22 February 2012

Contest! Prizes!


Exercising its newly won independence, the PTOM of St. Barthelemy has decided to adopt icons that reflect the island's  culture.  We already have a flag and an anthem, but we lack a real-time symbol --one that we see every day, one that will constantly remind us of how unique is our environment.  I have a suggestion: it is found all over the island, but needs a new name--one that brings to mind the romance, the sensuality, the natural beauty of this tropical paradise.  I snapped this picture of our omnipresent island symbol on my walk  this morning.  If the name you suggest is chosen, you win a prize.  

Send in your emails!  This is time-sensitive!

Now for the second contest, a different subject entirely.  A week ago, I wrote a letter to the New York Times.  Brief and to the point--as I was taught by the likes of my partners Sam Silverman, Jay Topkis, and Eddie Costikyan. Here is the letter: 

"To the Editor:
In his February 18 column, Ross Douthat writes Santorum agrees 'that artificial birth control should be legal and available.' But on its January 31 front page, the New York Times reported 'Rick Santorum ... favors allowing states to decide whether to ban birth control.'  Is the Times wrong or is Santorum, smelling the possibility of actually being the candidate, already flip-flopping leftward? In either event, shouldn't your readers be informed?"

The Times refuses to address the issue. So does Mr. Douthat. I have solicited the attention of current and former senior officers of the Times.  So far, no help.

A prize to the blogee that suggests the solution to my quandry. How does one get the New York Times, a/k/a, "The Newspaper of Record", "All The News That's Fit to Print" etc, etc, to deal with the contradictions in its newspaper?

While y'all are working that out, I am going into the pool.

A bientot.

08 February 2012

Le Bol Formidable and Harvey Weinstein

En France, a “football” is a slightly shrunken basketball, and is kicked with one's feet and bounced off one's head.

Except in January and February, and that’s the time when it morphs into an ovoid with pointed ends and laces.


Well, it all starts with Harvey Weinstein, who came down for New Years and decided that he and his celebuds needed a pick-me-up after partying all night on New Years Eve.

And as it happens, the Giants played a do-or-die elimination game against the Cowboys on the New Years night.  An opportunity.

La Bagatelle is a high-end white tablecloth restaurant on the harbor. Harvey rented the entire place, installed flat screens around the room, and had a football party for his 200 closest friends. The report is the menu was a blend of over-the-top French haute cuisine and Hollywood excess:  Kobe beef filet mignon, lobster, foie gras—get the picture?  Very successful party: the Giants won.

Happily, Harvey et al, were long gone soon thereafter. Now, nobody here but us chickens.  Dull month---if you don’t count the Super Bowl!

We do.  In the London family, a Super Bowl with Big Blue on the field is a major event.  And Jesse, who is visiting this week, is obsessed.

With the big game coming up, the first question is where to watch it?  Home? Well, football is more fun when you have lots of others cheering with you or against you, so we canvassed the local bars and restaurants and found three with a large flat screen and were planning to show the game. Pinks found and booked La Bagatelle. It was the only waterfront venue, and having learned from the Weinstein experience, they hung three or four screens, and promoted a Super Bowl party for the hoi polloi.  No foie gras, no Kobe beef, no escargot.  The menu for this Super Bowl party? Cheeseburgers, hamburgers, and pizza.  No Budweiser, we would have to make do with Caribe.

The place was jammed. They even put tables and chairs outside on the edge of the quay. I cannot believe somebody did not end up the water by the end of the evening. By 6:30 local time, (an hour before kick-off), the place was packed and everybody was getting very relaxed very fast.  Our friend Lee joined us and the four of us scored a table immediately in front of one of the big screens.

This was far from a typical NY football bar experience:
The ever-present DJ was on duty, and he cut off the network audio feed and blasted Springsteen, Queen (“We will Rock You”) and the like during the pre-game, post-game, and half-time talking heads’ analyses. (Hmm, something for the networks to consider?) The waiters wore black baseball caps and black tee shirts with white lettering on front reading, “What the fuck is La Bagatelle?”   Waitresses were dressed in cheerleaders’ costumes and danced and waved pom-poms during half-time (except, of course, during the 12 minute Madonna show.)  By half time some in the juiced-up crowd were dancing on the table tops.

This is not quite the way it would have been had we watched the game at home. What a sensational party. The best.

Of course, in retrospect there is no way this would have been as much fun had Manningham not kept ces pieds in bounds to start the Giants’ fourth quarter winning drive with 3:57 on the clock and the Giants down by two. Very tense game.  Literally stomach ache inducing. And the Bradshaw “accidental” touchdown was torture. While much of the crowd, (especially the French) cheered lustily, at our table we groaned.  We knew it was a gaffe of major proportions to give Brady the ball with a whole minute on the clock, and moaned that Belichick had outsmarted us.  I hate Belichick.  Hate him.  And I confess I never thought we would beat Brady again. He is just too good.  Well, almost. And now the guy has to go home a two-time loser, and to top it off, he's gotta deal with his wife’s post-game gaffe. Not a good week in the Brady household.

On the other hand, the London household is off to the beach.

A bientot.

03 February 2012

Politics, Personhood, and Shariah Law

Shariah Law?  As I see it from this tropical perch, there are those who would impose their own variety of Shariah law in the US of A.
Archbishop Dolan spoke at Fordham Law School  on Jan 24.   This, from the NY Times report:
"During his lecture, Archbishop Dolan criticized people who postponed conception with “chemicals and latex,” calling them part of the “culture of death.”"
Well, you say, he's not an elected person.  Today, most Catholics, even the devout ones, decide for themselves on how much attention to pay to to that fundamentalist view.  He is just a clergyman, you say, he is not an elected representative, he is not part of our government. He doesn't make the law. He is just talking about his own, or his boss's, view of how we should manage our private lives.
Elected persons make the law.  Okay, so what do the candidates--those who would be our President-- think?  This from the same Times article:
"[Rick Santorum] ... favors allowing states to decide whether to ban birth control." 

Please re-read that sentence.

Yup, you are right:  Mr. Santorum would roll the clock back 50+ years, ignore the US Constitution (Griswold v. CT), and give state legislators the right to criminalize all forms of contraception.  Hard to believe?  Well, there it is.  And he ain't the only one. 

This from the same article:"[Mr. Santorum] and Mr. Gingrich both support “personhood” initiatives that would legally declare fertilized eggs to be persons, effectively banning not just all abortions but also certain contraceptives, including IUDs and some types of birth control pills."  So Newt and Rick, the "smaller government" candidates, the guys who urge "deregulation" for businesses, want to regulate your decisions about reproduction, family size, etc.  I guess neither of them has ever read "1984."

Mr. Romney?  The ever flexible Mitt,  the once-upon-a-time "choice" candidate, has recently said he too believes in the "personhood" concept, and, given the opportunity, would have amended to Massachusetts Constitution to include it.

Shariah law: The Mullahs, the Priests, and the Rabbis, who have direct duplex communication with God,  tell us all how to manage the most intimate details of our personal lives, including whether to wear a skirt, show our hair in public,  or have a family.  Can't you just see Mitt, Newt, and Rick growing beards, walking the streets with canes, whipping the legs of women accused of using an unacceptable contraceptive device?

Oh, yeah, on the issue of electability, is it possible these old white guys Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, et al, are unaware that an estimated 98% of the women in the United States have used one or another form of contraceptive device at some time in their lives?  Duh, is that the new definition of a "Social Conservative", someone who never heard of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the vote?
And let us please not forget the Bill of Rights.  Hmm. Perhaps the Mullahs will seek repeal of all those inconvenient Amendments.

Scary dudes.

My prediction from afar:  Women will reject the fundamentalists and panderers, and will provide the margin to elect the person who respects their personhood.
A bientot.