Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Monastery of the egg.

There is an abandoned monastery near where we live, past the town of Pelei: it is commonly referred to as the monastery of the egg; it is in reality Agios Demetrious.

The story goes that a monk told a woman if she had faith, she could throw her child off the cliff and the child would be unharmed. He threw an egg off the cliff to demonstrate his faith; naturally the egg did not break. When the woman, in complete faith threw her baby off the cliff, it did not survive.

That is the story, do not try it, the monastery is about 300 feet high, overlooking a gorge with a river that leads to the sea.

This by any means makes this monastery pretty scary and mysterious.

We go there often, it is very beautiful and remote, it is left open and has a small chapel, with wonderful paintings. They are intact and never disturbed, there are always candles there and quite often they are lit.
We have never seen anybody there; it is part of the mystery of the monastery, who lights them?

Up on the roof of the monastery there is another small chapel, with amazing views, even of the sea.

We arrived there one day and to our surprise there was a contingent of two Priests, and the Bishop from Spetses as well as two young Monks. One of the Priests was our local Priest, he was as surprised to see us there as we were to see him.

I thought we were there fortunately during some religious holiday.

We asked and were told by one of the Monks that it was reported that there were some satanic symbols painted on the walls, inside and outside.

This was getting interesting, satanic symbols, this was going to be really great, would there be an exorcism?

We watched and were hoping to see some ritual to neutralize the symbols.

We looked at the symbols and they did not seem too satanic, as a matter of fact they looked rather familiar.

The young Monks were looking very concerned and running around with the incense burner (thimiato), it must have been their first satanic experience.

One of the older Priests started to laugh, rolling his eyes and said they were markings from a local electrician, for the new light fixtures that the local people had ordered for the Monastery. The red circles with the x were merely to mark were the switches and the lights would go. We then recognized the symbols, we had them on our house when we were building it.

We almost had a great story to tell; we might have seen some mysterious church service to de-satanize the monastery. We would have had our own Illuminati, our own movie.

The young Monks looked shattered, foiled, no de-satanic service.

They all piled into a van and pulled away with a screech. I assume they were going to lecture the person that sent them there on a wild satanic chase, or maybe just for coffee.

I can’t wait to go again, who knows what awaits us, maybe we find out who lights the candles, or maybe meet the satanic electrician.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gotta get a carpet!

The first time we went to Turkey was in 1964, by the time we got to Istanbul (Constantinople), we were almost broke. We had spent five weeks in Greece and this was the end of our trip.

We could not resist going to the market and attempting to buy a rug. I knew the principle of negotiating, but not the finer points. We found a fabulous, small prayer rug and decided to do the middle-eastern thing; after all, my roots are Asia Minor. I asked how much, the guy sized us up, offered us tea, and said 250 US dollars. It was early and we were his first customers, I knew that was to our advantage, he had to make the first sale or his day would be a disaster.

I am an impatient guy and immediately went to my final price, $50. He went through the act of clutching his heart and claiming it was an insult to everything under the sun, as well as his mother. He came down to $220, I said $50, he said $200, I said $50, he said $150, and I said $50 again.

We had some tea and he explained that when he comes down I should go up. He was just trying to explain the game; he also had to make the first sale. Little did he know I had given my top price first. We get to $85, and I say $50 again. He is now troubled, he turns to Jeannine and explains the rules to her, “I go down in the price and your husband goes up.” The tea is flowing like crazy, we even get sweets, and one hour has gone by.
He finally understands, this idiot, me, does not understand, he grabs my hand to close the deal and says $51, “come up just one dollar, please.”
Fortunately, Jeannine had the extra buck and we got the little carpet. He was very relieved to see me go, I hope the rest of his day was good, he made his first sale of the day, and we had our $51 carpet.

I realized that you must go even lower so you can come up a bit, so the procedure follows the unwritten rules.

This bargaining process is so ingrained in most people, from that part of the world, that it is done automatically. I was in Macys with my mother when I was a kid, she was buying some fabric…in those days they had a huge fabric department…. she kept adding a foot to every yard the guy rolled out, he would roll it back six inches, she would add a foot. I got embarrassed and told Momma to stop. The salesman, a Jewish man, looked at me and said,“ Listen college boy, this is the way your mother and I do things, we bargain, not on the price but on the length of the material, go look at some shirts, and leave us alone putz.”

Bargaining is in the blood; it wasn’t quite in mine the first time. I am getting better, though not quite as good as Mamma was, she would have gotten the carpet for $20, guaranteed

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pierced, or sliced, Sir?

Cigars seemed have been part of my life forever. My Dad smoked cigars all the time; he even went swimming with a lit cigar in his mouth, doing a strange sidestroke to keep it lit.

At twelve years old, I started sneaking cigars and going to the beach at night with a couple of friends to smoke them. We would climb up on the empty lifeguard chairs, smoke cigars and look at the sea. I still occasionally do that, from my terrace. Part of the early cigar smoking experience was throwing up. I persisted and eventually got past that stage.

As I progressed, the cigars Pop smoked, and I stole,(White Owls) were replaced with Cuban cigars. The first one I smoked was in England. Our perks at that time were a box of cigars each, for the directors.

Ah, London in the Sixties.

I was a cigar smoker almost exclusively. When I was In Spain later, I smoked about 4 Montechristos a day. I loved them and the romance and ritual of cigars. I liked the myth that they were rolled on the inner thighs of mulatto virgins, all that stuff about the bands. It made smoking more enjoyable.

I do not want to hear anything about health during this blog.

In the sixties in London I worked with some printers. Other than the occasional pub time with them, we were invited to a special Christmas lunch with them and the owner of the firm, he was a Lord or something.

They took us to Claridges, an amazing old hotel in Mayfair. We had a fabulous lunch, with some great wine, and with the brandy came the cigars. They were presented on a rolling trolley, dozens of boxes of Cuban cigars, thousands of pounds worth. I was offered a cigar first; I picked a cigar that looked like a California Redwood. As the cigars went around the table, I bit the tip of mine off. The supercilious waiter came around to me with this amazing machine, and with this patronizing accent asked me
“Sliced or pierced sir?”
I looked up and said, “I bit it.” The owner of the printing firm asked me, “Would you like another?” God that pissed me off, he was a Lord and he was worse than the waiter, his work from McCann would be cut.

I later learned that good cigars have a cap at the end and it is perfectly acceptable to snip it off with your nail, or EVEN BITE IT OFF. So the kid from Coney Island wasn’t such a schmuck.

I thought a good idea for a cigar cutter would be a set of false teeth made out of silver, to trim your cigars.

I wish I had the courage to tell that snotty waiter when he asked me “sliced or pierced sir,” to say, “just bite it buddy!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Alfredo, who is that woman coming in?

Our favorite restaurant in London during the sixties was San Frediano on Fulham Road. A great Italian trattoria, there were many in London at the time, very cool, very in. Saturday lunch was a ritual. With the kids and friends it made you feel like you were in Italy. There was an atmosphere that was very Mediterranean, not very English, even though it was filled with English people. They liked kids and even catered to them. Our son loved it so much that 15 years later he would take his girlfriend there and put it on my account.

I would often have dinner there with my wife during the week. Once, I got there early and was at the bar waiting for her. I was chatting with the owner, it was not quite dark yet and I saw this incredible woman outside, silhouetted, about to come in. I asked Alfredo, to find out who that woman was. She looked fabulous! I got a very strange look from Alfredo, he turned to me and said “Ma Greg, it iza yooour wi-ife.”

She had gotten her hair done in a different way, and was wearing a terrific outfit, and I, like an idiot did not recognize her.

Alfredo glared at me, and as he led us to our table all eyes were on my wife. She looked stunning. Then in a very casual voice he told my wife what had happened. So much for men sticking together. I said it was my glasses being dirty, the sun was in my eyes, I had too much to drink, I just blabbered away.

Fortunately, my wife acted like it was a compliment. Maybe now she will tell me what she really thought.

Thanks Alfredo.

The leaping Italians

I was transferred to the Italian office in the mid 70’s as general manager.

In Milan, the first week on the job, there was an executive committee meeting. We are all sitting in the conference room and these guys are dressed magnificently. Armani dresses Milan’s police so you could imagine us at McCann.

We are in deep discussion about something the NY operation wanted, more profit probably. All departments are represented as well as the Rome office, all in all, about ten guys. Millions of lire worth of clothes on everybody. We are talking about a very cosmopolitan group of people.

The president of the office is very serious.
Suddenly the president's secretary interrupts the meeting and tells us the head of Nestle, one of our biggest clients, is on the phone and insists on talking to our president. All hell breaks loose, everybody in the room is leaping about, grabbing their nuts with their left hand and making the sign of the cornuto with their right.
I cannot believe this, two seconds ago this was a sophisticated group of men discussing profits and staff - serious stuff. Now they are leaping about and urging me to get up and join in. I feel obligated to do it, so I do. I leap about with the rest of them, not quite as enthusiastic as they are but grabbing my nuts just as hard.

They tell me this will prevent us having a catastrophic phone call, so we will not lose the account. If it works I’m for it. So, the call turns out to be just a minor matter and everybody adjusts their clothes and congratulates each other for the excellent execution of the protective dance.

That was my first introduction to our Italian operation. The other one shows their seemingly cavalier attitude to life, with great style.

A couple of months later I was in the office one day at eight in the morning, as usual. Office opens at nine, notice I did not say everybody comes in at that time. The creatives are probably the worst offenders.

One of our creative guys comes in to my office and wants me to go to the conference room to see some ads. I am amazed, it’s 8a.m. Did they work all night? I cannot imagine them in that early. I walk in and the entire creative department is there, singing Happy Birthday in Italian to me.

They poured champagne and we really had a good time. I returned to my office after about an hour or so. I was feeling pretty good. Once a year I will get the creative department in, not only on time but also early.

Two hours later I asked to see one of the creative teams and called their secretary. I was told the department all went home and would probably be back after lunch - well, so much for them coming in early.

They did, but they didn’t.

I am a stickler for promptness, wrong country. I was learning fast.

Italy will always be leaping Italians in great suits, grabbing their balls and doing the sign of the cornuto, as well as coming in early once a year,
sort of.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My accent betrayed me

Here we go again, another London one. We were there for quite a while, and I have some vivid memories.

I was born in Brooklyn, as you know, and needless to say I have a strong Brooklyn accent, I think I have it even when I write. There are few things harder to lose than a Brooklyn accent. When I attended Pratt there were kids from all over the States, and I felt that I should make an attempt to lose or at least soften my accent a bit. My wife to be, was born in Massachusetts, and had a definite non-Brooklyn accent. Well, I was not very successful the accent remained. We then go to London and every American there is speaking with this fake mid Atlantic accent. I decided I was not going to change; Brooklyn is good enough for me.

One day, on the way to the pub with some friends, I was told there was a guy who was great with accents, he could really zero in and tell you exactly where you were from, should be easy to do me, right.

We get to the pub, meet this guy and he starts, I try to modify my accent a bit. He listens and asks me to say certain words; this goes on for about three drinks. No big deal, he says I am from Brooklyn, a Greek fisherman can guess that. This continues and he starts to narrow it down to areas of Brooklyn, getting closer and closer to my own, Coney Island.

This is an amazing feat, we are in a pub in the center of London, a guy is narrowing down, honing in on the area that I was born and raised in. The Brooklyn part was easy, south of Prospect park is pretty good but approaching Coney Island is spooky. He tells me the avenue I lived on, Mermaid ave. and then tells me it is between 16th and 20th street. I am now crazy, this is amazing, what a talent. I am buying drinks for everybody, I am blown away, I have never seen anything like this, and he can make a fortune in Las Vegas.

By now, you have all realized that I was set up, my “buddies” had told him everything. I like a fool had fallen; hook line and sinker for the gag. I even asked what floor did I live on, what a sap I was.

A great gag, well done, but I did have my revenge sort of. He was an American photographer in London, there were plenty in those years, I never gave him a job, small of me but he had to pay for dicking with me so much.

I feel kind of petty; he was great talent, not only in taking pictures but also in taking the mickey.

The amazing Rolls

London, the 60's again.

We had a good friend, an American photographer, who bought a beautiful old Rolls Royce, it had previously been owned by Vivian Leigh. It was a beautiful car, and we used to fantasize about the cars previous life.

He was a fan of a great NY radio station ,WNEW, and he had some cassettes of the DJ, William B Williams. He played them quite a bit and we used to have a little of NY when we drove around London, probably on the way to a pub.

He had to pick up a cousin that was coming to London from NY, it was her first time in Europe and she was pretty excited. He picked her up and turned the radio on (cassette player in reality), they drove for a bit until she realized it was a NY station playing. The amazing Rolls had an amazing radio, she was told. This terrible fraud continued, I think for the full time she was in London.

I wonder if she still thinks that the radio in the Rolls was that amazing.

It was an amazing time in London, an amazing friend with an amazing Rolls, with an amazing radio.

I wonder if it could have gotten stations from LA?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"THE AXINOI" club, Greek for sea urchins

I have just become a member of a new club THE AXINOI, as a matter of fact I am one of the founding members. There are four of us and there may not be any others, we will though have invited guests.

The President is eighty-six years old, I am seventy-two, another member is seventy and the kid, the youngest member, is only sixty. Our first meeting was at a beach side taverna, where we ate grilled octopus, drank ouzo, ate tomatoes and fresh onions, discussed the world affairs, our lives and talked about our experiences in Africa, something we all shared.

We occasionally, discreetly watch beautiful German tourists on the beach.

All clubs seem to have an objective, usually noble. We at the moment do not have one, and we may never have one, but I will keep you informed when and if we have decided on one.

There are no wives and they will not be involved in the club. We have been involved in their clubs and spend enough time with them, going to supermarkets and doing other chores, as well as the role of appendage to their clubs.

No cooking group, bridge club or even a book club. Ours has no reason to be except to be.

Why did we pick the name the AXINOI? Very simply, they are rare, delicious, hard to find, expensive, and illegal to catch without a license. But most of all, they are prickly. They seem to be pretty much like us, rare, expensive, hard to find, prickly and pretty delicious.

There are two photos on this blog, one shows the urchins, ready to eat, open with a little lemon, having first been rinsed in seawater, they taste absolutely amazing, one of the best mezedes imaginable. Extremely hard to come by, especially like this; maybe our objective was to include this in our mezedes repertoire. Seems like a pretty good objective. The other photo is whole, as they are in the sea, alive, prickly and rather gorgeous.

Sounds like us.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fifty F***ing years old

If you are going to have a fiftieth birthday party, trust me, do it in Mexico.
They know how to throw a party.

Fortunately my fiftieth birthday was while we were in Mexico.

The Coca Cola client and my staff threw me a party. T-shirts that said 50 f***ing years old, not abbreviated, the whole thing, spelled out in Red. They threw the party at a bullfight arena. We had a bullfight with very young steers, not full grown bulls; Mariachis, margaritas and great food.

Let me explain, this is very common in Latin America, everybody has a go, you get in with this young steer and play the brave torero. Sounds safe, but that animal does it every Saturday at different parties, he is not distracted by a cape, he goes straight for you; bruised and broken bones are common, as well as great embarrassment for the “toreros”.

The "bull" is the safest one in the arena, since nobody has any idea of what they are doing, just a cape and your ability to run. It is great fun as long as you don’t get gored, trampled, or thumped. You will though, make a fool of yourself, it is expected.

Since it was my day, I had the first go. The “bull” was confused and went for the cape a few times before he remembered the person was the target. I got out OK, my son helped; he actually attempted to stop the bull, and spent 50 yards being pushed backwards.

Great cheers from the crowd, we were about 200 people there. I felt pretty good and did not have to go in again, thank heavens.

Not too many people got hurt. There were bruises, stepped on feet, ripped pants and foolish looking people, not bad considering we had an ambulance on standby. I think the tequila had a big hand in it as well. God takes care of drunks.

The crowd naturally did the wave, the Coca-Cola wave, what a feeling!

Magdalena, she was our housekeeper, attempted to go to the supermarket wearing one of the t-shirts, the 50 f***ing years one. Fortunately we stopped her in time.

If you are ever in this kind of situation, make sure you go in first; the bulls forget at the beginning and go after the cape, not you, if you are lucky.

Admen and their cars

London in the 60’s, admen were obsessed with cars.

It was part of your package, just as whatever you could negotiate was, shirts, suits, travel, and Cuban cigars. Taxes were enormous and perks were the order of the day. We used it as a recruiting tool. The better the talent the better the perk. Cars were it, Rolls for copywriters, art directors with Aston Martins, it seemed to be mostly a creative person’s obsession.

You must remember it was the 60's, barriers appeared to be breaking down, and society seemed to become more equal. A Cockney kid could drive a Porsche, especially if he was in advertising.

During the six years we were in London, ’65 to ’71, I had a Peugeot (the company shipped it from the US, my car there) an MGB, an R type Bentley, an S type Bentley, an Alvis, bet you never heard of that one, and a Mini Cooper for my wife. I was not the worst; there were guys that were really nuts. There were others that seemed to be immune to the lure of the car, exotic or not.

A copywriter who was entitled to a car worked for me, he picked an unassuming Vauxhall, carefully chose the color, the interior, and the model, and thanked me. A good guy, easy, no weird car, even picked a client’s car.

The garage attendant came to me and said the car has been parked downstairs for three months, never moved. I called John and asked him why, he looked at me very surprised and said,“ I can’t drive. “ The car was part of his package; it was not part of the deal that he drives. A rare breed in London in those days, a great writer, even though cars meant nothing to him.
Our garage had some incredible cars, E types, big Jags, and sports cars, even a Cadillac. We were an American agency, slightly conservative, so we were nothing compared to the hot English agencies.

I would not be surprised if some of them even had helicopters there, whatever you could negotiate. Kids in limos, anything seemed to be OK.

A friend from then told me that he measured his career by the cars he had. Some even measured their careers by the work they did. Cars were something else, they marked your value to the company and your own negotiating skills, and it was something unique to the English ad scene.

History was made in the London advertising world, great campaigns were created, and it was a remarkable time creatively. Great filmmakers and photographers as well as great admen came out of London in the 60s.

Rather shallow of me, I remember the cars and the people that drove them, even the one that didn’t drive, my friend and partner, John.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

La Ola de Coca-Cola

In 1986 we were in Mexico. Yes, the year of the Mexican World Cup. I did not realize the importance of football in the world, especially the Latin American world. Remember, I’m from Brooklyn, not much soccer played there.

Coca-Cola was one of the sponsors of the event, a major sponsor.

I was responsible for the Coca-Cola account for Mexico and Central America. A great job! Mexico has the highest per capita consumption of Coca-Cola in the world and was a huge account for us at the time.

I get called to the office of the President of Coca-Cola in Mexico for the brief.

He cannot believe that I am not thrilled about the prospect of the World Cup being hosted in Mexico. Let me remind you, this is not the World Series and I am from Brooklyn.

It is going to be huge, and he wants the consumer to believe that Coke sponsors it, the whole thing. He wanted it to seem as though Mexico had nothing to do with it; it will be Coca-Cola all the way. Have to admire his cojones! There will be dozens of commercials and tons of other material to promote this event; a really big deal. I had better learn about this game and it’s importance throughout the world, except for the US of course.

Also we need an idea, something that will carry the ads, something big that will capture the event and Coke’s role in it. The head of Coca-Cola Mexico was an amazing character, with lots of creative energy. He tells me about something he saw in the States at a football game, American football not soccer. The fans were bored and would make a wave around the stadium. Great idea, since the word for wave in Spanish is Ola, Coca- Cola….get it?

We had the idea, now to make it work and teach the Mexican fans to do the wave. It had never been seen in a soccer stadium before. We had six months to get it done and make ads out of this. The birth of the Mexican wave; it is called that all over the world. It should be called the Coca-Cola wave, but I will settle for the Mexican wave.
This was one of the biggest things I have ever been involved with in my career. It was amazing to see this idea take off. This idea was so big it was easy to make the ads, ads that captured the people’s imagination; it became part of the vernacular. What a great experience. Go to youtube and put in the Mexican World Cup 1986, La Ola de Coca-Cola and see the scope of the campaign.

We did have one minor disaster, Hugo Sanchez, the great Mexican player, was one of the people Coke used in the ads. We had a spot with him scoring a penalty kick. He was great at it and it seemed a natural for him to score when he had the opportunity to kick a penalty. He missed the first penalty that they had. Our commercial showed him scoring. Guess what, our commercial ran right after he missed the penalty. The fans were not very forgiving and our star player went into hiding. We spent our time running around trying to cancel the spot. We didn’t want more trouble. Poor Hugo, he suffered more than he should have.

Other than that, it was a great campaign. We even had commercials for every contingency. When Mexico was knocked out we ran spots about the wave of the future, the junior league, with the young kids that would play, hopefully, in the future World Cups.

A Brooklynite, I was not only involved in one of the biggest advertising events in the history of soccer, but also helped make it happen. The Mexicans after the World Cup did not think that Coke only sponsored it but also actually brought the games to Mexico.

When you watch the South African World Cup, and the fans do the wave, and they will, remember, it is La Ola de Coca-Cola, not the Mexican Wave.

OK, OK, I will settle for the Mexican Wave.

Beware of shirts made in Tokyo after lunch

I was in Japan for three months in the early 70’s for the company.
As I said before it was a great experience, but some odd things did happen. I used to have lunch at the Hilton Hotel a couple of times a week with some of the staff. It was essential for me to make contact with members of the Creative Department since the previous Creative Director neglected the local staff a bit.

Needless to say, there was some drinking involved with lunch, actually quite a bit. Look, let me be honest, I had just come from England and drinking was part and parcel of advertising (see Mad Men).

The hotel had a Hong Kong custom shirt maker on the lower level. Since it was a novelty for me, and it was much cheaper than Turnbull and Asser in London, I naturally had some shirts made. Very John Wayne, tapered waist, I was slimmer then, big sleeves high collar, mother-of-pearl snap buttons, very 70’s. It seemed every time I went to the Hilton after lunch and had a few drinks, it was down to the shirt maker.

I really do not remember what color fabric I picked; they always gave me the finished shirts in brown and yellow, which fit perfectly. I was sure I hadn’t selected those materials since I am not partial to those colors. I thought I had picked blue, white or even pink. Yet, every time I picked them up, it was always the same brown and yellow shirts. Once there was even a black and white paisley shirt, I could not have been that drunk. I must have had 30 shirts limited to those same colors.

They must have had a surplus of brown and yellow material and God knows how the paisley came into the picture; they must have figured I was too drunk to remember. To this day, I still think that Japanese booze causes color blindness. The shirts fit great and I was sort of obligated to wear them, otherwise, I would have to explain the state I was in after my boozy lunch, when I ordered them.

If you go to Japan, and go to the Hilton, have your shirts made before lunch. There is a bigger color selection then, after lunch it is just brown or yellow, with an occasional paisley shirt thrown in.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The not so barren seascape

It is easy to assume the seascape is barren. Once you open your eyes it is filled with color, life, movement, underwater landscapes and even antiquities (maybe not always ancient, but certainly old). There is so much going on that it amazes you. There was a great French painter who said "give me a small piece of land and I will see the universe."
It is a matter of looking. I am sorry I referred to it as barren, it is far from barren.

The photos were taken by Dario Castelfranco, and my dive instructor John Alexakis,There are hundreds more. Thanks guys.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

When is the last time you did something for the first time?

I just love that expression. I am not talking about a bucket-list; I am referring to doing something you have never done before.
It does not have to be something big, like parachuting. It has to be something new, something that challenges you, even marginally.
I ask this question frequently, and unfortunately most people are at a loss to tell me anything they can remember. I am, unfortunately in pretty much the same position.

I am convinced this is a key to a much richer life. When you are young, a kid, everything you do is almost for the first time. No wonder the brain is developing at it’s fastest the younger you are. I do not claim this for a means of developing your brain, just as a means of maintaining interest in life and looking forward to something new: a pretty good definition of a youthful attitude, or even youth.

OK, what have I done for the first time lately?

Not as much as I should have, but there are a few things, this blog for one is something new for me, I never thought I would like too or even be any good at writing. I have developed my Backgammon game, no big deal, but it is new. I started to learn more about the Internet, lots more to learn.

I started to scuba dive a few years ago at 68 years old; that was a big deal.

The diving has to have been the most different, the newest, and the most memorable. It seems to be new every time I go down. I had a brain operation last year and could not dive. I missed it and am looking forward to it, next month I go down.

We live in Porto Heli and there is a great diving school here. My kids and niece, nephew and grand niece all do it and I got jealous. I thought maybe I was too old, bullshit; I was just the right age. I asked the dive instructor and he told me the oldest person he taught was a 72 year old monk, go figure that one out. I figured anything a 72-year-old monk can do, I can do also; at least when it comes to this stuff.

I am lucky to have a great teacher and I always go down with him. It is a fantastic experience, a unique feeling, weightless and free. I am not very good with heights, but going down twenty some odd meters just does not feel strange or fearful. We are not in one of those places like the Red Sea or Mexico with all the wonderful coral and colorful fish. We have a barren seascape, but nonetheless there are amazing things to see; an octopus changing color, and moving over different textures. Fish, fire worms, Jelly fish, with huge tentacles, wrecks, the mountains that go straight into the sea that you follow down, just a continuation of the landscape. I wish I were a better writer to describe what I see and feel.

I am looking forward to next month; I will let you know how it goes.

Perhaps a parachute jump is not so preposterous after all, hmm?