Thursday, June 23, 2016

Remo the Merchant is Back


REMO is back for this third act. From Bondi. If you were wandering up Oxford St in Sydney in the late 80s and 90s, when Oxford St was the most interesting part of Sydney (remember Kinselas when it was running hot at the cabaret), REMO was a compulsory stop. Remo Guiffire was/is one of the world’s eclectic retailers and his store was a treasure trove of interesting stuff, from t-shirts and badges to , diaries, calendars, books, cards, gadgets, thoughtful gifts and just simply fun and joyful stuff. Remo was in The Lovemarks Effect book because he so clearly understood Loyalty Beyond Reason. Remo is a thinker, creative leader and senior TEDster with a record as an entrepreneur, retail merchant and brand builder. “Over the years I have done a great deal of thinking about experiences, brands and people; and what it takes to engage and create desire.” REMO spells the last four letters of customer…backwards…that’s Remo for you.

Image attribute/source: shopify.com / tumblr.com / Remo Giuffre

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Greatest Game


In 1924 in Paris, a rugby team of American college players represented the USA in rugby at the Olympic Games, and against all odds were successful in winning the Gold Medal.

It was a battle initially to convince the U.S. Olympic Committee to compete in rugby, but Australian Danny Carroll who was living in San Francisco after winning double Olympic Gold Medals in Rugby in 1908 as a member of the Australasian team and also in 1920 as a member of the USA team, convinced the USOC to send a team to defend the Rugby Gold Medal. Then French immigration and other officials tried to deny them entrance to France when they arrived at the port, cancelled their hotel reservations and locked them out of the training grounds. As a major rugby playing country and host of the games, France had included rugby as one of the events because they felt they were certain to win the Rugby Gold Medal.

In the event, the American college students overcame all the obstacles put in their way, including openly hostile fans who threatened the safety of American fans, and also the team at the end of the game until they were surrounded and protected by French players and gendarmes and escorted off the field, after the Americans had convincingly defeated France to win the Rugby Gold Medal.

This was a USA international sporting team victory akin to that of the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. college ice hockey players at the 1980 Olympics who defeated the seemingly invincible professional Russian Red Army team and then went on to Olympic Gold and the hearts of all American sports fans.

Rugby has not been included in the Olympic Games since 1924 and after a 92 year absence will reappear this year in Brazil. USA has already qualified in both men’s and women’s rugby, to be one of the 12 top rugby countries competing for Gold, where USA is the defending Rugby Gold Medal holder. Based on their current international performances, each of the Men’s and Women’s teams has a genuine chance of winning a medal.

Rugby is the fastest growing team sport in the U.S. and in November 2014 a sellout crowd of 61,500 watched the USA Eagles play the World Champion New Zealand All Blacks in Chicago at Soldier’s Field.

In 2016 the USA Eagles were runners-up in the first Annual Americas Rugby Championship after playing Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, and the first fully professional league for rugby in the U.S. will be launched. A 24/7 U.S. rugby cable channel will be up and running in 2016, and in 2018 the Rugby Sevens World Cup is being hosted in San Francisco.

The rugby movie Invictus (Morgan Freeman – Matt Damon), featuring the South African and New Zealand teams at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, was a major box office success in the USA and globally, and a movie is now being made to show the challenges the American college rugby players had to face in 1924 in order to just take the field and then win the epic Gold Medal event.

One of Hollywood’s most successful Writer/Directors, Oscar-nominated Ron Shelton, is writing and directing this project and he has a Who’s Who credit list for sports related films including Bull Durham (Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins), Tin Cup (Kevin Costner, Renee Russo, Don Johnson), White Men Can’t Jump (Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez), Cobb (Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Wuhl, Lolita Davidovich), Play it to the Bone (Antonio Banderas, Woody Harrelson, Tom Sizemore, Lucy Liu), Blue Chips (Nick Nolte, Shaquille O’Neal), The Best of Times (Robin Willians, Kurt Russell) and Jordan Rides the Bus.

The producer is now raising $25 million to cover the production costs for this movie and a full information package is available for review. The first tranche of $350K has been funded to cover the writing of the shooting script and initial location scouting, casting and development expenses.

If you’re interested give my good friend Bill Middleton a yell.

Bill Middleton, President, Corporate Capital Group, Inc.
954 Lexington Ave, Suite 242, New York, NY, 10021
Tel: 212 988 0394,
Fax: 212 658 9300,
Cell: 917 771 8005,
Email: billmidd@gmail.com

Image attribute/source: 1924 USA Rugby Team / wikimedia.org

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Visitamos Los Olivos


A guest blog from Robin Dyke, rugby player, published poet, mentor and Old Friend – on our first visit to The Olive Groves of Andalusia… to the home of my friend of 55 years, judge Phillip Sycamore and Morecambe Grammar School better half, Sandra.


The Players
Andalusia, Spanish: Andalucía, a south-western European region established as an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain; the most populated and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities in Spain.

The olive tree, Olea europaea, an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean, the source of olive oil a core ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Long considered sacred, the olive over the centuries has been a symbol of peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and purity.

Old Friends, they shine like diamonds/Old friends, you can always call/Old friends, Lord, you can’t buy’em/Ya know, it’s old friends after all – Guy Clark

The Setting
Backdrop the storied historical and cultural ambiance of Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. Fill in a series of sierras and rolling hills within the triangled boarders of Granada, Córdoba and Malaga. Dot these southern Andalusia hills with olive trees in checkerboard symmetry as far as the eye can span so they are more numerous than the grains of sand of the Costa Del Sol and you are close to your destination. With the pale turquoise waters of the Embalse de Iznájar, the largest reservoir in the whole of Andalusia, below you, one final upward winding narrow road and Villa “Los Olivos” tranquilly embraces you.

The Experience
The expectation is five days at Los Olivos to be staged all well within the confines of its cool white walls, trellised walkways and patios and inviting pool – all prompts for live life slow lines; relax, connect with the setting, your hosts and fellow guests. And so it was, yet... our gracious hosts in addition to their Villa centred hospitality provided an abundance of exploratory excursions and culinary delights. While strolling visits to small “white towns” and an awe inspiring visit to The Alhambra monument complex in Granada were unexpected highlights, the true delight of Los Olivos was the range of the gastronomical experiences arranged in five acts.
  • Act One – on site, Phillip’s Los Olivos “paella”, a savoury combination of chorizo, pork belly, prawns, chicken, peppers and rice spiced with saffron. Judged fantastico!

  • Act Two – tapes at the Bodegas Castaneda, Granada’s oldest classic tapas bar. Stepping back in standing room only time with the locals at the long dark wood bar, enjoying the flurry of tapas variety, the anchovies on foie gras to die for. Try a taste of the unique ambiance at here.

  • Act Three – dinner down the lane from home at Cortijo La Haza, a generous and wholesome three course home style table d’hotel.

  • Act Four – a winding trip up to the small town of Algarinejo for an astounding fourteen course slow food tasting. A four hour dazzling display of creativity and engaging of all five senses by Chef Jose Caracuel at his Casa Piolas Bar and Restaurant. The servings with elements of cirque du soleil alchemy were truly priceless, ingredients included: stacked olives with olive caviar, jamon and salamis hung from a drift wood clothesline, warm salad with creamy goat cheese, chocolate rounds stuffed with pate and shaved orange rind, mushroom cream soup, smoked eel between crunchy pastry, seared tuna with wasabi, salmon with quince, squid civicci, sea bass, melt in your mouth pork cheeks, fruit and sherbet in a mist of dry ice! Not to mention a very fine Pago de Los Capellanes 2012 Ribera de Duro.

  • Act Five – the sedate finale, an exquisite formally served dinner at Barceló La Bobadilla, a luxurious resort catering a “natural setting stay in one place retreat” in a stunning combination of buildings, gardens and recreational facilities. A graciously tranquillizing and satisfying dining ending gratefully played out.
Of course, the sacred act of olives shared amidst the on and off stage asides and lines played as they came, unrehearsed in early morning encounters, at pool side, during hora feliz or under the enlightening stars – stitching the unfolding canvas of relationship in a tighter wrap. All the kinship enactment of old friends who are old friends after all.

A grateful curtain call and standing ovation to Los Olivos co-host directors, players and old friends – Sandra and Phillip Sycamore.

Amigos de salida por el momento – continuará

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Good Times


One of my favourite TV shows as a teenager in the 60’s was ‘The Monkees’ which started airing in 1966. Micky Dolenz (Circus Boy), Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones contributed to the zany, upbeat madness – and also produced some classic songs, ‘Daydream Believer’, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’, and ‘I’m a Believer’ were all part of my teenage summers in Morecambe. Davy Jones died recently, but a week or so ago the Monkees released their first album in 20 years – Good Times. With songs written by Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Rivers Cuomo, Andy Partridge – and classics from earlier times by Neil Diamond and Harry Nilsson. Classic summer time music as NYC hits 90° over the weekend and the City empties – great lyrics, great harmonies. Good Times.

Image attribute/source: monkees.net / wikimedia.org

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Pain of Loss


People feel the pain of losses much more than they feel the pleasure of gains. All Black Captain Sean Fitzpatrick has told me many times how the Team used the pain of defeat as motivation never to suffer defeat (and that feeling) ever again. Losing is twice as painful as winning is enjoyable… so watch our Presidential Candidates focus on fear of losing something – rather than stressing the positives… a miserable few months lie in store!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

In Praise of the Perfect Wine Glass


Mozart was born in 1756. And that year, Johann Leopold Riedel fired up what has become today, the pre-eminent maker of wine glasses in the world.  From war torn Bohemia and a Europe in flux, to Brexit and Europe still in flux, stride the mighty Austrian Glass Kings. I’ve been a fan – and dedicated user and believer – through their Sommeliers range in 1973, Vinum in the 80’s, Ouverture in 1989 and Vinum XL 20 years later. Now the ultimate glass to enjoy Bordeaux – the Riedel Superleggero – the beautiful way to enjoy the intricacies of bouquet, texture, flavour and finish. Enjoy!!

Image attribute/source: Maximilian Riedel / magazine.designbest.com