business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, which took place during a year of such enormous political and cultural tumult that it makes the current campaign season look like child’s play. I’m old enough to remember that year. I remember reading about and watching the coverage of Kennedy’s assassination, and Martin Luther King’s. I remember watching television the night that Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not run for re-election.

And I remember the confusion that I felt, and the uncertainty about the world around me. I was growing up in a comfortable New York suburb, going to parochial school, and was being reassured at every juncture that life was fair and that the world was a good and decent place where justice could be relied upon.

I wasn't old enough to be radicalized, but even then I remember having the sense that I was being sold a bill of goods, that all was not as it was being described to me by the institutions that were supposed to matter. It probably was then that I began to realize – though the notion didn’t formalize itself until much later – that optimism should be cleaved by cynicism, and that cynicism must be leavened by optimism.

I’ve been thinking about this over the past few days, especially because I just read the introduction written by Pete Hamill to a new book entitled “A Time It Was: Bobby Kennedy In The Sixties.” Hamill once again proves he has one of the most elegant and eloquent voices in modern journalism with his memories of June 5, 1968. He was in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles that night, covering the Kennedy campaign, and he was just feet away from Kennedy when he was gunned down by Sirhan Sirhan, who he describes as a “cruel messenger” for a moment that sadly may have been inevitable.

Excellent piece of writing. I recommend it to you.

Sometimes a retailer announces a move that just seems to make sense. Just such a moment occurred this week when Apple confirmed that it will be occupying a two-floor, seven thousand square foot retail space in the Carrousel du Louvre, the shopping center in the basement of the Louvre Palace next to the famous museum and glass pyramid.

And the moment this deal became public, it just seemed the perfect location for Apple, which has made design and aesthetics such important components in its recent success. (Though it is hard to imagine that the Parisians will allow Apple to have a cube like it has in New York to complement the glass pyramid.)

Too bad it wasn't there during the period of time that the events in “The Da Vinci Code” took place…because having an Apple store so close by might have saved Robert Langdon a lot of time…

Have you seen the new commercial for State Farm insurance that stars Joe Torre? I think it is just about perfect…it uses his move from the Yankees to the Dodgers as a fulcrum on which the pitch depends – that during a life change, you can count on State Farm.

Very smart.

Here’s what I want to know, though. State Farm has this commercial. Allstate has those great commercials starring Dennis Haysbert. And Geico has the lizard and the cavemen.

What is it about the insurance biz that generates such great commercials?

Thanks to the Stamford Advocate which did a nice piece about our new FoodWireTV venture this week. You can check it out at:

I've just finished the new James Bond novel, “Devil May Care,” which is by acclaimed British novelist Sebastian Faulks “writing as” Ian Fleming. The thriller picks up where Fleming left off at his death, in the late sixties as James Bond actually is feeling vulnerable and is contemplating his own mortality. I was a huge fan of the original Fleming books when I was growing up (and still have some of those aged paperbacks that sold for the whopping cost of 75 cents!), though I haven't read any of the other Bond books that have updated the character into modern circumstances.

While I can't say I loved “Devil May Care,” I will say that I enjoyed it. The book is a good ride; while sometimes it just seemed dated, it did have a sense of nostalgia for simpler times (remember when the Cold War seemed like the worst kind of threat?) that was charming. It did make me even more anxious for the next James Bond film starring Daniel Craig, “Quantum of Solace,” due out this November.

If you are looking for a book to give as a gift this Father’s Day, I will once again recommend “Death to All Sacred Cows: How Successful Business People Put the Old Rules Out to Pasture,” by David Bernstein, Beau Fraser and Bill Schwab. It is both funny and specific about business foibles and opportunities…and I can't say enough good things about it. Check it out.

Two wines this week:

• the 2004 Yves Breussin Vouvray Demi-Sec, which is a wonderfully refreshing white wine perfect for warm spring or summer nights.

• the Solane 2003 Valpolicella Ripasso, great with a pizza or any tomato-based dish.


That’s it. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.


KC's View: