The Nth Degree

Whenever we attempt booking flights to Southeast Asia; it’s a muddle: should we fly Korean Air, indulged aboard their Tiffany coated planes — thirteen hours later laying over in Seoul at Incheon International Airport or another carrier?

If someone forty years ago spit on Mother Teresa’s face, then called her an illogical vulgar phrase, another person nearby might’ve intervened to rescue this 5 ft. woman of cloth. Eighty-five years ago, another disturbed individual could have possibly assaulted Mahatma Gandhi, punching him square-faced, knocking out this 5 ft. 5 in. Father of the Nation. Undoubtedly a crowd would’ve gathered to assist either prophet, meanwhile others showing concern may have chased and detained those perpetrators bringing them to justice. Both Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi would not have pressed charges, rather, quite the contrary, each would’ve chosen to display compassion toward their violent assailant. In a sense, most humans are not so forgiving. Attaining consciousness of the Dalai Lama and Jesus involves an infinite ability mastered through countless incarnations — tranquil Buddha no exception.

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Following Pearl Harbor’s bombing, the Oval Office had four ample years to ponder a decision: deliver fierce retribution or absolve Japan? There are on occasion isolated circumstances whereby maniacal leaders appear wickedly sinful, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin another.

San Francisco’s rock chanteuse, Angel Corpus Christi, wrote and sang a memorable track on White Courtesy Phone entitled, “Big Black Cloud.” Three decades ago it was au courant; an ominous, though catchy tune concerning fate left in the hands of irrational power. Regrettably such a historic period seems just on the horizon. Wherever the rage of Kim Jong-un’s folly will be targeted, that country and its victims shall indeed receive aid, as throngs would’ve rushed to Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa’s side.

Most every country and their people, alongside the United States of America do not spend decades devoted to capturing nirvana through heightened spiritual awareness. Under severe circumstances (beyond the point of no return) to remain unscathed by an oppressor’s trigger happy finger unfortunately requires grave preemptive action. I’m far from clairvoyant, however, lately native wit is nudging me; swayed and crushed believing Angel’s “Big Black Cloud” will soon become global breaking news.

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Happenstance in G Minor

During notable cusps in Los Angeles, concerning my places of business or home, temporary and permanent, a certain actor, the very same man, keeps reappearing. Before Downtown Los Angeles morphed into DTLA, about that time Nolita earned its name: east of SoHo, south of NoHo, west of the Lower East Side, north of Little Italy and Chinatown — twenty-five years ago this west coast enclave could solely take ownership for LA’s seedy Skid Row.

Ninety-eight percent of Grand Central Market’s former Mexican vendors vanished; they were replaced by a rather diverse sprinkling: Eggslut, Wexler’s, Clark Street Bread et cetera. The adjacent Grand Central Square Apartment complex has residential units on its upper floors. Well before DTLA’s transition, I was offered an exquisite two bedroom penthouse in that iconic building by a long-standing patron who facilitated LA’s downtown revitalization plan. As we walked through the apartment, she mentioned Nicolas Cage just moved out. I was more impressed by this corner unit’s gargoyle exterior ornamentation framing what was in those days an unobstructed vista. Years later, when the Beverly Laurel Motor Lodge was my base in LA, I would often see Nicolas Cage leaving his offices a block away on North Laurel.

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Jeanette and LouLou returned a rosier shade from our rooftop pool here days ago, promptly informing me, none other than Nicolas Cage occupies this new building along with us. I wouldn’t say he’s a favorite actor of mine, yet particular roles he selected were characters in twisted tales bordering reality and illusion; storylines which intrigued me more than his onscreen persona. For some strange reason a script epitomizing Nicolas Cage’s oddest of films seem as though this actor’s surrealer moments have come to life and I’ve inadvertently stepped into another realm.

As a nephew of Francis Coppola, Cage probably does speak some Italian; maybe I’ll use one of two stereotypical Sicilian hand gestures that directly relate to “ma chi fa?” upon an upcoming elevator ride together.

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Upcountry

A few weeks ago Jeanette received another invitation for famiglia di Schiavo’s long awaited visit to Ruby and Dylan’s farm in Covelo. Awhile back a naturalist posse formed their tight-knit clan four hours north of San Francisco in Mendocino County. It’s been several years now since Ruby began frequenting Hotel Kabuki for her Jehrcuts. Gradually a group of her goddess friends also took the plunge. More often than not, before or after their Jehrcuts, Ruby and entourage enjoyed favorite eateries around town, Mission Chinese being one.

Whether February snowflakes dusted Ruby and Dylan’s property or genuine farm to table feasts posted on Facebook, what enticed us to accept Ruby’s latest invitation were photos of the Covelo gang having a blast floating, swimming, and diving off boulders into an unspoiled Eel River.

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Ruby is a renaissance gal. Aside from tending their idyllic fruit trees, vegetable garden, pigs, and constructing artful dwellings on site, she’s also a culinary educator in preparation, cooking, alongside food preservation. Ruby has no idea what I’m about to say, but I’m hot for her highly sought after herbal body wrap; another skill she’s mastered using a line of beauty, health and wellness products called, It Works. Call mine an unwanted spare tire — my excuse is not hitting the pool, doing laps thirty minutes a day since May. In any case, my blubber should be reduced by a significant degree following Ruby’s It Works treatment.

Yesterday Jeanette emailed Ruby on my behalf asking if there were any six-shooters around; whereby I might take a crack at a few True Grit moves. Ruby’s response was warm, yet an adamant, “no” adding, “Jessy Jane has horses if anyone wants to ride, alongside several bucking bulls nearby.”

One other significant tidbit that Ruby and Dylan are currently unaware of: we’re inviting ourselves back (Spring, 2018) to celebrate Jeanette’s birthday on April 29, followed by the Covelo bi-annual Jehrcut rendezvous, April 30 and May 1. We’re just making ourselves at home ahead of this September 11-14 Covelo pow wow; I reckon that’s how Ruby and Dylan prefer things.

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Glamping DTLA

IMG_20170820_080345_809Ten years is a respectable span out of the mix. The long-term effect living a global bedouin lifestyle became apparent recently replanting roots tapping our toes on U.S. soil again. Passports at the ready aren’t necessary anymore; pockets turn cumbersome filled with keys, along with fob for home, car and garage. Mundane household chores weren’t pleasant to begin with embarking on an unorthodox path a decade ago, nor are they today, perhaps even less so.

More than one Los Angeles Uber driver (former teachers) describe their inner city public school system as county jail. Another urban aspect I’ve noticed which seems awfully strange, how oblivious the haves and have nots coexist together. The unfortunate souls look and smell as though they were targeted by urine-soot bombs; tangled, matted hair, grimy clothes (shoes, maybe none) toting stuffed plastic bags, ingesting rubbish, conversing with mid-air. Feet away the fortunate soul wears a white starched button collar shirt, matching Brooks Brothers loafers and slacks, scanning The Los Angeles Times, assisted by tortoise shell spectacles, sipping his Blue Bottle coffee, eating flakey French pastry.

I’m unclear, what are the socially responsible options from this point forward? Elected city, state, alongside federal government officials don’t have concrete plans to address America’s elephant in the room. Churches barely make a dent. As for America’s powerful private sector: young tech billionaires aren’t motivated to help alleviate human suffering underfoot.

Before beginning our odyssey abroad ten years ago, certain readers complained how somber my blog had become. My response then is exactly the same now — “I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.” Metropolitan San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area are hosts to frightening exponential statistics. One hundred and twenty thousand unfortunate souls are perishing on California sidewalks. I am curious — is it me being hypersensitive or are others shattered observing this hell on earth?

 

San Diego Mayors

Jerry Sanders 2005-2012

Bob Filner 2012-2013

Kevin Faulconer 2014-present

 

Los Angeles Mayors

Antonio Villaraigosa 2005-2013

Eric Garcetti 2013-present

 

San Francisco Mayors

Gavin Newsom 2004-2011

Ed Lee 2011-present

 

Oakland Mayors

Ronald Dellums 2007-2011

Jean Quan 2011-2014

Libby Schaaf 2015-present

 

California Governors

Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003-2011

Jerry Brown 2011-present

 

California Senators

Barbara Boxer 1993-2017

Dianne Feinstein 1992-present

Kamala Harris 2017-present

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Stuck In The Car

Stuck In The Car I can’t quite get a fix on what saddened me most, learning Ronnie Wood has lung cancer or listening to Mick Jagger’s new single. Last Sunday morning dodging traffic through Los Angeles in a BMW i3, I became fascinated with 88.1 KJazz. What a fabulous treat: Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Ray Charles and of course, Frank Sinatra, who the host referred to as “the boss,” not in any way, shape or form meaning, Bruce Springsteen.

Somehow historic architecture in Pasadena, even whizzing by towering palms bordering Santa Anita Park turned surreal; the past popped out of its time capsule. Magnificent estates built in the late forties, fifties and sixties came alive as I visualized each singer entering their classic, high-gloss automobile, leaving to record our favorite standards somewhere around Tinseltown.

One of, if not, the top four star hotels we’ve recently holed up in was an hour further south, crashing at Irvine, California’s AC Hotel. A European brand cropping up everywhere: San Francisco to Boston. Spanish hotelier, Antonio Catalan, designed sleek rooms for Marriott utilizing tasteful faux oak plank floors, perfect touch sensitive lighting, luxurious linens on dreamy beds, soothing monochromatic milk chocolate tones, a soundproof wall of glass, plush bathroom, toiletries, robes, and smart TV, at an unbelievable pleasing rate. I should also mention with due praise the AC Hotel staff; Intercontinental should take a few tips.

Which reminds me concerning improvement with years, Boz Scaggs certainly has; his rendition of the American standards are indeed worth checking out. Unlike, Eagles founding member, Glenn Frey, who failed miserably singing the standards; Rod Stewart’s take proved differently. It’s next to impossible aging gracefully living an authentic life in rock ‘n’ roll; even Patti Smith is pushing it. I often wish The Rolling Stones went their permanent separate ways leaving Villa Nellcote, finishing up Exile on Main St. Surely there are contrasts between old-school singers and rock ‘n’ roll superstars; Sinatra and company wouldn’t bend over like Iggy Pop, last of a dying breed, handing over tunes to Madison Avenue advertisers.

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If At First You Don’t Succeed

The global bedouins arrived Downtown Los Angeles as planned May 28th only to discover our pop-up space was a deco high-rise surrounded (three sides) by an unsightly construction pit. Immediately drove our Dollar Suburban rental directly to the Cosmo Lofts in Hollywood, understanding their next available unit wouldn’t be ready until June 28th. We next headed west to Storquest, our LA storage facility of choice in Marina del Rey, deposited four footlockers holding famiglia di Schiavo’s worldly possessions, alongside miscellaneous luggage. Stayed a night at Hyatt Place in El Segundo facing LAX before flying to Phoenix for an overnight Best Western Plus layover. The following morning somewhat disjointed flew to Mazatlan, an inexpensive solution for our month-long holding pattern until Cosmo’s June 28th move-in date.

From the get-go Mazatlan wasn’t what we expected. I felt underwhelmed observing the local shoreline and terrain minutes before touchdown. The single upside of Mazatlan was a random driver, Roberto, who introduced us to Mexico’s kaolin facial clay. We bought a kilo, which believe it or not never got flagged passing through security in any airport I’ll soon list over these past seven weeks. Guns — bombs — knives — oversized toothpaste and liquids aren’t permitted, yet the powdery kaolin wasn’t an issue. I could’ve been smuggling heroin and cocaine, however, no agent, domestic nor international detected our beauty treatment stock in any x-ray machine.

Five days later we endured an eight hour ATM bus, south from Mazatlan to Punta Mita, ten miles from Sayulita. Got there, appalled seeing a beach polluted with endless pelican excrement, smelling like rancid fish. Next morning, bright and early, boarded a local forty minute bus trip to Puerto Vallarta Centrale, waiting there two nights at Catedral Vallarta Hotel for the Airbnb I recently wrote about.

Weeks later, June 27th, Jeanette, LouLou and I flew back to Los Angeles, rented another Suburban at Enterprise, picked up our four footlockers and miscellaneous luggage, closed the Storquest contract, making tracks to Ikea in Burbank. It took two days vibing Cosmo to conclude we selected a poorly managed building in an awful neighborhood crawling with trouble. Fortunately, we didn’t unpack nor stay on Cosmo Street, opting instead to sleep temporarily at the Beverly Laurel Motor Lodge during that transition period.

Rented another Suburban from Enterprise, returned our domestic purchases from Ikea, Home Depot, Lowes, Container Store and Target; conked out, woke up, barely making a flight to Miami with four footlockers and miscellaneous luggage after viewing an apartment online in South Beach. Landed in Miami the Fourth of July shortly before dusk, rented a Dodge Ram from Hertz, checked into another airport Hyatt Place, got an early start for more home spending. Loaded with tables, chairs, mattresses, linens, kitchen gear, vacuum etcetera, showed up about five that evening, an hour before the Flamingo’s leasing office closed. Jeanette and I hauled everything into the service elevator, traipsing through the seventh floor hallway to unit 753 while LouLou watched over our spiffy red-neck truck. Hot, sweaty, hungry and thirsty, went back to the Hyatt Place after returning our Hertz rental, ate, showered, passed out. Ate breakfast, ubered fifteen minutes back to the Flamingo for another unpacking and assembling session, forty-five minutes into it heard hard hat construction teams jack hammering an adjacent building’s exterior. Within minutes, Jeanette left to get the scoop; stomped back inside stating the racket would continue for at least one, possibly two years. Ubered back to Miami International Airport, rented another Dodge Ram from Hertz, packed and moved out. Thereafter returned another truckload of home purchases to their respective stores. Hot, sweaty, hungry and thirsty, ate, showered, collapsed, setting the phone alarm for 3am to catch a Delta 7am flight — Laguardia bound, four footlockers, alongside miscellaneous luggage.

We’d been eyeing 180 Water Street in Manhattan’s Financial District online for almost six months. Turns out their Craigslist ads are undeniably misleading — we found out the costly way. Stashed four footlockers and miscellaneous luggage at The Brooklyn Hotel on Atlantic Avenue, ubered to Manhattan, met by a curt agent who within seconds inquired, “What’s your budget?” So it seems, our thirty-five hundred dollar monthly rental budget would’ve secured 400 square feet, low floor of a hoity-toity 34-story building, viewing an air shaft — no sky for us. Adding insult to injury, their rooftop pool requires additional monthly fees; fuck them.

Considering the exorbitant amount of expenses we’ve incurred since May 28th: hotels, motels, Airbnb, Uber XLs, airfare, baggage fees, restaurants, and move-in costs at Cosmo Lofts, alongside the Flamingo South Beach, saving anything was and remains pertinent. Hence our dirt cheap flight and accommodations, dragging four footlockers and miscellaneous luggage to Las Vegas over LAX. I might’ve called it wrong again, but figured a couple days suffocating in 116 degree desert air would be sufficient penance covering fifty days filled by farcical events stemming from unsound judgement.

Several months ago we toured (in person) two LA buildings having everything except one item on our checklist: neither are brand new. We’re going for it again; LA’s a quick four hour drive from here, maybe in a Suburban or Dodge Ram, either beast has plenty of room, leather seats and SiriusXM. In the meantime, Jeanette and LouLou ducked into a Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales matinee; as for me, I’m climate control set with extra time to jot some things down.

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Hollywood Swinging

Few comfort foods remain consistently perfect over time, specifically quick bites on the go. Before Extra began filming at Universal Studios, they used The Grove’s synchronized water fountains as a clever backdrop; consequently just about every TV junkie knows about The Grove on LA’s Fairfax Avenue. Mario Lopez could’ve, but I’ll wager never featured a Hollywood Golden Age gem in Farmer’s Market facing CBS Television City. A hodgepodge food court comprised of independent vendors, typically swamped, although practically deserted when we get there shortly after daybreak.

Some officers in blue snack on doughnuts at all hours, famiglia di Schiavo prefer ours as a special indulgence for breakfast. We tried Randy’s near LAX, an iconic eyesore, with its 32 foot stucco doughnut on their roof. Too oily in my opinion; we haven’t been back and have no future plans to do so.

Crumb doughnuts most anywhere are crumb doughnuts. Crumb doughnuts at Bob’s in Farmer’s Market near Mario’s old stomping grounds are incredible, devouring nirvana. One nibble produces a gentle cascade onto the napkin below; chewing instantly shifts into slower motion to savor each fluffy bite. When finishing my crumb doughnut, I’ll stare at the torn Bob’s bag in front of me trying to decide which should be next. Bob’s powdered jelly doughnuts are the best I’ve ever had, along with their lemon filled and buttermilk glazed. I’ll tend to choose from their vanilla cake assortment; maple frosted and chocolate frosted devil’s food round out the crumb choice nicely.

Haven’t had a cup of coffee in five years, when I did drink it, my preference was rocket fuel. I’d park illegally in front of King’s Road Cafe on Beverly Boulevard, grabbing a double cappuccino before hitting Bob’s. Quite frankly, between the King’s Road caffeine and Bob’s sugar, I vibrated until noon. I didn’t realize eating doughnuts could come without unpleasant side effects by eliminating coffee.

Most trips back to our car in Farmer’s Market come with distraction by an inner voice who has zero self-control. “You don’t have to wait until next time, go back, what can another little doughnut hurt? Yeah, you’re absolutely right, an apple fritter is overkill. Of course, their old-fashioned doughnuts are totally sublime, but so is the classic Long John” “ No way, forget it, three’s plenty; we’re saving room for pastrami, coleslaw, Russian dressing on corn rye, house-made pickles, matzo ball soup, alongside bagels and lox at Canter’s on Fairfax — lunch is only five hours away.”

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Vamos Con Dios

Every once in awhile during the last eight years living as global bedouins, Jeanette, LouLou and I discussed what our future would be like again having an actual address. We’d browse online viewing different spaces in various U.S. locations. Two opportunities piqued our interest at the end of May, one in Los Angeles, another, South Beach, Miami; either space will be move-in ready July 1st.

For several years now the term pop-up has been used whenever entrepreneurs utilize commercial square feet on a temporary basis. Although LouLou’s best high school option is in Manhattan, we thought why not acquaint ourselves with America again before her classes begin September 2018. Jeanette and I have other Gerard Saint D’Angelo novellas to edit this year, alongside brand expansion, developing beauty and fashion related products; neither objective would see much headway traveling abroad.

Famiglia di Schiavo’s last hurrah wasn’t flying off to Bali, the Seychelles or St. Barths. Realizing upcoming expenses will be relatively foreign to us, we selected a more economical sojourn for this month-long June holding pattern. If America’s current political environment is weighing too heavy, or day to day pressure has anyone feeling trapped, Mexico can be an inexpensive getaway. Most Mexican destinations by air require inconvenient layovers at a poorly planned Mexico City International Airport; Puerto Vallarta is the exception, daily direct flights take off from several major U.S. airports.

Months back Jeanette bookmarked a renovated Puerto Vallarta listing on Airbnb: top floor, lots of windows, four ceiling fans, AC, two large bedrooms with full baths, kitchen sufficiently equipped, dining table for six, two sofas and balcony. Our hosts, Luis and Sarah, greeted us with ice-cold orange infused washcloths, a teeming fruit basket, floral arrangements, bottled water and nine chocolate covered heart-shaped marshmallows. We were shocked to receive what I’d consider a very special rate: thirty-one dollars per night.

Our neighborhood isn’t the PV most travelers frequent. Nothing here is geared to please tourists. There’s an open-air mercado five blocks away; vendors provide fresh fish, meat, poultry, tropical fruit, pico de gallo makings and a tortilleria that also stocks homemade chipotle salsa, two kinds of rice, pinto or refried beans — each pint runs 17 pesos, .94¢USD.

Streets here were paved using river rocks, sidewalks are rather narrow, changing levels with makeshift steps between each property. HeShe cheap-dates congregate feet away from an auto parts yard — adjacent to a panaderia — butting up against one of PV’s abundant medical clinics. A fresh squeezed 32 ounce Vampiro: beets, celery, carrot and orange juice costs 50 pesos, $2.77 USD. I’ll have to be perfectly honest, the beach seven blocks away is not très chic. Another better seaside experience might be taking day trips on local buses and boats to Yelapa, Mismaloya, Islas Marietas or Sayulita. We prefer our two mile walk on the Malecon going to central PV. Once there the decision of what to eat can be overwhelming: pescado sopa — octopus, red snapper, alongside shrimp tostadas — pozole, chile relleno, tortas, chicken tamales, chilaquiles and carnitas or birria tacos. The four mile round trip usually gets us back by eleven, an hour before PV’s humid summer temperature becomes uncomfortable.

LouLou was in the market for Mexican bracelets and necklaces this morning; she’s a discerning consumer — buying two suitable pieces before breakfast. Part of the kick about being in Mexico is stopping at food stalls while getting chores done. LouLou’s meal was spicier than Jeanette’s and mine this morning, enough so she needed some chilled sparkling water from one of a zillion Oxxo’s, Mexico’s 7-Eleven. I paused at a busy intersection believing the slow foot traffic was clogged in front of an Oxxo entrance. Within seconds I bumped into a young Mexican girl carrying an armful of colorful woven bracelets. A little boy flying his paper airplane nearby looked like he could’ve been the older girl’s brother or son. She offered a deal for three bracelets, Jeanette paid up after LouLou made her pick — somehow the 50 pesos just didn’t seem enough.

After telling us this boy was her son, I felt compelled to ask what he wanted; she seemed perplexed, repeating myself, the girl replied, “An airplane.” I then inquired, “Where can we find him one?” She pointed onward saying, “Seis cuadras.”

Shelly gave birth to Ricardo when she was only seventeen; he starts grade school this fall. Bending down to introduce myself, five-year-old Ricardo delivered his cherub hand stating, “Mucho gusto.” He continued flying the paper airplane throughout our twenty minute walk, every toss proudly peering over to see who of us was paying attention. As I suspected Shelly said his father wasn’t in the picture; she and Ricardo live with her mother.

We took an elevator up in the first store; Ricardo rode it as if he were riding an impressive wave on a surfboard, gliding upward enthusiastically. Five of us combed the toy department for an airplane, yet didn’t succeed. Kind of strange, Ricardo didn’t pout; I did however sense he was immune to certain disappointments. I asked Shelly, “Where else can we try?” Ricardo stepped forward, smiled saying, “Woowort.” Another six blocks ahead, one other surf stance upward, toward Woolworth’s second floor, we discovered an airplane the size of a Hot Wheels car. Ricardo didn’t appear terribly interested, but I thought I’d ask anyway; a glum shake of his head confirmed my hunch. Seconds later Jeanette overheard Ricardo whispering, “remoto” to Shelly. He seemed resigned having to accept an action Tron figure as consolation, until one of us, I don’t know who, spotted a yellow sports car with blinking halogen headlights, batteries and remote. All of us took Woolworth’s escalator back down, Ricardo leading with the sizable boxed car in a death grip at his tiny chest.

Following our parting of company outside, I watched Shelly and Ricardo walk away; Jeanette tapped me on the shoulder saying, “Jehr, look at my legs.” Mexico’s ninety-plus-degree noon heat couldn’t prevent Jeanette’s emotions — her legs were covered in goose bumps. It’s such profound encounters cruising the world that give deeper connection to an untethered lifestyle.

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Would It Satisfy Ya?

After getting cleaned up some twenty-six years ago, I was in New York hanging out, much later than necessary, with a couple of A&R men from separate record companies. Their music interest was nearly identical, which seemed fine for camaraderie, but made situations difficult crossing swords signing the next multi-platinum band. The pair, one Brit and an American, were as usual post evenings out, after bands stopped playing, each comparing that night’s gigs over more tootski, alongside leftover booze. Both had half million dollar salaries (sounded like a fortune back then) which came with huge perks covering any and every expense in town or during frequent travel, domestic and abroad — first class five-star royal treatment.

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Tunes we know and love wouldn’t have been recorded had these two guys not signed who were previously starving musicians. I’ll be considerate not naming specific bands, to remain professional, staying confidential concerning certain notable patrons. If I included a well-known film title and group one of these A&R men compiled songs for, his identity would be blown — less hashtags for me, better for him.  

As dawn crept in, the more blitzed they got, came upping complaints regarding what gruelling jobs they had. Rockefeller Center corner offices overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral’s Neo-Gothic spires, 10am to 5pm schedules, hearing an average of four bands per night, seven nights a week. Extended cocktail lunches, car service, dinners, strip bars, and club door fees, if they weren’t on some band’s guest list, all reimbursed by their employer. Following an hour or so of what could possibly be the most overindulged drivel I’ve ever been privy to, felt comfortable enough interjecting novice advice.

“If hours seem too long at the office, travel getting old and nights out not fun anymore, why don’t you get studio musicians to create those elusive smash hits you spend days hoping demo tapes will sound like, afterward listening to even more atrocious music in dive bars?”

The two gazed at each other with dumbfounded faces, looks expressing, why didn’t we think of that? To make sure they heard me correctly, made key inquiries. I responded saying something close to, “You know just about every top musician for hire; do either of you really care about principles or is your main objective to procure seminal bands?” Instantly they agreed, high-fiving one another, exhilarated, stating mine was a fabulous suggestion.

Nine or so months later, the English guy was promoted Vice President to a new, well-funded independent label. Shortly thereafter, I visited those SoHo offices and got treated to a pre-release of the label’s first signing. That band was one we all know, however, not previously starving musicians; they were as I’d earlier recommended, hired guns.

Jeanette, LouLou and I occasionally receive MTV or VH1 at our Airbnb when passing through Southeast Asia, Mexico, or Europe. Ever so often we’ll catch that group my Vice President patron masterminded, yet enjoyed this band much more initially as their first two records were practically flawless. The female lead singer simply didn’t have what it takes for long shelf life; her appeal, for my taste, declined immensely gathering super-star-stadium acclaim.

The music industry changed drastically since Napster and wide internet useage. Six-figure A&R positions dried up, unearthing a killer band in 2017 is rather like trying to find water anywhere around Death Valley. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren shattered music history establishing the Sex Pistols, former street urchins. Vivienne and Malcolm’s vision arrived experiencing a New York Dolls performance in London.

This not-so crazy formula still stands strong, it has for a long time. Any spirited entrepreneur, whether he’s jack-of-all-trades who develops a handyman squad partnered with Home Depot or Sally homemaker baking to die for sweets, could if they were inclined, apply similar theory rolling out highly sought-after businesses.

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Funny Money

With expedited passport in hand, it took stopping through checkpoints at SFO, Charles de Gaulle, Malpensa, Palermo and Amsterdam airports, back to San Francisco, onto Los Angeles before a keen Phoenix TSA official noticed I hadn’t signed mine two months earlier. I’m gonna leave this passport unsigned until someone forces me to sign it before arriving or departing their jurisdiction. The thing that annoys me isn’t so much this slip-up on my part, now turned study, it’s what little attention those pay who are hired to guard global borders. Of course my name isn’t Salman Abedi or anything close to it, however, I find slipshod border control quite alarming given terrorist bombings, slayings and current trending massacres using vehicles.

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After spending seven consecutive weeks in a country where women still shake out rugs over their balconies, alongside men demolishing concrete and stone buildings by sledge hammer, I know culture shock will hit perhaps harder than jet lag; which form it comes always startles me.

Bitcoin’s ferocious rival, Ethereum, was our recent post-European trips hot topic during this last Bay Area engagement. No one speaking about Ethereum could explain them thoroughly; although what’s absolutely certain is Ethereum’s market cap: 20 billion dollars following Google’s quasi-endorsement. Ethereum’s stock rose 2700% this year; my patron who purchased Ethereum shares mentioned his only regret was not buying a large enough position.

Food can be a way cultures clash, language also, fashion too, and in some respects, climate. Sicily doesn’t suffer third world poverty; most Sicilians get by better than many living in Vietnam and Mexico. Staggering wealth, alongside how one achieves financial independence, specifically stemming from Silicon Valley, versus those counting down the years before cashing Italian monthly pensions seems disproportionate. Obviously that woman beating the dusty rug didn’t attend Harvard nor did her sweaty laborer husband. In spite of this worn couple tirelessly toiling, they’ll never buy status donating 100 million dollars to any hospital; in return see that medical center renamed with theirs emblazoned across its facade.

We didn’t necessarily need to travel 6,500 miles to realize upon return what a scale-tipping boom San Francisco continues holding. We could’ve driven 90 miles east to Modesto, come back, heard the Ethereum chatter, quickly logged into our Ameritrade account, snatching as many shares possible, comprehending cryptocurrency is a concept no one I spoke with could actually clarify. When I asked my brilliant patron, a founding member of an elite social media site-cum-venture capitalist, if he believed Ethereum’s stock could reach the 1,200 dollar range, he nonchalantly replied, “yes,” not “no” or “I don’t know.”

Psychedelic engineers inspired by Burning Man’s playa are under the assumption driverless cars are our future. Yet if I reported this opinion to the tirelessly toiling couple in Sicily, they would both laugh and tell me I’m pazzia. My business absorbs a 2.75 to 3.5% loss using Square, however, the ease of receiving our patron’s payment is worth Square’s processing fees. Few patrons use cash these days, less write checks. Half-joking, I inquired whether my wildly successful patron would mind compensating his Jehrcut with a few shares of Ethereum; he grinned — before leaving said, “See you next time,” shortly thereafter completed our transaction online with Jeanette.

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