Sunday, March 30, 2014

Time

I often think of time, moving from one place to another, remembering my meals and appointments, cognizant of schedules and every now and then I pause to consider it. Today, I was in church and a couple renewed their vows in celebration of their golden wedding anniversary of 50 years. Tomorrow, I will meet with the legendary Harold Burson to discuss the year 1954 when PR Newswire was founded. Remarkably, he was one of its first customers. Through the years, I've come across many wonderful descriptions of time, here are three that stand out: 

From The Tudors: Death of a Monarchy (Season 4; Episode 10) (2010):

King Henry VIII: [Opening lines] In these last days I've been thinking a great deal about loss. What loss, your grace, is to man most irrecoverable? 

Charles Brandon: His virtue. 
King Henry VIII: No, for by his actions, he may redeem his virtue. 
Charles Brandon: Then, his honor. 
King Henry VIII: No, for again he may find the means to recover it, even as a man recovers some fortune he has lost. 
Charles Brandon: Then I can't say, Your Majesty. 
King Henry VIII: Time, your grace. Of all losses, time is the most irrecuperable for it can never be redeemed. 

King Henry VIII (right) and Charles Brandon from The Tudors

From "Killing Time," by Mumia Abu-Jamal, Forbes ASAP (November 30, 1998):

"Time is as elusive as a thief, silent as death. Only later does it appear, on the day you look into a burnished metal slab solidly riveted to a cell wall, and ask, 'Who is that old man?'


"For most prisoners, time is oppressive and liberating. At the beginning of a sentence, time stretches ahead, almost insurmountable in its height, almost unreachable in its distance. At the sentence's midpoint, time seems more navigable, for the time one has to do is measured by the time one has already done. Toward the end, time becomes a sweet promise."



Mumia Abu-Jamal

From Prince, Purple Rain, New Year's Eve (2000):

"Time ... Time is a trick ... How many birthdays did you have? ... One ... You had one day of birth ... You continue to count birthdays ... Your mind gives up ... Your body deteriorates ... This is the trick of time ... Man was never supposed to die ... We were given everlasting life ... By The Creator ... The Father of Jesus Christ ... There is no other King ... There is no other King ... Only Jesus Christ ... Time is a trick ... 1999, huh, I don't think so ... We could be in the third millennium perhaps ... It might be 1492 ... Who knows? ... I only want to see ya in the Purple Rain ... if you want to sing with me, it's alright ..."



Prince in the Purple Rain, Super Bowl XLI (2007)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Thoughts at The Turn: Jennifer Lawrence, Blake Wingtips and Ernest Hemingway

Jennifer Lawrence, Hunger Games
NY premiere.
Back breaking snow shoveling storms sabotaged my strategy to sip 18 taps of Blue Point brew on eastern Long Island before it gets trampled by Clydesdales, but now have time to dive into old blues albums while I jot down diversionary thoughts rather than face The Turn.

I've always liked Tom Chiarella of Esquire and his piece 40: When You've "Made" It  is a great pep talk.

Speaking of Esquire, was it just me or was the February 2014 issue, Weird Men, not too weird? Then again, what would I know about it.


Jennifer Lawrence, Film Independent
Spirit Awards.
Can't wait for American Hustle to be available on Netflix. Something about that movie trailer with Jennifer Lawrence parading around in her underwear coupled with rumors of a kiss with co-star Amy Adams sounds intriguing.

Why is the whole world obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence anyway? I mean really Jack Nicholson, she's old enough to be your daughter's daughter. I guess I have nothing new to add to the tomes of internet adulation, but JLaw does seem like the girl-next-door type who liked to smoke pot and listen to The Dead until wham-o, she's hyper glammed up and doesn't have a moment to say hey, I know that dude, he lived next door to me, but I digress. I guess like every other man, Jack Nicholson included, I'd like to smoke pot with Jennifer Lawrence -- the legal, medical variety of course.
Jennifer Lawrence, 83rd Oscars.

Big, big fan of Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters located in Lewiston, Maine. They rolled out the Blake wingtip not long ago and I have had a shoe-porn like obsession with it. Yet to figure out how I can justify the purchase and quell the likely barrage of "Imelda Marcos" quips from my wife.

Going to Key West at the end of the month to celebrate a dear friend's betrothal. Will certainly visit the Hemingway house again, even though I already know the tour by heart. Good time to replace my Sloppy Joe's t-shirt with a brighter version for the summer, but quite frankly, I'll be happy if I escape from the Southernmost Point in one piece.

Bonobos, big fan. Will buy more Bonobos this spring.

Now that's a compelling midlife crisis portrait: Safety Pink Sloppy Joe's tee, navy Bonobos shorts, tan Blake wingtips sans socks, medical marijuana license, obligatory sunburn and delusions that, if given the chance, Jennifer Lawrence would totally go for it.

Ernest Hemingway, Key West.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

The Origin of My Story Telling

It's funny how some memories lodge themselves in your brain like a poppy seed in your teeth. I have ones that have followed me for nearly three decades.

Waves at Tobay Beach, Long Island.
I recall being at a beach on the south shore of Long Island, most likely Tobay. I was playing in the waves with my friend. His mother loved to lay in the sun and since she worked nights, she took us there during the week when it was not crowded.

The sea was choppy that day my friends.

We were playing in the surf and I recall being thrown about by the waves like laundry in a dryer. It was exhilarating. As soon as I'd drift to shore I would look for my friend, eager to describe what had just happened. As I jabbered wildly, he nodded looking out to the horizon, lost in his own experience. I had this amazing feeling and this eminent desire to tell someone, anyone about it.

The emotion has never left me. It has aged like a fine wine.

Shortly after the summer, I had a writing assignment due in class. Not knowing where to start, I asked my dad for help. He was lying half asleep on the couch, resting between his two jobs with a cup of coffee half-full in his hand. The story was to describe a trip around Manhattan holding on to a red balloon. Dreamily he took me past the Statue of Liberty, between the valley of the Twin Towers and over the 59th Street Bridge until the balloon popped and I landed in the golden glove of Mets First Baseman Keith Hernandez. I couldn't write fast enough, amazed by how real it felt. Later that week, after the papers were returned to the class, mine was held by the teacher and read aloud. I can still feel the flush of embarrassment in my cheeks and the exhilaration of being thrown about by the waves on the beach.

Whether or not he was aware of it, my dad had passed on to me the tools to build something from my imagination and share it, after you've had time to look to the horizon and come back from your own experience.


Monday, December 23, 2013

The Ascendancy of Dylan Penn and Ireland Baldwin

In the wake of holiday feasts when family and friends gather around the table for coffee and dessert, I'm often intrigued by the subjects that come up, especially when the group digresses into the did-you-hear gossip about celebs.

Last year Ireland Baldwin was the center of attention, but this year's belle of the cream-and-sugar bowl was Dylan Penn. For those who have not been introduced to either one, yet, these women are the exceedingly beautiful progeny of Hollywood couples Sean Penn and Robin Wright and Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. Behold:

Hopper Penn, Robin Wright and Dylan Penn
Dylan Penn

Alec and Ireland Baldwin
Ireland Baldwin

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that we will be seeing and hearing a lot more about Dylan and Ireland in the new year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Message in a Bottle

It's hard for me to think of a message in a bottle and not hear the high pitched voice of Sting ringing in my ear. Then, of course, there's the man in tattered clothes with a ragged beard stuffing a scroll into a wine bottle that he hopes will one day lead to his rescue. This message adrift at sea, where will it end up and when might that be?

Not long ago I moved to the suburbs where my wife grew up and this past summer her best friend's parents sold their house to move to the California wine country. As such, we inherited many of the things they chose not to take such as an antique clock, a mahogany buffet and a hand-crafted Olhausen pool table, timeless treasures that were immediately put to use.

Every time my wife would send me to their home I went like a kid sliding down the banister on Christmas morning eager with anticipation. On the last trip, there were miscellaneous items set out on the driveway for collection, among them were some unopened bottles of wine and a half-full bottle of scotch, which I thought would be a shame to go to waste, so I took them.

Fast forward through the colorful autumn as the temperature drops and the first snow falls beyond the front door. A chill permeates the house even though the heaters whistle with steam and the balsam fragrance of the Christmas tree warms the heart. I decide to build a fire, which takes me about as long as it did to read that famous short story by Jack London. Coincidentally, I receive a text from my wife's best friend's husband who I have befriended as some men do the husbands of their wives' best friends. Prattling on about football, my feet are starting to warm by the fire and I'm thinking a nip of scotch would be grand. I get up and walk past the empty bottle of Glemorangie sticking out of the sea of items to be recycled and in the dark recesses of the liquor cabinet, I find the half-full bottle of scotch that once washed ashore the asphalt beach of my wife's best friend's driveway. I take it to the table and pour a glass, but something is off.

The label on the bottle reads "Jewels of Speyside" with an antlered deer proudly peering back at me. What could be more fitting in the hunting lodge atmosphere I've created for myself? While I've never heard of it, the label says it's a single-malt scotch aged 27 years, so I give it another try. As I do, my wife joins me on the couch and stares at the bottle and then at me. She likens it to a handle of Jockey gin that we left in the coat closet of her apartment on Bleecker Street when she moved out. It proved to be undrinkable even in the throws of her and her roommates infamous late-night holiday parties. As she studies the label quizzically, her eyes grow wide and she is hit with a revelation: "We used to sneak shots of that back when we were in high school, then we would add water to it so my friend's parents wouldn't know."

The next morning there's the clanging of glass as the bottles roll from the recycling bin into a larger receptacle and through the prism they create, I see the image of the deer staring back at me.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Twitter's IPO Conjures Shining City on the Hill

Bob Pisani and Scott Cutler at the NYSE.
This morning's initial public offering of Twitter's common stock was brilliant in that it allowed a level of transparency that was sorely missed when Facebook debuted in May 2012. CNBC reporter Bob Pisani (@BobPisani) was at the post alongside the New York Stock Exchange's Scott Cutler (@CutlerScott) to allow a level of public access to an event that has long been shrouded in mystery. "Ten million at 35," barked the designated market maker from the pit through every TV tuned in to this historic event as NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer stood nearby Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (@dickc) so that the public was being informed alongside the investment community at the same time, which to me exemplifies what Twitter's all about.

I recall when events unfolded in Tahrir Square and later in Damascus as news organizations and citizens from around the world learned first-hand from eyewitness accounts via Twitter that this social media application had become a legitimate source for breaking news. It's ubiquitous, real-time dissemination of news quickly sparked conversations that led to actions and debates after being parsed through each individual medley of filters and follows. In my mind, it was then that Twitter became the tipping point of the information age by democratizing media and accelerating transparency faster than a bullet. From the starlet who "accidentally" uploads a nude selfie, to the frenzied rebels dragging their wounded to safety while under fire, the parameters of public access fell like the Berlin Wall leaving in its wake the question of not where, but will we ever draw the line again?

At the NYSE this morning, the public watched as Twitter's Costolo and Jack Dorsey walked among the ebullient crowd before positioning themselves on the floor below the dais of the opening bell where among the crew stood none other than Captain Jean-Luc Picard to lead this voyage into the next generation.

Cheryl Fiandaca, Vivienne Harr, Scott Cutler and Patrick Stewart ring opening bell at NYSE for Twitter.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pencil Skirts

Bryant Park autumn breeze
quaff a half-dozen Long Island iced teas
among a swarm of honey bees
circling burgers smothered in cheese
and girls in pencil skirts above their knees
whose allergies to cats make them sneeze
while handling lobbyists with grace and ease
until happy hour's over and she flees.