Sunday, June 20, 2010

the Good Father

It’s Father’s day and is there a reason why we celebrate this day, beyond the fact that it is good for the card industry. Yes, there are reasons and I will give you three (there are more but space is limited.)

Milton Groman, my dad. Milty was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was in his twenties and my mom was pregnant with my brother (also a good dad), who is six years my junior. It was a frightening time for the entire extended family because my dad, who wanted to be a fur designer, realized that he could no longer pursue his dreams. Instead he would have to find something else to do while he watched his body degenerate. There was no cure, and in those days, no hope that anything would get better. Dad worked in the family handbag business. First as a salesperson in the New York show room. (He looked like a movie star so he made lots of sales). Then as it became harder and harder for him to get around – first one cane then two, then a walker, and finally a wheel chair, – he worked in the handbag factory as a supervisor and finally, a clerk. We always thought we needed to be grateful for the family financial support but in fact, we all needed to be grateful for the gift of my dad. Not only was he determined to be a well person, (no one ever described my dad as sick – he simply couldn’t walk).
But through all the disappointments in his life, he maintained a strong sense of self and a wonderful sense of humor. My most treasured memories are about the things we did together. Running with him on the beach. The little box of Valentine’s Day candies he brought me every year. The laughs we had watching silly TV programs and even when he spanked me. He couldn’t walk, and was losing the use of his hands, so I had to stand where he could reach me, and he had to struggle with trying to smack my tush. It was not physically painful but it was emotionally devastating and we both cried so hard, I vowed I would never be naughty again. (I was, but there was never another spanking, and we never mentioned it again.) He couldn’t take us to amusement parks or horse back riding, but he taught us patience, independence, a desire to consider it a success when we did the best we could, a determination to follow our dreams, the ability to empathize, a desire to help people who couldn’t help themselves, and most importantly, kindness and humor. Dad couldn’t, (as one doctor told us when Dad had one leg amputated) ambulate. That doctor was a moron – he couldn’t see dad as a whole person –we never saw him as anything else. He was a wonderful dad, and granddad, lucid and entertaining, til the day he died. He has been gone for 24 years and I still miss him every day.

David Burnett, Jordan’s dad. All you have to know is that during the Gulf War in 1991, David decided not to go and instead stayed home a built a doll house that Jordan, (a mere 5 years old), just had to have. He tells that story when people ask him if he has any pictures of the Gulf. Not that anyone has any pictures of the first Gulf war, and truthfully, the only good that came out of that war was Jordan’s doll house, but he made that decision because first, he has always been devoted to her. And second, she didn’t want him to be in any danger. They have always had a special relationship. She adores him and thinks he may be the funniest person she has ever met. They speak the same language, they often finish each other’s sentences and she (unlike her mother) is willing to listen to his “Salt Lake Stories”, no matter how many times he tells them – they are not short stories. When Jordan moved to LA she needed to have her car so they drove across the country. They were on the road for 8 days, they were in an enclosed space, neither of them felt well (in addition to which she gets car sick), there was no kicking and screaming, no, “don’t make me stop this car”, in fact, they never had a cross word. We had a family rule that no one could be away for more than three weeks, so even when she was in college, we were never apart for more than five or six weeks. They wanted to spend some quality time together before she moved. Before she started her life as a grown-up – sans on-site parental supervision. Father/Daughter relationships are often complicated and always have a permanent impact on the child. David has always been there for her. He has imparted her with unconditional love, a sense of self, inner strength and a personal comfort level that no amount of money could buy. She is a lucky girl.

Seth Jacobson, Zak and Rosie Jean’s Dad. The first time I saw Seth with his children I was truly amazed by the amount of love and patience he demonstrated. Seth, whose parents divorced when he was six, has always been cautious about any overt/public expression of affection. But not anymore. He is simply brimming with adoration for his beautiful kids. Yes, they are adorable, but it goes well beyond physical beauty. He is deeply and passionately proud of every achievement, whether it involves a puzzle, a painting, playing an instrument, finishing a meal, overcoming some distress, or even sharing a joke. It’s wonderful to see it. Last night they put a tent up in their new backyard. (Seth always had the “fort” gene.) They built a little campground and hung a sign that said, “Welcome to Camp Jacobson”. Hanging out with the children is what he wants to do when he has a choice about the way he spends his free time. How lucky he is to have learned that his family is a priority – most of us don’t find that out until we’re are listing regrets. And they are truly lucky children to have parents who love them unconditionally, who like them without apology, and for whom they will always be first on any list of his accomplishments. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

FREELENS and me...

Culture wherever it lurks: a young violinist busker in Hamburg
a Hamburg street
This past week I was in Germany attending a wonderful photo conference, sponsored by the FREELENS group, which is the biggest German press photographers advocate group. There were hundreds of attendees, from young and undiscovered tyros, to the likes of Thomas Hoepker, one of the long time greats.
a little PR wherever it happens, not a bad thing, really
The meeting was in a large fairgrounds built a decade ago for an international fair in Hannover. The name of the place in German is Hannover Messe, but it’s anything but a mess. A huge construct of several dozen large buildings, each of which feels very modern, and extremely user friendly. There are toilets all over the place which, as you know, can be the essential defining character of gathering spaces. [I had the delightful and challenging diversion, at a river front eaterie in Hamburg of -- having paid my 70 cent entry fee to pee, trying to figure out how to get OUT of the Men's room. As it happens, the place is ringed with Subway style turnstiles, and you have to know to Press the RED Button in order to go out the way you came in.]

But more importantly they had the ability to lay out some sixty photographic essays, chosen from hundreds submitted, by young photographers from all around the world. Several of the large buildings were filled with the shows, including a ¼ mile long “sky walk,” all of which made for easy viewing. I visited Hannover the first & only time previously, exactly 42 years to the day, before. Having just graduated from college, I was en route with a college friend, to pick up a brand new Volkswagen Squareback, a great little car, at the VW plant in Wolfsburg. Hannover was the airport we flew in to, and I distinctly remember attending a tiny little carnival like fair then, a few small rides, wurst grilled on the fire, and most memorably, a shooting gallery where successful shots on target released a small amount of schnapps into a very public glass which the shooter would then be allowed/forced to drink. I think I may still be feeling the after effects four decades later.

I spoke at the conference on Wednesday night -- it was live streamed around the world on that interweb thing they recently invented, and I was told that in a day or two, it will be available for viewing for those of you who fall into the category of “can’t bear to miss it.” (I will post a link when it goes up.) I’m told I was inspirational, fabulous, and English. For some reason, not that I have ever spoken German very well, but it’s the one language that I feel the most difficulty trying to chitchat in … with my limited vocabulary. After a few days, I finally get to where I can order a krakauer wurst mit senf (Possibly the greatest fastfood item ever created… a fabulous “super hot dog” wurst with masterful German mustard: ahhhh heavenly.) I think my true fortune as a millionaire would be assured if I could just figure out a way to import 500 sausages a day (you cant use the ones that have all the U.S. FDA stuff mandated) .. sell them in a proper grilling cart on 54th street in New York – the kind that New York magazine rates as “Don’t Miss This!”
the grill scene

Maybe it’s a world wide occurrence, but I had one of those “what about ME” moments my first morning in Hamburg (the closest international airport.) I needed to get a SIM card for my little French bought Samsung fone (bought it last year when I was in, naturally, France) and went to a small “CallShop” across the street from my hotel. The Hotel? That’s another story altogether, but suffice to say that what you see on the Interweb isn’t always what it looks like in person. In short, when I walked out of my illuminated auberge called the Lumen,
the window of the Lumen
(first hotel I ever stayed in named for a Luna-Pro light meter) I had my choice, right and left, of two quality Sex Shoppes with XXX movies (32 channels!)

They were surrounded by a host of quite good Turkish restaurants (better, Im sure if you go with someone they know.) But at the CallShop, the young Turkish fellow (he spoke 4 or 5 languages) told me what I needed to speak and connect, and I handed him my fone. Had to Unlock it (5 Euros), Buy a card (10 Euros), and extra Time (15 Euros) And while they cracked the fone I waited patiently marveling at the gigantic array and assortment of available phones. During that 15 minutes, (and here is the amazing part I think) at least 4 different people.. a woman witb a young son, several post adolescents, and a pair of 20 somethings came in. All of them had iPhones. iPHONES!!! You kidding me.? These phones sell for 500 Euros new, or 200-300 Euros for a used one (lots of folks keep upgrading.) And many of these users look like they might have a part time job at best. OK… perhaps making a snappy judgement like this is a bit too quick, but let’s face it. iPHones? Amazing. And me, wandering through Deutschland with my little flip (a la 1999) Samsung. Those are the kind of things which just make you feel the power of the whole globalization thing, whatever the hell it really is.

And not only were the wurst amazing, but the young photogs were a great group, and the three days in Hannover flew by. The niftiest piece of gear to make an appearance at the festival was a polo shirt, with a wonderful bit of writing on the back:

the German version (bigger, glossier, heavier, cooler?.. of SOUL REBEL was on sale..
It became a huge hit, at least with me. Kind of sums things up, doesn’t it, at least if you’re a member of the photo trade. In this age of so many people trashing photographers, and we’re standing our ground. The ground may be giving way to a giant sink hole.. we’ll have to get back to you on that one. But meanwhile, grab the camera, and see if you can make the transformation. You might just BE a photographer…. You never know. We’re just sayin’… David

another Hamburg moment (as always, click an image to see it full size)

Here's to Old Pals

The lyrics… “I’m always doing laundry, because there are a lot of dirty clothes.” …sung to the tune of “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.” There I was, singing in the communal basement laundry room about this tedious chore, when what should appear but an entire family, clearly having an adventure. The kids were running wild chasing cockroaches and emptying the trash. The father was involved in a book and paid no attention to them. The mother was clueless. There was no chance that she knew how or what to discipline. I thought about protecting the washers and dryers from the attack of the little people in 4C, but I changed my mind because I was distracted by an older woman ironing in the corner.

Am I simply complaining about the difficulty of my life, or is this another rant about misbehaving children? Neither. This is a blob about a multitude of topics because once again, I have been lax about writing. Among those topics are children and pets and friendships that outlast time, change, and trouble.

When you are a young teen or an old teen (teen is important because you have little or no baggage), you make friends fast and easily, and often lose touch with them when your life changes. Sometimes, however, the connection was so powerful that they made an indelible mark on your life, and from time to time you wonder about who and where they are now. Which brings us to my next story. You may recall that a few months ago I wrote a blob about my life as a teen “down the Jersey Shore”. Even if you don’t, I did, and the two people who had great impact on my teen life were Vicki and Davey [Editor’s note: that would be a different, though no less fabulous Davey than this reporter] –for very different reasons. I reunited with Davey in 1976 but often wondered about Vicki. (The first time I met her she was ironing in the corner of the basement, in the house where she worked as a mother’s helper… this was pre- the “chicness” of being an ‘au pair’ – hence, the woman ironing in the corner of our laundry room took me back. Whew, I knew I could make that connect for you.) Until three days ago, thanks to the world of the web, she found the blob and tracked us down. Anyway, long-time pal Joyce (who introduced us,) and I went to see her and she is still a fabulous babe. Totally unchanged by life or love. “Every guy I went out with loved me, but insisted I change. Except Jack”. To whom she has been married for many, many, many years. She has kids and grandkids, she bought a car on e-bay, and she remains as silly as we were in the 60’s. What very good news. We all loved seeing each other and I feel we will build on what we had, to have even more – adventures and life together.

Then there’s Jordan’s new dog Ernie. She loves the dog and he loves her – but dogs love anyone who pays only minimal attention –which she does not. She is on that dog like a cheap suit. She simply hangs all over him. For this I blame myself. Having a pet you can touch is a new experience for her. The only other pet she had was a gold fish that we won at a fair and that died while we were on our way home and made a stop for Chinese food. When I realized the fish was dead I said, “Honey. The fish has died and is floating on the top of the bowl. We will need to get rid of it.”. And she said, “I don’t care if it’s dead. I’m keeping it anyway. Fish don’t do that much and I won’t have to feed it.” Anyway, I am delighted that she has this new love in her life and I think I probably, as her Aunt Soozie suggested, I should have let her express her affection for a pet long ago.

You never know who is going to make a difference in your life. For example, I love the time I spend in NY because I have wonderful family around. While I have always spent time with my cousins Honey, Rosalie, and big Sheila (it’s an age rather than size description), I never spent any extended time with little Sheila, until I started to spend time in the Big Apple. We have stuff we love to do together—simple things, like walks and discovering places we have never been. When I am stressed because of work or whatever, I find a good dose of Sheila does wonders for my mood.

How lucky am I, to have reunited with a wonderful friend, to have children that can think beyond themselves, and to have family who I know will always be there for me. Sometimes we need to pause and take a look at the gifts that we have been given, and whether we say thank God, or thank you Dad, or a personal thank you (you credit yourself with your good fortune), a thank you to whomever is clearly in order. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's About Looking

It’s hard to get the temper of a time, and really understand what the world is about. We look around and it’s kind of obvious that we live in a “connected” world, full of all kinds of amazing techno goodies which supposedly let us live a new kind of life, one that is still being invented and reworked literally every day. Yet, what really are we living? What, beyond the whiz bang amazement of being able to GOOGLE almost anything, has this series of so called advancements given us? Nearly everywhere you go, at least in cities, it’s hard to find people who are just observing, enjoying, or participating. Everyone is fiddling with their mobile device (you can’t really just call them phones anymore), texting and messaging wildly, virtually unaware of the world that is actually around them. Whatever might once have passed for “elevator” conversation (I am from Salt Lake City, and I speak to strangers on elevators… the ones who are ready to hit the ALARM button when I do so…) is now replaced by a deeply intense study of fingertip tapping on iPhones and other mobile goodies. No one looks around anymore. Even if there isn’t much to see, looking around remains a valid preoccupation, even if you aren’t a photographer. Heads are down, looking at baby screens. People seem to feel obliged to write SOMETHING, even if it’s meaningless, simply because they can. Nothing represents the idiocy of our time like a comment (wholly unnecessary, really) like “Ha ha ha” on a Facebook or Myspace entry. The first time “simply because they can” became an issue in the photo community was in the early 1980s when the National Geographic, having just purchased a new visual layout computer of some kind, no doubt the size of a Volkswagen, wanted to use a certain photo of the pyramids on the cover. But the layout wasn’t right for that picture, so they simply moved the pyramid until it fit into the layout. It was quite the hue and cry when the Godfather of modern photojournalism rejiggered what had been a ‘truthful’ photograph to fit their cover, “simply because they COULD.” Since then, the world of journalism and photography has been rocked to the core by those who alter images for a political or creative reason, just because they can. Admittedly if you are an illustrator, or painter, and this is your own self expression, what you choose to do is fair game. But if you are a journalist, allegedly trying to ‘tell the truth’ about a moment in time, changing things takes on a very different meaning. The veracity and believability of journalists everywhere dives each time there is a scandal about adding smoke to a bombing (Lebanon), changing the whole color of a scene from yuk to serene (a million cases) and the like. At this point we have nearly bullshat our way out of the public consciousness as vendors of truth. But it remains the great debate.. how much alteration is too much? When a picture is changed in its essentials, that is too much but the dotted line is often very hard to see.

a family of tourists, NY, looking.
Yet, in this time of too much stuff, and not enough ideas, how do we relate to what’s gone before us. Would Ike loved to have had GPS systems so his paratroopers would have landed where they were supposed to on D-Day?

I’m sure he would have loved it. Would our parents have wanted us to have cell phones so they could know where the hell we were on a Friday night (cruising State St. in the yellow Plymouth)… actually I think not. Because instead of being our pals, they were our parents. They kind of laid out guidelines, a few basic rules, and assumed we would try and figure out how to live with/up to them, instead of strolling down the avenue hand in hand with us, as we have so often done with our kids. Frankly, in an age when there are a lot of great kids out there (some of which are actually ours…) it’s tough NOT to be their friend. Really tough. But I hope that inspite those desires to pal up with them, we have also imparted a little of the “parenting” which parents used to handle. I know we are all in a different place. When you look at the Mickey Rooney films of the 1930s, the pictures of the folks supposedly his “parents” look like today’s great-grand parents. I guess that our having been over fed, and over cared for has given us a little edge in that regard, but I’m not completely sure. Sixty may be the new forty, but it doesn’t mean that the wisdom which used to be owned by our parents and grand parents all flowed to us. We are, remember, the generation that came up with the colossally stupid concept of “zero tolerance,” the idea which proves to children that, absolutely, adults are complete idiots unable to make measured, judicial, and intelligent decisions.

This morning, while waiting for a few 8x10 prints to be made in 11 minutes at my friendly neighborhood drug store (top THAT, 1964!!) I perused the magazine stand. It remains filled with many publications, most having to do with food, clothes, coolness, or celebrities, and which picture budgets (yes, if you have THE pic of Lindsay drinking a margarita in France, you could sell it for a hundred grand!) have depleted those of the news magazines which I have been a part of for so many years. In that newsrack were two special pubs which caught my eye. One from “the editors of TIME” and one from “the editors of LIFE”… both being compilations of photographs from, and a tribute to, World War II. There were some amazing pictures made in WWII, without question. And unlike todays mad-cap digital world, where you can easily shoot a few hundred pics in a stroll across town (“because you CAN”…) the pictures from the War were done by photographers with very limited resources. If they carried a big Speed Graphic, they were limited to the number of holders they could carry, and the amount of film they could pack. If they had a Rolleiflex, or other “small camera,” they had to shoot sparingly, and above all, owing to a lack of tele lenses, get CLOSE to the subject before shooting. But when you look at the magazines, you see page after page of memorable images. And why, in 2010 do you think Time-Life decided to come out with two specials, using nearly identical material? I can’t say for sure but my guess is that they feel the same ennui, worry, and melancholy we all do about these modern times. We remain caught up in two south Asian wars, neither of which is able to have the kind of results which General MacArthur would have called “unconditional surrender.” In fact today’s paper talks of how Karzai believes the west can’t win in Afghanistan, and wants to start back channel talks with the Taliban. Anyone who has read a bit of history (…”the great game…”) and even paid attention in the 1980s when the Soviets got their lickings there, would have thought twice or thrice about trying to tame that country. It’s tough to defeat an enemy who can live on a scrap of meat or a few carrots, because that is what he knows, when your own guys, as wonderful and smart as they are, require such a heavy rear-area support system. Do we really want to commit the next generation of young American kids to fighting in those hills, another decade or two? Ought there not be another way? That doubt, that worry, that wondering, very different from what our parents’ generation felt about WWII, is slowly seeping across the country, at a time when few besides the families of the soldiers themselves, have any direct or personal stake in the outcome. We see the bumper stickers… and yes, everyone “Supports the Troops.” But what does that really mean? To think nice thoughts about them as you hop into the elevator with your iPhone, and text a drinking buddy about dinner plans tonight? There is a lot of support like that, which never really translates into supporting anything except a personal sense of being glad you’re NOT the one being shot at. In looking through the WWII mags, it’s clear to me that this mining of nostalgia is something which we all feel a kinship for. We WANT 2010 to be like 1945. Victorious, and full of great and worthy efforts by our people, yielding an end to a conflict which tears at the soul of the country. But how do we get there? Nothing that you can do with a smartphone will make that world any better. Yet that is where we lie. Bathing in the products of amazing technology, which in so many ways do nothing except create their own means to a solitary end, we fiddle with our thumbs to write inane messages which in the end, even without the sound and fury, signify not very much.

Wrap around that the Gulf Oil spill, where not only is there very little clear information available (in spite of the 24/7 babble and “Live Leak Cams.” but you see a large company (BP) keeping journalists off public beaches, enforced by local sheriffs, because they don’t want the publicity. Is that the kind of counry the heroes of WWII fought for? I just don’t think so. I’m not sure we’ll get out of this funk anytime soon. No one in Washington, either Congressional or Executive seems to be acting much like a grown up (in the “classical” sense of the word.) It’s no one’s fault, either, that the spill happened, or that the response is not up to the task. And when the kind of folks who stepped up in the 1940s and created the tools needed to win, do so now, they are pooh-poohed away and told ‘it’ s under control.’

It’s been difficult for any of us not on the Gulf to understand what the real rubber-meets-the-road effects are. But I nominate a brilliant AP photographer, Charlie Riedel, for this year’s Pulitzer Prize. I know it’s only June, but truly, until Charlie’s pictures came out a week ago, people were wondering just what in the hell the big deal was with the oil spill. In a few frames he has shown that, and more. I can’t recall any pictures in recent memory which have so touched so many people. As of today there are over 3200 comments on the Boston Globe site, alone. The power of the still image remains with us, as long as we are looking. Yes, just looking. And whether it’s a black and white of a soldier in 1944, or an oil drenched pelican in 2010, there is simply no way that you can turn your eyes away. We’re just sayin’… David

cr: Charlie Riedel/AP

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Where is the Outrage?

The most wonderful thing happened today. Karen Sullivan called to say she was in NY. Karen and her husband Paul have been my friends for at least 100 years. We met during the McGovern campaign. They were field operatives and I was part of the advance team. Usually the twain doesn’t meet – but not in this case. I met Paul when I invaded some state, (that’s what advance people used to do when they had brains and decision making power and no cell phones – unlike today when all they need is a checklist because they never make political decisions), in which he was the field director. It was hate at first site, which had nothing to do with us as personally, it’s just Field and Advance people are never supposed to get along. After a few intense nose to nose moments about who was in charge, we both started to laugh and decided we were too much alike and simply too adorable to be enemies. I met Karen soon after and every four years since 1972, we worked together in Presidential politics. They would travel from their gorgeous home in Hawaii to work in some campaign hovel (for months or years at a time), and there they would stay until after the election. Every four years we would find one another and figure out some crazy scheme for the campaign… something that would make us laugh regardless of the political situation. Anyway, I adore Karen and Paul and we have remained dearest friends despite the passage of time, but when I see them it always takes me back to a different, better time.

Which brings me to the point of this blob. Here’s what I don’t get …. Where are the kids who should be on the street protesting about all the things that will have an impact on their lives. Aren’t they tired of being lied to by corporations who are killing the environment, people with disposable income, who have destroyed the economy, and yes, even their own government… but I’m not going there today. Maybe protesting cannot begin to address the lasting effects of the BP spill. It’s not easy to understand why (given their record of cost savings over safety,) anyone believed BP when they said “a drilling accident like the one that happened can never happen.” Or when they minimized the number of gallons that leaked into the Gulf , or they are denying that there are pools of water resting underneath what they intend to do when the oil works it’s way to New Jersey and maybe all the way to Maine. And what happens when and if there is, God forbid, a hurricane.

Sure there are protests about the role the World Bank plays in perpetrating the economic conditions of the third world, but there are always too many lunatics and too many messages. Those protesters haven’t learned what we learned about how to remedy social injustice and seeing through the lies. At protests today, everyone is lumped together. Whether the issue is about the environment, gay rights, breast cancer, or the economy – every leader of every organization has to have their say. There is no unity and no focus about one issue at a time. And so it’s easy to dismiss protests as minimal and to which no one, (who can make a difference) should pay attention.

It’s no longer about moral core or good products. It’s about the best way to sell bad products to an unsuspecting consumer. Take BP, for example, what we do know is that once again, a corporation is spending more time and money on public relations than figuring out how to tell the truth. Their commercials on the air are all about how concerned that are, and how they know it is their obligation to inform the public about the crisis. Bull Doody! Their obligation is to correct the disaster and spend the money necessary to clean up their mess. They are never going to tell us the truth, but if they didn’t pay dividends to their shareholders, or took cuts in their corporate salaries, at least that would be a legitimate action. It would say, "I am not going to benefit while there are people whose lives and business we have ruined." We want to remain the oil company with a “green” heart so we will do whatever is necessary to clean up the mess and put lives back together.

And where is the government of the people by the people and for the people? The President says it’s not his job to yell at the oil companies, or the insurance companies, or the banks. It is his job to try to figure out how to deal with the situation. Maybe not but I disagree. It is his job to demonstrate real concern and to lead. That’s not a walk on an oil ruined beach, or an evening with celebrities at the White House. But no one can teach someone to lead or to be honestly outraged. We expected more involvement from Obama, the community organizer. But didn’t we expect a more emotional answer than, “there are better ways than the death penalty if my wife were raped and murdered” from Presidential candidate Dukakis. We wanted to know he would care – he would rip out the sucker's heart.

Which brings me back to the Sullivans. They spent a lifetime working and advocating for causes and political leaders who would make a positive difference in the lives of our children and their children. We were noisy and we were united. We actually believed that somewhere out there, was such a leader. Maybe there is, but it is disappointing that it just hasn’t happened yet. We;re just sayin'....Iris

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Second Things Second

First things first, as they say when they (whoever they is), thinks that second simply won’t do. Tipper and Al. Tipper and Al. Tipper and Al. My oh my oh my oh. (Is that too many oh’s?). Here are the questions that should be answered. After all, we were practically family – or at least we did go to the family Christmas party so doesn’t that mean that we are owed some explanation? Maybe not, so it means we will have to speculate—at which, let’s face it, we are quite accomplished.
Question number one: Why would you bother to get divorced after 40 years unless there was someone else in your life by whom you were pregnant.

Question number two: Is getting rich and living in places where only celebrities live mean you a.) start to believe you are one. b.) think you have to live like one (despite your commitment to a simple environmentally healthy life style). c.) all the weight you gain goes to your brain as well as your tuchas.

Question number three: Is it possible to stay friends with someone of whom you can’t stand the sight? (Otherwise why not just carry on instead of dividing the property?)

Question number four: If you stay friends, do you celebrate all the holidays together en famille, thereby preventing relationships with other people because that would seriously piss off the other friend who may not have found a new playmate.

It is unclear why this seemingly perfect relationship fell apart. Some would call it an unfortunate disaster. Whoever those people are would be wrong. Forty successful years together (let’s say it was only 38 because they had to take a couple of years to make this monumental decision) cannot be called a disaster. So what does all this mean?

Maybe it means that they were and are just sick of one another. It could be that simple. Or maybe they, like the rest of us, could not stand one more video of “the kiss”. You remember the one that went on and on and on and made everyone in the USA over 30 feel uncomfortable, and everyone under 30 totally grossed out.

All of this is to say I am saddened by their separation. It was nice to have one public couple genuinely committed to one another – not just to power or fame. As my mother would say, “nothing is forever -- what was, was, and everyone should stay out of their business.”
the last dawn on the ship...
With that in mind, David and I did spend almost a month together – in a confined space—and we didn’t kill one another. What is still amazing is just how much Burnett enjoyed the month at sea. So much that almost everything we see or do he somehow relates to the trip. Take for example one of his latest e-mails, and thank you Harpers for the list idea.

128 The number of times we have explained the seating arrangements at Allan and Diane’s wedding

62 The number of references to La Veranda and Compass Rose in the last 7 days (restaurants on the ship)

34 The number of people we have tried to explain the concept of "enrichment lecturer"

73 The number of times we've said "well, maybe once or twice a year, but not more"

985 The number of e-mails we have had with people we met on the ship.

539 The number of people/friends we had in common with at least one other shipmate.
(Case in Point:

August 1968: Diane and Allen's Wedding... Table 16: at left, sitting: Iris (and Allan); at right, standing, Jim (now of northern California) and new pal... they hadn't seen each other in 41 years! )
And there are more numbers involving continuing coincidences -- maybe its that romantic desire for oenophilic perfection.. (and i have no idea what that means!)/.

We miss so much about that wonderful month. It’s been a week since we left the ship and what we have found is that the time sure flies when … well it just flies.