Saturday, February 26

February 29

This neat graph shows the date (in GMT) of the summer solstice (the moment the sun reaches it northernmost position in the sky, or the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere) through the years. As the summer solstice occurs on the same astronomical date each year (although changes may occur on much larger time scales), the graph basically shows the difference between real, astronomical time and the Gregorian calendar. Each year, the Gregorian calendar is approximately 0.26 day faster than the astronomical calendar, which is corrected by a leap day once every four years. This 4-year cycle is clearly visible in the graph. To compensate for the largest part of the remainder of the difference, there is no leap year in 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, as can be clearly seen in the graph, too. Note that the summer solstice in 1800 and in 2200 are not on equal dates; this shows that the leap year compensation as describes before is not perfect and more complicated schemes are necessary to keep the Gregorian calendar synchronized over even longer time scales.

In the Gregorian calendar most years that are evenly divisible by 4 are leap years. In each leap year, the month of February has 29 days instead of 28. Adding an extra day to the calendar every four years compensates for the fact that a period of 365 days is shorter than a solar year by almost 6 hours. However, some exceptions to this rule are required since the duration of a solar year is slightly less than 365.25 days. Years that are evenly divisible by 100 are not leap years, unless they are also evenly divisible by 400, in which case they are leap years. For example, 1600 and 2000 were leap years, but 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not. Similarly, 2100, 2200, 2300, 2500, 2600, 2700, 2900 and 3000 will not be leap years, but 2400 and 2800 will be. By this rule, the average number of days per year will be 365 + 1/4 − 1/100 + 1/400 = 365.2425, which is 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds.

The Gregorian calendar was designed to keep the vernal equinox on or close to March 21, so that the date of Easter (celebrated on the Sunday after the 14th day of the Moon—i.e. a full moon—that falls on or after March 21) remains correct with respect to the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox year is about 365.242374 days long (and increasing). The marginal difference of 0.000125 days between the Gregorian calendar average year and the actual year means that, in around 8,000 years, the calendar will be about one day behind where it is now. But in 8,000 years, the length of the vernal equinox year will have changed by an amount that cannot be accurately predicted. Therefore, the current Gregorian calendar suffices for practical purposes, and the correction suggested by John Herschel of making 4000 a non-leap year will probably not
be necessary.
Source: Calendopaedia - The Gregorian Calendar; graphic from Wikipedia

Self Portrait XVI

Sonnet And The Pooch

Sonnet and I spend the late afternoon in the park. The kids just old enough for me to think: one day it will again be only me and her.

Sunset, Richard Park

Aggie arrives to surprise the Shakespeares for an overnight at her place. God bless Aggie. She recently accepted a career job at Deloittes and her transition to London complete : from house cleaner to nanny to office job to office manager and now Deloittes, the largest private professional services organization in the world with 170,000 staff working in 150 countries, delivering audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk and financial advisory services through its member firms. You go, girl. This allows Sonnet and me a weekend to ourselves and we begin at favorite Le Caprice with Todd and Jenn and Eli, who are in town for a wedding. Todd remains a partner at a large buy-out firm (and owns Dunkin Donuts, amongst other assets) while Eli a successful i banker at Morgan Stanley. We go back to those early, brow beaten, years where many of the best adventures lie.

"Nirvana when you are working so hard you could care less about dying."
--Gar Miller, Managing Director, Energy Group, First Boston, 1989 to me, Erik and John Delaney in the elevator

Friday, February 25


Despite howls of protest, I drive into town with the kids and Aneta to meet Sonnet at the Royal Academy to see the mostly mediocre exhibition on British sculpture ("The show represents a unique view of the development of British sculpture, exploring what we mean by the terms British and sculpture by bringing the two together in a chronological series of strongly themed galleries, each making its own visual argument. . ."). Eitan, who races through the galleries with an aim to finish in five-minutes, back-tracks to find me and whispers: "There is an inappropriate art work in the next room" which makes me think with worry: It must be pretty bad. Turning the corner gallery, I find a wall display of "Page 3" girls, titties on flash display. The boy and I shuffle through the room while he covers his eyes and looks away - I like the redundancy. My suggestion that he might wake up one day to find a woman's breast the most interesting thing in the world receives horror and I tell him not to be too hard on himself should my prognostication hold true.

Otherwise, since I am with the kids yesterday, our day spent building a launch pad for model rockets, which I built 35 years ago with Todd. Now I have to buy the kit and revert to 1978 or '79.

Thursday, February 24

Wednesday, February 23

Before - During - After


The majestic Savoy re-opens following a two-year make-over. Her 268 rooms offer panoramic views of the Thames across Savoy Place and the Thames Embankment. The renovations closed the hotel from December 2007 until October 2010 and cost £220 million or £120 more than budgeted when the Prince Alwaleed bought the property with the help of my friend Ramsey. The over-runs due mainly to structural upgrades - the hotel opened its doors, after all, in 1889 and lacked modern communications and safety features. The Savoy's American Bar famous to GIs on furlough during WWII - so much so, in fact, (as rumour notes) that the 50-meters running up the entrance the only road in Britain where the driver on the right-hand-side, American style. It is one of three places in London to have a properly prepared martini.

Sonnet and I took "high tea" at the Savoy on our first visit to London in May 1997. I do recall vividly the two Oscar Wildes lounging in the peacock's chaise longue marking new visitors and passing their pithy observations between themselves like fine little farts.

La Famiglia

Sonnet with Stan and Silver in Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 2010.


The world reacts to Libya's violence : oil prices at two-year highs and climbing. Brent Crude $107 a barrel this morning. Who benefits, I wonder? Libya produces 1.7 million barrels of oil per day, exporting 1.2 million barrels or 17th globally, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The UK makes 1.3 million barrels daily and exports 775,000 (After the Gulf, there is pressure to suspend deep water extraction from the North Sea, pictured). Britain ranks 20th. Number One is Russia at 9.5 million barrels daily. While Russia the top producer of oil, they are ranked #2 by exports after Saudi Arabia. Russia exports 5.4 million barrels per day while SA seven million. According to secret reports released by Wikileaks, Saudi Arabia may have exaggerated its crude oil reserves by 40% - if true, Saudi might not be able to control prices which has often been the country's role with the assumed largest oil caches.

Image from Getty

Me: "What do you think young people do when they are in love?"
Madeleine: "I don't know. Go to the toy store?"

Tuesday, February 22

One Aldwych

In the elevator.

The Golden Head

From the Tate Britain. Artist Andrew O'Connor's work, "The Golden Head," completed in 1905. Here is what the museum says: "O'Connor was an American sculptor who specialised in funerary and public monuments, and portrait busts. He lived in Paris from 1903 to 1914 where he came under the influence of Rodin and Dalou. This head is an idealised portrait of O'Connor's second wife Jessie, who was the model for many of his sculptures. A version of this head crowns the funerary figure in the monument to General Thomas in Sleepy Hollow cemetery, near Tarrytown, New York. This funerary figure is a seated female shown in an attitude of mourning and reflection."

Thames Grey

The Thames this morning from another direction, this time eastward. My shot taken with my mobile phone from Waterloo Bridge. To my right is the Southbank Center and in the distance, St Paul's, the Barbican and Canary Wharf. Damp. Moldy. Grey. Cold. These words come to mind.

Half Term Blues

The kids two days into their half-term break and even Rusty bored. Now, as I write, the Shakespears enjoy a "staring contest" at the dinner table (Sonnet working late). Yes, I want to holler at them to be quiet (makes sense to me at least) but instead I let them have their fun. How restrained. Madeleine notes sharply, "Eitan, you're just faking!" which makes me wonder: How does one fake a staring contest?

Me: "Ok, I want to see a book report over half term."
Madeleine: "You are always trying to ruin our break!"
Me: "How many pages? How about five?"
Eitan, Madeleine:
Sonnet: "Five is a bit long. How about two. Both sides of a page."
Me: "Two it is. Now I want it to be about a book you've read and no jacket covers, Madeleine."
Me: "And, to help you out, maybe you want to form an argument. Like for Harry Potter, you could discuss whether Harry mature enough for the responsibilities of being a wizard."
Madeleine: "Of course he is."
Me: "Good, now put it on a piece of paper."
Madeleine: "I could just research it on the Internet."
Me: "That is what you won't be doing. Two pages, please."

Monday, February 21

Drivers License

Aunt Marcia recently found my long-lost California drivers license, gone since freshman year in college. I remember searching frantically for it. Those looking closely may notice my birth year, doctored using the "5" in "1530 Euclid Avenue." This got me into The Tunnel and the Palladium as well as all the alcohol I wished to consume. Marcia asks if Larry confiscated my license when I took the Bronxville family car? But that is for another story.

Sunday, February 20

Eitan's Cake

Eitan bakes an orange cake whose ingredients include unsalted butter, two eggs, golden caster sugar, flour and baking power. And, of course, one orange.

Madeleine: "Why do you read the newspaper any way?"
Me: "That's a good question."
Madeleine: "It's a waste of time."
Eitan: "Mr B wants us to read the newspaper every week. So we can talk about it in class."
Me: "Like what?"
Eitan: "Sports and everything. Wayne Rooney's bicycle kick."
Me: "Sounds like you've got it covered."
Eitan: "I suppose so."

Eitan, on this photo: "I sort of look like a teen-ager."

Mark Fast

Photo by Sonnet from Mark Fast's collection, which Sonnet and Madeleine see yesterday in town.

Saturday, February 19

.01 Seconds

A fascinating series of photos, below, of the 100-meter butterfly final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics pitting Phelps against Serbia’s Milorad Cavic (on the right). Without Phelp's magic touch, the quest to surpass Mark Spitz's seven Olympic golds would have come to an end at race seven.

Trellick Tower

Sonnet has the idea to visit Lisboa, early, for the best cream pastries and fried pork sandwiches in Notting Hill. Years ago in Maida Vale and pre-kids, we walked to Lisboa most Saturday mornings then the Portebella market for vintage whatever. All my cuff-links from then. Lisboa on the Golborne Rd and near the horrific Trellik Tower, pictured, which has fascinated me for years. Trellik, next to the Grand Union Canal littered with dog shit, a 31-storey block of flats designed in the Brutalist style by architect Ernő Goldfinger (Ian Fleming hated the building so much he named a central Bond villain after the architect). The tower completed in '72 and now recognised as Grade II* listed building.

Once this a Portuguese neighborhood but now there is little left from that era. The grey, wet, weather prevents us from a further stroll.

Sonnet heads to the Craig Lawrence knitwear and Betty Jackson catwalks. This afternoon she takes Madeleine to see John Rocha. Fashion week, dude.


Moe and Grace before the Rotary Dance. Grace wears her high school sweater and was a cheer-leader at Upper Arlington High School outside of Columbus, Ohio, from 1956-1958. She tells me the school mascot was the Golden Bear. Jack Nicklaus, whose nick-name "the Golden Bear," was graduated a year ahead my mom; he was captain or co-captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams "and played a little golf on the side which none of us really knew about." Grace led cheers for the football and basketball teams and notes the teams pretty good. "There were six of us, three sophomores and three seniors."

On Upper Arlington High: The school has received a number of accolades, including the highest number of National Merit Semi-Finalists in Ohio's public schools for three of the last four years,a nationally award-winning student newsmagazine, Arlingtonian, and the National Cup for the top orchestra in the country. It was the only school district in the nation to receive three White House honors as Service Learning Leaders.

More important for our story, the high school sports teams are consistently ranked among the top Division I schools in Ohio, particularly in the sports of football, golf, tennis, basketball, water polo, cross country, lacrosse, and swimming. The Upper Arlington football team captured the Division One state title in football in 2000, and were led by Jeff Backes, who earned the Mr. Football Award for Ohio, and Simon Fraser, who went on to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes and Cleveland Browns. Upper Arlington is tied with the Cincinnati all boys school St. Xavier High School for the most Ohio High School Athletic Association team state championships both with 42. Upper Arlington has won 105 state titles overall, including sports not sponsored by the OHSAA.

"How people keep correcting us when we are young! There is always some bad habit or other they tell us we ought to get over. Yet most bad habits are tools to help us through life."
--Jack Nicklaus

On Our Wedding Invitation

Me: "Well, Eitan, I am sorry to inform you that your mother and I not invited to the Royal Wedding. "The invitations went out this week and we did not receive the golden invitation. Unless it should arrive in today's post, that is."

Eitan: "Well, who cares?"
Me: "It's a Royal Snub."
Eitan: "I wouldn't want to go if I had a ticket anyway."
Me: "Hear, hear."
Eitan: "Did you really want to go?"
Me: "I wouldn't have said no. Just to see Kate's dress."
Eitan: "Her dress? Are you mad?"
Me: "These things are important."
Eitan: "For an adult maybe."

Friday, February 18

Drury's Statue

A bridge has been at Vauxhaull since 13th century when the south river a swamp. Following numerous essays, a new bridge built to a starkly functional design at the turn of of the 19th century, and many influential architects complained about the lack of consultation during the design process. In 1903, during the construction of the bridge, the LCC consulted with architect William Edward Riley about the possible decorative elements that could be added to the bridge. Riley proposed erecting two 60-foot pylons topped with statues at one end of the bridge, and adding decorative sculpture to the bridge piers. The pylons were rejected on cost but it was decided to erect monumental bronze statues above the piers.

On the upstream piers are Pomeroy's Agriculture, Architecture, Engineering and Pottery, whilst on the downstream piers are Drury's Science, Fine Arts, Local Government and Education. Each statue weighs approximately two tons. Despite their size, the statues are little-noticed by users of the bridge as they are not visible from the bridge itself, but only from the river banks or from passing shipping.

I hung over the side of the bridge to get this shot.

Wud Up, Y'All?

And, yes, Friday. It is not entirely clear that I have moved the ball down-field this week but, then, nor has the world come to an end. Our family routine fixed: AM dog walk -> kids to school -> work &c -> swimming, football, trumpet, tutor, play-date(s) -> dinner -> reading -> lights out. The kids on half-term from Monday.

We have dinner with Peri and Jim who, when we last saw him, turning 5-0. Jim has handled the new decade magnificently. Recall he is Managing Director at Google since '05 (brother Richard since '01) and heads the company's syndication and diistribution teams across multiple platforms, products and ad formats. He always has great insight into where things are heading and enjoys the responsibility, which require him to spend a fair amount of time in Mountain View (he refuses to get a flat or car). Fortunately Peri a wonder women and well on top of the family while Jim away AND running her business which is the largest travel service to Turkey. Peri went to Smith. Power couple.

Water Colour

My photo from the museum's modern collection - the chandelier on-off like a Christmas tree and it takes about twenty shots to get with lights. Meanwhile I spend 20 minutes maximum in the Water Colour exhibition which I don't find particularly interesting, though the early maps of England and Norfolk from the 12th and 13th centuries, in water colour, pretty cool. Here is the overview from the Tate:

Watercolour at Tate Britain invites you to challenge your preconceptions of what watercolour is. The most ambitiou
s exhibition about watercolour ever to be staged, with works spanning 800 years, this boundary-breaking survey celebrates the full variety of ways watercolour has been used. From manuscripts, miniatures and maps through to works showing the expressive visual splendour of foreign landscapes, watercolour has always played a part in British Art. Artists range from JMW Turner and Thomas Girtin to Anish Kapoor and Tracey Emin.

Battersea #2

Today is a London day, grey and dark - cold. This is what I and everyone thinks of when they consider here. I cross the Vauxhaull Bridge on my way to the Tate Britain to see the Water Colour exhibition and check in with some l'art. Seems like the right thing to do on a slow day otherwise.

Thursday, February 17

Boxcar 2D

Below, a nifty program designed by Derp Bike Designer, learns to build a "car" using a genetic algorithm - the clip in its advanced stages. It starts with a population of 20 randomly generated shapes with wheels and runs each one to see how far it goes. The cars that go the furthest reproduce to produce offspring for the next generation. The offspring combine the traits of the parents to hopefully produce better cars.

It uses a physics library to simulate the effects of gravity, friction, collisions, motor torque, and spring tension for the car. This lets the car be a wide range of shapes and sizes, while still making the simulation realistic. There are also many extra variables because of the complicated car and axles and the color clearly illustrates the evolution.

Eric adds further: "initially the components are assembled randomly. different variables affect the wheel sizes, hub heights, that fare better pass their genes along preferentially. over time they settle on optimal designs. it illustrates an software technique known as a genetic algorithm---the analogy to darwinian evolution is strong."

Wednesday, February 16

Madeleine's Crew

Pictured, outside our house.

Here's my shocker: 140,000 hard drives crash every week in the US (, thank you very much). Last month I came within an inch of losing everything since my hard-drive back-up and online back-up incorrectly partitioned preventing me access my data. $%^&* Sony re-installed my op-system while repairing my (*&^*£ non-Mac notebook. Saving my bacon: the discovery that my backed up files being continuously deleted so when I click the Mozy dust bin, there is was my data. I could give a toss about everything accept my contacts and photos, whose loss would have haunted me to the grave.

Eitan, over breakfast, looks up from his book: "Mom what would you do if I became a robot probe?"
Sonnet: "You mean like a space robot?"
Eitan: "Yes. Like a robot probe."
Madeleine, not looking up: "Order you around, of course."

Me: "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
Madeleine: "Yep."
Me: "What would you have him do?"
Madeleine: "I'd order him to the store to buy all the chewy sweets that I like."

Tuesday, February 15

Self Portrait XV

Somehow I find myself in the middle. 43, after all - half way to the end zone, contemplating secondary schools for the kids, watching Sonnet in her museum career and working on mine. Waiting for Cal in the Rose Bowl. Admittedly, my generation off to a late start - many of us remaining at home until our 30s, avoiding occupations and marriage until later still. The delay perhaps due to a stagnant US economy in the early '90s, but my suspicion simply that many of us could. Or maybe the stall from some sense of entitlement, passed down from our comfortable parents, who instilled in our psyches the belief that our lives would be more interesting, more rich, more exciting than theirs. Such expectations high enough to be unobtainable and so .. why bother?

My years at home, age 26-27, were two of the best: I met Sonnet, traveled the world and visited a few dodgy third-world bars, reconnected with Northern California. .. and even saved some money somehow. Most of all, I got to know my parents in a different way. For one, I had a job. Those sunny afternoons, usually following a return-commute from Sonoma where Help The World See and Dr Wayne Cannon located, as simple as a glass of Chardonnay or picking up Sonnet at the BART station. I drove down the coast by myself or with friends to catch waves with Danny in Santa Cruz. Or drink coffee at Cafe Royal in Rockridge discussing, for hours, life-or-death decisions : make money or do good? Where? When? How? My biggest commitment to running a marathon. Yes, there was a lot of slack but some meaningful exploration, too.

Maybe this all ties together with a Brown interview this morning - the kid 18 years old, on his "gap" year in Australia, and everything ahead of him.

Show Down

The 2012 Olympics schedule posted today and 30 July may be the Biggest Day of many Big Days. This, Dear Reader, the final of the men's 200-meter freestyle which may see Michael Phelps against Ian Thorpe, who un-retires for one more essay at glory.

Tickets priced accordingly - top seats are £450 but will go much higher on the day.

Monday, February 14

Russia's Wealth

Here is a thing to consider if you are Russian: there are 114 Russian billionaires, more than ever, despite the financial collapse (source: Financial Times). The top 10 Russians in 2010 were worth $182 billion, up 30% from '09, but still below 2007's peak of $221 billion. The resurgence from the 20% rise in the Russian stock market last year and China's growing need for raw materials. The rest of the country: nominal per capita income $10,522 (2010, IMF) and life expectancy under 60. Fortunately for Chelsea football fans there is Roman Abramovich (#4, $11.2 billion) who has spent an estimated £900 million on the club since arriving en scene in 2003.

"Nobody and nothing will stop Russia on the road to strengthening democracy and ensuring human rights and freedoms."

--Vladimir P

"A left turn in the fate of Russia is as necessary as it is inevitable."
--Mikhail Khodorkovsky (#1 Russia in 2004, $15 Billion, Forbes, before his arrest)

"People who know me said I will win one or two Premierships and will not be interested after that."

--Roman Abramovich

Thought Leadership

Changing the world ----->

"There has been a long endless debate about why there are so few women in thought leadership. Is it sexism? Is it socialization? Is it biology? All of those questions aren't so interesting to me. Yes, I think sexism exists and I think it has a lot to do with it. Do I think there are biological differences? Sure. Does socialization makes a huge impact? Yes, it does. But I also feel like that is a circular debate. I think there are more pro-active, more results-oriented approaches to the problem. Our answer at The OpEd Project to the circular debate is: Who cares? What if we could just increase the numbers of women submitting? If you are not submitting to the front door of public conversation -- if you are not getting your ideas out there -- then there is no chance for them to become influential and there is no chance for you to become a thought leader. Our approach looks at submissions as a starting point."
--Katie Orenstein

Coming Up

Christian sees Yuck in San Francisco; they play at Bush Hall, London W12, Friday.

T. Rex’s Secret

Eitan submits a story, limited to 200 words maximum, for a national school competition. The winning stories professionally illustrated and published. Here is the boy's lance:

T. Rex's Secret, By Eitan

THERE WAS ONCE a dinosaur named Tyson. Tyson was 6 years old and his friends looked up to him.
Tyson had a secret. He didn’t tell anyone because he thought they wouldn’t like him. He was afraid of the dark. Every night when his mum closed the door to his room he’d pull his blanket up to his chin and hugged his teddy.

One day his class went on a treasure hunt, Tyson leading.

“Have you seen any treasure around here?” Tyson asked a snake sitting on a log. “No” hissed the snake.

“Have you seen any treasure here?”Asked Tyson, to a squirrel in a tree . “No” chirped the squirrel.

Finally the class came to a cave.”This is it” said Tyson’s friend Colin. “Let’s go in” “In there?”asked Tyson. “Of course” said Colin.

Tyson walked, trembling, into the cave. This isn’t bad ,he thought. Everyone looked for the treasure . At last Tyson found the treasure!

Again everyone looked up to him . He didn’t have to worry about night time. Tyson journeyed into the dark forests and the deep caves. He was never afraid of the dark again.

Saturday, February 12

Louise NY


And now nine is official.

Eitan's worst nightmare comes true: the birthday-party-movie the same time as the Manchester darby pitting Manchester United versus Manchester City. I try to find a home that will take our disconsolate lad but the usual suspects not around. In the end, Eitan manoeuvres "delayed viewing" on the set-top box which enables him to watch the game .. delayed. What young people can do with wirefuls nowadays. As for our birthday gal and par for the course, eight boys and Molly who, I tell her, "is very brave." The kids play "It" and their screeches attract neighbor Martin who notes wistfully over the fence "It used to be like this all the time around here." And: "When I was a boy . . ." Martin recalls being evacuated during the London bombings.

Farewell To The Fairground

Sonnet and I see the "White Lies" at Sheps Bush last night. We muscle our way to the front stage and the closest I have been to the band (the show sold out and a wall of energy behind us yet strangely not there). Their second album released this month but it is the first I recognise with songs: "Death", "To Lose My Life," and "Farewell To The Fairground," sung with joy. The band from Ealing, London, and the audience young Brit hoppers. They know the words to every song. My ears still ringing.


Madeleine's 9th birthday party today and we prepare ourselves for an afternoon of 10 kids, the movies (Gnomeo & Juliette in 3D, groan), pizza and an overnight. Our gal excited.

Hosni Mubarek steps down as President of Egypt after 18 days of mass demonstrations.

Friday, February 11

High Fashion And Dog Hair

Me: "Madeleine please remove the dog hair from your jumper and trousers before leaving for school."
Madeleine: "But any kid with a dog has dog hair on them."
Me: "Not in this house. Besides, it is not respectful to your teacher."
Madeleine: "That is so unfair! All the other kids can have dog hair on them but not me."
Me: "Sorry, those are the rules."
Madeleine: "You just never understand, do you Dad!?"

Viktor & Rolf

Sonnet and I visit Musée de La Mode et du Textile, which is a wonderful museum inside the Louvre (She gave a lecture at Les Arts Decoratifs at the Institut National du Patrimoine at the Louvre in 2009). The exhibitions include various famous designers like Viktor & Rolf, pictured, augmented by video display of their costumes on the catwalk. I find the image one of the creepiest I have taken. V&R's work strongly influenced by The Eyes of Laura Mars.

Viktor Horsting (1969) & Rolf Snoeren (1969) met at the Arnhem Academy of Art and Design in The Netherlands. They began working together after graduation, relocating to Paris in 1993 to launch their careers. Their first collection 'Hyères' (1993) based on distortion, reconstruction and layering won three prizes at the Salon Europeen des Jeunes Stylistes at the Festival International de Mode et de Photographie. The subsequent presentation of four collections in experimental art spaces led them in 1998 to show their first Haute Couture collection (Spring/Summer 1998).

Viktor & Rolf returned to ready-to-wear in 2000, with 'Stars and Stripes' (Autumn/Winter 2000-01). The menswear line 'Monsieur' was added in 2003 (Autumn/Winter), modelled entirely by Viktor & Rolf in a mirrored performance. The Viktor & Rolf range has since grown to include shoes, accessories and eyewear.In addition to their own lines, Viktor & Rolf have collaborated with a number of other well known brands including Samsonite (2009) with whom they produced a luggage line, Shu Uemura (2008) for a range of couture false eyelashes, Piper Heidsieck (2007) for the iconic upside down bottle and, in 2006, the line for high street chain H&M which greatly extended their appeal to the general public. With the desire to expand, in 2008 they entered into a partnership with Italian clothing magnate Renzo Rosso of Only the Brave, allowing the company to develop new product ranges, extend distribution and open further boutiques.

A true man hates no one.
--Napoleon Bonaparte


Here Sonnet in the French Paintings, the largest of its kind anywhere.

More on the Louvre: Following the French Revolution, the museum opened in 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings mostly being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum closed in 1796 until 1801. The size of the collection increased under Napoleon and renamed the Musée Napoléon. After the defeat of Napoléon at Waterloo, many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII andCharles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown through donations and gifts since the Third Republic, except during the two World Wars. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts;
Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

"A picture is worth a thousand words."
--Napoleon Bonaparte

Thursday, February 10

The Louvre

We give the Grand Dame a full day. I am pained to acknowledge that despite my visits to Paris I have not been to the Louvre once though within walking distance of my hotel. In fact the last time I was here, I believe, 1989 when my family on a lay-over en route to Africa. I was so jet-lagged I could not see straight let alone contemplate the enormity of the museum - 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres.

My photo taken from the Egyptian collection on the fourth floor. In 1983, French President François Mitterrand proposed the Grand Louvre plan to renovate the building and relocate the Finance Ministry, allowing displays throughout the building. Architect I. M. Pei proposed the glass pyramid which stands over the new main entrance of the main court, the Cour Napoléon. The pyramid and its underground lobby inaugurated October 15, 1988. The second phase of the Grand Louvre plan, La Pyramide Inversée, was completed in 1993.

Sonnet and I focus on the Vermiers - two of his 26 existing paintings here - and the Italian Renaissance with extra attention to El Greco, Bertolucci, and da Vinci. I see the Mona Lisa which is now in a protective bullet proof casing and a guard rail of ten feet. The first time I saw her, in 1984, she was unprotected. During World War II, the painting was removed from the Louvre and taken safely, first to Château d'Amboise, then to the Loc-Dieu Abbey and Château de Chambord, then finally to the Ingres Museum in Montauban. And now there she is, 500 years after Leonardo painted her, looking at us strangely and us none the wiser.


Sonnet and I sit outside Cafe Ambasade facing the pretty Frenchies walking determinedly to their work on Rue du Faubourge St Honoré which, Dear Reader, we know is the shopping avenue of Paris. The men own pointy shoes and tussled hair while the young ladies with black leggings or flair trousers, capes, or fur shawls; they walk with the unusual lope of the model. The travailleurs boutique are as pretty as their wares.

Meanwhile we have pain au chocolat and tartine with raspberry jam+coffee and life is good. I completely, and I mean completely, forget about the kids. Astorg's fifth fund over-subscribed without much surprise as their prior three partnerships world beaters. We discuss allocations and cut backs which is never fun since a lot of guys have put real work into their due diligence. Those slow to the draw, suffer. Prior fund-raisings not so easy and nothing taken for granted nor relationships neglected. How extraordinary to enjoy this unique friendship - from California to the 8th arrondisement. Go figure.

Sonnet: "Thank you for giving us an evening in Paris."
Madeleine: "Was it romantic?"
Sonnet: "Yes, it was."
Madeleine: "Did you eat buttered snails?"
Sonnet: "As a matter of fact we did."
Madeleine: "Woa."

Paris Morning

Sonnet and I zip to Paris for a clean get away and 24 hours no kids. God bless you, Aneta. We stay at my usual place which has been upgraded to five-stars though the service about the same. It is all about location. I have a meeting with Astorg then we are free to explore the Marais where we head for a falafel in the Jewish quarter then some shopping. Yes, I buy perfume at Estaban, where we always make a visit. I am not afraid of my metro-sexual (hear that, Justin?). By the afternoon Sonnet ready for a nap and I go jogging along the Seine to La Cité and Notre Dame. We head out for a late dinner at Chez Benoit in the 4th - superb.

The only two cities, other than London, where I would wish to live for a while are Paris and Rome.

"A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets."

--Napoleon Bonaparte