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Tag: Paris

Christopher Hitchens on Charlie Hebdo

Friday, 9 January, 2015 1 Comment

In February 2006, the late, much lamented Christopher Hitchens addressed the “international Muslim pogrom against the free press”. In light of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, his words are need re-reading today:

“When Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses in 1988, he did so in the hope of forwarding a discussion that was already opening in the Muslim world, between extreme Quranic literalists and those who hoped that the text could be interpreted. We know what his own reward was, and we sometimes forget that the fatwa was directed not just against him but against ‘all those involved in its publication,’ which led to the murder of the book’s Japanese translator and the near-deaths of another translator and one publisher. I went on Crossfire at one point, to debate some spokesman for outraged faith, and said that we on our side would happily debate the propriety of using holy writ for literary and artistic purposes. But that we would not exchange a word until the person on the other side of the podium had put away his gun.”


La barbarie menace notre civilisation

Thursday, 8 January, 2015 0 Comments

“I am not afraid of retaliation. I have no kids, no wife, no car, no credit. It perhaps sounds a bit pompous, but I prefer to die standing than living on my knees.” — Stephane Charbonnier, publishing director of Charlie Hebdo, murdered alongside 12 others in an Islamist attack in Paris yesterday.

Stephane Charbonnier

Je suis Charlie


Journalist of the day: Queen Victoria

Tuesday, 8 April, 2014 0 Comments

“This book, Mamma gave me, that I might write the journal of my journey to Wales in it.” So began the first volume of a diary written in 1832 by Princess Victoria of Kent, aged 13. Recording her thoughts was a habit that the young royal — later to become Queen Victoria — would continue until her death 69 years later.

8 April 1871: “Still dreadful news from Paris. The Commune have everything their own way, and they go on as quite in the days of the old Revolution in the last century, though they have not yet proceeded to commit all the same horrors. They have, however, thrown priests into prison, etc. They have burnt the guillotine and shoot people instead. I am so glad I saw Paris once more, though I should not care to do so again.” Queen Victoria (1819 — 1901)

Queen Victoria

Tomorrow, here, the feminist who noted in her journal, “The number of men present interested me; it showed how much money there is to be made out of women’s hair.”


Journalist of the day: Liane de Pougy

Monday, 7 April, 2014 0 Comments

“We’re drawn to making our mark, leaving a record to show we were here, and a journal is a great place to do it.” So wroteKeri Smith in The Guardian last month, and this week Rainy Day will be devoting its posts to those who have left a record with their journals. We’re beginning with Liane de Pougy, a Folies Bergère dancer who became one of Paris’s most beautiful and desired prostitutes in the glory days of the fin de siècle.

7 April 1922: “Lord Carnarvon, the archaeologist, is dead. Liane de Pougy He was my lover when I was eighteen. It was here at Nice, at the Restaurant Français, that I first saw him. He was twenty five, I thought he was so fine, so distinguished, so thoroughbred, so chic that I adored him. Just to watch him and admire him was enough for my enthusiasm. He was introduced to me that same year at the clay-pigeon shooting at Monte Carlo. Tremendous heart fluttering, I could have died at his feet. He left the next day. What a dear little silly I was. A few months later I saw him again in London, at Covent Garden. Lady Dudley had the measles and the key of her box was for sale according to custom and I had bought it. Carnarvon walked in absent-mindedly during the interval: flutters, smiles, excuses, compliments, confessions. He was vicious, an invert so they said. He loved me all the same… and was a delicious, agonizing lover, full of charm and cruel grace. So I became the rival of Lady de Grey — Gladys. I had the upper hand. He didn’t make me very happy; he was fugitive, a traveller, always off to India, the Baltic, Scotland. I have kept a pearl in his memory, the most beautiful of all my pearls, the one valued today at a hundred thousand francs.” (Liane de Pougy, 1869 — 1950)

Tomorrow, here, Queen Victoria confides some dreadful news to her diary.


The power of Twitter

Friday, 21 March, 2014 0 Comments

Background: France has a $1.7 billion deal to build a compact aircraft carrier for the Kremlin.

Foreground: Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, admits that while Paris cannot imagine delivering arms to Russia, there is the harsh reality of employment. With his tweet, he reassures Putin that he can humiliate Western Europe as much as he likes.

Background: Hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “wipe out Twitter” following a stream of tweets alleging corruption in his inner circle, Turkey blocked access to the social news site.

Foreground: Claire Berlinski is an American novelist, travel writer and freelance journalist. She read Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford, and she lives in Istanbul amid a menagerie of adopted stray animals.


Returning from the flea market

Sunday, 9 March, 2014 0 Comments

It is said that back in the 1880s, a visitor to St.-Ouen, just outside Porte de Clignancourt in Paris, observed traders selling scrap metal, old furniture and rags, and exclaimed, “My word, but it’s a market of fleas!” And it is from the French marché aux puces that the English term “flea market” is derived. […]

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Revolution and Revolt in France

Tuesday, 11 February, 2014 0 Comments

Revolution: Yesterday, the French business daily, Les Echos, launched a news aggregator called Les Echos 360. To be precise, it’s not an aggregator, it’s an “aggrefilter” says Frederic Filloux, the head of digital at Les Echos, who explains that the word means an aggregation and filtering system that collects technology news and ranks it based on its importance to the news cycle. As Filloux points out in his Monday Note blog post, this move required courage and a lot of clever thinking:

“For Les Echos‘ digital division, this aggrefilter is a proof of concept, a way to learn a set of technologies we consider essential for the company’s future. The digital news business will be increasingly driven by semantic processes; these will allow publishers to extract much more value from news items, whether they are produced in-house or aggregated/filtered. That is especially true for a business news provider: the more specialized the corpus, the higher the need for advanced processing.”

Liberation

Revolt: Journalists at France’s third-biggest national newspaper, Libération, have responded with rage at a plan by the owners to try to save the declining daily by transforming it into a “social network”. The owners also want to convert the central Paris building rented by the newsroom into a cultural centre with a café, TV studio and business area for start-ups. Liberation staff voiced their opposition on the cover of the weekend edition: “We are a newspaper, not a restaurant, not a social network, not a cultural space, not a TV studio, not a bar, not a start-up incubator.”

Started by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1973, Libération is a leftist fixture on Parisian newsstands, but it has long trailed Le Monde and Le Figaro, and, with a circulation of just 100,000, it has proved to be a bottomless pit for its shareholders. Last year, it lost more than €500,000 as sales sank 15 percent. Marx would be delighted with such energetic destruction of capital.

Prediction: Les Echos will survive. Libération will not.


Françoise Hardy at 70

Saturday, 18 January, 2014 0 Comments

The story goes that on 24 May 1966 at a concert in l’Olympia in Paris, Bob Dylan refused to return to the stage unless Françoise Hardy agreed to meet him. Later that night, during his 25th birthday party celebrations at the George V Hotel off the Champs-Elysées, he took Hardy to his suite and serenaded her with I Want You and Just Like a Woman. She recalled that he looked like a vampire with yellow skin and long yellow fingernails. Françoise Hardy was 70 yesterday. Joyeux anniversaire!

Another Side of Bob Dylan, the singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album, was released in August 1964. The liner notes contained the following verse:

françoise hardy
at the seine’s edge
a giant shadow
of notre dame
seeks t’ grab my foot
sorbonne students
whirl by on thin bicycles
swirlin’ lifelike colors of leather spin
the breeze yawns food
far from the bellies
or erhard meetin’ johnson
piles of lovers
fishing
kissing
lay themselves on their books. boats.
old men
clothed in curly mustaches
float on the benches
blankets of tourists
in bright red nylon shirts
with straw hats of ambassadors
(cannot hear nixon’s
dawg bark now)
will sail away
as the sun goes down
the doors of the river are open
i must remember that
i too play the guitar
it’s easy t’ stand here
more lovers pass
on motorcycles
roped together
from the walls of the water then
i look across t’ what they call
the right bank
an’ envy
your
trumpet
player


Camus discovers the sweet side of social networking

Friday, 8 November, 2013 0 Comments

The great Algerian-French writer Albert Camus, whose 100th birthday was celebrated yesterday, wasn’t a typical diarist, but he jotted down enough daily impressions to produce three published collections. Camus, by the way, never felt comfortable with the Parisian intelligentsia. He once called La Nouvelle Revue Française, a “curious milieu” whose function “is to create writers” but where, however, “they lose the joy of writing and creating.”

8 November 1937: “In the local cinema, you can buy mint flavoured lozenges with the words: ‘Will you marry me one day?’, ‘Do you love me?’, written on them, together with the replies: ‘This evening’, ‘A lot,’ etc. You pass them to the girl next to you, who replies in the same way. Lives become linked together by an exchange of mint lozenges.” Albert Camus

Hearts


Dan Brown aids ailing Italy

Thursday, 21 February, 2013 0 Comments

“Bestselling-author Dan Brown sat down to a simple Tuscan meal of tomato stew followed by steak in a family-run trattoria.” Back in November 2004, Geoffrey Pullum revealed to readers of Language Log that when Dan Brown constructs his formulaic opening sentence “an occupational term is used with no determiner as a bare role NP premodifier […]

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Parked at the knitwear shop

Sunday, 14 October, 2012

The word knit is derived from knot and ultimately from the Old English cnyttan, to knot. One of the earliest known examples of knitting was cotton socks with color patterns, found in Egypt at the end of the first millennium AD. Originally a male-only occupation, the first knitting trade guild was started in Paris in […]

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