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Monday, September 7, 2020


As readers of this blog are well aware, my wife and I have a little apartment on the left bank in Paris, half a block from the Seine catty corner from what is now, alas, a shattered Notre Dame. We were scheduled to make a short trip to our apartment at the end of February during the UNC spring break, but the virus arrived in Paris and in an excess of caution I canceled our trip. It now looks as though it will be next summer before we can return and I miss it terribly. Every time I see a movie set in Paris I search for signs of streets or shops that I know and my heart swells with pleasure when I spot one.

Yesterday I was passing the time watching a 1991 movie on Netflix called Company Business with the unlikely starring combo of Gene Hackman and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Most of the movie takes place in Washington and Berlin but the end of the movie is set in Paris. There were scenes on one or another of the bridges across the Seine, several of which I have walked across many times. And there is a long sequence in and on the Eiffel Tower. But very near the end, Gene Hackman spends the night in a hotel and when he leaves the next morning he turns right to walk up the street. As he did that, I thought to myself “that looks familiar” and sure enough the next moment I saw a little restaurant three doors down from the hotel called The Tea Caddy. I whooped in delight. The Tea Caddy is one of our favorite places to go. It is run by an English lady, as the name suggests, and offers an assortment of teas and coffees and light lunches. It is right around the corner from a famous tourist attraction, Shakespeare and Company, and across the street from Square René Viviani, famous principally for being home to what is said to be the oldest tree in Paris.

My oddest movie – Paris – recognition experience occurred when Susie and I were watching Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris. When the opening credits are rolling on the screen, one sees a series of brief shots of famous sites in Paris. Among them is one of the movie complexes in Place de l’Odéon. We were actually seeing the movie in that theater and when it appeared on the screen the entire audience let out a shout of recognition. It was the next best thing to having a walk on part in the movie.

Well, none of this has anything at all to do with the election. North Carolina started sending ballots out on Friday and I am waiting for mine to arrive. Apparently, once you send your absentee ballot in you can go online and find out whether it has been received. You can also take it to an early voting site and just feed it through the machine. One way or another, I will make absolutely sure that my vote counts. By the way, I saw an interview with the woman who runs the election bureau in North Carolina and she said that they start counting the absentee ballots when they arrive, so she expects that on election night 90% or more of the results will be reported. I am still convinced that the nightmare scenario been so widely discussed is unlikely to occur, according to which the early reports show Trump winning the Electoral College and declaring victory before the absentee ballots have been counted. I am convinced people are so eager to vote that the flood of absentee ballots expected will actually come in early, not on the days after election day. To be sure, in that same interview the person in charge of the Michigan elections was asked and she said they were not allowed to start counting absentee ballots until election day itself so she thought it would be the better part of a week before they knew the results.

Sigh. This post was supposed to be a momentary escape from the anxiety of the election but it crept in nonetheless.


David Palmeter said...

Escape is essential. Bury your head in the sand. That’s what I’m trying to do. My OLLI study group on Herodotus starts, via Zoom, two weeks from tomorrow. I’m still trying to figure out how to put up Word and PDF documents on Share Screen.

I don’t expect ever to get back to Paris again with health problems both my wife and I have. The last time was seven years ago when we rented an apartment on rue Guisarde near Saint-Sulpice. We hit most of the obligatory spots, including Shakespeare and Co. (I’m a Joyce fan, so that was a must—even though it isn’t the real McCoy.)

My first trip to Paris was in the Fall of 1965. I was in the army, stationed in DC, and was sent on temporary duty for six weeks to Paris. France was a member of NATO then and its headquarters were there. Thanksgiving arrived and we had the day off. I declined going to the bowling alley at the American base in Saint-Germaine-on-lay with the other guys, and spent the day walking around Paris. I had no French, but had learned how to order a sandwich jambon avec fromage and cognac avec Perrier, so that’s what I consumed at any number of cafes in my day-long journey from rue Marbeuf up to Sacre Coeur, all the way across to Place Bastille (I didn’t know that the Bastille had been demolished, and expected to see it), crossed over to the Left Bank and hit some of the cafes hoping to see Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and then back. I had quite a cognac buzz on by then.

LFC said...

Afaik France is still a NATO member. DeGaulle withdrew France from NATO's "integrated command" but it remained a member of the organization. Later it rejoined the integrated command, I think when Sarkozy was in office, but wd need to double-check that. (I've been to Paris a couple of times, but not since the mid-1980s.)

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

Never been to Paris, however -

There is good electoral news from New Mexico. Biden - 54, Trump - 39. Clinton beat Trump in 2016 by 8%. Among Hispanic voters, Biden has 64%. Male voters: Biden 49%, Trump 43%. Females voters: 59 Biden, 37 Trump. The only region in which Trump has strong support is the East/Southeast, where he gets 65%. That is region of the “oil patch”, the extension of the. Permian Basin into N.M. The resulting influx of Texas oil workers and Texan political idiocy means that area is strongly republican and libertarian.

In the race for the open Senate seat Democrat Ben Ray Lujan leads the republican 49% to 40%. Democratic candidates have substantial leads in two of the three House races. The other race is very tight with incumbent Democrat Xochitl Torres Small holding a 2% lead. Her district includes the republican crazies.

DDA said...

Sometimes I can't help hearing that as "We'll always have tsuris."

And a propos adapting one's consumption according to one's linguistic competence: when I lived in Paris and went shopping at the markets and shops I would also buy in quantities of two or more so that I would make no gender mistakes.

RobertD said...

And that oldest tree in Paris, Professor, is an American, at least according to Wikipedia; it is a black locust. So there seems a long tradition of Americans liking that part of Paris!

I am surprised though that the oldest tree in Paris is so young - about 400 years old.
The oldest tree in London - which admittedly is in outer London is a yew tree estimated to be 2000 years old. Estimates, estimates, sure, but the oldest reference to it is mid 17th century so it must have been reasonably notable 350 years ago.