December 06, 2021

Sam Johnson: On Pain.

He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.

--Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, London

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Storytelling

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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December 02, 2021

Rule 6: When You Work, You Are Marketing.

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When you work, you are marketing. You are constantly sending the customer small but powerful ads. Rule Six comes from our hopelessly arrogant and deeply infuriating but consistently right, practical, and world-famous 12 Rules of Client Service.

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12 Rules of Client Service

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1. Represent only clients you like.

2. The client is the main event.

3. Make sure everyone in your firm knows the client is the main event.

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

5. Over-communicate: bombard, copy and confirm.

6. When you work, you are marketing.

7. Know the client.

8. Think like the client--help control costs.

9. Be there for clients--24/7.

10. Be accurate, thorough and timely--but not perfect.

11. Treat each co-worker like he or she is your best client.

12. Have fun.

Copyright 2006-2020 John Daniel Hull. All Rights Reserved.

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December 01, 2021

One Night/One Person: Winter 2021-2022 Edition.

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Soon, it’s going to get way cold again in the northern hemisphere.

The purpose of this post—which over the years I keep annoyingly if faithfully revising—is simple. To keep these homeless humans alive during the 30 coldest nights of the year by doing something simple and effective for others. And without holding pressers about what great people we are when it’s cold as a Witch’s tit downtown.

Those nights are coming soon.

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:

You're a Yuppie, professional or other generic dweeb between the ages of 22 and 82.You live in towns like New York City, Philly, Boston, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Wilmington, DC or Chicago.

Or similar cities in Europe. Or Asia. Generally? Think Northern Hemisphere. Planet Earth. Wherever Yuppies roam. You may live in the suburbs or in a downtown neighborhood of these cities. But if you work during the day in a downtown area of any of them, you and yours will go forth and do this:

1. Pick out and ask a homeless woman or man what articles of warm clothing she or he needs that you already have at home or in storage--thermal gloves, wool scarfs, warm hats and beanies, big sweaters, winter coats, thermal underwear, socks, etc.

2. Ask just one person at a time.

3. Agree on a time to meet (preferably at the same place) later that day or the next day.

4. Find the winter stuff you have at home or in storage.

5. Bring said stuff to the homeless woman or man as agreed.

6. Nine out of ten times, your new friend will be there when you show up.

7. Wait for forecasts of the next super-cold night--and repeat.


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November 29, 2021

Romain Rolland, 1866-1944. Nobel Prize in Literature 1915.

Let’s hear it for those who create. Babies, books, music, art, new ideas. New forms and new minds.

Below: Romain Rolland, 1866-1944. Nobel Prize in Literature 1915.


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November 27, 2021

Holy Surprises of Handwritten Notes. Try not to screw this one up, Campers.

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

In case your Governess never told you, you're from Utah, or you were stoned all seven years at Choate, do know that when thanking anyone for something important--a meeting, a dinner, a referral of a customer or client--always do it with a handwritten thank-you note.

Yes, handwritten. With a pen. On paper. And promptly.

We all fail here from time to time. But no valid excuses exist for not saying “thank you” in your own unique hand. Not one. No, the informality of electronic communications and the internet doesn’t give you a pass. No, handwritten thank-you notes are not the sole province of new brides, Southern debutantes and the New Canaan Junior League. Yes, everyone should do it. And yes, there are rewards.

Too few of us practice gratitude, in either in our personal or professional lives. Most of us, in our better moments, understand that gratitude outside of work is good for the soul. But it’s good for business, too. For revenues. And for business good will. I recently conducted my own unique business etiquette study (of sorts) on the rewards and benefits of handwritten thank-yous and the results were nothing less than astonishing. Even executives and professionals with modest standards and questionable taste--youngish American males who resentfully still wear socks to important meetings or court--declare to a man or woman that no handwritten thank-you note means no class--as harsh, low-tech and medieval as that may sound.

Sure. Typed thank-you notes in regular mail or (God forbid) email and are better than nothing. But handwritten is always better. Much better. Much more personal. Much more appreciated by your thankee-reader.

Use good stationery. I suggest Crane's on the lower end, or something better, like stationery from Tiffany's or a Tiffany’s-style knock-off, on the higher end. A "studio card", maybe. 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. Again, it's personal. Leave Jones Brothers Ball Bearings off it.

Here's another way to look at handwritten thank-you notes. If you DON'T send them, bad things will happen.

1. No one will give you any more business, or invite you to The Hamptons.

2. People will say mean things about your dog, your wife, your girlfriend, or about all three. Worse, they trash you.

3. If you went to Brown, snide people will remind you and your friends that Brown used to be the safety school for the Ivies.

4. If you were at Duke, they'll re-float the completely untrue story that Duke exists only because Princeton had too much honor and class to accept Buck Duke's filthy tobacco money and re-name Princeton Duke.

5. If Princeton, they'll just say you were always kind of light in the Cole Haans, too, and were once even seen dancing at an "alternative lifestyle" bar in the city--dressed in full leather biker garb--so what can you expect?

You get the idea. Thank people in writing. In your own hand. Do it every time and right away.

If by now you are not convinced that handwritten thank-you notes are noticed and appreciated (they are), pretend that I know more than you (I do), and do it anyway.

You can thank me later.

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Shortridge

Shortridge High School, Indianapolis, est. 1864. Indiana’s first free public high school. Kurt Vonnegut, Class of ‘40, wrote:

“... my dream of an America with great public schools. I thought we should be the envy of the world with our public schools. And I went to such a public school. So I knew that such a school was possible. Shortridge High School in Indianapolis produced not only me, but [writer Madelyn Pugh, Sen. Dick Luger, Dan Wakefield, Rep. Dan Burton, historian Mary Ritter Beard, Rep. Andy Jacobs, Booth Tarkington, Vikings/Rams standout Marcellus Greene, and scores more]. And, my God, we had a daily paper, we had a debating team, had a fencing team. We had a chorus, a jazz band, a serious orchestra. And all this with a Great Depression going on. And I wanted everybody to have such a school."

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November 26, 2021

Goethe jokes with The Immortals.

Eternity is a mere moment--just long enough for a joke.

--Hermann Hesse's version of Goethe, dead, possessed of a superior perspective, and speaking to Harry Haller, in Steppenwolf (1927).

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November 25, 2021

Logan Circle: Flora on Old Stone

My street in Logan yesterday morning on the way to work. Washingtonians remind me of southern city Brits. They like ancient stone and brick bleeding into old gardens, green things, a little (not too much) red and Falls that last longer than they should. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

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November 23, 2021

Naked Lunch, first printing, Grove Press, 1959.

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November 22, 2021

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

Today marks the 58th 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 19, 2021

12 Rules of Client Service. Get off your knees.

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1. Represent only clients you like.

2. The client is the main event.

3. Make sure everyone in your firm knows the client is the main event.

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

5. Over-communicate: bombard, copy and confirm.

6. When you work, you are marketing.

7. Know the client.

8. Think like the client--help control costs.

9. Be there for clients--24/7.

10. Be accurate, thorough and timely--but not perfect.

11. Treat each co-worker like he or she is your best client.

12. Have fun.

Copyright 2006-2020 John Daniel Hull, IV. All Rights Reserved.

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November 17, 2021

London, 1835: Ben Disraeli Disses Daniel O'Connell.

Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.

--Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), Parliament, 1835.

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November 16, 2021

Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 114: In planning depositions, resist The Uninspired, The Lazy & The Half-Baked.

Do some common sense work before you take a deposition. And please don't squander the client's budget out of sheer laziness. You are paid to work on planning discovery, too. See this one.

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"Do these guys ever think before they work?"

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Charles Clapp's "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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Continue reading...

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November 15, 2021

Jack London: On Real Life

‪“You can’t wait for Inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”‬

‪— Jack London (1876-1916)‬


‪Image: London in 1905‬
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November 14, 2021

The 7 Habits of Highly Clueless Corporate Lawyers.

Return of EFGB and the Seven Habits. Lawyers who won't take a stand is a time-honored tradition. Ernie from Glen Burnie, a life-long friend of mine, is not such a creature. It's just his nature. He'll stand up for people who pay him--and people he just met on the subway. You can read Ernie's story. 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: Ernie, a dead-ringer for 1950s icon Neal Cassady, and the author, during their pre-lawyer years in Washington, D.C.

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Badness in Depositions: "Stop me before I coach again."

An objection must be stated concisely in a nonargumentative and nonsuggestive manner.

--from Rule 30(c)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P.

Defending lawyers who testify are bad. And let he or she without sin cast the first stapler. In defending in a deposition, giving speeches and coaching your witness on the record is "bad" because it may be suggestive of the answer the witness should give. We could go on and on and on about this--but we'll just be quiet and let you read it.

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(Does this guy ever shut up?)

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November 12, 2021

Statesboro Blues: "Daddy died and left me wild...".

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 11, 2021

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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The Best of Partner Emeritus: On Stewardesses.

Flying is not the fun it used to be. If you came of age after The Great Neutering, here's some great American cultural and client service history you may have missed. See the nostalgic exchanges between commenters back in January of 2016--back when it had comments--at David Lat's Above the Law in "Former Biglaw Partner Who Got Wasted On Plane And Caused Flight Diversion Charged With Airplane Assault." Seventy-eight comments. Below is a sampling:

I miss the old days of flying first class on Pan Am. The stewardesses were very friendly, smoking a cigar was not taboo and slapping a flight attendant’s posterior was greeted with a “you’re a feisty one aren’t you?” Nowadays, you get placed on the “no fly" list for innocuous conduct.


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November 10, 2021

1942 Guernica: "Did you paint this?"

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Here's a WWII story I first heard in 1992 in Paris from a struggling young Irish painter named Richard hustling his drinks and living by his wit, humor, charm and talent on a few choice blocks of the Right Bank. I never found out what happened to Richard. But ever since I've thought about this simple and apparently fairly well-known Picasso story, and more and more since 2005.

In the Fall of that year, Julie McGuire and I were together in Madrid. We made time to see Guernica, very likely Pablo Picasso's most famous painting, and some other great modern Spanish works, at the Museo Reina Sofia in central Madrid. Picasso painted Guernica in 1937 after both German and Italian bombers shelled Guernica, in Spain's Basque Country, on April 26 of that year, during the Spanish Civil War. The bombing by Germany and Italy happened at the request of Spanish Nationalist forces. The painting is an outcry, protest and lament of the self-assured, polite, smooth and famously composed Picasso.

The smallest details of the story seem to change. But historians and journalists seem to agree on the following:

In 1942, during the 1940-1944 German occupation of Paris, German officers often visited Picasso's Paris studio at a time when some of his paintings were being burned as decadent. On one visit, an aggressive Gestapo officer found a simple postcard with an image of Guernica in the studio. The officer confronted the painter, and held before Picasso's face the postcard with its breathtaking indictments of war, national pride, meaningless death, pointless suffering, waste, government hypocrisy, inflamed leadership and self-destruction.

"Did you do this?", the officer asked.

“No, sir. You did."

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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?

Original post: 5.28.06

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November 09, 2021

Euripides on Speech and Expression

This is slavery, not to speak one's thought.

— Eurípides (480-406 BC)

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November 08, 2021

Lawyering: A Backstage Pass to the World.

The Strip, Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood. As the fictional movie character John Milton said, law done right is a "backstage pass to the world." We've a client doing good things in Africa with an office here. How many lawyers have a practice with client meetings two blocks from the Viper Room and The Whiskey? Probably quite a few. But I grew up in the Midwest--where TGIF restaurants are considered to be pretty wild, and it's eccentric to wear a trench coat and tasseled loafers on the same day. So this kind of meeting venue may be my notion of gratitude.

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Romain Rolland: Real Life

There is no joy except in creation. There are no living beings but those who create. All the rest are shadows, hovering over the earth, strangers to life. All the joys of life are the joys of creation: love, genius, action.

--Romain Rolland (1866-1944), Nobel Prize winner, in "Lightning Strikes Christophe"


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November 06, 2021

The London Stone.

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We've written about it before. I have a thing about it--probably because for now I live a lot of the time in California in an "old" 22-year-old home. Back East, in DC, NYC and Nantucket, and other parts of the U.S. where people do not use "party" as a verb, there's much older stuff, of course, sometimes going back to the 1600s--but nothing like you stumble upon every moment in dear old Albion and Western Europe. Sorry, rock and cave paintings and U.S. mound-builder relics don't cut it for me as much; so alert the Oberlin College faculty, the BIA and NPR--and then sue me. I like old books, old homes, old things; but they need to be the relics of real goofy-looking Europeans like me.

The Stone is important to me because it's mysterious and fires the imagination--not because it's way old. There's a myth that the Stone was part of an altar built by Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder of London. Not true in any respect--but the Stone is Dang Olde, older than Boudica, Tacitus, Disraeli or Keith Richards, and at the very minimum, an enduring symbol of the Authority of The City since London Roman times. So we're talking about at least 2000 years of Stoneness. Some scholars think 3000 years.

Anyway, finding It is easy: you head east, down Fleet Street, past Dr. Johnson's house, past St. Paul's a block north, staying on Fleet Street (not Lane) which becomes Ludgate Hill (past intersection with Old Bailey), which becomes Cannon Street, to 111 Cannon, across from the tube station.

Got it? You'll miss It if you're not careful. You may give an oath to It if you like. The Stone likes that.

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Original: 8-29-08

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Blaise Pascal: Time and Brevity.

I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.

― Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), The Provincial Letters, Letter 16, 1657

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By François II Quesnel for Gérard Edelinck, 1691

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November 05, 2021

Bring Back Real Women: Annabeth Gish.

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In Praise of Structure.

For a long time I've thought that American business schools and the training programs of global and often publicly-traded companies do a much, much better job than do law firms of training recruits to value and adhere to the structure of a plan on an item for action.

Do we lawyers know how to get things done, done right and done on time? Do we even value that? I wonder.

I am not talking here about the simple "keeping face" and survival requirements of meeting client deal or court deadlines, or even about the cliches of working hard, creative thinking, "out of the box", working smart or being persistent. I mean structure, a real standard, and "practicing structure" every day--the discipline of (1) having a plan or strategy for any one project, client or non-client, (2) meeting internal project deadlines no matter what, and (3) applying the will to work that plan and timetable.

"Structure" is not just the hard process of getting things done. It's a frame of mind and a value which must be sold to others in your shop--like the importance of making that 5 minute call to a client about a loose end at the end of the worst day you can remember, even while you could do it the next morning at 8:00. It's realizing that letting anything but emergency tasks "slide" makes you inefficient, unlikely to meet your real goals, and tired.

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Continue reading...

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November 04, 2021

My Rum Diary: Growing up Hunter Thompson.

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Kurtz. He got off the boat. He split from the whole goddamn program.

--Captain Willard, Apocalypse Now (1979)

Thompson had a way of keeping anyone unfriendly to the very idea of him beyond even mere curiosity. Just unaware. In that case, you were a nice person doing the best you could. You didn't "need it"--anymore than you needed to become good friends with Andy Warhol, Ralph Nader, Harry Dean Stanton, or Dr. John the Night Tripper, whoever they were.

--A Fan

Twenty years ago, when I was an associate in D.C. sweating everything, I worried a lot about something hanging in my office: a framed black, white and red "Hunter S. Thompson for Sheriff" election poster for a 1970 election in Aspen, Colorado.

The poster bore a Harvard Strike fist. Inside the fist there appeared to be what someone explained was a drawing of a plant which bad or crazy people chewed on to "get high". But I quickly realized that anyone who actually knew about Thompson and his books and articles on presidential politics, Las Vegas and the Kentucky Derby--the event in his hometown of Louisville was "decadent and depraved"--would likely like me for having it.

I was right. The poster meant nothing to most people who visited my office, and it even helped me make friends. In the 1970s and 1980s, people read and loved him or had never heard of him.

So you either "knew" HST--or you didn't.

He either delighted, or was too disturbing to explore. A talented and comical writer, he drank too much, really did like chemicals, hated Richard Nixon, upset people on the press entourage, freaked out editors, showed up drunk for "speeches", and arranged for Ed Muskie to be severely menaced on a train by one seriously funny outlaw rich kid named Peter Sheridan.

He liked weapons. He was once accused of firing a military rocket at a snowmobile. According to a friend of mine who worked for one of the TV news networks, Thompson once mysteriously and suddenly showed a handgun to Secret Service agents and reporters sitting in a booth in a famously silly Capitol Hill singles bar, mumbling "just in case there's a firefight..."

Even with that public life, Thompson had a way of keeping anyone unfriendly to the very idea of him beyond even mere curiosity. Just unaware. In that case, you were a nice person doing the best you could. You didn't "need it"--anymore than you needed to become good friends with Andy Warhol, Ralph Nader, Harry Dean Stanton, or Dr. John the Night Tripper, whoever they were.

Even after Thompson became a character in Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury, saw two movies based on his work, and died by his own hand in early 2005, most people didn't have a clue or want to. One exception in later years: "beer hippies" and GenX stoners finally discovered Thompson--"Gonzo, drugs, liberal stances, hey Hunter's my man"--and my guess is that he secretly looked down on them.

Well, anyone can be in his club at this point. But I needed it all along. He was an angry but fine writer, a humorist, an innovator--and a big hillbilly like me who grew up on the Mason-Dixon line and all along just wanted to fall in love. He still makes me laugh and cry.

Maybe there is no Heaven.

Or maybe this is all pure gibberish — a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow — to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whiskey, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested.

Original post: 11.29.2013

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Milan Kundera: On Older Women.

An older woman is a jewel in the life of a man.

--Milan Kundera (1929- ) in "Immortality", 1990

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One critic: The book will make you "maybe even a better lover".

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November 02, 2021

November 2, 1939

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Best book ever written about November 2.

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All Souls: This is your day.

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“The Day of The Dead”
1859
William-Adolphe Bouguereau

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November 01, 2021

Hotel du Jeu de Paume.

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Hotel du Jeu de Paume, 54 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, 75004 Paris

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Allhallowtide Day 2: All Saints’ Day

Allhallowtide is a big deal. Celtic. Pagan. Catholic. A celebration-observance of Everything. Seasons. Fear, Harvest. Having enough food. Druids in the moonlight. Changes. The love of family. The Cosmos. Turning your enemies into newts. This is Day 2 of 3. Modernly, All Saints’ Day, a Christian observance begun in the 4th century to honor the lives of saints, most of them famous, and quite a few martyrs. The day however is not just for Roman Catholics. Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists and a few other quasi-civilized Protestant groups at least recognize. All Saints’ Day on November 1 comes the day after All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve, aka Halloween. Tomorrow, Day 3 of Allhallowtide, is All Souls’ Day. We turn our thoughts and prays to the regular people who’ve died.

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“The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant,” Andrea da Firenze, at the Santa Maria Novella church, Florence, Italy, fresco, 1365.

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October 31, 2021

All Saints’ Eve

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October 30, 2021

Let’s all get a life again. Say no to pandering and mindless cheerleading in America.

Bring back talking about all of the ideas. Even the older or uncomfortable or at times shocking ideas. The ones we thought we we tossed out. Let’s talk about Everything. Throw out assumptions and sacred cow pretenses. And finally let’s stop demanding that we all buy 100% into the agenda, vocabulary, belief system or social justice strategy of any minority group or any historically dissed or disenfranchised peoples or cultures. No group or culture is special. (Exception: Pikeys in lower England. Kidding. Just kidding.) No one is entitled to 100% of my support. Few humans fortunately really lead life off the latest script anyway. Learn the beauty, the utility and satisfaction of having some critics, some enemies and even a few haters.😎

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October 28, 2021

Return from the Harvest, William-Adolphe Bouguereau,1878

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“Return from the Harvest,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1878
Cummer Museum and Gardens
Jacksonville, Florida

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

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Book Hill Park, Georgetown

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October 27, 2021

Redux: One Man's 2012 Halloween Plan: Turn off the lights. Lie on the floor.

So go away, okay? Look, I didn't buy any Candy this year--and when the neighborhood kids ring my doorbell tonight, I'll pretend I am not there. I was supposed to be in the District of Columbia tonight. The thought of stocking up with Candy for Halloween never entered my mind. I was off the hook this year. And then Hurricane Sandy pulled me back into Halloween. Early Monday morning US Airways cancelled my Tuesday flight to Reagan National Airport. This in turn has ensured an even busier week this week reshuffling things so I can do the trip next week. Look, I live alone. My last girlfriend evacuated weeks ago. No one to pick anything up for me.

As of this morning I still haven't bought any Candy. In a pinch, I could be okay: I still have 4 vintage Jolt Colas, 7 Red Bulls and a new carton of Marlboro Red Labels I can hand out at the door. But I decided a few minutes ago to "bypass" Halloween. Don't get me wrong. I love kids. I love Candy. For a bachelor, it is virtually a food group. I love anything with strong Celtic roots--I love Halloween, All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Eve, Samhain or whatever you and your Pagan, Christian, Atheist or Other young ones call it. I just didn't get to the Vons in SoCal. I am not even here. So go away. Please. I am out of town. Spread the word.

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Original post: 10/27/12

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Hell's Kitchen, NYC

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Jacob Riis photo of Bandits' Roost (1890)

Old neighborhoods, like old people, have strong personalities. And they are feisty as Hell.

The above photograph of an alley in Hell's Kitchen, then in its second century, was taken long before the midtown Manhattan neighborhood got cute and trendy again. The work, images and outcry of Jacob 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.

Yeah, older neighborhoods, like older people, have personalities--and they are feisty as Hell.

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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October 25, 2021

The Holy Surprise of Thinking on Your Own

He was a loner with an intimate bond to humanity, a rebel who was suffused with reverence. An imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the universe, the locksmith of mysteries of the atom and the universe.

--Walter Issacson, in Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon & Schuster, 2007)


Children come with Imagination. It's standard issue.

--Holden Oliver in 2009

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"E" at the beach: Another fresh take.

Try this at home and work: The Holy Surprise of a Child's First Look. Forget for a moment, if you can, about Clients and Paris. This blog is at heart about Quality, Old Verities, and Values--the things no business, government, non-profit group, religion, politician or leader (a) wants to give you or (b) can give you. No, not even family and friends can. You have to find them on your own. Work and Service, whether you are paid for them or not, are inseparable from these things.

At the blog, at our firm, and in our lives, we seek--in the largest sense--serious overachievers, and aficionados of life, past and present: identifying them, learning from them, having them as friends, hiring them and above all, never holding them back. It is often hard to find these people--or even to remember that they once existed. We do, after all, live in a cookie-cutter world. Originality, intuition, authentic spirituality, and even taste are not valued--these traits are often feared and attacked--in most of the West. This is especially true in America, where we continue to be geographically, culturally and (some think) cosmically isolated. The United States, despite its successes, high standard of living and exciting possibilities, has become world headquarters of both moral pretension and dumbing life down. Besides, fresh thinking leads to painful recognitions. It's easier to let something else do the thinking for us.

"Fragmentation" is a word some people (including those with better credentials than the undersigned to write this) have used for decades to describe modern humans all over the world: lots of wonderful, intricate and even elegant pieces--but no whole. So, in our search for coherence, we look for clues. We look to television, advertising, and malls. To work, and to professional organizations. To secondary schools, universities, and any number of religions (none of the latter seem "special"--they say identical intuitive and common sense good things, but just say them differently), and to an array of other well-meaning institutions. In fairness, all of these have their moments (hey, we all like our insular clubs).

Continue reading...

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October 24, 2021

47th Anniversary of Hunter Thompson’s demented speech at Duke University. October 1974. The Weird Turn Pro.

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Editor's Note: The following is a verbatim reproduction of an article appearing in The Chronicle, Duke University's student daily on October 23, 1974. Page Auditorium is on Duke's West campus.

Thompson, Audience Clash in Page Chaos

By Dan Hull

"Is there any coherence in this thing? I feel like I'm in a fucking slaughterhouse in Chicago early in the morning."

DURHAM, N.C.--In a pathetic attempt to slide something coherent through his staccato mumble, Gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was met last night at Page Auditorium with a bevy of jeers, curses, and a request by the Duke University Union to leave the stage.

According to Union spokespersons, it was expected that the slightly inebriated Thompson would drive away the audience if his talk turned out particularly monotonous.

Frustrated by the dialogue between the disjointed speaker and the belligerent audience, some did leave while others, many of whom were as well-oiled as Thompson, remained until the journalist was escorted off the stage.

Beer cans and joints

Beer cans and an occasional joint passed among the rows of the auditorium as Thompson, forty minutes late and looking more like a lanky tourist than a radical journalist, poked across the stage to the podium.

Slouching there, Thompson began: "I have no speech, nothing to say. I feel like a piece of meat," referring to his marketing by his lecture agency.

Having tossed aside the index cards on which were written questions from the audience, Thompson received few serious oral questions from the audience.

"What I'd really like to be in is an argument" he said.

When a baby cried Thompson mumbled, "That's the most coherent fucking thing I've heard all night."

In most cases, serious questions, and Thompson's responses to them were inaudible or incoherent.

Visibly put off by the belligerent Duke audience whom he repeatedly referred to as "beer hippies," Thompson was most relaxed and clear when talking about Richard Nixon.

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Photos: The Chronicle.

Continue reading...

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Halloween: Turn off the lights, lie on the floor.

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October 23, 2021

Jonathan Swift

Swift was a Titan in rebellion against Heaven.

-- John L. Stoddard, 1901

Anglo-Irish, Angry and Brave: See one of our past tributes to Dean Swift (1667–1745) in "Heroes and Leaders: Anyone out there with soul and sand?"

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Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London

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October 22, 2021

St. John of Patmos: Craziest Man in the New Testament.

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Looking into the Void.
Saint John of Patmos writes the Book of Revelation in this Hieronymus Bosch painting (1505). Whoever wrote Revelation--no one really knows--was out-there. One King-Hell Flake. But he could write and tell stories. Make no mistake.

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Voltaire, God and Human Beings, 1769

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"In general men are stupid, vengeful, ungrateful, jealous, greedy for other people's goods, abusive of their superiority when strong, and deceitful when weak."


--First sentence, Chapter 1, Our Crimes and Stupidities

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William Carlos Williams: A New Mind.

Without invention nothing is well spaced,
unless the mind change, unless
the stars are new measured, according
to their relative positions, the
line will not change, the necessity
will not matriculate: unless there is
a new mind there cannot be a new
line, the old will go on
repeating itself with recurring
deadliness.

William Carlos Williams in Paterson, Book 2 ("Sunday in the Park")

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October 21, 2021

“Til I burn up.”

Speaking of Halloween and the musical occult. Cincinnati, Ohio. Saw my first live rock show here in summer of 1969. The late Dr. John. Was with my best friend Greg Fritz. We were 16. The Gris Gris man/Night Tripper was scary and loud and wonderful and strange. With his back up singers. Maybe 400 in the club, which had been a bank in Clifton. “Til I burn up.” Found out later Dr. John had been a session musician with The Beach Boys. Piano. Saw him again in San Diego in 2005.

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October 20, 2021

Gene Dwyer's novel on Marie Laveau: "She Walks On Gilded Splinters."

New Orleans-based Gene Dwyer is a gifted writer who deserves to be a household name. From Dwyer's website:

Marie Laveau of New Orleans is recognized as one of the most influential women of 19th Century North America. The life and legend of this Voodoo Priestess has been clouded in mystery. Her followers in the American South witnessed her supernatural powers of healing and casting spells prior to the Civil War and then during Reconstruction. Her legend, including her immortality, is even stronger and more complex. Thousands come to her New Orleans mausoleum every year to ask favors and pay homage.

"She Walks On Gilded Splinters" is the never before told story of the life and legend of Marie Laveau. Explore 16th Century Africa and New Orleans. with a riveting opening chapter in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965, a watershed day in the American Civil Rights movement. The novel is a unique, intricate murder mystery following retribution for the sins of past generations set against the history and consequences of the slave trade.

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October 19, 2021

Daniel O’Connell: Statesmanship, balls, Irish wit. Trial lawyering on crack.

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October 18, 2021

Indian Summer, Hudson River 1861, Albert Bierstadt

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Indian Summer, Hudson River 1861, Albert Bierstadt

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Make Yours Moxie.

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Your business, your rules. Get off your knees. Demand things of yourself--and of others. (1) What did you do this past week? (2) What did your employees do for you this week? (3) What did you all do for customers and clients?

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October 17, 2021

Gustave Courbet, Chillon Castle, 1874

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The Prisoner of Chillon

My eighth grade English teacher at the Indian Hill, Ohio school system was the late Lynwood Van Aken. He introduced me and the class to this poem. It’s Lord Byron’s “The Prisoner of Chillon.” That was in 1967. I will never forget the poem, Mr Van Aken or the many other gifts of the Indian Hill schools. All three changed my life. The poem? Written 1816. It’s about a family of political prisoners in Switzerland in the 1500s. It begins: “My hair is grey but not with years. Nor grew it white in a single night…”

The Prisoner of Chillon
BY LORD BYRON (GEORGE GORDON)

My hair is grey, but not with years,
Nor grew it white
In a single night,
As men's have grown from sudden fears:
My limbs are bow'd, though not with toil,
But rusted with a vile repose,
For they have been a dungeon's spoil,
And mine has been the fate of those
To whom the goodly earth and air
Are bann'd, and barr'd—forbidden fare;
But this was for my father's faith
I suffer'd chains and courted death;
That father perish'd at the stake
For tenets he would not forsake;
And for the same his lineal race
In darkness found a dwelling place;
We were seven—who now are one,
Six in youth, and one in age,
Finish'd as they had begun,
Proud of Persecution's rage;
One in fire, and two in field,
Their belief with blood have seal'd,
Dying as their father died,
For the God their foes denied;—
Three were in a dungeon cast,
Of whom this wreck is left the last.

There are seven pillars of Gothic mould,
In Chillon's dungeons deep and old,
There are seven columns, massy and grey,
Dim with a dull imprison'd ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;
Creeping o'er the floor so damp,
Like a marsh's meteor lamp:
And in each pillar there is a ring,
And in each ring there is a chain;
That iron is a cankering thing,
For in these limbs its teeth remain,
With marks that will not wear away,
Till I have done with this new day,
Which now is painful to these eyes,
Which have not seen the sun so rise
For years—I cannot count them o'er,
I lost their long and heavy score
When my last brother droop'd and died,
And I lay living by his side.

They chain'd us each to a column stone,
And we were three—yet, each alone;
We could not move a single pace,
We could not see each other's face,
But with that pale and livid light
That made us strangers in our sight:
And thus together—yet apart,
Fetter'd in hand, but join'd in heart,
'Twas still some solace in the dearth
Of the pure elements of earth,
To hearken to each other's speech,
And each turn comforter to each
With some new hope, or legend old,
Or song heroically bold;
But even these at length grew cold.
Our voices took a dreary tone,
An echo of the dungeon stone,
A grating sound, not full and free,
As they of yore were wont to be:
It might be fancy—but to me
They never sounded like our own.

I was the eldest of the three
And to uphold and cheer the rest
I ought to do—and did my best—
And each did well in his degree.
The youngest, whom my father loved,
Because our mother's brow was given
To him, with eyes as blue as heaven—
For him my soul was sorely moved:
And truly might it be distress'd
To see such bird in such a nest;
For he was beautiful as day—
(When day was beautiful to me
As to young eagles, being free)—
A polar day, which will not see
A sunset till its summer's gone,
Its sleepless summer of long light,
The snow-clad offspring of the sun:
And thus he was as pure and bright,
And in his natural spirit gay,
With tears for nought but others' ills,
And then they flow'd like mountain rills,
Unless he could assuage the woe
Which he abhorr'd to view below.

The other was as pure of mind,
But form'd to combat with his kind;
Strong in his frame, and of a mood
Which 'gainst the world in war had stood,
And perish'd in the foremost rank
With joy:—but not in chains to pine:
His spirit wither'd with their clank,
I saw it silently decline—
And so perchance in sooth did mine:
But yet I forced it on to cheer
Those relics of a home so dear.
He was a hunter of the hills,
Had followed there the deer and wolf;
To him this dungeon was a gulf,
And fetter'd feet the worst of ills.

Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls:
A thousand feet in depth below
Its massy waters meet and flow;
Thus much the fathom-line was sent
From Chillon's snow-white battlement,
Which round about the wave inthralls:
A double dungeon wall and wave
Have made—and like a living grave
Below the surface of the lake
The dark vault lies wherein we lay:
We heard it ripple night and day;
Sounding o'er our heads it knock'd;
And I have felt the winter's spray
Wash through the bars when winds were high
And wanton in the happy sky;
And then the very rock hath rock'd,
And I have felt it shake, unshock'd,
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.

I said my nearer brother pined,
I said his mighty heart declined,
He loathed and put away his food;
It was not that 'twas coarse and rude,
For we were used to hunter's fare,
And for the like had little care:
The milk drawn from the mountain goat
Was changed for water from the moat,
Our bread was such as captives' tears
Have moisten'd many a thousand years,
Since man first pent his fellow men
Like brutes within an iron den;
But what were these to us or him?
These wasted not his heart or limb;
My brother's soul was of that mould
Which in a palace had grown cold,
Had his free breathing been denied
The range of the steep mountain's side;
But why delay the truth?—he died.
I saw, and could not hold his head,
Nor reach his dying hand—nor dead,—
Though hard I strove, but strove in vain,
To rend and gnash my bonds in twain.
He died—and they unlock'd his chain,
And scoop'd for him a shallow grave
Even from the cold earth of our cave.
I begg'd them, as a boon, to lay
His corse in dust whereon the day
Might shine—it was a foolish thought,
But then within my brain it wrought,
That even in death his freeborn breast
In such a dungeon could not rest.
I might have spared my idle prayer—
They coldly laugh'd—and laid him there:
The flat and turfless earth above
The being we so much did love;
His empty chain above it leant,
Such Murder's fitting monument!

Continue reading...

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October 15, 2021

Checkpoint Charlize.

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South Africa's Charlize Theron is now in our Pantheon.


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Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, circa 2004.

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Symphony

Just one thing improves a sunny brisk Fall day in a world class city in Europe or the Americas. The lunchtime bells of a dozen churches at once. No one dismisses them. Centuries of noon chimes. Centuries.


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October 13, 2021

Redux: “All hat, no cattle...”

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Everyone in your shop has to buy into CS like a cult, like a religion--like an angry sermon that lifted them out of their pews at The Church of the Final Thunder. If employees will not, or cannot, get rid of those stiffs first. And do feel good about firing them.

Real client service--i.e., know-how consistently delivered as an experience the customer likes and wants more of--is by now a global cliché. Hey, you must say you are "into" it--but do you even know what it is? It sounds easy, and intuitive to the speaker and listener.

"Client and customer service...how hard could that be?"

Very. Making a client be safe and feel safe at the same time is as hard an order to fill as we can imagine. Whether you're a lawyer, accountant, hooker, fishing guide, house painter, drug dealer, or mom-and-pop corner store owner, superior work alone won't keep a good client or customer coming back.

Clients want something more. You have to figure out what that is.

And then everyone in your shop--yes, everyone--has to buy into CS like a cult, like a religion, like an angry sermon that took them out of their pews at The Church of the Final Thunder.

"Yes, yes, got that covered." One problem is self-deception: (1) most service providers think they know what CS is, but they don't; and (2) if they really do know, they don't know how to discipline their organizations to make CS stick.

(WAC?, by the way, does know what and how; the reason we give away our "secrets" is that we are confident that virtually none of you will ever be able to get and deliver client service. Yes, we are making fun of all you. All you "smart" people--embittered that you are not rich or powerful enough--who don't get other humans. You folks are hopelessly "get-the-net" delusional about CS. No intuition, no guts, no gospel--and no discipline.)

"All hat, no cattle." The second and more immediate problem is deceiving clients themselves. At a minimum, even if you don't have a clue what CS really is, do you say you provide it when you don't? Is CS a little joke at your shop? A ruse, maybe? Something for the website? For that first pitch? Well, there are voices in the wilderness besides ours on that one. And one of our favorites is Tom Kane at The Legal Marketing Blog. See again his post from June 2008, "Don't Let Client Service Be Merely Lip Service" and the related links.

Original post: September 4, 2009 WAC?

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Potomac Boat Club. 3530 Water Street, N.W.

Established in 1859 as the "Potomac Barge Club", the Potomac Boat Club is a rowing club on the Potomac River that sits on half an acre along Georgetown's southwestern border. It hosts several hundred members: recreational rowers, Washington-Lee High School crew team and professional athletes. Two members, Larry Hough and Tony Johnson, won the silver medal in coxless pairs at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The club's current building (below) dates to 1908.

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Flaubert: On His Writing.

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.

--Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

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October 12, 2021

1915

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JDH II and sisters Hazel, Helen & Hortense. Mountain Grove, MO. Circa 1915.

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October 11, 2021

Columbus at the Gates of Santa Maria de la Rabida with His Son Diego, Benito Mercade y Fabregas, 1858

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October 10, 2021

Indian Hill ‘71

Happy 50th Anniversary to the IHHS Class of ‘71. I look forward to seeing you all in the Spring of 2022.

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Photo: R. Walkenhorst

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October 09, 2021

Tramps Like Us: Heidelberg Castle.

Around 1620, Jacques Fouquières painted Germany's Heidelberg Castle, a famous structure in both German history and art, in "Hortus Palatinus" (below). Although the Castle has been in splendid ruin for most of its history, artists still flock to its foundations, gardens and terracing. Camera-toting American lawyers working in Europe do, too. I've spent several hours at the Castle on each of my four trips to Heidelberg--and I am sure I'll go again. Nearly 140 years ago, Heidelberg Castle was a hit with Americans. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as writer and humorist Mark Twain, wrote about the storied castle in Appendix B to his famous "A Tramp Abroad" (1880).


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October 08, 2021

John Faed, “Tam O’Shanter and the Witches,” 1872

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John Faed, Tam O'Shanter and the Witches, 1872.

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October 07, 2021

Lucien Carr: Beat icon, pro, original, excitable boy.

I met Beat badboy legend Lucien Carr once and briefly when he was working in DC for one of the wire services. Way talented, charming guy. And serious American history icon. Everyone even a little hip should know about his story. Carr’s on the right below. Google it or however you learn stuff. That’s Memory Babe Kerouac on your left.


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The Proud Boys, Western Civ and Real Life

The Proud Boys are an all-male group that refuses to apologize for Western civilization “which built the modern world.” What in God’s name is neo-fascist, white nationalist or racist about that, Southern Poverty Law Center?

Below: Raphael, The School of Athens (1511)

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