Friday, January 27, 2012

Evolutionary and Revolutionary

The digital world has transformed photography in a tsunami of creative destruction. Just ask the 131 year-old company Eastman Kodak which just filed for bankruptcy.

"A Science of Picture Taking" was the title of the brochure to the left, one featuring my father in 1940 -- two years before I was born, three years before he was shipped off to Europe, a Signal Corps photographer -- promoting the family business that was established in New York City in 1866. Although a commercial photographic business, mostly furniture pictured in the brochure, it was indeed a science, the right mix of chemistry, light, arrangement, the optics of the equipment, but, mostly, the skill and knowledge of the photographer. The brochure implores the reader to "look at the illustrations and note the accuracy of detail. Observe how clearly the textures of materials stand out, how wood grains, veneers, carved and decorative designs and construction high points are emphasized. Technical skill and years of experience are essential in the production of photographs of this quality."

How things have changed. The digital age has made everyone a photographer and just from the sheer volume of photographs (aka digital images) taken daily, some really professional quality photographs are taken by amateurs using equipment that is completely automatic.

As I was raised in a photographic family, I've had dozens of cameras in my lifetime, worked in my father's studio as a teenager, and adopted photography as an avocation, but not a profession to my father's chagrin. (Towards the end of one of my earliest blog entries Literature and Family is an essay on my father and why I did not go into the business.)

As a kid I had a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye with a flash attachment, but in high school my father gave me his Speed Graphic, a camera I treasured as it was the mainstay of newspaper photography and I felt like a professional when I used it. I became the photographer for our high school yearbook's candid shots -- not easy as everything relied on manual settings, inserting the film sheet, and cocking and releasing the shutter, and with flash photography, changing the bulbs. There was no time to frame photographs or to do bursts of takes. Digital photography is cheap; take thousands of photographs and keep a few of the good ones. The cost of film and development was prohibitive with the Speed Graphic. Better take the right shot once -- that's the only chance you'll get.

Although I chose a different career I still had the photographic itch and bought the famous Nikon F, probably the most significant SLR in photographic history (my F was bought used, but one in perfect condition, which oddly enough I managed to acquire from Ann's Japanese ex-boyfriend who worked at Nikon), eventually adding different lenses, including zooms, and a motor drive. I also set up a darkroom in our bathroom and began to do a lot of black and white photography, expectantly watching prints come to life in the developer. The Nikon was a logical step up from the Speed Graphic with mostly manual controls, but much more portability and flexibility, until, that camera, too, became too much to haul around. So several years later while in Japan on business I bought a new Nikon FM, more compact and it accepted the Nikon F bayonet mount lenses. Most of the photographs of my sons as they grew up were taken with that camera.

Although I was faithful to Nikon FM during the changeover to the digital photographic world, I could not resist experimenting with one of the early digital cameras, the Sony Digital Mavica which recorded onto a 3.5" floppy disk until I finally "graduated," and left my Nikon behind, to a Canon PowerShot A720 IS (I recall reluctantly deserting the Nikon brand as, at the time, the Canon was the best for the money and for the features -- also the digital SLRs were prohibitively expensive then, something I might have considered if I was a professional). Many of the photographs in this blog of our trips were taken with that Canon (although I also carried a HP point and shoot as a backup).

But I come to the point of this history -- the A720 is too bulky to put in my pocket and when we travel, I wanted the next evolutionary model, and not just a simple point and shoot -- the ones which are the most compact -- as I like to have some control over the camera. A process of elimination brought me to the Canon PowerShot 300 HS. It has most of what I was looking for, a 24mm ultra wide-angle lens and 5x optical zoom and 12.1 megapixels so what I can't zoom in on optically, I have a digital alternative, all of this in a package of about five ounces, less than 1 inch thick. Simply amazing. The big selling point for me was its low light capability. How often have you been someplace where flash photography is forbidden or it is simply intrusive? My one regret is it has no viewfinder, but its viewing screen is bright, even in daylight, so compromise was necessary.

Immediately after unwrapping the camera we went to the Art Palm Beach Exhibit at the West Palm Convention Center, and although I am just learning of its myriad features, I had the opportunity to try it out, including some videos. The photographs in this entry are from the Exhibit, except for the very first I took setting up the camera, a low-light experimentation shot as I sat in our family room (reflection of me in the right side of the photo) using only a 100 watt bulb to capture the family room and the kitchen beyond:

I wonder what my father would think of today's digital photographic world. The evolution is truly revolutionary.

Truncated videos of art videos at the exhibit for demonstration purposes only, all rights reserved by their respective galleries, as are all photographs from the exhibit in this entry...

The following document is from the 1950's, when Kodak was king.....


Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Politics of Entitlement

Mitt Romney calls it the "politics of envy." "The rich are different than you and me" to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, but, let me assure you, contrary to Hemingway's rejoinder, it isn't just because they have more money. There is a sense of entitlement, something one (they) can "talk about in quiet rooms" but never in public because the rabble might grumble. The full quote from Fitzgerald's, The Rich Boy, beautifully tells about this kind of wealth: Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of Romney's campaign headquarters, advisors pouring over his tax returns trying to determine if they should be released, and, if so, when, how many, in what detail, and what explanations (spin) should accompany them. Bring on the Madison Avenue types to brand and package his wealth as a sort of "Romney Success Cereal." I am "successful" (i.e. "rich"). Vote for me, and you can be like me with a nice looking Father-Knows-Best family thrown in for good measure!

His tax returns are probably hundreds of pages and there may be multiple returns depending on how he has set up Family Limited Partnerships, etc. They probably reflect some form of tithing as by "Commandment of God" Mormons are expected to pay 10% of their gross income to the church -- including income from trust funds and food stamps (no chance of the latter) to be a member of the church "in good standing" and therefore receive its "blessings."

While religion should not be an issue in this or any election, and I will vote for any candidate I think best suited for the job, no matter what the religion, even (gasp!) an atheist, undoubtedly this is an issue for the American electorate (which would never elect an atheist), and therefore what is revealed in Romney's tax return may have a bearing.

But, mostly, it will be about how his tax handlers may have manipulated the issue of earned vs. unearned income. And this cannot be determined by one year's return. When asked about his intentions to release multiple years' tax returns at a recent Republican "debate" he chortled with his patented disingenuous laugh, "maybe." In fact, every time his wealth comes up as an issue he looks like a deer in the headlights, trying to portray himself as having lived "real streets of America" and having come from modest means (father, president of American Motors, and later Governor of Michigan).

The greater the wealth the greater the opportunity to shift income between "earned" (taxed up to the maximum 35%) to "unearned" (income from investments and in private equity, "the carry" which is taxed at 15%) It was not long ago when those figures were approximately in equilibrium, but the Bush era changed all of that and Wall Street would like to keep it that way. Masters of the Universe, unite! A reasonable measure of economic equality has become a corpse of the American Dream.

This election year is conjuring up the most virulent politics in history, Super PACs having contributed to this, something that should be abolished. Here, in Florida, we are now being besieged by them on the airways, Romney having a presence in political advertising even weeks before. The Republicans would like us to believe that calling to roll back the Bush "temporary" tax cuts is the "politics of envy" and that "class warfare" is actually a tactic in an overarching strategy by Obama to make a "welfare class" dependent on the Federal government and therefore more likely to vote Democrat. Talk about conspiracy theories. Might as bring up the issue of his birth certificate again.

Ironically, if I had to hold my nose and vote for just one of the remaining Republicans, my default candidate would be Romney. But as much as I find wanting in President Obama, he has the right idea when he said "don't compare me to the Almighty; compare me to the alternative."

Jan. 24 Follow-Up: "The" Return was released -- as expected, hundreds of pages but everything legal and above board, an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent. Romney also contributed what would be expected to the Mormon Church, so, on both counts he is absolved of any wrong doing. But if there was ever a clarion call for a more sensible tax code, this is it. I've written repeatedly over the years about the issue of economic inequality and just clicking that label at the bottom of this entry will bring most of them up, so no sense going into great detail.

However, I will say the following fearing this point gets lost in all the rhetoric about what motivates people to work: the Republicans argue that lowering the tax rate for everyone (Gingrich proposes a zero tax rate for capital gains) will magically create jobs, economic growth, and therefore the necessary revenue for the Federal Government to do its job, albeit at a reduced level (with cuts in just about every area of social welfare as everyone would "then" be working). But if their theory is wrong, we will be right back onto the same economic precipice at the end of the Bush Presidency.

Romney says his success was due to "working hard." Did he do so because of an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent? At the end of the Reagan Presidency my effective rate was 33 percent. Did I work "less hard" as president of a publishing company than Romney did in private equity? My mistake was to work for a W-2 rather than for carried interest. This kind of tax code games the system so, indeed, the rich can only get richer while everyone else is mired in economic limbo at best.

Jobs do not "happen" because of the tax code alone. They come from education, a passion for working, jobs being valued by society no matter what they are, entrepreneurial vision, a host of other, more relevant, factors.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Costa Concordia Tragedy

Whether you are piloting a large ship or your own recreational vessel, most nautical disasters are the result of its Captain being overconfident, especially when it comes to the deadly mix of thinking he knows the waters well while having an opportunity to show off. Apparently, the Costa Concordia had "nautical flybys" the island of Giglio in the past, coming close to the island to bask in the approbation of tourists there and providing a close-up thrill for the passengers as well. Imagine, 114,000 gross tonnage lumbering along at some 15 knots hitting an immovable object.

On my own "ship" of some 40 feet, I once took my knowledge of local waters for granted and raced another vessel out to our Crow Island anchorage using a "short cut" as the sun was setting on a Friday evening and, unfortunately for me, as the tide had already started to recede, only to find my vessel hard aground a sand bar with no means of kedging off the bar. It's a long story, one that thankfully ended well, with no injuries other than to my severely bruised ego, and I'll tell it sometime, but it could have turned out very differently.

Showing off and thinking one has complete control of one's vessel under all conditions is just a lethal combination. I'm guilty so I know. I might also comment that of the two dozen or so cruises we've been on, none were on ships the size of the Concordia. The new megaships seem to be out of proportion, their height too much for the beam, with evacuation procedures not up to the standards necessary for a full complement of passengers and crew. Unfortunately, lessons to be learned now in retrospect.

January 21 Follow-up, Videos

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blather into Matter

Or, as a friend of mine from my academic publishing days called it, feces into thesis.

The political circus is almost on full parade now but when it comes to the economy I can neither give Obama credit nor condemnation. The news media, the Republican candidates, and the administration are obsessed by citing statistics to justify their positions, and if you think you've heard it all, it is just the beginning of stream of consciousness blather. But the fact of the matter is the economy was in a swoon, a serious one, before Obama took office and continued on that route for a while before stabilizing and, even, growing.

Capitalism is a story of inherent cycles. The Federal Reserve was devised in part to mitigate the extremes of the cycles. Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve failed in that mission with the beginning of the 21st century, thanks to the hubris of Greenspan. At the bottom of the crisis in 2008 he confessed to Congress: “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms. Free markets did break down, and I think that, as I said, that shocked me. I still don't fully understand how it happened or why it happened.”

It is amusing to hear all the political rhetoric now that, for the time being, we seem to have been able to drag ourselves off the cliff of a depression. Harking back to those dark days of 2008/9 the CNBC cheerleaders looked stunned most of the time as the Dow was flushing like a broken toilet. Now the market is up about ninety percent from its low and jobs are slowly coming back (agreed, way too slowly, but this is a different kind of recession and a different kind of recovery) and everything is cheery at CNBC except for their opinion of Obama.

The Federal Reserve policy is just one component of the crisis and one can add to the mix the expense of overseas wars, the housing crisis, deregulation (yes, see what Greenspan admitted to above), private profit at public risk, governmental gridlock, all of this exacerbated by normal economic cycles. Oh, also add the multi-generational lack of an energy policy to this colossal conundrum.

The Republicans say that by now Obama "owns" the economy, as if a switch was thrown when he was inaugurated and a dial was set for about three years, the onset of the next Presidential election cycle. Unfortunately for him, he too misunderstood the magnitude of this unprecedented economic cycle, saying the following in an interview only days after he took office: "A year from now, I think people are going to see that we're starting to make some progress, but there's still going to be some pain out there.... If I don't have this done in three years, then there's going to be a one-term proposition." Romney et al have eagerly seized on this gaffe. Expect to hear it over and over again in the next ten months. Likewise, expect to hear Romney's (the presumptive Republican nominee) recent comment that he "likes being able to fire people" over and over again. Sound bite vs. sound bite reverberating on the airwaves thanks to the endless resources of Super PACs.

When it comes to job creation (or erosion) there are limits as to what a mere president can do in a relatively short period of time given economic cycles and the severity of the present crisis. That Romney created or uncreated jobs in the private equity arena is of no particular advantage unless he has the cooperation of Congress with smart policies. Likewise, Obama has little control over jobs without cooperation and policy agreement. It is preposterous to assume that Romney is any more qualified that Obama simply because he worked in private equity. I ran a publishing company for thirty years; that ought to make me more qualified to deal with the economy!

And those policies have to consider the vice grip closing in on this unique moment in US economic history: baby boomers are reaching retirement age at the rate of about seven each minute of each day for the next two decades, expecting the promises of Social Security and Medicare. We all know both sides of the equation have to change, how entitlements are doled out, and how revenue must be raised. This is not something that can be achieved by a Presidential Executive Order (although at times I think our dysfunctional Congress needs to be replaced by a benign dictatorship).

The Republicans do not talk about areas where Obama successfully functioned without having to negotiate with Congress, such as his role in planning Osama bin Laden's death. Remember when John McCain promised voters (in 2008) that he "knows how to capture and bring to justice Osama bin Laden"(although at the time that was a secret he was not going to share with anyone unless elected)? They didn't have the economy to blame on Obama then, so it was his foreign policy "inexperience." Bin Laden sharing the bottom of the North Arabian Sea with the fishes came with no help from Congress, thank you. In spite of his inexperience Obama had the wisdom to send in Navy Seals rather than taking out bin Laden with a drone strike to have proof it was indeed him.

So let the games begin. Blather into matter. Feces into thesis.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds Bloom at Dramaworks

There seems to be a pattern in Dramaworks' choice of productions or perhaps it is just a theme that permeates fine playwriting, mothers (or fathers) that are controlling in some way, by playing on sympathies, living within illusions, or by downright emotional abuse. According to Bill Hayes, the Producing Artistic Director of Dramaworks and the Director of its new production, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel, "Zindel wrote a brutally honest piece about a family much like his own; the father is gone, and the mother is impoverished – not just financially, but emotionally." And for Bill, the play "resonates so deeply for me....[as it], in the end, celebrates teachers."

Yesterday afternoon, before we saw the preview performance last night, we attended a "lunch and learn" session at the theatre and met the actors and heard Bill talk passionately about the play. It is an interesting choice of plays, all female actors, although there is the off stage character of Mr. Goodman, a teacher, who nonetheless figures prominently in the plot. Bill said the play was chosen, not only because of its relevancy (perhaps more relevant today than when it was written in 1964), but it also balances the more male dominated play that preceded it at Dramaworks, All My Sons, and the one that will follow this season, The Pitmen Painters.

Indeed, the themes of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds pack a relevance in today's world, the single working mother, bully victimization of a child by her peers, alcoholism, parent abuse, and the role of the teacher beyond the classroom (as Bill said, we've all had a teacher that has changed our lives in some way).

It was interesting to hear the actors tell their versions of the characters they play. The three girls in the play, Arielle Hoffman. Skye Coyne, and Gracie Connell are all 17 in real life, just beginning their journeys into the artistic world, and one can tell they bonded as they prepared for this production.

Laura Turnbull, a veteran actor who plays the lead, movingly explained how it feels to be acting opposite her own daughter, Arielle Hoffman, knowing that she is going off to college next year and this might be Laura's only opportunity to work with her professionally. She felt she could play such an adversarial role with her real daughter, only because they do not have any of those issues so it is but playacting (but, oh, what performances).

Interestingly, many of Dramaworks past productions have touched upon similar themes. The most recent one, All My Sons, where the parents live a life of illusions and lies. And then there was last year's masterful production, one of my very favorites, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, with some parallels to Marigolds, where daughter Maureen is left with caretaking responsibility for her 70- year old cantankerous, controlling mother. Also from the prior year, is their production of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, yet another Dramaworks choice I take very personally: dysfunctional families are the stuff of great modern theatre.

So Dramaworks is walking on familiar ground with its new production about a single mother, Beatrice Hunsdorfer, who has had some bad breaks in life and now is left with two daughters and herself to support and ends up turning all her disappointment and anger towards them. She is a misanthrope with the mission of destroying happiness where she sees it, a formidable antagonist for her introverted younger daughter, Tillie, who is also bullied by her classmates. A life buoy is thrown to Tillie by her science teacher, Mr. Goodman, in the form of a science project, to study the effects radiation has on marigolds. Her teacher also gives her a pet rabbit, which becomes just another object of Beatrice's hatred, and something Tillie's older sister, Ruth, jealously yearns to possess. Ruth is fighting for her life too, but more under the spell of her mother, more like her mother, unlikely to break free.

As Laura Turnbull explained at the lunch and learn, one of the difficulties playing Beatrice is to try to preserve some sympathetic reaction by the audience as Beatrice's path to self-destruction has to an extent been paved by circumstance. Well, last night -- even though it was technically a preview -- Laura Turnbull gave a bravura performance, one of the most memorable ones we've seen in a long time. I was mesmerized by it as there are parallels to my own life and mother, who never really understood her self-imposed prison of a miserable marriage. She was racked with guilt and rage, sometimes turning to alcohol for consolation. I have seen my mother in the same drunken stupor as Beatrice, although Beatrice mostly lives in that stupor on a daily basis. And like Beatrice, my mother was what I call a "crazy-maker," wreaking emotional destruction to most in her wake.

Laura Turnbull's performance is full of passion, physically demanding, and if one had only a single reason to see this play, her extraordinary accomplishment inhabiting this role would be it. You have only to hear her deliver the line that ties the play's title to her sad life: "Half-life! If you want to know what a half-life is, just ask me. You're looking at the original half-life!’’

Arielle Hoffman gives a carefully measured performance as the shy, abused, vulnerable daughter, Tillie, a perfect balance in the play, the voice of hope for the future -- that a "good mutation" will come out of the muck and the mire of her upbringing. She strives to escape the gravitational pull of her mother, simply stating "my experiments make me feel important." Arielle Hoffman has the audience carefully listening to her every word.

Her sister in the play, Ruth, is played by Skye Coyne, who, like Laura Turnbull's role, requires a dialed-up emotional level. Ruth is also abused by her mother, but protects herself by simply taking it, or by giving it back. There are some dark undertones in her character, the intimation that she was treated for mental illness (no wonder) and that she suffers from epilepsy. If Beatrice's life was ruined by circumstances, Ruth seems to be heading towards the same end. And while Ruth can be cruel towards her younger sister, Coyne walks a fine line as well, tugging at the audience's empathy. Her performance is equally memorable.

A minor role goes to Gracie Connell's role as Janice Vickery, Tillie's science fair adversary. She gives almost a tongue in cheek recitation of how she boiled the skin off a dead cat to use its skeleton so one can imagine what kind of person she is and how she treats Tillie.

The other minor role, that of Beatrice's boarder, Nanny, involves no dialogue but is actually a substantive role in the play and is wonderfully performed by Harriet Oser, a veteran of many Florida theatre productions. Although Nanny ostensibly serves little function in the plot, Nanny's role is highly symbolic. She is there to share in the abuse that Beatrice spares for no person or rabbit, and she is there as a harbinger of Beatrice's future (assuming she doesn't kill herself or die early of alcoholism). We also learn that Beatrice has had other boarders before, ones who have died, or have gone away, not surprising given they were all exposed to Beatrice's toxicity. I particularly noted the brilliant contrivance that was used on stage by Nanny, her medical walker for getting about, the slow cadence of which is like a leitmotif of time's passing, running out for all on stage but Tillie who carries the hope of the future.

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is Paul Zindel's best known work, winning the 1971 Pulitzer Prize, and one can see the influences of Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee. In fact, Albee was Zindel's mentor and creative writing teacher in the late 1950's. In many ways, it is a play to simply be experienced rather than to be analyzed. It is an actor's play and it's measure of success will hinge on their performances, and Dramaworks has pros at work in this production, some experienced and some upcoming.

Bill Hayes is the Director, or, as he likes to put it, "the conductor," but he is more than that, having the opportunity to mentor three young actors, his giving that special gift as he received it from his mentor, Steve Mouton, decades before. And Hayes has some masterful help in the production, a fabulous set by Michael Amico, taking advantage of every square inch of Dramaworks' new, expanded theatre, the careful detail of James Danford, the Production Stage manager, Lighting (subliminally communicating gamma rays) by Sean Dolan, and Sound by Steve Shapiro.

At the lunch and learn we spoke in some detail with Laura Turnbull, not knowing what a tour de force performance we would be treated to later in the evening, and she suggested that we see the play sometime again after the preview. It will be hard to find areas needing improvement, but maybe we will return, if only to again hear Beatrice look at the audience near the play's end and deliver the dagger: "I hate the world!"

This is a follow up to what I wrote two weeks ago: the January 20 Wall Street Journal published a terrific review of the play.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Day

It was brilliant and warm here on Jan. 1, 2012, a perfect day for venturing to our new go-to destination of Munyon Island on our boat where Ann, Jon and I had the beach pretty much to ourselves. Not much to do there but as it was a Sunday, we had the New York Times to keep us company, relax, and watch the yachts go by on Lake Worth. We decided to return home via the Earman River.

As our home is actually on an island, we have two ways of reaching Munyon, the northern route via the Intracoastal or the southern route via the Earman River. This screen shot from Google, showing our home (circled at the west portion of the shot) on the North Palm Beach Waterway and the Munyon docks (circled on the east), speaks for itself. Further east beyond Munyon is MacArthur Beach State Park on Singer Island and then the Atlantic.

Returning via the Earman we went past a man jet skiing with his dog. It was an absolutely perfect ending to our New Year's Day of boating, a Florida moment, bringing a smile to everyone's face.

But what would New Year's Day be without friends, other than man's best friend? Years ago half the day would be spent on the phone with friends but now there is email so I caught up with many via that route. Still, I have had a long standing agreement with my old friend and colleague Ron to avoid email on that special day so we had a marathon talk when I returned from Munyon. Naturally our conversation moved from remembering other colleagues in publishing, to the state of the industry (particularly the impact of eBooks), to politics, and finally to our families. His "kids" are doing well as are mine and we both recognize the truth of "you're only as happy as your unhappiest adult child." In Ron's case there are also grandchildren -- in Washington DC --and he is lucky enough to live fairly nearby in North Carolina.

I also "spoke" to my old friend Ray through his wife, Susan, as Ray was in the bilge of his boat all day repairing a generator. He and Sue spend the winter in Boat Harbour, Bahamas on their boat (which is their year-round home). We see them when they briefly visit on their way to or from the Bahamas and in Norwalk, Connecticut where we both live on boats during the summer.

On New Year's Day I also think about my dear friend and colleague Howard who died at such an early age more than three years ago. I used to speak to him on New Year's Day so that is such a void. He was a brilliant, talented person (click onto this link to see his superb carvings of a Manatee and Koala Bear), gone but always remembered by me. I also keep in mind, with great respect, another friend and colleague, Peter, who has now been out of my life, but not memory, for nearly twenty years now.

Finally there was some surprising news that arrived by email on New Year's Day. But first brief background information. My first job out of college in 1964 was at a division of Academic Press, Johnson Reprint Corporation. I was hired by the Vice President at the time, Fred, who was living with his partner, Michael. I remember when he hired me, thinking he's so old, 35. Ha. About six months later he also hired a "sassy dame," and she showed up at a New Year's Day party that Fred and Michael threw, I think it was Jan. 1966. She was wearing a backless dress right down to the tip of her derrière and believe me, even though I was there with my 1st wife, I took note as she moved to the music. Later she became wife #2 (Ann). So that little intersection of time and space changed my life and hers, thanks to Fred's astute hiring practices.

Here are Michael, Fred and me sometime after I had turned 35.

Well, Fred and Michael have stayed together all that time and, as Fred put it, they "finally tied the knot after 54 years," a civil union performed at New York City hall at the close of 2011! What better way to start the New Year?

Life is Company.....

Phone rings, / Door chimes, / In comes / Company!
No strings, /Good times, / Just chums, / Company!
All those / Photos / Up on the walls--
"With love." / "With love" filling the days,
"With love" seventy ways, / "To Bobby with love"
From all those good and crazy people, your friends!
Those good and crazy people, your married friends!
And that's what it's all about, isn't it?
That's what it's really about, isn't it?
That's what it's really about,
Really about!

From Company, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.