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25. Best Subscriber Services: Getting It There
It's a pleasure dealing with The Wall Street Journal, and we will buy
their stock when others are getting too discontented. In their subscriber services,
we find the same commonsense, integrity, and accuracy that characterizes their editorial
operations. Example: I can get the paper delivered right to my door at our
North Carolina home, double wrapped on wet days. During Hurricane Floyd, the
Thursday paper was delivered on Friday. In contrast, I'm sorry to say The New
York Times just does not make it. Its billing is often fouled up, and the paper
did not make it--to the office--on the day of the storm, and no credit was issued.
This is yet another reason why The Journal is this country's--and maybe this
24. Best Article on Professional Services
This is the article from which everybody steals and which provides the real
content in those long, wordy books on the same subject by B-school professors.
Warren J. Wittreich, "How to Buy/Sell Professional Services," Harvard
Business Review, April, 1966, pp. 127-136. Whether you are buying or selling,
rendering or receiving, the essence of service is to get terribly concrete and specific.
The work really gets behind us as we go along by a process of iteration.
Click here for an abstract
of the article.
23. Best Adult Kids Car Catalogue
A couple of California guys, Steve and Slim, put it together, but the warehouse
seems to be in Nevada, probably to avoid taxes. Lilliput Motor Company, P. O. Box
447, Yerington, NV 89447; 800-846-8697. Comments to email@example.com. See http://www.lilliputmotorcompany.com.
Far better looking and far better quality that is available in all the catalogues
supposedly dealing with collectible cars. They're spreading out--current issue #38
has porcelain dolls. With a little coaching, these chaps could have a goldmine or,
at least, a tinmine.
22. Best Professional Brochure Ever
A long time ago, when less complicated minds ran consulting firms, CEOs knew how
to sell their wares in simple ways. Arthur D. Little, Inc. in Cambridge, for
instance, proved that it could solve technical problems for you by doing a booklet on
turning a sow's ear into a silk purse. It then proceeded to do just that.
Literally. See On the Making of Silk Purses from Sow's Ears: A Contribution to
Philosophy, Arthur D. Little, Inc. 1921. (Reprinted
21. Best Book Reviews: C-SPAN Booknotes, with Brian Lamb
Clearly C-SPAN, with its grave Congressional stew, has become our newspaper of record,
supplementing The New York Times. But, as with so many media outlets, its
most competent contribution does not have a huge amount to do with its basic charter.
The station head Brian Lamb interviews authors of many stripes, and his dry
questions lead us to know more about Churchill, or World Wars, or whatever, than we knew
before, even if we are omnivorous readers. This only reminds us how wanting are the
reviews we read in newspapers or scholarly journals where we learn more about the biases
of the reviewers and not much about the authors or the subjects at hand. See http://www.booknotes.org.
20. Best Advocate of America's New
Marvin Shanken's CIGAR AFICIONADO really does the trick.
Don't pay attention to the detail on cigars or wines (WINE SPECTATOR). Where he
does well is on the subjects that are not strictly in his franchise. In the October
1999 issue, for instance, read about fine pens, better bourbons, well-designed golf
courses, Italian tailors, or Windham Hill Records and its music for the age of
stress. At the end of each century, we have a Fat Cat Age of Excess. Shanken
gives some newbies the hope of doing it with style. See http://www.cigaraficionado.com.
Note: For those wanting to hear more about our materialism, see The New York
Times, August 16, 1999, p. B8, "The $2300 Pillow and the Selling of
Luxury." The article cites Robert Frank's Luxury Fever: Why
Money Fails to Satisfy in an Era of Excess" (Free Press) and James B.
Us Into Temptation: The Triumph of American Materialism (Columbia University).
The New York Times wants you to enjoy it while feeling guilty.
19. San Francisco's Best Little Book Shop
TILLMAN PLACE BOOKSHOP. And it's just off Union Square. We have seen
it stay supreme under two different owners. It's a literary shop--not for business
books and the like. A small nook up a small alley, it's always decorous and pleasant
to visit. And somehow it's not as glitzy as the rest of the retailers in
Yuppieville. 8 Tillman Place, San Francisco, CA 94108. Tel:
NOTE: Unfortunately, this proud bookstore has since
had to close.
18. The Best Deep, Deep Value
Value is out of fashion right now, as everybody buys growth stocks--either
Internet stocks that are making no money, or big cap brand names (e. g. Coca Cola)--who
will supposedly grow forever--but who have been stumbling lately. But deep, deep
value wins every year. In his TURNAROUND LETTER, and in his investment partnerships,
George Putnam is consistently up in good years and bad. He doesn't say much, but
what he does say has a habit of working out well. As best we can remember, his is
the only letter that Marlk Hulbert of Forbes has given an "A" in up and
17. New York's Best Japanese Restaurant
In the shadows of the Waldorf Astoria and Citibank, RESTAURANT NIPPON embraces
tradition and the future, becoming the first restaurant--legally--to feature fugu in the
United States. One guest, who loved crab, said he had never had softshell crab
anywhere that matched the preparation here. One Japanese heart attack victim had his
food catered from here and sent over to Bellvue while he was in recovery at New York's
most famous hospital. 155 E. 52nd St., New York, NY 10022. Telephone:
Update: Nippon’s Soba and Tofu
Diners who are troubled by fake wasabi or tired tuna had best pay a visit to Restaurant Nippon or its sister restaurant Soba Nippon at 19 West 52nd Street (212-489-2525), just around the corner from 666 Fifth Avenue. The owner has always very much made sure that he gets his ingredients right. That is, his was the first Japanese restaurant in America to legally offer fugu or blowfish. He grows the buckwheat for his soba on his own farms in Canada. But as well, he raises his own soybeans and makes his own tofu. Recently we visited with Mr. Kuraoka, Mr. Makoshi, his longtime general manager, Haruo Shibata, Chief Executive Chef, and, finally, Mr. Matsunaga who watches over Soba Nippon. Mr. Kuraoka presented us with tofu in a broth, surrounded by mushrooms and such. Surely this would be the soup of the gods. This is a dish we will be having on every occasion. New York’s crowd often is moving onto glitzier Japanese restaurants that lack dignity. Soba Nippon, his new place, has a vibrant trade, full of the usual rush-rush white-collar crowd that comes out of the midtown buildings. Kuraoka is wily enough to survive changing times, not by cheapening his fare, but by pressing yet more art into it. (09-01-10)
16. Best Place to Have Hernia
Surgery: Shouldice Hospital
First established in 1945, Shouldice is a private
hospital that specializes in hernia surgery. Located on thirty-two beautifully
wooded and landscaped acres, it seems more like an executive retreat rather than a
hospital facility. The very professional and attentive staff includes eleven
surgeons who utilize five operating rooms to conduct 32-36 hernia operations per day.
The "Shouldice method" of repair is unique and the recovery philosophy is
to get the patient ambulatory as soon after surgery as possible. Having experienced
hernia surgery in the US in 1989 and again at Shouldice in the summer of 1999, our
contributor highly recommends Shouldice, should you be considering hernia surgery.
Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
Phone: (905) 889-1125
Toll free: 1-800-291-7750
Fax: (905) 889-4216
15. Graphis: The World's Best Graphics Magazine
Founded in Switzerland, it's now a tale of two continents, with its publisher
located in New York City. All the best designers and photographers from around the
world want to be seen here. The writing has come up marvelously: Pete Hamill, for
instance, wrote a yeasty piece in a recent issue. Graphis books--around design--are
first-rate. See http://www.graphis.com
14. Best Barbecue and
You'll have to do a search through Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or your rare book
dealer. But this is a gem. Beinhorn's
Mesquite Cookery, Texas Monthly Press, 1986. Every recipe is tested, mostly
in Connecticut. I know because it was my weekend fare for about 30 weeks.
Designed by Mike Hicks of Hixo, certainly Austin's most original designer.
Best Public TV Station: WGBH in Boston - http://www.wgbh.org
From the Boston Pops to Mystery, it's clear that this
station supports culture, whereas the rest of the public stations usually descend to
chatter and political correctness.
12. Best Wall Street Newsletter:
"The DeVoe Report," by Ray DeVoe
Ray DeVoe has been around the track many times. Somewhere he learned to write terribly
well. So he essays well, not just about the market, but about movies, social security, and
the stock markets in Asia. No wonder he advises so many institutions: he has the ability
not to bore his clients to death, like most market commentators. See "The DeVoe
Report," Tel: 212-428-4908, Legg Mason Wood Walker, 1 Battery Park Plaza, New York,
11. Best Book on Writing Clearly
It's short, too. See William Zinsser, On Writing
Well (HarperReference, 6th ed., 1998). Journalist, educator, and general
good fellow, he's a close friend. So we're prejudiced. But somebody must
agree, since this remarkable little tome is frequently in reprinting. He explains
that one way to help lost souls write better is to have them explain in detail how
something works. We wonder if this would put an end to all the horrible
documentation spewed forth by computerdom.
10. Best U.S. Hotel
The Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco. The Mandarin soars because of a peculiar accident.
A gentleman from Asia talked management into putting its San Francisco hotel in an office
tower. Administration and banquet facilities are on the bottom floors, but the rooms are
40 stories up. If you get the right room, you get a 270º
view of the Bay Area from your bathtub. Happily, we were the first guests and we keep on
going back. Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 222 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104. Tel:
415-276-9888. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See web site at http://www.mandarin-oriental.com/sanfrancisco/index.html.
Update: Mandarin SF 26 Years Later
We were the first guests at the Mandarin San Francisco some 26 years ago. It is surprisingly durable, and still may be the most quietly spectacular hotel in these United States. The ample rooms, floating above San Francisco in a skyscraper, offer wide-angle views of the San Francisco region. Big Loss: The restaurant, just above the ground floor reception, is gone. It used to be a most pleasant meeting spot for those of us with business in the Financial District. The new cafe on the ground floor is strictly coffee shop with cuisine to match. Eat in your room if you are a guest and have dim sum for breakfast. Big New Winner: A sumptuous spa has just been added, and this will be a trophy restoration parlor in years to come as the Mandarin polishes up its staff and protocols. We notice that even the customers are a nice lot at this particular Mandarin. (8/14/13)
9. Best Wine Chart
Most wine charts don't work, especially the ones in major publications which have
simplistic 1-10 grading scales. Who would have thought that a charming Canadian oil
consultant would have the right stuff, but he does. We've used this chart for at least 10
years. Mr. J. Richard Harris, #820, 717 7th Avenue S.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2P
OZ3, TEL: 403-269-3132.
8. Best Newsweekly
As youths, we read Time, but it, and similar U.S. publications, have
lost it. Thank goodness for The Economist, as much American now as it is British.
We hope it will expand its cultural coverage, which is first-rate. And its special
articles -- be they on countries, finance, innovation, etc. -- could use a little more
intellectual focus. But The Economist is well-written, broad, often deep, and
often the first to comment on important, obscure developments. The Economist,
25 St. James Street, London, SW1A 1HG, TEL: 071-839-7000. See http://www.economist.com.
7. Best New Orleans Everyday Coffee
New Orleans is the home of American coffee, though Seattle is trying to become a
Johnnie-come-lately. But don't pay for fancy packaging at the tourist coffee places. Order
from Caroline Lutz at Try Me Coffee, 1014 France Street, New Orleans, LA 70117, TEL:
6. Best Flower Shop in Dallas
Caroline Rose Hunt owns Dallas's best downtown hotel and is the former owner of the best
flower shop. There is really nowhere else to go for spectacular flowers. If you tour the
lobby of the Crescent Hotel, you will see spectacular paintings and great floral displays.
With this sense of decor, it's no wonder that Zen Floral Studio is a wonderful flower
shop. Zen Floral Studio, 3858 Oak Lawn Avenue, Suite 149, Dallas, Texas 95219, TEL:
5. Best Cure for Various Skin Conditions
Collagenase goes to work on collagen and collagen build-up, so it is the magic powder that
deals with bedsores et al. It shows promise for a host of other troublesome conditions.
BioSpecifics Technologies Corporation (BSTC). See website: http://www.biospecifics.com.
4. Best tea in the United States
Most of the teas offered in gourmet shops and fine hotels are neither fresh nor
fine. Certainly all the English imports have suffered on the journey to these shores.
Every morning we drink Winey Keemun, but the other varieties are standouts
as well. Grace Tea Company Ltd.,
Avenue, #810, New York, NY 10010. Telephone/Fax: (212) 255-2935.
3. Best Popular Science Weekly
The New York Times, still our nation's most comprehensive newspaper, has
on many counts, declined from greatness over several generations. Its national political
coverage is pockmarked and not penetrating. It never gets to the story of New York,
particularly New York City. At the margins, it has little pockets of excellence -- the
health columns, the furniture essays, and the new Circuits section on computers.
But the Tuesday Science Times section never fails. It's accurate, far-reaching,
and imaginative. You can learn about the Lochness monsters, all the goings-on in space,
the air pollution generated by trees, and new safe peach oil insecticides that may replace
other dangerous chemicals. We may try some peach brew on our roses. The New York Times,
229 West 43rd Street, New York, New York 10036, TEL: 212-556-1234. http://www.nytimes.com.
2. Best Way to Listen to Cole Porter
There was a time when cynicism could be coupled with elegance, wit, and melody. Now we
have talk shows that say too much without any pretense of style. To invoke Cole Porter and
generations of great performers, get You're the Top.
And, as a chaser, try the Hoagy Carmichael. Indiana Historical Society, 315 West Ohio
Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, TEL: 800 IHS-1830.
1. Best Whimsical, Hand-Made Bow Ties
We were reminded by a reporter of this wonderful creator of bow ties, while having a drink
in the Meridien's special bar in Boston, certainly the way to end the day after a run of
meetings in the financial district. As I remember, the folks from Cheshire make these
orders up in their basement, apparently for some 40 years. Ann and Don Lowe, Lowe Bow
Originals, 1216 Wolf Hill Road, Cheshire, Connecticut 06916, TEL: 203-272-6172.
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