Consultant Doug Lipp grew up with Bedouin trunks and Persian rugs in his family home in Carmichael, but until last November, when he was unexpectedly feted like a long-lost son in Bahrain, these family treasures were merely artifacts from a pre-Doug past.
Lipp, the author of “Disney U” (McGraw-Hill, $27, 256 pages), presents seminars around the world on customer service, leadership, change management and global competitiveness. Knowing that he was scheduled to speak in the Persian Gulf, his father, Gordon Lipp, asked him to come by and look at some photos of his grandfather in Bahrain.
“I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my God, we’ve got to get up at 3 in the morning,” the younger Lipp told me. “It’s the night before the trip. He’d laid all these out on the table in the family room.”
In one of them, his late grandfather, Milton Lipp, laughed and waved as he sat comfortably beside Bahrain’s late ruler, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Milton Lipp had been the general manager and ultimately the chairman of the predecessor company to BAPCO, a petroleum refining operation now wholly owned by Bahrain.
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Lipp and his wife and business partner, Pam Lipp, borrowed the photos, took them to their Fair Oaks home, scanned them into the computer and, at one in the morning, emailed them off to the BAPCO people and their local contact. Almost immediately, BAPCO executives asked the Lipps to visit Dar An-Naft, the Oil Museum of the Bahrain Petroleum Co.
Lipp and his wife were able to tour the boardroom where a photo of Milton Lipp hung on the wall, along with those of 11 other BAPCO chairmen. Immediately outside the museum was the first oil well drilled by the company, and Lipp bawled as he realized that he was walking the same ground that his grandfather had.
“Until you go to a place, you don’t really connect as much,” Lipp said. “To see firsthand what they thought of my grandfather, and to have that rub off through my Dad onto Pam and me was such a gift. They literally rolled out the red carpet for us. When I met with the minister of economic development the morning that he was going to introduce me at the seminar ... I mentioned my grandfather’s name, and he said, ‘Oh, Milton Lipp, he’s a household name in Bahrain.’ ”
At the seminar, officials flashed the photo of Lipp’s grandfather sitting with Al Khalifa, and a murmur of astonishment went through the crowd. The chairman of BAPCO adjusted his schedule to listen to Lipp’s talk. The crown prince of Bahrain had his people try to set up a meeting, but Lipp was unable to reschedule seminars in Dubai and Kuwait.
After hearing his son’s stories, the 85-year-old Gordon Lipp said, he felt that his father’s work had been valued and his character respected. Lipp lived in Bahrain as a boy before World War II, and he recalled a prescient decision made by his father. Flares on either side of the refinery burned off gas and waste, he said, but Milton Lipp had the flares moved further away.
“They moved them out 150 yards or 200 yards, something like that,” Gordon Lipp said, “and when the Italians came to bomb Bahrain, that’s exactly where they bombed, (in the desert) between the flares. ... Bahrain was lit up like a jewel. Every light at the refinery was on, but they flew over it and bombed between the flares.”
Doug and Pam Lipp told me they plan to return to Bahrain in May with their son, and they will take photos and other mementos to donate to the Bahrain oil museum.
Juliet, she’s not
The Gatsby craze has run its course, and that’s not good news for literature lover Marina Watanabe.
Watanabe is the Bella Vista High School graduate who dreamed up catchy slogans related to books she’d read, plastered them on T-shirts and hoodies, and began selling them online at g4tsby.onlineshirtstores.com. The site is named for one of her favorite reads, “The Great Gatsby,” and her Gatsby gear flew off the racks ahead of the movie’s release last May. Fortunately, Watanabe didn’t blow all the dough she made.
“I have a lot of money saved up,” she said, “and I plan to transfer to Sac State in the fall, and I’m going to be moving out sometime in like the next couple months.”
Watanabe’s online business has saved her dad, restaurateur Taka Watanabe, a bundle on college expenses, and she said she’s still earning enough to pay her own bills. Watanabe also earns commission from the sale of apparel at best-selling author John Green’s website, dftba.com. That’s where she sells the T bearing a message inspired by J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye:” HOLDEN CAULFIELD THINKS YOU’RE A PHONY.
After hitting a peak, Watanabe is feeling a little pressure to come up with another winner, and her latest efforts have the English major showing her feminist streak: “I AM NOT YOUR DAISY,” “I AM NOT YOUR LOLITA,” and “I AM NOT YOUR JULIET.”
This is no joke
Rancho Cordova’s Jazz & Jokers at Niki C’s abruptly shut down in December, and it looks as though Tommy T’s Comedy & Dinner Theatre might return to the spot.
Yelp commenters said they showed up with tickets on Dec. 23, but the venue at 12401 Folsom Blvd. never opened. One comment read: “We bought tickets online for Saturday night, it was my dad’s birthday only to find out that the place was shut down! Pitch black inside, chains on the door, no note or anything to describe the sudden closure.”
The owners of Jazz & Jokers, Cornell and Boomie Cotton, could not be reached for comment. The Cottons opened the business last summer in the spot once occupied by Tommy T’s, and they told me they hoped to give jazz a permanent home in Sacramento. But it appears that Tommy Thomas is reclaiming the venue. A note on his website reads: “Tommy T’s is coming back! Details coming soon in Rancho Cordova, CA.”
Thomas did not return a call seeking comment.