Monthly Archives: November 2014

Montreal, Charleston, Fort Worth, and Philadelphia: A Week’s Worth of Familiar Places

Growth on the edge of the University of Pennsylvania campus, Philadelphia

Growth on the edge of the University of Pennsylvania campus, Philadelphia

On Sunday, November 9 I flew up to New York, then on to Montreal for the fall teaching gig at McGill University. It was a clear day, good for looking out the window (see below).  Unlike previous autumns, because of budget the visit would be a single lecture the next day in the law school’s Institute of Air and Space Law. Sort of a long run for a short slide, but it was my eighth consecutive talk in the Airline Law and Business course, and I hew to tradition. We landed at sunset – much shorter days 500 miles north – and I bought a 3-day STM public-transit pass and hopped onto the 747 express bus into a place well familiar (first trip was at age 15, nearly 50 years ago).

Wetlands, Chesapeake Bay

Wetlands, Chesapeake Bay

Howard Beach, near Kennedy Airport; as in a previous post, I wonder about the wisdom of building -- and rebuilding -- so close to the rising ocean.

Howard Beach, near Kennedy Airport; as in a previous post, I wonder about the wisdom of building — and rebuilding — so close to the rising ocean.

Lachine Rapids, St. Lawrence River, near Montreal

Lachine Rapids, St. Lawrence River, near Montreal

Montreal skyline at sunset

Montreal skyline at sunset

Ambled up Rue Sherbrooke to my new digs. The fave Holiday Inn was becoming student housing, so the university booked me into a room in an adjacent student building. It was billed as an executive suite, woo hoo. It took the student desk clerk about 20 minutes to determine that in fact I was booked in the system, and another six or seven for her to take the elevator to the 25th floor “to make sure the room was clean.” Hmmmm, I thought, universities maybe shouldn’t try to be in the hotel business. Got the key, rode up, and it was both deluxe and huge. But no wi-fi.
Washed my face, changed clothes, and headed east on Sherbooke to the Latin Quarter and a by-now-favorite brewpub, L’Amère à Boire. Connected easily to their free wi-fi and had a pint of homemade pale ale, then a plate of fish, fries, and salad. Yum.

Young tipplers at the brewpub

Young tipplers at the brewpub

Up early Monday morning, out the door, breakfast, by long tradition, at the Tim Horton’s on Sherbrooke, then up the street to the law school. Worked a bit, and at ten met young Professor David Chen and another guest speaker, Lorne Mackenzie, director of regulatory affairs at the hugely successful new Canadian airline WestJet. Lorne took the first half of the class, talking about the secrets to their success (zero domestic market share to 35% in 18 years). I thought I knew them pretty well, but I learned a lot. I then delivered my airline alliances talk, good questions, applause, out the door.

Architectural detail, McGill University; long before the Twitter bird, the school's crest featured a little one!

Architectural detail, McGill University; long before the Twitter bird, the school’s crest featured a little one!

Headed back to the “hotel,” dropped stuff, grabbed a quick bowl of soup, worked a bit, and at four met a longtime McGill marketing colleague, Bob Mackalski, for an hour yak. Back to the room, wash face, and out the door, east on the Route 24 bus, then north on foot to the dinner venue, Bieres et Compagnie. Granddaughter Dylan is in a novel first-grade program, mornings in French and afternoons in English, so it made sense to visit Renaud Bray, a wonderful independent bookstore on Rue St. Denis that had long admired, and buy some children’s books en Française. The clerk steered me to the right area, and in no time I had translations of two familiar English-language kids’ authors, plus a cute and very Canadian book about a bear that loves trees. Mission accomplished. Tucked into a nice casserole of potatoes, sausage, and onions, with beer. Ambled a block north and east to the Metro and zipped home.

Royals

Is the typewriter making a comeback? Well, they’re making manual Royals again, and selling them at this hipster all-paper-no-digital store on Rue du Parc

Granddaughter Dylan is now studying French, so one of my assignments was to photograph signs in French -- figure this one out!

Granddaughter Dylan is now studying French, so one of my assignments was to photograph signs in French — figure this one out!

Tuesday morning, breakfast at (where else?) Tim Horton’s, then back on the bus to the airport, then south to Philadelphia. I had a few hours, so did some work, ate lunch, and on the way to the gate for a flight to Charleston, South Carolina I admired a new artistic media: knitted wraps, in this case around pillars on the concourse in Terminal F. Philadelphia artist Jessie Hemmons invented Ishnits, which mainly wrap outdoor objects like telephone poles, street signs, and parking meters. She calls it “yarn bombing,” and among its several beauties is that it’s non-destructive, “an expression of comfort and humanity.” Linda is a knitter, so I immediately texted her with pictures. Way cool!

Old and new in downtown Montreal

Old and new in downtown Montreal

Jessie Hemmon's yarnbombing in Terminal F

Jessie Hemmons’ yarnbombing in Terminal F, Philadelphia International Airport

Landed Charleston 3:40, taxi to the Marriott, 20 miles on an exercise bike, shower, and out on foot across the old city to dinner. The Eno Center for Transportation, the nonpartisan Washington think-tank where I’ve done some work, invited me to give the lunchtime keynote speech the next day, and that night invited me to a dinner and reception on King Street, in the splendid old downtown. Had a nice meal and met some new folks. Next day listened to some interesting talks, then it was my turn. I felt deeply honored to be introduced by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. I had met Norm a few times in the capital and like him very much, still vibrant and active at 83. Speech went well. Another couple of sessions, then back to the airport and a short flight north to Washington. Wish I had more time in Charleston, a really interesting city.  No pictures to show here!

Two days later, Linda and I drove to Dulles Airport and flew to Dallas/Fort Worth. The American Airlines Credit Union was honoring retiring board members at a dinner, and though it was a long way to go for a dinner, I wanted to be there, to see colleagues with whom I served for a dozen years. We were glad we met, especially for nice conversations with tablemates Sally and Peter Warlick. Sally worked on the food & beverage team 1998-2000, and earlier in my career I collaborated with Peter on some projects. He’s now Vice President for Fleet, a huge job at the new American. Genuinely great people. Woke up, flew home (Linda headed west to Lubbock to see Jack).

Two days after that, north on Amtrak to Philadelphia and the annual lectures in Prof. Americus Reed’s MBA marketing class at the Wharton School (where I studied management 30 years earlier). Arrived noon in pelting rain, hopped on a trolley to the University of Pennsylvania, and soon was ambling briskly down Locust Walk and smiling about being back in a place that changed my life, for the way, way better. Had a nice lunch with Pat Rose, one of the organizers of the postdoc program I attended back in the day. We’ve stayed connected, and glad for it.

War memorial, 30th Street Station, Philadelphia

War memorial, 30th Street Station, Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin, founder, in 1740, of the University of Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin, founder, in 1740, of the University of Pennsylvania

I worked for several hours in the Wharton classroom where most of our courses were held 31 years ago, and it was cool to be in that space. At 6:30, I met Americus and we processed to dinner at a nearby restaurant, The White Dog. Wonderful meal, great conversation. Hopped a bus back to his neighborhood; by tradition – and budget – I stay at his house, which is a great treat.

Our 1983 classroom in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall

Our 1983 classroom in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall

Up early the next morning, into the kitchen, where I met Tia Maya, the Ecuadoran aunt of Americus’ wife Veronica. Maya speaks no English, so it’s sort of a forced – but totally enjoyable – Spanish lesson.  As I do each year, I also admired all the cool stuff in the Reed house — it’s really something like an eclectic museum:

Museum

At 8:30, Americus and I headed by bus back to campus, I delivered a morning lecture, enjoyed a big Asian lunch, repeated the talk, hugged him, walked back to the train station, and headed home. It’s always a joy to visit Penn, which Benjamin Franklin founded in 1740; indeed, on the way to the station I admired several of his famous sayings, inlaid on the 37th Street walkway on campus:

And you thought "no pain, no gain" was invented 25 years ago by some fitness fanatic; nope, it was Mr. Franklin, 250 years back!

And you thought “no pain, no gain” was invented 25 years ago by some fitness fanatic; nope, it was Mr. Franklin, 250 years back!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Miami, Lubbock, Dallas

Statue of American humorist and cowboy Will Rogers (1879-1935) on the Texas Tech campus; he never studied there, but his sunny personality perfectly fits the campus ethos.

Statue of American humorist and cowboy Will Rogers (1879-1935) on the Texas Tech campus; he never studied there, but his sunny personality perfectly fits the campus ethos.

Flew to Miami on Thursday, October 22. From seven miles up, this geographer got a good look at coastal Florida’s vulnerability to hurricanes and rising sea levels. In their zeal to get people close to the ocean, they’ve built billions of dollars worth of property that is way, way too close to the ocean. The day of reckoning will come, initially from insurance companies, who steadily withdraw from these high-risk areas.

The view of vulnerability: central Atlantic coast of Florida

The view of vulnerability: central Atlantic coast of Florida

Landed at 11:30, met consulting client Jay from SmartKargo, and hopped in a taxi to Miami Beach and the super-posh Fontainebleau Hotel. One of Miami’s original mega-hotels, built 1954, it’s been expanded even more, and was the venue for an air cargo conference, CargoFacts 2014. To make sense of sky-high room rates, we shared a room, which worked well. Unpacked, worked a bit, and walked a few blocks west on 41st St. to an authentic place, Latin Café. We sat at the counter and tucked into a big lunch, arroz con pollo. The place was full of working people, a few businesswomen, most speaking Spanish. A nice slice.

The view from the hotel at dusk on a cloudy night

The view from the hotel at dusk on a cloudy night

The view from our hotel room

The view from our hotel room

I did not venture outdoors again for 48 hours, occupied to the max with the conference: making contacts, doing a bit of selling (take a look at http://www.SmartKargo.com), learning about the business (30 years on the passenger side, 3 months in cargo, a lot to learn), eating and drinking well. It was a splendid introduction.

The old Miami Beach, Collins Avenue; the new one is in the distance, a huge addition to the Fontainebleau Hotel

The old Miami Beach, Collins Avenue; the new one is in the distance, a huge addition to the Fontainebleau Hotel

After lunch on Friday, I eschewed the $55 taxi, walking a couple blocks south to bus stop for an express back to the airport. While waiting, got in a nice chat with a bus driver waiting to start driving. The young African-American woman sized me up, I’m sure thinking “what is this guy doing waiting for a city bus?” I ventured that spinning taxi meters have made me nervous ever since I was a little boy, watching my mom sometimes stress about the rising fare. “I hear you,” she said. Flew home. A good trip, lots of learning.

On the morning of Halloween, I flew to Dallas-Fort Worth then on to Lubbock. I was sorry not to see Dylan and Carson in their costumes, but pumped to visit Jack for the weekend. Flight out to West Texas was late, landed after five and headed to Jack’s house for an hour or so, then out to dinner with his friend Samantha Kelly, a second-year law student at Texas Tech. We had a great meal and some laughs at the Crafthouse, a gastropub near his house, then a dollop or two of frozen yogurt. A nice evening.

The view on approach to Lubbock airport: Irrigated cotton ready for harvest

The view on approach to Lubbock airport: Irrigated cotton ready for harvest

Saturday morning dawned cool and clear. We grabbed big coffees at his favorite J&B, then pointed the Subaru onto U.S. Highway 84 for a little road trip. Jack had waxed enthusiastic about interesting small towns northwest of the city, and we got our fill, pausing in Anton, Littlefield, Sudan, Muleshoe. Some of the places are shrinking, some are stable, but all of them are ghost towns when it comes to retail activity. Commerce began to hollow out with the first shopping malls and cheap gas in the 1960s and 70s, and accelerated with Wal-Mart and big box stores in Lubbock. Lots of these towns now have large Hispanic populations. I felt like a geographer again, out for some field research.

The drive-in theater has disappeared nearly everywhere, but the Stars and Stripes, northwest of Lubbock, is booming, with the latest releases; $8 gets a carload into the picture show.

The drive-in theater has disappeared nearly everywhere, but the Stars and Stripes, northwest of Lubbock, is booming, with the latest releases; $8 gets a carload into the picture show.

Three glimpses of a valuable West Texas crop; next year's knit shirt might be in the pictures!

Three glimpses of a valuable West Texas crop; next year’s knit shirt might be in the pictures!

Anton

Water tower, Littlefield, Texas (the late Mr. Jennings was a popular country music star in the 1970s)

Water tower, Littlefield, Texas (the late Mr. Jennings was a popular country music star in the 1970s)

The marquee of the former Wallace theater, Muleshoe, Texas.  It was a scene that reminded me of Larry McMurtry's novel, The Last Picture show.

The marquee of the former Wallace theater, Muleshoe, Texas. It was a scene that reminded me of Larry McMurtry’s novel, The Last Picture show.

Main Street, Muleshoe, Texas

Main Street, Muleshoe, Texas

Elevator, Muleshoe, Texas

Elevator, Muleshoe, Texas

Saddle Up!  Mobile advertisement in Littlefield, Texas

Saddle Up! Mobile advertisement in Littlefield, Texas

Zoomed back to Lubbock, yakking across a range of topics, and into a big lunch at Pei Wei. Jack peeled off for the gym (he works out daily) and I headed out on his sturdy bike for 22 miles, mainly around the huge Tech campus – second-largest contiguous campus in the U.S. The place was buzzing, folks arriving and partying in anticipation of a football game that evening. Showered, watched a little TV, and at 5:30 hopped on Jack’s motorcycle, the best way to get to the game, because we could park two blocks from the stadium.

BizBike

Fans

The view from row 37, Texas Tech stadium

The view from row 37, Texas Tech stadium

It was great fun to attend the second college game in four weeks. The bands, the cheers, the hoopla, really cool. Unhappily the University of Texas Longhorns beat the Red Raiders, but we still had a big time. Stopped at a Whataburger – a Texas chain that we like a lot – for a small burger and malt, headed home, and clocked out. A big day.

Up early Sunday, out the door for another good ride, again mostly around the Tech campus. The cleanup crews were removing all that the tailgaters and fans left behind. Stopped at a Starbucks across from school for a large coffee, and fell into a nice T-t-S with a fellow cleaning up the streets. Classic West Texas friendliness, quick to engage. He asked about biking, told me about his health issues, his new wife, and more. When we parted, he said “Have a good day, sir, and may the Lord look after you.” “God bless you,” I replied, and zipped east on Glenna Goodacre Blvd.

Back home, we cleaned up and headed a few blocks to breakfast. Jack’s recommended spot was packed, and I spotted Aranda’s Taqueria right across the street. The place was hopping, but not full, a largely Latino crowd tucking into migas and huevos rancheros. We had a great meal, lots of chatter. Headed home by way of a memorial to one of the greats of Texas barbeque and music (twin distinctions), Christopher Stubblefield (1934-95), known as Stubbs. Only Texans would build a monument like that, in that instance the Lubbock Arts Alliance. It was awesome. Tuned in the Dallas Cowboys, then out to a late-afternoon movie and dinner. Another big day, and my cold was bothering me, so I hit bed at nine.

Original sign at the Stubblefield memorial

Original sign at the Stubblefield memorial

Bronze of Christopher Stubblefield, better known as Stubbs.  One of his famous sayings: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm just a cook."

Bronze of Christopher Stubblefield, better known as Stubbs. One of his famous sayings: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m just a cook.”

Up at six, Jack departed, and I suited up for my first lecture at Texas Tech since 1991. Samantha, bless her heart, drove me to school, and I set up in a student lounge in the College of Media and Communication, bringing this journal up to date and working a bit. At ten, it was time to stand and deliver, with laryngitis, to 35 students in Professor Lee’s PR class in the College of Media and Communication. Cough drops and water helped a lot!

After class, I had a great T-t-S with the dean’s assistant, Kimberly. She was super-helpful when I arrived earlier in the morning, and the chat started when I commented on the photos of horses. Turns out she teaches and does a bit of equine therapy, a fascinating technique for helping people with a range of emotional and behavioral issues. She told me a wonderful story of working with a little girl who had been sexually abused. Conventional counseling and all that other stuff did not work, but Shiloh the horse knew what to do. It was a turning point, and the girl, now a teenager, has recovered well. As I have written in these pages, I continue to be fascinated by our relationship with domestic animals, and this was another wonderful example. God bless the animals.

An empty Tech stadium, viewed from the posh Texas Tech Club, our Monday lunch venue

An empty Tech stadium, viewed from the posh Texas Tech Club, our Monday lunch venue

At 11:30, I met the dean, David Perlmutter, a bright and affable fellow and second-generation professor (his father taught at Wharton for half a century). We motored across campus to the Texas Tech Club, high up in the stadium, for a nice lunch and good yak. Out to the airport and onto a flight to DFW, rented a car, and by 4:30 was on another campus, Southern Methodist University, for my twice-yearly talk on service quality in a graduate marketing program. I’ve been teaching in the program for almost 20 years, so the academic and admin cast is familiar. Ate dinner with students, then team-taught for three hours.

By ten I was at friends Ken and Peggy Gilbert’s house in north Dallas, catching up on their recent trips to South Africa and Big Spring, Texas. Stayed up (for me) late. Ken and I were out the door at seven on Tuesday morning, down Forest Lane to Cindi’s for breakfast. Ken peeled off for a meeting, and I headed back to our old neighborhood for a haircut at Rick’s. Was good to be back. Shorn, I hopped back in the red Fiesta and motored to the airport via downtown, marveling at all the new Dallas construction. Flew home.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized