Jan 27, 2010 | Davos, Switzerland
Jan 27, 2010

It was a bit like standing on a cliff above an ocean cove carpeted with nesting squawking sea gulls, but these sea gulls were wearing blazers and instead of squawking and shitting out guano they were making deals. There were old white men in suits everywhere you looked, shaking hands and swapping cards and whispering about things you'll never know.

It is the kind of place you amble through and say excuse me to people you see on TV, and I think that is why people come. Also, they say that people do a year of business in three days here, assuming you do the kind of business that can be done in three days and helped by men in suits, which, unfortunately, I don't.

But it was great to spend some time with some of my heros, like John Maeda and Paola Antonelli, and there was a royal visitation by Bill Clinton, who mesmerized us with his honey voice and held our attention in his pink and fleshy hands, and we loved to be held in such a way and by such a man, who is in fact very wise. After he left there was much ooo-ing and ahh-ing over his business card, which was indeed a handsome card, but whose handsomeness was less about the card and more about the hand that held it, which was very handsome, too.

The secret service goons darted their eyes over to me to see where my hand was going, and I thought how strange it would be to be so vigilant all of the time. Today there were many things that would be strange to do all of the time.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, delivered a blistering diatribe against degenerate capitalism and eventually left the stage to polite and very-much-seated applause, lasting about as long as the urge to get back to business could be suppressed, which wasn't very long at all.

Then there was the piano star Lang Lang — prodigious, flamboyant, and famous — who received an award for being prodigious, flamboyant, and famous, and who then performed three piano pieces which were a very pleasant way to end the afternoon. Lang Lang did get a standing ovation, and I think the men in suits were glad to have a cooperative dancing monkey to chase away the pugnacious Frenchman.

Over town, the Alps are steep and tall. You can see snow fences up there, installed to keep away the avalanches. I thought how this whole high altitude world might need some kind of snow fencing because there is a lot of public snow building up, and nobody knows when it might start sliding.

When the danger of an avalanche is getting high, it's good to install a snow fence, which will protect you for a while. But it's even better to find or make a landscape where the mountains and the valleys don't have such a giant gulf between them. The snow will want to level out so things can be more even, and then you'll have an avalanche, and that kind of avalanche will destroy more than just your town and maybe your whole way of life. It's just gravity, you see.