Posts Tagged ‘Mad Men’

Letter From New York 09 20 15 Getting ready to go on the road…

September 20, 2015

Today begins three weeks of travel for me. I am heading down to the city this noon to attend a party for my friends, Kris and Eric, who now live in California. They are stopping by New York on their way to Martha’s Vineyard for a week.

Monday and Tuesday I am in the city, Wednesday I leave for Provincetown to visit friends, back to the city, down to Baltimore for Lionel’s birthday, off to Indianapolis for a conference and then on to Minneapolis to visit family and friends, circling back to the city before heading home.

I am squeezing in all of this, fulfilling promises to visit, before winter hits. I do my best not to go to Minneapolis when it’s freezing.

It’s a gentle morning here, temperature in the sixties with no rain forecast either in the Hudson Valley or down in the city. It has warmed enough that I am now on the deck with my coffee and my increasingly cranky laptop. It is now three years old and beginning to feel its age. Oh well, aren’t we all?

There is a touch of fall in the morning’s air, cool with no humidity, a desire to go put on a sweater. Yesterday young Nick and I discussed the need to fill the racks near the house with seasoned firewood from the piles out by the shed. I am settling in to a comfortable fall.

Not so in Europe where refugees and migrants find themselves trapped at borders, struggling to get around them. The nights are already cool and I doubt any of them are prepared for a chill walk across Europe. The seas will be getting rougher and therefore more dangerous.

Pope Francis has arrived in Cuba and is asking for more freedom for the church. If anyone can convince the Castros to loosen their grip, it’s this man. Tuesday he arrives in New York, one of the reasons I am choosing to be gone. It will be a little bit of chaos; no it will likely be a lot of chaos. Pundits think it will be worse than when the President is in town. But the town is revving up for him.

On the west coast, Seattle is getting ready for a two day visit starting also on Tuesday by Xi Jinping, President of China, in which he will immerse himself in all things tech before heading on to visit Obama in Washington on Thursday.

Ben Carson has declared a Muslim should not be President and The Donald has had to respond, which he has done in typical The Donald style, to not having corrected a man in an audience who said the country had a problem: Muslims and the President was not an American and was a Muslim.

Staggeringly, near thirty percent of Americans still believe Obama is a Muslim. It causes me to roll my eyes and despair of the electorate.

The Greek electorate is deciding today whether to return to office Alexis Tsipras, who was elected to defy the country’s European creditors and ended capitulating to them. The Greeks are weary; this is their fifth national election in six years. Ridiculous, says one man. It will be a very tight election.

The Conservatives are running neck and neck with Tsipras and his Syriza Party. We will know by the morning, at least, who wins.

Tonight are the Emmy Awards. Since I no longer have cable, I’ll not be able to watch them. I don’t have over-the-air service either. I’m interested in seeing if Jon Hamm will FINALLY get an Award for his iconic performance as Don Draper in “Mad Men.” A couple of others interest me too, but not terribly.

Increasingly, I feel removed from media except as a distant observer. I’ve had my fun.

Now I seem to be looking for other fun, closer to home, some still media related but on the very local level. It brings a smile to my lips.

Now I must go and get ready to go to that party…

Letter From New York 03 25 15 First full day in Delhi…

March 25, 2015

It is late afternoon in Delhi and I am just back at India International Center where I am staying, after spending the afternoon with my friend Raja Choudury. We made a drive past Connaught Place where I commented that it was much better looking than I remembered it. He said yes, they had done much to clean it up over the last years. It was, twenty years ago, one of the great shopping areas of Delhi but it also looked like a rundown claptrap of a place. Now it is white and shiny again.

We went on from there to the Oberoi Hotel where we lunched at Taipan, a dim sum restaurant on the top floor with views out across Delhi, the sky tinged with the pollution for which the city is famous. It was a long and leisurely lunch; with Raja catching me up on the work he is doing, including the launching of a new web adventure, onegreatidea.com.

This was the first time that Raja and I had met in person. We have known each other for years. He encountered me on LinkedIn and asked me for some help with a project that he was working on, which I was, luckily, able to provide. We have continued talking and skypeing but in all this time we haven’t met each other in person so today was a good day.

Tomorrow, all of India will come to almost to a halt. It is the day of a cricket game between India and Australia and is, according to reports, the biggest game in years. A huge number of Indians are going to call in sick. It’s the game NOT to be missed, a bit like asking people to work during the Super Bowl in the U.S.

So I should be able to get around quite easily tomorrow. I am going to delve into my tour books and determine what I would like to see. Today, I visited India Gate and drove by the President’s House and the Houses of Parliament, great, grand structures built in the last days of the Raj. Back then; I think the President’s House was the Viceroy’s Palace.

It was in the 90’s here but not yet humid so it didn’t feel so bad. In my room, I have the air conditioning running and the fan turning. The IIC, India International Center, is a private club on the nature of the Yale Club or Harvard Club in New York though very Indian in feel. The accommodations are nice if rather Spartan compared with the Oberoi but very adequate with excellent Wi-Fi.

As far as I can tell, I am the only American staying here; the rest are from all over India. In the bar, groups huddle together discussing business or art. Last night, I read and sipped Johnny Walker.

Being in India, I am very careful about the water. No ice cubes. I only drink what can be drunk neat.

This morning there was an Indian paper at my door, mostly filled with news I had read online before going of to bed.

Getting back from tour round Delhi, I went online and found the, to me, blockbuster news that Heinz and Kraft Foods are to merge, becoming Heinz Kraft, in a deal nurtured by legendary investor Warren Buffet with a Brazilian investment company.

My, oh my!

There is a new Steve Jobs biography out, “Becoming Steve Jobs” that is reputedly better than Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs.” He still comes across as monumentally conflicted but a bit more human, according to reviews.

In a case of life imitating art, Jon Hamm, Don Draper in “Mad Men,” has just exited a 30-day program for alcohol rehab. Years of playing the world’s most famous alcoholic may have found its reflection in Hamm’s own life. I wish him well. The last season of “Mad Men” starts soon.

In the category of the world is challenging: The UN last year announced that same sex married couples could receive the same benefits of married straight couples. Russia introduced a resolution to withdraw benefits from same sex married couples. 43 countries, including India, China and the UAE, supported it. It was defeated. 80 countries voted against the resolution and 37 abstained.

The day is drawing to a close as the day begins in America. I am going to work on my speech again and then go read for a while before an early night. I feel good but one more good’s night sleep would be a great thing.

Letter From New York 02 17 15 Also with a lighter note…

February 17, 2015

This morning I woke up in Manhattan, in the pied-a-terre that I have here. For a moment, as the alarm was going off, I was sure that I was in my bedroom in the cottage and only slowly realized where I was. It was interesting to have that sense of momentary confusion. The Bose radio at the cottage is ivory; the one in New York is grey. Seeing the grey Bose reminded me where I was.

With bright sun blurting down on the city and with the temperatures in the twenties, it felt positively balmy.

The apartment is on the Upper West Side and my meeting was on the Upper East Side so I jumped in a taxi, being met with one of the most garrulous taxi drivers I have encountered for quite some time. We had a romping conversation about the weather and the newly posted speed limit in the city. You cannot drive faster than 25 miles per hour and only 10, which I didn’t know, at cross walks.

Following my morning meeting, I made my way to one of my favorite places, Café du Soleil, at 104 and Broadway and had French Onion Soup and grilled salmon for lunch, with a good, cold, crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc. While eating I chatted with Jeff, who like me, was seated at the bar. When not chatting with him, I read the NY Times on my iPhone.

It was a pleasant ninety minutes. Finishing, I returned to the apartment to do today’s blog and then I am off to drinks with a friend and a screening of a documentary about Pope Francis, the man who will, I am sure, one day be a saint.

As usual, the world is not a pretty place.

In Ukraine, the fragile truce is not holding near Debaltseve, the vital rail hub. Nearly 8000 Ukrainian troops are pinned down there, surrounded by rebels and fighting for their lives. Neither side seems to want to honor the truce in this strategic town.

The US has said that it is not in the interests of anyone to wage a proxy war with Russia in the Ukraine, a sign, perhaps, that this country is considering carefully whether it will supply any arms to Ukraine.

In another side effect of Ukraine, Fifa has awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2018. It is now wondering if they made a mistake, given that by 2018, if things continue as they are, Russia will be an international pariah. Not that that will change Russian policies.

Hungary, which has been leaning towards Russia for some time now, was rewarded with a gas contract, showing that it pays off to play nice with Vladimir [Putin].

In Paris, a Jewish journalist, Zvika Klein, walked around for ten hours with a camera. He caught all the anti-Semitic things said or done to him on video. It is disturbing.

The Boko Haram detonated bombs that killed 8 in Nigeria, while attacking Cameroon at the same time. Cameroon responded and claims to have killed 86 of Boko Haram, which, by the way, means “western education is forbidden.”

Having made such a splash with the burning to death of the captured Jordanian pilot, IS has now burned at least 45 to death in a captured town in Iraq.

In a much lighter note, and we know we need lighter notes, Chelsea Handler tweeted a topless photo of herself from Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Not that I wanted to see her topless but evidently she has a penchant for showing skin.

The market is back over 18,000 today as hope rises that some deal will be done with Greece.

And our favorite international bon vivant, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, on trial for pimping, has had the prosecutors in the case recommend his acquittal. It is up to the judges. The prosecutors never wanted to move forward in the first place but were overruled by the judges.

Mad Men, our favorite show about that wonderful time, the 1960’s, will be honored by having Don Draper’s suit, fedora and bar cart put on display at the Smithsonian!

As we go into the final episodes, Don Draper’s future looks uncertain. Mine, however, for at least this evening, is rock solid. I am off to drinks and a screening.