Monthly Archives: August 2014

Excerpt from my “Behind the Stage of a Florida Political Event”

After watching Charlie Crist accept the Democratic nomination for Florida Governor at his election night party, my friends and I fled the ruckus to a nearby hotel to enjoy a drink in privacy. Apparently we were not alone in this idea.

After watching Charlie Crist accept the Democratic nomination for Florida Governor at his election night party, my friends and I fled the ruckus to a nearby hotel to enjoy a drink in privacy. Apparently, we were not alone in this idea.

Here’s an excerpt from my “Behind the Stage of a Florida Political Event:”

“On August 26, 2014, Charlie Crist hosted an election watch party at Fort Lauderdale’s swanky Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel. . . .

No doubt wanting to set a positive example, the buffet was overflowing with a disappointingly healthy selection of nuts, berries, raw vegetables, and a sundry collection of cheeses. This always happens at hyper-conscious south Florida democratic events. What was missing was a gift bag filled with oranges.

In Tallahassee we do it right.

We deep fry the whole pig while it is still alive. This guarantees freshness.

This is accompanied with a capillary-exploding volume of fried shrimp, fried chicken, fried mullet, fried catfish, fried okra, fried potatoes, fried cheese, fried funnel cakes, fried Oreos, and a deep-fried breaded brick of butter.

Not everything is fried.

The venerable smorgasbord of bacon-beans and cheesy macaroni are baked and the mayonnaise-drowned coleslaw is served by the bucket. Everybody has their own family recipe for deviled eggs. We carb up our bread by cooking it in creamed corn and you can dunk it into the residual fleshy grease of the deep fryer for additional flavor.

Those brave enough to smuggle broccoli and carrots into a north Florida Democratic Party event had better accompany such unwelcome produce with barrels of homemade extra-fat ranch dressing.

Attendees are usually generous in sharing their garage-distilled hooch, but a few crucial calories can be shaved by mixing Alma’s moonshine with diet coke. . . .

Meanwhile, why do we traditionally make our candidates for school board hoist a writhing rabid opossum in the air during parades?

Because we can.”

Guy de Maupassant ate lunch at the Eiffel Tower because “It’s the only place where I don’t have to see it!”

View from the top of the  Eiffel tower

View from the top of the Eiffel tower

Adventure Lawyer’s cocktail party factoid of the day:

When the Eiffel Tower was originally proposed, the design was almost universally panned.

Alexandre Dumas raged “The Eiffel Tower is without doubt the dishonour of Paris. Everyone feels it, everyone says it, everyone is profoundly saddened by it.”

According to Roland Barthes’ essay “The Eiffel Tower,” French author Guy de Maupassant used to frequently eat lunch at the Eiffel Tower because “It’s the only place where I don’t have to see it!”

Obviously history decided otherwise, and the tower, which was originally intended to be a temporary display in celebration of the centennial of the French Revolution, continues to lure the imaginations of tourists today.

The Musee d’Orsay, the Palace of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc De Triomphe, and the Champs Elysee, in one dizzying day.

The Eiffel Tower's hours of operation  are 9:30 to 23:00 daily and are extended to 9:00 to 00:00 in summer.  You can walk to the second floor for 5 Euros or ride the elevator for 9 Euros. The Lift to the top is 15 Euros.  I am cheap so every time I have went I have used the stairs, but any sane person should take the elevator.

The Eiffel Tower’s hours of operation are 9:30 to 23:00 daily and are extended to 9:00 to 00:00 in summer. You can walk to the second floor for 5 Euros or ride the elevator for 9 Euros. The Lift to the top is 15 Euros. I am cheap so every time I have went I have used the stairs, but any sane person should take the elevator.

Not that I advise it, but here is how you can fit the Musee d’Orsay, the Palace of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc De Triomphe, and the Champs Elysee, into one dizzying day.

Begin your morning at the impressionist paradise Musee d’Orsay (almost everyone says it’s their favorite Parisian museum). After about 2 hours of enjoying masterworks by Frédéric Bazille and Emile Bernard in the grandly re-purposed railway stationproceed to the d’Orsay Metro Station and take RER C-line to Versailles (about 40 minutes). Walk to the Palace of Versailles and spend the afternoon and evening marveling at one of the great architectural and botanic treasures on the planet and understanding why the proletariat revolted against King Louis XVI. The château, which houses the epoch-of-decadence Hall of Mirrors, the King’s Grand Apartments, and the Museum of the History of France, is open until 6:30 PM and the expansive verdant gardens and parks are open until 8:30 PM.

The Palace at Versailles. Buy the "passport" which will get you full access to all the Palace tours, grounds, Trianon palaces, and the proletariat maddening Marie-Antoinette's Estate. From April to October, the "passport" also  includes the Musical Fountain and Musical Gardens shows. All other exhibitions are also included. It'll be one of the most rewarding 18 Euros ever spent.

When visiting the Palace at Versailles, consider buying the “passport” which will get you full access to all the Palace tours, grounds, Trianon palaces, and the proletariat maddening Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. From April to October, the “passport” also includes the Musical Fountain and Musical Gardens shows. All other exhibitions are also included. It’ll be one of the most rewarding 18 Euros ever spent.

If you time it right, during your return to Paris, you can jump off at the Eiffel Tower station, pay 15 Euros for the ride to the top of Paris (actually, because it adorns a huge hill the Sacre Coeur is higher) and catch a memorable sunset over the cityscape. Continue to the world’s grandest shopping and dinning boulevard, the Champs Elysee, for a late dinner, and if you missed it, continue west on the Champs Elysee to the the Arc De Triomphe.

Louis Vuitton on the champs elysees

Louis Vuitton on the champs elysees

If the mood strikes you pop into one of the many Parisian bakeries for a quick desert or catch a flick with the French, who watch movies at a higher intensity than anyone else.

Blurry Sacre Coeur

Blurry Sacre Coeur

A Brief Note about the Florida Democratic Party’s Primary for Attorney General:

BillClintonVisit

If you are undecided in the Florida Democratic Party’s Primary for Attorney General, please consider voting for George Sheldon.

I don’t have a single negative comment about his opponent, but George’s experience is transcendent. His problem solving skills and ability to create consensus have been repeatedly demonstrated during his service in senior posts at both the state and national level, working under both Republicans and Democrats. He has dedicated his entire public service career to advancing the cause of human rights (by breaking up human trafficking rings), protecting the defenseless (particularly abused children), and uplifting the oppressed (by reducing the error-rates in welfare and food stamp distribution).

He spent a career working for previous attorney generals, ultimately becoming chief deputy (for central Florida) to beloved Bob Butterworth. When the Department of Children and Families was in shambles–then Governor Charlie Crist tasked him with fixing it. He has also served as a senior official in the Obama administration. Prior to serving in the executive branch, George spent 8 years in the Florida House of Representatives.

You can learn more about this extraordinary human being here.

You can compare George’s record with his, also qualified, opponent’s here. 

For the Best Alpaca in Arequipa–Go to Zig Zag

Dinner at Zig-Zag, one of my favorite restaurants in the world--Arequipa, Peru

Dinner at Zig-Zag, one of my favorite restaurants in the world–Arequipa, Peru

There are many reasons to visit Arequipa, Peru.

The grandeur and beauty of its Plaza de Armas rivals Venice’s Piazza San Marco and Brussels’ Grand-Place. On a clear day you can see Misti volcano as a backdrop for the Arequipa Cathedral.

The main square of Arequipa with Misti volcano.

The main square of Arequipa with Misti volcano.

You can visit the “Ice Maiden”–the 1450’s mummified remains of a twelve-year-old Inca preserved in a glass-refrigerator at the Museo Santuarios Andinos

I primarily came to visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, which, while not as well known as Agra’s Taj Mahal or Rome’s Pantheon, is just as much of a must-see-before-you-die experience as any of the world’s great touristic treasures.

The miles of hauntingly beautiful courtyards and honeycombed arched alleyways of Monasterio de Santa Catalina. Along with Machu Picchu and Copper Canyon--this is one of my favorite places on Earth.

The miles of hauntingly beautiful courtyards and honeycombed arched alleyways of Monasterio de Santa Catalina. Along with Machu Picchu and Copper Canyon–this is one of my favorite places on Earth.

Beyond that, there is the food.

Chi Cha

Chi Cha

Peru is considered to be progenitor of among the world’s great cuisines–rivaling France and Singapore–and Arequipa is considered its southern culinary capital. 

Gastón Acurio, Peru’s most famous chef, owns Chi Cha. Located in a verdant-colored courtyard across the street from the Monastery, its colonial ambiance and simple menu promises an elegant gastronomic tour of authentic Inca-Spanish staples. A friend and I thought our meals were decidedly so-so. 

Zig-Zag, three blocks away, is one of my favorite restaurants in the world.

The bar at Zig Zag

The bar at Zig Zag

The interior is a cross between a Parisian cafe and an Argentine steak house.

The proprietors are so extremely committed to giving their customers a hint of the French experience that the spiral staircase leading up to the second level was designed by Gustave Eiffel!

This gave Gustave Eiffel something to do between designing the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

This gave Gustave Eiffel something to do between designing the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

 

The menu will shock a vegetarian into an epileptic rage.

In one column there is a list of animals that the internationally renowned chef is willing to kill and cook for you. In a second column you are offered the meat of each animal in quantities of 50 grams, 100 grams, and 250 grams.

A tour of butters.

A tour of butters.

While you decide which animals shall be harmed for your digestive pleasures they serve you a basket of exotic breads and butters so sweet and succulent that while it might kill you, it is totally worth it.  

The wine list was largely Eurocentric, but we picked an over-sweet pour of a local red from the Ica Region of Peru. Peruvian wines tend to very sweet and our selection was not an exception.

We both chose 50 grams each of pork, beef, and alpaca with a side of cheesy Quinoa. My friend also got a local bean salad, which, while interesting to look at, proved difficult to eat. I was happy with my choice of a common Caesar salad .

From left to right: Alpaca-steak, Beef-steak, and Pork loin. The side dish is cheesey Quinoa. The sauces range from a creamy-ranch like concoction, a spicy-lime sauce, butter infused with very earthy mushroom, and a spicy chili sauce that will make a grown man cry with joy.

From left to right: Alpaca-steak, Beef-steak, and Pork loin. The side dish is cheesy Quinoa. The sauces range from a creamy-ranch like concoction, a spicy-lime sauce, butter infused with very earthy mushroom, and a spicy chili sauce that will make a grown man cry with joy.

One of the best aspects of a Peruvian meal is the sauces.  Like the French and Belgians, Peru augments its meats and vegetables with a delectable spectrum of dips and condiments. Virtually every lomo saltado will come with a uniquely spiced chili dressing, each one striving to create a different taste experience. Our meats came with a creamy-ranch like concoction, a spicy-lime sauce, butter infused with very earthy mushroom, and a spicy chili sauce that will make a grown man cry with joy.

I know I did.

It is the first time either of us had tried alpaca and we were nervous.  All of Peru is covered with these alarmingly adorable animals and we felt a degree of moral turpitude would be involved if we enjoyed it.

We did. A lot.

It’s a good thing we had already accepted that our souls were destined for hell–but at least we got to visit here, heaven, first.  

You’ll like the plaza, you’ll be intrigued by the mummy, you’ll be transformed by the Monastery–but you’ll love the food! 

Exterior of Zig Zag, one of my favorite restaurants in the world.

Exterior of Zig Zag, one of my favorite restaurants in the world.

Logistics

Address: Calle Zela 210 – 212 | Cercado (Centro Historico), Arequipa, Peru
Phone: +51 54 206020
Hours: 6 PM until Midnight
Cost: $10-$30 per person includes wine, an appetizer, a selection of three or four meats, a side of potatoes or Quinoa, and dessert.   

To express my gratitude, here is a hamster looking cute.

 

 

MeelectionnightWhich Adventure Lawyer essay do you think got the most views?

a) Random picture of a hamster looking cute
b) What to do When Attacked by a Jaguar
c) Welcome to the Revolution
d) Recommendations for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and Broward County Judicial Bench

If you guessed “hamster,” I like the way you think.

But more than 1,200 people reviewed my “Recommendations for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and Broward County Judicial Bench,” dwarfing any interest in my actual adventure writing. If you also combine my recommendations for the 15th and 11th judicial circuits, my judicial political essays have attracted more than half of my blog’s traffic this month.

Either I can make voting for judge as exciting as a jaguar attack and fleeing Thai separatists in Yala, or I can make a jaguar attack and fleeing Thai separatists in Yala as boring as voting for judge.

Either way, thanks for the 3,000 views!

To express my gratitude, here is a hamster looking cute.

Puttin’ on the Ritz

 
Me and my friend on another planet--the London Ritz!

Me and my friend on another planet–the London Ritz!

If getting attacked by jungle cats in the Pantanal or fleeing a revolution in Yala are not your thing, then consider trying this:

Afternoon tea–at the Ritz–in London!

http://www.theritzlondon.com/tea-reservations.html

Though it will set you back approximately $100 per person, a team of top Friedman-economists from the University of Chicago would not be able to explain how they make a profit.

It is the Mother of all quasi-meal services. It is the Alpha and Omega of customer service. The experience so absolutely shuts the hermetic seal between the moment you are in–and the external reality you seek to avoid–your lover could have collapsed in the parking lot and you wouldn’t think to call an ambulance.

There are chandeliers and museum quality impressionist art in the toilet stalls (you are not going to the bathroom, you are having an emotional experience), and (I’m not joking) the world’s fifth largest diamond is for sale in the gift shop.

It’s the sort of hotel experience that gets passed down as an oral history and mythical legend from generation to generation.

I guess what I’m saying is: I really liked the place.

They will treat you like a Queen! (Unless that’s also not your thing.)

 

 

Queen Juliana and the End of the Death Penalty in the Netherlands

AmsterdamAdventure Lawyer’s cocktail party factoid of the day:

Sometimes a constitutional monarch finds a way of exercising power.

During a lecture on comparative constitutional politics at the Erasmus College of Law, (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) the professor mentioned that Queen Juliana of the Netherlands was his favorite monarch.

Before a bill could be sent to Parliament she insisted on reading it–often she would find mistakes and smilingly suggest that the MP do a little more homework before embarrassing himself.

Religiously zealous, and an adamant opponent to the death penalty, whenever a death warrant would be sent to her desk for signature, she would put it in a drawer. Due to royal rules of etiquette and decorum, nobody would confront her about it.

There was one breach of protocol when it came to a particularly vile Nazi war criminal facing execution. The Queen offered to abdicate to her daughter, the then-very unpopular Princess Beatrix.

The Parliament, people, and courts quickly dropped the issue.

Eventually the Parliament ended the death penalty mooting the issue.

Fun with National Capitals and Seats of Governments

Tallahassee was selected as Florida's capital because it was roughly equidistant from Pensacola (the administrative seat of "West Florida") and Saint Augustine (the administrative seat of "East Florida')  when Florida was regifted back to the United States from Spain in 1821.

Tallahassee was selected as Florida’s capital because it was roughly equidistant from Pensacola (the administrative seat of “West Florida”) and Saint Augustine (the administrative seat of “East Florida’) when Florida was re-gifted back to the United States from Spain in 1821.

If rudely asked to name the capitals of Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania and Turkey on an idle Friday afternoon, some congratulations of geographic knowledge are merited for the answers Sydney, La Paz, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Dar es Salaam, and Istanbul.

Each of the above answers is incorrect, but understandably so–in the same way that some seem unaware that Juneau–not Anchorage–is the capital of Alaska, and that the Oregon Legislature meets in Eugene rather than weird Portland.

Opting for an abandoned look, Australians built their remote and spookily empty capital in Canberra.

In Bolivia, the government buildings are located in La Paz, yet the Constitution insists that the capital is in beautiful Sucre–where national independence was declared on August 6, 1825.

On April 21, 1960, at mesmerizing expense, President Juscelino Kubitschek officially moved Brazil’s capital from Rio to ultra-modern Brasilia. 

Although South Africa greedily has three capitals, Johannesburg is not one of them. Wanting to spread the wealth of government jobs around the country, Pretoria hosts the Executive branch of government, the Judiciary resides in Bloemfontein, and the Legislature gets the best deal near an idyllic beach in Cape Town.

Dodoma became the capital of Tanzania in 1974 and one day they may actually move an administrative office there. The National Assembly finally arrived from Dar es Salaam in early 1996.

Apparently in an effort to be difficult, Ankara, not Istanbul, is the capital of Turkey.

Some countries opt not to have any government at their capitals.

(Not to be confused with the United States, which merely chooses not to conduct any government in its capital.)

The Netherlands’ Palace, Parliament, and Supreme Court are located in The Hague, but officially, its capital is Amsterdam. 

To get around this bizarreness, it is important to know that there is a political distinction between “capital,” which is wherever the country says it is, and “seat of government,” which is wherever it actually is.

Poor Morocco could never really decide. While Rabat is the official capital, its other imperial cities include Fez, Marrakech, and Meknes. Casablanca didn’t even make it to the top four! 

Tiny, but apparently self-important, Swaziland has two capitals. Their administrative capital is in Mbabane while their royal and legislative capital is in Lobamba.

Similarly, the forlorn atoll of Palau, (population 21,000) couldn’t choose between Ngerulmud and Melekeok. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of the population resides in Koror.

In a unique approach to democratic governance, both Chile and Georgia have opted to banish their legislatures from their capitals. The capital of Chile is Santiago but its Legislature meets in Valparaiso. In Georgia, the Legislature meets in Kutaisi while the capital is officially Tbilisi.

Even the CIA World Factbook doesn’t want to recognize Sri Lanka’s attempt at moving its capital from Colombo to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.

Perhaps finding this whole affair of “capitals” and “seats of government” pretentious, Nauru refuses to participate at all.

It does not have a capital–though you should send diplomatic correspondence to Yaren.

That is because whether the Nauruan people like it or not, they have a “seat of government.” 

 

Peruvian historians doubt Hiram Bingham III was the true modern discoverer of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu 1

Adventure Lawyer’s cocktail party factoid of the day:

Any high school or undergraduate textbook will tell you that on July 24, 1911, Yale University’s Hiram Bingham III became the modern day discoverer of the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu. Peruvian historians and the local National Park guides don’t agree.

Though they may not have recognized the importance of what they were seeing, locals had previously guided Westerners to the site. Artifacts from “the Lost City” were even commonly sold in Cusco markets. (Cusco was the ancient Inca capital and is the nearest major city to Machu Picchu.)

Bingham was led to Machu Picchu by a local vendor of those artifacts and two local farmers who lived near the Machu Picchu site. There was even a family living at Machu Picchu when he arrived–they were the ones who procured the artifacts for the merchants in Cusco.

It’s not quite the Indiana Jones adventure depicted in Hiram Bingham’s “Lost City of the Incas!”

Even today though, it’s a great place to visit! 

My friend and I hiked to Machu Picchu via the arduous four-day Inca Trail. We both recommend you take the bus and train.

My friend and I hiked to Machu Picchu via the arduous four-day Inca Trail. We both recommend you take the bus and train.