Chapter Twenty-Five - 1996-1998
New York City - Biztravel.com
(Equivalent to 76 pages in hard copy)
MLC (Mother/Mom/Nanny/Margaret L. Carter/Marnie)
Jimmy Wayne Myhre (James/JWM)
Dade (Grace) van Vliet
Bob and Polly Middleton
Sally and Liz Packard
Moments from Chapter Twenty-five
Camiori, Florence, Venice, and Bruges!
BizTravel.com grows, then… doesn’t!
Update - from the end of Chapter Twenty-four…
It’s July 1996; ITN’s budget has been running on empty for months. Thank God, Mother is paying the server fee and my rent and living expenses. Jack (Hall) devises a plan to raise a million dollars that is totally unrealistic. The future looks bleak, but I have other irons in the fire…
American Express has expressed an interest in a newsletter joint venture and is planning a meeting between the COO of Publishing and the Editor in Chief of Departures. I plan to propose to them that, irrespective of whether or not we proceed with the newsletter joint venture, we come to some arrangement for Travel & Leisure or Amex Publishing to utilize TravelVision. One idea is to have them link to TravelVision from AmexNet on AOL or co-develop our site as an Amex brand.
Middlegate has been renamed biztravel.com. I write them and offer to sell our database. John Williams, the CEO, telephones and we have a great chat. In a very preppy accent, he tells me he went to Kent School – in the same league as Hotchkiss – and then to Amherst, my cousin’s alma mater.
“I used to be the head of American Express Platinum and now am starting biztravel.com with some of my best executives. Biztravel.com is a well-funded, “dot.com” with big plans that could certainly include you.”
“Look,” he says, “John Evans, our chairman, will be changing planes at SFO the day after tomorrow. Meet him at Gate 12.”
I drive to SFO and spend an exciting hour with Mr. Evans. He is gregarious and excited. Would I be interested in editing their planned online news magazine?
“YES!” I grin.
I fly to New York to work out the details with John Williams. In biztravel.com’s temporary offices in Manhattan, Mr. Williams appears pixie-ish as he enters the conference room and observes my expression… I am visibly surprised that the dulcet-toned executive is black.
We get along very well. He tells me John Evans had called him from SFO after our airport meeting and said, “Pay him whatever he wants, he’s perfect!”
I agree to move to New York to become the wordsmith of bizTravel.com and Editor-in-Chief of bizTraveler, the online business travel magazine that I would create, staff, and run.
Back in San Francisco, MLC arrives for her annual visit, and, on August 3rd, James flies to New York to look for an apartment for us, MLC, and Woof, our cat.
At 6:30 the next morning, I find Mother... dead on the floor at the foot of her bed.
August 4, 1966 – Mother is on the floor; her nightgown hardly covers her still body. An arm is in the air.
I call 911 and soon the coroner arrives in a fire truck that he parks across the street.
He attends in her room; I try to hide from any sights and sounds in a corner of the living room.
I heard a crack. What’s that?
Soon he goes down our steep entrance stairs and returns with a gurney.
I peep from my tightly-shut eyes and see him manage the now occupied gurney down the stairs by himself.
He returns, hands me MLC’s beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring (the crack), and leaves for the Green St mortuary. I fuss about her room, not knowing what to do.
James calls; I tell him the news. He will liaise with the mortuary. I need to come to New York and look at two apartments he has found.
Green Street Mortuary calls me. The (mandatory) autopsy reveals severe arteriosclerosis. I tell them James will be in touch and that mother should be cremated there.
I call Mayflower Moving Company to come to estimate our moving to New York City.
The next day, Aug 5, I take Bella Bella, our Maserati, to the San Francisco dealer and endure an agonizing argument over what it was worth. Finally, one of the salesmen says, “For God’s sake, the man’s mother has just died, do a reasonable deal.” They did.
Mayflower comes and picks up our computers to pack.
Rick brings a potential new tenant to see the apartment (that didn’t take long) and invites me to dine with him that evening.
The next day, I taxi to Oakland and fly Tower Air to JFK, arriving at 11:30 PM.
On August 7, James takes me to see PH12 at 236 East 47th Street. It is a white-gloved, modern condo building near the United Nations. We go up to the twelfth floor, turn left, and ring the bell. A smiling lady lets us in, and we nearly fall down a steep staircase…
We stand in a small hallway in front of a window.
I look out, “Wow, look at the terrace of the penthouse next door. Isn’t that fantastic!”
James smiles and motions me a few steps to the right. In front of me is a long glassed-in gallery.
I hesitate – he pushes me along. There is a dining room on the right and then a cathedral-ceilinged living room and, out the double French doors… that fantastic penthouse garden…
and the Chrysler Building beyond!
I can’t believe it.
The nice lady is Betsy Jacobs, the head of the 47th Street YMCA.
When we came down the stairs, we had traversed from the twelfth floor of 236 East 47th Street to the top (penthouse) floor of the YMCA.
This is Betsy’s domain, and she is still smiling when I say we’ll take it.
And she is still smiling on August 16 when I sign the lease for this fabulous place.
In the interim, James and I stayed in a furnished flat at nearby Tudor Place.
I well remember James expression when he first saw our new home, The Wharf, on the Thames, and how happy we were moving to Eland Road, and Sweetzer Avenue, and Palm Springs, and Lombard Street, but this place is in a totally different league.
When we initially saw it, it was rather barren but “had great bones.” The photos above reflect our decor and furnishings. We totally refurbished it - new kitchen, new dining room, computer-watered garden plantings, new wall coverings, faux-natural pine woodwork, new fabrics, even a built-in master bedroom closet from Italy.
In time, our new penthouse was featured on ABC’s “Good Morning, America” as the most beautiful, garden penthouse in New York!
Have a look…
The south terrace we furnished and planted.
The south terrace. Living room French doors on the left,
the master bedroom window is center rear.
We installed the decking.
A winter wonderland.
Again, the entrance stairs from the 12th floor of 236 East 47th Street -
The Club at Turtle Bay - the adjoining building.
The painting on the right is called “Happy Birthday.”
I bought it in London along with the pine furniture.
The stuffed animals came from Christie’s in London and featured at The Point.
The atrium gallery with my photography.
From the living room toward the dining room and bedrooms beyond.
The south terrace, a living room window, and the atrium.
The living room went through several transformations.
The French doors lead to the south terrace.
Living room; entrance to alcove bar is on the right.
The rug is hand-made needlepoint from China.
I bought it at Bath, Bed, and Beyond. It’s now here in Thailand.
The alcove bar.
From the living room looking down the gallery.
From the south terrace.
The dining room looking north.
From the kitchen. The dining room is walled in black mirror.
The all-singing, all-dancing, new kitchen with three ovens, a plate-warming drawer, composite sink (silent), and the latest in appliances – even an appliance garage.
The master bed hung with Jim Thompson fabrics.
The custom, Italian, closet wall.
The guest room.
The north terrace with steps to the second roof terrace looks toward the East River. Left to right, the windows are:
guest room, dining room French doors, and door to kitchen.
The north terrace view of 47th Street and the Hudson River beyond.
On August 11, JWM returns to SFO, picks up MLC’s ashes from the mortuary and, carrying the urn around in his backpack, arranges for them to be sent to the Albany Rural Cemetery in Albany, New York.
In New York, I call Dade, and spend all day organizing our temporary home in Tudor City.
JG checks in and, exhausted, I cook spaghetti and dine alone.
The next day, I dine with JG; JWM has dinner with Rick on Lombard Street.
Suddenly my birthday arrives on the sixteenth - James is still in San Francisco coordinating with the movers; I celebrate by signing the lease for the penthouse.
The weeks speed by as I visit Dade at my mother’s place in Naples to deal with details of Mother’s estate.
Our things arrive from San Francisco and we pull the penthouse together while living in Tudor Place.
We move in on September 16th and I get online for the first time in weeks.
The following letter to Jack Hall fills in some of the details…
September 16, 1996
As you may have known, my mother arrived for her annual visit on July 1. She and James and I spent several happy Sundays, driving around the Bay Area. As she has been my longest and best friend (next to James), you can imagine the trauma when I discovered her dead on the floor of her room at 6:30 AM, Sunday the 4th of August.
Since then, my sister and I have been traveling back and forth to New York and Florida dealing with the affairs of her estate and trying to put some perspective in our lives, while Dorothy continues to man the phones and fax. Unfortunately, I have not been able to be online to receive e-mail.
In addition, considering the financial burden of ITN and the fact that my mother can no longer pay my rent, living expenses, and the $750 server cost, I have been trying to get a job and continue to leverage all our work.
The upshot is:
1. Amex is still interested in buying or leasing our database for Travel and Leisure and I will meet with them again next week.
2. I have been offered a job at Biztravel to edit an online magazine which I am accepting. I tried to cut a deal on behalf of ITN, but it wouldn’t fly, so from now on I guess we’re both part-timers.
Therefore, I have connected the company’s phone and fax lines directly through to Dorothy who will continue to operate as always, and I’m relocating to New York.
You’ll be pleased to know that I have appeared twice with live audio on WBS — WebChat Broadcasting System “The largest chat and event center on the Web” (see enclosed). The first show was August 26; I did the second one Sept 11 and will continue to broadcast every Monday until I’ve used up every establishment on TravelVision — I’m their Mr. Travel and I wear my TravelVision hat high and proudly. It’s great PR for ITN and the response has been gratifying.
Even though I have tried my best at considerable personal expense to create income for the company without much success and, while much has changed in the marketplace when we could sell Living Brochure upgrades for a CD-ROM, I will persevere to get establishments to renew their listings and try to generate positive cash flow for the company. But I am not wildly optimistic.
As you can see from the enclosed financials, we have lost a lot of money since the beginning of our fiscal year - $187K. Of this, of course, 89K is owed to Townsend Properties for my services which have been charged at $35/hour in spite of the fact that their agreement, like Sky’s, is at $100. (Sky’s services during this period are offset by the enclosed 27K shares, as per the agreement.) So the actual cash losses are about $100K — more than I or Townsend can handle any longer.
As you remember when you came on board, I made it absolutely clear that the funds you were bringing to the company (and specifically earmarked by us both for specific activities and hardware) would only last four months. We made them last a bit longer but since then — virtually from the beginning of this fiscal year — we have been operating on loans from my mother and some expenses advanced by you, but primarily on loans advanced by Townsend and me.
The Balance Sheet details the monies we owe, and I have attached a breakdown of the monies advanced by Hall Design. As some of the company’s assets are at Hall Design, I’ve also enclosed the Asset Register with the location of things as best I know it.
I have also enclosed the Income Statement Detail from inception in 1992, of all the Capital Investments made in both cash and services. The cash items are ticked and total some $263K of which Hall Design’s represents some 40%.
Finally, I was devastated when Double Click told me that the banner space had been removed from our site. This was our only chance for income, and they tell me we have lost a lot. Obviously, they have dropped us from the program.
So, old friend, the situation is not wonderful. I sure wish I could be with you on the terrace on Lombard Street saving that Scotch from evaporating, but life has its twists. If there is anything you can suggest to either turn ITN around or sell all or part of it, this is the moment I need your help more than ever.
Call me at 212-696-9800 X 217 or leave me a message at 415-441-4790, and I’ll get right back to you.
With sincerest regards and genuine fondness,
Until biztravel.com gets its office together, I am on board as a “consultant” on an hourly basis, working from home.
A few days later Woof, now a seasoned jet-setter, arrives at JFK, none the worse for wear and James hands me…
On the fourth of October, my Mother’s birthday, James and I drive to Albany, NY for MLC’s funeral.
I drape the urn in my Sutherland tartan, crest-pinned, shoulder sash; and while a piper, hidden in the trees, plays, I see MLC off on her final adventure.
I remember little of the service except that cousin Alix was wearing a bright red and white outfit with a very short skirt - typical!
This nice letter from Bob and Polly Middleton (both of whom lived well into their nineties) describes it…
(Crest pin from the Sutherland coat of arms – “Without Fear”)
After the service, some of us drove into the Helderberg Mountains some ten miles west of Albany to visit Hardscrabble my mother’s father’s weekend farm near the village of Altamont.
Wikipedia…In colonial times, this area was part of the Manor of Rensselaerwyck, granted by the Dutch West India Company to Killian Van Rensselaer in 1630. The area was known as Hellerburgh in the early 18th century. In the early 19th century Knowersville was established in the rural part of Albany county just below the Helderberg Mountains. This settlement eventually became known as Altamont.
We return to Manhattan and devote ourselves to biztravel.com. Miss Audré fills much of our social life…
At Il Vagabondo, Miss Audré’s favorite restaurant.
By January, biztravel.com seems to know what it wants to be…
John Williams left his post as head of Platinum Card Services at American Express to develop and be President and CEO of this unique travel website. He hires me to be the company’s wordsmith and to create, as Editor-in-Chief, an online magazine for frequent business travelers within the biztravel.com site - bizTraveler - the travelzine for the business scene.
Funded by Comcast, Accel Partners and Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Biztravel.com is considered a pioneer in the online travel industry, in time, winning multiple Webby and PC Magazine Editor Choice Awards.
I am responsible for the creation and development of bizTraveler that is launched in January 1997 as an 8-section, 40-department e-magazine.
BizTraveler is one of the first online business travel magazines and is to be the largest e-zine on the Internet designed for frequent business travelers.
Contributing to the uniqueness of Biztravel.com and winning awards along the way, bizTraveler focuses on matters of urgent concern to frequent business travelers as well as featuring popular destinations, arcane getaways, provocative interviews, and even a 14-part mystery series.
While we still don’t have a functioning headquarters, we are beginning to attract attention…
February 14, I open a card on my breakfast table as James and Woof look on…
Fun! Mother always said “Isle of View” (I Love You) and called me Teda since I began to walk.
Off to work; the company is operational at East 23rd Street. I am now full time.
I hire James to be Managing Editor, and also two passionate kids to fill in the department. James hires and assigns stories to our team of writers (most of which he has assembled) plus freelancers we put together. He manages the editorial agenda and publication schedule, manages the budget and stipend payments, and liaises with advertising and marketing partners.
The four of us develop bizTraveler into 40 departments. In hardcopy, it would have been bigger than the monthly Conde Nast Traveller – one inch thick!
This is how it looks on a chart…
And this is how it looks online…
The engineers and technicians who designed and maintain the booking engine are based in Cambridge, Massachusetts under the leadership of George Nassef. My team flies up to meet them. Some of us feel that we could have saved a lot of time and money by adapting an existing engine, but it is being built from scratch.
As we settle in at 23rd Street and biztravel.com is steadily growing, I discover that there is a space of about 1000 square feet for rent on the third floor of the building. I grab it to have a darkroom and a small gallery. Designed for 8x10 camera format, the darkroom is a dream, and I fill it with the latest equipment. How neat to be able to pop down from the bizTravel.com office during lunch to interview models or print a negative!
I paint the whole space in chocolate brown and suspend foam-covered plywood panels upholstered in brown flannel as floating displays for photographs. I install chain-driven backgrounds on rolls, focused halogen lighting, and a multi-head strobe system for portraiture.
The place was finished on May 20 – James’ birthday!
I was all set to continue the boy portrait series I had started at home in West Hollywood. James cautioned me of the dangers inherent in inviting strangers in Manhattan. (There was never a problem.)
My only concern was my passion for the work - I didn’t want this obsession to come between us and I vowed not to let it monopolize our weekends.
Actually, our weekends were devoted to redecorating the penthouse. We contract a wallpaperer, have the woodwork painted in faux pine, and install a lush garden with a timer-controlled watering system.
The beginning of June, I bump into a member of the Long Yang Club. I used to go to Long Yang events in London and was amused when he said they were looking for a venue in Manhattan.
LGBT Archive: Long Yang Club London LYC was the original chapter of what has since become a worldwide organisation. Founded in 1963 it continues to bring people together from both ‘east’ and ‘west’. LYC is a gay multi-cultural sports and social club.
The club is named after "Lord Long Yang", a gay character in the Chinese book of legends, Dream of Red Mansions.
Founded in the days when socializing (sic) was quite difficult to organise and the number of bars and clubs was quite limited, LYC quickly established itself on the London scene. Social events were held, discos arranged, dinner nights and house parties enjoyed.
Club nights were held sometimes weekly or monthly and in its various incarnations, LYC has used many well-known venues throughout London’s west end. LYC’s weekly Sunday night karaoke and social night became well known and much loved. Its Bank Holiday parties were legendary.
I offered my new gallery space for a meeting/party on June 15 and while the place was packed, I decided against doing any more.
The third week of June, James flies to Barcelona for a week of getting details for Gaudí Afternoon.
JWM planned a birthday bash for August 16; the only refusal came from Bobby Short, my buddy, the great saloon singer, in a note from “Manhattan” – his home in Mougins, fifteen minutes from Cannes…
Sally calls to say she and Dinah have rented a house in the little village of Camiori in Tuscany. Would we like to visit in October?
We fly to Florence on the 4th and stay in the fabulous San Michele, in the hills overlooking the city. The façade of this famous hostelry was designed by Michelangelo; everything – food, service, and ambiance is of an equal degree of perfection.
The room is over-the-top with a TV
that rises up out of a chest at the foot of the bed!
We drive through beautiful Tuscany…
This photograph, “St. Quirico, Early Morning” by Robert Weingarten is representative of the view from nearly every turning. I represented Mr. Weingarten at The Edward Carter Galleries.
The house in Camiori is cute as a pin.
Sally, Dinah, and Sally’s daughter Liz, and the two of us have a grand time touring Tuscany. It is fascinating to see the quarry from which Carrara marble comes. We barbeque and booze and have great fun.
After a couple of days, James and I go to Venice. This is our second visit to this magic place. The first was in 1986; we stayed at The Londra Palace…
This time, we pick the Hotel Cipriani...
This stylish retreat – the most renowned in the city - is on Giudecca, an island across from St. Mark’s Square and has a complimentary ferry across the Venetian lagoon to the famous piazza. The hotel is surrounded by gardens and its rooms look out over the lagoon and the greenery.
The distant Lido is blinking in the distance out our window. Bobby Short sings Cole Porter’s “At Long Last Love” - the lyric goes… “Is that the Lido I see or only Asbury Park?!”
Santa Maria Della Salute
We return to New York on the 17th…
The end of October, James flies to Los Angeles and comes back via his parents’ in Gulfport, Mississippi, and a visit to Bethany Bultman in New Orleans. One of his contributing writers at bizTraveler, Bethany has a grand house that was the inspiration of a scene in a Tennessee William’s play.
On December 23, JWM and I pick up a rental car and Miss Audré and head for Christmas in Vermont. As we near Woodstock, a blizzard hits (didn’t we all do this before in Switzerland half-a-dozen years ago?) and cars are careening all over the road. We make it to The Woodstock Inn, hang our stockings the next eve, and ride with Santa in a sleigh on Christmas Day.
Boxing Day, we drive past my old home in Goshen, Vermont and check in to Blueberry Hill Inn just down the road.
Tony Clark is still running this popular cross-country ski hub and I feel very much at home with our old family furniture my mother gave him decades ago when he bought the place from the Mastertons, and I was a private in the Army.
Miss Audré at Blueberry Hill Inn.
By the end of our first full year, we are produced a new issue of bizTraveler every fortnight, are also providing content support to CNNfn and other syndicated media outlets, and were building a large cadre of contributing writers:
Michael Adams Executive Editor of Restaurant Business
Lillian Africano Regular contributor to Travel & Leisure, New York, and Jet magazines
Mary Alinder Owner, Alinder Gallery of Gualala, California. Former assistant to and biographer of Ansel Adams. West Coast restaurant reviewer
Joseph Anthony Financial contributor Money, Success, and Forbes. Medical correspondent for American Health
Andrew Batey Architect and author, professor of architecture at Princeton, Cambridge, and Oxford Universities
Johnathan Behr Fashion contributor, feature film costumer, and proprietor of Johnathan Behr Custom Clothier
Bethany Bultman Former editor at House & Gardens. Author of Compass’ New Orleans and Bantam’s recent Redneck Heaven
Maryedith Burrell Actress and screenwriter, including TV series work on Fridays, Parenthood, and The Jackie Thomas Show
Ellen Clark Contributing writer of Women’s Sports, Women’s Day, and American Health
Robert DiGiacomo Regular contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Access Guide series
Abby Ellin Regular contributor to Spy, Worth, New Woman, and Cosmopolitan
Charles Fahy Sr. Vice President of Oppenheimer & Co., and author of The Streetwise Investor
Jonathan Foreman Regular contributor to Tatler, The National Law Journal, and The National Review
Vené Franco Former editor at Bon Appetit
Frances Freisinger Publisher of Business Latin America
Harlan Gibb and Alan Duncan-Ross Medical journalists and authors of The Medicine of “ER”
Ted Grossman Former editor of Third World
Jeffrey Hogrefe Columnist with The Observer and former arts editor for the Washington Post. Biographer of Georgia O’Keefe and Salvador Dali, among others
Matthew Humphrey Executive editor of The San Francisco Review of Books
Alan Jolis Regular contributor to Vogue, Travel & Leisure, Architectural Digest, and the International Herald Tribune. Winner of National Children’s Book Award
Mari Kornhauser New Orleans and Los Angeles-based travel columnist for L.A. Weekly
Bobbie Leigh Contributing editor to Departures
Seth Lubove Features contributor to Forbes
Athena Lucero Family columnist for Parenting and Mothering magazines
Frances McCullough Former editor with Bantam Books and noted cookbook author
Diana Merelman Staff writer with The American Lawyer
Douglas Pike Cartoonist, author of Doubtful Accounts
Richard Pascucci Freelance caricature artist
Renata Polt Berkeley-based contributing writer to San Francisco Chronicle
Reed Rahlman Los Angeles playwright, and regular contributor to MacWorld and Wired
Judith Ré Proprietor of the Judith Ré Academie, a noted business etiquette consultancy
David Rieff Renowned war correspondent for Time, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal
Craig Root Contributor to The Wine Spectator.
Mark Ryckoff Creative director of the CD-ROM and book The Passage to Vietnam.
Dr. Richard Schacter Noted business psychologist and contributor to The American Man
Alex Salkever Contributing writer to Travel & Leisure, Hawaii, and Traveler
Kate Sekules Writes for Fodor Guides, and regular restaurant reviewer for The New Yorker
Joshua Wolf Shenk Correspondent with The Economist
Liesl Schillinger Writes for The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, and The Washington Post
Gary Stern Contributor to Nation’s Business, Emmy, and Tennis magazine
Gene Stone Former editor of Toyota Online, and author of biographies on Stephen Hawkings, Judith Resnick, and Dr. Robert Fulford, among others
Sammy O. Speedway Owner of SOS Productions, an entertainment marketing consultancy
Stella Z. Theodoulou Head of the department of political science at Cal State Northridge, and author of numerous books on U.S. public policy and AIDS policy
Mark Tran Formerly with the BBC World Service, and now writes for The Guardian
Geri Trotta Contributing editor to Gourmet
Andréa Vaucher Regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times, American Film, and Film Comment
Christopher Weyant Contributing cartoonist with NBC Online
Barbara Wilson Noted author of over 15 novels, including the award-winning Gaudí Afternoon
Carol Wright Former travel editor of House & Garden, and twice chairman of the British Guild of Travel Writers
Ann Wyckoff Former writer for ABC’s The Wonder Years, and the editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Women’s Sports
But my Editorial Department was much more than just bizTraveler…
My team is dedicated, cool, and fun. George Roukas, VP of Product Development at Biztravel.com, says of James: “I worked with James during the Biztravel days and I can say with complete conviction that he's one of those rare people who is just really, really good at anything he puts his mind to. He is terrific at anything that concerns the written word--writing, editing, etc. He gave our website a consistent, credible, and engaging voice long before it was popular to invest in top-tier content.”
On top of all this, James is working closely with Barbara Wilson on his screenplay for Gaudí. She comes to New York at the end of February and they huddle for several days.
Then this comes out…
But the one man who is helping bizTraveler really make its mark is Joe Brancatelli. He has become the most carefully listened-to voice in the world of business travel. I work hard to get him on board the bizTraveler masthead and announce this accomplishment at The Society of American Travel Writers Internet Panel held in Manhattan, March 23, 1998: (Just after the Oscars had been announced.)
“And the winner is…
“The Society of American Travel Writers.
“I am here to present a Titanic opportunity for freelance writers who are more than just Good Will Hunting.
“This evening in the Afterglow of our having won the PC Magazine Editor’s Choice Award for Business Travel 1997, I present The Full Monty of Biztravel.com and bizTraveler, the travelzine for the business scene.
“I hasten to add, that in spite of my outfit, the Editorial Team at Biztravel.com are not all Men in Black, but editors who have, Like Ayn Rand, a Sense of Life.
“Our handouts will give you the In & Out of what we’re looking for, so each of you can determine how you can best help us Wag the Dog.
“I am very proud of Biztravel.com and especially bizTraveler, and honored by the awards we have won. I don’t have time to thank everyone but here are some who pop first to mind:
“David Rieff – more often found in the pages of The New Yorker,
“Bobbie Leigh – Editor-at-Large, Departures Magazine,
“Jeffrey Hogrefe – of The Observer, and recent biographer of Salvador Dali,
“Regina Baraban – regular contributor to Crain’s,
“Mary Alinder – biographer of Ansel Adams, and international food writer,
“Michael Adams – Executive Editor of Restaurant Business Magazine,
“Bethany Bultman of Compass Guides and former editor of House and Garden,
“Matthew Humphrey – Editor of San Francisco Review,
“Carol Wright – Chairperson of the British Guild of Travel Writers, and, finally...
Our News Bombshell…
“Joe Brancatelli has joined us Consulting Editor and will write two columns a week commencing April 6!
“In closing, I encourage you to pitch me soon and often. For in most people’s opinion, being published in bizTraveler is As Good as it Gets.”
Life is good. bizTraveler is growing in content and stature and, in my spare time, I am taking photographs of models – one is Icarus, Chinese and very bright.
Icarus is now the art director of a Manhattan-based fashion magazine and we chat on Facebook to this day.
In June, knowing I always wanted to go, James suggests we visit Bruges. Boarding Woof, We fly via London, stay at Grosvenor House, and dine with Richard Shepherd and James Williams.
In Belgium, we stay in a few Relais et Châteaux, eat well, and enjoy the canals of this “Venice of the North.”
It may seem like nothing, but the day after we returned to New York, I buy a platinum print in a platinum frame with my platinum card. James remarks that it is the first time in eighteen years that I’d ever bought anything without talking with him first. He wasn’t happy – it is the first time I’m hurt and confused by his demeanor.
Then things got worse. Woof crawled onto our bed and peed! The vet said his kidneys had ceased to function and he was put down in our apartment in James’ arms. Very sad.
On August 24, leaving James in charge of the department, I fly to Tallinn, Estonia for a week of photographing the Baltics.
The trip is totally unmemorable as to where I stayed, what I ate, and whom I met. My only observation is that the roads in Latvia, that run east to west, are much wider and straighter than any I have seen anywhere – more like runways. I’m sure the Russians might find that useful. On the way home, I dined in a marvelously baroque restaurant in Helsinki – that, I remember.
Joe’s column on August 31…
The Tactical Traveler
A Weekly Business Travel Briefing
By Joe Brancatelli
August 31, 1998
Reading time: ±4 minutes
Click here to download or format for quick printing
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One of the great joys of surfing the Internet is blindly entering a word you might think is a web site address. Of course, half the time you'll end up at a porn site. Sometimes, though, you'll stumble onto amazing gems like Travelvision.
Travelvision has quirky, intensely personal, funny, insightful and profusely illustrated reviews of about 1,800 hotels and resorts around the world. Some reviews are outdated, and some rave about once-fabulous places that have gone to seed, but most are dead on target and excellent guideposts for sophisticated travelers.
Weirdest of all, however, is the fact that Travelvision is also the personal web site of Edward (Ted) Carter, international bon vivant and business wiz who these days just happens to be editor-in-chief of bizTraveler. He's never mentioned Travelvision around here, though, and I think I know why. If you go to the "Carter on Carter" feature of Travelvision, you'll come across Carter's putative bio. In fact, however, it's an illustrated diary of how business travel used to be: elegant, fun, a lifestyle worth pursuing. For those of us children of deregulation who have never experienced business travel as anything but a dreary chore, reading about how life on the road used to be is really depressing.
Then, on September 15th, before any of us knew it, biztravel.com became a victim of the "dot com" bubble and the Editorial Department was the first to go.
And then, for the third and last time, James leaves me…
First, at The Point when he decided in early 1986 that he wanted to move to Manhattan and go to Parsons School of Design. Devastated, I sold The Point and moved back to London. A few months later, after several tear-filled telephone calls, he followed me to London and we resumed our life together.
Second, in London, three years later, when out of the blue, he said he was leaving the London International Film School to pursue a career in Hollywood. This time, I followed him and we rebuilt our relationship in Los Angeles.
Now, in New York, when he sits me down and says,
“I’m leaving you. Firstly because I sometimes get the feeling you’re sitting around waiting for me to die, but primarily because you deserve a better life – a full life with someone with whom you can share everything, including sexual intimacy.”
Panicking, I don’t agree. We’d gotten along fine without sex for the last nine years, I am still in love with him and blissfully happy with our relationship.
We talk into the night. Basically, he wants to get out of my shadow and be his own man. In any event, he had made up his mind long before – the trip to Bruges turned out to be his going away present. He moved to San Francisco and was celibate.
Writing this chapter a few days ago, I wrote him…
There is lots of confusion in my diaries – I can’t pin down when we finally separated. Can you help?
“Our last evening together, we saw "Tomorrow Never Dies," the James Bond film, at the cinema on 21st Street just east of 8th.”
And, so far, tomorrow has not died - we have remained friends and JWM continues to run in and out of my life as you will read in future chapters. But this separation was the most traumatic moment in my life.
The separation with biztravel.com pales in comparison.
This is what Joe Brancatelli had to say some 3 years after he launched his column with bizTraveler on 6 April 1998...
The Brancatelli File
BY JOE BRANCATELLI
April 5, 2001 -- Today not only marks the beginning of the fourth year this column has appeared at biztravel.com, it is also the day that a major revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies premieres on Broadway.
There are two reasons why this confluence is worth noting.
First, I have always wanted to be mentioned in the same sentence with Sondheim. But you've been reading this column for all or part of the last three years and you know that my only shot at ever being mentioned in the same sentence with Sondheim is to write the damned sentence myself. So I just did.
Second, the central theme of Follies--Can you live with the choices you've made in your life? --is also apropos for this column. As we have gone side by side by side into the woods of business travel during the last three years, we have made a choice. We have chosen, you and I, every week for three years, to talk about life on the road as it really is. We have discussed the fact that not everything is coming up roses. We have gone to Barcelona. And Madrid. We have preached what we believe to be the truth about each other and about the airlines. We have done it with passion. We're always sorry for what we find out there. We're always grateful for having had the opportunity to be on the road in the first place.
And, most importantly, we're still here. That, as Sondheim so wittily and disturbingly notes in Follies, is no small victory.
Finally, today, on the beginning of the fourth year when we first began meeting in this particular shard of Cyberspace, I need to disabuse you of two other follies.
There is a bizarre notion out there that this column belongs to me. There is also a weird suspicion that I create this column alone. Neither supposition could be further from the truth.
This column, in every sense, belongs to business travelers. This column wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Ronnie Smith, our editor, who accepts with faultless good humor my exasperating habit of filing The Brancatelli File and The Tactical Traveler just moments before she has to post them.
There are countless others--most whose names are unknown even to me--who have kept this site up and running. But one other name will never be forgotten: Ted Carter, the bon vivant who brought me here three years ago and championed biztravel.com's unswerving commitment to producing the truth according to business travelers.
This column originally appeared at biztravel.com.
Copyright; 1993-2004 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.
End of Chapter Twenty-five.