Thursday, April 30, 2009

Young Player Of The Year Award

This year it is shared between Ashley and Greg. The lifetime achievement award goes to Neil for his part in this 30 years ago.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The editor's note in the January/February edition of Elite Traveler magazine:

It's only excessive if you can't afford it. At least that's my belief. As we enter 2009, it is amazing to see how the general media have tried to shame wealthy individuals into not spending. The fact of the matter is that the economic slump was not caused by the wealthy; it was caused by aspirational consumers who took out bigger mortgages than they could handle, leased cars they couldn't afford, and took vacations they shouldn't have.

Should a person with a net worth of, say, $100 million have scaled back his or her holiday party because of “the times”? If we want to speak about getting the economy going again, the answer is no. In fact, spending by the segment that Merrill Lynch Capgemini categorizes as Ultra High Net Worth, those having investible assets of at least $30 million, is going to be needed more than ever.

So what's the connection with Elite Traveler? Well, we get upset when our readers are being unfairly picked on. There was a good article in New York Magazine a while ago about the trickle-down effect of spending by wealthy consumers. According to the piece, spending by the top one percent of earners in the Big Apple supports 153,000 service jobs and 50,000 government employees.

I won't say more, except to let you know you can continue to expect the best of the privatejet lifestyle in every issue of Elite Traveler, and I do hope you continue to do the things that provide you the enjoyment you've earned and that your financial wherewithal supports. There are quite a few people depending on it!

With best wishes for an elite 2009!

All the best,
Doug Gollan
President and Editor-in-Chief

Modern Art is Shit

The April/May issue of American Craft magazine carries an article profiling London-based artist Virginia Gardiner, who makes artworks out of horseshit.

Her palm-sized dodecahedron Poo Gems may have the consistency of a seed-based chewy snack from Whole Foods, but they are certainly not meant to be eaten. “I had a technician at my college sizing one up in his hand and asking, ‘What is this?’” Gardiner says. “He just put it down very gently when I said it was shit.”

In her defense, Gardiner can claim that she works with the highest quality feces: her excreta of choice is horse manure from the Queen’s Household Cavalry in Knightsbridge. So her customers can be assured that it has come from the finest military thoroughbreds—a fortuitous side effect of Gardiner’s knowing that she wanted to work with manure but having no idea where to get it in large quantities.

Surely Whitehall's only up the road.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Celestial Sleuth

The consistently fascinating Smithsonian magazine carries an article this month about forensic astronomer Donald Olson, who uses his knowledge of astronomy to solve conundrums or provide new interpretations for works of literature, art, and history. For example, in the case of Munch's The Scream

it has often been argued that the turbulent, roiling nature of the sky was intended by Munch to reflect the inner turmoil of the protagonist. According to Olson, however,

" . . . the painting's blood-red sky was no metaphor but the extraordinary aftereffects of the 1883 eruption of Mount Krakatoa in Indonesia, which sent so much gas and ash into the atmosphere that skies were darkened or colored worldwide for many months."

Similarly, a quick check on the celestial calendar enabled Olson and his students to identify the "star" in van Gogh's White House at Night

as Venus. Not a star at all, but a planet.

Of course, he hasn't yet managed to identify the stars in this one:

but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.


Naked Wizard Tased By Reality from Tracy Anderson on Vimeo.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!

General Public - Never You Done That

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

As Orson Welles Once Said

"We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!!

Rob Lloyd and the New Four Seasons: Nothing Matters

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Kinda Town

Chicago is.

Once a month, Tony Fitzpatrick and Kelly Hogan lunch together at Hot Doug's, which, if not the best, is certainly the most upscale (upscale being relative) of the city's famed hot-dog joints. The fare ranges from your traditional dog -- in Chicago, that means with mustard, onion, sweet-pickle relish, tomato wedges, peppers, a dash of celery salt, all topped with a pickle -- to a special game sausage (this week, it's elk). On Fridays and Saturdays, you can get fries cooked in duck fat.

Tony, an old friend, is an actor, raconteur, deejay, and artist. His boisterous collages, some of which are in the Art Institute's collection, are on exhibit through July -- "The Wonder: Portraits of a Remembered City," the show is titled -- at the city's Cultural Center. In these collages, Chicago's lives, moods, and politics collide; he once told me, "This place gets in your bones and ruins you for anywhere else."

Over the years, he has also told me about Hogan, a singer whose voice, Tony says, "makes me see colors." So the three of us spent a lunch hour at Hot Doug's talking music, much of it about a band Hogan sings with, the Struts. It's a collection of musicians who play in at least 20 other bands, including Poi Dog Pondering (alternative, with touches of Polynesian and house) and Wilco (indie rock/alt-country). That's Chicago, a city that pushes boundaries, a city where genres hold little sway. A punk rocker from Wales once declared that he avoided L.A., because there they talked about whom they were going to play with; and he avoided New York, because there they talked about the projects they were going to do. In Chicago, he said, they come to work -- without regard for what others might think.

One recent evening, Hogan met me at the Hideout, where she bartended for more than nine years and still sometimes performs. It's hidden in a small industrial corner on the north side, so when Hogan gave me directions, she instructed me to go over the river, past the railroad tracks, across the street from the city's fleet of garbage trucks. If you get to the old U.S. Steel plant, you've gone too far. She paused. "I guess it's a good place to bump somebody off," she laughed.

The Hideout is a wood-framed house built at the turn of the last century, probably by squatters, when the neighborhood was mostly working-class Irish. After prohibition, the downstairs became a drinking hole for steelworkers. In 1996, it was purchased by four partners who did little to change the look -- photos of the original owners, Angelo and Phil, still hang over the bar -- but brought in musicians. The thinking was that musicians could experiment here, and they have; on any given night you could stumble upon a jazz quartet or a rock band or a folk singer. Neko Case played the Hideout before winning wide acclaim. Fiddler/violinist Andrew Bird worked his way from swing to indie rock here. And when the Frames passed through town, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová used the place to test some songs they were writing for a little movie called Once -- one, "Falling Slowly," won Best Song at this year's Oscars.

One of the Hideout's owners, Tim Tuten, told me, "We're conscious of what made Chicago great. We have a historical reputation to uphold. This is the city of Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Lou Rawls. It's from the ground up." It was past midnight, and Tuten, who speaks with the drive of a Hendrix guitar riff, expounded on the 1893 Columbia Exposition (The Devil in the White City made everyone feel like an expert on it) and the time Wilco played at one of their block parties (kick-ass block parties being a city tradition) and how he recently discovered that in the 1960s Nelson Algren would down a beer at the Hideout. On the drive home, I listened to a CD Hogan had burned for me. She's singing covers -- from Allen Toussaint to the Violent Femmes. Her voice, rich and eclectic as the city's neighborhoods, wanders throughout an exhilarating range. As Tony Fitzpatrick once told me of Chicago, "It's a place that allows you to run."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jesus Christ, Gimme a Break!

I spotted a profile of author Kim Stanley in Jet magazine today.

Kim Stanley's new book, Thank You, Lord Jesus!, chronicles the many battles she has had to fight during her life. When Stanley was 15, doctors discovered that she had Stage IV Hodgkin's disease, and they predicted that she had less than eight months to live. Stanley went into remission but then suffered a collapsed lung, which was removed. Later, physicians discovered a tumor, wrapped around her windpipe, and it, too, was removed. In 1993, Stanley suffered serious injuries and her son, Christopher, died when they were thrown from their SUV in a car accident. In 2000, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and most recently she underwent surgery to remove malignant lymph nodes in her neck. The 37-year-old Ohio native is now cancer-free. Stanley says that she has written her new book to share God's love and to offer hope and encouragement to others.

The book's original title, You're One Fucking Son of a Bitch, Jesus!, was rejected on the grounds that it might alienate the target demographic: idiots.

Birds Do It, Bees Do It . . .

. . . taxation, that is.

If hope and fear don’t guarantee compliance, there’s always embarrassment. Vampire bats are famous for their willingness to regurgitate a blood meal to feed fellow bats that are down on their luck. In fact, hiding one’s wealth is a problem. A fully fed vampire bat is as bloated as a fraternity water balloon, and the bats appear to rub bellies to see who is in a position to share. “It’s hard to cheat when your stomach is obviously distended,” Dr. Santos said.

It’s also hard to cheat when you live in a small band of big-brained, sharp-eyed individuals, as humans did for vast stretches of our past, which may help explain why we are so easily taxed. “There’s not a human society in the world that doesn’t redistribute food to nonrelatives,” said Samuel Bowles, director of the behavioral sciences program at the Santa Fe Institute. “Whether it’s through the state, or the chief, or a rural collective, or some other mechanism, food sharing of large nutritional packages is quite extensive and has been going on for at least 100,000 years of human history.” In hunting and foraging cultures, the proportional tax rate is so high, said Dr. Bowles, that “even the Swedes would be impressed.”

Take the case of the Ache tribe of Paraguay. Hunters bring their bounty back to a common pot. “The majority of calories are redistributed,” he said. “It ends up being something like a 60 percent income tax.”

Pastoral and herding societies tend to be less egalitarian than foraging cultures, and yet, here, too, taxing is often used to help rectify extreme inequities. When a rich cattle farmer dies among the Tandroy of southern Madagascar, Dr. Bowles said, “The rich person’s stock is killed and eaten by everyone,” often down to the last head of cattle. “That’s a 100 percent inheritance tax.”

Now there's an idea.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's Good Friday. Let's Boogie!

The Mekons - The Old Trip To Jerusalem

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Honest Merchant is as a Mayfly

My favourite photo of the day, snapped on the way up to Cavan: The Woodbine Inn in Virginia, where the folk are honest to a fault.*

*Well, not everyone.

Friday, April 03, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!

Guided By Voices - I Am A Scientist