Category Archives: Peregrinations

Point Pleasant Beach

Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

July 21

 

It’s 6:30 in the morning, and I’m sitting on a small beach chair on our terrace overlooking the Atlantic, which is so serene it’s as if it’s asking permission to come on shore. There’s a light drizzle falling despite the newly-arisen sun, which is why I’m not using the regular furniture out here, but rather cowering under an eave with my lap top.

 

We dined with the family last night in a local landmark, Graziano’s, which has good but not great old-fashioned southern Italian food. The owner herself personally cooks only on Sunday, which she’s done for 47 years, and is a good reason to avoid the place. I was wondering why it was unusually unoccupied until it took over an hour for our meals to appear. The regulars obviously know this. She’s the owner, she can do that if she wants to, but decent food doesn’t overcome extraordinary ineptitude.

 

I bought a “credit card” for $40 at one of the arcades last night, which I can swipe in any of hundreds of machines in our insatiable quest to win the granddaughters 100,000,000 points so that they can buy a A380 for free. It’s a funny sequence: You swipe the card to play the game, the game upchucks tickets for the points you acquire, you then take the tickets (thousands of them bound in a long train) to the ticket-eating machine, which gobbles them up like some kind of rejected creature from the Muppets, and then issues a credit slip, which you take the counter where a human writes you a “check” for the credits which can be used for years (I kid you not). I get my kicks from the ticket-eating machine which is both bizarre and frightening, and I’ve been known to tell small kids in line that I was there before them even though I’m really referring to being on earth before them.

 

The economy is thriving. For the past two years here we’ve seen “vacancy” signs and easily negotiable crowds on the boardwalk and piers. No longer—all the signs are “no vacancy,” traffic is much thicker, and the boardwalk is jammed. These beach resorts are the destination of middle class America (and the odd Canadians who keep apologizing for bumping into you even when it wasn’t them) and people are clearly spending again. (It’s not cheap to come for a long weekend or a week, counting gas, lodging, food (even casual food), beach passes, rentals, games, rides, souvenirs, and so forth.

 

The rain is letting up, and the 1,876th jogger/runner has passed my perch (no bikes allowed). I admire their intent and I’m sure they have the goal of maintaining this exercise post-vacation, but that isn’t going to happen for most of them. That’s because they mostly return to “work” and “jobs,” wherein I don’t have to, because my career is involved with making these kinds of observations.

 

And now I’m done.

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© Alan Weiss 2014

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Departing Bali

It’s a gorgeous morning here (we’re 12 hours ahead of the eastern US) and we’re off to breakfast and the pool. We leave tonight on the 8 pm flight to Singapore, then to Dubai, and home to Boston.

Bali’s people are fantastic, very cordial, and extremely helpful. The streets are clogged with mind-numbing, demolition-derby motorbikes of all sorts, some with infants wedged between parents, some driven by what appear to be 12-year-old girls in school uniforms heading to class. They weave in an out between busses and cars, often on the wrong side of the road, usually with inches to spare. I’m stunned I’ve seen no one hit.

We dined last evening in Mulia, one of the super resorts here, that occupy vast amounts of land on the water. The restaurant was Table 8, and the resort and restaurant have won a slew of awards, including best new offerings in Asia. The restaurant was odd—beautiful decor, but with a buffet as well as set menu, amidst the elegance, and very casual diners, including tables of young kids scrambling over their parents. The wine list was very limited, though I found a nice estate Rioja from 2001.

The food was marvelous, but the place gave the impression of confused intent, with dozens of employees standing idly behind a little used buffet.

DSC_1762IMG_2333© Alan Weiss 2014

 

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Bali

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One of the infinity pools at the Four Seasons, Bali; roadside market; large and modern Catholic church where we attended vigil mass celebrated in Indonesian; and a superb restaurant, Merah Putih (suckling pig, prawns, boneless duck) where those lighted columns conduct rain water from the roof through the restaurant, fascinating design.

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California Dreaming

Remember the Momas and the Papas? California Dreamin’ was one of their best efforts.

I”ve been here for the week, in Beverly Hills, probably in one of the best suites in one of the best hotels—The Peninsula. We’ve wined and dined lavishly, and here are my current reflections on the California Dream:

• The place is so over-regulated it makes Obama look like a hands-off guy. There are warnings and rules and laws about everything. This morning, a formal wall plaque warned of lead paint that may have been used in the painting of certain china in the restaurant.

• The freeways can clog at any time of the day without warning. There are a thousand merges called for in these spiderwebs of roads, and drivers here seem to have a personal pride on not allowing anyone to ever change lanes in front of them and to forsake any form of directional signal.

• There are more Teslas here than I’ve ever seen in all my other travels. They’re okay, a status symbol of sorts (I saw quite a few Friskers here two years ago, but that company went bankrupt), but you can’t convince me they’ll become anything more than a third car for people with that kind of play money.

• No matter what exotic car you talk about, you will see not one, but several, driving by you  later that day.

• In the top restaurants, there is an affectation that makes me giddy. Three guys last night in a top steakhouse, slouched over their seats, looking for all the world like stereotypes of sunglasses-on-your-head, pseudo-swingers who keep demanding favors. In another top place, we identified what must be the blowhard table, because every time we’re there that table contains the guys with open neckties, cell phones constantly in use, too-loud conversations about contracts, and frequent trips outside the restaurant.

• When women tell me they have to wash their hair more frequently here because of the dirt in the air, I’m moved to try to breathe more shallowly.

• Billboards or immense proportion seeking votes for televisions shows and actors prior to the upcoming Emmy awards seem somehow ridiculous. The public isn’t voting, and it looks like a “ransom” paid by the networks to appease the talent.

• There are so many good looking people here everywhere you look that it’s intimidating. That extends to the limo drivers, beauticians, restaurant servers, and guy who cleans our garden outside the suite.

Of course, the song’s lyric was “California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day….” And Huey Lewis and the News had a great number in, “It’s Hop to Be Square.”

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Peninsula Beverly Hills

We are in the Garden Suite, the only one like it, and one of my very favorites anywhere.

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Wedmore Place Inn, Williamsburg

I’m speaking here tomorrow morning, so we’re staying in this gorgeous suite while we explore and enjoy the surroundings. The inn is in the middle of a winery!

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Traveling Well British Style

British Air first class is a lovely experience, and quite idiosyncratic. For example, the Concord Club (and I used to fly the Concords) is lovely, but the food is pretty awful. (Burgers are only served well done. “We can do nothing about it, sir.”) The ambiance is quite nice, the employees are very helpful, and it takes the British, accustomed to centuries of royalty, to really know how to do first class.

 

The British Air monitors showed my flight 30 minutes late, but my flight tracker app showed it only five minutes late. “My goodness,” said a gate agent, “your phone is correct and our monitors are wrong!”

 

I have to admit to loving the flight attendants who hold up the business class passengers while first class deplanes. The Americans refuse to do that because of the threat of someone suing, I’d guess. (It was better when air clubs were available solely to good customers and not to anyone who had $400 in his pocket. I’m a closet elitist, but I’m coming out.)

 

Yes, I would have made a great Duke. At my wife’s boutique, I’m called The Prince, but I don’t like to boast.

 

I entered the Triple 7 to return to Boston, and the flight attendant (having seen the manifest) said, “Hello, Dr. Weiss, welcome back!” Here is the ensuing conversation:

 

Her: Is there a conference that’s ended and people are returning to Boston?

 

Me: Not that I know of, why?

 

Her: Well, we have quite a few doctors in first class today.

 

Me: I’m a PhD, not the kind of doctor who helps people.

 

Her: Oh, that’s a pity.

 

The service was superb, Johnny Walker Blue, asparagus and egg, lobster and a grand cru Margaux, with some outstanding cheese. I wrote another chapter of a book I’m on commission to write, I finished a book I’ve been reading, and I reached 32,000 pounds on the video’s Would You Like To Be A Millionaire? game.

 

I had arrived Monday morning, had four private meetings, three workshops (all never done before), connected three wealthy, global clients together, ate at the finest restaurants (including a chef’s table in the kitchen), smoked some terrific cigars, and visited a private club impossible to get into.

 

 

It was a deeply appreciated, outstanding week. And now I’m back to my daily Frisbee sessions with Bentley. He’s unimpressed.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Flash: London No Longer Capital of England

I’ve been coming to London since (I’m mortified to admit) the 60s. I’ve been there perhaps 20 times. It’s one of my five top cities in the world (New York, Hong Kong, Venice, San Francisco), I’ve belonged to a gambling club there for 30 years, and I know the place well.

 

And it has metamorphosed.

 

This is no longer the capital of England. It is the meeting place and juncture for the world’s great wealth. The money here is Russian, Middle Eastern, Israeli, American, Chinese, and from a dozen other sources. You compete here not with the English, but with the wealthiest people in the world. Some are permanent, some are transient, but their presence is overwhelming. It has only the faintest resemblance to the rest of the realm.

 

There are apartments in Mayfair, Knightsbridge, and a few other places that sell for 150 million pounds. That is just shy of $300 million, and there are people who own several. That market is very active, it’s hard to find property, and prices keep increasing.

 

At my favorite restaurant in my home town, you might see my Bentley and two others at the curb on a weekend. Walking out of Scott’s on Mount Street in Mayfair on Thursday, there were nine within three blocks. Ferraris are as common as Porsches are in the states.

 

In my hotel, the Café Royal in the middle of Piccadilly, cereal or some eggs at breakfast costs about $45. It’s tough to get out of a cab and pay a fare of less than about $25. I was in Beijing late last year, then Hong Kong, and I’ve been to 60 countries. London’s prices are up at the top.

 

London has become a city/state, like modern Singapore, or long-ago Genoa and Venice. I can see it, like Singapore separating from Malaysia some time ago, departing from England and the United Kingdom. It has become a world city, not an English one, and a power unto itself. A client took me to the most exclusive club in London, 5 Hertford, where American movie stars, Russian oligarchs, Spanish royalty, and Arabian princes mingle. He was a charter member. “You may be talking to the only Englishman in the place,” he observed, not really in jest.

 

Here’s to London, a global city. I’ll be back in September. When it proclaims itself a separate entity, I wonder if the Queen will have to make a choice between being Queen of London or Queen of England, with the latter requiring a palace in Liverpool or Manchester, but no longer in London.

 

I imagine if that came to pass, Buckingham Palace would be snapped up for a cool trillion in no time at all.

 

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Flying High

Up at 4:45 for the limo at 5:15 to take me to San Diego Airport for the 7 am nonstop to Boston on Alaska Air.

I notice there is no pre-chek on my boarding pass, but the TSA agents wave me into the pre-chek line so I must have missed something. However, I’m chosen at random for a gunpowder test on my hands. This takes about 30 seconds. I go through  the machine, but then I’m randomly chosen for a shoe test! (Apparently, I have dangerous looking extremities.)  This takes about 30 seconds. I’m laughing at the irony of being an exception to an exception, but I still cleared security in 90 seconds and the TSA people were really professional and cordial.

At the top of the escalator I notice a VERY long line, but then realize it’s for Starbuck’s, people voluntarily waiting ten minutes to procure what I consider very average coffee. The barrista, or whatever the overblown title is, is screaming at the crowd, “We’re out of soy mild!! We’re out of mocha!!” as if to undermine a potential revolt.

I’ve never flown Alaska Airlines, though I had heard good things. The flight was filled to the gills, and the service was outstanding.

When I was flying coast to coast in late 70s, the new 747 was put on the route, piano bar and all. This week, I flew from Miami to San Diego and San Diego to Boston on 737s. You could fit a couple of these inside of A380s. I always wonder whether the 737s will have enough fuel if the wind is against us.

The guy across the aisle from me has a three-ring binder open, two pages showing at a time of about a hundred in there. Each page is stamped in two-inch, red letters “CONFIDENTIAL,” and anyone can see it and read what’s in there. I guess on public conveyances it’s not confidential.

The US Grant Hotel sent my bill electronically, and I opened it on the plane to find to my pleasant shock that the Presidential Suite had cost me $480 a night, and the final night was free. And people ask why I pay for Black Card membership.

I worked with two of my mastermind (Growth Cycle) groups in Miami, and facilitated the Elite Retreat in San Diego with very smart, fun-loving people. My new Corvette Stingray convertible is being shipped in tomorrow for pickup on Tuesday. The way the weather is, I’m hoping to drive it by May!

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Christmas Stroll in Nanutcket

We took the girls to the ferry in Hyannis in just 75 minutes, the crossing was a fast two hours, and we’re at the White Elephant Village for the Christmas Stroll. Maria has planned a visit to Santa, a talking Christmas Tree, and other goodies.

Getting comfortable on the ferry.

Heavy fog on the crossing.

No one riding outside, though the temperature is 56°!

© Alan Weiss 2013

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