So off to Boston, home of red socks, with the hope of experiencing one of those delightful tea parties the city is famed for and reliving the joyous cries of “the British are coming!”. The main purpose of the trip was actually to participate in the annual SAP user conference, with the underlying goal of having a really nice birthday. The first couple of days were pretty standard, critically acclaimed presentations, press discussions and general networking in the brand spanking new Boston Convention Center, inconveniently located in the middle of nowhere.
The 18th was naturally rather special. Luncheon consisted of clam chowder and a huge juicy (red) lobster, and was followed by a bit of work. Then after a quick nap, it was off to the auspicious Finale Restaurant. Finale is famed for the lack of main courses it serves. Appetizers and desserts are its specialty with an emphasis on desserts. Chocolate fluffy creations after chocolate creation emerged from the kitchen and we waddled out of the restaurant with smiles on our faces. But the evening was not over yet. Clutching the VIP tickets we staggered to the first (12:01 am) USA showing of the 3rd Star Wars movie – Revenge of the Sith. I finally got to bed at 03:30 and the press and customer discussions next day were a bit of a blur. Still I have not read any negative publicity of the red-eyed man (yet).
Following Boston, it was gentle 4 hour drive to West Point to see one of the most talented musicians I know. That evening, I thoroughly enjoyed an excellent concert, the highlight of which was a compilation of show tunes from Mary Poppins. The next morning New York was on the agenda. A visit to ground zero, shopping, and even an failed attempt to get ticket to Monty Python’s Spamalot did not deter from the enjoyment. After saying my good-byes to the gorgeous cats and deaf dog (a musician owning a deaf dog, there is a joke there somewhere), it was off to Miami.
Miami weather was a shock. After the rainy 6°c (42°f) fleece and coat weather of New York, Miami’s 33°c (92°f) humidity and beating sun really hit after exiting the plane (especially as I was still wearing the fleece and coat).
The first evening was spent watching an all American basket ball game – the Miami Heat vs. the Detroit Pistons. The American Airlines Arena in Miami seats 19,600 amongst which was LL Cool J, Gloria Estefan and myself. The difference was that the celebrities (excluding myself) had comfy ring-side seats. We, on the other hand, were so far away we literally had our backs to the wall – well, backs to the where the wall connected with the ceiling would be more accurate. But fear not, I did not get my shirt dirty as the ushers insisted I wear the rather red Heat T-Shirt (which everyone entering the building was issued with). We were so far back from the court that the Miami Heat’s star player, Shaquille O’Neal (2.16 meters (7 foot, 1 inch) tall), was reduced to the size of a scurrying ant.
It was an exciting game, with cheerleaders dressed in red (of which there were two distinct groups, one with an average age of 18, the other 70) and the tension really built at the score reached 78-78 in the 4th quarter. However, all this red did not help Miami as the Detroit Pistons won 92 to 86. Americans are a funny lot – to speed up the game the ball has to hit a basket hoop every 24 seconds, or play reverts to the opposing team – yet they slow down the game by inserting huge pauses at regular intervals so commercials can run. Make up your bloody minds! Four 15 minute quarters thus took over three hours. I guess it gives the concession stands, beer vendors and crap souvenir shops more time to sell more concessions, beer and overpriced crap (the Shaquille O’Neal doll in the picture was a snip at $420, complete with nodding head.)
The final evening was spent on a boat trip around Miami, viewing the back-end of the $10 – $35 million villas of the mega-rich and famous. Our knowledgeable captain had a story to tell about just about every house from Madonna’s ex-house (she had to move out as the neighbors complained about the wild parties) to the incredible mansion financed by latex gloves, the inventor of which lived there.
From Miami, is was a quick dash home to follow my 2nd career, more of that in the next few days..