I must admit, I take pride in having such an incredibly diverse tribe of friends in my life, and I am often dumbfounded – in the sense that they are MY friends – at the caliber of these individuals, their achievements, their wit, and their humanity.
I have to assume that my character and my spirit are somehow reflected by my friends; providing something more than anecdotal evidence that I must be ok…or perhaps not ok…
Now enter Alan Friedman – Alan and I met in 2007 in China. I was his China producer on an Italian TV show he hosted and produced for La7, an independent channel in Italy. Before his arrival in China I was warned that he can be difficult, capricious and demanding…so basically just like everyone else in media.
Despite the warnings, he turned out to be a fascinating fellow and we pretty much became instant friends and have remained so for almost a decade now.
If you wanted to recreate Alan as a chemical compound, you’d use one unit genius-intellect and one unit creative-madness. Mixed together at room temperature you get the most extraordinary and fantastic universal alloy, Mr. Alan Friedman (AF). This inherently volatile compound (AF) can only be stabilized by his his wife, Contessa Gabriella Carignani (GC), by far the most enduring and tolerant element on the periodic table – without GC, AF would self-destruct.
A journalist by profession, this New Yorker left the States in his 20s, piled up British Press Awars at the Financial Times (the UK equivalent of the Pulitzer), became a top commentator at the International new York Times and Wall Street Journal and later reinvented himself in Italy as a revered journalist, talkshow host, documentary maker, prolific author and economist. He is a household name in a nation whose genius and madness mirrors his own. No coincidence here I’m sure….
Like so many of my guests, the dramas of their lives follow them onto the boat – which begs the question, “in this overly-connected world, is there such a thing as a carefree vacation anymore?” Let me answer that … NO!
During Alan and Gabriella’s 5 day stay I took a front row view to the 11th hour editing of Alan’s much anticipated and new biography of Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi. Before Alan boarded Esodo he spent a few days with Berlusconi at his villa in Sardinia and a few weeks before he went to the Kremlin to interview Vladimir Putin.
I revel in the action and the privilege to be exposed to such a world; nothing is more captivating than real life…well, ok…maybe Game of Thrones and the House of Cards.
I won’t betray my ring side privilege but I don’t need to – the book comes out in October in more than 20 countries and it’s a major page turner! (In the USA they call it BERLUSCONI: The Epic Story of the Billionaire Who Took Over Italy, Hachette Books, Oct 20th, in Italy it is called My Way: Berlusconi Tells His Story to Friedman, Rizzoli Books, Oct 8th)
Regardless of life’s dramas and stress, Esodo, the sea, the wind and good friends are always good medicine.
The Contessa, a seafarer in her own right, was a little dubious of Friedman on a boat, and I must admit, I was a little curious too. But Friedman surprised us both and quickly took sailing like Pesca to water and ended up sailing most of the way from Sardinia to Corsica.
Our five day sail took us from Porto Cervo through the Archipelago Maddalena, over to Bonifacio, Corsica and back to Sardinia terminating in Porto Rotondo.
On a scale of one to ten, I must given Alan and Gabriella an 11.
Captain Awesome, Ravenna, Oct 2015