And Now for Something Really Disturbing

Do you ever do something and then doubt your sanity? For years I’ve been collecting family images. I find them at the Virginia Historical Society, Library of Congress, old books, a shoebox from my grandmother, and ask for photos of portraits hanging in a relative’s foyer. So far, so good. This might be obsessive, but certainly productive. Everything was working perfectly. I’d find an image of Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill, attach it to a short bio, and voila, another leaf on the tree was articulated. In some instances, I could only find someone in a group photo such as the crew team at Harvard in 1914. But that was fine, as long as I could point out the right person.

Then something changed. Working on this one night after a rather grueling day and a couple of ginescas (Tanqueray and Fresca), I slipped into a disturbing place. I fixed the levels and color of the image, and then replaced my relative with a picture of myself. Okay, scary, I know. Then it seemed to become a bizarre art project. It’s not as easy as it seems. Modern lighting and cameras are very different than an image taken in 1880. Now it hasn’t gotten so bad that I’ve started recreating the lighting and shooting new images to drop in (although I did consider it). I can justify this in a couple of ways: first, I’m learning Photoshop techniques; second, it’s a “Cindy Sherman in history” art project. But I’m pretty sure this points to a tragic desire to retreat into the past.

Mmmm, Frozen Beverage

When a client or guest visits us at AdamsMorioka, we are diligent about offering liquids. We have a nice assortment of soda, coffee, and tea. I’m surprised that most everyone goes for the Fresca when they are offered. What I really want, however, is a Slurpee machine. I think it would be great fun to ask someone if they would like some coffee, or perhaps a cherry Slurpee. I would like to see a group of refined people in suits, or their chic Hollywood outfits drinking Slurpees with the spoon/straw and plastic dome on top. I know everyone would love to come by the office just to have his or her favorite frozen beverage.

When I was at Archie Clayton Middle School in Reno, we would leave school and walk down the hill in the hot desert heat, and get a Slurpee and box of Hot Tamales at 7-11. The best part of middle school was sitting on the curb in front of the 7-11 at Keystone and Seventh and drinking Slurpees.

Unfortunately, Slurpee machines are very expensive. Also, the rest of the office vetoed my idea based on the possibility of sticky residue everywhere and no room in the kitchen. I still think clients would love it. If I can’t get the Slurpee machine, maybe I can get a soft serve ice cream machine with the chocolate dip station.

Is Fresca and rum trashy?

Esquire Handbook for Hosts chapter divider

My grandmother had many rules about proper behavior, and what made people “good people” or “trash.” Here are a few:

1. Hang your blinds straight, only trash have crooked blinds.

2. A gentleman always removes his hat indoors, or in the presence of a lady, trash insists on rudely wearing their baseball caps inside.

3. A gentleman always wears a belt, or braces (suspenders).

4. A gentleman knows how to mix a good martini.

5. Young ladies do not pierce their ears. Bad girls do.

I try to abide by these rules and many of her others, although the ear-piercing rule is probably out of date. Unfortunately, I think I might fall out of line when it comes to Fresca.

Each year, we take a trip to Kona Village in Hawaii. Typically, we’ll make a run to Safeway to buy rum and mixers. The idea is to mix my own simple Mai Tai cocktails and save some money as opposed to buying them at the bar. At the beginning of the trip, I’ll stick to the plan, mixing pineapple and orange juice, and adding some lime. After a couple of days, this is typically too much trouble, and I switch to simply mixing the rum with Fresca. I know it sounds seriously trailer trash, but trust me, the “rumescas” are very good. You can also mix Fresca with gin (Tanqueray of Bombay, not the cheap brands that make you hungover). I call this the Ginesca. And for those who prefer vodka, it’s a perfect refreshing mixer. I'm calling this a Ruskie-esca.

I’d add recipes here, but there’s no need. Simply fill the highball glass ½ way with the liquor over ice then add the Fresca. Some may say this is too strong, but no, no, no, they’ll get used to it.

Esquire's Handbook for Hosts: substitute any mixer with Fresca

Funny tricks from the Esquire Handbook for Hosts

It's for kids, too.

Fresca can, 1971

Not the Betty Ford Center

Parker Hotel, Palm Springs, entrance

During my term as AIGA president, I discovered that I had three favorite tasks: calling people to tell them they had been awarded the Medal, meeting chapter leaders across the entire country, and picking the spot for the annual board retreat. Now before anyone gets in a huff about AIGA board members living high on the hog, this retreat is on everyone’s personal dime. It gives the board a chance to sit down and do some hard work together. As a California grown president I felt it was important to have our retreat in Palm Springs, just like Presidents Ford, Nixon, and Reagan. I chose the Parker Hotel. Formerly Gene Autry's Melody Ranch and Merv Griffin's Givenchy Resort and Spa, the Parker Palm Springs is a smallish hotel designed by Jonathan Adler.

I’d seen the Bravo reality show, Welcome to the Parker, and I thought it would be too chic-alors, and hip. I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, there were the standard Hollywood types who were very hip and groovy, but the Parker staff was down to earth and friendly. Nobody frowned at my madras shirts. In the end, I felt bad that I chose a beautiful sunny spot, and then forced the board to sit in a dark meeting room all day. But we finished each day with some quick time at the pool, and making s’mores and marshmallows by the fire pit in the evening. Being very trailer trash, and needing to save money, I smuggled in a bag of liquor from the local supermarket. Hey, the drinks at the bar were expensive. It was only slightly embarrassing to be mixing my favorite cocktail, Rum or Bombay Gin with Fresca while we toasted the marshmallows. The always elegant Debbie Millman now has the heavy responsibility (I mean this, it’s true) of the AIGA presidency. Debbie has good taste and is a well-raised person and I’m sure she will move the board away from Albertson Grocery runs for Fresca.

Parker Hotel, Palm Springs, guest room

Parker Hotel, Palm Springs, the fire pit where the s'mores happened

Parker Hotel, Palm Springs, cafe

Parker Hotel, Palm Springs, pool. I need the pagoda umbrellas.

Parker Hotel, Palm Springs, lobby

Parker Hotel, Palm Springs, front desk. I love big keys.