


Posted by JD Hull at 06:37 PM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2008

Bubba, and once again, you busy?


WANTED STILL: Of counsel for growing, innovative Pennsylvania-based boutique business law firm with branches in California and DC. You must have at least 8 years of highest level federal Exec. Branch experience, world-wide connections, Yale Law degree, one year at Oxford, own money and people skills. Crowd-pleaser. Must be able to sell anything to anyone. And be originally from Hope, Arkansas.

State government experience in American South preferred but not required. Also preferred: participation in Renaissance weekends (writer is member). We also look for some fund-raising, and United Nations experience. Plus: past participation in Boys Nation or Boys State; writer is also alumni, and knows there's nothing flitty about them.

Sir, you don’t need to re-locate. We are desperate for can-do uber-Boomer who "comes to play". Happy to set up the office for you. Wherever you want. NYC, Harlem, Chappaqua all okay. Or DC. You decide. You can work out of your house. Or limo. Whatever.

NOTE: No previous private law practice experience necessary. Not a problem–-no problem at all. Excellent benefits package, if you need it, sir. Call collect.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2008

Business and Net Royalty Hosts Blawg Review

Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends

We're not easily star-struck.

Cruel, ruthless and demanding--eccentrics who think that employees are paid to work and add value, rather than to just talk, be wankers, leave work at 5:45 PM and feel good about themselves--WAC? writers are different. Hardened. Tough. And not easily impressed. And we don't even like small businesses (except ours), small minds, small towns (under 5 million SMSA) or small parking places. We've grown up around, worked with, drank with and/or even "dated"--if you call trophy sport-swiving "dating" (and we do)--a few public figures, politicians, artists and celebrities. We are not usually fazed.

But like Parker Posey, who WAC? met last year in the Newark airport and still has a huge thing for, Anita Campbell, of the widely-read and respected Small Business Trends, is also different, and authentic. Even glamorous. Somehow we feel like the flustered men or women who met Sharon Stone or George Clooney in the early days, before anyone knew Stone and Clooney were just more fun bozos on a boomer bus.

Seriously, folks (and just kidding, Sharon, George), Anita's site does have five (5) qualities you almost never see in Anything: Popular, Interesting, Well-Written, To-the-Point, Useful.

See Blawg Review this week and Anita's Back to Business Blawg Review #177. WAC? is not worthy. We be flustered.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

August 24, 2008

Greenfield's Children: "Hi, I'm Justin, and..."


[H]umiliation is one of the core ingredients of a good law school education....Hopefully, your professors won't be touchy-feely wimps and will use the Socratic method in order to embarrass as many students as possible...

Listen, you creeps, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore... Here is a man who stood up. Scott Greenfield: lawyer's lawyer, a seer, artist. We hear he's even got a great-looking, brilliant wife. Ancient law student, fringe boomer and ladies' man Holden Oliver just called from Palo Alto to say that he'll name his next legitimate son after Scott: "Greenfield" Oliver, Cornell '31. See at Scott's Simple Justice his post "The Slackoiesie Goes to Law School."

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

August 04, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)

Reuters, the Russian news agency Interfax and other sources are reporting that the novelist died of a stroke. The writer, historian, ex-Red Army soldier and dissident won the Nobel Prize in 1970.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2008

Spence: Law education is a fraud.

We were both intrigued and happy to see this Legal Blog Watch piece by Robert Ambrogi and links to Gerry Spence's blog. My take (with a nod to to Laura Nyro): law schools all over the globe have always attracted or produced their share of semi-literate robots with no guts, no gospel and no soul. They always will. But it's gotten worse. And the best part of many law students' undergraduate education--being steeped in old verities and enduring ideas--is ripped from him or her during the law school process. By age 35, most lawyers I know of any generation are disappointed, burned-out or bored. Reason: their work lives are not enriched by ideals or principles beyond the workaday nuts

and bolts of their job. It is the entire profession's fault (mine included) and problem. From Spence's post:

One need not write poetry or paint pictures to be a successful human being. But some intimacy with the arts and the language and its use and with right brain functions of feeling and creativity are essential to the development of the whole person. Little wonder that lawyers, disabled by all of the stifling, mostly useless mental exercises they have suffered, have trouble relating to jurors much less to the rest of mankind.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:52 PM | Comments (6)

July 26, 2008


Following Dan Hull's post below on the upcoming host of Blawg Review, Scott Greenfield's wife immediately submitted this alternative photograph of Scott which she prefers to the one we used. Your wife have a single sister, Scott? Because we won't be dating her.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (2)

Simply Excellent.


Listen, you creeps, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the dogs, the filth and the crap. Here is a man who stood up.

~ Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver (1976)

It's not that often that a high-powered, talented and well-known practicing trial lawyer has a wildly popular blog he operates on the side. The odds, folks, are against it. Well, here's a man who gets more clicks than any working attorney we know. A hero to many, and a thorn to some, lawyer-writer-New Yorker Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice is my comrade in various global struggles and movements. And together we seek to become the Travis Bickle of law and policy. Just saner, mainly. Scott is not just passionate, analytical, admirably credentialed, and way bad-ass. He's a bit mysterious, even ominous: the kind of man who beats fish to death with his bare hands. In two days, he hosts Blawg Review, #170. We'll stay up late to say we read it first. You talking to me?

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (2)

July 23, 2008

David Giacalone: Debt Reduction in America.

Over at the consistently elegant f/k/a, lawyer-writer and former U.S. Federal Trade Commission lawyer David Giacalone gives us "Doubts Over Debt Negotiation Fees". This is one of the best supported and comprehensive pieces of writing you will read about lawyers on a blog--or not-on-a-blog. We stopped billing hours, serving subpoenas and gutting pension plans just to read it. Thank you, sir.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2008


Quatorze Juillet

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2008

How the Marquis de Sade was finally forced into politics.


And the moral of the story is never lean on the weird. Or they will chop your head off. Take my word for it, Bubba. I am an expert on these things. I have been there. --HST, 1994

Bastille Day is tomorrow, July 14, the French day of independence. According to Hunter Thompson in "Better Than Sex" (a 1994 book about U.S. politics), and some other sources, the Marquis de Sade, Parisian artist and French nobleman, played a role in this opening drama of the French Revolution. As Doctor Thompson notes, the Marquis, a serious artist, was out-front different, wild and independent; he didn't care what people thought or said about him. On occasion The Marquis would run amok on booze and laudanum to blow off steam. The mainstream French aristocracy and clergy were never happy with him. They "not only hated his art, they hated him".

By 1788, the Paris police routinely harassed him, and jailed him a few times. The Bastille itself and then an insane asylum were his homes in the days leading up to July 14. In turn, he began to hate cops--and the government. Well, by the summer of 1789, Paris, in its oppressive July heat, was about to explode anyway and, acccording to Thompson:

The mood of the city was so ugly that even the Marquis de Sade became a hero of the people. On July 14, 1789, he led a mob of crazed rabble in overrunning a battalion of doomed military police defending the infamous Bastille Prison, and they swarmed in to "free all political prisoners"....

It was the beginning of the French Revolution, and de Sade himself was said to have stabbed five or six soldiers to death as his mob stormed the prison and seized the keys to the Arsenal. The mob found only eight "political prisoners" to free, and four of those were killed by nightfall in the savage melee over looting rights for the guns and ammunition.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (3)

July 02, 2008

Learning well.

Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.

--Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2008

Writing well, and living large.

Commenting on the body of work left by John Dryden (1631-1700), the English poet, critic and playwright, Samuel Johnson (who was born a few years after Dryden's death) called Dryden's compositions "the effects of a vigorous genius working upon large materials".


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2008

George Denis Patrick Carlin (1937-2008)

One seriously funny, angry American-Irish guy from the City who always made us think. An original. See Washington Post obit.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2008

Bad King John, good King Edward.

London-based Charon QC notes that today, June 15, is an important day for Brits and Yanks alike: the date of Magna Carta Libertatum. King John's negotiation with his rebellious Norman barons occurred in 1215; the Magna Carta established that the king may not levy or collect any taxes, without the consent of his council, a kind of rough first English parliament. It also bolstered the previously-existing idea of the writ of habeas corpus--the "let-me-out" claim against unlawful imprisonment--and afforded rights and procedures to both free and unfree men. An elected parliament replacing the king's council was first instituted in 1265, and it was "upgraded" by Edward I in 1295. This text of the 1297 statute, as amended, is official UK law. Edward I (for us Yanks, that's the same guy who had Mel Gibson killed) made sure that the 1215 agreement stuck with us.


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2008

Ted Kennedy

To be Irish is to know that in the end, the world will break your heart. --Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Call me a cultural stereotype. A boomer. A limousine liberal. I don't care. Ted Kennedy being diagnosed with malignant cancer of the brain floored me. I don't even know why.

Long ago, Duke University, which changed my life in a number of ways, awarded me my first paid desk job to work for Wisconsin's Senator Gaylord Nelson. With some help from my father, I rented an overpriced and horrible little apartment across the street from the hospital on Washington Circle where I had been born 21 years earlier, and excitedly entered the world I'd been seeing on television since I was in my early teens growing up in the Midwest. That first sunny Monday morning in May, I walked all the way to work, zig-zagging down Pennsylvania Avenue, and then up Constitution Avenue, well over two miles total, just to take it all in. But I walked in a hurry.

The Hill job was in health policy, and I was asked to follow and report on the work of the busy U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Health, chaired by then 42-year-old Ted Kennedy. I saw Kennedy up close a lot during committee sessions and mark-ups during the next 3 months. (A few years later, I worked again on Capitol Hill, and lived there for many

years. I'd see him around. Today, if I were lucky, he might recognize my persistent face if he saw me--but I certainly wasn't important those first 3 months.) But way before that, as the "last Kennedy", he was always part of the soundtrack of my life and my friends' lives since we were in our early teens. But he was more than a name, mystique and the booming populist oratory and Gaelic cadences of speech which come naturally to him.

For me, Ted Kennedy has never been about ideas, legislative agendas or even the Kennedy schmaltz: the hope, the dream that never dies, the struggle, all that. He left that music to others, like to his uber-aggressive brother-in-law, Steven Smith, and to his staff. I just never saw Kennedy as an ideologue, even when he ran for the American presidency--which I bet he never really wanted. A character out of a novel, he's simply as Irish as they come: brooding, playful and contradictory. Quietly but definitely war-like. He's smarter than people think, and remarkably adept at sifting through and making sense of too much information thrown at him. In the main, though, he's passionate, human, even poetic--and vulnerable in all the best ways.

Like lots of senators, he's also distracted as hell, even endearingly spacey--but warm and charming, a natural politician, easily the best in his family. He can turn that on and off. Like Bill Clinton, and for whatever the reason, Kennedy genuinely likes people; it's not for show. Watch the guy in a crowd. He's at ease once he's there. He physically resembles most, and is most like, his mother Rose, the family saint and caregiver. And that soulfulness, I think, helped him to be very good at his job. Family friend and economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said that Ted Kennedy was the best U.S. senator he'd seen in his lifetime.

Finally, the last Kennedy is as wounded as they come, too. Try, if you can, not to cry when you watch a clip of his eulogy of his brother Robert in 1968, when he was 36. Kennedy's voice cracked badly, and I can't forget the sound of him as he struggled to finish the speech for his older brother. It wasn't about politics, ideas, or even about anyone's family. The sound was pure grief and loss, unashamed.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

HRC: Until the last dog dies.

That's a Bill Clinton Ozark mountains expression. We have always liked it even though WAC? writers (and Hull McGuire lawyers) are very split among the three candidates still punching, and we have some stalwart if calm Clinton dislikers. But wondrous, irrational keep-your-options-open optimism is very American. Sometimes it works. From today's daily Hillary Clinton campaign e-mail update: "On May 31, we'll hear the decision from the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee on whether they'll seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida". But, she continues, "Puerto Rico votes in 10 days, and the last primaries in Montana and South Dakota are just two days later, and...." See Salon's "She's in it to spin it".

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Learning well

Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.

--William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), poet and statesman.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2008

Not just an Irish thing: "Let no man write my epitaph".

It was a 1960 movie with Shelley Winters, Ricardo Montalban, Jean Seberg and Burl Ives (playing a nice boozy Irish Chicago judge) I first saw as a re-run on TV growing up in Cincinnati. It was based on a 1958 novel by Willard Motley. But the words came from a real guy, Irish nationalist Robert Emmet, during the "speech from the dock" before he was hanged by the British in 1803 for leading a march on Dublin Castle. History doesn't think Emmet was the most effective Irish rebel who ever lived--but his final words endured:

I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world – it is the charity of its silence. Let no man write my epitaph. No man can write my epitaph, for as no man who knows my motives and character dares now to vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them rest in obscurity and peace until other times and other men can do justice to them. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then shall my character be vindicated, then may my epitaph be written.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:52 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2008

BBC News: French industrial output way down.

You are holy conservators of the best things Western: ideas, art and living. But you must get back to work. Sixty-three years is too long a holiday.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2008

Wanted: "A fool in the forest".

Which is the name of a site of a talented California lawyer named George Wallace who has been working too hard, even by WAC?'s brutal standards. We miss his playful yet erudite Renaissance man's perspective. We need more lawyers writing about Salvador Dali.


Posted by JD Hull at 11:45 PM | Comments (2)

May 08, 2008

Who said this? "We have no great illusions, my brethren and I, ..."

about how much good it will do you to be told these things in advance. We have learned by bitter experience that you will not take the things we tell you very seriously. You conceive this, I take it, to be somewhat in the nature of the pep meeting to which you were first exposed when you entered college. You expect me to tell you that you should be earnest about your work, and get your back into it for dear old Siwash, and that he who lets work slide will stumble by the way.

And to whom was this said? Think carefully. The first person with the

right answer to both parts of the question will receive a free WAC? gift.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:56 PM | Comments (1)

May 03, 2008

Ten years of Swerdloff Dot Com

A NYC-residing lawyer and Renaissance man with smarts and wisdom beyond his years reaches a milestone, celebrates.


Posted by JD Hull at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2008

Ken Wilber, this century's philosopher.

In Salon, see You are the river: An interview with Ken Wilber by Steve Paulson. Ken Wilber is no fad. He thinks and writes about the "ultimate reality that science can't touch", who's evolved and who's not, and what's in store for us. He really did amaze us in his 2000 book A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality. What's weird today is truth tomorrow.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2008

Name's you a Heineken? Just got back from Île Saint-Louis, and...


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2008

"Have you ever been punched by a client?"

We mean literally. See this one by David Giacalone, both lyrical and spiritual leader of the entire blogosphere, at f/k/a....

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (2)

April 20, 2008

Real Yank lawyers read Charon QC's Weekend Review.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 01:39 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2008

The enduring Duke lacrosse experience

"Write something on the Duke Experience, that's all I ask," my editor was always telling me.

--W. Morris in "Making the Nut at Duke", Duke Chanticleer, Vol. II, 1975

The lacrosse case never really ended. See at The Chronicle, Duke's student daily, "City attorneys argue for ethics rule in lax suit" re: the 38 unindicted members of the 2005-2006 men's lacrosse team who have brought a civil suit. And see KC Johnson's stalwart Durham-in-Wonderland.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

Life after--or instead of--law.

At the ABA Journal's Law News Now, see "Lawyer Hated Securities Practice, But Loves Fox News", about new Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2008

Jennifer TV

Former news anchor Jennifer Antkowiak's show "Jennifer" is on Sundays at 11 AM EST. See

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2008

Flaubert's last letters

In yesterday's London Times, the popular British Flaubert scholar Julian Barnes reads between the lines of "Flaubert's letters on sex, art, bankruptcy and cliffs."

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2008

Charon QC 24/7?

Charon After Dark. "A new idea…not, perhaps, a good one…", Rioja and music lover Charon thinks. While he plots, read our London hero's Weekend Review, on Brits, Brit law and old Albion herself.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2008

Is Holden Oliver a radical Muslim?

Like George Will, he's one of our best 17th century minds. His middle initial is H--but the literal meaning of Muslim is a person who "submits" to the Will of God. Holden is a lapsed Episcopal--it's a little late for him in any organized religion. He went to the "right schools" (but wished he'd attended Summerhill as a child), made law review, and he likes difficult women and scotch. He's in good shape--but he won't let on

that he ever works out. Last summer he took the Hull McGuire DSM-IV-driven narcissist test for litigators and got a perfect score--but he wants to do corporate tax law. Anyway, ancient law student and recovering journalist Holden H. Oliver gets a little weird as exam time in the Bay Area approaches. But he's a quick study. An expert on the development of the DaneLaw (Danelagh) in the 9th century (long story but that's the reason WAC? met him in the first place), he would have been very happy as the village magistrate in a past age in rural East Anglia. His religion: "making my life art". Grandiose but admirable. Good luck on those outlines, Holden. Godspeed. But we expect a post on Ordeal By Water by the middle of next week.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:12 PM | Comments (1)

March 07, 2008

Today, 24th and M, NW.

Q Going home already?

A Would have left earlier--fell asleep at my desk.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2008

The UK's Justin Patten: British Reserve, Human Law and Intelligent Mediation.

A year ago this week I spent an hour or so near my hotel in Mayfair (close to the Marble Arch on the northeastern corner of Hyde Park) with my friend Justin Patten of Human Law Mediation, a firm for higher-end clients he founded six years ago. If you're an American or

European business lawyer, and you don't know this English gentleman, solicitor, mediator, and thought leader, you should get to know him. Justin himself specializes in HR and employment disputes mediation--but offers a wide variety of mediation training programs to businesses and law firms. He's an original--and loves what he does. See his website or ground-breaking blog. He didn't ask for this post; Justin is a creature of Brit reserve, and never asks us to do anything for him. WAC? just admires him. We think of him as a sane version of our London barrister friend GeekLawyer: another mega-talented southern Englishman "in trade", yet less likely to upset your mother, your wife, your girlfriend, or all three.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2008

London: Saturday's Charon QC

Charon QC, London's well-regarded lawyer-pundit, has a fine review of last week's news and Brit blogs. "Blogging" may not be ground central for All Things Legal or Otherwise on the Planet. Time is precious to busy people; as a friend recently asked, "should humans blog, ski, watch birds or philander in their spare time?" But you are missing the big picture--and some fun--if you do not check in with Brit blogs. These phlegmy men, like Reactionary Snob, and exotic birds, like Ruthie, do own our language. It shows in their skill, play and heart with words. Never prissy. See, respectively, "Assorted idiocy" (Snob, the libertarian) and "Fair Trial My Arse" (Ruthie, the demure).

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Duke in Wonderland; Cornell in Heaven.

Mike Krzyzewski wins 800th. NBC: 87-86 against NC State at Raleigh. Coach K thanks evil twin-mentor Bobby Knight. And Cornell defeats Harvard to win Ivy league, finally slipping past Penn and Princeton and making the NCAA tournament.

UPDATE: The normally staid and ancient Duke daily, The Chronicle, gets excited about Coach K's win, too.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:43 AM | Comments (1)

February 29, 2008

Duke: Coach K looks for 800th win.

DURHAM, NC (Duke Chronicle)--Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is already recognized as one of the premier coaches in college basketball. After tomorrow, his status among the all-time elite could be cemented. [more]

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008)

No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, only the small-minded and single issue freaks would fail to acknowledge that Bill Buckley was a powerful intellect, one of the most influential writer-thinkers of the last century, and a true Renaissance Man. A class act on a level with Voltaire and Disraeli. Everyone has lost a mega-smart if patrician friend--and one who respected language and loved ideas.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

February 19, 2008

The Praise

Samuel Johnson had quite a compliment for John Dryden (1631-1700), the English poet, critic and dramatist known for his energy, range, heart and nearly musical style. Dryden's compositions, Johnson said, "are the effects of a vigorous genius operating upon large materials". From a book my grandfather, Dr. J. Dan Hull, gave me after retiring from Washington, D.C. life and moving back to Springfield, Missouri. The Best of Dryden, L. Bredvold, editor, xiii (Ronald Press 1933).

Posted by JD Hull at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2008

Ca' Paxatagore


Posted by JD Hull at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2008

"Good call, Garth."

Restaurateur Armed with 200 Rounds Planned Super Bowl Gunfire--but Changed his Mind in Parking Lot.

PHOENIX (AP)--A would-be bar owner angry at being denied a liquor license threatened to shoot people at the Super Bowl and drove to within sight of the stadium with a rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition before changing his mind, federal authorities said. [more]

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2008

Can you identify this Frenchman?


Alexis de Tocqueville

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (3)

February 05, 2008

WAC? loves Simple Justice.

No, it's not a horse at Del Mar, or a stock. This is one of our "real lawyer" alerts.

See Scott Greenfield's highly-respected site, Simple Justice--A New York Criminal Defense Blog. Lawyers with criminal defense practices. Hull McGuire stands in awe before them; we've "been there" a few times. Armed with fancy outside white collar crime help, we defended (and did well) in a few criminal matters, including three seemingly endless jury trials. All were in federal court, with classy clients, before sane judges in DC or Pennsylvania. Then we got this new white collar defense guy in California. Still, we stick to corporate defense and the occasional criminal investigation with Sarbanes-Oxley issues. Why? Day-to-day criminal defense work, especially in NYC, is a Wild West Show--one for studs and studess-es only. It's a marathon, and for the toughest lawyers on earth. We are ultra-corporate smart--but we are not worthy of these guys. See Scott's blog. "Yeah, Simple Justice--they be bad...."

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:22 PM | Comments (2)

January 28, 2008

Good morning, American worker.

Happy Monday. It's still Winter. Today, you're just a shade of a tad Hungover. You hate your Job. Your entire Life. Your Dog. And your eldest son's resume is beginning to read like a Police Blotter. Re: suffering, maybe you can just use It, because it teaches.

Suffering overcomes the mind's inertia, develops the thinking powers, opens up a new world, and drives the soul to action.--Anthony H. Evans

Great minds have purposes, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.--Washington Irving

Posted by JD Hull at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2008

Real Blogs are Rare: Ray Ward's Minor Wisdom.

And he'd just say shucks. It's Sunday: the only day I spend any time alone, am quiet for long stretches, and won't yell at any one. In my head and heart, where things can grow, I've bumped Ray Ward's Minor Wisdom from the #11 spot to #1 on my best blogs/blawgs/sites/all on-line and electronic magazines. This is All Categories, All Professions, All Nations, All Tribes, All Humans, All Life, All-Cosmos. I've seen the light, having waited for a vision to deliver me. Minor Wisdom has beyond lawyerness: spiritual, literary, musical, political, brave, human, personal and get-off-your-ass. And he's one of the few Jesuit-educated humans who makes it all sound like damn fun. His blog is so much better than every lawyer blog I've seen--including this one--that it makes me want to write full time, even if I starve ("purity of the heart is to will one thing"...). Well, strike the starving part. Anyway, let's pull Ray and MW from that soul-less category: lawyers. He's that and more. He reminds us that Jesus is headed for The Big Easy--and that's enough to make a blind man see.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:37 AM | Comments (3)

January 22, 2008

Southern Winter

Associated Press: "Freeze Follows Snow in South, Gulf Coast"

"...put some bleachers out in the sun/And have it out on Highway 61".

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2008

Real Lawyer Stuff: MLK Day at Blawg Review

Blawg Review #143 is up. It's thoughtful, graceful and first-rate. It's hosted by Gideon at Public Defender Stuff.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2008

The Framers meet Rodney Dangerfield.

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.

--Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr. (1900-1965), speech in Detroit, Oct.7, 1952

Even Adlai Stevenson's political enemies looked up to him. The highly-respected Illinois governor, diplomat and lawyer never got to be president--he lost to crowd-pleaser Eisenhower twice--but a lot of people wanted him to have that job. He liked ideas. American ones. People called him an "egghead" a lot. Ever wish that as a lawyer you did something genuinely worthwhile, important and part of a great American ideal? Something difficult, often unpopular and that reflects hard choices we've made as a society? Or are you just another lawyer dependent on the insurance companies for dough who wants to read a great blog every now and then? Tomorrow's host for Blawg Review is Public Defender Stuff. "Indigent defense news, delivered fresh daily". The guy's name is "Gideon".

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2008

Fancy Brit lawyer Ruthie loses passport in back of Scottish cab.

We know from her on-line confession that this happened to the famous English lawyer-writer-biker Ruthie in Aberdeen, Scotland around New Year's, culminated in a run-in with the feared and notoriously unrelenting Grampian Police, and therefore almost certainly involved booze, men and/or worse. See "Do Not Lose your Passport" at Ruthie's Law. We Yanks expected much better. Arched eyebrows.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:20 PM | Comments (3)

January 17, 2008

Breaking: Hungarian scientists decode Doggy Talk.

See No inroads, however, reported on Lawyerspeak. But there's hope: "I'm pretty sure this could work with any animal vocal signals," researcher Csaba Molnár told LiveScience.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2008

QuizLaw is original, gutsy and fun.

Non-dweeb lawyers from New York and California write it. Dang. We're naming our next son after it: QuizLaw Pennington Oliver. "We're very proud of Quiz'. After Dartmouth, he'll spend a year at the Sorbonne."

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2008

Best business wisdom quote ever.

He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.

--Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784

If you don't fully understand, worry.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Hermann the German: McCoffee v. Starbucks.

The next Great War: McDonald's has a go at Starbucks. See at Observing Hermann yesterday's piece "We knew this was going to get ugly". Hermann regularly monitors developments in Western thought, culture and commerce--and in The Cosmos generally--but here has confined himself to one of his favorite if more pedestrian topics: sideshows of globalization.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2008

Ann Althouse: best quotes of 2007, life actually, varmints.

If you don't like your life, change it.

--Lawrence Olivier, who would have turned 100 in 2007

The best one is above--except that it makes way too much sense. If you hate what you do and are, at least you're on the right track--but family, work, clients and feeding your dog merge into a joy-less chore until you fix it. The rest of her favorite quotes from her posts in 2007 are here. She recalls that we learned this past year that Arizona U.S. senator and 2008 GOP contender John McCain has a hair-trigger wit, too. No matter where you stand on gun control or immigration, the

word "varmint" (i.e., troublesome person or animal) deserves a comprehensive come-back in America. Join us. Use the word "varmint" today, preferably in writing--in an opinion letter, Rule 12 opposition brief, Phase I environmental report, or a reply to the Disciplinary Board. Just be discreet. Our young French friend Tocqueville would agree, or at least understand. This is America.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2008

Bang bang, you are the warrior. Ready?

Break out of captivity
And follow me, stereo jungle child
Love is the kill.....your heart's still wild

--P. Smyth

New day, new year, and it's time for lawyers to lead. Let's resolve to:

Put clients first, tell clients what we really think, give advice and not just options, stop covering our asses, take risks, stop pretending we are "special", minimize our clubbiness, practice discipline and structure, stop making the law about our convenience and schedules, think like business people and not like mere academics, help clients control costs, fight the mediocrity in legal products and client service we continue to accept, change the way people think about lawyers, quit writing to clients, to courts and to each other like mental patients talking to themselves, become trusted consigilieres, surround ourselves with strong talented people, fire bad clients, refuse to bottom-feed, fire employees who don't or won't get it (and stop pretending they'll see the light), act, and otherwise stop being weenies.

Our clients still wait for us to so evolve. To lead. Ready?

JDH, HHO, TWC 1/1/08

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:23 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2007

Blogging in Cuba is different.

So you've got your blog, your pet ideas, and you write about them. But you think you've got sand? As WAC? understands it, blogs are supposed to be out-front journals, i.e., honest and brave, right? What are you willing to risk to get your ideas out there? Here's a must-see from called "Cuban Revolution" about a Havana-bred woman, 32, who blogs from Cuba about Cuba.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2007

No sleep 'til Christmas

Been quite a year. The sub-prime mortgage crash rippled through other markets, international approval of America has remained at a steady low for nearly 5 years now, and WAC? met Parker Posey on his way to Europe. Now we're travelling again. Which these days, we think, lawyers should be doing anyway to service clients. So we're shutting down our Palo Alto-based "news division" until the 26th--unless, of course, in the next couple of days, North Korea accidently destroys Japan, Ron Paul picks up 30 points in the polls, Time Magazine declares lawyers, politicians or executive headhunters the most admired humans on earth, or Keith Richards passes from over-eating.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2007

On the Senate, court and cocktail parties.

I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity.

--Marcus Tullius Cicero, lawyer-statesman-poet-pundit (106-43 BC)

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2007

What About Clients? named to ABA's "Blawg 100".

Many first-rate blogs didn't make this list--so we're really honored. We hope that our inclusion will bring attention to some of the consistent themes of What About Clients? since we started this project in August 2005, with the solid advice, example and help of a fine Chicago trial lawyer-blogger, and at the urging of two old D.C. friends of Hull McGuire: (1) client/customer service all over the world is remarkably poor, if not a cynical global joke; lawyers and other professionals can discipline themselves to deliver a better "experience"--weaving technical skills and real service--to valued clients, (2) corporate law firms under 150 lawyers can land and keep Fortune 500 companies if they have the right people and game plan (it's time for those with true grit to stop groveling and bottom-feeding), and (3) the legal services marketplace has become international for nearly all business lawyers.

There are the other WAC? categories--international business, litigation, IP, natural resources, HR, politics, writing well, Keith Richards, other mysteries of universe--listed over on your right that we cover every week. Other blogs we are "competing" with for votes in this ABA thing are very, very good. However, we think that WAC?--a part-time gig written by practicing lawyers (often under pressure and in very bad moods)--is more honest, broader in scope, funnier, better written, more useful, more thought-provoking, edgier, less constrained and just flat-out braver than most of the other great blogs out there. Life's short, and we started WAC? to say a few things you won't always hear at the cocktail parties and other dweeb-fests we all attend this time of year.

In short, we think lawyers should lead. So, if you are hearing us, and you appreciate it:

Posted by JD Hull at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2007

More French job news: perks.

WAC? always wondered what people kept in those $2 million apartments near our usual hotel on I'lle Saint-Louis. AP: "French President Linked with Supermodel Bruni".

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2007

Driving instructor sues Borat and Fox studio.

A cast member files in SDNY for fraud, emotional distress and punitive damages, alleging he was paid $500 in cash to give Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) a driving lesson--during which Cohen drove wild and crazy down residential streets, drank booze and "yelled to a female pedestrian he would pay her $10 for 'sexy time'". [Reuters-UK]

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2007

Anne Frank tree gets a second reprieve.

AP: The famous chestnut tree, over 150 years old, wins another stay from Judge Bade. Amsterdam city officials must present more detailed alternatives to the tree's proposed destruction.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2007

Anne Frank's chestnut tree

We've followed this one over the last few months. According to the AP, the 150-year-old ailing chestnut tree in Amsterdam that Anne Frank saw daily outside her attic window during the two years she hid from the Nazis will be cut down. The Anne Frank Museum has taken grafts from the tree in hopes that a sapling can replace it.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2007

Norman Mailer (1923-2007)

I don't think life is absurd. I think we are all here for a huge purpose. I think we shrink from the immensity of the purpose we are here for.

Irish guys always liked Norman Mailer. About twenty five years ago Legs McNeil wrote, after doing an interview with Mailer, "nobody talks better than Norm". Mailer reveled in words, and the man could talk. And punch. But our best-ever American literary talker-brawler won two Pulitzers, and was famous for writing alone by the age of 25. He died at age 84 on Friday after nearly 60 years on a pedestal he built and maintained himself. He could be a blow-hard, but he knew something important. Strong opinions put strongly--about writing, men, women, politics, modern life--isn't about getting press. It's a way to have the Conversation in the midst of conformity and complacency. Enemies?

Natural provocateur Mailer knew also that, if you don't have a few, you simply aren't in the game. Like Mailer himself, the news coverage is spirited, opinionated, immense. L.A. Times: Mailer: An Ego with an Insecure Streak; The Irish Times: U.S. Literary Giant, Norman Mailer Dies Aged 84; NYT: Towering Writer with a Matching Ego, Dies at 84; The Guardian: Death of an Icon; The Huffington Post: Norman Mailer: Death and Remembrance. But Norm would have liked this next one the best. Via Pajamas Media, see at Chesler Chronicles: "Norman Mailer, one Tough Jew, is dead." And how many Jewish guys can drink like that? Gaelic retired toper WAC? is way impressed. Keep up the Conversation, Norm. We're bored down here already.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2007

"No, officer, the book didn't exactly attack me--but I definitely felt menaced".

Fear and loathing in Bloomington. For a kind of Hoosier madness other than basketball, see at WSJ's Law Blog the piece "Indiana Law Student Shoots Real-Estate Finance Casebook". Casebook, shot twice in a parking lot, is reported to be in critical condition.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2007

Got Resilience?

Please see a piece by Texas lawyer Mark Bennett I've been brooding about ever since I saw it: "Resiliency". But don't obsess about it too much. Ironically, resilience--the ability to recover and spring back from adversity, a shock or a set-back in short order--is not a lawyer trait. Indeed, these days there's lots of commentary out there which in the aggregate goes something like this: lawyers don't market, work, argue, negotiate, or even do trial work as well as they could because they are "relational", nice, academic at heart, a bit passive aggressive, naturally not "war-like" and--even when we are competitive and direct--we suffer, brood and worry too long about setbacks and defeats. And we are beginning to hate what we do all day long because, oddly, (1) neither fighting (2) nor "going with the flow" are in our natures. It's true. We lawyers are, in the main, natural-born

weenies and squirrels. We are great people. But we sweat small stuff--part of our job, of course--and we over-react. We have amazingly poor defenses to each day's hard knocks and battles.

Well, why? My take: the profession attracts type-A eldest-child perfectionists who can become disoriented and even ashamed by not winning on every point. We get hurt easily. Too many of us suffer guilt or shame in the smallest defeat. We even kick ourselves about being that way. We feel like impostors. And that--trying to be something we can't always easily be--makes things worse. We start to hate our jobs and our lives. If our clients knew how thin-skinned and tortured some of us really are, they'd just take pity and fire us.

Solution? Somehow--and I don't care how--get over yourself, free yourself from all that bondage of self, and accept that some defeat is inherent in everything you do, and may be even helpful to achieve good results. I am NOT talking here about being a good loser or lowering standards. It's about Sweating Just Big Stuff. Stepping back. Getting perspective. Nothing brilliant here. However, without even doing an empirical study, it's obvious to me that lawyer "over-sensitivity" is a huge problem in our lawyer worlds and workplaces. Our reactions to the sum of small bad stuff prevents us from doing the big stuff or from doing it well. This hurts us as people. But way more importantly, it hurts your client: the main event. Remember that as a lawyer you are not royalty--sorry, but you never were that special. Clients are not "the equipment" for a patrician game. You are there to serve.

If you can't get a plan for this and change yourself--or can only do it the cost of violating who you really are--think about another career path. And for godssake if you're a trial lawyer, part of your damn job is to be resilient. So get some of it really, really fast, and buck up there, mate--or just teach, sell women's shoes or get that masters in taxation at NYU you sometimes dream about.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2007

Geoff Sharp: Fear as a Tool

New Zealand's Geoff Sharp at mediator blah...blah... is just not that PC. He isn't compelled to make the same comfortable New Age noises as the rest of us (especially Americans) so often make and take refuge in. He's honest, innovative and authentic. See his "The Legitimate Use of Fear to Encourage Settlement". You got sand, Geoff.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2007

Charles Fox: Autism, and Blawg Review #113

Today is Autism Awareness Day (1 of every 150 children, according to the U.S. CDC). Chicago attorney Charles P. Fox of Special Education Law hosts a special Blawg Review, #113.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2007

David Halberstam (1934-2007)

Halberstam, a New Yorker, Yankee's Yankee and Pulitzer Prize winner at the age of 30 for war reporting, was killed in a car accident today in San Francisco. He gave us both the idea and the book of Viet Nam as supreme American hubris in the 1972 bestseller The Best and the Brightest.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ms Bry, Renaissance woman.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2007

Kid from Brooklyn on Human Rights, 2nd Amendment.

Here. Open windows, turn up speakers, earplug the kids.

Posted by JD Hull at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2007

More Irish Guys

"With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?"

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900) had a rare mind, wrote well, lived too short a life, and was one of those people who give humans a good name. He had mega-talent, moxie and a good heart. Years ago, I visted the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris to see the graves of Jim Morrison, Richard Wright, Chopin and others and learned that Wilde was there, too.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2006

On the good foot....(1933-2006)

"Early in the morning/Can't get a ride/Had a little time/With my baby last night/Early in the morning/Gotta do the walk..."

A South Carolina native, James Brown died on Christmas. He was either 73 or 78. We loved it when he screamed to his band members things like "Maceo, hey Maceo, help me out!"

Posted by JD Hull at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2006

Ms. Bry stars in "The 60s" - All you need is love, and a shrink.

She is actress, producer, writer, Renaissance babe, mom, ex-stunt girl (for fun, Google her name re: the Superman movies), and WAC? friend and advisor. Ellen Bry stars tonight in the Trish Soodik comedy "The 60s" at the acclaimed Pacific Theatre in Los Angeles, 703 Venice Boulevard, at 8:00 PM. Directed by Paul Linke.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2006

Mount Purgatory Warm-up

See "lawyers sentenced to haiku purgatory, without appeal " at f/k/a [formerly known as]. WAC? loves Dante, and serenely awaits guides Virgil and Colin Samuels at next Blawg Review, No. 86.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2006

Curmudgeon This--For Now.

Busy as I am defending corporate America and European companies from the forces of darkness and dumbness, traveling around the U.S. and western Europe with my new assistant Ms. Bry, working hard to get a couple of good books turned into movies, and trying here and there to teach people in my shop about the Holy Surprise and Miracle of Rule 36 and the fun break-dancing between Rules 30, 45 and 34, I feel very left out. I haven't read or even held in my hands Mark Herrmann's popular book The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law (ABA Litigation Section, 2006). But I want to read it, and will, for a few reasons:

First, you hear and read everywhere that Herrmann's Curmudgeon's Guide is intelligent and very funny. Second, about my vintage, Mark's a trial lawyer and writer with real lawyer credentials from a legendary firm (Cleveland-based Jones Day, ruled for years with an iron hand by a legendary curmudgeon) which was big, international and multi-officed before all that was cool. Mark's firm, unlike many firms from 250 to 3000 plus lawyers on growth streaks, seems to have expanded without doing great violence to or compromising its own gene pool. Third, WSJ Law Blog's Peter Lattman (e.g., here) likes Mark's book a lot, and has posted about it three times. Finally, and importantly, Arnie Herz, of Legal Sanity, did read Mark's book--and, hey, Arnie liked it. Arnie, also busy, is wise, perceptive, discriminating, and with a litigator's filter. That's enough for me until I get to Mark's book. See Arnie's post "The Curmudgeonly Law Firm Mentor".

Posted by JD Hull at 05:51 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2006

Work-Life Balance This.

It's Sunday, near the end of October. This week offers us all a series of ancient harvest and life-death cycle observances with Pagan, Celtic, Roman and even Christian roots. Halloween (also called "Pooky Night" is some parts of Ireland) is just a faint shadow of this celebration of the awesome powers in the Cosmos.

U.S. kids of course love this week for its costumes and candy. Some cultures and religions commune a bit more seriously with the spirit world this week. But for me, a boring Anglo-Saxon Protestant who grew up in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, it's just Fall (and a chance to catch again on TV two of the funniest movies ever made: The Exorcist and The Shining).

So inspired and assisted by an e-mail from my college and, later, Washington, D.C. roommate--friend, Super-father, husband, thinker, doer, outdoorsman, environmentalist, Duke and Columbia graduate, man of letters, journalist and author of, among other things, the acclaimed The Trade Warriors: USTR and the American Crusade for Free Trade (by S. J. Dryden, Oxford University Press)--WAC? offers, in an audio reading by Robert Pinsky, and in print below, John Keats's (1795-1821) poem To Autumn. And I can't improve on my friend's introduction to the poem:

"Give it up for my man John Keats and his poem To Autumn!"


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom‑friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch‑eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er‑brimmed their clammy cells.


Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on the granary floor,
Thy hair soft‑lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or, on a half‑reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinéd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider‑press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


Where are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too—
While barréd clouds bloom the soft‑dying day,
And touch the stubble‑plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full‑grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge‑crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden‑croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

September 19, 1819

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2006

Charon QC

Saturday is a particularly good day to visit my friend Charon QC. Here's a Brit who works harder than most of us Yanks, and has fun doing it. He's got a dang good WLB, too. WAC? has it on good authority that Charon loves the law, clients, hard work, counting his money, thinking, ideas, politics, reading, action, talking, sports, smoking, drinking and biking. Only Bill Clinton is better connected, or as dynamic and fun. Charon blogs at least once a day--but just for the bloody hell of it. Meet Mike Semple Piggot, Renaissance chap.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2006

Ellen Bry: New Judge on Boston Legal

Later this Fall on ABC watch for the elegant Ellen Bry to play a judge in two episodes of Boston Legal. Ellen and I met at a Renaissance Weekend in 2003, and she was impressed that I don't watch television. She doesn't either; when she landed a guest role on TNT's The Closer last year, her LA friends and I had to explain it to her. We've conspired for 3 years, often without screaming at one another. I posted about the talented Ms. Bry back in March. She made me like Los Angeles.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2006

NBC Deal: Anonymous Lawyer May Hit the Screen.

From Washington, D.C.'s Legal Times, here's "The Anonymous Anti-Hero", by Alexia Garamfalvi. Go Blachman.

Posted by JD Hull at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2006

Born Lucky.

On July 12, 1986, around 1:30 AM EST, I had my last drink. By that, I mean my last Heineken, Jameson, wine, hooch or inebriant of any kind. Where this happened was a wonderfully depraved Irish bar my friends (cocky young litgators and news people, mainly) and I loved. It was midway between and my house on Capitol Hill and my job on Eye Street. Like all DC bars, it had fire-breathing trial lawyers, deal lawyers, politicians, journalists, students, professors, diplomats, and a novelist or two. But this was no "fern bar". It was whispered that the IRA raised money and ran guns through the place. It was common to see people in suits asleep on the floor. The waiters and waitresses had brogues from places like Tralee and Cork. The day bartenders were belligerent, and often drunk by noon. My kind of saloon. Perfect venue for the last drink: amazingly grace-less bar.

But there is nothing remarkable about why I quit. I had a great job, and was headed toward a partnership. My childhood had been lucky and fun. I could not have asked for more loving parents, siblings and friends. Nothing to drink about. I just liked it way too much. Born different, I guess. It isolated me, even with people around. That isolation, and knowing that drinking had somehow separated me from the rest of the universe, was enough. Sure, it's hard to quit. You may experience for the first time "exclusion"--even if it's self-imposed. You're in a minority. You feel left out. Yet lots of people, including adventuresome fire-breathing trial lawyers with one dash of the wrong DNA, do finally give up booze so they can tap into and use the gifts they have, and grow. Born different, maybe. Born lucky, too.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2006

Vital Voices, Improbability--and Julie Meets Hillary.

Last night my law partner and respected corporate tax attorney, Julie McGuire, an alleged Republican, was unexpectedly introduced to Hillary Rodham Clinton, certainly a Democrat, by Paula Stern, a very accomplished human and "known" Democrat, at the annual Global Leadership Awards and Benefit of Vital Voices in D.C. at the Kennedy Center. No conversions occurred--but Hillary was "very nice!" and it was an honor for Julie to meet her. A good start.

Apart from name dropping, implying that our firm can effortlessly work both sides of the aisle in our lobbying practice, and proving that life is strange, I mention this as a plug for Vital Voices, an innovative bi-partisan non-profit which invests in and honors women worldwide--often unsung and especially in the human rights area--who have undertaken key leadership roles in their countries. More information about Vital Voices Programs is here.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2006

Do What You Love: Hero 4 - Julie Elizabeth McGuire

Even serial over-achievers are impressed with a person who was graduated first in her class from both college and law school. In this case, our subject Julie Elizabeth McGuire has raving fans, most of them accomplished themselves, all over--in Fortune 500 companies, giant firms based abroad (especially in western Europe) and business lawyers worldwide. A multi-talented corporate tax and transactions lawyer, and CPA as well, Julie can land a job tomorrow morning at any in-house counsel shop or law firm she wants. A former in-house lawyer at Alcoa, she knows how General Counsels and CFOs think and what they worry about. She's what clients want in deals: a savvy business person and a tough, shrewd negotiator. At the same time, Julie McGuire has few if any enemies--just people who want to be more like her. It's not just the resume. She's serene, kind and genuinely friendly. She focuses on others. In a phrase, she's as nice as she is brilliant.

So what's Julie McGuire doing with me? In fact, people never politely or in passing ask "So, how did you two become partners and form Hull McGuire PC anyway?" Instead, they ask, in an intrigued, puzzled and slightly embarrassed tone: "Uh, how did you two even meet, anyway"? It's just difficult to believe that a Universe with any order or compassion would put Julie--with her no-nonsense Carnegie-Mellon Mathematics and Business Management double majors (try to be first in your class in that stuff!), her Midwestern values and charm, conservative political views, Yoda-like serenity and kindness, and real appreciation for the mysteries of Pittsburgh--in the path of a litigator and lobbyist with a liberal arts background and an enemy here and there, who loves Washington, D.C., old books, and old Europe, once wrote a senior History paper on "How the Shi-shi Got the Chutzpah to Overthrow the Bakufu", and prefers to serve subpoenas on Friday afternoons.

An American professional odd couple--but we are fast friends. We do have something else besides friendship and a law firm in common, and we are obsessive about it: Julie and I (1) both love practicing law, our clients, and traveling all over the U.S. and the world to act for them; (2) both think corporate clients are getting a raw deal on both quality and service at many large and traditional law firms; and (3) both are convinced that nimble, aggressive law boutiques with the right talent can do 85% of the legal work done for Fortune 500 companies, keep those clients safe and happy and have fun doing it.

Posted by JD Hull at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2006

Do What You Love: Hero 3 - Mark Del Bianco

Speaking of our nation's capitol, I've posted about D.C.-based telecom and lawyer's lawyer Mark C. Del Bianco before, including here a couple of weeks ago. And see this article on "The Law of Telecom" which Mark and I wrote for The Pennsylvania Lawyer. Mark's another Renaissance guy and person-who-gets-it. I've known him for about 20 years, and he loves what he does for clients with legal tech issues.

Telecom issues are Everywhere and in Every Deal these days--and Mark figured that out long before it happened. So Del Bianco became a telecommunications law brand--and yet people want to work with him in other areas where his experience and expertise is both broad and deep. If you practice law long enough, and love it the way he does, that will happen: antitrust law (he's also Vice Chair of the Computers and Internet Committee of the ABA's Antitrust Section), foreign trade law (he used to edit the Yale Journal of International Law) and even litigation (DOJ trained him a long time ago). And anything to do with that exciting yet inscrutable new point where the law intersects with the Internet, Technology and All Things Digital. SuperDad, athlete, well-read, well-traveled, and the guy other lawyers go to first for advice on the hard stuff, Mark is the first person you hire when you get elected President. Some say way too many Yale people have been working in or sniffing around the White House these days. I disagree.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2006

My New Hero U.S. District Judge Clark..."Attaboy!"

See yesterday's WSJ Law Blog at "Judge Rejects Inscrutable Motion, Cites Adam Sandler’s 'Billy Madison'".

Posted by JD Hull at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2006

Do What You Love: Hero 1 - Chris Abraham

From D.C.-based Chris Abraham--friend, marketing consultant, inspirer, writer, Renaissance dude, interpreter, learner-teacher, person-who-gets-it, and the guy to spend time with when I want new ideas. And he's got the best laugh. I talk to him and read him to get back on track. He actually likes lawyers, and helps them. Those of us who consult him worry he'll go to law school. "Do What You Love", which he's covered better than anyone, is here.

Posted by JD Hull at 06:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2006

Abraham & Del Bianco--Two People You Should Get To Know.

No--this is not a multicultural-sounding law firm. It's two very different Washington, D.C. people I know who are both "digitally-advanced", and who I urge everyone to get to know personally and professionaly. Since more than 10 people a day (still mostly relatives and associates paid to view it but it's getting there) finally are visiting and really reading this site, I thought, why not briefly sing Chris's and Mark's praises in a post? I met DC-based Chris Abraham, an expert on corporate blogging and building on-line communities, and a very interesting human (likely because he's not a lawyer), at a Renaissance Weekend a few years back in California. His blog is at .

Another Washingtonian, and a D.C. native, Mark Del Bianco is an uncommonly talented telecom lawyer, lawyer's lawyer and friend who I have known most of my professional life. Mark is also an invitee to Renaissance but is always too busy to go. See Mark's main site at Both Mark and Chris are in demand these days. Visit their sites and you can quickly figure out why. Very good people to know. And Mark and Chris--whether they know it or not--in different conversations two years ago got me interested in blogging. In fact, both had to explain to me the meaning of "blog". Neither Mark or Chris know about this post and both of them would be embarrassed by it. Well, maybe not Chris--he's got that Steve Jobs thing going.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2006

Wanted: Natural Born Marketer From Hope, Arkansas.

First, I noticed this blurb in Peter Lattman's new Wall Street Journal Law Blog about Bill Clinton's possible return to the profession. I like Bill Clinton. Face it--even a lot of Republicans like Bill Clinton. The guy's smart, knowledgeable, charming and connects with people. Second, earlier this week Larry Bodine and others reported on Dr. Larry Richard's assertions in a speech to the Marketing Partners Forum in Florida that only 1 out of 5 lawyers are natural born marketers. That troubled my partner Julie McGuire, allegedly a Republican, and me. So here's our new ad:

WANTED: Of counsel for growing Pittsburgh-based boutique business law firm. Must have at least 8 years of highest level federal Exec. Branch experience, world-wide connections, Yale Law degree, one year at Oxford, own money and people skills. Crowd-pleaser. Must be able to sell anything to anyone. And be originally from Hope, Arkansas. State government experience preferred but not required. Same for participation in Renaissance weekends, and fund-raising. United Nations experience also a big plus. You don't need to re-locate. Happy to set up the office for you. Wherever you want. Harlem or Chappaqua, New York are okay. Or DC. You decide. You can work out of your house. Whatever. NOTE: No previous private law practice experience necessary. Not a problem--no problem at all. Excellent benefits package.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)