Anytime a return ticket to LA dips below $200 while the mercury in New York drops lower than Matthew Rose's self-esteem after a game of backgammon, it is time to spend all those left-over vacation days and head off to the City of Angels.

The insinuation of the heavenly in that name is not at all fraudulent. From what I remember on my last visit, LA is an unrelentingly optimistic experiment at achieving heaven on earth. Everybody can help build the Tower of Babel there--some even try to build their own personal tower--or, failing that, many settle cosily for a tour of babble, fed deliciously by gossip rags, faith healers, Feng Shui consultants, pet psychiatrists and star sightings. Appetites are large and cliches are shameless. All LA is Shameless. Not since Adam and Eve have so many been so unapologetic about their personalized pursuit of happiness.

And I plan to join them, at least for a week, since Cole Frates is out there among them. I'll remain plugged into the net, so these pages will continue to be updated if you write.

I have a home. This may not register particularly high on the emotional counters of most people, but for me this is San Andreasesque. I have not had what could be called home since I left Bologna just over 18 months ago. In that time I perfected the art of living-out-of-a-suitcase to levels never attained before or since. A statistic for you and this is not an indication of any recent Herculean promiscuity; in 1996, I slept in/on 77, yes seventy-seven (plus or minus an error of 3), beds or what passed for beds. That's an average of about one every five days.

And what a range. From back of Renault trafic vans full of bikes to Tuscan luxury hotels; trains, planes and (yes) automobiles; sofas, sofa-beds, normal beds, single beds, double beds, whipped beds, clotted beds, and one very lovely king-size bed. Boats, ferries, yachts. Parents' place, friends' places (thank you Matthew - he chalks up five), brothers' place. Caravans and floors, with fun people and bores.... I think you get the picture.

Anyway, 1997 registers ONE and it is fantastic. Mine, mine, mine. Of course, within six months the grass is greener sentiment may take over and the wanderlust urge could return... but I doubt it. For those of you who know London, it's in Battersea, just south of the river - open the front door and there's a park. Half an hour walk into Chelsea and Kings Road, and umpteen pubs and bars in the area. Come visit. I'm only here for about 18 months and then it's off to the ends of the earth with the Foreign Office. Beijing, Moscow, Columbo, Paris, Amman or Reykjavik... It seems 1997 may be a fluke.

New address: jon.fco.kcs@gtnet.gov.uk.

ps I bet some of you have started counting your beds!! You have, haven't you?!

Well, I have a new email address (my computer was stolen out of my office last week - a big bummer)--it is: 104705.400@compuserve.com
A little excitement. Yesterday [Jan 12] I jumped out of a plane at 10,000 feet. Careening past 5000 feet some 40 seconds later, I decided to pull that cute little orange knob and fall to the earth more gracefully.

Then my (now famous, thanks to Jame) roommate Renee did it, and was able to sustain the adrenaline rush for about a 1/2 hour, as evidenced by her spontaneous jumping, dancing and screaming.

And our instructor thought it was just him...

well, I have returned from the e-dead.

I am now over at the Pentagon helping Senator Cohen prepare for his confirmation to be Secretary of Defense. His hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled for 1/22. So there is a lot to do and not so much time to do it in.

The Pentagon is a very confusing building, but I think I am learning my way around. I am also struggling to remember the differences between oak clusters, stars, stripes and eagles, not to mention different shades of green and blue, so that I don't mistake an army second lieutenant for a navy commander or an air force general.

Less interesting is the fact that every day begins with a 7am staff meeting. needless to say, it is very painful to get up so early, but it has taught me an important fact about Washington. It is very, very dark and very, very quiet on the streets at 5 in the morning.

I hope all is well. My new e-mail is neaderland@osdp.secdef.osd.mil. I will let you know if it changes again.

-Ben

Hello SAISers! My job has become so stressful that I'm beginning the laborious process of searching for a new one -- so I can be stressed out somewhere else! If anyone hears of a job in the area of human rights, refugees, or humanitarian relief, please send me an e-mail. Thanks!
Monica's travelogue [Jan 7] has inspired me to contribute. I cannot claim to have made money on my travel expenses (it's hard to use a two-for-one deal when alone), nor did I manage to avoid unwanted stopovers (difficult, also, on a direct flight). However, I did get to visit parts of Jamaica that were unencompassed in my wildest childhood imaginings: the route between 179 St on the F-Line and a courier company headquarters on the backside of JFK airport. God, what a dump. If I were the island paradise, I'd be suing for defamation. It's what Hell would look like if they forgot to pay the gas bill. All that to arrive at the courier only to be told that they weren't planning to put a bomb on my flight, there were no papers and so I could have gone direct to the airport. Not that spending four hours in John F. Kennedy Airdump would have been that much more pleasant. I'm not surprised he had to be shot before he accepted the name-change. And another thing: American Airlines sucks.

Britain was great. Of SAIS people, I only saw John [Uppington], who helpfully got me plastered two nights running before interviews. Not that it made much difference --it turned out I was applying for positions that didn't exist, they only wanted to see me because I had 'an interesting background.' Must be that bit on the CV about being abducted by aliens and used as a sex toy in a forty-hour mating ritual. John was well. His romantic life is quite interesting at the moment.

I didn't see anyone else from SAIS, but I wasn't told that anyone was dead/mutilated/married, so I guess they must be alright. My 99-year old granny has joined Goldsmith's "The EU is the Work of Beelzibub" Party, and is out canvassing. I was interested but not surprised to learn that the Channel Tunnel was now controlled by sixteen Argentinian banks owned by German Nazi sympathisers. The invasion is only a matter of time, so if I were you, I'd get my money into Euros. Dad has gout, of which he's inordinately proud. His quack of a doctor told him that he had to keep off fruit juices, but that ruby port was fine. This is what comes of nationalizing the health system.

I arrived back here in time for Tonje's New Year party. That house had obviously had a rough week -- they were remembering Stefan's visit with pleasure. The party was great. I didn't bring any duty-free, but did come with a pint of phlegm (courtesy of my fellow pasengers on American Airlines). There was lots of snogging at twelve, none of which involved me. Downer, but it had its upside, considering that it's inpolite to sneeze into someone's mouth.

--Charles. P.S. The trouble with editor-contributors to gossip pages on the internet is that they never give you the dirt from their own navel. It is a wonderful feature of the more free-wheeling email system that it breaks down the barriers to communication flow presented by the transactions costs of owning and understanding a web site. Only thus do I learn that a Valkyerie has swept Tintin (a tall Belgian reporter) off his feet, and takes him to Valhalla nightly.

[Excerpts from her mail:]

... My email is: 74531.1751@compuserve.com My work phone is: (212) 692-1226, home: (718) 246-0922. Hope to see a little more of the SAIS crowd that's here. I'm headed to Ukraine and Moldova for 2-3 weeks at the end of January/beg of Feb .... I'm thinking about a trip southward to Atlanta to see Julia [Holman] in March. I forgot how much I missed tobacco spittin' sheriffs, pigs feet, and grits...

P.S. A Polish friend of mine told me about this off-broadway contemporary play that she is designing costumes for -- she is sending me info this week. I think it runs January 16-20th. If you or anyone else is interested just let me know. I'm probably going to go.

Hi Stefan (and the rest of the SAISers who read this on the Web),

Glad to read you had a nice New Year's Eve, Stefan. I decided to escape the East Coast winter temporarily and head to California to visit friends and my parents and other miscellaneous relatives. Of course, the weather in DC then was apparently not much different than that which I experienced in Orange County, and was certainly drier than the weather I encountered in northern California, but that was to be expected, no?

Joyce Burnett and I planned to fly out to LAX with a 2-for-1 coupon on American but we had a connection in Chicago on Dec. 23; our first mistake. Flight cancelled due to weather. No snow, just fog. So, we were placed on Delta through Atlanta and arrived merely an hour later than originally planned. OK, not a huge problem, and in fact I was able to watch the in-flight movie surreptitiously (in mono rather than stereo) as my Walkman headset fit well into one of the plugs. Not too bad, other than the lack of food. One bag of peanuts on a five hour flight. Well, the holidays were approaching, and no one ever said airline food was the best in terms of calories...

My 10 days were great. Saw almost every relative I have in the SoCal area, and some who flew in (from Chicago or Arizona, for example). Cousins and neighbors and younger siblings of friends, most of whom I hadn't seen in 6-8 years, nearly elicited a comment of "The last time I saw you, you were what, 8? And only *this* tall..." Luckily I came to my senses before I realized that I was about to say that which I had always despised hearing from my parents' friends.

The 'rents and I drove up the coast to Monterey and then on to Napa for a tasty tour of several wineries. I highly recommend V. Sattui, especially as it does not sell to retail liquor stores or to restaurants; you can buy their wines only direct at the winery, or by direct mail order by the case.

Our trip North was cut short by the impending rains; we escaped slightly wet but nowhere near as deluged as would have been the case had we remained one extra day. Granted that I prefer French and Italian wines, but given the freezing weather across Europe, I hope the various forms of bad weather worldwide don't combine to cause a severe shortage of vintages in future years.

One item of note: the rains did subside in SoCal at least for one day -- New Year's Day -- and the 40-some-odd year tradition of showing the rest of the U.S. and the world how sunny and beautiful the weather is in mid-winter, via the Rose Parade and Bowl, continued (the last time the Parade was cancelled was in the 1940s, I believe). Now that I've lived outside SoCal for a few years, I can appreciate green Christmases and sunny New Year's Days that much more, and I particularly understand how thankful those high school bands marching down Colorado Blvd in Pasadena must be to leave behind their respective snows and freezes in North Dakota, Ohio, Maine, etc.

Speaking of those bands...

Joyce and I met up again at LAX on 2 January for our flight "home" to D.C. Again through Chicago, to National. Or so we thought. But my, wasn't the airport crowded. Ohio State alumni wearing their red, black and white, and big smiles from ear to ear, were returning to wherever, and all those high school bands... And, of course, there was once again bad weather in Chicago, which meant our flight was delayed at least an hour.

But the hidden and forgotten advantage of flying from a very popular airport: Bumping.

As I said, this was a forgotten and completely unplanned advantage, but once we realized our flight was overbooked *and* delayed, Joyce and I immediately volunteered for a later flight. And we didn't *need* to go through Chicago; was there anything through Dallas, or direct? Well, in fact there was. So Joyce and I had the pleasure of a nonstop to Dulles that actually arrived earlier than our original plane was supposed to (had it not been delayed, that is: the fact that it was delayed meant that, in an ironic twist, had we been forced to take the original flight, we wouldn't have arrived until well past midnight. Instead, we landed at 8:50 p.m.). AND we got $300 vouchers for our next American Airlines flight. Bonus! (Of course, the best thing was that, as the flight had been a 2-for-1, we actually *made* money on the deal!)

So, for an otherwise uneventful trip, we had some fairly eventful flights, and a very relaxing stay with our respective families.

Plus, how nice it was for Mother Nature to give us a 70 degree weekend in early January to ease us slowly back to the concept of an East Coast winter.

Happy New Year everyone!

Hello everybody

With the advent of the new year this a little plea to ensure that these pages continue to be injected with your wit and immodesty. You'll be getting the equivalent of this message in your mailboxes pretty soon, in case you don't check up on these pages religiously. Let's face it, these pages are not the place to be reticent, so please do continue to feed this voracious circle.

On my part, the last few weeks have been a tad intense, hence the lack of updates since the 17th of December. Christmas was spent in DC, as a guest of Tonje Vetleseter et al, where the conversation invariably turns to the merits or otherwise of the EU, the essence of morality, or the benefits of nationalism. Given that these are held de rigeur after good food and a cocktail of glug and aquavit, it can be safely assumed no new ground was broken.

Itay (of ex-Rosa Emilia Moreno fame) is staying with me here in NYC until he settles down, and has been integral to most of the past few weeks' events--which tend to take place in bars in the East Village. The East Village is the greatest, in case there was any doubt. With every passing day I am more aware of the extreme good fortune that befell me when I stumbled upon my little 6th floor walk-up apartment on St. Marks place. There are 9 bars on my block, a vegan bakery, a Syrian falafel place complete with Assad poster, a pet food shop, a 24-hour pizza parlour, a couple of up-and-coming fashion boutiques, Cappucino & Tattoo, a nursery school, an erotic lingerie store, an all-night diner, some cafes and Physical Graffiti, of Led Zep fame. Complemented, of course, by some very polite drug dealers.

New Year's was centered around Monique Wise and her party. Surprise showing were Makram Ouaiss from DC and Julia Holmes all the way from Atlanta, as well as a friend of hers who hit it off quite succesfully with Jame Dibiasio, who tragically had to leave the next day for Hong Kong and won't read this sentence for a few weeks, hopefully. My sister was also at this party, so Monique, Julia, Aideen Mannion and others (but not Beth West) proceded to ply her with all the horror stories that befell me during my SAIS career. It was not a pretty sight (but my sister is, or so everybody kept on telling me.)

After seeing Carrie's recent [Dec 17] appeal for assistance, I decided to issue a similar plea somewhat closer to home--in New York. It appears that I will joining the NYC community, at least by association. Chances are that I am going to take a position in an Ericsson office just west of the city (Totowa, NJ - not exactly a garden spot, but closer to the rest of the world than the wilds of Virginia...) to work with Omnipoint, the new wireless service in New York.

I will be moving up your way sometime after the first of the year if all goes as planned. The remoteness of the office (~20 miles west of the river) seems to me too far to drive from Manhattan, so it seems I am confined to living in NJ as close to the river as I can get. I never thought I would say this, but I have heard relatively good things about Hoboken... Anyway, if anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Living in 'Jersey will be bad enough-- living in 'Jersey by myself in an undesirable neighborhood might test my sanity. Hence, if anyone out there knows of living arrangements to be had (nothing with hourly rates, please), drop me a line.[This is a new address]

Life with Ericsson continues to be good, although all the pickled herring and salmon at the Christmas party, combined with the aquavit, made many of my coworkers sound, smell, and behave like drunken Swedish fishermen. This involved a lot of slapping of backs and roaring of slurred Scandinavian drinking songs. The ambiance was aided by the fact that the previous occupant of our office was Molson, the Canadian beer company; our boardroom has a complete bar with model cell phones on the beer taps, brass foot rails, marble counter tops, and a fireplace with a remote control. We call it "The Pub".

Happy Holidays to all-

Martin

  • Ben Neaderland's email is no longer valid, as he is leaving the Senate. He'll be up and running again in a few weeks, or so he says.
Happy New Year to everyone! I am alive and well in St. Petersburg, Florida. I bet that the weather here is a heckuva lot better than many of you folks have in Europe right now! (It was just over 80 degrees today [New Year's Day].) In March 1996, I moved down to Florida to take a job with a large regional brokerage house called Raymond James and Associates. We have over 1,600 employees at our corporate headquarters and over 2,000 brokers (if you count all of the company's various divisions.) I work as a mutual fund research analyst. Basically, I help my company's brokers select mutual funds from the vast universe of over 8,000 mutual funds.

As part of my job, I travel quite a bit to NY and Boston. These two cities have the vast majority of mutual fund companies in the U.S. There aren't that many fund companies out on the West Coast, so I don't get out there that often. I don't have to travel so much at the moment because many people from the fund companies like to travel to Florida from December-March. (Hmm...I can't figure out why.) I am scheduled to go to New York for business later this month to visit a couple of new fund companies. A couple of my more interesting trips are scheduled for later this year. In March, I'll be on the road to Kalamazoo, Michigan. In May, I'll probably visit a company in New Mexico. Other than that, things here are fine. I hope that you all are doing well.---Carl