My 2018

For my memory only:
As we leave 2018 behind, I’d like to recollect some of the highlights. In most respects it rates as a terrible year: Donald Trump’s stupidity, egocentricity and meanspiritedness was a daily downer, and there were frequent reminders that our planet is heading toward an ecological upheaval that will make almost everyone’s life harder, if not impossible. An example close to home was the deadly, house-destroying mudslide that poured through Montecito in the wake of last December’s wildfire. Every day of 2018 I drove past reminders of the destruction it caused. The paradise that we thought we had found in Santa Barbara was tarnished by terrible traffic on our Highway 101, year 6 of a drought that challenged our landscaping, and washed-out bridges that made getting from here to there that much harder.
But there were some great moments. My favorite was the surprise 70th birthday party I organized for Siri. Eleven of her favorite female friends – no regrets – were waiting in Bouchon’s private dining room when Serin, Marc and I brought her over for a champagne toast. Marc Appleton joined Marc and me for dinner next door and received periodic reports from the waiter of what fun the ladies were having. It was a great group I was excited to get together, and it turned out they formed a liberal political caucus that continued through the election.
Speaking of which, the mid-term elections were another highlight, although it was somewhat slow in coming. On election night it appeared that the Democrats might pick up only 26 or so seats – enough for a majority, but hardly a repudiation of Trump and his party. The Senate results were also a disappointment, especially in Texas. Over the next two weeks, however, the Democrats gradually captured more seats, including in California, bringing their total to 40 (so far), and a candidate we had supported came from behind to take a Senate seat in Arizona. We had made a big, for us, financial investment in about 15 races, so it was particularly rewarding to see names we were following, including our former neighbor in Minnesota Dean Phillips, knocking off Republican incumbents.
My personal project for 2018 was a knee replacement, something I had been toying with for at least a dozen years. I remember being miserable the first two weeks after the operation, but almost every day I could sense improvement and after three months I could congratulate myself on a total success. My other knee now is the weak link, and I’ll fuss a few more years over whether to replace that as well, for “quality-of-life” reasons.
While I was rehabbing – and while we were evacuated from our home due to fire and mudslide – my main distraction was crafting, with three Harvard classmates, a rock’n’roll activity for our 50th reunion in June. The negotiations involved a lot of tooth-pulling, but I was quite proud of our result: onstage we debated the merits of 30 hits from our college years and asked the audience to vote for a top ten. The attendance wasn’t overwhelming, but those who showed up seemed to be having a jolly time. The reunion itself was a bit of a disappointment: the meals involved long lines and haphazard seating; the panels were pointless and unenlightening; the cabaret was a lot of deja vu; and there weren’t many personal connections. My best moments, beside my panel, were informal meals arranged outside the official program, with Bob Higgins, Ken Wallach, Cort Casady.
I wasn’t looking forward to our trip to Scandinavia, finding travel to be increasingly a hassle, but was pleasantly surprised. Every day was a joy, moving from Copenhagen to Vaxjo to Stockhold to Oslo to Balestrand to Bergen. There were exceptional meals with interesting cuisine, art museums everywhere and something unusual we weren’t expecting at every location. Every day was a good one.
New York continues to be a stimulating contrast to our life in Santa Barbara. The theater was not as good as in years past, but it kept us busy. My Columbia Law School reunion (45th) was a fun shot-in-the-dark; and we enjoyed dinners with new friends like the Tierneys and Vizcarrondos. A lightning visit to Washington to see Mary Morton’s Corot show catapulted us into a remarkable week of museums: the Phillips Collection, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery in D.C.; the Clark Institute and MassMOCA in Massachusetts. Just when I think I am getting jaded and going to museums simply out of habit and comfort I see a work of art that thrills me.
I cover the highlights of movies, music and birding elsewhere on this website, but here’s a special nod to Jackson Browne’s show at the Bowl and, at the other end of fame, the Tallest Man on Earth at Campbell Hall.
I go into 2019 with nothing planned beyond our upcoming trip to Australia, but with the hope and belief that, like in 2018, great things will show up.

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