Hollywood on the Potomac

Unit #303

September 3, 2015

Johnny Depp is practically unrecognizable in Black Mass as apparently was James “Whitey” Bulger in real life for sixteen years.  Bulger is the notorious crime figure who for more than a decade mixed in with the local community in Santa Monica, California in apartment #303 where he enjoyed life for thirteen years incognito. Bulger is now inmate number 02182-748 at the United States Penitentiary Coleman II in Sumterville, Florida.

We probably unwittingly sat next to him at “Shutters” on occasion,  the popular watering hole on the beach where the views were majestic, the breeze soothing and the plates piled high with prosciutto and melon with a side of gherkins and pickled olives. On June 22, 2011, Bulger was arrested outside his apartment with his long-time girlfriend Catherine Greig. Bulger was 81 when he was were extradited to Massachusetts where part of Boston Harbor was shut down for the trial. Bulger was “one of the most vicious, violent criminals ever to walk the streets of Boston,” said Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak of James Bulger, Jr. – a.k.a. “Whitey” Bulger.  He was a legendary figure; we can attest to that having grown up in Boston, although you didn’t have be a Bostonian to be intrigued by this case.

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As Time Goes By

August 31, 2015

The three faces of Ingrid Bergman: “I didn’t do anything I’ve never done before. But when the camera moves in on the Bergman face, and she’s saying she loves you, it would make anybody look romantic.”  Humphrey Bogart.  “In my whole life I never had a woman so much in love with me as Ingrid was.  The day after the picture (Saratoga Trunk) ended, I couldn’t get her on the phone.”  Gary Cooper.  “I’m only interested in two kinds of people, those who can entertain me and those who can advance my career.”  Ingrid Bergman.

his weekend, The Embassy of Sweden hosted multiple events in her honor to celebrate her Life & Legacy at the House of Sweden in Georgetown with two new exhibitions.  Saturday marked the Bergman Centennial.  One of the world’s greatest actresses of all time, she was both beloved and controversial. She was seen as both a role model and a danger to the morals of society of the times.

While Leamer was finishing up the touches on As Time Goes By that would become a best-seller, I was a guest in his home in Santa Monica.  There was lots of anticipation as Dr. Petter Lindstrom, the Swedish surgeon whom actress Ingrid Bergman abandoned for a scandalous affair with and subsequent marriage to Italian director Roberto Rossellini and the father of her first child Pia, was expected for breakfast and Leamer wasn’t sure if he would show up.  He did and related how the marriage ended in a firestorm of scandal: Her fans were horrified. The affair was even denounced from the floor of the U.S. Senate.

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What's in Your Wallet?

August 26, 2015

If you were paying any attention to the stock market yesterday, you realize by now that your wallet has shrunk.  Some are calling it “Black Monday.” While it can’t all be blamed on the Chinese, we’d like to thank them anyway for “Unlocking the Gates of Hell” – a reference actually to a segment of The Hungry Ghost Festival (Yu Lan) during which many Chinese make efforts to appease their ancestors by ‘feeding’ them at roadside fires where they burn faux money and other offerings for use in the afterlife.  The US will likely hit 18.1 trillion in debt by mid-November, according to the Congressional Budget Office. We’d like to be appeased in this life.

We checked in with our economist friend Andrea Sommariva (formerly of the IMF in Washington) who has spent many years in China. He explained it this way: “There are several reasons why China has devalued the Yuan in recent weeks, ranging from falling exports to a declining growth rate. But there are some doubts whether devaluation of the Yuan and expanding public works will jolt the economy back into action. This is due to what is happening to China’s labour market. For many years, China’s labour market has been tight as people moved from rural areas to cities in search for work. From 2010, many people have aged out of the labour market, pushing the ratio of job offers to seekers upwards. This indicates that the China economy has reached a limit of its supply capacity. Economic stimulus, such as devaluations and public works, may have limited impacts on economic growth. The only way to revive economic growth is through increase productivity per worker, which requires a more efficient allocation of resources. But it will take some years to make workers more productive and, in China’s case, to liberalize the economy to achieve a more efficient allocation of resources.”

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