Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ouch! My respiratory system cried uncle at some point yesterday, too many abrupt transitions from high heat & humidity to frigid air conditioning. All the rum probably didn't help either. But I'm home, sweet home...

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Monday, May 30, 2005

Just A Note Before I Crash...

Well, it's my last day in the Dominican Republic. It has some pretty places, and is very relaxed. I'll tell you more during the week - the internet connection here is piss-poor, alas, if I write a long post I'd probably lose it when the system crashed...

This pictures is from Altos de Chavon, a recreation of a medieval Mediterranean village that must be wonderful for Dominican children. It's not at all a theme park - more like a monument. And there are beautiful views, like this shot of the river Chavon

See U Soon. Love, Aaron

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Winds of change blowin' thru latin america - TWO MILLION gay people have descended on Sao Paolo, Brazil for Gay Pride Weekend, going on as I write this. That's quite a takeover, even for a city of 20 million plus. Thomas, in the thick of it, has posted great photos.

"Downtown" Caribbean

It's very pretty and sunny here, if somewhat hot and sticky.

If this is downtown carribean, then it's downtown carribean circa 1511. Lots of cobblestone and whitewashed brick, towers, cannons, and cathedrals. More museums - all of them ye olde buidlings - than in the rest of the carribean combined (not counting San Juan, which also has an a beautiful historic center). And it's very uncrowded, as most of the non-cultural tourists are 20 blocks away on the boardwalk, enjoying the discos and casinos. For tomorrow, i've hired a driver and will head east to visit some pristine beaches with milky white sand and gentle waves of azure blue. Before then, I must procure a bathing suit and some gentle azure sunblock 60 : - )

More photos:

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Friday, May 27, 2005

The D.R.

That's what they call the Dominican Republic in political and business circles. I'm off to its capital, Santo Domingo, this morning, and if I don't miss my plane or lose my passport again, this will be my 90th foreign trip. If you consider the D.R. to be Latin America (some include the spanish-speaking Caribbean Islands, some don't), this will be my 50th trip to Latin America. But this will be my very, very first time in the Caribbean. And it's not a beach weekend either - Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the Western Hempisphere - remember Colombus discovered the new world here - and its historic center is very well preserved. That's where I'll be staying. I'll probably post from down there - I presume there are plenty of internet cafés. See you later! xo Aaron


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Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Seamy Side of 1960

Last day of work, what a crunch. Almost forgot to blog. Have been watching Butterfield 8, the 1960 film about a high-class call girl that won Elizabeth Taylor the first of her two best actress Oscars. Strong material for the year of my birth, though it might seemed toned-down and moralistic by today's standards. Based on a best-selling novel by John O'Hara, who was inspired by a news item about a body washed up on a beach. I'm still 20 minutes from the ending, but I guess that's where it's headed. O'Hara is more respected for his short stories than for his novels, which are viewed as melodramatic and provocative (and hence very Hollywood-friendly). O'Hara's favorite themes were passion, ambition, class codes and class divisions. Taylor's 'romantic' interest, the cold, emotionless Laurence Harvey, is most unsympathetic - these qualities were better suited to his role as the brainwashed son in the 1963 original of 'Manchurian Candidate.'

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Happy Birthday, Pat!

Today's the birthday of my dear friend Pat, pictured here on Fire Island six years ago (time flies). Pat and I go back to my very earliest days in the work force, in the international divison of Manufacturers Hanover Trust, then a sleepy commercial bank (that slowly evolved into JPMChase through a long series of mergers.) Pat is a fellow linguist and plays the violin. One of my nicest memories is of her performing for us after dinner at my birthday party about half a decade ago...

Pat grew up on Long Island, and her Mom and sister still live in Levittown, one town over from East Meadow, where my family lived for three decades and where I spent my teen years.

So in two days i'm off to the Caribbean for the first time, but it's not a beach vacation. I'll be staying in Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere, exploring their well preserved historic center with its many cathedrals and museums. I will try to get out into the countryside for at least one day.

Some cartoons for your pleasure:

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Keep Moving Out Into The Gap...

Finally getting caught up with my sleep, and it feels good! only three days til Memorial Day Weekend and my Dominican Republic getaway. All this travelling is kind of surreal.

At left, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, nestled between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, close to the New York border. Sunday, my fellow Sundancers and I scaled 1,500 feet and wound 7 miles along a mountain ridge. Sun and clouds alternated, and the downpour happened five minutes after we'd finished and were driving away.

We saw a miniature orange salamander, also kind of surreal, about 3 inches long and so orange you'd think it was plastic if it stood still.

Here's a political cartoon about our favorite lenders/holders of US Treasury Bills:

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Monday, May 23, 2005

g'mrng. still a bit underslept. more later.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Might As Well Be In The Himalayas

Sorry I haven't been posting. Friday I was off touring factories in Chile, with no computer access, Saturday I was jet lagged, and today I was out on an eight-mile hike with my gay Sundance brethren along a mountain ridge near the Delaware River Gap, on the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border. Last night I saw the most amazing film, 'Black Narcissus', in which nuns trying to found a mission/convent in the Himalayas are undone by psychological and sexual stirrings. Filmed in glorious technicolor, this was another gem in the Michael Powell retrospective currently showing at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater. My heartiest thanks to my pal Fernando for this invitation. Netflix has this crisp cinematic wonder, I can't recommend it enough to you all. You'll recall I saw The Red Shoes in this same retrospective, I look forward to further exploration of Powell's colorful and gripping oeuvre.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

El Golf

Yesterday, stepped off a plane into the rain and participated in a long day of meetings, which was followed by a long, very classy dinner at Santiago's venerable old country club, El Golf, which feels like a relic from a slower place and time. What heightens this impression is its location in the center of Las Condes, which 40 years ago was a posh residential distict and is now Santiago's financial center, after being developed beyond recognition through the construction of gleaming high-rise corporate headquarters.

On the menu last night: canapés of shrimp and salmon, salad of salmon and hearts of palm, and an exquisite fish dish, perfectly flavored and served with potato croquettes.

Today: another long day of meetings. Tomorrow: I tour several industrial facilities but somehow manage to catch my 8pm flight home, arriving 7am Saturday morning. It looks much sunnier today, yesterday was an incessant downpour. Over dinner last night I heard tales of expropriations and earthquakes, while we tried to explain to Chileans what 'intelligent design' is and why teaching it is not a good idea.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Eighty Nine

Arrived safe and sound in rainy Santiago, Chile. On a sunny day, you can see the Andes mountains in the distance (pictured left). This is my 89th foreign trip, for those of you who´ve been keeping track: my 5th time in Chile, my 29th trip to South America, and my 49th trip to Latin America(the difference being my 20 trips to Mexico).

I paid a US$100 entrance fee! Chile calls this 'reciprocity,' because this is what the US charges Chileans (and most Latin Americans) as a fee for Visa processing. Keep in mind that $100 for us is like $500 for them in terms of what they earn and their cost of living. Not very considerate of us. Brazil also 'reciprocates' against our custom of fingerprinting Latin Americans entering the US, by singling out Americans to wait on a very very long line, when entering Brazil, for photographing and fingerprinting. We brought it on ourselves. If only they'd exempt those Americans who can prove they voted for Kerry. :-)

Witnesses some wonderful temper tantrums on various lines I´ve waited on of late. At La Guardia, this yuppie couple were sent to the back of the line, after an hour waiting, for complaining that there were only 2 check-in clerks and that one took time out for a social conversation with a co-worker. The fault, of course, is with the airlines for too few clerks paid way too little. They must be in trouble. They not only charge for ´food´in coach, but also for food and drinks in the business lounge - guess the extra $1,000 a ticket just doesn't stretch that far...

Meanwhile, back in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Thomas verfies the actual celsius temperature of super-chilled lunch counter beer bottles.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Web Master

I'm really enjoying my gig as Webmaster for my gay & lesbian outdoors group, Sundance Outdoor Adventure Society. We offer a wide range of activities, ranging from hiking and canoeing to hot-air ballooning. Check out my June activities page.

So tonight, I'm leaving for a three-day project in Santiago, Chile, which should be interesting. This means tonight and Friday night I shall sleep on a plane. My replacement passport should arrive today.

Also lost, this morning, is my corporate ID. This is extremely annoying, since I literally can't enter my office, the bathroom, or the cafeteria without unlocking electronic doors with my ID. (sometimes a series of doors, like the opening credits of 'Get Smart') Without an ID, you're essentially useless. Happily, I was able to get a quick replacement.

Here's some cartoons:

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Happy Birthday, Christi

My dear friend Christi begins a new year with a new job today - my heart congratulations on both milestones!

I can't believe we've known each other 16 years now, though at times it seems like several eons ago...

Christi may be the most unarguably pleasant person of my acquaintance - I've always appreciated her good nature, high intelligence, uncommon common sense, an open-mindedness. And, she's a fellow language nerd, too. : - ) Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby....


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Sunday, May 15, 2005


Well, Erik's computer ate the first version of this post, so I'll be brief. His 50th birthday bash was lovely and all too short. The venue was Tapeo, probably the prettiest and most delicious Spanish dining experience outside of Spain, and priced reasonably at that. Tapas served included sizzling garlic shrimp, duck in raspberry sauce, thin beef tenderloin slices marinated, sauteed and served on toast, and gourmet sausage in spiced fig syrup. We eulogized Erik as we ate, drank, and were merry. I've known Erik for 21 years, and finally met his sister and high school friends...

Did you know that Erik's Mom, Helen 'Dalton Belle' Andersen, took four years of high school Spanish, worked at SAS the Scandinavian airline, has Bavarian grandparents, and can raise a toast in German? Just ask her, she'll gladly elaborate for you in generous detail...

I'm off to visit my Aunt Lorraine and back to New York. Very busy month on the move. Later.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Happy Birthday, Doug!

One of my closest friends begins a new decade today - a salute to Doug, who is uncommonly warm-hearted, witty, interesting, loyal, and an all-around great pal. With true Doug charm, he's organized wonderful parties both in his beloved New York with family and old friends, and in London, where he lives and works now, with his boyfriend and newer friends. Chicken skewers, margaritas, and good company - who could ask for anything more?

Below, some good cartoons. Now I'm off to Boston for Erik's (snowed-out and postponed) 50th birthday bash at Tapeo, a lovely Spanish Tapas restaurant in Back Bay...

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Friday, May 13, 2005

This has been a great, productive week, and it's looking to be a lovely weekend, too, with two large birthday parties, in NY and Boston, for friends celebrating birthdays that end in zero.

Friday Cartoons:

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Secret Agent, Man...

Johnny Rivers, of course, sang "Secret Agent," the 1966 theme to a British spy show, as well as his classic "The Poor Side Of Town." I myself will be a Secret Agent, headed for an unnamed South American country next week on a Secret Mission.

So I'd better get my new passport, pronto! If this trip happens, it'll be my 29th to South America, my 49th to Latin America, and my 89th foreign trip overall. Many trips ahead, if I'm calculating correctly - this may be a big travel year, mostly business but also pleasure.

Check out Thomas' blog for some exquisitely poor urban planning - Oscar Niemeyer's Monument to Latin America in São Paolo...

More movie reviews coming if a get a chance. Lots of birthdays coming up... I leave you with a fresh cartoon:

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Hee Haw

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Deeply Moving, Part 1

Friday I'm In Love (With Ballet)... My friends Fernando & Sunil invited me Friday to Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater for the kick-off of a Michael Powell retrospective, which began with his classic "The Red Shoes." Introducing the series was none other than Martin Scorcese! "The Red Shoes" is a 1948 technicolor British valentine to dance and to artistic passion overall, centering on a Russian ballet company producing a ballet based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale with a tragic ending. The movie's plot echoes this fairy tale, as the ballet's director Lermontov engineers the fairy-tale-like rise of a young ballerina and her star-crossed love with a young composer, also Lermontov's beneficiary. While I am not much of a ballet fan, I found the film to be totally engaging, and, as my Mom would say, deeply moving... At the time, "Red Shoes" was the most popular British film in US history, and ran for two years in exclusivity at NYC's Bijou Theater before starting a long nationwide run. Reportedly seeing the film was often a special mother-daughter outing.


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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Love, Aaron

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Friday, May 06, 2005


That's how my ex, Brian, likes to spell 'back' as in 'I'm back now'... Got baque last night, landed past midnight at Newark, and I am major late to work.

Another iPod advantage - on an airplane, they're very easy to listen to surreptitiously, just put the plug in the ear facing away from the stewardess, drape your tie over the cord, and voilá...

This is an orangutan. That's actually an Indonesian word for man of the forest. man is 'orang' and forest is 'utan'.

I don't care what the religious right says, this guy is definitely my cousin. I can just tell.

It's a good thing I arranged for a delicious lunch yesterday at our last meeting in Monterrey. American Airlines basically served us pretzels for dinner... I hope the $1.50 they saved starving me helps to preserve their solvency : - )

Here's a cartoon:

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

In San Pitts-Dalla-Nix

Monterrey: It's Mexico's Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Phoenix, all rolled into one - industrial muscle, sun belt growth rate, and texas-size egos and materialism (but with much higher competence and intelligence...) More about this later. Coming home tonight...

Thomas' blog is amazing this week! New angles on Brazil..

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Hacienda de los Morales, where we had dinner last night

And now, off to a meeting!

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Going Well After All

Things are going better than I expected. Missing customers showed up after all, so I have 5 guests instead of 2, which looks decidedly more solid. The meetings have been interesting. At left is the beautiful inner courtyard of the Four Seasons, which my hotel room and conference room both look out on. And Mexico City is as sunny as ever, a delightful place, if, like me, your eyes aren't bothered by air pollution (I don't even notice it - Mexico City seems so green to me). Buffet lunch today will include tortilla soup, a delicious and savory tomato-based broth with tortilla strip, crunchy black pepper rings (yum), avocado, onion, chives, fresh cilantro. What a treat. Another local speciality is miniature multi-colored tortillas, the size of a half dollar, containing salsa, avocado, and crunchy morsel which are actually flash-fried worms. yes, worms. more later. xo Aar

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Yes, They Let Me In

Greetings from Mexico City. I am one sleepy dude. But at least I'm not missing my own conference. That would not have been a career boost : - ) Wow, I can't believe I haven't been here in 3 years, this is the first post from Mexico not counting my border hop last December - in my JPMChase research run, I was often here 3-4 times a year, here, meaning the Four Seasons, Mexico's most beautiful urban hotel - it's a soft pink colonial wonder with a huge inner garden/courtyard rich with tropical flowers and plants. Fine art is everywhere you look. At left - Mexico City's main cathedral, near the "Zócalo" or main plaza, which is Mexico's political and cultural epicenter - home to the Presidential Palace with its beautiful Diego Rivera mural and many other colonial buildings. Six centuries ago, this was the center of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. Will try to post daily while I'm here - back late Thursday night. Wow, my 20th trip to Mexico...

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Somewhere My Passport Is Laughing At Me : - )

Oh where, oh where can it be? I disassembled my pad for four hours searching for it, to no avail. Delta swore I can get on the plane with a birth certificate, driver's license & old passport. If not, my conference in Mexico City will have to start without out me. I just worked 8 hours, until 1:30am, to write my trip briefing for my poor conference guests... Now, I'm off to get 5 hours sleep before I wake up and try my luck. E for effort? : - )


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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Arrgh. Spent four hours turning my apartment upside looking for my passport, to no avail. Fear not, I think, the airline said that my notarized birth certificate, drivers license, and expired old passport should get me on the plane, so I'm not a no-show at my own damn conference... Uggh. Will be up until the wee hours now preparing for this thing...

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Leave Your Eyes At Home

After this week, the idea was tempting. But I happily did not heed screenwriter/playwright Charlie Kaufman's advice on last night's pilgrimmage to Brooklyn's DUMBO shoreline area to attend two magnficent sound plays at St. Ann's Warehouse. Who wants to be eyeless when seated in front of the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, and Marcia Gay Harden? Not to mention the Meryl Streep (left), Hope Davis, and Peter Dinklage, whose giant talent and midget physique helped make "The Station Agent" so unforgettable? The latter threesome brought down the house with "Hope Leaves The Theater," Kaufman's contributon and by far the longer of the two plays. These plays were being recorded live for broadcast on Sirius radio, and are to be performed for three nights here and three nights in London later in the month.

Kaufman (pictured left), author "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation," weaved yet another hilarious, surreal, metaphysical joyride involving a self-pitying thirtysomething single gal, a very department-store-like hosptial elevator ride, and the author's ficticious recent suicide. Confused? You'd have been laughing too hard to worry. Streep's many roles include a bitchy parody of herself giving a thorough tongue-lashing to Hope Davis, as an audience member who dares to take a cel phone call from her Mom. Hope then... leaves the theater, and we follow her home on a harrowing busride and arrive just in time for some depressing pre-sleep internet dalliance. Peter Dinklage plays the hot young actor Hope's seated next to and pines for, who finds the cel phone she drops while slinking out of the theater...

The first, shorter play is "Sawbones" by Joel and Ethan Coen, who gave us Fargo", "Blood Simple" and other light classics. This involves a radio play with a play about a frontier veterinarian (Hoffman) and a county coward (Buscemi) vying for the favors of a schoolmarm (Harden), while, listening to that story, a housewife drums up some tentative sex with an Electrolux salesman, while her blind, crippled husband (Goodman) keeps interrupting by phone to ask what's happening in the radio play about the frontier veterinarian.

That's a lot of description, but I was very enthralled. Bart invited me, and had obtained the tickets through Meryl Streep's website. The neighborhood's DUMBO acronym stands for Down Under The Manhattan Bridge, and it felt remote and otherworldly on a rainy, foggy night, among brick factories, and promenades with stunning bridge views which take you so close to the river edge - level with it, actually, that you can see and hear the waves lap against the rocks on the shore.

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