December 05, 2020

GenY Dogs


Millennials, don’t train your dogs.

Dogs are supposed to be noble, savage and wild.

We don’t want dogs to end up like you.


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December 04, 2020

Season 6: One Night/One Person.

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Cold. Not too cold yet—but still cold enough to literally kill you. Yes, kill you. The chances of that happening of course increase as we head toward the winter weeks.

And the weather has been as flakey as ever in the last few years. Hell, it’s the only thing anyone can agree on.

Bear with me.

As a Yankee, Eagle Scout, outdoorsy dude, lifelong camper and all-weather philanderer, let me assure you that spending a night outside in colder weather has unique challenges. Even in the Fall. And generally in the period October through March.

Exposure. The Elements. And hypothermia. Call “it” what you will. Authors Jack London and Hans Christian Andersen each wrote well-known stories about it. And you can die from hypothermia well above 32 degrees F.

You say you would really like to help the urban homeless on both cold and super-cold American Northeastern and Midwestern nights? Chilly, plain cold and the bitterly cold, there are unpredictable nights that many cities are prepared to accommodate more homeless residents at shelters but for a number of reasons (both good and bad) thousands of Americas's rough sleepers take their chances outside?

Good. So see our inaugural post about our One Night, Person (March 5, 2015) campaign and our follow-up March 7, 2015 post. No, we don't have time to go over all of this again; we're working stiffs like you. Just read the posts.

Once again, and in short, here is the idea and the rules:

Continue reading...

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December 03, 2020

Oh NYC you talk a lot.

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Hell’s Kitchen. Bandit’s Roost. 1890. Jacob Riis photo.

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December 01, 2020

Revisited: The Law of Handwritten Thank You Notes.

Break the rules at your peril. People will say mean things about your dog, your wife, your girlfriend, or all three.

In case your Mother or Governess never told you, you're from Utah, or you were stoned all seven years at Choate, let us remind you to never thank anyone for something truly important--a meeting, referral or a dinner--with anything but a prompt handwritten thank-you note. No valid excuses exist for not doing it. 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, 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. Just make it plain. Simple. Initials on it at most.

If you get personalized stuff, have a return envelope address to a home or business--but without the business mentioned. It's personal. Leave Acme Law Firm off it.

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Continue reading...

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Another Holy Surprise: Georgetown's Potomac Boat Club.

Below is a photograph of Georgetown near Key Bridge (the bridge barely out of the picture on the right) on the Potomac River and Georgetown University taken from Virginia. Barely hidden and on M Street, which runs parallel to the river, are the terrifying stone stair steps used in the movie The Exorcist. A few hundred feet east down the shore--but also out of the picture--is northern side of the Key Bridge, finished in 1923. The building on the shore is the Washington Canoe Club (WCC), established in 1904, founded by members of the Potomac Boat Club (PBC).

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Potomac Boat Club members in 1921. Behind them is Key Bridge under construction.

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The Potomac Boat Club, about 100 meters east of the WCC.

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John Henry Holliday: Southerner, Toper, Gambler, Friend.

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John Henry Holliday in 1872. Graduation photo.

He despised and, whenever he could, preferred to engage bullies. He had a knee-jerk resistance to following the crowd in anything. He thought for himself. He argued with everyone (including the Earp family) about everything. He liked underdogs.

The Gift of Loyalty, Being There, Standing Up. Nine-tenths of what has been said or written about him, including Hollywood's versions, is hype. Doc Holliday wasn't a great shot, or anything like an artist with that big knife he carried around with him. He didn't kill scores of people. He wasn't drunk 24/7. Not everyone hated or feared him. Yes, he could be as mean as a snake.

But when you clear away the Old West myth, he's still a tragic but compelling and often admirable loner. Biographers do agree that John Henry Holliday (1851-1887) was fiercely loyal and could be counted on to stand up for friends--not just the Earp family--and a few others who might need a bold if flamboyant assist.

To be honest, I wish more lawyers--too many of us are cowards and wimps--had Doc's pluck, his ever-readiness to "be there" for you and his fine madness. Most of us? We don't come by strong character, action or decisiveness naturally. Face it: as a group, we are barely above-average Dorks. We've raised holding back, and even common cowardice, to an acceptable art.

Like many lawyers-to-be, Doc grew up comfortably and was well-educated. He was raised in Georgia as a popular and bright youngster in a close, supportive and fairly well-to-do family in which, among other things, he learned about card games. His clan's fortunes were badly set back, but not destroyed, by the Civil War and the subsequent occupation by Union soldiers.

He started out adulthood in 1872 as a 20-year-old graduate of a fine dental surgery school in Philadelphia. But Holliday caught Tuberculosis from either his stepmother or a patient in his first year of practice. At 22, still the beginning of his dental practice, he was diagnosed as "consumptive"--and told that he had but a few months to live.

This shock, coupled with what some researchers believe was a star-crossed love affair with a first cousin, made Holliday move West for his health. Dentistry quickly took a back seat to gambling. He became a binge-drinking rogue with only a few friends, professional gambler, resident wit, expert womanizer and prankster who was somehow menacing to most of the people he met, even at a weight of around 140 pounds. Although he was clearly an emotional and in some respects volatile man, most reports have him clear-headed, quick-witted and even strangely calm in violent situations the moment they erupted.

This was a bit of Social Critic and Philosopher in Holliday, too. I've read three bios now on Doc. (The best, to me, is Doc Holliday by Gary L. Roberts, John Wiley & Sons (2006)). Even when drunk, or when he had lost his temper (both happened a lot), Holliday was clear-eyed in a number of respects.

He wouldn't beat up on weaklings. He despised--and, whenever he could, preferred to engage--straight-up bullies and self-hating creeps. He had a knee-jerk resistance to following the crowd in anything. He thought for himself; he argued with everyone (including the Earp family) about everything. He liked underdogs. And even when cornered--or was about to be hauled off to jail (also happened a lot)--he had something caustic and often incredibly funny to say.

Tuberculosis did finally claim him in Colorado at age 37. There is no end to the lore about what he did and said, or to the speculation about what made him tick in those last 15 years. But even the most sober historical sources on Holliday do agree on one thing. Over and over again, if a friend--in a few cases a total stranger--needed him, he was there immediately.

Instinctive. No hesitation. An angry yet adept explosion. None of the pathetic step-by-step "analysis" of modern white collars that should shame us deeply every time and never does. You didn't need to ask Doc to help. Doc didn't need to think about it. He just did it.

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November 29, 2020

Charles Baudelaire: On Cities.

What strange phenomena we find in great cities. All we have to do is to stroll about with our eyes open.

--Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

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Benjamin Franklin, a Carrara marble statue in the District of Columbia by Jacques Jouvenal (1829-1905), a German American sculptor. The statue was dedicated on January 17, 1889, at 10th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. It was moved in 1980 to its current site at the Post Office Pavillon at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue. Photo: May 21, 2019

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November 28, 2020

Tell me again why we shut down the entire Western world for Fatties, Sickies and Lames.

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November 27, 2020

Yeats on Writing.

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.

--W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

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November 26, 2020

Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving. Have fun. Feed your tribe. Work hard. Advertise. And flyfish.

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Thank God for Wild Men & Wild Women: The 2020 Rankings.

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Wild Men. Wild Women. Wild Men and Wild Women are people who listen only to the little voice in their head. They get things done. They build things. 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. They come with evey political and cultural stripe.

They don’t care what you think.

Ever.

And here they are in 2020:

1. Christopher Columbus
2. Ted Turner
3. Dr. Johnson
4. Dr. Thompson
5. Theodore Roosevelt
6. Henry Ford
7. Michelangelo
8. Ayn Rand
9. Walt Disney
10. Japan
11. Boudica
12. Winston Churchill
13. Benjamin Disraeli
14. Arianna Huffington
15. Bucky Fuller
16. Nino Scalia
17. Bill Buckley
18. Bill Clinton
19. Steve Jobs
20. Ben Franklin
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. Audie Murphy
26. Rasputin
27. Plato
28. Catherine the Great
29. Val Kilmer (way wilder than Jim Morrison)
30. Harry Dean Stanton
31. LBJ
32. Julius Caesar
33. Peter O’Toole
34. John Lennon
35. Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
36. Peter Sheridan
37. Christopher Hitchens
38. George Patton
39. Warren Beatty
40. Jack Nicholson
41. W.B. Yeats
42. Brigham Young
43. Robert Mitchum
44. Joan of Arc and Charles Barkley (tie)
45. Dylan Thomas
46. "E"
47. Boswell
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).

51. Daniel O'Connell
52. Quentin Crisp
53. David Boies
54. Holden Oliver
55. St. John of Patmos
56. John Henry "Doc" Holliday
57. Genghis Khan
58. Alexander
59. Charles Bukowski
60. Gordon Liddy
61. Malcolm Lowry
63. Keith Moon
64. Jonathan Swift
65. Babe Ruth
66. Chrissie Hynde
67. Donald Rumsfeld
68. Warren Zevon
69. Kim Jong-un
70. Billy Martin
71. JDH III
72. Guy de Maupassant
73. Grace Slick
74. Edna St. Vincent Millay
75. Mickey Mantle
76. François Villon
77. Friedrich Nietzsche
78. Rep. Bob Eckhardt (Texas-D) (gifted, eloquent, exotic)
79. Al Neuharth
80. Ray Davies
81. Marc Randazza
82. Skippy the Head
83. Alec Baldwin
84. John Huston
85. Australia
86. Oscar Wilde
87. Oscar Levant
88. Ava Gardner
89. Frank Sinatra
90. Zelda Fitzgerald
91. Tallulah Bankhead
92. Vladimir Putin
93. Frances Farmer
94. Richard Burton
95. Partner Emeritus
96. Margaret Thatcher
97. Racehorse Haynes
98. Ben Bradlee
99. Davey Crockett
100. William Randolph Hearst
101. Steve Bannon
102. Donald Trump
103. Mike Cernovich
104. Scott Greenfield
105. Norm Pattis
106. Elvoy Raines
107. Bobby Knight
108. Johnny Winter
109. Robert Mitchum


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Meet Ted (#2). He never cared what you thought.

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November 25, 2020

Trump

Until about 4 years ago I was a loyal, active and effective moderate Democrat. I raised money for Dem POTUS candidates. Tolerated Dems when they demanded speech orthodoxy and abandoned free thought. Voted for HRC. Even worked for her. Sat on Dem boards in California when I lived there. Organized Dems in part of SoCal where there were few who’d even admit it. But watching the transition in 2016 and 2017 changed all that for me. President-elect Trump was treated in November 2016 through early January 2017 like human garbage. Cruelly trashed and pilloried on the way in. It was shameful. Progressives talked impeachment starting mid-November. Let Don Trump treat the Media, SJW Muppets, the Academic Community and Goofy Dems like the anti-liberty robot creeps they are on the way out. Trump’s a Huntin’ Dog. They hate that. Oh God do they hate it. He made his predecessor Barack Obama look like a do-nothing, wimpy shadow. All hat. No cattle. Trump was imperfect but worked his ass off for us.


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November 24, 2020

Losing Labels: What’s Your Cultural CV Look Like?


Over the past 15 years, this blog has hopefully showcased a number of pet issues and themes. And apart from customer service, litigation strategies, lawyering abroad and cultural literacy. One of them has been the importance of thinking independently about law, government, politicians and political ideologies.

Or thinking about Anything. There are these days lots of good, and arguably "bad" notions and ideas--nationally and internationally--all along the political spectrum, and there is no reason to pick one party, camp or pol to follow on all ideas.

After all, people, not ideologies, solve public problems.

You don't need a label. You need not be a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Anarchist or Nihilst. You can "mix and match" both pols and ideas. Me? I've changed, if subtly, and in ways that trouble a friend here and there. But my thinking is pretty much the same as it was when I was in my 20s. As a "liberal", I never trusted Big Labor. I've never liked the "politically correct" speech regimen many traditional liberals unfortunately embraced. To the contrary, I've always admired free speech--and I revel in it. But the main change is that last year I registered Republican for the first time. Not much else is different.

Most of us do have a Political-Civil Rights-Human Rights-Social Justice resume, CV or profile (hereinafter "Political CV"). I use "political" broadly here to describe anything related to participation in public affairs where some social purpose was fully served beyond my own self-aggrandizement, ego or pleasure. More than one purpose is okay; few of us do anything out a pure heart to "will one thing." So below I've fashioned my Political CV. Forget about Dem or GOP or Libertarian scripts. I've listed things that I did in large part "for the public good." For example, things I'm not including are Senior Class President (mix of duties and agendas), Eagle Scout (the same), working in a union-shop factory (Keebler's, in my case), membership in student or church groups with some but not primary political or social welfare slant, merely being asked to run for Congress (and saying no), merely voting, serving on an elected but non-partisan Zoning Board for a community of 40,000 or going to see Jerry Rubin, Timothy Leary or Milo speak at the Cow Palace. Or throwing a huge pickle at an on-stage Iggy Stooge (and hitting him).

But passing out leaflets for a political candidate, demonstrating against POTUS candidate and Alabama Governor George Wallace or working regularly with the urban homeless? Oh yeah. Those are "political". They reflected my idea of furthering "the public good" at the time I did I them. You get the idea. There's got to be a cause, some heat, some passion in an activity that helps others. Doesn't matter if it's a national issue or not. Doesn't matter if there's rhetoric involved.

Anyway, I've been an "activist" in everything I've ever done--and particularly with respect to groups I've joined or with which I've identified. So since I was 16, here is my political resume in chronological order. I'll update it as I remember things things:

1. Campaigned twice for Jerry Springer (Ohio-D), for runs for Congress and City Council in Cincinnati.

2. Campaigned more briefly but earnestly for Howard Metzenbaum, U.S. Senator (Ohio-D)

3. Worked with Armstrong United Methodist Church in Indian Hill, Ohio on several long-term projects for inner-city kids in Cincinnati, Ohio. Some with my mother (Head Start). Some in connection with working toward God & Country Award for BSA. (I was Boy Scout.)

4. Worked twice at as counselor at a camp for inner-city handicapped kids at summer camp in Cincinnati.

5. My party's candidate for 1970 Governor of Ohio Boys State. I was "liberal" party candidate and lost to a black kid from Sandusky. Ohio named Tony Harris. The race made news on television and in newspapers all over Ohio.

6. Student Reporter, Duke University Daily Chronicle. Civil Rights Beat, Durham. (1972-73)


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7. Demonstrator, anti-Vietnam war movement. Several marches, demonstrations, including Moratorium in D.C. Demonstrated against POTUS candidate George C. Wallace.

8. Wrote "Soul City: A Dream--Will it come true?" feature for Duke daily Chronicle. March 1974. Interviewed among others Floyd McKissick, one of founders of Soul City, the first model black city in America. Paper won acclaim and 2 awards for this reporting.

9. Aide, Sen. Gaylord Nelson (Wis.-D) (1974-1975, parts of 1976) Spearheaded demonstration project passed in Congress in preventative health care for Menominee Indian tribes in Wisconsin.

10. Worked for Lawyers Committee Under CIvil Rights suing VA furniture makers under Title VII. Class action suit. Covington & Burling.

11. Worked off and on but actively for 2 years helping probe possible violations of Voting Rights Act by large Ohio city. Department of Justice/Legal Aid Society.

12. Awarded 1-year poverty law fellowship in Toledo, Ohio. Turned down to move back to DC.

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13. Test "husband" for "the white couple" for mortgage and leasing discrimination investigation conducted by HUD

14. Two of three law review articles on racial discrimination under Constitution. Zoning and Voting.

15. Two feature articles appearing in major paper Sunday magazine. First on zoning in a small Ohio River town, New Richmond, Ohio. Second about a 1st Amendment and zoning crusader named John Coyne in rural Clermont County, Ohio.

16. Aide, Representative Bill Gradison (R-Ohio) 1978-1981. Health. Energy. Natural Resources,

17. Treasurer 2003 State Assembly Campaign for CA Democrat, Karen Heumann.

18. Chief San Diego Fundraiser and (briefly) CA Convention Delegate. Wesley Clark for President (2003-2004)

19. Board of Directors, North San Diego County Democrats (2002-2012)

20. Hillary Clinton for President, 2008, 2016.

21. Co-Founded (with Peter B. Friedman) One Night/One Person Winter Homeless Program in Northern America & Europe 2015.

Original: April 3, 2019

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Rule 12: Have Fun.

Long ago, I was a troubled but energetic young Midwesterner who found fun, love, hard work, humility, a little sanity, some power, friends and enemies--and kept them all--by practicing law in our nation's capitol. Rule 12 is from the grating but highly correct Rules of Client Service.

Anyone can do Rule 12.

First, be born good-looking, athletic, and way-charming into an affluent WASP family that settled here almost four centuries ago. Have family money. Date only twins or actresses who go to Smith. Second, go to school, work hard, make some more money. Third, build your own firm. Fire all but one pessimist. Get a grandiose notion of your targeted client base--and keep them coming back so you don't have to "market". Finally, start up your own "blog", even though you're not at all sure what a "blog" is--but you sure think a "blog" sounds suspiciously show-tunes and at best nerdy and passive-aggressive. Have someone teach you how to "work" the blog. Say anything. Ignite relationship-killing arguments in upstate New York towns you'll never visit; upset inept fellow suits you see every day. Paint older lawyers as Dorks, younger lawyers as Looters.

Seriously? Do Have Fun. If you're a lawyer, and you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong.

So are you? Having fun?

While you are thinking, a confession: I loved college, and the liberal arts I studied there, because I am in love with ideas. Law school, however, was a different story. It came at me so fast I couldn't see any grand design, purpose or poetry. Except for the companionship of some truly unique and innovative classmates and profs, a girl from Shaker Heights named Amy, the drinking beer part, my administrative law and trade regs courses, some good part-time jobs, and somehow making Law Review, I hated law school with Olympian passions. It was stale and uncreative.

I even quit--twice, for a week each time. I told anyone who would tolerate me for the entire 2 years and eight months and 3 days that I was an "artist" of some sort, imprisoned and daily being abused by talented but sadistic academics who were paid, and paid well, to abuse me. I envied my college friends at J-school at Columbia, in the Peace Corps, traveling in Europe or in Alaska or Florence writing unpublished novels. I felt stagnant. And of course by the time I graduated at the age of 25, I was unhappy, out of shape, addicted to coffee, cigarettes, Hunter Thompson, Henry Miller and all the usual excesses of my generation--in short, a world-class ass.

So I moved to my birthplace Washington, D.C., where I would fit in. Sort of. I was so sure I would hate practicing law as much as law school that I deferred practicing law for nearly 3 years--in the form of being a hard-working, entertaining but equally difficult and troubled Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill. There I was once served with a small claims complaint for "back-rent" by an angry DC live-in ex-girlfriend in front of my amused U.S. Representative boss, another amused congressman and the not-so-amused but intrigued senior staff of the House Ways and Means Committee at the 96th Congress. But everything changes with time and a different lens for viewing.

Had it not been for a friend from college who was happily clerking at the Supreme Court--who inadvertently shamed me one day in a conversation at the Tune Inn he has likely forgotten--I might never gone into private practice. So I left Capitol Hill and took a job in 1981 practicing law as one of DC's hundreds of "associates" in the branch office of a Midwestern law firm on 15th Street, N.W.

Everything--and I mean everything--changed for me. It was the same way new life sprung up inside me when the Duke undergraduate admissions people changed my life in 1971. Each day was different. I treated all the difficulties--and it was hard on me and mine--of being an associate as a challenge, and a even a privilege, and ever since then I have felt like it's an honor to do what lawyers do. In 1992, I started my own firm. I like the people I work with, the excitement of talented adversaries, a new project or case and the satisfaction of solving high-level problems for high-end clients, who I really like. And they even pay me for it. If you don't feel that way right away, give yourself time. If that fails, try another firm or another part of the profession. For many people, a different mentor, a new firm or a move to government or in-house counsel--even for a short while--can help you get your "sea legs" and make all the difference.

It's supposed to be fun. American law is extremely varied, elastic and constantly presenting new practice areas--especially in the larger cities. It has something for everyone. I am convinced of this. Please keep the faith and keep looking until you find it. Put another way, don't quit before the miracle occurs. It's there, and it's all inside you, in front of you. Simple--but still hard. It's a privilege and joy to do what lawyers do when they do it right.

And it really is fun.

So...any questions?

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Dan Hull in 1967 with the Pennington Twins.

Original post April 2007.

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November 22, 2020

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963)

Today marks the 57th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination in downtown Dallas, Texas. He was 46 years old. Below is my favorite photograph of him, likely taken in late 1942. He’d have been 25. Even Kennedy’s harshest critics and GOP stalwarts who had worked hard for his opponent Richard Nixon in the 1960 election would admit five things about Kennedy the man. He wrote and spoke well. He was witty and sophisticated. He was charismatic. He carried himself effortlessly and with a remarkable poise. He inspired young people to achieve and lead. I love watching videos of his 1961-1963 press conferences. A natural class and self-deprecating humor. I think he really liked being president.

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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", popular Irish anti-war song written in early 1800s.

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November 21, 2020

Ben Disraeli: On Writing Well.

When I want to read a good book, I write one.

--Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

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November 17, 2020

All Things in Excess: Hôtel Costes

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239 rue Saint-Honoré.

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July 1, 1950. Rivo Alto, Miami.

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November 16, 2020

Go Somewhere Different. Meet Someone Different.

A wise man's country is the world.

--Aristippus (435-360 BC), as quoted by Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers

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"There is hope. I see traces of men." Aristippus was shipwrecked on the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. He and his fellow survivors did not know where they were or if the island was inhabited. But he sees geometric figures drawn on the sand.

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November 15, 2020

Statesboro, Bulloch County, Georgia.

Mother died and left me reckless,
Daddy died and left me wild.
No, I'm not good lookin',
I'm some sweet woman's angel child.

--William Samuel McTier (1898–1959)

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November 14, 2020

Kérouac

There is nothing quite like Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac (1922-1969.) Columbia gridiron golden boy turned Beat King. Jack Kérouac. Nothing and no one.

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November 13, 2020

Whitman

“I was simmering, simmering, simmering. Emerson brought me to a boil.”

--Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Writer Jack London thought you could not wait for it. You needed, he thought, to go out and hunt inspiration with a club. Walt Whitman, however, was luckier. He was a relatively young man when Ralph Waldo Emerson was thinking and writing. Emerson set off the young printer and hack writer, hurling him into an exuberant and celebratory realm, where no one American had ever been.


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Racehorse Haynes

“I would have won them all if my clients hadn’t kept reloading and firing.”

--Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, in March 2009 ABA Journal article by Mark Curriden.

War hero (he was decorated ex-Marine who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima), trial legend, worker and wit, Haynes, died in 2017 at the age of 90.

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November 12, 2020

12 million immigrants in 32 years.

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On this date in 1954, Ellis Island ceased all operations. Between 1892 and 1924, 12 million immigrants entering the U.S. via the Port of New York and New Jersey were processed here under federal law.

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Language

“Language. Mankind’s greatest invention is Language. That we’d keep limiting any of it in any way to control behavior, thought or morality is the real obscenity. It makes one sick to know that, albeit with good intentions, we’re doing just that.”

— Holden Oliver, Salzburg, 2008

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November 11, 2020

Bring Back Real Women: Sigourney Weaver.

I need a woman about twice my height.
Statuesque.
Raven-tressed.
A goddess of the night.

--John Barlow and Bob Wier, "I Need a Miracle"

Patrician. Five foot eleven. Stanford and Yale. 70 years old.

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Susan Alexandra Weaver in 2008

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Hell's Kitchen, New York City

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The photograph above was taken in 1890 by Jacob Riis. This is Bandits' Roost, an alley in Hell's Kitchen, then in its second century. It was taken long before the midtown Manhattan neighborhood got cute and trendy again. The work, images and outcry of Riis were famous at the time. So was this photograph.

But Hell's Kitchen actually started out cute and even pastoral. Three hundred years ago there were farms. Then came suburbs, and it was not really a "bad" neighborhood until around the time of the Civil War. Movies and novels maybe over-covered that second 150 years. Hell's Kitchen kept changing but stayed famous: from Irish and German immigrant sub-city to gangland neighborhood to actors' quarter to, these days, more of a yuppie heaven.

People feared the second round of "cute"--the gentrification of recent years--would destroy it. It didn't. It's still authentic in pulse and atmosphere. A few (not many) old families could afford to stay. Real estate brokers years ago came up with the new labels of Clinton and "Midtown West"--but those did not work. They could never replace the real name, the one that no one can even trace.

Sure, older neighborhoods, like older people, have personalities.

Personally, I think of the area as smaller and more compact than most descriptions. For me, it does not start until just north of the Lincoln Tunnel at 40th and then goes up to 57th Street. Its width, of course: West of 8th all the way to the Hudson. Yet it always seems worlds away from Times Square, right next door, and Midtown East.

If you are in Manhattan some weekend, stroll around there on a Sunday morning early, when it groans, complains and even growls like its old self. You will not head east. You won't even think about leaving Hell's Kitchen for a while. Too seductive. The uneasy mixes of Irish, German, Italian, and Everyone Else that dominated it--especially in the last 150 years--left certain imprints and energies. You can still feel and hear them in the stone of the buildings and street.

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Veterans Day. Poppy Day. Always November 11.

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McCrae in 1912

Veterans Day—or Poppy Day in the U.K. and Europe—is always on November 11.

We Americans on Veterans Day honor all U.S. military veterans. However, it was originally only a day set aside by the participating combatant countries to honor the dead of World War I, or The Great War, and to celebrate the Armistice with Germany which had commenced November 11, 1918 at 11:00 am.

Britain and the Commonwealth nations still enthusiastically yet solemnly observe it to honor military veterans who died in the line of duty. The name Poppy Day, and the holiday's moving symbolism you see in British homes and streets today, come 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).

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.


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.

--John Alexander McCrae (1872–1918) Poet, physician, Lieutenant Colonel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.


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November 10, 2020

Sainte Genevieve (422-512): “I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come.”

Sainte Genevieve (422-512) saved Parisians from the Huns, the legend goes, in 451. People had started to flee Paris in anticipation of the invasion led by Attila--but stopped when she told them she had a vision that the Huns would not enter Paris. “Get down on your knees and pray! I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come.“ She became the city's patron saint. In 1928, a grateful Paris erected a statue to her on the Pont de la Tournelle (now about 400 years old). Genevieve is facing east, the direction from which the Huns approached. She is also said to have converted Clovis, king of the pagan Franks, to Christianity. If you walk from the Right Bank to the Left Bank near the Ile Saint Louis, you walk right under her, with Notre Dame on your right.

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Rule 4: Deliver work that changes the way clients think about lawyers.

Based on actual experience lawyering, we wrote and published 12 Rules of Client Service in installments during a six-month period starting in October 2005. The 12 rules do seem to have legs. We are flattered. In whole or in part, they regularly appear in publications and sites for lawyers and non-lawyers (e.g., accounting and real estate). Some folks who discuss, quote or mention them like all 12 rules. Others like one or two in particular.

Our favorite? It's Rule Four: Deliver Legal Work That Change the Way Clients Think About Lawyers. It's our "Harry Beckwith" rule. Harry Beckwith, who first ignited the thinking of many professional services thinkers in "Selling the Invisible", was a huge influence on how we could make changes in everyone's lawyering--and the idea here is really his, not ours. An excerpt from Rule 4:

Why try "to exceed expectations" when the overall lawyer standard is perceived as low to mediocre? If your clients are all Fortune 500 stand-outs, and the GCs' seem to love you and your firm, is that because your service delivery is so good--or because other lawyers they use are so "bad" on service? Why have a low standard, or one that merely makes you look incrementally more responsive and on top of things than the boutique on the next floor up? Why not overhaul and re-create the whole game?

If you read the better writers on selling and delivering services, like Harry Beckwith in Selling The Invisible, you pick up on this simple idea: Rather than under-promise/over-deliver, why not change the way people think of lawyers generally and what they can expect from them generally? Get good clients--those clients you like and want--to keep coming back to you by communicating in all aspects of your work that you care deeply about your lawyering for them, you want to serve their interests on an ongoing basis and that it's a privilege to be their lawyer. Show them you fit no lawyer mold.

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November 09, 2020

Where Americans are....

My take on last week?

1. Looks like DJT took one for the team.

2. Trump down; Trumpism still standing—and maybe stronger than ever.

3. And we Americans no longer know one another. Let’s fix that.

AP: “Referendum on Trump shatters turnout records...”

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November 07, 2020

This is East Anglia: Aldeburgh,

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More precisely, it's in Suffolk, East Anglia, England, on the coast, and jutting out into the North Sea. Due east: The Netherlands, where lots of the DNA here originated over 1000 years ago. Pronounced "All-bruh". I've been here four times, starting in 2003. If you are in London, and you have an extra day, do something different and drive or take a train northeast to Aldeburgh, a Suffolk secret well-kept from Americans. The home and muse of the great Bertie Lomas, a much-loved and gifted poet, writer and editor who died at 87 in 2011. And if you are a beach lover--or a merely a lover on the beach--you and yours would do well to heed the little round stones beneath you.

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REDUX: Hermann the German: Merkelphonegate.

My friend Hermann, still braving Berlin after all these years, notes that "Germans Push To Introduce Espionage Etiquette Manual". Excerpt:

Folks in Germany are always very anxious about social etiquette and behaving correctly in public. The "Knigge," for instance, is a famous book about social rules and how one should behave in practically all situations. When it comes to seating arrangements at table, for instance:

1. Couples that aren’t married always sit together.
2. Married couples normally don’t sit abreast.
3. Not until the homemaker wants to sit on the table the guests are allowed to sit, too.
4. The dish rests on the table until the last guest has eaten his meal.

Now, in the wake of all this undue excitement going on about the Obama administration’s benevolent “Merkelphone” eavesdropping program, Germany has decided to take the initiative when it comes to etiquette in certain private (or private eye) matters, too. During a two-day summit in Brussels, the Germans have suggested the introduction of an internationally recognized Espionage Etiquette Manual to be followed geflissentlich (studiously) by all superpowers on earth.

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The "other" Herman, or Arminius, was a leader of Roman Auxiliary Cavalry in the 9th Century AD. In the three-day battle known as the Varus Schlact, which took place in a dense forest, he switched sides, led the destruction of three Roman Legions (about 10,000 in number) and stopped Roman expansion into what is now Germany.

Source: WAC/P? post of October 29, 2013

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November 06, 2020

Robert Frost: Work-Life Pulitzer.

The difference between a job and a career is the difference between forty and sixty hours a week.

Robert Frost (1874-1963) spent his life as a poet, student, teacher, newspaper reporter, farmer, factory worker, father, husband and accomplished Yankee. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize four times.

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(New York World-Telegram & Sun)

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Young Ben Disraeli on Lawyering: Is law just life on the sidelines?

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Young Ben Disraeli: "I rust like a Damascus sabre in the sheath of a poltroon."

Is being a good lawyer enough?

Consider what the young, precocious, mega-talented, persistent and world class pain-in-the-ass Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) thought--years before becoming Prime Minster of England--as he abandoned his legal career before it really started, in favor of writing and politics. According to one biographer, he exclaimed:

The Bar: pooh! law and bad tricks till we are forty, and then, with the most brilliant success, the prospect of gout and a coronet. Besides, to succeed as an advocate, I must be a great lawyer, and to be a great lawyer, I must give up my chance of being a great man.

--A. Maurois, Disraeli (Random House 1928)

Sidelined? Hobbled? Self-discarded in the great race of life? Maybe it's true. Hard-driving lawyer friends (both in-house and in law firms) do articulate a feeling of being "sidelined"--yet they are very proud of what they do as lawyers. They may think: Why merely advise--when you could lead, create boldly, and command? And do that every day? Lots of lawyers are Type-As. Yes, some of us who advise great companies really end up as officers, CEOs, and COOs? Sure, many more of us run for office.

But most of us are at best mousy posturing technicians. Should more and more of us throw our golfing hat in the ring of other life, the fields of commerce, and bigger--or at least different--ponds? Does law school and the profession make many of us so risk-averse, passive and routinely academic in our approach to life that it knocks the will and energy to lead out of us? Or were we just that way from the beginning?

Lawyers used to lead. Will that ever happen again?

(Image above: Family Guy Wiki)

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November 05, 2020

The 12 Rules of Client Service

...are right here. Revel in their Wisdom. Ignore them at your Peril. Teach them to The Help.

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Rule 1: Represent Only Clients You Like.

You cannot afford to act for business clients you do not like and respect. 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. Excerpt from Rule 1:

By "like", I mean it loosely: to derive for whatever reason real pleasure and satisfaction while doing legal work for a individual or organization.

My firm shies away from individuals as clients, regardless of his or her resources. We usually represent businesses. So in the case of an organization, we "like" the client because overall we somehow feel comfortable with or maybe even admire the personality, business culture or goals of that client, personally like/admire the client reps and general counsel, or both.

My firm "likes" business clients which are experienced, sophisticated users of legal services. When we perform well, the client appreciates us and signals that appreciation. So then we like the client even more, and want to do an even better job or keep doing the good job we are doing so we can derive more real pleasure from the engagement, and obtain more work.


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The Resurrection, Piero della Francesca,1463.

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