(December 17, 2012)
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French Thrillers... Gilles d'Aymery's Cirque De France
Hey Mr. d'Aymery:
In the circus going on at the UMP, you forgot to mention the mediation attempted by Alain Juppé, the former prime minister (under Chirac), foreign minister (under Sarkozy), and mayor of Bordeaux. He was the founder (with Chirac) of the UMP in 2002. Juppé sat with Copé and Fillon to find a solution to the war of the bosses. Thirty-five minutes later, he left the room, and popped into a car that drove him to the airport en route back to Bordeaux. He simply said the mediation had failed. Since then the two protagonists have met four or five times with no result in sight. They even threaten to sue each other. It's an amusing political distraction in a country that loves controversies.
The latest distraction is that of Jérôme Cahuzac, the budget minister and a member of the caviar left, close to the bling-bling right (who loves watches like Rolex, Breitling, Chaumet). Cahuzac is accused by the Web magazine Mediapart to have had an undeclared bank account at UBS in Switzerland, an account that he would have closed in 2010 and transferred to Asia (possibly Singapore). Cahuzac, of course denies everything -- does not have, never had a foreign undeclared bank account... But, apparently, he did make a quick trip to Switzerland in 2010. Mediapart also got their hands on a 2010 recording of a conversation Cahuzac had with an undisclosed correspondent in which he bemoaned that darn account -- an alleged conversation, mind you. To thicken the plot, we've since learned that his former wife, Patricia Ménard, had hired private detectives to follow her then husband. Apparently again, one of the detectives talked to a fiscal agent who had had a few disputes with Cahuzac, and that agent contacted Mediapart... To add to the rumpus, the attorney of his former wife is one Isabelle Copé, who is the sister of who else but Jean-François Copé. What a small Parisian world! An ongoing story...
Then you have the president who writes a letter to the court on behalf of his concubine, Valérie Trierweiler, who is suing an editor and two journalists for inexact assertions about her private life. This is a president who as a candidate affirmed that he would never engage in personal matters and who, not long ago, asserted that private issues should remain...private.
I could add the monetary settlement between DSK and Nafissatou Diallo of Sofitel fame, but no one cares about DSK any more in France. He is dead, rotten meat.
Soon, France won't have steel mills any longer. China produces 50% of worldwide steel. Come India and Brazil after China. It's cheaper to import our steel than produce it. National security be damned. Our car manufacturers are drowning. Our industry is becoming a shadow of itself. Unemployment is booming. Minorities are scapegoated. Almost 15% of the population lives in poverty with less than €640 per month, and more than 3.6 million people are at any one time roofless. The government is inept (France is becoming an "ineptocracy"). Europe is faltering. Climate change is ignored. At least we are being entertained with legal thrillers. And we just elected a new Miss France -- ha, ha, ha. Bread and circuses...
That's the life I'm going to bequeath to my kid.
Any suggestion, Mr. d'Aymery?
Best wishes to all, to you and Jan, and to Swans.
Paris, France - December 10, 2012
Gilles d'Aymery responds: Ineptocracy, eh? I'd create a minister of civism, or civic department in English, in all countries that would have a beefy budget to advertise on TV and social networks the merit of collective endeavors and parsimony vs. individualism and consumerism. I would have a three-hour-a-week course in civism taught in school. And I would have liberal arts, particularly Greek and Latin, become an essential part of the teaching curriculum in high school and college. Finally, I would request that prayer and the reciting of the pledge of allegiance be forbidden in school, but I suppose this is too much to ask.
On Films and Shaw: Isidor Saslav's Report from Canada's Shaw Festival -- 2012
To the Editor:
I greatly enjoyed reading Isidor Saslav's article on Canada's Shaw Festival. There are periodic attempts to revive interest in Shaw's plays in the UK, but not too successfully unfortunately, so it was heartening to know about the appreciation of his work in Canada. I am sure Isidor is right about the artistic loss we suffer because "The Millionairess" did not appear on film with Hepburn starring. I am less sure about Sturges as director. Recently I have watched a DVD collection of his well known films and although I have quite enjoyed them, I was rather disappointed overall. They have to be put in the context of the time they were made, but I would not call any of them "comic screen masterpieces." However, it would be hard to lose with Hepburn and if it had got close to the quality of the Leslie Howard -- Wendy Hiller "Pygmalion" film I would have been more than satisfied. Regarding the Peter Sellers -- Sophia Loren film, I would not argue with Isidor about how true to Shaw it was, but I greatly enjoyed it (many years ago!) and Alastair Sim is always a bonus anyway. A spin-off was a Peter Sellers's song (called "Goodness Gracious Me," if I remember correctly), which wasn't in the film, but sung in Sellers's inimitable Indian English it became very popular.
Cambridge, England, UK - December 3, 2012
Correction: Isidor Saslav's Report from Canada's Shaw Festival -- 2012
To the Editor:
My background as a professional violinist only occasionally gets in the way of my writing on other subjects but it certainly sneaked into my recent article on the Shaw Festival. In reviewing the film made of Shaw's Great Catherine (1968) I created a non-existent film star named Ginette Niveu. In her place I should have listed the actual star of that movie, Jeanne Moreau. Ginette Neveu -- her actual spelling -- (1919-1949) was a highly promising young French violinist who died in a tragic airplane crash just as her post-World War II career, both personal and recorded, was getting a good re-start in international recognition. Neveu died on the same plane that killed French boxing great Marcel Cerdan, lover of the singer Edith Piaf. So be re-assured, there was no violinist starring in the movie of Great Catherine.
No doubt due to the wearing out of my ancient neurons it's been called to my attention that I have inadvertently created another non-existent person in my review of the Shaw Festival. There is no Shaw scholar named "Don McInerny," who so tellingly informed us conferees about the Hepburn-Sturges project to film The Millionairess. Rather than see this phantom scholar be allotted a permanent position in cyberspace I would beg my readers to realize that it was "John McInerney" who was the one who did all the heavy lifting. John is the real person.
My only excuse for these faux pas might be that even at The New York Times the daily correction box keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Thanks to all.
Overton, Texas, USA - December 3, 2012
[ed. A correction has been appended at the bottom of the article with reference to this letter.]
A world at Peace
To the Editor:
You have money; therefore, you live? I have no money; therefore I die? All are priceless, unto the least and beginning there. In the arriving future, money will be "earned" in time instead of by labor. It will be declared that the poor, the destitute, the starving, the workers, the unrich, each, starting at the age of eight, will have $10 million stars (new money) and will be earning $5 stars an hour, every hour, retroactive to first breath and continuing unto last breath. By this way, they will be able to decide what work they will do, as well as how many hours a week and how many months a year they will do it. Since only necessary products will be manufactured, there will always be a widespread labor force available for the work to be done.
Also, millions of people, who are exhausted from overwork or because they are being worked to death, will be able to rest.
The rich and the powerful will know nothing, say nothing, have nothing. So that it might be fulfilled that which is written: Last shall be made first, highest shall be made lowest.
This will be a world at peace.
Mount Vernon, Washington, USA - December 6, 2012
[ed. This letter was first published in print in the The Skagit Valley Herald on December 5, 2012 -- a local publication in Washington State -- and is published here with the permission of the author.]
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