New York, 30 Dec 2019

Dear all,

Barbara and I wish you a happy new year! The deluxe version with all the extras.

We take the occasion to give a signal about our whereabouts. We still are lingering between CH-4932 Lotzwil/Switzerland, Berlin/Germany and New York NY. We are hale and hearty, not considering the sundry adverse circumstances. Climate change. The knees. The eyes. The teeth. The memory. Onsetting old man’s despair. The brown peril. Donald Trump.

Many things remain the same, but in a small hotel in East Germany I revently was once again reminded to always take  the unforeseen into account and never, ever forget to spell my name even in my native German. Otherwise it turns out as pictured above (I spare the non-German audience the details in the misspelling – enough to say that I sure would hurry for a name change if this would be official).

The rest is mostly aging. It has its advantages, like senior discounts at the movies or those nice moments when young ladies offer their train seats to the elderly male. I’ m joking, of course. This year I realized that at over 65 years of age you are prohibited to rent some cars. And my application to become a Swiss election observer was nixed because I a) am a man b) belong to the German-speaking majority and c) am over 65. With this handicap you don’t even make token codger.

We got to go on fighting the man, even if they is in the shape of an overly ambitious young woman with a sneer in her prose.

Otherwise we are tooling along nicely. We just celebrated the 100st birthday of my mother, with music, song and dance. The Leading Lady in our team is Barbara. She again put together a “concert without borders” of her Diplomatic Choir of Berlin, with music from the Christian, Jewish and Arab worlds. She raised the funds for a Berlin performance and got the German Foreign Ministry to funding another one in the famous cathedral of Strasbourg (“neighbouring country”). On top of all that, she sang herself as the Alto soloist in a Pergolesi Stabat Mater performance in Berlin.

The gal is on a roll.

Me? Good. I had nice work in New York until spring, spent the summer in Lotzwil, sailed in the German Ostsee (horribly cold), biked in the fall with Barbara and the Kansans through Puglia and later solo to Berlin (to be precise, only until Naumburg where rain and cold killed any desire to go on) and sang  in the choir. Next year I have interesting work. And I continue to labour with saxophone and clarinet.

The stone of Sisyphus turns out to be a  reed instrument.

Let’s try getting together more in 2020. I consider reactivating the dormant Twitter account @johanaeschliman. It is not a New Year’s resolution but a possible intent. We shall see.

Life consists of attempts.

Think about it – the new decade will at any rate be mostly without the Caudillo. Rah for the twenties – let them roar!

With warm wishes

Johann Aeschlimann, Barbara Leifer