The bunker’s climax

The mood in the milky white bunker was bleak. News from the West and news from the East were equally discouraging. Embarrassed generals with chests covered with medals avoided the chairman’s eyes. Some had already disappeared, laying low, waiting for the coming storm to blow over.

Various aides urged the chairman to flee. A submarine was ready to take him and his staff to Argentina. But he refused. Why? Nobody was sure, but after ruling a mighty empire, some surmised that it would be beneath his dignity to run like a two-bit thief.

And would he be happy anywhere else? He probably had thought of Napoleon who, after his fall, was confined to St Helena, a shitty little island located at the end of the world.

He surely must have thought so, because he often considered himself an equal to “the Little Corporal.” Didn’t he run a mighty empire just like the French emperor?

And if he would be toppled, there would be the unavoidable legal proceedings. A man who disposed of people like dirty laundry, could not be submitted to such indignity. And, truth be told, a few skeletons were dangling in his closet… He had tried to dispose of them, but no matter how hard he tried, the damn spooks kept coming back, threatening to expose him. There is no privacy anymore, he lamented to his henchmen.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

 He had heard this somewhere…. He had tried it… and it worked… for a while.
But despite his dogged efforts to discredit the peddlers of fake news, they kept coming at him, tearing pieces of his flesh like mad dogs. He often wished that he could throw them in some dark dungeons for eternity, but like bedbugs, they kept coming at him.

Lately, though, he had been plagued by doubts. And what if the fake news were true? His virtual image had already been dragged into the mud in many parts of the country… Was he going to get the same fate as his beloved confederate heroes?

The chairman had German roots and his youth had been steeped in Wagnerian lore. He often identified with Siegfried and his tragic fate.
After he slew the she-dragon and bathed in her blood, he felt invulnerable. Everything went his way for a while, but later on, he was betrayed by many of his close associates.

He started to reflect on the end of his saga. Carrying Brünnhilde’s shield and riding his steed Grane, armed with the Notung sword and carrying the Tarnhelm, Siegfried will enter the legend.

It will be a beautiful Götterdämmerung, a fate fitting a hero like him.


Adapt or perish

Adapt or perish! H.G. Wells said it over a hundred years ago, and today it is of vital importance more than ever.

After the Coronavirus pandemic has abated, few things will return to the old comfortable “normal.” To survive and prosper again, people will have to adapt to the new reality.

Take the celebrated handshake for instance, originally a symbol of peace… or the French custom of greeting friends or relatives by planting an audible kiss on each cheek. Those gestures have been with us for a very long time and they are almost automatic …

But they are now mainly disallowed and might disappear altogether. Due to the threat of Covid-19, most people today would recoil in horror if you attempted those familiar moves.

The world will have to adapt. What was perfectly normal and well-mannered yesterday is now taboo. But do not lose heart; kids will most probably provide alternatives to these antiquated greeting customs. They are creative and not constrained by fear of ridicule… One of these days, a new (unphysical) cool form of greeting will emerge and spread like black powder. Something like the Victory or the Get Lost sign… and some loony kid will be its originator.

Regardless of their previous occupations, many people will have to adapt and switch professions. Instead of crying all the way to the unemployment office, job seekers will have to be proactive and innovative. The question is not anymore “what company is seeking professionals like me” but “what does everybody need or wants?”

In 1849, the Gold Rush was on and every Tom Dick and Harry rushed to the Yukon. But not Levi Strauss. Instead of making the long and arduous trip to gold fields, Levi moved to San Francisco. In 1853, he opened a store catering to the miners’ essential needs. He sold men’s clothing, underwear, handkerchiefs, rolls of fabric, umbrellas… anything that the miners needed or wanted.

Strauss also recognized talent. One of his customers, a tailor named Jacob Davis, designed denim work pants, hammering rivets onto the pocket corners to make them more durable. Davis proposed a partnership and Strauss accepted. The ubiquitous “jeans” was born.

 “By the end of 1873, thousands of San Franciscans were wearing Strauss and Davis’s pants. The company would later adapt the name “Levi’s” as a trademark.”

 Find a need and fill it!


It is starting today…

The Covid-19 ordeal has been very propitious to television binging, and my main dish in this area has been a French program called “Ça commence aujourd’hui » (It is starting today.)

The promise of this production is to invite 4 or 5 people with unusual stories and have them questioned by a host (Faustine Bollaert) in front of a live audience. The stories are indeed unusual and quite entertaining.

Yesterday I watched a show about couples, who after 10 or 15 years of marriage, separated (or divorced), and finally reconciled a few years later. Nothing extremely unusual about this, except for one case. A former couple, living with new partners, was secretly having an affair… with their original spouses. How deliciously perverted can that be?

In another episode, after having a serious car accident, a woman ended up in a coma. She remained in this state for a certain time, but while totally unable to move or to respond, she heard and understood everything said around her.

Since she stayed unresponsive for weeks, one day she heard doctors talking about disconnecting her from life support. And to her horror, she remembered that she also volunteered to donate her organs…

Fortunately, her parents were always at her side, talking to her and holding her hand. Although unable to talk, the bedridden woman finally managed to move a finger to signal that she was conscious, thus probably saving her own life.

Mythomania was the topic of another show. In this story, a young woman meets a confident young man. He is a policeman. Nice uniform, badge, service revolver.

“A policeman in plain clothes is a man; in his uniform, he is ten. Clothes and titles are the most potent thing, the most formidable influence, in the earth.” ~ Mark Twain

 The man is very busy and she can only see him on weekends… but the romance is going well.

 One evening, they go out for dinner but the man gets involved in a fight. The police are called. Even though he is not the aggressor, the young man is arrested and cuffed. When his girlfriend protests and tells the police that her boyfriend is also a cop, they laugh at her. This man is not, and never was a policeman. They had been looking for him for quite a while and were glad that they finally caught him.

As it turned out, the busy young man had 2 other girlfriends. He saw one at night, and the other one during the day, pretending that he was working nights. Ah, the allure of the uniform…

If you understand French and want to be entertained with true surprising stories, tune to YouTube and look for “Ça commence aujourd’hui ».