Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I have just found The Best Blog Ever

Vanity Fair Critic James Wolcott has a new blog, featuring perceptive comments that are not said often enough, particularly about the anti-Democratic reporting in the media (yes, the American media is no more liberal than Paris Hilton is classy), but also about abounding evidence that Wolf Blitzer is not real and updates on Star Jones' not so humble announcements about her upcoming wedding, which are hilarious! So read this blog at once!

A particular favorite clip from one of Wolcott's entries:

The last thing the country needs is a president who thinks he's too good for the job and doesn't want to get his cuffs dirty.
I don't think Kerry is that man. I don't see any Stevensonian trace of Fonda in him. You don't earn the medals he did in Vietnam by playing Hamlet in the clutch. The people around him--that's a different story. Unlike Bush, Kerry can't delegate his aggression to Cheney, Fox News, and a yapping band of attack poodles; the Democratic party doesn't have that same threshing infrastructure. He has to go it almost alone and run the risk of being too forceful and coming across as "unlikeable" in the eyes of gardening clubs like The Capital Gang. Pundits prefer their Democrats soft and emasculated, it makes them so much
easier to filet.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The following led an article entitled, "Schwarzenegger Governing Like A Democrat":

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger thrilled delegates at the Republican National Convention last month with a thundering affirmation of the party's conservative principles. Back home, though, he has governed more like a Democrat on such issues as gay rights, guns and the environment.

In his first round of bill signings since the end of the legislative session in August, he approved a law requiring health insurance companies to extend to gay partners the same benefits they offer to unmarried heterosexual couples. He allowed the sale of clean needles to slow the spread of AIDS, and he approved an expansion of the state's hate-crimes law to protect transvestites.

To me it sounds like the man is governing like a human being (and sadly, it is generally not a Republican party principle to govern in such a way). Ideally, both parties would share this principle though.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Great Article...

...And I'm not just saying this because the article in question is written by my brother. Read this though, it's hilarious!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Paris against Province?

Today I went to the Palais Elysee, the residence of the President of France (currently Jacques Chirac). The Palais Elysee is only open once a year, for two days. What is special about these two days? They are when the Journee du patrimoine (Day of Inheritance) occurs. On this weekend, government buildings, monuments, and museums of the countries of Europe are open for the public, all for free vieweing. In Paris, this is a particularly exciting day because government bulidings like the Palais Elysee, the Senat, and the Grand Assemblie are not normally open to the public. The Palais Elysee may be the largest draw of the day. Today I waited about three and a half hours to see selected rooms of its interior. The Epcot Center's Test Track ride at Disney World may be the only thing I've waited for equally as long. Of course, the residence of the president of France is pretty different in nature from a Disney World ride.

Anywhow, the line went quite fast for the most part, mainly because I passed my time by text messaging people and then striking up a conversation with a French man who was originally from outside Paris. As most French people have asked me so far, he posed the question of what I thought of Paris. I told him that I thought that it was a great city (I probably said something silly like "j'adore Paris"), that there was so much living history, so much to see, etc. I said that the history, the style of the grand boulevards, the churces, and so forth, is what makes Paris so different from any city in the United States. This Frenchman then said that he didn't love Paris: that it was crowded, that commutes were too long, and that it was expensive. This is all true (well, my commute is relatively short, but whatever), and to judge how liveable a city like Paris is is an entirely different task then assessing it as a city worth visiting.

Now I should say that I am thoroughly glad to be in Paris right now; the experience here is a welcome change from a pretty predictable life at Northwestern. It is pretty nice not to study at a university that places almost an equal level of importance on extra curricular activities without allowing one an equal amount of time to complete one's exra curricular responsibilities competently, where getting drunk is often a focal point for an evening with friends, and where I'm not out in the 'burbs, even with Evanston being a nicer suburb than most.

There are many things I miss about the U.S., but the above aren't any of them. I hope it doesn't seem as if I'm taking my life in the States for granted, because being abroad is cause for appreciating life at home more than anything else: the many conveniences we are afforded from being Americans--not the least of which is that our language is the second language for most people who learn a language at school--are most realized when one is out of the country and gains a certain perspective on this. When theFrenchman in line with me for the Palais Elysee told me he would rather live somewhere like Nantes, that he could do without the Paris life, it cemented the truth of that matter, which is that like any other city, Paris is a place that is home to thousands upon thousands of people who have to get to work or school everyday, who have to eat and sleep in this grande ville. There is a historical rift between the city of Paris and the rest of the country, the "Province," of which we are learning about in EU class. Places like the Palais Elysee and Hotel Deville are home to just one family; everyone else lives in their more normally-sized apartments, and maybe some of them would like to leave the hustle and bustle of city life for greener pastures.

Friday, September 17, 2004

The best stories from Paris aren't the sights, or the cafes...

They all have to do with my crazy "host brother." Some choice phrases from him that are currently out of context for my audience here,

"Je me couche."
"I want to brush my teeth."
"Neelyoong." [Neil Young]
The toaster oven in the salon instance.
"...est exceptionelle!"

Alright, I love this source of stories. If you ever want me to put any of this nonsense into the proper context, ask me. Mme B. at one point said he was going through "delayed adolesence." Oh Gregoire. Let's pray that none of my French acquaintances, especially my host family, ever reads my blog.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Free Martha!

Man, this is just depressing. If Martha has to serve, why aren't Ken Lay or Andrew Fastow doing their hard time?

Stewart asks to serve sentence soon
By Erin McClam
Sept. 15, 2004 New York --
Millionaire executive Martha Stewart announced Wednesday that she had decided to begin her prison sentence for lying about a stock trade as soon as possible. "I must reclaim my good life," she said, adding she hoped to be home in time to plant a spring garden.

Let Martha grow her garden!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Oversimplification of the Day...

...From a member of the international press:

The attractive, witty and affluent elite who support John Kerry cannot bear the idea that the overweight, dull and impecunious commoners of Middle America will give Bush a second term.

Now I'm not saying as a Kerry supporter that I am offended at being classified as "attractive, witty and affluent," (of course me as an elite is pretty milk-streaming-out-of-your-nose laughable, so I won't even include that word in the quote) if the tone wasn't so snide and if the article wasn't so totally unresearched. I cite it to point out that this is the sort of article that is sadly characteristic of what passes for political analysis these days in our ever softer world of the "soft science" of politics.

Why London is the Most Entertaining Political Capitol

This is self-explanatory. There's nothing more I need say, except to clip excerpts from this article:

LONDON - A campaigner dressed as Batman, from the fathers' rights group that pelted Prime Minister Tony Blair with flour-filled condoms, caused a major security breach on Monday as he scaled the front of Buckingham Palace.
The campaign group Fathers 4 Justice said police had threatened to shoot a would-be accomplice who was dressed as comic hero Batman's sidekick Robin.
"Police threatened to shoot Robin unless he got down from the fence -- which we think is unacceptable because this is a peaceful, non-violent protest. But Batman was able to continue."

Read all about it.

I hope something like this happens this weekend when the residence of the president of France--among many other civic buildings--is open for the public for two days, but only if it is as harmless as flourless condoms. There, that is my way of tying this fun in with my stay in Paris.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

In today's New York Times, journalist John Broder glorifies dirty campaigning saying

It just seems that the Republicans are, today at least, more adept at the black art of attack politics, according to historians and flummoxed Democratic partisans.

Broder wastes too much vocabulary when it would simply be more accurate and more expedient to say that the Republicans are just bigger assholes.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Yes, I went to one here in Paris, and I would like to repent. Still, I think the fact that it is cheap is one point in the fast food chain's favor. The fact that the fries here are worse than the fries in the States is one point against. The special "frites" sauce is another point for McDo, as they call it. If the restaurant were not frequented by Europeans, it would not be here, though I know the American tourists do like McDo as well. That is my sorry defense. Also, I had pangs of homesickness that could only be cured by McDonalds fries. Now I'm ready for more pain au jambon et fromage and crepes au confiture.

Oh, and I will wait at least one month to go to Starbucks; after all, I do really like the French Cafe Creme.

Unnecessary Animosity Towards the French

I was doing an interesting search today, the details of which I will not get into, but I found this incredibly vapid commentary that basically characterizes the French (and seemingly many other foreigners) as removed to the point that they would exploit the events of September 11. The writer suggests that the book Windows on the World by Frédéric Beigbeder exemplifies the attitude of all of France towards the attacks--

The disdain this man - and most of his countrymen - must have for Americans is beyond the grasp of my imagination. Is it jealousy that would make someone take such an event in history and saturate it with sex stories?

Of course, the way he deduces that "the disdain of this man" (regardless of whether Beigbeder really has disdain towards the U.S.--I haven't read the book) must mean the disdain of every person in the country towards the U.S. is quite baseless.

Although I have only been in France for a bit more than a week and am hardly an expert on the French viewpoint (which of course is as diverse amongst the countrymen as are such viewpoints in any country), it seems that this article represents the wistful thinking of the author, who wants to cast the U.S. as a victim of an inconsiderate world ignorant of terrorism (hardly the case, when one consider that in terms of airport security, for instance, European countries like France were much better prepared and defended in the event of an attempted attack than the U.S.). I don't know why a group of Americans likes to believe that the French hate them, but it seems a worthless exercise to me and one founded in little more than baseless logic.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Paris Metro...

Best train station name: Chatelet
Worst train station name: Gare du Nord (so boring guys, come on!!)

Russian-Germans are Sexy

Remember when Grace Kelly became Princess Grace of Monacco (okay, I honestly don't) or when, say, you met someone at school who was of some really exciting, exotic ethnic background, say half Senalgalese and half Chilean (i don't know!)?

I've always wanted to be one of those people who gets oohed and ahhed at over their ethnicity, and I've always found it sort of interesting the way some ethnicities are romanticized and others, well...aren't.

For instance, there is a student in my program here at the Sciences Po ecole in Paris who is French-Brazillian. When people found that out, they were impressed. Part of the reason I was lured to this crazy city was my romanticization of the French people--beautiful language, style--a romantic ethnicity.

Unfortunately, I can't show-off with my own descent. Wouldn't it be great if my Russian-German ethnicity was the kind that was exciting and mysterious to people? In fact, wouldn't that be funny? Yes, I think that would be very funny if my exotic Russian-German background was one day a hot commodity in the ethnicity department. For now, I will just have to hope I can marry the Prince of Monaaco.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Only Modern Art

Here is a little report from gay Pah-ree:
Today I went to the Centre de Georges Pompidou, which houses a modern art museum on the top floors. While the museum had a solid early-20th century collections, including some of my favorites, Picasso, Matisse, and Dali, they're late 20th century collection was pretty non-stimulating to me, except for one video piece. On one side of the room, a projector showed a film in English about racial problems and on the other side of the room, an image of a guy in a bear costume trouncing through the forest was being narrated in German. It was bizarre and strangely realxing at the same time.

Liberal Media? Nah.

Sometimes the best way to put today's political press coverage in perspective is to contrast it with how an identical event was covered in the very near past. Take the New York Times' coverage of the Republican and Democratic conventions. The morning after the Democratic Convention concluded, the Times published two Page One stories: a straight news piece about Sen. John Kerry's address, and a separate analysis of the themes of the speech. Today, following the Republican Convention, the Times does the same: a news piece on President Bush's address, as well as an analysis. But for the Republicans, there's a bonus dispatch, a valentine of a report ("Buoyed G.O.P. Says It Has Framed Agenda for Fall") on how "confident" and "optimistic" Republican strategists were celebrating their convention, convinced they had "framed the debate for the fall" and "had succeeded in raising significant doubts" about their opponent...
The full article.

Friday, September 03, 2004

I am in Paris now, so unfortunately I cannot read as much about American politics as before, but I found this article about John Kerry's new, well-timed counteroffensive on Bush-Cheney interesting. I recommend this article, especially for the anxious Democrat!