November 26, 2014

Publishing: Got an unpublished novel?

If you do, visit Double Bridge Publishing. Double Bridge uses crowdsourcing to get unpublished books critiqued, edited, cover-designed, published, marketed and distributed.

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November 25, 2014

On Thank You Notes.

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The Governess, 1739, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin (1699-1779)

In case your Governess never told you, you're from Mountain Grove, Missouri* or you were stoned all seven years at Hotchkiss, remember that when thanking anyone for something important--a meeting, referral or a dinner--do it and do it promptly with a handwritten thank-you note. We all fail here from time to time. Yet no valid excuses exist for not writing short prompt notes.

Too few of us practice gratitude, in either business or our "other" lives, enough. Some say the practice of saying thanks is good for the soul. Others swear it's good for revenues, too. Many business people and some lawyers with the highest standards taste (i.e., wear socks to meetings or court) think that no written thank-you note means no class--as harsh and low-tech as that may sound.

Typed is okay--but handwritten is better. Even if you are not convinced that thank-you notes are noticed and appreciated (they are), pretend that we know more than you (we do), and do it anyway (thank us later). Good stationery. We suggest Crane's on the lower end, or something better, like stationery from Tiffany's, or a Tiffany-style knock-off, on the higher end. A "studio card", maybe. Plain. Simple. Initials on it at most.

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November 24, 2014

Happy Birthday to the other Wild Bill.

Happy Birthday to the world-changing conservative and libertarian--he called himself both--the late William F. Buckley, Jr., who died (on my own birthday) six years ago at the age of 82. No matter what our political views are or were, we wish he were still part of the American conversation. He was born in 1925. Boy wonder, author, Renaissance man, publisher, editor, ex-CIA operative, accomplished sailor, harpsichordist, novelist, founder of the National Review, co-founder of YAF, author of over 40 books and crafty Gore Vidal-fighter, Buckley was, for lack of a better word, exotic.

His enormous talents, however, were often lost in the fireworks he wryly set off as a conservative visionary, writer and leader. He was a lightning rod. Unfortunately, one of the earlier books he co-authored 60 years ago supported U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy. Yet throughout this life, he formed strong friendships with liberal activists and leaders.

No American has had a better command of the English language, or has reveled in the joy of words, as he did. No one worked harder. No one enjoyed life more. And no one seemed to be on television more in the 60s or 70s, both on his own program and on the talk shows of others. Two fun Buckley facts: During World War II, Buckley entered the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant. In 1945, he was a member of Franklin Roosevelt's honor guard at Roosevelt's funeral. Interestingly, English was his third language. As as a child, Buckley was 100% home-schooled, and he did not formally begin to study English until he was about 7. His first languages were Spanish and French.

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November 23, 2014

Pantheon: Charlize Theron

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Get off your knees, maybe?


Put that mike in my hand/And let me kick out the jams.

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November 22, 2014

Pat Moynihan on The Irish.

There's no point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually.

I guess that we thought we had a little more time.

--Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then-Assistant Secretary for Labor, a few days after November 22, 1963


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November 21, 2014

I hardly knew ye: John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963)

Tomorrow, November 22, marks the 51st anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination in downtown Dallas, Texas. He was 46 years old. If Kennedy had lived, and were alive today, he would be 97--not a completely inconceivable age for him to have attained given the longevity of some on his mother Rose's side. Below is my favorite photograph of him, likely taken in his late 20s.

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A stick in me hand and a tear in me eye
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

--from "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye", a popular Irish anti-war song written in early 1800s.


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November 20, 2014

Storytelling: To Judges, Juries, Friends and Foes.

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

--Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

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Chekhov with Maxim Gorky in Yalta, probably 1900

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November 19, 2014

Charles Clapp's classic "The Congressman."

What do members of Congress really do, anyway?

What have they done traditionally? True, staffs are bigger now--but much of life on The Last Plantation is the same as 50 years ago. What values, if any, are shared by those on work in Capitol Hill?

The Brookings Institution first published "The Congressman: His Work as He Sees It" by Charles L. Clapp in 1963 (507 pages, Anchor). Congressional fellow, policy wonk and former Capitol Hill aide, Clapp was one of the first Washington "old hands" to study and write about the way a legislator actually thinks and works--as opposed to "how Congress works" generally--in the American Congress.

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Represent Only Clients You Like?

Rule One: Represent Only Clients You "Like". Life's short. The profession is demanding enough. From our annoying but dead-on accurate, world-famous, wise and must-follow 12 Rules of Client Service.

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November 18, 2014

Learn Them and Fit In: The Seven Unshakeable Habits of Tragically Clueless Lawyers.

Lawyers who won't take a stand is a time-honored tradition. Ernie from Glen Burnie, a lawyer and a life-long friend of mine, is not such a creature. It's just his nature. He's an activist in all matters. He'll stand up for people who pay him--and for people he just met on the subway. In late 1995, when the championship Netherlands Women's National Volleyball Team were staying at the Mayflower, Ernie, I and two lawyer from the DC office of [firm name deleted] met the four tallest at Clyde's.....sorry, we're getting sidetracked. There are so many wonderful stories about Ernie from Glen Burnie (EFGB). But read first the very short story about Ernie's big find circa 1990. We first reported on it in June of 2006. It's about an old parchment he claims was discovered in Alexandria, Virginia, around the same time we both began practicing law in the District. Do see The Seven Habits of Highly Useless Corporate Lawyers. This is a true story, mostly. So listen up.

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Stand-up guys: The author, then a dead-ringer for writer Jack Kerouac, and EFGB in their pre-lawyer and pre-Netherlands Women's National Volleyball Team years.

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November 17, 2014

William Jefferson Clinton: Lame Duck This, Everyone.

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Danny Johnston/AP

William Jefferson Clinton. Love him or hate him, he always comes ready to play. MSNBC: Bill Clinton’s advice to Obama: Have fun during final two years. The piece is by Alex Seitz-Wald and it begins:

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Former President Bill Clinton on Saturday urged President Obama to have fun and cut deals with Republicans now that the GOP controls both chambers of Congress. Clinton also said Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration until after the election likely depressed Latino turnout.

“I never bought this whole lame duck deal. I just didn’t,” the former president told Politico’s Mike Allen at an event here. “That’s my only real advice. It needs to be fun. It’s a great honor to go to work in the White House. It’s crazy to say you’re a lame duck and waste a single day of that precious time.”

Still, the former president – who himself faced a Republican-controlled Congress in his final two years in office – had more substantive suggestions as well. “I think that he should minimize the chances of being a lame duck, which he can do by continuing to have an agenda, and using the budget process to make deals with the Republicans, because now that they have both houses, they have a much more vested interest in actually governing,”

Clinton noted that his administration was working “right up until noon” on the day of his successor’s inauguration, and suggested that Obama needs to try harder to advance his agenda. There are still “five or six” big things he thinks Obama can get done, including immigration reform.

“There’s nothing sadder than seeing anybody whose term-limited, like a great athlete, get out of playing whatever you play and then you can’t do what you really love to do any more, so you just sort of let go,” Clinton said.

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The Book of Kells: Lots of gods are at play here.

The Book of Kells: Is there anything more beautiful? Below is Folio 292r (circa 800) of The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament. It's housed at Trinity College Library, in Dublin, Ireland. This page opens the Gospel of John. Illustrations in the Book of Kells are bursting with pre-Christian, pagan and Celtic symbols and motifs that had evolving, mixing and merging in Ireland for nearly 8000 years before Christianity. The effect is a religious document of mixed media that ranges from the playful, sexual and mystical to the deeply devout and mainstream Christian. 680 pages of the work survives.

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November 16, 2014

Hunter Thompson on The Importance of Taking Time Off.

Excerpt from the famous November 1974 Playboy Magazine interview with writer and humorist Hunter S. Thompson conducted by Craig Vetter, a well-regarded writer and storyteller himself.

PLAYBOY: ....this morning you've had two bloody marys, three beers and about four spoons of some white substance and you've been up for only an hour. You don't deny that you're heavily into drugs, do you?

THOMPSON: No, why should I deny it? I like drugs. Somebody gave me this white powder last night. I suspect it's cocaine, but there's only one way to find out...

PLAYBOY: What do you like best?

THOMPSON: Probably mescaline and mushrooms: That's a genuine high. It's not just an up -- you know, like speed, which is really just a motor high. When you get into psychedelics like mescaline and mushrooms, it's a very clear kind of high, an interior high. But really, when you're dealing with psychedelics, there's only one king drug, when you get down to it, and that's acid. About twice a year you should blow your fucking tubes out with a tremendous hit of really good acid. Take 72 hours and just go completely amuck, break it all down.

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November 13, 2014

Ray Mungo's "Famous Long Ago"

Released in 1970, "Famous Long Ago: My Life and Hard Times with Liberation News Service" is still the funniest and wisest read on the mostly failed revolution of the 1960s. Ray Mungo was a co-founder of the Liberation News Service, the counterculture's own wire service used by hundreds of underground and campus newspapers. He was also of the few leaders spawned by the anti-war movement of the late sixties who refused to take himself too seriously. Now in his late-60s himself, he is still writing.

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November 12, 2014

John Michael Doar (1921-2014)

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In 1962, Doar and U.S. Marshals escort James Meredith to class at the then-segregated University of Mississippi. Meredith was its first black student. (Photo: AP)

A Midwesterner who wryly called himself a "Lincoln Republican", John Doar, who died at 92 yesterday, made American legal history more than once. Doar worked in the Justice Department's civil rights division between 1960 and 1967, initially as a high-ranking lawyer and soon as its hands-on chief. He was well-regarded nationally in the early 1960s not only for his creative legal mind but also for his moral and (yes) physical courage. A lawyer with sand. The tall, quiet, athletic and thoroughly unflashy John Doar risked injury and his life on several occasions in the early days of the civil rights movement as the federal government's main actor and front man. Alone, unapologetically, on behalf of the federal government in some of the most racially volatile parts of the American South, he confronted crowds on their way to becoming mobs, and talked the angriest ones out of violence. Doar even lived for two weeks with black University of Mississippi student James Meredith (see above), in effect becoming his body guard. Importantly, he had a major hand in drafting the 1964 civil rights legislation passed under the Johnson administration.

Doar also played a unique role in the Watergate scandal of 1972-1974. In the summer of 1974, I had a paid internship in Washington, D.C. (and my first "desk job") in the office of a Wisconsin senator, thanks to what is now the Sanford School of Public Policy. That summer, for Americans then in their twenties or older, John Doar became a household name. He was Special Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee on the question of President Richard Nixon's impeachment. In often televised proceedings, the Judiciary Committee worked and deliberated for three months and eventually voted to submit three articles of impeachment to the full House. On August 9, 1974, Nixon resigned before the House considered the articles. Republican Doar lead the drafting and convinced key Republicans on the committee to vote in favor of impeachment. Quite a career, and one which kept flourishing after Watergate. See yesterday's New York Times coverage.

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November 11, 2014

John Alexander McCrae, poppies and the blood-red beauties of Flanders fields.

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America's Veterans Day honors all U.S. military veterans. However, it comes to us based on the experience of our Canadian and British cousins during World War I, or The Great War. On Remembrance Day, also still called Poppy Day, the Commonwealth nations honor military veterans who died in the line of duty. The name Poppy Day, and the holiday's moving symbolism you see all day today in British homes and streets, derive solely from a famous three-stanza poem by Lt. John Alexander McCrae, a Canadian soldier and physician, believed to be written on May 3, 1915. Early in the war, and in his forties, McCrae served as a front-line surgeon, including in the Second Battle of Ypres (April 21-May 25, 1915).

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

--By John Alexander McCrae (1872–1918). Poet, physician, Lieutenant Colonel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The poem first appeared in Punch in December of 1915, while McCrae was still alive. In early 1918, he died of pneumonia while still commanding a Canadian military hospital in northern France.

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McCrae in 1912

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November 09, 2014

Père Lachaise: Pluperfect City of the Dead.

Laid out like a modern grid-form metropolis, Père Lachaise has the feel of a town--truly, a city of the dead--with tidy paved and cobbled "streets," complete with cast-iron signposts.

--Alistair Horne, in Seven Ages of Paris (Alfred A. Knopf 2002)

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Père Lachaise Cemetery, 20th arrondissement.

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November 08, 2014

Now when I was a young boy....

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November 07, 2014

Pantheon: Alice Krige.

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I have not met South Africa-born movie, television and stage actress Alice Krige but have admired her and her movies for almost 30 years. I would like to see her on stage some day. I am in awe of working dramatic actresses based on the difficulty of their craft alone--and have been lucky to spend a lot of time with one in particular. To be noticed and hired, to keep working in serious paying roles down through the years, to make a living, to endure, even for the very gifted, is not a reality for most. You must be more than pretty, more than mega-hardworking, more than resilient, more than cheerful, strong, tough, well-regarded, respected and liked. You must be Lucky, too. Uncommon and shining talent is a prerequisite. All your competitors have it. A tough, unforgiving profession you must love deeply and almost unconditionally to merely stay the course in many, many moments during a long career.

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Every Day Thousands of Men Are Being Publicly "Harassed" On Twitter. Who Will Stand Up For Us?

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Listen. I'm a man. I'm sensitive.

Men. There are 3.6 billion of us on Earth. And both studies and anecdotal evidence confirm that, every day, thousands of men are being publicly "harassed" on Twitter. This news item, a post by the Women, Action and Media (WAM!) appeared on my Zite feed yesterday morning: "Harassment of Women on Twitter? We’re ON IT". But who will stand up for men when Public Online Real Life Unpleasantness (a/k/a Twitter PORLU) happens? Twitter PORLU affects everyone--every family, company, congregation, locker room, biker club, crack house, man cave, bath house, saloon and bowling team on the planet. Public Online Real Life Unpleasantness on Twitter. It respects no gender. Let us all--men, women, "others"--find a way to put our bodies on the Twitter Machine and stop it.

Isn't it time?


Public Online Real Life Unpleasantness: It happens. To everyone.

Image above: WAM!

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November 06, 2014

The mid-terms are over. Let the winners gloat and do their dance.

Dems humiliated. GOP has both houses. Not to worry, sports fans. It swings back in 2016. And then back again in 2018. In meantime, the poor, the new poor and climate policy take one huge step back. Those are way-important short-term concerns. And if you're comfortable, rich or super-rich? Chances are--and more than ever before in U.S. history--that your good fortunes had nothing to do with (1) hard work or (2) brains. Luck and accident of birth are the new "skills". Get over yourselves. Welcome to the new lower England.

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from Peasant Wedding Dance, 1607, Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564–1638)

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November 05, 2014

Congratulations, Senator-elect Shelley Moore.

Last night a college classmate we all knew as Shelley Moore--smart, pretty, well-liked, elegant and the daughter of then-West Virginia governor Arch Moore--won the West Virginia U.S. Senate race. Shelley Moore Capito is currently a seven-term member of the House. When she is sworn in in January, she will not be Duke's first female United States senator. But she will be West Virginia's first--and the first West Virginia GOP senator in over fifty years. Nicely done, Ms. Moore. See today's Washington Post and Talking Points.

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OMG. In the next issue of Tiger Beat...

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Getting Weird and Wired with Kim Jong-un, Asian Heartthrob Jefe.

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November 04, 2014

FDR on voting.

Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.

-- FDR (1882-1945) Patrician, Activist, Charmer, Leader, Bad-Ass.

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Emma Goldman on voting.

If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.

--Emma Goldman (1869–1940) Anarchist, Activist, Writer, Leader, Bad-Ass.

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Enough is enough. Let's put an end to the practice in 38 states of electing judges.

Today, Americans are voting in mid-term federal elections for all House seats and one-third of the U.S. Senate seats. Moreover, except in Louisiana--with its general election in early December--voters in each state are voting for candidates for office in a extraordinarily wide variety of state, county, municipal and local elections. Unfortunately, voters in 37 (Louisiana the exception, again) of the 38 states that popularly elect judges will also participate today in those contests.

The popular election of state judges in all of these states is a bad practice and should come to an end. Anyone who has read my writings in various newspapers and legal periodicals over the past 20 years, or has read this blog since three Hull McGuire lawyers started it nine years ago, knows that our firm prefers whenever possible to do its business litigation in federal courts--where judges are appointed on the basis of merit and, in our view, do appreciably better work as jurists than their state counterparts--and regards state courts as unpredictable and often dysfunctional venues to be avoided.

Regular readers also know that our problem with state courts is that most of them are filled at all levels with judges who are elected. We won't repeat all of our arguments here. Suffice to say that popular elections of judges does two unproductive things. First, in effect, they give successful candidates "constituents". Second, citizens and litigants are given the impression that justice is "for sale." America outgrew electing state judges generations ago, and to continue this practice is wrong. See, also, "Is that a state judge in your pocket? Or you just hugely happy to see me?". Judges should be appointed on a merit system by people who know how to identify and evaluate the excellent lawyers we want on the bench.

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November 02, 2014

William-Adolphe Bouguereau: The Day of the Dead

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The Day of the Dead (1859), William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

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October 31, 2014

Halloween: Meet me in the middle of the air.

Well, well, well, so I can die easy. Superlatives work here. Jimmy Page playing the first 3 numbers in shades and a grandiose, full Victorian morning coat is one of the coolest things I have ever seen and I may start a new religion based on his regal bearing and get-up alone. This is a 2007 concert with Jones, Plant and Page in their sixties and the late John Bonham's son Jason, on drums, maybe 40. I've never seen a live performance on video this good by any band, or seen 4 people having this much fun being excellent. If you're a Boomer who doesn't get this, you may be already dead.

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Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

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Always at night, it's the largest Halloween parade in the world. 60,000 participants. A carnival. A debauch. A trip.

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October 30, 2014

2014 List: Wild Men. Wild Women.

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Wild Men. Wild Women. The Rankings 1 through 100 as this blog sees them in 2014. Wild Men and Wild Women are people who listen only to the little voice in their head. They get things done. They build things. They don't care what you think. Uncertainty and turbulence--in the economy, stock markets, governments, the weather, bad odds, you name it--only get their juices flowing. True, they often have dark and self-destructive sides, but we seem to like giving them a pass. A few lawyers on this list--but not enough. Lawyers. Are we just risk-averse uber-weenies? Sideline players? Bag carriers? Are we not Men, and Women?

1. Ben Franklin
2. Ted Turner
3. Dr. Johnson
4. Dr. Thompson
5. Theodore Roosevelt
6. Carl Bernstein
7. Michelangelo
8. Ayn Rand
9. Ana Marie Cox
10. Japan
11. Boudica
12. Winston Churchill
12. Benjamin Disraeli
14. Arianna Huffington
15. Bucky Fuller
16. Nino Scalia
17. Bill Buckley
18. Bill Clinton
19. Steve Jobs
20. Christopher Columbus
21. Nick Nolte
22. Jerry Lee Lewis

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Plato (#27) was way Wild. Read the Timaeus.

23. The Welsh
24. Jann Wenner
25. Sean Penn
26. Ken Wilbur
27. Plato
28. Catherine the Great
29. Val Kilmer (way wilder than Jim Morrison)
30. Harry Dean Stanton
31. Scott Greenfield
32. Julius Caesar
33. Pete Seeger
34. John Lennon
35. Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
36. Peter Sheridan
37. Christopher Hitchens
38. Jerry Brown
39. Warren Beatty
40. Jack Nicholson
41. John the Baptist
42. Rahm Emanuel
43. Robert Mitchum
44. Joan of Arc and Charles Barkley (tie)
45. Dylan Thomas
46. Quentin Crisp
46. "E"
47. Boswell (he was Wild, too)
48. Ben Jonson
49. Mae West
50. Daniel Pinchbeck

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Zelda Fitzgerald (#90) was Wild. So was her childhood friend Tallulah Bankhead (#91).

Continue reading...

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October 29, 2014

November 16: NYC screening of "The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest", a film about criminal justice.

If you are criminal defense lawyer, this will interest you. Other screening locations, which include law schools, are below. The NYC screening of Gabriel London's documentary "The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest" is November 16, 9:30 pm, The SVA Theater, 333 W. 23rd Street. About this film:

See the NYC premier of Gabriel London's 's acclaimed film at DocNYC. Bring friends who are interested in the criminal justice system, and of course lawyers, judges, prosecutors, mental health professionals and the like. Gabriel's film captures the humanity of a non-violent but mentally ill prisoner, Mark DeFriest, jailed for a non-crime, who has been denied treatment and punished with rape, beatings, and solitary confinement for 33 years, but still preserves his decency and his sense of humor. Come to the premiere and join the effort to gain a fair parole hearing for Mark, who represents an estimated quarter million mentally ill persons behind bars in the US. Click here for NYC and screening in other cities.

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Over-Communicate: Bombard, Copy and Confirm.

Over-Communicate: Bombard, Copy Confirm. It's from our annoying but dead-on accurate 12 Rules. And it's short.

Rule Five: "Over-Communicate": Bombard, Copy and Confirm

I am indebted to Jay Foonberg for the inspiration for Rule 5--both "bombarding" and the idea of keeping clients continuously informed. Nearly all of my better thoughts about practice management are influenced by Foonberg. The notion of "bombarding" clients with paper and information does have obvious exceptions. For instance, you work with a GC who trusts you and wants you to leave her alone. She doesn't want you to copy her on every transmittal letter or e-mail. Fair enough. Just be 100% sure you know what she wants and doesn't want. But aside from that, this is a "can't miss" rule--and I am amazed that many good lawyers express surprise that my firm informs the client of everything at each step of the way, and copies our clients on everything.

Again, our eternal debt to Jay Foonberg, who had a birthday this week, for this rule. We just changed the words a bit. Happy Birthday to the first lawyer we know to sit down and think about how clients think.

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Over-Communicate--but keep it short and don't spazz it up.

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Pantheon: Mary Harris Jones

Put aside your party line, your ideology and anything else you use to avoid thinking on your own. School teacher, seamstress, businesswoman, community organizer, Chicago girl and Ireland-born, Mary Harris "Mother Jones" (1837-1930) had big ones. You have to admit that. What a resume, most of it from after she turned 50.

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Denounced on the U.S. Senate floor as the "grandmother of all agitators."

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October 28, 2014

Germans.

The most civilized nations of modern Europe issued from the woods of Germany; in the rude institutions of those Barbarians we [received] the original principles of our present laws and manners.

--Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter IX (1782)

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