Southern Man

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

World Business Forum Day 1

WBF 2011 was held at the Jacob Jarvis Convention Center, a complex on the west side of Manhatten, and consists mainly of several thousand people in a huge room listening to various captains of industry up on the stage.

At registration and in the meeting hall. Photos by assorted students.

That stage contained a grand piano and Southern Man waited with considerable anticipation for someone to make use of it. The morning and early-afternoon speakers ranged from OK to pretty good (Bill George was almost inspiring - he'd do well for a while and then spout some Harvardian nonsense - and Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, was particularly disappointing) but the man who stole the show (and made frequent use of said piano) was the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. He was lively and engaging and funny and gave us all permission to add "sang under the direction of Ben Zander" on our resumes. Oh, yes - "in German." He earned the first standing ovation of the day, even after going long by forty minutes and not only consuming out afternoon break but going into Bill Clinton's time.

Photo from the WBF Flickr site. Bill didn't play the sax or the piano.

Yes, the former president was the last speaker of the day. Southern Man heard Clinton speak 'way back in his governor days (at the Arkansas Governor's School for the Gifted and Talented, at which Southern Man taught one summer) and was most impressed, to the point of predicting that Clinton would go far on the national stage. Southern Man made a similar prediction after hearing (on TV) a speech by a fiery but relatively unknown senator from Illinois, giving him a good record for picking winners in the D column. Well, that was then and this was now; Clinton more or less phoned in his speech and covered his usual territory of late. Southern Man would guess that the house went from packed to a third empty during that time. Southern Man tuned him out when he complained about conservatives being "anti-immigration." For some reason liberals always omit the "illegal" part of that issue and Clinton predictably stuck to the party line. He was still pretty funny and Southern Man may use the page of notes he took to write a separate post on his talk. Until then, here's a summary from the Wall Street Journal.

Getting to and from the Javits Center was easy as they ran shuttles between there and the hotels. The only real down sides were constant pain (Southern Man is going through his new bottle of hydrocodone at a frightening pace) and the tasteless lunch he dropped $20 on (a "barbecue and ale" place that had tasteless potato salad and no ale). But once home he picked up a gyro from a street vendor and got a small bottle of milk and a bag of M&Ms at the deli. Guess which cost more? He should have done a better job packing snacks. And now he is going to soak in the whirlpool and go to bed, for tomorrow is another day!


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