Paging Captain Phillips...

A Bit of Excitement on the High Seas

5:00 PM Local Time
Bay of Bengal
Cocktails on the Veranda

… and then, with a flourish, these guys make a grand appearance in a great rush from the starboard side.

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Thought of the moment? “Paging Captain Phillips…”

Turns out that they were a fishing boat out of Sri Lanka, and out of food and water. Provisions provided, they went on their way.

Facets

I'm taking an online course, "Creativity: Music to my Ears," taught by Tina Seelig of Stanford. The first week's assignment: create the cover art for "the album of your life." Here's my effort…

CD Oil Final

   CD Back

For extra credit, we were challenged to whip up a playlist to put inside. Mine can be found here:

  

 

Anniversary Gift

I worked from our place in Carmel Valley for ten days in late August, returning to NY last weekend, sad to leave it, and Ellie, behind. Our plan was for her to follow a few days later. Fate intervened however, when a business trip back to the west coast had to be organized at the last minute… a clear message from God. Result: a very nice long anniversary (35th!) weekend in paradise with my loving bride.


 

Downtown Sunday Morning

We're sort of uptown types by nature, but this weekend Ellie and I spent time in the lower reaches of Manhattan.

The original idea was a change of pace stop on the way back to CA yesterday. Plans for returning to our west coast home changed when, over the weekend, I decided to accept an offer to join a company based in NYC. (Pending formal announcement, I'll need to be coy and ask you to stand by for full details.) As I write this post, I'm sitting in a Starbucks, an hour or so away from starting my new adventure.

Back to the weekend…

Flatiron-building  We decided to keep to our plans for a NY night in the Flat Iron / Gramercy Park area, now repurposed as a mini-celebration. As it turned out, we did so early in the evening with good friends and former colleagues at both Symbol and Intelleflex, Steve and his wife Pam (a couple of very special people), and later with my brother John, passing through NY doing a bit of fund raising for Stanford, where he serves as Vice Provost, responsible for the undergraduate program. (He's pretty special too.)

Venue for our dinner with Steve and Pam was Craftbar, Tom Colicchio's informal spot on lower Broadway. Based on this, our first visit, I can recommend it heartily: great food, service, atmosphere and vibe. We had a terrific time…

…As we did later that evening with John, back at The Rose Bar in our overnight spot, The Gramercy Park Hotel.

I'm sure that readership clever enough to be on this blog can read between the lines (new job to celebrate, long dinner with great friends, late night toasting with family…) and figure out that Sunday morning was slow and fuzzy in arriving.

So, sometime around 11:00, a walk in the bracingly cold air seemed like just the thing to usher in a return to clarity. We pointed ourselves south on 3rd avenue, eventually ending up at DBGB, Daniel Boulud's latest restaurant. Named with a tip of the hat to a long time fixture in the neighborhood, the underground rock club CBGB, and specializing in all things sausage, the place has been a big hit since opening mid-summer.

Ellie chose an incredibly creatively prepared and presented upscale hotdog; I went with a sausage done in the style of Tunisia. Great old blues songs were played one after another. The place filled with an ecclectic collection of folks, united in their obvious enjoyment of the experience.

This all played out in room set as a stage to simple foods, prepared with imagination and skill. The kitchen was open to view, and the room was ringed overhead by copper cooking pots, each accompanyed by a small plaque bearing the name of the famous chef who gifted it to Daniel Boulud for placement here.

The manager, (who we know from his earlier service at another Boulud establishment) explained that they make it a practice to seat those chefs immediately adjacent to "their" pots when they visit. I smiled and told him how that reminded me of how my friend Steve is notorious for something similar: seating his guest following a round at his club at a table facing a board displaying plaques commemorating past club champions — his and his son's names prominent among them, where they can't possibly be missed.

I recorded a bit of the DBGB scene, as well as sights on the walk back to the hotel, and set them into a brief video, which will serve as a punctuation to this post. Turn up the sound, and please enjoy…

Catching Up

Sunday afternoon, late, dusk. Time for a bit of catch-up on the past week's goings on, (during which I did more living than blogging). I'll do it summary style this time:

Next phase of career coming into focus. Most likely trajectory will find me rejoining old friends on a new mission, to help lead the transformation of a grand old company into a compelling new one. On final approach; ETA two or three weeks.

Visit through NYC terrific…

Began with crafty cab driver whose very purpose for living was to gain a car's length advantage over adversaries at every possible opening, real or imagined. Drivers of vehicles many times our size were left cowering.

Continued as we checked into favorite UES haunt, to hearty greetings, personal touches and postcardCentral Park 11 09 1   views.

Warmed further by smiles of mutual recognition exchanged with a piano man of long acquaintance.Chrisgillespie
 

Have a listen…

01 I've Got A Crush On You

Further still by the visit of fellow with whom I shared a very noisy foxhole during the SBL campaign, and by the sage advice he shared.

Further yet as we retired to a magical place to wine, dine and be entertained by a showman more people should know.Steve Tyrell
 

After good byes, a nightcap with accompaniment by the evening's third entertainer.

Loston Harris
 

Pause for sleep.

Morning brought coffee, fresh berries and the NYT, all blessedly late.

Haircut and shave (indulgence, served over the good natured banter of 40 year veteran barbers of Italian descent), then productive conference call.

Upside of being "in transition": you can find yourself DONE at 11:45. I was.

Walked uptown, bought a couple of books. Downtown, some tea, a couple of tea sets (for east coast digs).

After channeling The Thin Man for a bit, decided to take my camera for a walk in the Park. Results were satisfying.

Central Park 11 09 6
 

Piano man again. Gave him one of two books I purchased (the one about Pops). He gave it back, asking for dedication. I complied.

Dinner at another "local". Al Roker and guest just off to my left. (Saw Matt Lauer earlier.) Season's first truffles (over scrambled eggs).

Secured rented transportation on Thanksgiving morn, and headed east, bulging with luggage.

Met at former family estate by young man who, in my estimation, is the best son a father could have.

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TDay Dinner with all the fixings at a golf club that gets it right every year, (and where I may actually get to play a round next year!)

Son's TDay+ party provisioned by mom. Off he went by sea and land, into enemy territory (MA).

Saturday: up early, bio-reading, tea. A bit of seaside photojournalism.Short Beach 4   Meeting with a small, talented team looking to turn adversity (being laid off) into opportunity (a promising start-up idea). I may have helped, a little.

Woke early again today. Rose quietly, tip-toeing so as not to wake Ellie.  Descending stairs, noticed I must have left lights on last night. No. Ellie was sipping coffee, watching old movie.

More tea.

Browsed online instantiations of old media (there really IS a way forward; don't they see it?). Came across article on HDR photography. Bought HDR software (impulse indulgence). As it downloaded, received Google Wave invite. What to do? One tab for each, I multi-tasked for an hour or so.

Still early, I asked Ellie if she would like a road trip. Nods later, off we went. Sag Harbor. The American Hotel. Bloody Mary, Paté, Lobster BLT, HDR experiments….. double espresso, home.

That's pretty much it. Later.

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Monterey Motor Week(end)

Depending on your point of view, and urgency of need to navigate area roads, August each year either brings heaven or hell to the Monterey Peninsula.

If you appreciate fine automobiles, and the culture surrounding them and their enthusiasts, you'd be hard pressed to find a better place to be than here for the week leading up to the Concours d'Elegance, a fixture at Pebble Beach since 1950.

If you're a harried local resident trying to get from point A to point B, the long traffic jams (peppered with Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and the like) are an annual pain (worse than the AT&T golf event in February).

I fall decidedly into the former camp, so this past weekend was a treat all the way, from The Quail on Friday to the Rolex Historic Automobile Races on Sunday. As a bonus, we caught up with some old friends, and made some new ones. Read on.

The weekend started, very well indeed, with The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering. Conceived to fill the void left when the Concorso Italiano outgrew its venue at the Quail Resort some years back, the area's newest major event has become in the opinion of many (well, at least mine), the premier one of the lot. Designed to be small, exclusive and top shelf, it has succeeded wonderfully, selling out each year. (We reserved our tickets in January.)

View from the entrance gate We arrived shortly after 10:00 am, with the festivities already well underway to the sounds of a small band playing selections chosen to match the Italian, Mexican and German food soon to be served. Have a listen. (There's an App for that.)

While lunch was served starting at noon, Martinis, Champagne and tequila were flowing from the opening. Thoughts of recession receded…

While we were seated enjoying the organizer's thoughtful and entirely sensible priorities, an announcement directed everyone's eyes skyward, to a choreographed fly-over. It was nice, very nice, but nowhere near as thrilling as a couple of years back when the equivalent kick-off featured assorted spins, inverted dives and forced stalls that seemed to be taking place at tree-top level, just above the tents… and our heads.

Blog Photo 2 A hefty fine later, a more stately and elevated display has been the order of the day ever since.

As the planes departed the food arrived. We shared our table with a collector and restoration hobbyist (serious variety) from the LA area, with whom we struck up a nice and educational conversation. Fresh from a win and a second place finish for two of his cars shown the prior weekend at yet another Motor Week event, he was still grumbling (in a rather good natured way though) about "amateur judges" and the second place finish. He was clearly used to winning, and proud of his '86 Porsche Turbo ("which won best-in-class two of three prior years at THE Porsche event of the year").

When I asked about the subjective nature of the whole business, he explained that many judges (but not the very best) carry a prejudice tied to "their thing": some undisclosed fine point esoterica of car fit, finish or provenance, that is their basis for sorting out the best from the rest. How like the situations with critics more interested in displaying their intellectual prowess (or politics) than offering balanced appraisal of an artist's work, or reporters spinning a story's facts to fit an angle? Human nature does indeed have universal themes.

Finally, I asked whether the goal for cars shown at his level is for them to be presented as they would have rolled out of the showroom. "No, better, always better," came the reply, with passion. "For example?". "All the grooves, on all of the screw heads, line up perfectly," came the answer. Oh.

Well informed and well fed, I wandered off to take in the rest of the show.

Blog Photo 7Ellie lingered in a front row seat, taking in the entertainment. My wife likes cars too, but it was only the beginning of a long weekend…

… featuring last minute house guests, impromptu parties, loud and dusty race tracks and a less-than-perfect husband. I'm very lucky, as it turns out.

Two sightings warrant attention…

An "in-character" gentleman engaged in vigorous debate with another enthusiast:

Blog Photo 8

Cars of a certain age at this event demand The Full Monty treatment, including period costume (and often hairstyle, manner, attitude…). Delightful. What do you think they were arguing about? Proper tire inflation? The merits of Herbert Hoover's politics? Who knows?

It always happens to me at these events. One of these machines becomes an Object of Desire.

No different this year, where it turned out to be the updated and steroids-drenched version of a car I previously owned. W12 engine and 195 mph not enough? Meet the Bentley Continental Supersports — 240 pounds lighter, and with a wider rear posture, tightened up gear ratios and a fair bit meaner bearing than its more gentile relative. 60 mph arrives precisely 3.7 seconds after "go" and the needle touches 204 before all is said and done.

Blog Photo 9

Everyone needs at least one shameless, purely materialistic aspiration to get through Mondays. I've found mine. Onward…

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