Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October is turning out to be a great month!

Dad continues to improve, which is the best news of all. His therapists are very happy with his progress, and that is especially so now that he has a plastic leg brace that helps reduce the strain on his muscles, results in his expending less effort to walk, and minimizes the dragging of his left foot. His spirits are excellent, and why not? He’s getting out and doing things and the grapes have been picked. I’m delighted for him.

On the business front, the Texas property is recovering reasonably quickly from the visit from Hurricane Ike, and it is nice to be able to provide housing to people that need it. The complex in Denver is now 100% leased, which is quite something in a down economy. The last vacant space was taken by the US Post Office. How’s this for government thinking? They lost their old lease and had to move quickly, and my space was their first choice, and they were prepared to sink a lot of money into the space to make it work and meet their needs. However, because of the fact that the whole thing is supposed to be thrown open as a business opportunity to all comers, the lease term is for only one year with one-year options. Does this make any sense? I’m not bothered as a landlord, as I know they will stay; rather, I am bothered as a taxpayer. What if they were to sink all that money into the space and then leave after a year? You and I, dear reader, would be footing the bill for that. It makes absolutely no business sense whatsoever. I remember encountering similar ways of doing things when I was looking for a job in Washington, D.C. after college. For example, there was a job for which I was qualified, but there was a mad rush to get my resume in the very day I learned about it, before “the position closed.” I had to get that concept explained to me, like, twice—that’s how incredulous I was. What that means is, open positions are only allowed to stay open for a prescribed period of time, after which they close. Period. Even if you haven’t hired someone. Even if you still need those job responsibilities filled. Huh?

The last two weeks were a splendid fortnight in New York. I saw many friends whom I’ve missed greatly, and one of the standouts was a reading at The Grolier Club of “Vita and Virginia,” a play based on the diaries and correspondence of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. It was inspiring and daunting at the same time: oh to be able to write like that! With wit, elegance, passion, and to paint a vivid mental picture with economy of language. And Alison Fraser, who read the part of Virginia, was a charming and talented lady whom I had the privilege of chatting with later when a group of us went out for dinner. She is currently in the revival of Gypsy, which I plan to see when I am in town again next month.
I’ll be honest, though, the highlight was last Saturday night the 18th. I’ve been working for the past several months on a benefit to raise money for brain cancer research, and my original idea of a rather homespun musical evening became a grand concert and reception at the University Club of New York. We partnered with an existing 501(c)(3), The Gruson Fund for Brain Tumor Research and Care. First Dr. Susan Pannullo, Head of Neuro-Oncology at New York Presbyterian Hospital, gave a brief and compelling address about the need for funding brain cancer research. Indeed, over 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with primary brain tumors this year alone. Then came the music. The glorious music. Andrew Appel and Ryan Brown (up from D.C.) treated us to a G-major Bach sonata for harpsichord and violin. Then the Orchestra of the Clarion Music Society (whose board I have recently joined) accompanied 6 opera singers—myself included!—in a selection of Mozart arias and ensembles from Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, and Die Zauberflöte. I was joined by astoundingly good singers: Jessica Gould, Bridget Best, Virginia Warnken, Rufus Müller, and Branch Fields. We’re talking people who are currently in South Pacific, who have sung at Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls. If you’re ever feeling bummed out or stressed, go sing some Mozart, in a church if possible (for the acoustics). Most of the musicians donated their time in memory of someone they have lost to brain cancer, which was incredibly generous and touching. The crowd loved the event and we got a standing ovation. I was walking on air the whole next day. What a thrill!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


October 1-2 San Francisco
October 3-5 Chicago
October 6-20 New York
October 21-31 San Francisco/Kenwood