The Amazing Life and Times of

Edward Carter – Unique Entrepreneur

"A Site to Behold" - It's a Book, and a Blog!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter Twenty-four - 1994 - 1996


San Francisco


Interactive TravelVision Network moves to the Internet


(Equivalent to 78 pages in hard-copy)








The Cast


Jimmy Wayne Myhre (James/JWM)
John Kay
Barbara Wilson
Billy Gaylord
Tony Hail
Chuck Posey
Patrick Veitch and David Silvestri
Rick Booth
Armistead Maupin
Derek O’Connor
“Lady Di” Diane Connors
Jan McGill
Liz and Michael Dalling
Stella Theodoulou and Marti Harlow
Steve Ross
Johnny Galliher
Dan Strone
Miss Audré
Sally and Liz Packard
Alan Sievewright
Placido Domingo
Maryedith Burrell
Jack Hall
Rick and Cindy van Vliet
Dade and Wim van Vliet
Ken Orton
John Williams
John Evans
EPC, Jr
Gardner Leonard
MLC (Mother/Mom/Nanny/Margaret L. Carter/Marnie)


Moments in Chapter Twenty-four


Armistead Maupin writes of Ted and James!


RŌM morphs into ITN!


TravelVision wins Best Site Award!


James teaches a college course!


BizTravel.com hires Ted Carter!


MLC “Goes Up”!


End of Chapter Twenty-four



Update from Chapter Twenty-three…


Janes and I are living in Palm Springs, California, sharing a house with old London friend, John Kay. In time, the tiny town begins to cloy, and we need to get back into the fray of life and position ourselves to leverage all the hard work we were doing.

So, on August 22nd, pulling Bella Bella behind us, we drive our U-Haul truck to our new home on Lombard Street in San Francisco and begin a whole new chapter.


Chapter Twenty-four begins…


August 1994 - James and I are both working on the RŌM™ TravelVision Network and James is deep into the screenplay he is writing – the adaptation of Barbara Wilson’s Gaudí Afternoon. Bella Bella, our Maserati Quattroporto, is still with us, looking a little the worse for wear from the unrelenting desert sun in Palm Springs.


1210 Lombard Street is one of the great apartments of San Francisco. When I lived on Union Street in the ‘70s (see Chapter Eight), it was the home/showroom of interior designer, Billy Gaylord. Billy was one of the camp (in every sense of the word) followers of Tony Hail and, therefore, continuously part of the social circle that defined my life.


From Edward Carter’s TRAVELS:


Here’s an article about Billy Gaylord’s two-bedroom, Lombard Street flat…

INTERIOR DESIGN

And, In FOCUS Magazine

And now, it is our home…

We live upstairs with a terrace looking over the Golden Gate; Rick Booth, our landlord and friend lives downstairs; he has a lush tropical garden that sprawls down the hill.

Rick’s garden

Our bedroom

Before we are completely unpacked,
Tony Hail and Chuck Posey come for a “Welcome” supper.

Rick is a bit of a leather queen and entertains magnificently.

It’s fun to watch the leathermen arriving butch and leaving dainty. It’s also great to overhear the wonderful music of the renowned Peter Mintun at the piano.

By the beginning of September, having hung the same pictures and mirrors that have graced so many of my residences around the world, we are settled in; Woof, now part of the Jet Set, had arrived, and we are ready for our first dinner party.


Tony & Chuck, Patrick & David, Rick Booth and a friend, and another couple new to us make up the cast of a dinner that featured in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City…

It’s hard sorting out the cast in the above article that appeared as part of a regular series in the San Francisco Chronicle, but I guess James and I are the Hampton-Giddes. While I can confirm that Billy’s (now ours) dark-onyx bathroom counter was used to make coke lines, we certainly never provided the coke nor used it. Drugs were never our thing.


The article does not include David’s inadvertently dumping the small. blue-glass, salt basins from my grandmother’s silver cellars in the trash, nor the antique, lace, embroidered napkins that met the same fate!

Woof and me working on ROM while my namesake uncle, Garner Leonard, looks on.

Our marketing efforts continue to pay off…

I keep inputting data into our FileMakerPro files. On Oct 25, I meet with the Knight Ritter management team: VP CD-ROM design, VP Business Info Sys, and Corp Dir. Business Dev. There were many such meetings and I needed technical help.


Socially, Lady Di, Liz & Michael Dalling, and Stella and Marti are constantly in our lives as well as Tony Hail’s circle.


The end of November, we take a break in Manhattan. As we walk into the Oak Room of the Algonquin, Steve Ross stops in mid-song and announces The Boys from The Point. There’s something about New York!


We dine with Johnny Galliher, lunch with my agent, Dan Strone – still nothing happening with William Morris, lunch with Miss Audré at The Palace, see the Impressionist Show at The Met, crush the crowds on Fifth Avenue, swill Champagne at Morgan’s, and feast with Sally.


After a week of fun, we’re back in San Francisco. My notes say: December 10 – JWM has finished inputting the Mid-East.


On the 21st, Tony Hail suffers an aneurysm. Having been taking blood-thinning medication for years (as do I), he was on the table for ten hours as the team of doctors tried to stem the flow.


He survived.


The next day, James and I visit Tony in the hospital. He looks good and is feeling OK. The aneurysm came from out of the blue and was very frightening. Chuck calls us later to say thanks.


On top of that, Alan Sievewright calls, his boyfriend of decades, who was recently knighted by Finland, has died. I hadn’t seen Alan since New Year’s Eve at his flat in London in 1973. Placido Domingo and a bevy of beautiful ladies was there. Alan is an opera buff, other than that, I have never known what he does but we are friends.


To cheer us up, we get a small Christmas tree and James decorates it with kumquats, velvet ribbons, lace, crab apples, chains of raisins and cranberries, and golden baubles.


Christmas Eve, we go to see Tony again. He’s much better and we leave him laughing.


Christmas Day, we have a lovely time at home by ourselves… stockings on the bed, bountiful breakfast, and opening presents. We visit Tony again.


Boxing Day, Maryedith visits. We go to “Carpenters’ Xmas” at the theatre, and Maryedith spends the night.


The next day, Dec 27, 1994, JWM visits Tony again.


Tony was never the same again. The once erect, proud star, who strode the streets of the world, was now bowed, insecure, if not down-right scared. We were saddened.



Remembering Anthony Hail


God, the world's a teeny place when you think about the ladies and gents who really know how to live well… naturally. Well, maybe it wasn't totally natural at first but there were a number of hosts and hostesses who would give one a leg up and soon your eye and wit either sharpened or the invitations stopped.


Of course, like everything else today, the group is getting smaller, the experiences rarer, the value more appreciated, and my heart aches at the diminishment of this endangered style of living that probably won't survive the whales… and we know they're doomed.


In my view, the one and only truly elegant environmentalist who is doing everything to propagate the species and at the same time creating tomorrow's blithe memories is Tony Hail. For while I spend my time seeking out those kinds of places that will appeal to all of you who do understand comfort and service and things that taste good and are fun to do, Tony is busy creating them.


While most of the time he makes his magic for the likes of the Gordon Gettys, the Brownlee Curreys, Whitney Warren, Eleanor de Guigné, the Howard Johnsons, and a Crocker or two, the results of which most of us can only gape at in the pages of Architectural Digest, Interior Design or Town and Country, we can enjoy the genius of his eye, the subtlety of his stylishness and the perfection of his taste in a few places, a bit more public, like the White House and the Huntington Hotel here in San Francisco, for example.


While Town and Country may call him the decorator's decorator, to me that smacks of the English definition of decorator which is little more than a wallpaperer/painter.


In contrast, high-born in Tennessee, Tony was brought up in the châteaux country of Denmark. An enclave of Neoclassicism, this region is filled with some of the most stunning Louis XVI houses in Denmark and imprinted on Tony a clarity of perception which he brings to everything he does in life.


He returned to the United States, studied architecture at Harvard and later returned to savor his 20's and refine his purpose in Copenhagen, London, Paris, Capri, and Rome. These were the days of Arturo Lopez, Mona Bismarck, Chips Channon and, of course, the likes of Les Deux Cecils - no tray and outré; days when young alchemists could change a little gold into a coronet or a cherubic blond into a prince. Protégéed by some, captivated by others and infused with joie de vivre almost unknown in America, Tony wisely settled in San Francisco, a community more sensitive to, and perhaps needy for, the kind of sophistication only Tony could provide.


It is even more true today; not only because of his classical training and experiences in and around the courts of Europe and the fact that he simply knows more than anyone else in the world about good furniture and better manners but because his southern lilt and wicked wit positively hypnotize absolutely everyone lucky enough to meet him.


Footloose 1973 (See Chapter Eight), I moved to San Francisco for a few months simply because I met him at a dinner party, and we couldn't stop laughing the whole evening. He had an apartment at 1055 California and every star of fashion, politics, Society, business, whatever, "checked in" with Tony... it was his town and he held court.


When he comes to London, we link up like Siamese twins and I end up seeing more old friends and new faces than I ever see on my own.


And now, ninety percent of his work is in New York. It reminds me of something Noël Coward said to me just before he went up: "Wait for it, they'll come to you." (Of course, he didn't have to say you better be the most talented and attractive and hardest working in whatever your field; he didn't often talk to those who weren't.)


But now, even with work all over the world, Tony's home is still here in San Francisco which pleases me a lot for once having enjoyed it from his point of view, it could never be the same for me again.


Tony's new house at 1055 Green is terrific (natch). One of the few survivors of the earthquake and remodeled by Julia Morgan (the architect responsible for Hearst's San Simeon), 1055 Green has been brilliantly modified to meet Tony's needs. Off the marble foyer, the ground floor is, in fact, a separate apartment for Tony's life and business partner, Charles Posey.


Conventional Wisdom almost dictates that classically-educated, artist geniuses have less of a head for business affairs than those of the heart, and I dare say that without Chuck's caring management (originally IBM trained), the Anthony Hail Studio might never have reached its present preeminent position. Introducing management systems unique in the industry, Chuck has minimized staff requirements (when you hire Tony, you get Tony) and created financial controls in an industry notorious for cash that doesn't flow and deposits that are swallowed up by left-over add-ons from previous jobs.


Chuck's living room doubles as the dining room and beyond are bedrooms and dressing rooms fit for royalty. Upstairs, each beautiful room opens into another even more stunning, and all are filled with antique chandeliers from Russia or Sweden, rare Danish pieces and upholstered walls covered with magnificent mirrors and rare architectural drawings. Glove leather covers Louis XVI chairs, Chinese lacquer tables support myriad bronzes and wonderfully-worn 17th-century carpets warm the polished wood floors.


EGLC with Tony

Tony’s “court”

I thought his apartment at 1055 California was the epitome of classic comfort but this house on Green Street is even better. People think I'm fanatical about details, but Tony goes several steps further.


For example, American manufacturers have reduced the lead content of paint (because consumer groups are convinced that today's undisciplined brats will eat the baseboards) to such an extent that no paint will cover or last for any length of time. Consequently, Tony imported a team of painters from the Netherlands who brought their own paint (I always used Dutch paint on the bottoms of my boats) and had the perimeter of each paneled door painted in gloss, the moldings in semi-gloss, and the inner panel in matt. All of the slots of the brass screw heads are perfectly perpendicular. To my mind, it is the combination of this attention to detail and his flawless classical taste that produces the extraordinary serenity that permeates his every project. I know no other person that even comes close.


Now “gone up,” Tony was a treasure and knowing him was one of my greatest pleasures.




January 1995 – Work continues on RŌM


There is a constant stream of people coming and going for meetings with me at Lombard Street. One is Jack Hall of Hall Design of Silicon Valley who bluntly makes me realize that with the advent of the Internet, interactive CD-ROMs had become dinosaurs.


Jack convinces me that he and his firm could port our data to a server and develop an interactive website. In mid-May, following weeks of planning, he offers me $100,000 in return for a minority shareholding and we morph RŌM into the Interactive TravelVision Network (ITN) - publishers of tourism information for discerning travelers worldwide.

Jack Hall

$20,000 of the $100,000 is to be used to acquire a server, WEB software, a Mac printer, a fax machine, and three laptops.


We agree that ITN set aside the balance of $80,000 to support a Monthly Operating Budget that includes 6 staff salaries and office rent.


We sign the agreement that includes the following…


“It is therefore understood that without any other income, ITN has sufficient cash to support this budget level for four months only.”


And…


“ITN may terminate the Agreement:


“14.1 forthwith in the event of any breach of the Agreement by HALL in which case HALL hereby forfeits any monetary compensation due to him at the time of termination by ITN in accordance with the terms of this Agreement. HALL shall retain 100,000 shares of stock in any event.


“14.2 forthwith in the event that HALL fails to continue to perform its duties for a continuous period in excess of one (1) month.”


And we start to produce TravelVision.com


“ITN's Internet site, TravelVision.com, is the world's only online, interactive, editorially-independent, single-author, graphic database of more than 2000, incognito-inspected, individually-rated hotels, inns, and resorts in 120 countries that can be searched by over 90 personal criteria.


“Elements of TravelVision.com include Edward Carter’s TRAVELS and The Carter Collection.”


Following years of travel and data collection, ITN has some 3000 establishments in its database…


ITN isn’t the only busy part of our lives, on March 28th, MLC buys a fax machine! Here are the first faxes…


From MLC…

My response…

JWM sends one to MLC…

Audré sends a postcard from her world cruise…

And on May 3rd, Sally and daughter, Liz, come for a visit.

May 20th is JWM’s birthday; we visit the Designers’ Showhouse, have a drink at The Top of the Mark, and dine at the South Bank Café.


On June 15th, MLC arrives for her month-long annual visit…

Mother leaves on July 18th and soon after my sister’s eldest, Rick and lovely wife, Cindy, drop by.

Finally, on August 31, 1995, TravelVision.com is launched! It is the first travel site on the Internet!


Simultaneously, we launch our market program…

Included in the package is this letter from James on his private letterhead…

San Francisco, September 1995


When Edward Carter first began what was then known as his “Letters from Abroad” back in the Docklands of London in 1987, he had unwittingly entered what was to become for him a year-long identity crisis.


At first, the notion seemed quite innocent. Having “retired” from international business for the third time, Ted found it quite natural to combine his life-long passion for travel with his instinctual knack for entrepreneurship. The idea of a series of “travel correspondences” certainly seemed like the perfect sideline for Ted’s retirement; something that he could almost do with his eyes shut.


Yet when the first issue of “Letters from Abroad” was released to a tiny audience of friends, family, and associates, Ted was wracked with anxiety. Then and for the next eleven issues, he asked himself, “Why would anyone listen to me?”


Mind you, when Ted first began to rifle through a handful of sketchy notes and dog-eared maps, I doubt he gave a moment’s thought to whom his audience was. Certainly, much of his motivation was egoistic —Ted is rarely characterized by his reserve — but through it emerged “letters” that were, by turns, insightful and idiosyncratic, witty and wicked. “Letters from Abroad” developed a true sense of personality, a perspective that spoke more of impressions than of standards. We as readers could vicariously share Ted’s vision of the world and, though we sometimes disagreed, we always understood from where he was coming.


By the second year, Ted became more comfortable with his “Letters,” constantly refining them to his own aesthetic ideal. He changed its name to “Travels.” (“Letters from Abroad,” he felt, sounded too “twee.” “TRAVELS,” like him, was more direct, solid, to-the-point). But still, even as praise and subscriptions soared, he never really knew how to respond to the question, “Why you?” Rare and utter silence would ensue.


I met Ted fifteen years ago when he bought “Wonundra,” a tired Rockefeller estate in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Soon after, he would embark on the second of his early retirements, this time from a prospering financial business in London, to dedicating himself to rediscovering his roots in the wilds of upstate New York. “Wonundra” was soon renamed “The Point” and as a rational sideline to his retirement, he decided to take in paying guests. After all, Ted would declare, it’s no fun having an empty house. The Point became a huge success and the idea of “retirement” was again something more sought than enjoyed.


I watched Ted over the course of seven years “finessing” The Point, molding it almost invisibly to his mind’s ideal. For example, I would often cajole him about the way he would walk to a tree, mark an errant branch for removal, walk back to the house to check the view from several rooms, and then (after doing this for two or ten times), chop it off. As the years passed, however, no one could ignore how, as if by magic, vistas were opened; how one could feel cradled by the coniferous boughs yet sense an air of expansiveness uncharacteristic to the tangled Adirondacks.


I watched as The Point slowly took on Ted’s personality in minute detail — his brashness and his razor-sharp wit, his understanding of time and place, his love of both theatrics and home-spun simplicity. Maybe The Point wasn’t perfect (many would argue with me) but it was “right.” It had so strong an identity that few guests ever felt they were in an hotel.


Now interactive and online, “Travels” has come-of-age. Ted has grown comfortably into the role of its founder, no longer shying from his reputation as a unique travel connoisseur. Nowadays, however, he tends to glide over the tales of multi-national corporations, book-thick passports, the millions that he has earned and spent, and the famous and infamous who have helped define his sense of style and appreciation of the absurd. “Travels,” indeed, speaks for itself.


But if this is your first introduction to Ted, you still might ask, “Why him?” Is it enough to say that he’s one of the most fascinating, erudite, and insightful men I’ve ever met? Forget his “qualifications” which, believe me, are impeccable. Simply proceed and enjoy — I think you’ll know “why” in no time.


James Myhre


And Christmas comes to Lombard Street…

JWM

1996 – Our life is smoothly rhythmic…

Both of us are working on ITN, and James is exploring teaching a course in screenwriting.


TravelVision is named the Number One Travel/Lodging Site on the Internet by Point Communications who give it their "Best Site Award."


I’m having problems with Jack Hall, he missed a vital opportunity to align us with DoubleClick, the Internet advertising specialists, and, quite frankly, making money on the Internet seems beyond me.


James strikes a deal with SFSU College of Extended Learning and develops a course he named Breaking Form: The Art and Craft of Screen Adaptation. As he said, no one taught him how to cook… or run the number one resort in the United States… or manage film artists… or adapt and write an award-winning screenplay, so why should I be surprised he is now a formal, college teacher?

On the 6th of June, Dade calls to say Wim is very ill, so I fly to Minneapolis to visit him in hospital. I was there for only one day; he died on the 17th.


June 24, Dade writes…

She enclosed…

7 JULY 9 PM


DEAR TED,


JUST A QUICK NOTE TO LET YOU KNOW HOW MUCH YOUR VISIT MEANT TO MY SIBLINGS AND ME. I THINK YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT MEANT TO MOM.


YOUR BEING HERE REALLY PUT A LOT OF THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE FOR ME AND THE REST OF “THE KIDS” __


THE VISITATION AND MEMORIAL SERVICE REALLY TURNED OUT PRETTY NEAT. ANNETTE SOLICITED PHOTOS FROM ALL OF US AND MOUNTED THEM ON TWO LARGE BOARDS. DAD’S FIRM HAD TAKEN PORTRAITS IN MID-MAY, AND DAD’S 17X24 (?) WAS ON REVIEW FROM 3-4 PM, WITH THE KID’S MEMORY BOARDS. LOTS OF PEOPLE SENT FLOWERS DESPITE OUR LEUKEMIA SOCIETY WISHES, AND I’M GLAD I GUESS THAT THERE WERE SOME BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS THERE.


IT HAS BEEN A TOUGH MONTH… AND I’M SURE THAT THERE WILL BE “THOSE TIMES” THAT COME UP OVER THE YEARS. WE ALL HAVE OUR MEMORIES.


ANYWAY, THANKS AGAIN – TALK TO YOU SOON.


LOVE,
RICK & CINDY

BEST TO JAMES AND WOOF.


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 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.


I write Johnny Galliher of the optimistic plans. His response…

Other irons…


Preview Media: Ken Orton has said they are devoting all their assets at the moment to the refinement of their transactional systems and will not be in a mindset to discuss content until January. However, as they are owned 10% by AOL, I am going to suggest to them as well, the concept of co-developing our site as a subset on their AOL site. We need the exposure and perhaps can land a fee.


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 fax Mother and fly to Manhattan to meet John Williams.


Mother’s return fax…

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 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…

Woof is thrilled, and I get out the jigsaws.

Mom took this. We were celebrating…

Aug 2 – The contract from Biztravel.com arrives by FedEx. I sign it, hand it to the courier, and call Mayflower Movers to estimate our move to Manhattan.


Aug 3 – James flies to Manhattan to house-hunt. I drive Mother over the Golden Gate to San Rafael and back. I make lunch for Mom. She says she’d never been happier in her life and spends the rest of the day relaxing and reading. We dine at home and MLC is in bed by 9:30.

Aug 4 – I jolt awake at 6:30; I don’t know why. Mother’s door is open, and MLC lies dead at the foot of her bed.


An MLC favorite… You Never Can Tell – You never can tell, from where you sit, where the man in the balcony is going to spit… nor who it’s going to hit.


MLC is off on her big adventure…




In remembrance…

Margaret Leonard Carter, October 4, 1907 – August 4, 1996

Ivy Hill Road, Mt. Kisco, Westchester County, New York, circa 1945.

Left to right: EGLC, EPC, Jr., MLC, brother Chris, Sister Grace (Dade)

EPC, Jr. (My father): “My favorite picture of the lady.”

At the White Grass Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

MLC first visited the ranch in the late twenties with her brother, Gardner Leonard - my two middle names.

JWM & MLC at The Point, 1982

View from MLC’s home at The Ambassador Club, Naples, Florida

Travels with Ted: MLC outside General Sherman’s Headquarters, Savannah, Georgia. General Sherman is EGLC's great, great, great uncle.

At Annette’s wedding, 1994

“Little Marnie sunshine.”

We often don’t realize who are our best friends… love to you, Maryedith.


Yes, MLC is off on her big adventure… a new chapter is about to begin.