Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Spring Break!  Ooh La La!  Well, give me a break.  M and I had a fun filled weekend:  Staying at the Riviera Hotel (we had an extravagant Gift Certificate) in a suite, having a massage, dining on wonderful food and relaxing.  EXCEPT!  The pool area was crowded with college age kids drinking, cruising and showing of their beautiful bodies.  This old grump could barely handle it.  Not an ounce of fat on any of them.  Seriously tho', the staff at the hotel is first rate, the chef is first rate, and the hotel is first rate.

Saturday we went to a Gamma Mu cocktail party (don't even bother to ask what GM is).  There were about 100 guys drinking, no cruising and lots of good conversation.  Then on to dinner at Trio with a couple of good friends.  Who said there is still a recession?  The place was packed.  Good food, fair prices, lively atmosphere.  Can't complain.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I believe I mentioned we had purchased a weekend getaway in Rancho Mirage.  Also, that we are fortunate to have secured the advice of a superb architect, Lance O'Donnell  (See his own house in DWELL magazine) and the services of 2 very savvy contractors, Fred and Mario.  With all things "top" the renovation of the 1957 Wexler designed property is going to take time.  As we used to say in the clothing  business, we had wanted it finished "yesterday".  However, Terrazzo for the flooring takes 8 weeks after ordering, plans needed to be approved and when you told the architect that there should be 2 hooks in the guest bath:  the plans were changed again!  Now all is go: what with the flooring being ordered today, plans approved and, of course, knowing we will be way over budget.  Luckily, M is very good at finding appliances and fixtures at a reasonable price on the internet, so that will help with overall cost.  If Paris was a trial selling and moving out of; this project will be exciting and moving into.  Demolition begins TODAY!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Immediate Benefits
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act include health insurance market reforms that will bring immediate benefits to millions of Americans, including those who currently have coverage. The following benefits will be available in the first year after enactment of the two bills.
Small Business Tax Credits
Offers tax credits to small businesses beginning in 2010 to make employee coverage more affordable. Tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums will be immediately available to firms that choose to offer coverage. The full credit will be available to firms with 10 or fewer employees with average annual wages of $25,000, while firms with up to 25 or fewer employees and average annual wages of up to $50,000 will also be eligible for the credit. Effective calendar year 2010. Later, when Exchanges are operational, tax credits will be up to 50 percent of premiums
No Pre-existing Coverage Exclusions for Children
Prohibits health insurers from excluding coverage of pre-existing conditions for children. Effective six months after enactment, applies to all employer plans and new plans in the individual market. (This provision will apply to all people in 2014).
Access to Affordable Coverage for the Uninsured with Pre-existing Conditions
Provides $5 billion in immediate federal support for a new program to provide affordable coverage to uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions until new Exchanges are operational in 2014. Effective 90 days after enactment.
Closing the Coverage Gap in the Medicare (Part D) Drug Benefit
Provides a $250 rebate check for Medicare beneficiaries who hit the ‘donut hole’ in 2010. Effective calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2011, institutes a 50 percent discount on brand- name drugs in the donut hole; also fills the donut hole by 2020.)
Patient Protections
Protects patients’ choice of doctors by allowing plan members to pick any participating primary care provider, prohibiting insurers from requiring prior authorization before a woman sees an ob-gyn, and ensuring access to emergency care. This provision applies to all new plans. Effective six months after enactment.
Re-insurance for Retiree Health Benefit Plans
Creates immediate access to re-insurance for employer health plans providing coverage for early retirees, helping to protect coverage while reducing premiums for employers and retirees. Effective 90 days after enactment.Extension of Coverage for Young Adults
Requires insurers to permit children to stay on family policies until age 26. Effective six months after enactment, applies to all plans in the individual market, new employer plans, and existing employer plans if a young adult is not eligible for employer coverage.
Free Prevention Benefits
Requires coverage of prevention and wellness benefits in all new plans and exempts these benefits from deductibles and other cost-sharing requirements in public and private insurance coverage. Effective six months after enactment.
Free Prevention and Wellness Visits in Medicare
Medicare beneficiaries will receive a free, annual wellness visit and will have all cost-sharing waived for preventive services. Effective January 1, 2011.
Access to Quality Care for Vulnerable Populations
Makes $11 billion investment over five years in Community Health Centers to provide the funding needed to expand access to health care in communities where it is needed most. Effective Fiscal Year 2010.
Ensuring Value for Premium Payments
Establishes standards for insurance overhead and requires public disclosure to ensure that enrollees get value for their premium dollars, requiring plans in the individual and small group market to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on clinical services and quality activities, and 85 percent for plans in the large group market. Health insurance plans that do not meet these thresholds will provide rebates to their policyholders. Effective January 1, 2011. This provision applies to all plans, including grandfathered plans, with the exception of self-insured plans.
No Lifetime Limits on Coverage
Prohibits insurers from imposing lifetime limits on benefits. Effective six months after enactment, applies to all plans.
Regulated Annual Limits on Coverage
Tightly regulates plans’ use of annual limits to ensure access to needed care in all group plans and all new individual plans. These tight restrictions will be defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Effective six month after enactment, applies to new plans in the individual market and all employer plans. (When the Exchanges are operational in 2014, the use of annual limits will be banned for new plans in the individual market and all employer plans.)
Protection from Rescissions of Existing Coverage
Stops insurers from rescinding insurance when claims are filed, except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact. Effective six months after enactment, applies to all new and existing plans.
Prohibits Discrimination Based on Salary
Prohibits new group health plans from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that have the effect of discriminating in favor of higher wage employees. Effective six months after enactment.
Public Access to Comparable Information on Insurance Options
Enables creation of a new website to provide information on and facilitate informed consumer choice of insurance options. Effective not later than July 1, 2010.
Health Insurance Consumer Information
Provides assistance to States in establishing offices of health insurance consumer assistance or health insurance ombudsman programs to assist individuals with the filing of complaints and appeals, enrollment in a health plan, and, eventually, to assist consumers with resolving problems with tax credit eligibility. Effective Fiscal Year 2010.
Appeals Process
Requires all new health plans to implement an effective process for appeals of coverage determinations and claims. And, states will provide an external appeals process to ensure an independent review. Effective six months after enactment.
Increasing the Number of Primary Care Providers
Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals. Effective Fiscal Year 2010.
New, Voluntary, Long-Term Care Insurance Program
Creates a long-term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become disabled. Effective January 1, 2011.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Geez, when I think of all of FT's 40's Danish Modern furniture I put up for auction at a mediocre auction house here in LA:  I could "you know what".   M and I feel the simplicity of the furniture to be in accord with the house in RM we are renovating.  Not lots of it, but a couple of important pieces.  Wouldn't you know that the stuff is trendy again and with "trendy" goes an escalation in prices.  Finding pieces that are not so expensive will be an adventure in decorating.   Today we high-tailed it over to Silver Lake and discovered a small store with furniture that was not only of good quality but fair prices.  (Kinda renews our faith in honest merchants.)  There are a number of stores in Los Angeles dealing in Danish Modern and there is a terrific one in Portland Oregon.  But!  Why not just get on a plane and go to Denmark.   I am researching prices there too.  Aquavit anyone?

Friday, March 19, 2010


"That face that face that fabulous face."  In Beverly Hills everyone sues for just about anything.  If I hadn't signed the disclaimer I think I might have called my lawyer.  Each day is a different "look".  Three days of ice packs and one day of heating.  Now I am told that in "a couple of weeks" all should go back to normal. A couple of weeks!  I gotta lot of shopping to do.  M has insisted we go for a walk this evening.  I insist on wearing a big hat, dark glasses and a huge scarf around my face.  If I go to Whole Foods, Beverly Hills, I will probably blend right in with all of those ladies and their grotesque face-lifts.  So why should care?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Tucker died.  He and his then partner, Chuck, and I were close friends in the 50's and 60's, but as often happens, we drifted apart.  Chuck, who later on preferred to be called "Charles", became an alcoholic and Tucker joined Al Anon: better to cope and understand Chuck's alcoholism.  Through the past years I rarely saw Tucker and the last time was in a coffee shop.  He said "Larry, there aren't many of us old friends left".
I am now reminded of Sondheim's song from Merrily We Roll Along: Old Friends.


Had some dental surgery on Monday where the eminent Dr. Moy performed a synthetic bone transplant to later replace two missing teeth with implants.  Nobody ever really tells you what the recovery of surgery will be.  Oh a little swelling.  Today I awoke and my face looked exactly like the Hunchback of Notre Dame but without the Hump.  I called the doctor's office and was told that the swelling would recede  in about 2 - 3 weeks!  The positive side:  I can only eat soft food, no alcohol - Think weight loss.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Sole Meunier at 38 dollars?  You gotta be kidding!  Had the roasted baby chicken .   Didn't really "have" the chicken but ate the chicken...Oh!  Whatever!  Perfect!


Just the same old same old this weekend which isn't bad.  Dined at Le Petit Four on Sunset Plaza with M and two friends.  The place is congenial, good food, not expensive and good service.  A pleasant and casual experience.  Caught up on my piano practicing today- reading some Beethoven Sonatas, Chopin Nocturnes and a couple of Albeniz pieces.  Tonight we go to Pane Vino.  I love their Sole Meuniere and am looking forward to having it.  Tomorrow we go walking on the Palisade in Santa Monica (sounds like a big deal but it is good exercise and the view of the ocean is beautiful).  Sunday an early dinner 'cause I am having dental surgery early Monday morning, a movie on the Tele and early to bed.
Ain't Life Grand?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Last evening was memorable.  The Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (yes, I still am a Francophone) gave a superb all Ravel performance at UCLA's Royce Hall.  It opened with Ma mere l'Oye (Mother Goose Suite.)  Then the ethereal Swedish soprano Anne Sofie von Otter sang 4 songs in the loveliest of voices.  Her cool calm is completely suited to the other-worldly configurations of Ravel.  And then!  My favorite - Daphnis et Chloe': Suite 1 & 2.  A magnificent performance utilizing the wonderful acoustics of the Hall.  The program ended with an absolutely smashing La Valse.  The physical restraint of the conductor Myung-Whun Chung  is refreshingly in contrast to the conducting of Dudamel: while still obtaining the multitudes of musical colorations from the orchestra.  An exhilarating concert!  What luck to have experienced a first-rate musical evening without the jet-lag.  I have heard this orchestra at the Salle Pleyel in Paris and often wondered why there is a remarkable difference in the sound of French orchestras in comparison to American orchestras.  I'll be damned if I know!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


After my being in bed for 5 days with a horrible cold, rainy Saturday night we went to a party and to Vermont - the replacement restaurant for Marks.  Bustling with a very mixed crowd.  Too bad it's so far away in Hollywood.  Horrors having to go East of La Brea!  I paid for the fun on Sunday with a relapse.  Early Sunday morning we went to our first HOA meeting in RM  (tired of writing 'Rancho Mirage') and feeling a bit under the weather I endured, what with M doing the driving there and back.  We met our congenial new neighbors with me minimally participating in the meeting, cadged a quick sandwich at friend's,  and got back home just in time for the biggy Oscar movie awards.  None of which I've seen.  Back again last night at Piccolini for a comforting meal.  The Special was veal sausages with spaghetti Arrabiata.  Mmmmm good!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


How about a restaurant with good service, terrific ambiance, very good food and absolutely nothing to complain about.  That restaurant is Piccolino on Robertson Blvd.  Silvio, one of the owners, is charming and attentive:  unlike that jerk at Sur.  The tables are placed spaciously in a fairly compact area and you never have the feeling of being crowded.  Service is delightful all the way from the owner, hostess, waiter to the busboy.  I had a sensational Linguini with lemon and sage.  Simple and delicious.  There were 7 of us for lunch and everyone enjoyed their choices.  I ordered a house Toscana chianti which was a perfect compliment to the pasta.  For desert, Silvio sent over a gift of a large bowl of dark, rich chocolate Mousse.  I realize these accolades are a bit over the top, but after my experience at Sur - it was a revelation.

I've booked for dinner this coming Monday, looking forward to Fegato ala Veneziano.  Holy cholesterol!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Have been bedded with a very bad cold but there have been some bright spots in this day.  Cough Cough.

I heard from 3 persons long out of my past - all because of being on the web.  How wonderful it is to hear from old friends.  We forget what they meant and do mean to us.  Of course I paraphrase when I say "Does anyone still write a letter"?  (Or wear a hat?)  Our lives move on but there are no friends like old friends.

M is making dinner to be served to me in bed.  There are some perks to being ill.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

SUR correction

Sorry folks.  I made an error.  The prices were not high.  It was all of the martinis we drank.  They add up. Specially with this group!