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More than most, Gerhardstein is amiable to me bringing you into the relationship. Our Geeta rarely allows the Tribe to come between us. This time, I spent the whole day working with Richard. I can call him that, Helen told me so. He said right away “So you bring that thing everywhere, how do people react?” Not so well, I have to put it down sometimes. Figuring that I might as well be honest, I showed him the recording software. Tell him that he might have been, or is to
be recorded, but disguise it as a computer tutorial. I just set the machine down and push this button to record. They don’t know that I am archiving their words, yawns and belches. So, that’s illegal. I need to stop doing it really. I’ll do that after New Year’s, when I quit smoking, lose weight, and start eating right. “Does the recording do you much good?” I am paranoid about forgetting something important. There is voice recognition software called Nuance, it doesn’t work that well. It allows me to edit instead of retyping
it all. It does a shitty job really. In fact it won’t get the word “shitty”; that will cause it to slow down on memory and the next three or four minutes won’t even be usable. The software is from a job I worked a while back. So this is illegal recording on pirated software. I can turn it off if you like. Then Get This, Tribe!!! He approves of my recording!
“Leave it on, I think it’s interesting.” OK, I will just edit this together tonight. (That is now. What sort of tense would this be referred to as? I am doing that. There’s a There are
whole bunch more than just past, present and future. ones like poo-perfect. I don’t think it is that.)
There was to be more than a jazz show and chatting in this visit. On this second day with Gerhardstein, he was concerned mainly with questions about Open Source Pharmaceutical Development in practice. I won’t just straight up transcribe, as that isn’t Tribe-like. like this. “Have you even thought about the difficulty this would present in practice? What are the processes? What steps one would have to take?” Dare I say yes? I had thought about it. It felt like he was saying something
I handed over three hundred and twenty two pages I had printed for him. I had thought of these things. Those pages were the lion’s of the edited portion of written about the theories. He went back and forth from deep interest in what I showed him and skeptical interrogation of the efficacy of my … Is it a proposal? Certainly not I don’t see myself as trying to sell him on this idea, like I was grant writing or in an interview. He does however have far more interest in it than I, or anyone, would expect. Then, what would I expect? At first, he probably just had a curiosity about something my wife told him. He wanted to be nice, being interested is nice. Maybe it was the only thing he found the least bit interesting about what she had discussed about me. I know he likes Geeta a lot, and not in any sort of unseemly fashion. His wife seems to like her just as much. She has known them for a long time. People would immediately say “she is like a daughter to
both of them”. I don’t think they would say that, mostly because of how cliché a phrase that is. He wanted to continue the discussion on from our dinner, and he really wanted to hear some jazz. I can understand that. On the same note that being interested is part and parcel of being nice; he was remaining interested in something about me that might hold the attention of someone like him. The third level of interest that I ascertained was when he told me about this big AIDS conference address he was to give. That was the level that actually both made me feel the honor and justification of his intrigue; it also assuaged my suspicion of his authenticity. At that point, I am thinking I might provide him with some portion of his speech. I don’t have an idea of immediate value to the AIDS research community. If this Open Drug thing were a reality, someday, it could produce some kind of AIDS drug. I doubt he would be up to jump on trying to make it a reality. Like me, he probably just wants to inspire. That’s what good speeches do. Now we come to the point in our second session of conversation where he begins questioning the plausibility of the
entire concept. I am willing to suffer this questioning for a while. Hell; he is my wife’s boss and my livelihood in the onagain-off-again epic of my consultancy. I will entertain these questions until they stop for some reason, or until my Geeta tells me to stop. It is kind of off-putting, but I doubt I will mention this to her. She could get really unpleasant. She is real excited that I met him and his wife and I said he liked me. a negative vibe, it ruins the whole thing for her. I don’t know what the hell this kraut wants from me. He says he likes my ideas, but does he really? Conceivably he really wants to run with my pipe dream. By the nature of pipe dreams then, it becomes his. I am used to advocating Lucifer for myself on the plausibility within my Tribal content. It seems Satan has Gerhardstein on retainer now. Traitor! I knew he was a serpent when I picked him up. I make a joke, to myself, in my own diatribe about being a “devil’s advocate”. I take that joke a few steps out and repeat If I raise
it a couple of times. If anyone gave a good god damn what I wrote in these things, to them I am deranged Satanist. That would cast an interesting light for folks on my religious ambiguity. I don’t actually worship the great Abrahamic adversary. I’d rather go for a Mara or some other religions enemy. People just don’t understand my spiritual doctrine. I believe in god, I just think he’s kind of an ass-clown. Gerhardstein is playing devil’s advocate. He says he loves my wife. He is the seminal paternal figure in her Chicago life. Her own father is not nearly as warm. That is the reason enough for me to weather anything he has to dish out. This could improve my standing with Rajeev. father in law. That is my
I want to call him Raj and get him to say “Hey, The What’s Happening program
Hey, Hey!” when he sees me.
probably had little play in India. Maybe Raj is checking me out. Fathers always sniff around their daughter’s suitors. As a scientist, he wants me to verify that my ideas pass muster. I fear they don’t in the way he is
used to. We worked for more than 10 hours. We started at 9am around that piano bar in his house. I held true, not attempting to beg
off until about 3:00pm or so. I have an excuse I need to check voice mail, e-mail, I have to let Pablo the dog out. There could be a couple of consulting gigs in the works. “You really don’t need to do any of those things today” he rebuffs. “Geeta walked Pablo at lunch” “I might or might not need your services for some time”. “I hope to any way” “Either way; Geeta and I have worked out your compensation for at least a month.” I said nothing. Speechless is a possible term you could use. Dumbfounded is another. “Off my rap” is the way I would phrase it. I have a rap. I am a consultant. Take that to be a fancy term for a temp if you like, it often is that. People don’t
always know that I do little more than temping in a profession that pays more than ones usually addressed as temps. It is better for my employers to call me a consultant, just because it justifies the bill. Not a bill paid to me. They pay somewhere between $100 and $200 and hour to companies that have never seen the need to pay me more than $50. Add it up and fifty per hour is a hundred grand a year. It is a hundred and two actually. Remember to subtract the possible three months when you cannot find a gig. Take off two weeks vacation and nine or ten unpaid holidays. It is a lot less, but if you are twenty-five and healthy it isn’t too bad. Of course you don’t get $50 at that age. If you need to get your own insurance, but have a preexisting that makes it so you can’t. It’s not poverty, but not great money either. Gerhardstein hooked Geeta up with something like $50k, benefits and her tuition. That is a nice take home. I’ve this rap that I am a busy consultant. I need to be in constant contact. I will have to take other calls. The truth is that I would have checked home messages if I left, but they could be checked from the mobile in pocket. E-mail and all workrelated phone calls and messages would have come straight to my hip. “Is that a consulting opportunity in your pocket or are you
just glad to see me?” He trumped all components of that rap. I hadn’t even pulled out the mobile phone. But I did have to walk Pablo the dog? He was ahead of me on that one too. I have been at work all day and didn’t even know it. Geeta pulled the blanket off of me at 7:30, receiving terse umbrage. She told me Gerhardstein was expecting me by nine at his house. I was bitching about nine when this was actually a gig. What a sweetheart she was for making it that late. Guys this old start everything before dawn. She wanted to make sure I was at my best. I will be forced to forgive her. She has become my
agent. She negotiated an engagement and remuneration while I was unaware. Gerhardstein is the boss, he is my wife’s taskmaster with a possibly creepy paternal power over daddy’s friend’s little girl. He co-opts her husband, her family’s schedule, and ranks above her spouse when it comes to forthright straight talk. He also has the money and the insurance to make it happen. So I say yes sir. You can perform any sort of inquisition you like into my diary. I have never called you a diary Mr. Tribe. Sorry about that.
At 3:30, after that exchange, he sensed my restlessness and decided to allow me to stretch and reinvigorate. He suggested we go for coffee. I could use some. We walked and talked for about fifteen minutes. He said that he had decided that Open Source Medicine would be the theme of his address in Barcelona. He said he planned to talk about his plans for the New Research Center here in Chicago, but that if he focused his speech on a report on his career, it would seem self-serving and the attendants would peg it right on as being a fundraising pitch. He didn’t want to go that way, even if it was one. He does not have a new discovery to wow them with. He has some possibilities in the works, but not something that would blow away the crowd. Not having any treatment discoveries, he has nothing to publish. He wants to make sure he doesn’t take the perish option. He sampled a fictitious speech. “Ladies and gentleman, I have left Harvard University to take a better job in Chicago”. Any one who cares already knows that. “I am building a new research facility, much like the ones a lot of you have”.
“Yawn” “Furthermore, they are going to boot me out the door unless I build a real nice one, since you are all here, I want you to come to Chicago and help me”. “I suppose tears would flow, checkbooks would be thrust upon me.” “My colleagues would say that they have come to the conclusion that my little laboratory and the clinic I haven’t built yet are better than any other that they have built”. “I will need to offer this wedding for them to kiss, as it is the only ring that I own”. He is not as funny as his wife, but he got a couple of chuckles out of me. Now that I think about hit, he might have stolen a few lines from her for that bit. In a speech like this one, he claimed, that you need to lay out challenges. Two years ago, at the conference in Durban, South Africa, he was considered a very challenging figure. A year later he was made a Director with so many administrative duties that he is nothing but a suit dealing with budgets and marketing plans. “OK, I will be a suit” “I realize that we are lacking in fighting the disease, but
that is not what suits produce. produce just one thing.”
I am to hone my skills to
“Money, ways to get money, where money should be spent, that sort of thing” Then he stops and makes eye contact so seriously and for so long, I began to squirm. He charged into an off the cuff speech that I will try to write down as word-for-word as I can muster. Although I was squirming, my attention couldn’t have been more complete. “Peter, your ideas are the most articulated in this area that I have heard. I want to throw them out there and see if anyone bites. I could take a lot of guff for this at the University. In case it flops, I will write it off to eccentric genius.” I would not say genius. “That’s fine, your wife will.” “If they jump aboard, I will need your help in getting organized. I don’t know for how long, or in what capacity. I don’t even know what capacity I will be taking on with it. I know I will not be fulltime. I have commitments to my
new community here that are my main concern. I could back pedal from my promise to do research through treating every AIDS patient in the city. I wouldn’t be the first to back off of a monumental task to take on another, but I am not ready to give that up. The tension and excitement brought about by provoking altruism with this kind of intrepidity could help achieve exactly what I have aimed to get here. Good people to work with, generous donors, and repute to satisfy my bosses at U of C.” That’s not word-for-word, I spiced it a bit, but it was just as moving. I’m on board with that, doc. This was my inspirational quip. In a Bartlett’s Quotations moment and this is what I say? Perhaps “witty raconteur” will not be the tagline at publication of my memoir. Damn it, I love that word. He guided us to a new coffee shop on 57th. The larger letters on its sign read “SUF”. As we walked closer I saw the acronym stood for “Stay up Forever”. It feels like I am writing at an augural moment, foretelling of that I do not know about. That is the name of the place, hell yeah, look it up.
We continued our discussion there. I was going through timelines of drug development and approval with him. I start with the US FDA model. It is the most difficult of course, but we are in the US, so what the hell? I really don’t envision an organization like this fighting the champ in their first outing. In the end it doesn’t matter what country it was; it could be India, Europe or China, the first step is the same anywhere you would want to do it. You need to have an idea and document that you have researched it with other than human subjects for a minimum of three years. Minimum is the key here. Coming in at three years makes you seem a little hurried. They will be suspicious, unless you are <censored (not profanity)> and they are in love with you. He seemed to be passing negative judgment that could be kind of final. “So what are the chances of getting something like this off the ground if you don’t have a guaranteed good drug to start with?” He told Geeta he would pay me, whatever he is paying, for a month. Maybe I go should home now. This guy is so smart he makes my head hurt. Sorry sir, not a lot I guess. Responds Opie Taylor
Breathe Bring Muffin to mouth Sip coffee while pointing in a way that makes it seem I am anxious to say something of great value, but can’t say it with a full mouth. Breathe again. Feign that I had chewed and swallowed so fast trying to get my monumental thoughts out that I needed some oxygen. Use those seconds to put words together. Then speak! It would require a commitment by the organization, and likely some sort of avoidance of enemies who lye in wait. You’re right, the one thing that was impossible for me to take a good accounting of is the likelihood of a good enough idea coming from the academic community swiftly enough to make a splash before the organization gives up and folds. “That presents you with the greatest risks and the most difficult efforts in your whole concept” There are some whoppers in subsequent stages, but you do have to get there. In that sense, I do agree.
“To actually make this work, you would need rarest of circumstances. You have nearly everything covered on the scientific and structural end. Neither of those are your professional specialty. I made a call last night on the legal components. You wrote over fifty pages on that.” How did I do? “Not bad at all, the contact I had said you probably at least consulted a lawyer. He said if he was asked to write a report of that length, he couldn’t have done better. In the end several thousand pages and a clear-cut a forest would be needed to make it happen in reality.” Good to hear, I am glad your friend liked it. “I didn’t even ask you I sent it around without even thinking.” It is yours to send. It is open source. I intended no copyright on the ideas. God knows what I could or would do with one. He smiles “I guess that is true. So are you an open source guy? I mean an all-around open source guy?” I haven’t moved to a pant-less existence. I am still hiding my underwear from publication without a publishers advance. I believe in openness as a concept.
I started my adulthood wanting to be a musician. Music is all open sources. When you hear something, depending how well you know your instrument, you can use it. If you copy it straight-up, you are kind of a hack. You have to do something with it to make it something great. Jazz or classical, you can do that. In classical you just have to do it like a hard-bopper. You have to stick to the staff. “Did you get there? Did you make something great?” I think I got to the place that, from which you know you might get there. “I think I know what you mean. Computer work is a very different path. that curve?” People say that it is very different, I’m not sure it is. “You didn’t like Helen asking you about why you no longer play. What if I ask?” For you, that’s different. You are a doctor, so you would understand completely. It needs to be mentioned though. You are a doctor, so you know what not to ask. That was more than I wanted to say. With a grip on subtext, it should be quite enough. How did you take
“So tell me about this whole, out-of-your-profession thing.” You needn’t ignore areas outside of your experience. Everything I don’t know lies in that territory. Everything in the stuff you’ve read were things I didn’t know before “I count you lucky as well as smart for being able to write something that interests me and my legal friend accepted.” Isn’t it better to be lucky than good? “That cliché aside, you ran a risk of really making an ass of yourself by showing it to someone.” Sangeeta showed it to you “You had intended on showing it to someone, hadn’t you?” I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it … That’s not true. I thought about it, then I couldn’t come up with a good scenario for when and who. So then I would stop thinking about it. “So you would just write this?” Perhaps I would? I have been journaling into an electronic device for about five years now. The content had always been a lot more varied. I had the first scraps of this Open Source
thought two years ago. I thought the concept had some merit, but the few people I mentioned it to dismissed it right away. “On what grounds?” I think it was mostly because I was talking out my ass. I had nothing but sparsely connected thoughts with little to back them up. People yap on ideas at that level all the time. “Go on” I just decided to make it a real idea. It’s an Open Source idea and I do know Linux. I figured it was a start. I have seen that there are a lot of companies based on some type of information flow. Even when it isn’t a technology company, the base of the whole thing is a database; a computer system contains the whole shooting match. Guys like me get called in to quickly become the untaught parishioners of their trades. Two years ago I was sent to a hospital while working for a radiology systems company because the hospital asked for some radiology expertise. Would you like me to read your CT-scan? “Well, I can’t really read one, and I have an MD” Exactly “What made you think you could do it?” “Write a viable theory, that is?”
Didn’t know I could. I am on cloud nine now. I feel like Da Vinci handing his notebook directly to a Larry Bell “Who’s Larry Bell”? He’s the founder of Bell Helicopter Just an analogy that I thought of once It’s related to that “Out-Of-Your-Profession thing” Tribal Title: The Bells of St. Larry I have been into this study of great minds for about five years. I think about that Da Vinci thing a lot. “What about him”? He did a drawing in his notebook that is the same “flying machine” concept the modern helicopter is based on. So one day I wrote something in here about how Leonardo might do running a helicopter company. An artist/defense contractor “OK, I see an influence here” “A good one at that” “I am glad this attention flattered you. Any idea where you want to go with this from here”?
I think I nailed it. You are interested. If you really use in this speech of yours, I think I am done. “I guess I would just ruin the whole thing for you” You would just top it all off. It is not my life’s ambition. “That’s fine, but I might need some help for a while” I am not going to stop working; this is what I do. I would be glad to help. “That’s good to hear. We can see how it goes.” I don’t have enough hard drive space to save the entire recording session I did with Gerhardstein. I am going to save some so I can prove to people that I helped him with the speech. To pull out the digital camera and grab a picture would have been far too tacky. I have no idea what the speech is going to do. We did come to the conclusion that it was nearly impossible to do. I agreed with him because I wasn’t there to disagree, or be disagreeable. He really shouldn’t have to pay me for a month for this. There is nothing for me to do once he leaves for Spain. I was feeling proud, and then I was horrified. If I get paid for a month, it will just be because he promised Geeta. “I
thought you said it was a good idea”. That is what I expect to here at home. It would be like a girl in her thirties living on money from her dad; Living in sin that is. There would certainly be emasculation for the boyfriend involved. He is not her father. He is the closest thing to it that will accept whitey being around though. That is extreme and unfair; the kind of thing I can only say to the Tribe. Because Tribe, you know all the ways that I suck and are still supportive. I did say that. It is a good idea for someone like me. For
someone like him, it is an interesting curiosity. Her dad is one of those guys; the Gerhardstein type. Did she and the Gerhardstein’s think I was too? Bless their hearts. Not much time remained of stewing on this. Helen Gerhardstein and Geeta walked into the coffee shop together at six. Helen carried a newly purchased suit in a bag for her husband. It was purchased for his speaking engagement. She unzipped the wardrobe bag and showed us. It was from Brooks Brothers. They had gone shopping on north Michigan. There is a
whole mile of stuff there that is just, well, magnificent. If you like that kind of thing Geeta sat down with me and saw the recording software on my screen. She pushed the button. It was stopped already and she started it again. I pushed stop and it became a childish back and forth. I pointed out her error, she smiled and it stopped before embarrassment. There was a pizza place called Medici pretty much next store. We finished coffees and wandered over. A lot of “so ho did it go” came after that. I just wanted to change the subject. The other night when we were just dining together this was a relaxing and interesting conversation. I thought if I could get Helen Gerhardstein laughing, we could carry the whole thing away. She was willing to go down a humor road, but wanted to come back just as much as Geeta did. “So what’s next for you too and your plans?” Helen takes the conversation back in the direction of dread. I am waiting for the let down. With Gerhardstein’s polite disposition, it would be a soft and complimentary descent. That would remain well cushioned while we are here, but the longer it took to let Geeta down, the more hope she would have. The let down on her
aspirations could go from a trip off a curb to a fall from a building. “Your father will be disappointed Saneeta” Shit! He is taking it there right away, and pouring curry on the wounds. “I am going to have to call and tell him that you married well in your rebellious stage. If he takes my advice on this, your wild oats will provide sustenance for a life time”. “Helen?” She produced a bottle of wine from her oversized bag, a Ruffino Classico 99. Classico takes Chianti to a whole new level. It’s not a terribly expensive level, but one to relax and enjoy. It is the one wine that Geeta especially fancies, that is from where my knowledge originates. I respect that they didn’t pull out a $200 bottle of hooch. What is the challenge with finding some good stuff when you make it clear that you have two c-notes to disperse? That’s usually clear just by looking at you. I get pointed right over to the Boone’s Farm and Mad Dog. “As I thought he might, Peter has given me the speech I was
looking for.” He handed the bottle to our waitress and gave a circular point to indicate he wanted glasses for all. Helen and Geeta applauded, Geeta clutched my hand and smiled. Since he is leaving in a couple of days and doesn’t have another topic in the bag, he had to go with what I gave him. I’m happy. A months pay for two days work is as good as it gets for someone like me. It is getting late, there was more, more work to do, but at 2:00am, I don’t trust myself to write it anymore. Get some sleep Tribe. Being an inert digital representation of wandering thought patterns, and being virtually stored on an inanimate object, must be exhausting.
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