August 30, 2011

M a c a r o n ! Or is it macaroon?


None of the above, I craved marrons glacés (candied chestnuts). 
In the novel La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, marrons glacés are the only confection that Marguerite Gautier would eat. Her clients were expected to buy bags of them for her to enjoy. 
The next time you watch Greta Garbo in Camille, pay close attention to what she is really enjoying.  Nope, it is not Robert Taylor perish that thought, or George Cukor, who obviously forgot to bring her treats.

It is marrons glacés.

Exacting aesthetes will point out that the English translation of the French macaron is a macaroon. Thus, you may say you just sampled a macaroon from Ladurée for example. (Although, I’m told a trend is underway to resort back to the macaron pronunciation in order to distinguish this famed delicacy from the mercifully undignified common coconut variety.
Make no mistake, confusion abounds. Before embarrassment sets in, or a faux pas committed, again, may I alert the discerning on the differences.
The well known American macaroon is made with almonds (or almond paste), egg whites, sugar, and sometimes a flavoring, like coconut or chocolate.
Yet, it is the Parisian-style version of the macaron or macaroon that has captivated hearts and palates alike. These precious little delicacies have become so well known internationally over other varieties of macarons to be found in France, that when someone says macaron without precision, they are generally referring to the Ladurée version. It’s evident an entire subculture exists on the macaron/macaroon. (Dedicated gourmands might be interested to know that the Almond and Macaroon Museum in the town of Montmorillon in France is a well traveled destination).
In the infinite wisdom of Larousse Gastronomique, macaroons originated in Venice during the Renaissance. The Venetian word was “macerone” and the English term, “macaroon,” comes from the French “macaron.”
Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it has no flour or leavening (the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, like yeast, baking powder and baking soda—instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites) and can be enjoyed during the eight-day observation of Passover. It was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet.  Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds and, in certain recipes, replaced them.  Coconut macaroons are more prevalent in the U.S. and the U.K.—and they’re a lot easier to make and transport than the fragile almond meringues.
As with the Madeleine, there are competing stories about the cookie’s origin.  There seems little dispute, however, that what came to be known as the macaroon, once called Amaretti (“the little bitter ones”) by the Italians, was created by Italian monks and refined by French pâtissiers.
Historians contend the macaron, ultimately, made its way to France in 1533 by the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II.
It was the thoughtful musings of Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée that truly revolutionized the famed macaron at the beginning of the 20th century, when he had the deliciously tempting idea to join two meringues together, filling them with ganache. The “originals” combined two plain almond meringues with a filling of [chocolate] ganache; but today, all manner of fillings (ganache, buttercream or jam) is elaborately “sandwiched” between meringues of seemingly limitless colors and flavors.
Go to a fine French restaurant and you may find miniature m’s among the petit-fours.  But, are you eating French macarons, Italian macerone, or that tasty hybrid, coconut macaroons?  
And what if you, as did I, request marrons glacés?  Confusion, and a stern lecture from the waiter. 
Ah, but not so fast.  Before I had to settle for macarons/ macerones /macaroons the proprietress came to my rescue.  She shared her private stash of marrons glacés with me.  All was well with the world.  Bon Appétit.

August 22, 2011

My (almost perfect) Berlin weekend.

Some journeys are emotionally too difficult. 
For me, Berlin holds that distinction.
So then, coward that I am, the next best thing to being there, a vicarious journey. 

Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin - Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape.This book is a challenging investigation of the arguments that developed around the demolishing, renovating or rebuilding of Berlin's many contentious buildings, statues, and even commemorative plaques.  
When your recent history is so awful what to do but reach back to a time before, but to do that stirs up feelings and meaning too as it can be argued that this period was what created the atmosphere for the way things developed. Not all the arguments and topics go in such a circular way, but this is all fraught and thought-provoking stuff.  If a book can have the power to influence public debate, then The Ghosts of Berlin is such a book. Among the many new books about Berlin that I have read, Brian Ladd's is certainly the most impressive.

The Good German
Of all the movie classics, in all the towns, in all the world, they had to walk into mine.
Steven Soderbergh and his leading man, George Clooney, have cooked up a monumentally misjudged, self-regarding, cynical take on 1940s thrillers in general, and Casablanca in particular, by making a glossy pastiche noir set in the shattered ruins of 1945 Berlin. Clooney is the lantern-jawed American reporter, attached to cover the Potsdam conference, who stumbles upon a murder and an establishment cover-up; Cate Blanchett is the local shady lady with a secret and a fake accent.  She should make amends to Ingrid (I raygredd zat Ik zpreken in zis zilly mogg-Tscherman agzend).  Tobey Maguire is the creepy American soldier way out of his depth.
Soderbergh has all the technical bells and whistles ... but where's the heart? The script is boring, with fatuous condescension, largely by dropping mismanaged references to The Third Man.  But there's an added level of nastiness. There's the c-word. Women get punched in the stomach. Added to this is an ostentatious and anachronistic debate about whether there are any good Germans at all, and whether the whole country, not just top Nazis, should be put on trial: inspired, I very much I suspect, by Daniel Goldhagen's 1996 book Hitler's Willing Executioners.
It just looks like one big film-school pose. Clooney and Soderbergh co-produced Todd Haynes' brilliant Douglas Sirk update Far From Heaven, and they may have intended something similar here. But Haynes's film honored its original with real passion. The Good German is culpably feeble and detached, especially considering that the original was released in 1942, and conceived far earlier: when the future of the world actually was at stake and Hitler's defeat far from cut and dried. Bogart and Bergman really did look as if they were in love; Clooney and Blanchett look like they can't wait to get back to their respective trailers.

Wings of Desire

Berlin’s urban space had frequently been the grim arena for sixties spy noir, but never had I seen Berlin become Berlin so clearly, so eloquently before. (The more sober and evocative German title translates as The Sky over Berlin.)  Of course the city is haunted what German city is not.  But here the city is haunted by angels like Bruno Ganz’s questing hero Damiel, present but unseen, and always listening.  Given the iconography, it’s a passionately humanist film, suggesting by its very texture and rhythm a prescriptive notion of how we should regard our compatriot Homo sapiens, and how we should seize the mundane moments as they catapult by. It’s a soaring anthem for everydayness.  If ever there was a European art film that could be all things to all people, it is Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire.  Marking Wenders’ career midpoint like a lightning strike cutting across tree rings, the movie is at once audience-seductive and demanding, holistic and aestheticized.
It has beguiled the Wenders aficionado as reliably as it’s absorbed the spiritually hungry civilian, the rogue film head, the bookish square, the nondenominational seeker, and the vicarious traveller.
... ick hab noch eenen Koffer in Berlin…

August 18, 2011

Keep your Cool ♪♪♪♪♪ シ

“Then followed
that beautiful season
S u m m e r
Filled was the air
with a dreamy
and magical light;
and the landscape
lay as if new created
in all the freshness
of childhood.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It was the summer of 1976. And this melodious little tune with the suggestive lyrics was playing on the radio.  “Afternoon Delight.”  A song everyone remembers by a band, Starland Vocal Band, everyone quickly forgot.
Like the heat, uncharacteristically hot that summer, Afternoon Delight soared to number one. Written by Bill Danoff, the title was rumored to have come from a spicy (risqué?) menu item of the same name at Clyde’s restaurant in Georgetown. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you had a little afternoon delight of your own.

all images © slim aarons

Carefree weekend wishes to you all!  Don't forget your sunscreen ! -)


August 16, 2011

A Questionable Place.

I was on a mission of mercy, and like a fairy-tale wanderer, I slipped down a hole in the ground and found myself in another world altogether.  This is how I felt after I arrived in Oaxaca walking down the zocalo in the evening hours.  It was like a hallucination.  The great trees that shade the square, the overpowering façade of the cathedral that overlooks it, the cafes that line the pavements-all were bathed in an eery light making the movement of the people in and out of the darkness like the movement of stage characters. 
Grandly, in the high white bandstand that occupies the middle of the zocalo, a brass band was preparing to perform.  But no, though I hung around the plaza for two long drinks, and though the crowd was waiting with infinite patience on white iron benches beneath the trees, I never did hear the band play and this gave the whole scene, when I recalled it the next morning, a tantalizing air of suspense, as in a dream whose denouement never quite arrives, leaving you to make up an ending of your own.
It was not magic mushrooms that gave me these agreeably alienated sensations.  It might have been partly the altitude.  Oaxaca is 5,000 feet above sea level.  Its name sounds to me onomatopoeic in its queer combination of breathiness and romance.  The air is thin, the location lonely, and even in the light of day the city retains an air of festive unreality.

For travellers of my own sensibility, who rather stay home than face the hassle of this endemically delayed, cancelled, closed-owning-to-national-holiday, mariachi-deafened, corn-corpulent republic-for faint hearts like me, Oaxaca offers a salutary lesson.  Even here nearly everything goes wrong, but when it does it all happens so gently, so elegantly, that you are instantly mollified.  It is like an hour acclimatization session.  An hour in Oaxaca and you are indoctrinated into the frame of mind by which aficionados insulate themselves against Mexico’s hazards, and live through them all with affectionate detachment.
Our Lady of Solitude is a proper patroness for Oaxaca, because the city really does stand on its own amid those bare-looking mountains of the south.  Its appearance is abrupt, suddenly you reach it suddenly you leave it.  Contemplating this fact, looking around me I realized the fantastic nature of these Spanish colonial towns.  In no other modern empire was building done with such ebullient sophistication at such remote and improbable sites.  The British built no Oaxaca in India, the French created nothing so exquisite in Indo-China and we must look back to the dominions of the ancients, to the overseas cities of the Greeks and Romans, to find a civilization re-creating itself with similar art and craftsmanship in foreign parts.
Oaxaca is a questionable sort of place, as it had to be from the beginning, no doubt, in order simply to survive the Spaniards who fortified themselves with dogma and architecture against the unknown.
All this-the isolation of history and geography-makes the character of Oaxaca feel all the more absolute.  I love old, small cities in any country, and Oaxaca provides the authentic provincial stimulation.  The undertaker reads a magazine among the ornamental coffins of his premises.  Going to the movies is an event, and people make an evening of lectures on art at the Teatro Juan Rulfo.
In such cities, and especially in cities of Spanish origin, I always like to imagine that somewhere around the corner lives an Eminent Local Historian who knows more about the town than anyone else ever will, and whose whole life is its history.  Where ever I go I look out for this sage of my fancy, and in Oaxaca, sure enough, I spotted him, walking stately through his beloved streets in the cool of the evening accompanied by the adoring wife essential to an eminent local historian. 
Oaxaca has been vividly, some might say violently, colored by Indianess.  Pure-blooded Europeans seem to be a rare figure here.  Even the historian is high of cheekbone and exotically deep of eye.  On all sides I see the unusual walk, almost a falling on the toes, that is specific to the Indians, and you hear the arcane languages of the Mixtec, Zapotec, or Ixcatec-well, perhaps not Ixcatec, because according to the local museum only nineteen people in the entire state now speak the Ixcatec tongue.
The Indians seem endlessly productive-endlessly inventive, too, for every rug, every tapestry, every mask, every funny giraffe is different-and the life of the city appears to be governed by their calendar.  Saturday is Oaxaca’s great day of the week, because the Indians come into the market from the villages all around. 
European that I am, I have tried hard to imagine a European analogy for the combinations of Oaxaca.  Architecturally, of course, it is like a Spanish hill town, with its baroque and rococo glories, its domed suggestions of Islam, its portentously fin de siecle Teatro Macedonia Alcala.  Yet thousand of country people, from tribes long thought extinct, are unleashed each day upon the municipality bringing with them all the styles, attitudes, and traditions of an almost forgotten age.
They strike me as a people almost inconceivably old-a truly indigenous people, rooted in their own mores.  In the regional museum you can see how true to itself their style has remained down the centuries-the same suggestions of animist certainty, the same tastes for the gaudy, the decorative, the macabre, and the whimsical. 
High above Oaxaca resides the ancient city of Monte Alban, which probable achieved the height of its glory in the seventh and eight centuries AD, and was later converted to a royal necropolis by the Mixtec-those very same people whose languages I still hear, whose haunting faces I still see in the dappled light of the zocalo.
It is one of the supreme archaeological sites of the Americas, but it surely more than that.  It is also the colossal folk memory of a race still alive and creative.  A steep winding road leads you up there from the city, to the scrub land ridge that commands the converging valleys of the Oaxaca.  Arcane pre-Colombian buildings, temples, palaces, ball courts and supposed observatory.  The wind blows out of the wide bare hills around, and there is the mingled smell of dust and herbs.  The dry air carries voices with a strange clarity across the plateau.
Far below Oaxaca lies, like an exquisite model among the foothills and Monte Alban seems to look down upon it with a monitory air.  Perhaps the presence of this peculiar stronghold casts some spell upon the town.  I was here when the night began to fall, the lights came on in the streets below for all the world as though the old lords of the mountain had decreed it; and as I stood there so high above the little city, entranced, I swear to you I heard the band strike-up.

August 09, 2011

Never drive the straight route to Las Vegas. ♪

Not up for any desert hike?  Please join me in one of my favorite driving detours to Las Vegas, stops along old Highway 66, from Barstow to Goffs, California.  It's rocky and dry and has an eerie outer-spaceness about it (to give you an idea of the terrain, the Amboy Crater was the research site for the Mars Rover).  Here you'll find solitude like you've never experienced before.  It's just you and some prehistoric rock - and way out there, out on the horizon, an idea that could be something, someday…

A little trip down the "Mother Road" always puts me in a bright and sunny mood and in the mood for sunny side-up eggs, hash browns, biscuits and gravy. Of course loaded with cholesterol.

Callico Station was founded as a mining supply center to support the silver mines in Calico. A narrow gauge railroad hauled the silver ore to Calico Station which had the stamp mills for processing the ore. In 1883 the name of the town was changed to Daggett in honor of the new California Lt. Governor. In its early days it was a major shipping center for the silver and borax industries. Some of the old buildings are still standing in the old downtown section of Daggett.  The old Stone Hotel built in 1883 was once the "office" of Death Valley Scotty, and Wyatt Earp is said to have stayed here on his way to mining claims in Parker, Arizona.
When Route 66 was established in 1926, the townspeople of Ludlow moved Main Street north to line up with the road.  It started as a water stop for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in 1883 and when ore was found in the nearby hills, Ludlow became a happening-kind of place. There were no wells in those olden days so water had to be brought in from Newberry Springs - about 27 miles west. The major portion of the town was built along the railroad tracks where many shacks are still located.

With the popularity of the movie, “Bagdad Cafe,” Route 66 became a must-see for tourists - homegrown and foreign-born.
The Newberry Springs cafe is a Route 66 survivor and was once known as the Sidewinder Cafe.  After the movie was filmed here the name Bagdad Cafe stuck.  It is open for business serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Say hi to the proprietor who has done a great job of keeping the Bagdad Cafe alive for all us Mother Road fans. If you're lucky, maybe General Bob will show up and entertain you with his colorful stories from the past! 

(where’s Jack?)
The area around Newberry Springs has been a source of water in the arid Mojave Desert since the earliest days. The site of Camp Cady is located a few miles from present day Newberry Springs, and was a resting place and watering hole along the Mojave River for wagon trains coming to California in the 1850's on the old Mormon Trail. In the 1880's the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad hauled tank cars of water from Newberry Springs to the stations and towns in the area making life in this arid land possible. 
The real Bagdad Cafe, in Bagdad,  was once the social center of the desert.  A few building foundations are all that remain of the town.
From the 1940's through the 1950's the Bagdad Cafe was the place to gather on a Saturday night. With its juke box and dance floor the cafe became the entertainment capital of the Mojave Desert between Needles and Barstow. The music died in 1968 when the cafe closed. In 1972 when the Interstate opened miles to the north of Bagdad the town started its rapid decline. And sadly, what was left of Bagdad was scraped off the face of the earth in 1991 when the gas pipeline storage area was built.  That  gone too.

A man sat, perched on a stool at the dusty counter top.                                               
In the cafe that doesn't serve food.
At the gas station that doesn't pump gas.                                                                              

At the motel where nobody sleeps.
I asked the man how many people live in this town?  He held up four fingers.
Wait, said his friend, running his hand through the fur of a sleeping black dog. What about Larry? Oh yeah. Make that five, the man said. It was just another quiet, dusty day in Amboy, California.  Population: Five.   
It wasn't always that way. Once upon a time, Amboy was a bustling stop on Route 66, perfectly situated halfway between Barstow and Needles.  The place boasted Googie "retro-future" architecture, a real draw in 1959.  And it also had Roy's Motel and Cafe, the only gas, food and lodging stop for miles and miles.  Back then both Roy's and the town were owned by Buster Burris, one of the best-known Route 66 characters. He purchased Roy's from his father-in-law, Roy Crowl.  In those days, people were hungry for the open road. And, of course, they also needed a clean bed, fuel and burgers.  Used to be Roy's would get so busy, Burris had to advertise in surrounding states to bring in enough hands.  Then, in the 1970s, Interstate 40 entered the picture.  After the bypass was built, business shrunk to just about nothing.  Folks moved away.  Buildings were destroyed or faded in neglect.  You might recognize this scenario - Amboy was the inspiration for the town of Radiator Springs in Disney's animated movie, "Cars."

After Burris died, Amboy changed hands twice.  In 2003, the whole town was offered for sale on eBay at a price of $1.9 million.  The highest offer was $995,000, and the town went unsold.  In February 2005, Amboy was repossessed by Burris' widow, Bessie.  She sold the place to the owner of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain, Albert Okura for $425,000 and a promise - Okura has to renovate and repopulate Amboy.  Across the street from the cafe is a church with a lopsided steeple.  Behind it, high-speed freight trains run like a ribbon through the landscape on the Santa Fe Railroad, between Barstow and Kingman, Ariz.  It's a popular spot for railroad photographers, because they can situate themselves close to the tracks with no obstacles.  The trains have also been important for the salt mines, which operate about three miles outside of Amboy.  Dry lake beds filled with chloride stretch for miles, and makes the parched desert landscape appear snow covered.  Salt is the reason Amboy is here at all.

Amboy Crater rises above the desert floor just outside of town it was once an old Route 66 tourist attraction. Today the Amboy Crater stands silent and lonely. But it wasn't always like that.  
About 60 years ago this stretch of Route 66 woke up.  On that fateful day the residents of Amboy awoke to saw a billowing black tendril of smoke rising from the center of the crater, high into the sky. It seemed that what everyone had thought was a dormant volcanic cinder cone was now coming to life with a promise of an eruption that would rival Mt. Vesuvius. The residents prepared to flee. Route 66 and the Santa Fe mainline where shut down as people braced themselves for the disaster.  Funny thing though, there was none of the distinctive rumblings of the earth usually associated with volcanic activity such as this. Furthermore, the smoke didn't seem to get any thicker either. A team of investigators was dispatched to fly over the crater to try to determine the extent of the impending calamity. What they found surprised them. Instead of billowing clouds of ash, red-hot lava and steam, they saw a small, localized fire in the center of the crater and what looked suspiciously like burning tires and trash. The hoax was uncovered! An investigation was promptly set up to find the perpetrators of this dastardly scheme. The clues led all the way to Barstow and ended with some kids from the local high school. Evidently these local youth had concocted a clever plan to simulate a natural disaster, and hauled old tires and junk to the crater then set the pile on fire. The officials duly chastised the local kids. All in all, I can't help but think that the officials found a little humor in the stunt, but not in front of the kids of course. Such a grand plan, the disciplinary officials might have thought. Why hadn't they thought of something like that before? Downright creative!

You will find the abandoned Roadrunner Cafe and Gas Station about a mile and a half west of Chambless. I had seen a picture of the place before in a piece of original artwork from a noted Route 66 artist.

The town of Danby, a ghost of its former self, sits bare and blasted by the unforgiving Mojave sun. Once a water stop for the railroad. When Route 66 came along it became more than railroad stop it provided vital services for the desert traveler. The gas stations and cafes are closed now, but here and there are remnants of the past highway glory.  I found an abandoned wood frame and tin siding structure that looked to have been a garage at one time. What made this old building interesting was a mural painted on the front of the building showing a scene from western lore.

Essex was as a small Mojave Desert community that chiefly served the needs of the tourists. Essex once provided towing services, gas stations, markets and cafes to the Route 66 traveler. This post card from the 1940s shows Essex in it's hey-day.

About ten miles from Essex on the old Route 66 is Goffs, here my detour ended.

For Clive, with whom I made this detour often, happy memories. 【ツ】

August 08, 2011

What am I doing here?

Standing in the middle of the new CityCenter, Las Vegas, I realized I did not get it.  I could not understand why MGM Mirage built this Dubai-scaled, $8.5 billion, celebrity-architect mega-development, dumping a casino and 6,000 unwanted hotel rooms on Las Vegas. 

"If you build it, they will come," a famous line from the movie Field of Dreams. In CityCenter's case, that's not guaranteed. And this is no cornfield in Iowa.
CityCenter, as its name implies, is a downtown unto itself: 67 acres, 3 miles in circumference. The place has generated its share of controversies, about which you can read elsewhere. It is wedged into a plot along the Las Vegas Strip between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo, to which it is connected by a private monorail — all three properties are owned by MGM Mirage. CityCenter was master-planned by Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut, and Kuhn, and has four hotels designed by name-brand architectural practices (Cesar Pelli, Rafael Vinoly, Norman Foster, KPF), a pair of condo towers (by Murphy/Jahn), and a full-blown work of starchitecture (a shopping mall by Daniel Libeskind).
Its conceits are several:
·         It is the first and only “green” complex on the Strip (judging from the unpleasant odor that wafted through the buildings, I swear they are using sewage to grow vegetables).

·         It is a diversified entertainment complex in which gambling will not be the primary revenue source. Shure. A note on Las Vegas nomenclature: It’s gaming, not gambling. Gambling is a foolish activity that can only end in tears. Gaming is harmless entertainment.  Let’s keep them straight.

·         It is relentles and unapologetic modern.
One has to walk outdoors to travel between the buildings within CityCenter a strategy imposed on the architects to foster a sense of urbanity and to keep the place from feeling hermetic, unfortunately this idea is especially unpleasant in August, when it’s 118 degrees in the shade.
CityCenter is what you might call Post-Metaphor Las Vegas. Cosmetically, its buildings are not buildings from other places and times — Rome, Paris, New York, Venice, Medieval England. Which begs this question, at least for me: What’s the point of CityCenter if it’s just an upscale development in a mid-size American city?
I was given a tour of Crystals, CityCenter’s signature work of starchitecture (thank you Fred).  A Libeskind minion tried his best to retroactively justify Libeskind’s idiosyncratic architectural language.   “It’s a vortex drawing energy off the strip. It’s a lifelike spiral. Rocks. Fractals.”   Please stop. Does it matter, anyway? From the outside, it’s dramatic and shiny. Inside, it’s disappointing. The folds and cuts so prominent on the exterior suggest intriguing, Piranesian spaces, but upon entering one finds a fairly straightforward mall with some wonky ceilings and skylights. Shadows are projected on blank walls where you’d think the skylights would throw their own patterns. This seems like a failing.  If you need projections to create visual drama, why all the structural gymnastics? Materially rich and visually sumptuous installations by David Rockwell — a teak stairwell, a blobby wooden catwalk — clash uncomfortably with Libeskind’s angular white-walled avant-gardism.  Sculptures by WET, the firm behind the Bellagio fountains, are underwhelming.
It does have its dramatic moments, especially from the outside. It makes, at least by Vegas standards, considerable effort to engage its neighbors and the street. I’ve heard it said that its entire purpose is to occupy the wives of high-stakes gamblers, but this doesn’t seem especially fair. With his silly glasses and funny accent, Libeskind has made something of a cartoon of himself, which is a shame.  I wish he’d look back at his earlier work and quit it with the “spirals” and “vortexes” and “fractals.”
Is there a public space in Las Vegas without piped-in music?  Not really, but there was a group playing that was not your usual girls with a tambourine…

“Beautiful, Vivacious, Energetic and Unique! These are just a few of the adjectives describing these talented gals. Phat Strad puts a modern spin on the old classics and a classical take on modern day pop hits. Schubert to Sting all on Stradivarius!  Popular rock music arranged for string quartet, performed by an international cast of classically trained beautiful girls, playing futuristic electronic instruments, with an industrial strength techno drum groove. Wow! Unique, ultra-cool, slightly sexy, and danceable. Phat Strad is a powerful entertainment package with a wide range of appeal and endless possibilities for convention, nightclub, concert, discotheque or special event. Wireless mobility makes it possible for these girls to perform anywhere in any venue.“ 
 –Bravo entertainment
Well, I bought a CD (supporting the sisterhood and all that jazz) but the arrangements are as inspiring as the building in which they were performed. 
World’s ugliest buildings, predictable arrangements?  You decide. 

See you later, I hope, still trying to navigate out off the parking lot...
PRICELESS directions. 


August 04, 2011

Il y a longtemps que je t’aime.

Dearest Godson,

William Wordsworth once remarked that you should “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” I hope you’ll agree that this blog is the perfect venue to do that. In lieu of paper - so passé - I offer you the limitless outreach of cyberspace.

Celebrating a birthday is a time for reflection (enjoy the bubbly, Beluga and Cohibas) this should help you ponder the highlights and lowlights of the past year. You are priviledged to savor a world vast, rich and diverse, may it both humble and inspire.