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
New address: email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com. I will
let you know if it changes again.
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
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
[Excerpts from her mail:]
... My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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:
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
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!
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-
- 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