My first contact with Farrell Meisel was on the phone. He called me to offer me a job, in Buffalo, hosting PM Magazine. It was August 1980. It was the same day I met Helaine.
We’re still friends. Helaine and me too.
Farrell’s no longer in US TV. Nowadays he brings his TV expertise to foreign station owners.
He launched the first commercial channel in Russia, for Ted Turner, following the fall of the USSR in 1992, has done consulting in Turkey, ran a huge cluster of radio and TV networks in Singapore, inaugurated Alhurra, the US government funded Arab language TV station for the Mideast, and ran a TV station in Warsaw, Poland. I’m sure I’ve left something out.
At the moment, his consulting hat is on again. He’s in Bucharest, Romania.
Farrell is an ex-pat, the slang term for a foreign national abroad. He seems most comfortable in that role.
To me, the ex-pat life is a throwback to the 50s, with more structure and formality than modern day America. It is a life where there is still customer service and where men are addressed as “sir.”
Obviously, this is all a guess. I don’t even have a valid passport.
Yesterday, Farrell sent me some observations from Romania. I asked him if I could share?
Every city I’ve visited or worked in is unique, special and odd in its own way. It’s not a criticism, but a simple observation. You’d think, with all the traveling, I would have seen it all.
Bucharest has surprised me, too.
There aren’t enough parking spaces and lots in the city, so drivers create their own parking places!
For example: they just park in the middle of the street. That’s right, why park on the side when they can just park their car in the middle of the street or in front of another car, blocking a car?
They also park on side walks. Not just one or two cars, but several. Last night, there were three rows of cars parking on a side street, horizontally around the corner from my apart-hotel. Not in an assigned spot, but on the street.
I found it amazing that my driver, Nelu, could squeeze the company’s VW Passat through the narrow space between cars.
It is simply brilliant. Now I know why Romania is in the EU!
I laughed in amazement and had to explain to to Nelu why I was laughing. He said, “but, sir, this is Bucharest. Since the revolution we have no rules”.
Bucharest has a tram system like many classic European cities. Many of the routes are over unruly green grounds (the grass not cut due to underfunding by the government), but several parts of the routes are on pavement. Since traffic is so bad, and there are only 2 lanes on each side of the main streets, what do drivers do? Simple: They drive on the rails in front of or behind the trams!
This morning was the best. There must have been at least a dozen cars naturally driving on the center medium on one of the main lines in the center in the city . And the trams could not go anywhere.
I must have my camera ready later today or in tomorrow’s rush hour. Simply perfect.