April 18, 2017
On Great Cities.
What strange phenomena we find in great cities. All we have to do is to stroll about with our eyes open.
--Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)
A friend in Buenos Aires.
April 17, 2017
Speakers Corner, London.
April 12, 2017
The County of Kent.
As with London, and with the County of Suffolk to the north, from where my mother's family came to Massachusetts via Ipswich 383 years ago, I am completely and hopelessly in love with Kent, mainly the eastern ("Men of Kent") part. The County of Kent is the southeastern doorway to the British Isles--it has even more history, legend and myth than London. Lots, and maybe even too much, has happened here during the past 2500 years. Eventually, in 51 BC, Julius Caesar called it Cantium, as home of the Cantiaci. Augustine founded what became the Anglican Church here in about 600 AD. And of course Thomas Becket, Chaucer's "holy blissful martyr", was killed here (Canterbury) in 1170.
St. John the Baptist, The Street, Barham, Kent
April 07, 2017
Hotel du Jeu de Paume.
Hotel du Jeu de Paume, 54 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, 75004 Paris
March 28, 2017
Tramps Like Us: Heidelberg Castle.
Around 1620, Jacques Fouquières painted Germany's Heidelberg Castle, a famous structure in both German history and art, in "Hortus Palatinus" (below). Although the Castle has been in splendid ruin for most of its history, artists still flock to its foundations, gardens and terracing. Camera-toting American lawyers do, too. I've spent several hours at the Castle on each of my three trips to Heidelberg--and I am sure I'll go again. Nearly 130 years ago, Heidelberg Castle was a hit with Americans. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as writer and humorist Mark Twain, wrote about the storied castle in Appendix B to his famous "A Tramp Abroad" (1880).
March 13, 2017
The Dialect. First, what about the accent you hear there? That regal way of speech? You're in South Carolina, of course--but the speech you hear is barely "Southern". Most likely, experts say, it's a blend: of Gullah spoken by African Americans, and of English spoken by Europeans, over 300 years ago. Linguists love it, and you still hear it in the streets, especially "South of Broad".
The Dance. It was popularized by a song and its accompanying footwork, "The Charleston," by James P. Johnson in the Broadway musical "Runnin' Wild" in 1923. Like the unique Charleston dialect, the Dance goes way back, too. It's been traced to descendants of slaves who lived on islands off the coast of Charleston and in the city itself. Thought to have been first performed locally around 1903.
February 10, 2017
Proust on Travel.
The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only a page.
--Marcel Proust, 1871–1922, French novelist, critic.
Life's short. Get up. Go somewhere different. Meet someone different.
--What About Clients/Paris? 2007
January 20, 2017
One Holy Surprise: Georgetown's Potomac Boat Club.
Below is a photograph of Georgetown near Key Bridge (the bridge barely out of the picture on the right) on the Potomac River and Georgetown University taken from Virginia. Barely hidden and on M Street, which runs parallel to the river, are the terrifying stone stair steps used in the movie The Exorcist. A few hundred feet east down the shore--but also out of the picture--is northern side of the Key Bridge, finished in 1923. The building on the shore is the Washington Canoe Club (WCC), established in 1904, founded by members of the Potomac Boat Club (PBC).
Potomac Boat Club members in 1921. Behind them is Key Bridge under construction.
The Potomac Boat Club, about 100 meters east of the WCC.
January 18, 2017
Aldeburgh, Suffolk, East Anglia.
Go somewhere different. Meet someone different. Aldeburgh, Suffolk, East Anglia. Always a festival.
December 30, 2016
This is East Anglia.
Neither the tiny rural village of Lindsey nor the surrounding countryside has changed much since 1634, when one side of my family left there for Massachusetts and, in time, a new "Groton", named after another small village near Lindsey. Nearly 380 years later, Lindsey is pastoral, green, mainly un-peopled and fairly remote. No visible 21st century commerce. Some farming. No tourists.
St Peter, a rough Anglican church, at one time Catholic, the one my ancestors attended, built in the 1300s, and even older church ruin, St James (1200s), are the only man-made constants. Still a "parish", Lindsey is on the B1115 Hadleigh-to-Bury road.
This is part of East Anglia--coveted, held and loved for so long by the Danes. The region's been victor and victim over and over again. Mainstream tribes from all over Europe battled here for centuries. It is storied. It is still beautiful. Nothing compares to it.
And it is a key "feeder" region in the English migration to America. From 1625 to 1640, Charles I had tried to rule England without calling the Puritan-dominated Parliament. Puritan dissenters, lots of them, lived in the area around Lindsey, and
from here hundreds of families fled across the Atlantic to the new world. The Winthrops, of tiny Groton, would become founders of the State of Massachusetts. But most of the settlers were poor, working families, and they would devote themselves to quiet, prayerful unpersecuted lives, and of work hard to build new communities. Of course, they would never see Suffolk or the valley of the gentle Brett again.
December 27, 2016
Redux: Doing Rome.
The comparisons between Rome and the U.S. are exciting and instructive. --What About Clients?
When in Rome, do as many Romans as you possibly can. --Hugh Grant
Rome. I don't like working here--charitably put, work-life balance is totally out of balance in some regions of Italy--but I love being in Rome. You can walk in this city. You can frolic in it. You can play all day long in and around the The Forum and Palatine Hill, where antiquities are still being found. There's a guy with a shop at the Piazza Navona--2000 years ago the Piazza was a Roman circus (i.e., track) you can still see if you try--who sells me these unique old prints, beautifully framed, that I bought for my father in Cincinnati. I go to that shop on every trip. The Tiber River is still gorgeous and, like the Seine in Paris, steeped in history, and a bit melancholy and mysterious. Lots happened here--maybe too much--and it's as if the river can remember it all.
Pannini (1743): Ruins, Chiostre, Statue of Marc-Aurèle
In the West, our strongest ideas and institutions, including what became English law, were conceived or preserved by Rome. The increasingly-made comparisons between Rome and the U.S.--no, they are certainly not new--are still exciting and instructive. The Romans were competent if grandiose empire builders who borrowed their best ideas and forms from a previously dominant Greece, while America's cultural debt is chiefly to western Europe. Like Rome, America tended to overextend itself in all spheres. Like Rome, America was globally aggressive. (Other peoples resented it.) You get the idea.
But you can't see, experience and "do" Rome on one trip--same thing with New York, London or Paris--and you shouldn't try. Our advice: do several trips, and "live in it" each and every visit, taking small bites. And spend your trip with anyone but those from the same nation and culture as your own. If you go there with Americans, break out of that bubble. Politely say goodbye--and disappear into the streets on your own.
[Original post: September 15, 2013]
December 17, 2016
Maximilien Luce: "Port of London, Night."
"Port of London, Night" (1894), oil on canvas, by Maximilien Luce (French, 1858 – 1941).
December 04, 2016
Paris on Sunday Mornings.
Photo by the charming and talented Tara Bradford at Puce de Vanves, one of the largest flea markets in Paris, in the 14th arrondissement.
October 31, 2016
Speaker's Corner: Happy Hallowe'en, you bastards.
October 30, 2016
Willam Howard Taft Bridge
Lion No. 4, looking north up Connecticut Avenue.
Père Lachaise: Pluperfect City of the Dead.
Laid out like a modern grid-form metropolis, Père Lachaise has the feel of a town--truly, a city of the dead--with tidy paved and cobbled "streets," complete with cast-iron signposts.
--Alistair Horne, in Seven Ages of Paris (Alfred A. Knopf 2002)
Père Lachaise Cemetery, 20th arrondissement.
October 20, 2016
By Jacques Fouquières, Hortus Palatinus, (before 1620). Heidelberg Palace, gardens and terracing.
October 07, 2016
Byron Galvez: Rosa.
"Rosa", 1989, Byron Galvez (1941-2009)
September 20, 2016
September 01, 2016
The London Stone: Part 4, maybe?
We've written about it before. I have a thing about it--probably because for now I live a lot of the time in California in an "old" 22-year-old home. Back East, in DC, NYC and Nantucket, and other parts of the U.S. where people do not use "party" as a verb, there's much older stuff, of course, sometimes going back to the 1600s--but nothing like you stumble upon every moment in dear old Albion and Western Europe. Sorry, rock and cave paintings and U.S. mound-builder relics don't cut it for me as much; so alert the Oberlin College faculty, the BIA and NPR--and then sue me. I like old books, old homes, old things; but they need to be the relics of real goofy-looking Europeans like me.
The Stone is important to me because it's mysterious and fires the imagination--not because it's way old. There's a myth that the Stone was part of an altar built by Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder of London. Not true in any respect--but the Stone is Dang Olde, older than Boudica, Tacitus, Disraeli or Keith Richards, and at the very minimum, an enduring symbol of the Authority of The City since London Roman times. So we're talking about at least 2000 years of Stoneness. Some scholars think 3000 years.
Anyway, finding It is easy: you head east, down Fleet Street, past Dr. Johnson's house, past St. Paul's a block north, staying on Fleet Street (not Lane) which becomes Ludgate Hill (past intersection with Old Bailey), which becomes Cannon Street, to 111 Cannon, across from the tube station.
Got it? You'll miss It if you're not careful. You may give an oath to It if you like. The Stone likes that.
August 29, 2016
Hotel du Jeu de Paume, 54 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, 75004 Paris
August 16, 2016
Pointe Aux Barques (b. 1896)
August 12, 2016
Salzburg, Austria: Mozart, salt, Huns and lawyers.
You may dream in American. But you still live in the world.
Salzburg, Austria. Far from being a museum piece (e.g., Venice, sadly), and being a favorite on the tourist's short list of cute small Alpine cities (e.g., Kitzbuhel, perky but less storied) in Europe, Salzburg is best appreciated by digging deeply, no pun intended, and with a reverence. Celts settled Salzburg, where they mined salt. The salt commerce never stopped--and in later centuries barges floated tons and tons of it on the Salzach River to points all over Europe. By the 8th century, salt barges were subject to a toll. Rome had claimed Salzburg around 15 BC. Much later, around 800, Charlemagne ate and slept here. It was capital of the Austro-Hungarian territory between 1866 and 1918. Apart from Mozart, art, salt, ancient Celtic culture, St. Peter's (below) and restaurants carved into cliffs, this staid Austrian city is home to the International Business Law Consortium, an established (1996) group of over 100 first-rate law and accounting firms in strategic cities worldwide. What more could a new age road warrior and her clients ever want? Well, frankly, Mainz, Germany is pretty cool--but we'll save that for a future post.
St. Peters in Salzburg.
July 31, 2016
All Things in Excess: Hôtel Costes, Paris.
239 rue Saint-Honoré.
July 15, 2016
Peirce Mill: Since 1829 in Rock Creek Park.
Above: Peirce Mill in 1918, already nearly a century old, located at the key Washington, D.C. crossroads of Tilden Street and Beach Drive on Rock Creek Park. Below: One view of the mill and part of its extensive grounds since the 2011 restoration. The mill now runs again where it started. Issac Peirce built it in either 1820 or 1829. Friends of Peirce Mill offer this quick but thorough history of its operations and uses in the last two centuries. Journalist, author and environmentalist Steven Joyce Dryden helped other locals with the restoration. Dryden later wrote extensively about the mill's long history in Peirce Mill: 200 Years in the Nation's Capital (Bergamot 2009), 108 pages. Dryden, a former UPI reporter stationed in Europe, is also author of The Trade Warriors: USTR and the American Crusade for Free Trade.
June 01, 2016
Phillip James Loutherbourg: River Wye at Tintern Abbey, 1805.
The River Wye at Tintern Abbey, 1805, Philip James Loutherbourg.
June 08, 2015
A college roommate's labor of love: Peirce Mill, nearly 200 years in Rock Creek Park.
Above: Peirce Mill in 1918. Issac Peirce, a millwright, built it in either 1820 or 1829. The mill runs again where it started: Tilden Street & Beach Drive, Northwest, in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C. Journalist and environmentalist Steven Joyce Dryden helped other locals to restore Peirce Mill. He later wrote about the mill and its history in Peirce Mill: 200 Years in the Nation's Capital (Bergamot 2009), 108 pages. Dryden, a former UPI reporter stationed in Europe, is also author of The Trade Warriors: USTR and the American Crusade for Free Trade.
May 09, 2015
What would this old German-American farmer say?
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.
--R. E. Emerson (1803-1882), Essays, First Series, "Compensation" (1841)
Middlebrook, Augusta County, VA (near Charlottesville ). Population about 250. In my tribe you can live a long life if you don't drink too much or work at the wrong jobs. Working near here this week here I detoured to visit this grave, and this time found it without difficulty. This Daniel Hull (1768-1854) was my great-grandfather's great-grandfather, then a first generation German in the U.S. There is no picture of him; photographs were, however, taken of his children and all the next generations. I know some but not enough (85 years, what wonderful stories will never be told...) about this fellow, a farmer who was the last of my line to die in Virginia, shortly after the family changed the spelling from Hohl to the more English-like Hull. His son, also a Daniel, moved to the Ozarks where every one of these John Daniel Hull creatures afterwards were born since save me. I just know I owe him and need to promise him that every generation gets better as life in America becomes easier. Are we doing that? Is that happening? Or do we armor ourselves with conformity and settle for ordinary, even though we know it's not enough? Or, as Emerson would ask, are we happy to be "idolaters of the Old." What would this old German-American farmer say?
March 11, 2015
Checking in with Ms. Montague
Visit American expat Maryam Montague at her brand new blog and see Marrakesh: and a tale of Moroccan decorating at Peacock Pavilions. Maryam makes interior decorating so cool, tribalchic, intelligent and powerful that I'm thinking about changing my name to Raphael and opening up a shop near 14th and P.
Photo: Natalie Opensky and M. Montague
Photo: M. Montague
Photo: Natalie Opensky and M. Montague
March 09, 2015
A Southern Town No More: Washington, D.C.
I've been back in Washington, D.C. for three months now, taking only a few short trips out of town since early December.
I live here again.
Even though I traveled here for clients and to see friends several times a year during my"'absence"'--two lengthy back-to-back stints in Pennsylvania and California--there have been quite a few non-physical changes to this town I didn't pick up on until I moved back. Atmospheric ones, if you will. All positive. And all are just fine by me. Three examples are changes (a) to D.C.'s international community (bigger, more sophisticated), (b) to its racial relations (astoundingly better; virtually integrated socially and in any number of local efforts to improve the quality of life on a number of fronts) and (c) to the overall intensity, energy, "rhythms" and pace of life (a quantum leap upwards here, too.)
It's beginning to behave like a 24-hour town, too. D.C. over time has been getting more and more like Manhattan--but apparently only in some of the better ways. Amazing.
At DuPont Circle's enduring Afterwords, the bookstore, café and restaurant do not close on weekends.
December 04, 2014
November 30, 2014
Big Spring, Texas
About 10 miles outside of town
Van Horn, Texas
November 29, 2014
September 16, 2014
Maryland Avenue and Hanover Streets, Annapolis, Maryland
United States Naval Academy, graduating class of 1894
September 06, 2014
Washingtonian: Photos of Depression-Era D.C.
Compliments of the Library of Congress and yeoman labors by the Yale University photo archive, there are over 170,000 pictures taken between 1935 and 1945.
August 11, 2014
Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.
The 'hood with a little bit of everybody.
July 24, 2014
Georgetown's Key Bridge Gems: PBC and WCC.
I'm in Washington, D.C. this week. I usually stay on the other side of the Potomac River in downtown Washington. But this week my hotel is in a part of Arlington, Virginia called Rosslyn, a small unincorporated area which is the closest Virginia neighborhood to the heart of The District. My room has a great view of west Georgetown and Georgetown University's Healy Hall. Barely hidden on M Street, which runs parallel to the river, are the iconic long steps used on the movie "The Exorcist". A few hundred feet east down the shore--but also out of the picture--is northern side of the Key Bridge, finished in 1923. The building on the shore is the Washington Canoe Club (WCC), established in 1904, founded by members of the Potomac Boat Club (PBC).
Potomac Boat Club members in 1921. Behind them is Key Bridge under construction.
The Potomac Boat Club, about 100 meters east of the WCC.
June 21, 2014
National Harbor, Maryland: The look of real wood and pleated vinyl.
Be advised. National Harbor makes Branson, Missouri seem like Nantucket.
Last week, at the last minute, I learned I needed to come back to Washington, D.C. two days earlier than originally planned. Unfortunately, the week marked the beginning of tourist and "school trip" seasons. Moreover, several large annual conventions raged. Congress was in session. Not unexpectedly, I found that nearly every hotel room in town (rental cars, too) was booked. So I was forced to stay for two nights at the gargantuan, astonishingly over-priced--if I type what we paid I will need to lie down for an hour--and graceless Gaylord Hotel in "National Harbor", Maryland.
But the user-unfriendly Gaylord, with its listless staff and unfathomable room numbering system, is just a detail. The problem is National Harbor. Opened in 2008, National Harbor is a "waterfront resort destination", convention center and "multi-use development" of hotels, restaurants and condos on the banks of the Potomac River in Prince George's County (in the honest but unexciting suburb of Oxon Hill). It is 5 miles across the Potomac from Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, 10 miles from downtown D.C. and, due to poor planning, hopelessly isolated from both.
National Harbor gives you an idea of what all American convention centers would be like if Germany had won the war, McDonald's was eventually commissioned to build brothels and either Teens for Jesus or the Victoria, Texas Junior League was hired to run them. It is the stiffest, most soulless 300+ developed acres you could experience in any state, province, county or country. It features bad architecture (everywhere), boisterous, insincere third-rate service, fake smiles, the look of real wood, pleated vinyl and no class. Plus there is zilch Washington Metro accessibility. Just a $30 or more cab ride to either Reagan National or downtown Washington.
National Harbor, Maryland makes Branson, Missouri seem like Nantucket.
June 15, 2014
Hell's Kitchen, NYC
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.
June 10, 2014
Marché aux Fleurs Reine Elizabeth II.
On D-Day, June 6, 1942, King George VI was England's king and his eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, had just turned 18 in April. During D-Day celebrations in Paris last week, Queen Elizabeth, now 88, visited the 206-year-old Flower Market on Ile de la Cité, the island in the Seine recognized as the historical center of Paris. From the Paris blog Peter's Paris, by Peter Olson.
May 27, 2014
Hey guys, it's okay now. Khaki pants season begins today.
A word about men--yes, we professional men--and khaki. Women may wear any fabric or color they choose in any season. We generally trust their fashion sense, and good taste, not to put the hurt on everyone's vision. Men, however, are mainly dirtballs who have no clue about clothes. So there are rules. One is this: Never (ever) wear khaki pants or khaki suits after Labor Day and before Memorial Day. We guys need to think about khaki like we already think about seersucker suits, gin and tonics and Capital Hill interns. It's just for summer. Today is the day after Memorial Day. It's okay now. Wear your khaki stuff. But pack it all away after Labor Day. Don't unpack it until late May the following year. Repeat.
Photo: Brian Sacawa
May 16, 2014
Early Dog Days in California: Upper-90s with increasing existential dread by Monday.
When you shake what you got, and girl, you've got a lot, you're really somethin', child.
When you're hot you're hot, you really shoot your shot, you're dyn-a-mite, child.
--By Williams Satchell Bonner Jones Middlebrooks Pierce & Beck. Some of the best 70s lyrics ever.
What's the deal with the weather and fires? Can Al Gore explain this? I'm in San Diego this week. Yesterday the temperature here was 100 for a good part of the day. Today it is only 97. Then there are The Fires--which you usually don't have this time of year. The Fires tend to start up in late summer. But the local San Diego press can't get enough of The Fires and every year overhypes fire season. Media here is harshing the SoCal Mellow. Maybe those guys just need more to report about? Or more to do? Another city to cover? Get a band together, maybe.
Hotness, Hype and Hipness in America's finest city.
April 29, 2014
Santa Monica, 1904.
Source: Legendary Surfers
April 16, 2014
Dupont Circle: Best 'Hood in DC.
April 03, 2014
The Pier, 1905
March 19, 2014
Real Religion: Buenos Aires.
Headmistress, Mystery School, 2004
March 07, 2014
Marcel Proust: On Travel.
The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only a page.
--Marcel Proust, 1871–1922, French novelist, critic.
Proust in Venice.
March 04, 2014
Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1879
January 11, 2014
Mann, Joyce, Jung, Wagner and Einstein each lived here in District 1. Zürich, first established as a Roman customs post, and now a truly global city, also claims a living and breathing Tina Turner, unless she left since my last visit four years ago. Not Paris-beautiful or London-exciting, but solid, reliably Western-style commercial, and nearly too North American by the year 2000.
December 31, 2013
Holden Oliver may be seen strolling to and from one of the Peter Street hotels all this week--but he won't say which one. He likes Manchester but "it's a mean old town to live in by yourself." Wonderfully gritty and real, this ancient second city once had an economic school of thought named after it, via England's Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Poet Carole Houlston in "Manchester": "Lowry-loving/Boundry shoving/Cottonmilled.../Bomb-rocked/Unbroken..."
Mean Town Blues
December 18, 2013
Amsterdam: Authentic, Sane, Healthy, Smart, Fun.
Like Tel Aviv in Israel, Amsterdam's nickname (among others) is Mokum, a Hebrew word for "place" or "city", due to its historically large Jewish population. My favorite European city, Amsterdam is poorly understood by Americans, often half-blinded by Victorian and morally pretentious views of real life. This city is about beauty, great art, great food, healthy free-thinking people, and genuine class--not just the Sex Museum, social welfare, cathouses along canals in the de Wallen, smoking hash at the Betty Boop coffeehouse, and other indulgences, percs and pleasures. Cosmopolitan, the Dutch like other languages. In the Netherlands, the official ones are Dutch and, in the north, Frisian (which many believe is the closest thing to Old English still spoken). But about 85% of the total population has basic knowledge of modern English. German and French spoken here, too.
December 13, 2013
More precisely, it's in Suffolk, East Anglia, England, on the coast, and jutting out into the North Sea. Due east: The Netherlands, where lots of the DNA here originated over 1000 years ago. Pronounced "All-bruh". I've been here four times, starting in 2003. If you are in London, and you have an extra day, do something different and drive or take a train northeast to Aldeburgh, a Suffolk secret well-kept from Americans. The home and muse of the great Bertie Lomas, a much-loved and gifted poet, writer and editor who died at 87 in 2011. And if you are a beach lover--or a merely a lover of the beach--you and yours would do well to heed the little round stones beneath you.
November 10, 2013
Hôtel du Jeu de Paume: 54, rue Saint Louis en l'Ile.
"Welcome back, Monsieur Hool." This is Hôtel du Jeu de Paume, the non-oath version. Erected in the 17th century, it once housed a tennis court built by Louis XIII, king from 1610 to 1643. Beams from the early 1600s cross the ceilings. An interior garden. The walls: old books, newer original art. Neither Left or Right bank. Save for your 5th trip to Paris. The longstanding and competent staff takes a "working" dim view of both Americans and Brits. They are wonderfully rude, Paris smart, and Yankee-style industrious. A haughty Labrador even lives here full-time. This is Hull McGuire's hands-down favorite since 2003. Brits never stay here twice. Too French. Be late to breakfast at your peril. The staff does not merely leer and grin when it is says "no" or "impossible!". They laugh, too.
October 21, 2013
Firenze: La Basilica di San Lorenzo
The Flourishing: One of Florence's oldest churches, San Lorenzo was consecrated in the 4th century by St. Ambrose of Milan.
October 14, 2013
Pont Saint-Patrick, Cork
October 06, 2013
Av. Winston-Churchill, 8th Arrondissement.
Below is a photo we love by Clear Blue Sky of the Winston Churchill statue in Paris. In 1998, it was erected and unveiled just outside the Petit Palais. In bronze and by French sculptor Jean Cardot, it stands ten feet high and weighs about 2.5 tons. Cardot modeled it on a photograph taken on November 11, 1944 of Churchill marching down the nearby Champs Elysees with General Charles de Gaulle.
September 14, 2013
Ile St. Louis: Best Address in Paris.
Ditch your American companions and learn something. Yank tourists think Ile St. Louis is about an ice cream shop at its edge near Notre Dame. It's really not. You can slurp ice cream all you want when you're back in Elkhart or Sioux City. You are in Paris right now. This is your life, and life's short. Please walk around, okay? As a village it's over 2000 years old. Escape your American Bubble tourist group. Escape, if you must, your family and friends. Go it alone. Sit, walk or talk to someone around on your own. Or meet a South African woman named Zoe who's lived across from Cluny for eight years, plays the viola and has never visited Cleveland or Chicago. Talk to her. Tell her about those places. And about your life. Learn something. Change your life.
By Richard Nahem of I Prefer Paris
December 14, 2012
Does the travel industry miss the whole point of London?
Should London be redesigned and redeveloped to look like one of those cute, sterile and bouncy customer-friendly shopping centers in the American Midwest where I grew up? Reuters is reporting that "Tourists Find London Unfriendly, Dirty and Expensive", an article in large part based on a TripAdvisor tourist poll. But Surly, Grimey, High-Priced London has been London's reputation, job description and part of its dark-side charm for most of its mercurial 2000+ years.
October 08, 2012
My Marrakesh: Tales Of a Designing London--and A New World Order.
Our friend Ms. Maryam has been on an elegant London jag. As usual she's writing wise but sensual narrative vignettes--but lately they are about my second favorite city. See "London Modenus Design Tour: And a Tale of People and Places".
September 25, 2012
If you missed--or just don't get--Burning Man 2012, see this one by Leah Lamb.
There is a reason that down through history the desert has been a canvas, a testing ground and a place of new starts. With that in mind, see Leah Lamb's "Partying for Planet and Dancing with God (at Burning Man)" in The Huffington Post. Most of her article's photos are by one inspired and talented Scott London. Two excerpts:
My favorite way to explain Burning Man to someone who hasn't attended is by saying that you are with thousands of people who have traveled great distances to get there (it's a pilgrimage of sorts). Upon entering through the gates, the first words you hear from the greeters are, "welcome home." Once through the gates, it is as if you are attending a huge party thrown just for you.
I found myself within the walls of the gates of the Juno Temple one evening, lying on a blanket with old friends with nothing to do but look up at the sky. It was a magnificent night, the sky was filled with clouds that acted as blankets and kept the night air warm. The light of the full moon danced and glided across the sky, lightening sprayed sparks that competed with the stars. And we had nothing to do but be exactly where we were, and watch a great show hosted by the night sky.
It was there that I came to understand how ancient Greek mythology was born, how when one looks, one can see the gods and deities living in the clouds. As I watched the clouds, felt the rain, reveled in the lightening, I finally understood that this celebration, this expression of true, radical happiness, is food for the Gods, and they had come to the party.
Photo: Scott London.
August 05, 2012
At the always-fetching Paris and Beyond, the creation of Genie, an American expat from Alabama, see "Quai aux Fleurs - Autolib". Genie's photo to the short post is below. Autolib' is a new electric car sharing service in Paris. By the end of this year, Autolib' will have 3,000 all-electric Bolloré Bluecars at about 1,000 parking-charging stations in the city. To learn more about how it works, click here.
Photo: Paris and Beyond
July 25, 2012
Reds in Paris.
Visit Richard Nahem's Eye Prefer Paris where two summers ago Nahem featured photos by his Yank friend Virginia Jones in "Paris Rouge". In capturing both American and French everyday scenes and subjects, Virginia insists on red in almost every photograph--and she does that with taste, strategy and near-perfect pitch. Below is her "Manteau Rouge-Montmartre".
June 22, 2012
Rochester: New York versus Kent.
WTF. Someone has to go there. But why us?
American Rochester, Genesee River.
Preferred Rochester, River Medway.
April 10, 2012
San Leandro, 1903.
March 21, 2012
Dallas-Fort Worth. I love The Metroplex. One of my favorite cities. But I've never loved the DFW airport where, unexpectedly for weather-related reasons, I spent the better part of Monday and Tuesday while trying to get here to DC. Some lost time. Seven hours allotted for travel turns into thirty-six. Lesson: You can and should plan on a little disruption. You just can't plan its type or length, especially if either Nature or American Airlines are involved. I am humbled.
March 13, 2012
Washington, DC: 100 years of turning Japanese.
Each year, Washington, D.C.'s National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the gift of over 3,000 Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the City of Washington on March 27, 1912. The 100th anniversary "expanded" celebration this year is March 20-April 27. The National Park Service's peak bloom prediction this year? The best guess is between March 24 and March 31--early this year, and due to the mild winter. Peak bloom happens for the Park Service when 70% of the blossoms that surround the Tidal Basin are open. It is also defined as the first day in the Spring when the Irish Embassy's entire Press and Information staff can be found still at lunch past 3:00 pm at Kelly's Irish Times saloon on F Street.
Mr. and Mrs. Yukio Ozaki in Washington on March 27, 1912.
January 20, 2012
Benjamin Siegelbaum: Best Hood Ever.
January 08, 2012
At Invisible Paris: A New Revolution in Levallois.
Levallois is a town without a museum, and seemingly also a place that feels no need to display any traces of its past. It's the classic tale of the nouveau riche with a deep feeling of shame about its unprosperous ancestors.
--Invisible Paris, January 4, 2012
Some of the best parts of our world disappear without much fanfare. But one of the Internet's redeeming cultural features is its ability to set down a meaningful biography of place, and indulge in a fair tribute, before a storied town or village is reduced to a few memories, or to a fleeting mention in history. Don't miss the photographs and some fine and poignant writing at Invisible Paris in "Disappearing Levallois: The Rue Marjolin", about Levallois-Perret, a mid-19th century commune in working class suburbs, just a few miles north of Paris.
December 08, 2011
Today: Just Santa Monica.
December 06, 2011
Mercer: "Oh, Vienna!"
Vienna is the best place in the world to live, according to the latest annual survey of living standards compiled by Mercer, a consultancy. With three German and three Swiss cities, the top ten has a very European feel, something Mercer's Slagin Parakatil attributes to the fact that European cities "enjoy advanced and modern city infrastructures combined with high-class medical, recreational and leisure facilities."
Gustave Mahler at the Vienna Court Opera, 1903.
December 03, 2011
Expat Mixology in Marrakech: Name Your Poison.
American expat Maryam at My Marrakesh runs a boutique hotel in a Marrakech olive grove. There's something for the stimulant lover of every addiction in this series of her photos: gin, triple sec and Peacock prohibition tea. But we like most the Mixer in Red.
November 30, 2011
Regarding Chula of Paris.
See at Richard Nahem's I Prefer Paris Meredith Mullins: A New Perspective, which appeared yesterday. It begins:
I first met Chula on a street in Paris. I admit to being terrible at recognizing celebrities, but there was something about Chula that made me take notice.
November 25, 2011
An ancient copper mining town invaded by old hippies with shiny new ideas, Bisbee is one of the few venues in America where the Chamber of Commerce might greet you in Grateful Dead tees.
November 19, 2011
So for the next two weeks I'll be on Jenkins Hill.
To most people who actually live in Washington, D.C., Jenkins Hill is the name of a now-defunct but enormously popular yuppie bar near Pennsylvania and 3rd, Southeast, that helped break up a lot of marriages in the 1980s and 1990s. It's also the name of an ancient plot of land which became Capitol Hill--but hardly anyone can tell you much about a Mr. Jenkins who once owned it. People agree on one point only. In the early 1790s, Pierre L'Enfant, the French architect charged with laying out the new Federal City, kept referring to "Jenkins Hill" and "Jenkins Heights" as the prominent hill where he wanted to build his "Congress House".
"West Front of the Capitol," about 1828, sketch by John Rubens Smith.
November 14, 2011
The Paris Blog: Under Notre Dame.
The Paris Blog is by Americans, Canadians, Brits and Frenchmen who write about "the daily intricacies of life in Paris". It's edited by Laurie Pike, like me a Midwesterner who lived in California for a while. There's a bit of everything/anything about La Ville lumière: arts, politics, neighborhoods, French culture, and work. And "secret" Paris. See Friday's post Under Notre Dame, by Heather Stimmler-Hall, about the often overlooked kingdom of ancient Paris underneath Notre Dame. Like nearby Hôtel de Cluny on the Left Bank, tourists seem to miss it.
November 09, 2011
Happy to be heading back to DC again. San Diego gorgeous but like Ohio with Water.
What was I thinking?
November 07, 2011
Wades Point, St. Michaels, Eastern Shore, Maryland.
House built in 1819. Solitude, Lucy the Beagle, ghosts, Lily, me.
November 04, 2011
My Alexandria, Virginia: Old Town's Christ Church.
Apart from women who take care of themselves, lawyers who read more than CLE catalogues and a sizable part of the populace who have traveled to places other than King's Island or Lake Erie, the Washington, D.C. area offers Something Else. It does "old" quite well--and even keeps what few authentic American antiquities there are in this country open to the public and open at night. And that is happening more and more; fewer places are locked up after dark.
I lived in Alexandria--including Old Town, which was part of the District of Columbia from 1791 to 1846--as a student, as an employee of Congress and as a young lawyer. Last night I missed a plane back to California. But I did get the churchyard of Christ Church (completed in 1773) to myself for an hour before heading back to my new and suddenly-acquired hotel on N. Alfred and King streets. Rather than go back into DC, I decided to visit the old neighborhood, at least for a night. I am actually glad this morning that I missed last night's plane.
It was about 11 PM when I got to Christ Church, about 3 blocks from the hotel. I sat on a stone bench. No one, of course, could have come away with a still picture, a video or a soundtrack which captures the grounds, the garden lighting, the occasional faraway noises of a great city finally quieting down, the smells of a fall night, the ancient trees, the white alley cat who adopted me, a very old graveyard that fairly whispers to you, and exterior walls of the ghostly stone sanctuary in which Washington and Robert E. Lee spent quite a few Sundays, and in which even Roosevelt and Churchill prayed together in 1942. You need to go there and sense these things for yourself.
If you don't travel for work, I feel a bit sorry for you. If you do travel regularly, mix it every day/night with something authentic and inspiring from wherever you are and whether or not you are alone. Stretch the day out more. Go to bed later. You may not get back there for a good while. You know what I mean?
October 13, 2011
Drinking in Marrakech: It Could Make a Blind Man See.
Photos below are by Maryam. You can and should visit her at My Marrakesh. See The Djellabar Bar: Or a Tale of Where to Drink in Marrakech.
September 20, 2011
Marrakesh in Istanbul.
For nearly a thousand years, the Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world. It was completed in 537 A.D.
August 19, 2011
Paris in York.
The current York Minster Cathedral was started in 1230 and completed in 1472. (Photo by Tara Bradford)
August 16, 2011
My Marrakesh: Mali.
From Maryam Montague's peripatetic and always-elegant My Marrakesh on April 29, 2010.
August 05, 2011
More than a tower or a statue, or an artist's or soldier's name on a plaque or street post, the green bookstalls of Paris are the city's most apt and enduring mark. It's hard to say what's better: the hundreds of paintings and etchings of les bouquinistes in the last 400 years, the thousands of photos of them in the past 100, or one glimpse on any day you could almost take them for granted.
July 29, 2011
July 07, 2011
Basilique de Saint-Denis, north side, built 1137-1281
June 15, 2011
March 2011 Carnival in Lucerne, Switzerland (Sigi Tischler/EPA)
May 23, 2011
Things to Do In Denver. Like Yesterday.
"Redman" by Peter Toth. 37'. US 34. Loveland, Colorado.
March 17, 2011
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The firmness of rocks.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
from "St. Patrick's Breastplate", or The Lorica of Patrick
March 09, 2011
Marrakech: Gallic Elegance. Dinner. Legs.
Listen up. If you're an American male and still a real guy--i.e., not a lispy 30-something robo-twit metrosexual but actual U.S. Male guy--do take this two-step test inspired by My Marrakesh: (a) Did your last hostess in America wear bunny slippers, Yves Saint Laurent pumps, black gymmers or Red-Soled Black Shoes with 3.5 Inch Heels topped with Black Leather Leggings? (b) Can you even tell the difference anymore?
March 05, 2011
Rancho Bernardo, California.
I spend a lot of time here in this suburb of San Diego. In one sense, it's a bit like my beloved alma mater across the country: a small serious community of reasonable men and women who work hard at producing young adults who may some day take their places as high-functioning members of the ultra-bourgeoisie. Just way less fun, free-thinking and diverse. Suburban San Diego. While "well-educated" and white collar, it's stiff, reactionary and semi-literate.
But it's a great place to rest--and think. I do get the people. I do like them. However, unlike the more energetic and erudite out-of-state dream builders, writers, artists, and unabashed Alphas who move further north to Los Angeles--LA transplants tend to hail from the American Northeast--newcomers to Southern California are from safe no-nonsense enclaves of the Midwest and South.
It's like, well, Pittsburgh or Indianapolis or any number of fine cities in "flyover" land where the message is stark but honest and clear: "Succeed--but do so on our terms. Don't go too far too fast on your own. Don't make us feel uncomfortable about ourselves." As one friend notes, both San Diego and Orange counties are, at best, "Ohio with Water". At worst, Death with a View.
It's getting better, though. Slowly, in small waves, both San Diego and next-door Orange are seeing increasing diversity in peoples, and in thought. It can't be stopped.
February 17, 2011
Dana Point, California
This small southern California coastal city was named after Richard Henry Dana Jr. (1815-1882), the Massachusetts-bred lawyer and politician who wrote an American classic.
January 29, 2011
A Left Bank square at I Prefer Paris, by Richard Nahem.
Square Felix Desruelles: Blvd. St. Germain, near St. Germain Church, 6th arr. (R. Nahem)
January 25, 2011
Time for a Trip East.
January 23, 2011
Rue Cambon, Paris.
January 17, 2011
Salzburg: Mozart, Huns and Lawyers.
St. Peter's cemetery. Catacombs are further down and up in the cliff.
You may dream in American. But you still live in the world. Far from being a museum piece (like Venice, sadly), and being a favorite on the tourist's list of "cute small Alpine cities" (like Kitzbuhel, which IS real perky and cute but less storied) in Europe, Salzburg, Austria is best appreciated by digging deeply, and with a reverence. Celts settled it, and they mined salt. The salt commerce never stopped--and in later centuries barges floated tons and tons of it on the Salzach River to points all over Europe. By the 8th century, salt barges were subject to a toll.
Rome claimed Salzburg around 15 BC. Much later, Charlemagne ate and slept here. It was capital of the Austro-Hungarian territory between 1866 and 1918. And apart from Mozart, art, salt, ancient Celtic culture, St Peter's (above) and restaurants carved into cliffs, this staid Austrian city is home to the International Business Law Consortium, an active group of over 85 first-rate law and accounting firms in strategic cities all over the world, and founded in 1996.
January 10, 2011
Paris in White. Richard Nahem in Tuileries.
Visit Richard Nahem at I Prefer Paris today. First, if you're an American, find out where Europe is located. Figure out where France is. Study some Paris history. Then play in a white garden built by a Medici girl in 1564. Acquire something rare.
R. Nahem photo (Jan. 10, 2011)
January 08, 2011
Best American Hood Ever.
Benjamin Siegel (1906–1947)
December 23, 2010
More Snow in the Rodin Garden
Two Saturdays ago in Paris and at Richard Nahem's I Prefer Paris.
December 08, 2010
Paris: Snow in the Rodin Garden.
"Snow is an uncommon occurrence in Paris and snow that sticks is practically a miracle." On Saturday morning ex-New Yorker Richard Nahem took photographs of white dancing on black bronze. See his work at today's Eye Prefer Paris.
The Flourishing: Caesar's Town in Toscana.
It started out as an Army Camp. Beginning around 60 BC, Julius Caesar founded the town on both sides of the Arno River as settlement for retired Roman soldiers. The mix of things that happened here after that--politics, trade, money, power, greed, literature, art and architecture--is remarkable given that Florence at heart always was, and still is, a small town nestled in the country. Only 360,000 people live in this world famous center. They are a haughty, slightly snobby (well-deserved, they've earned it) and wonderfully disassembled lot. But unlike, say, Venice, Firenze in no faded museum piece. People live in and just outside town. It's walkable for people of all ages. Humans, the humanities, art and serious global commerce now flourish here together. A major chord struck.
November 10, 2010
My Marrakesh: Christian tattoo artists in Muqattam, Egypt.
East of Cairo, Muqattam is a suburb known for its past limestone cuttings, as well as for being the home of three generations of the Zabbaleen--the Coptic Christians celebrated in film and books as the unofficial "garbage collectors" of greater Cairo. And now, of course, for their work in tattoos. Visit our Yank friend Maryam--artist, writer, and charmed uber-princess--at her My Marrakesh.
Photo: M. Montague
September 20, 2010
Overheard Sunday in the 'Sades.
"Honey, just wear a black turtleneck--even Ned Beatty looks good in a black turtleneck."
Club Ned: Beatty days before his first Georgia fishing float-trip to bond with buddies and nature. Seriously, Louisville-born Beatty, 72, is one of America's great talents. Actor's actor. Played a fine Tennessee lawyer in Robert Altman's rule-breaking, genre-crashing "Nashville".
September 07, 2010
"All I need is some Tasty Waves, Psilocybin, and I'm Healthy."
Shrooms? Really? Reuters: "Magic Mushrooms May Ease Anxiety of Cancer." Moreover, they say those little plants might make the Blind see. Heal All the Sick. Raise the Dead. And make you set your chickens free--like Fred McDowell once did.
August 23, 2010
Seattle, August, fish-tossing, the usual.
Ten years ago, the fun surrounding Pike Place Market fish-tossing spawned a popular business workplace book.
August 12, 2010
The weather here in August is hard for Midwesterners and Easterners to believe. It's one of the few U.S. cities with decent and often perfect weather in the maddening month of August, the cruelest month elsewhere, and named in 8 BC after Augustus, or Octavian, the Roman emperor, as a tribute to his pluck and wonderfully grandiose empire-building. August is not otherwise an austere or fun month for many Americans--ask someone in sticky Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati or DC--unless you're headed to Maine, or maybe to the fells of the Lake District in England. But Seattle waits for it all year long, and then gloats a little.
Pike Place Market, 1911
August 04, 2010
Richard Nahem: Light in August.
March 27, 2010
Goodland, Florida: 'You got a problem with that?'
Half the adult population in this tiny town is said to be "non-voting". Lots of old--but extremely fast--boats.
No pretense, not much Internet (a good thing), but no real problems, either. No money (bad thing)--but so what, Mister? People here could very well have it all. Home of the buzzard lope, Goodland is a living caricature of working people with too much personality, powerful appetites, and Flowers on Mama's Grave back in the Ozarks.
I feel like I know these people; in my case, Scots-Irish DNA is hard to beat down with just an education. However, three years ago, Holden Oliver, one of our writers, and then a snooty New England-bred law student at Stanford, refused to finish his dinner at one of the local bars here. It wasn't the food. The Mayflower crowd could never grock Goodland.
Buzzard Lope people
Anyway, about 300 souls. Half the adult population in this tiny town is said to be "non-voting" due to drug transport-related convictions. Lots of old--but extremely fast--boats. Trial lawyers like NYC's Scott Greenfield get the picture. If Scott mails me some of his cards, I will pass them out at Stan's or The Little Bar.
Goodland is also very, well, white--but more fun and certainly less sterile than Naples or Marco. This is a gritty Key West for the Gulf's gold coast.
It's fun. The most button-down clients insist on going to dinner here--just like they insist on a quick trip to Mexico for lobster in Puerto Nuevo or near Calafia when they are in San Diego.
Goodland is a fine place to write sonnets, briefs, novels, letters, settlement contracts, short stories, articles, limericks, Dear Jane letters and marginal haiku.
The people here make even most Australians seem a bit uptight and sober.
"Hey, you guys from Connecticut or something?"
March 09, 2010
Hermann the German: Casting a Cold Eye.
"The Germanic work ethic is a hilarious myth."
Apparently, it's not just Yanks. The work ethic is suffering globally during The Recession. In "Here people work until they are 67?", Hermann, our long time Berlin-based stringer, reports a new drama across the Atlantic.
In the wake of a recent meeting between German and Greek officials on the issue of Greece's mounting debt problems, a German tabloid is telling Greeks to work harder (get “a more Germanic work ethic”). To avoid financial crisis, Greeks must rise earlier and work harder, the newspaper gently suggests, in an open letter to the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou.
Well, Hermann's not buying any of it. Nonetheless, we know that Germans on occasion are overcome by motivation and resolve.
Sacco di Roma - 455, Karl Briullov, Russian (1799–1852)
March 04, 2010
London Stone -- Part II
February 04, 2010
Speaking of snow. Kitzbühel is a medieval town in the province of Tyrol, Austria, near the river Kitzbühler Ache. The Illyrians, a war-like from the Balkans, mined copper around here starting between 1100 BC and 800 BC. Around 15 BC the Roman Emperor Augustus occupied and claimed this area--by that time the old Celtic province of Noricum--which included the Austrian Alps. After the fall of the western Roman Empire, the Bavarii tribe settled in the Kitzbühel region (around 800).
So Kitzbühel is old, with a 12th century wall around much of it. It's small (around 8500 people), beautiful, historical, and a bit slow--but loads of fun for those with pluck. In modern times, and before non-Austrians found it and made even it more famous for skiing, the region was a resort for wealthy and proper Austrians from towns like Vienna.
But Kitzbühel has loosened up a bit. Well, a lot. It now has decent jazz. Drinking happens. It's inexpensive to live or visit here. It's surprisingly quiet. You can write your novel or textbook. You can miss editors' deadlines--and count on forgiveness. Oh, you can ski. And you can watch some of the best skiers in the world.
December 25, 2009
Ile St Louis fruit stand, December 17, 2009 (R.Nahem)
December 24, 2009
Photo: Meredith Mullins
December 19, 2009
Richard Nahem: A Paris Christmas.
Hotel de Ville (R.Nahem)
October 21, 2009
October 08, 2009
Second City: Manchester, England
"It's a mean old town to live in by yourself." Still gritty and real, the city once had an economic school of thought named after it, via England's Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Life's hard everywhere these days, not just in Manchester. But don't wimp out and mail it in. Get Mean and Eternal like Johnny Winter. Have nice day, law cattle.
Mean Town Blues
October 05, 2009
Caesar's town in Toscana
The Army Camp. Been here now for a week doing three different projects. I am usually quite happy in Europe no matter what I am working at, even if I am rarely a full-time tourist. But here having to work--at all, at anything--is tantalizing. There is enough of the highest peaks of Western civilization here to put in giddy overdrive your head and heart for days and days--all in a very compact and walkable area that never loses its human scale, and class.
Beginning around 60 BC, Julius Caesar founded the town on both sides of the Arno River as settlement for retired Roman soldiers. The mix of things that happened here after that--politics, trade, money, power, greed, literature, art and architecture--is remarkable given that Florence at heart was, and is, a small town nestled in the country. Only 350,000 people live in this world famous center. A haughty, slightly snobby and wonderfully disassembled lot.
September 30, 2009
September 22, 2009
Real heros: Milan Fashion Week
September 13, 2009
One American's Kashmir
This summer WAC?'s peripatetic friend Maryam, a Morocco-based photojournalist at My Marrakesh, visited the legendarily beautiful but long-troubled Kashmir region of India, in India's northwest. She came away with some arresting photos like the one below. See them here.
September 12, 2009
Two Windsor Castle gargolyes
September 11, 2009
Pointe Aux Barques, Michigan
For me, it beats Big Sur and the Austrian Alps. My favorite place in the world, it is desolate in the winter and still beautiful. Not too many people live here year round: about 10, they say, and even that may be a U.S. Census error. No one around. PAB sits on the northern-most point of the Michigan Thumb, between Port Austin and Grindstone City, on Lake Huron. It was built as a resort community for St. Louis and Detroit business people in the mid-1890s.
When I was growing up and we moved about after leaving the DC area--Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Chicago again, and finally Cincinnati--we spent June and July here no matter where we lived. Had my first "businesses" here (teaching tennis and later a carwash with my brother). This was the only constant place in my childhood. I still dream about the cliffs and the lake and smallmouth bass and our four dogs and my friends. Edgar Guest, the people's poet, a kind of lyrical Will Rogers, owned a cottage on the main still-nameless road. I used to sit on his porch with my first girlfriend, with whom I am still in touch. I've been here in the winter before, when I was in law school; yet being here during any season is hard to describe.
August 10, 2009
Paris and Real Life: In black, white and fresh.
Work and life. I love both so I do not separate them. No need to. They usually merge, occasionally split, but always dance with one another.
And their quality depends in large part upon whether I can manage to see conventional things differently--with a sense of surprise. Put another way, can I see routine things--in life and work--as a child would see them for the first time? If I can, it helps me. Helps clients, too. It improves problem-solving at all levels.
On the countless stays I've had in Paris, I visited the Eiffel Tower just once, on my second trip. Even then I thought it was boring and a waste of time--except I met on the tower a woman named Linda who stayed in my life for nearly 10 years. She was smart, beautiful, regal and hopelessly difficult--but never boring. Her arrival forced me to grow and create.
However, unlike Linda, views from, or of, the Eiffel Tower did not excite, overwhelm or inspire. Linda is much much better--in person, in memory. In short, this world famous landmark, as extraordinary as it is, never did much for me. You can have it.
But I am wrong about something every day. You do need to keep changing eyeglasses for work and life. And maybe even for the Eiffel Tower. At Eye Prefer Paris, which ex-New Yorker Richard Nahem writes from the Marais district, Nahem shows in "My Most Unique & Unusual Eiffel Tower Photos" how tired landmarks can be interesting again. For example:
Photo: Richard Nahem
July 12, 2009
London: GeekLawyer does Glastonbury.
Woodstock for Brits. Organized WAC? is up to his summer red bow ties in work--and is even behind on some non-client duties. Saturdays usually help to catch up. [If you're Gen-Y, don't try to fathom that last six-word sentence--you'll get a rash, or pull a hamstring. Pretend it's not there. Keep reading.] However, brief homage to some international incidents--even in a work crunch--is still critical. We could perhaps ignore the annual, world-famous, always-Woodstock-trumping Glastonbury Music Festival in southwest England.
However, we could never pass on reporting the attendance of it by certain of Albion's luminaries. See GeekLawyer's "Glastonbury All Done For This Year" from earlier this week. In this July 7 post, GeekLawyer, a London barrister, and author of several pamphlets on Etiquette: Summering in Aldeburgh, did seem to threaten a fuller report later--with "graphics". Last summer's video interview he did with a famous, shapely and sultry Brit solicitor, is here.
GeekLawyer Chambers: West London branch, Servants' Entrance.
June 28, 2009
How to Live.
Paris is many things but for 2000 years it has been a symbol of taking risks. In Art and in Life. It's not too late. Many of you don't need to live where ever you are living for every remaining moment of the rest of your life. Take a chance. Get in the game. Burning daylight here.
Ex-New Yorker Richard Nahem lives in Marais district and blogs here. You don't. He was just up north in Lille. You weren't.
Richard Nahem of I Prefer Paris. Twice congratulations, sir.
June 07, 2009
From I Prefer Paris.
June 04, 2009
March 07, 2009
March 02, 2009
Red City, Morroco
November 01, 2008
Underground in Buenos Aires.
The first time I went to Buenos Aires was seven years ago. I was bowled over and charmed silly by my host and IBLC friend of 10 years, the talented Daniel Roque Vitolo--who it seems everyone all over the world knows, and who knows everyone--and also by the spirit and physical beauty of the people. Yes. Color me shallow, but the humans who live in the city are both engaging and gorgeous in a natural way--with minds, hearts, bodies and faces truly informed by ideas, cultures, tribes and races from all over the world.
The second time I went, I wanted to live and work there--with thoughts of perhaps breeding a bit in my spare time, and certainly eating only beef three meals a day, which is apparently good for you after all. If I go a third time, I may not make it back to the States. Yank lawyer Evan Schaeffer of The Legal Underground is there now with his family (and law firm) for a month-long stay in this thoroughly cosmopolitan city. Don't miss his reporting and photography. Yesterday was Part 6. Bravo, sir, you captured the excitement of you and yours in the City of Borges.
E. Schaeffer photo: Recoleta
D. Hull: Mystery Person, Spring 2002
September 05, 2008
Kent to Zürich--and Zürich answers.
I took two days off in Kent with London lawyers, and near Albion's white cliffs, in part to recover from my Monday Mayfair meeting with GeekLawyer: a gentleman, IP scholar, barrister and genuine werewolf. And today is Zürich, first established as a Roman customs post, and now a truly global city. I'm here with lawyers from firms in 35 countries or so to talk about the main event: Clients.
Clients. Remember them?
1. What are law firm partners and associates doing for clients these days, anyway?
2. Are law firms days structured economically, and in talent and human resources, to solve client problems--or just add to them?
3. Are we delivering services using models that are fair to clients?
4. Are we charging for training when we shouldn't be?
5. Are the even best clients getting shortchanged on real value when they don't need to be?
6. Is current corporate lawyering really client-oriented and customer-focused--or just a big-ass ruse?
7. And, for fun, perhaps for the Irish and Welsh members: why is Keith Richards still alive, anyway?
(But we're serious, when we think through delivering value to clients. The only Rule: we can be irreverent about anything else.)
August 18, 2008
Trout fishing in America.
Here and here, for the last eleven years. Throw in silvers, bears, lost seals, a consistent grandeur, "micro-climates", your real boss Nature and a special mix of humans and good friends from Europe, the Middle East, NYC and Midwestern America, along with the bows. A "bad day" at some spots is just eight Cohos or ten 19" rainbows. Mutant big Arctic Graylings or crazed-aggressive Dolly Varden Char on a fly rod will have to do. Six days which begin at 6:00 AM and often earlier at this established fly-out lodge. "So, how did you all do today?"
August 16, 2008
I apologize. Mea culpa. In just 10 days--while I was in Seattle and in a remote part of Alaska--my co-writers at WAC? turned this blog for the most part into a wank-fest of bad posts and poorly-planned re-postings of old posts (I deleted most of them). I was bored, disappointed, by what I saw. We all deserve better. But at this site, when things go wrong or get mediocre, it's all my fault. Totally.
Save the country. Save the children. Up in heaven, the late Laura Nyro hated WAC? this past week, too. I saw Nyro on my 18th birthday. She thought you could be angry and happy at the same time; I agree, and 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, old verities and joy. Be inspired--or hang it up, folks. Or at least don't blog that week.
Save the country. Save the children. Get a chip on your shoulder. Get angry and happy about something. Stretch big. Talk hard. And do something. If you don't feel that way, keep/get away from Laura and me. We deserve better. Hey, we're working hard at something here.
Laura Nyro (1947-1997) wanted you to have fury in your soul.
August 01, 2008
Fabulous in Minya, Egypt
June 16, 2008
It's Bloomsday, June 16, 1904--so take a walk.
Joyce Walks. Courtesy of the cosmopolitan, well-traveled (just ask Ruthie) and well-read Ed. of Blawg Review, take a walk on Bloomsday. Try maybe the Paris walk: A Walk in Paris along the route of the Circe Episode of Ulysses.
June 08, 2008
Another woman with Gaul.
C'est Ma Vie: Tales of My Life Across the Atlantic is a kind of Notes From The Underground by a smarter but slightly disorganized version of the American girl-next-door. She and her young family have been living in Paris. She's been trying qualify to teach in Paris, bravely putting up with "the inspector" to make that happen. "I need a special therapist for how to deal with hierarchy in France."
May 30, 2008
The Paris Blog is a group site in English by Americans, Canadians, Brits and Frenchmen, mainly expatriates, who write about "the daily intricacies of life in Paris". It's edited by Laurie Pike, like me a Midwesterner who lived in California for a while. There's a bit of everything/anything about La Ville lumière: arts, politics, neighborhoods, French culture, work (no jokes please). We liked "Cops Bust Gypsies at Notre Dame"--but how could such a thing happen on ground zero for things French?--and "Festival of Pain" (bread, not physical suffering), about an outdoor makeshift bakery and "bread-fest" just across the Seine.
Ille St. Louis, island of dreams
May 11, 2008
May 07, 2008
The Economist: Can Viagra cure jet lag?
Forget Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Safeco and Washington Mutual. As goofy as you feel when you watch and hear it, each trip to Seattle must include Pike Place Fish Market, and watching a little fish-throwing. They always make it seem normal.
April 27, 2008
Paris Parfait in London again.
Take a walk in the Spring on Oxford Street in London. Even if you don't travel, read about life outside the U.S., or worship European fashion, these photos are interesting, edgy. See Shipwrecked at Selfridges at Tara Bradford's Paris Parfait. The Paris-based American writer Bradford gets around.
April 12, 2008
A lucky human, I get to travel for a living. I work, I read and I talk to everyone indiscriminately (I'm told) everywhere I go. When I run or walk or attend a meeting, I take a camera and a notebook with me. And where I go doesn't have to be abroad. Yesterday afternoon I was in the downtown section of ever-evolving Nashville, strolling around on a balmy day after a meeting near Vanderbilt; I got a kick out of that (in between cell phone intrusions) even though I've been there a few times. But I've never been to Morocco, with its amazing mix of Berber, Roman, Greek, Visigoth, Arab, French and Spanish influences. For the last few years, I've been thinking and reading about Morocco. Can an American company please hire me or mine to work there? In the meantime, I visit Maryam's My Marrakesh. I first noticed her site when I came upon a picture of Maryam--an American living with her family in Marrakech--taken in a Paris cafe I am virtually certain I had been in a few weeks before. She travels, writes, takes wonderful photos.
April 11, 2008
First Stonehenge dig since 1964
According to MSNBC and other sources, it shows that the area on the Salisbury Plain where the blue stones are may have been a holy place beginning in 3100 BC--about 500 years before the big stones got there from 150 miles away.
March 29, 2008
A house called Dar Rumi
Visit our American friend Maryam in Morocco at My Marrakesh... and another great house she found. Hers is literally one of the best websites or blogs in the world, and hands down the best one out of Africa we've seen: elegant photographs, wistful writing, playfulness, generosity, taste. She has the gift of an eye for life.
March 25, 2008
Paris Parfait: York, England, and The Inimitable City.
T. Bradford photo of stone arches at York Minster Cathedral, York, England.
February 13, 2008
Marco Island, Florida
Naples, with a 25% reduction in pretense.
February 11, 2008
Mardi Gras: we got sober and we missed it.
January 23, 2008
I haven't been to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan yet.
January 03, 2008
"The evening galloped like horses down a polished hallway. Soon it was 2008." Re-live new year's eve at Maryam's My Marrakesh.
December 12, 2007
Moment at Paris Parfait
Stop by writer Tara Bradford's elegant Paris Parfait and see The Three Graces fountain at twilight in Chinon, France , the Super Bake Girl Emilia and a sign of the season on Oxford Street in London.
November 08, 2007
Newport Beach, California: Great duty if you can get it.
"Newport Beach is like a French Impressionistic painting." This is Orange County's version of Westport, in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Interestingly, Newport Beach is even more conservative than Westport, but better-looking and with a lot more art. Snotty WAC? loves both towns.
Photo parfait by Bradford
Tara Bradford is an American "living la vie Parisienne while writing a book". Behold "Books Galore" at Tara's wonderful Paris Parfait, see from her collection a 1924 photo of an Egyptian bookseller, and take the rest of the day off. Hit a few bookstores, maybe--but only if you've done your 7.5 billable hours first. Half-day today. Live a little.
October 03, 2007
Lisboa, Portugal: Alfama District
Welshonce Watch: Like New York, DC, Paris and Prague, Lisbon is a walking city. The medieval Alfama district is Lisbon's oldest, covering the slope between the Castelo de São Jorge and the Tejo River.
September 29, 2007
Functional Gen-X lawyer charms bosses, heads to Portugal.
That would be me. Next week, I'll be working in Portugal--but first stop is in the pleasant Algarve, mainland Portugal's rolling and floral southernmost region, originally settled by the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, traders who established colonies on the coasts. The Algarve was once part of the Roman empire, later becoming part of the Visigoths' jurisdiction. The Arabs held the Algarve for more than 500
years. In 711, Moorish general Tarik ibn Ziyad defeated the king of the Visigoths. The region was reclaimed in the mid-12th century by Christians.
At 9:30 AM on November 1, 1755, an earthquake struck, causing damage throughout Portugal and destroying much of the Algarve. As a result of the Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1807, Napoleon and Carlos IV of Spain agreed to carve Portugal into areas to be governed by France and Spain, with the Spanish to assume control of the Algarve. The ensuing wars, backed by the English and French, defeated the plan to split up Portugal. The April 1974 "Carnation Revolution" ended 50 years of dictatorship and initiated a democratic constitution which led to victory for the Socialists with the government being led by Prime Minister Mário Soares.
Paris parfait by Bradford
Another American living la vie Parisienne, as she writes a book. Tara Bradford serves Paris Parfait: art, antiques, culture, poetry and politics.
Pittsburgh football by Brubach
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, author, part-time Parisian, and WAC? college classmate to boot, Holly Brubach has this feature in the op-eds of today's New York Times: "Where Everybody Knows Your Team".
Morocco collages by Bantock
September 18, 2007
Arabian Beauty, Dartmoor Serenity.
See "Arabian Nights" at a new WAC? favorite blog, Tara Bradford's Paris Parfait. And then you can head north from Tangier to Devon in southwest England. Costs you nothing. It's fun following Tara around. What a world we live in, eh?
September 10, 2007
When we get nervous, we all do weird stuff.
In a "state of intense anxiety" following his arrest, Craig "felt compelled to grasp the lifeline offered to him by the police officer" and plead guilty to the disorderly conduct...
Travel anxieties: everyone has them. So you get some alone time. Wide stance. Suddenly, another human voice. Arguments and echos. The horror, the horror. In Forbes.com via AP: Craig Files To Withdraw Guilty Plea. Senator Craig's got moxie, though--and Billy Martin's a fine lawyer. Do see by James Hannaham in Salon Why Bathroom Sex Is Hot.
August 10, 2007
627,000 people live in Alaska, and 275,000 of those are here in Anchorage. The people of Anchorage will probably consider naming their next airport after someone no longer living and capable of being investigated by the FBI.
April 23, 2007
Williams: South Seas Journal
Craig Williams, the California lawyer who writes the well-regarded May It Please The Court, sometimes blogs from abroad. During late March through mid-April, he's been on a dive boat (if you're from Scranton, Albany, Cardiff or Manchester, that's not a floating Irish bar) in the Coral Sea, between New Guinea and Queensland, Australia, and famous for its best feature, the Great Barrier Reef. And then he spent some time inland around Day Ten in apparently Queensland and the Northern Territory, and its Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. In eleven posts so far, Williams has blogged consistently and in interesting detail about his South Seas travel adventure.
April 07, 2007
Culture Clash: Marco Island v. Key West
If you are one of the many Europeans on holiday right now in Florida, and want to see two different American cultures in south Florida side-by-side, spend a couple of days in the staid Midwestern America retreat Marco Island, and then drive further south toward the Florida Keys--for fun stay close to the feral Everglades as you go--and see truly wild and anything-goes Bohemian Key West. Enough diversity for ya'll?
February 28, 2006
It's Fat Tuesday in New Orleans: "Heck of a City There, Brownie!"
It's today--and I almost forgot. I've been in LA "celebrating" my birthday. On the way back, I was thinking that, while Los Angeles is a city where eccentricity is tolerated and even bankable, New Orleans is the real thing. Being different is celebrated daily. So hats off to New Orleans, the last urban Bohemia in America, where oddity is a way of life and today, Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, it's more like a real sport. See Why Have Mardi Gras? at Ray Ward's Minor Wisdom.