The art of “plumbing”

Yesterday 38 players showed up to compete in the One on One tournament taking place in Sonoma, but they were too numerous to be mentioned in this blog. Sorry!

It was cold but due to the lack of wind, not excessively chilly. Just in case, I came prepared with long johns and 5 layers of garments to protect my priceless body.

Three timed games, with 4 boules for each contestant, were played in the morning to determine who would qualify for the Concours and would play in the Consolante.

Yesterday seemed to be my lucky day, and the Gods allowed me to win my 3 morning games which put me in the Concours finals. As I keep saying “I’d rather be lucky than good” but smart aleck Patrick corrected me by saying “I’d rather be lucky and good” and he is damn right.

In any case I qualified for the Concours and I went ahead despite a painful back pain. Holly Sammons came to the rescue with 2 Tylenol pills and I went ahead with my ride. Thank you Holly, a good deed never goes unpunished.

On my 4th game I still managed another win but my lucky ride came to an end in my 5th game when I was thrown off of my horse by Ed Clay.

In the finals, played on a tricky gravelly court, David Lanter faced Delio Cuneo. Both excellent players. What followed was basically a game of “plumbing.”

What does it mean to “plomber” a boule? The player will throw his boule high in the air to give it more speed and more weight when it lands. This action minimizes the rolling of the boule when it touches the ground and allows it to stay closer to the cochonnet.

Both players were very familiar with this technique and used it almost exclusively. In my opinion Delio proved to be a better “plumber” and David a better “au fer” shooter with some spectacular shots.

Ultimately Delio prevails with a score of 13/7. A great match, evenly balanced.

Final results

1st place: Delio Cuneo
2nd place: David Lanter
3rd place: Jean-Michel Poulnot

Consolante A
1st place: Joe La Torre
2nd place: Steve Wolf
3rd place: Steve Paulsen

Consolante B
1st place: Antonia Paulsen

A great pétanque day!


As usual, you can look at photos of this event by clicking on the “My Photos” link located on the right side of this page. For best viewing, go Full Screen.


I hate do-gooders, those exasperating interlopers!

You are in a hurry. You have to meet a very important client for lunch and he has told you in no uncertain terms that he likes people to be punctual. OK, got that.

So you are downtown, fighting traffic and trying to make it on time for your meeting. You are stuck behind a slowpoke who has taken roots at a stop sign. A gap suddenly opens in the pedestrian flow going through the crosswalk. All right, go!
Go! What are you waiting for? The do-gooder in front of me has spotted a little old lady who is hesitating to cross the street and he is encouraging her to do so. At my expense! Cool it granny, step back!

Hate those guys bent on doing good! Never mind the fact that I am going to lose a fifty thousand bucks sale, this guy has got to do his Boy Scout bit.

Sometimes I seem to be stalked by Do-gooders. They always seem to appear when I am under pressure. Like last week… I parked at a meter and rushed into a building to drop a document. I get into an elevator with another fellow. He punches his floor, I punch mine.

OK, let’s go! But No. The guy is holding the door for a pregnant woman! What business does a woman in family way have to come downtown? Why doesn’t she stay home with milk and cookies and save me another parking ticket?

I told you, I am stalked by do-gooders.

A few days ago, I was in line at the supermarket waiting to have my goods processed by the food checker. Suddenly an older woman with a strong Russian accent engaged in an argument with the checker. The food checker obviously doesn’t understand what the old woman is saying.
Houston, we have a problem!

Out of nowhere, a distinguished looking gentleman appears and starts translating for the Babushka. There is hope… But what’s that? The Russian expats are now engaged in a lively conversation and smiling. This exchange doesn’t have anything to do with business; it reeks of social intercourse. Damn the Do-gooders!

And I think that the blasted thing is catching.

Two days ago, I was driving downtown when I noticed a lost pooch. I know when a dog is in trouble. Without a second thought I stopped my car  and approached the mutt. The poor thing was shivering and looking very despondent. I managed to grab him and take him into my car. Don’t worry pooch, I’ll take care of you.

Somebody behind me started honking. Bastard! Don’t you have any heart?


PS: You can now view this page in French, Spanish, German and Russian. To do so, please click on the Translate sign located on the right side (bottom) of this post and choose the language that suits you best.
The translation by the way is far from being perfect!

Y’en a marre!

Photo by Jose Moreno

Y’en a marre de ces tueries insensées qui défraient régulièrement la chronique aux États-Unis. Au lieu d’être le phare, nous sommes maintenant la risée de l’Europe et de toutes les nations civilisées.

Y’en a plus que marre de ces vieux politicards roués qui continuent a garder leur tête dans le sable pendant que le sang coule. Y’en a ras le bol d’un président immature, borné, incompétent, affligé d’une myopie politique sans précédent.

Avec une quantité phénoménale d’individus stockant des armes de guerre, l’Amérique est devenu un pays extrêmement violent et extrêmement dangereux. Aux États soit disant Unis, il y a plus d’armes que de citoyens. La moindre étincelle peut mettre le feu à une série de poudrières ne demandant qu’a exploser.

Le problème n’est pas avec les malades mentaux comme le répète « ad nauseum » la Maison Blanche. Le problème réside avec un système hallucinant qui permet à pratiquement n’importe qui d’acheter une arme de guerre.

Si ces armes étaient impossible (ou difficile) a obtenir, ces malades ne pourraient infliger que comparativement peu de dégâts.

Heureusement, certaines personnes ont vu la lumière, et ces personnes ce sont les adolescents, les victimes de choix de toutes ces tueries. Ils demandent maintenant justice.

Ce problème ne sera pas résolu par un Congrès impotent mais par la rue. Toutes les personnes de bonne volonté, devraient faire front commun avec les jeunes, les victimes, les parents, les amis des victimes et faire pression sur des législateurs plus concernés par leur survie, que la sécurité de leurs paroissiens.

Il faut faire honte aux politicards complaisants (comme on a fait honte aux agresseurs sexuels) et les forcer à  prendre une décision irrévocable bannissant a jamais les machines a tuer.

Aux urnes citoyens, formez vos bataillons
Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons ! 


Field of Frustration

Once in a while, because of our inability to achieve a goal, we experience frustration.

But yesterday in Petaluma despite strong gusts of wind, there was a permanent cloud of frustration hanging all over the pétanque field.
In all my born days I have never heard so many “merde” or seen so much hand wringing than yesterday at the Oak Hill Park.

The pétanque field in Petaluma is (let me try to find the right word) highly unpredictable. The ground is strewn with small pebbles that will deflect just about any unlucky boule landing on it. And yesterday you needed a lot of luck.

The poor slobs (like me) who seldom venture to Oak Hill Park were bogged down in a permanent state of frustration. Pebbles thwarted so many of my shots, that I could barely contain myself. As the saying goes, I had just about all I could take of myself.

Even Petalumians  (who play there regularly) where struggling. But I am ahead of myself. The opposing teams were as follows:

For Marin we had:

1- Sandra Shirkey, Mark Shirkey, Noel Marcovecchio
2- Alain Efron, Francois Moser, Sabine Mattei
3- Henry Wessel, Calvert Barron, Marc Davantes
4- Charlie Davantes, Liv Kraft, Helga Facchini

On the Petaluma side:

1- Bleys Rose, David Hale, Dennis Zerbo
2- Ed Porto, Hans Kurz, Larry Brown
3- David Lindsay, Jimmy Johnson, Dougie Coleville
4- Albert Woodbury, Caitlin Woodbury, John Virbill

On our second encounter with Petaluma at Oak Hill Park, we didn’t do that much better than in our first encounter.
Petaluma won 11 games and Marin 5.

As a (poor) excuse, I choose to blame the weather. It was cold and extremely windy and few people play well entangled in a heavy jacket.

The saving grace for Marin, was the brilliant performance of the Henry, Calvert and Marc Davantes team. They won 3 out of 4 games and barely lost their last game 10/13.
We might have to throw a parade for them in Marin.

On the Petaluma side, Ed Porto, Hans Kurz and Larry Brown also won 3 games.

The proceeds from both encounters were split between the 2 clubs.

In conclusion:

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.”Kurt Vonnegut


Mass killing anew

Another mass killing! Another senseless tragedy that could have been avoided.

But in America we are kind of blasé about this sort of thing. It is common and it is happening with a sickening regularity. And what are we doing about it besides crying, wringing our hands, making emotional speeches and lighting candles?
Nothing! Absolutely nothing.

Photo by Army Amber

Let’s be realistic: assault weapons are murdering people all over the country and if we want to stop the carnage, these weapons of war have to be banned!

Never mind the convenient scapegoat of mental illness. These individuals are just a small part of the problem. To get rid of this killing epidemic, we need to eliminate the means of mass destruction. This country has been plagued by automatic assault weapons for a long time and something needs to be done about it.

Let’s not delude ourselves. We are all a bunch of sheep following a few rams. We are basically led by a small minority wielding too much power. And the driving force behind power is as usual money. A few people with lots of cash are coercing our obliging (money-hungry) politicians into preventing sane public safety measures to be implemented.

The gun lobby is wielding an unimaginable amount of power and the spotlight of public opinion should be directed to this organization and their minions.
A lot of powerful moguls have been brought down through the means of “sexual harassment” shaming. The same course of action (killing shaming) ought to be used against venal politicians and their godfathers.

You need to understand that the primary goal of a politician is survival. In order to be reelected, he constantly needs to raise money, and the life-saving donations are coming from just a few affluent dudes. If you can rely on those patrons, you reelection is assured. So let’s not rock the boat and offend these nice philanthropists who are so faithfully taking care of you.

As long as these killings are not affecting my family and my wallet, we can live with it. Right?

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” —Malala Yousafzai

In conclusion:

Speak up. Pressure your elected representative or don’t complain.



(Initially drafted in October 2005)

I am a straight shooter. Ask me how to get from point A to point B and I’ll tell you, just like that. Thirty seconds and it’s done! But for some people, it seems to be an almost impossible task.

My mother used to be such a person. I sometimes called her QAD (Queen Of Digression). This propensity of hers could be amusing or highly annoying, depending on how much time you had on your hands.

– Mother, what was the name of Madame Charpentier’s dog?
– Madame Charpentier? You mean the butcher’s wife?
– Yes, the butcher’s wife.
– The butcher’s wife… she was an odd woman… Did you know that her father used to get drunk every Saturday night? He would carouse at the tavern with his good for nothing friends, and continue drinking at home after Le Chien qui Fume had closed… But what do you expect from a Socialist? Before the War, everybody in France was socialist and look where it took us…

– Mother, the dog’s name?
– What dog?
– Madame Charpentier’s…
– The butcher’s wife?
– Yes…
– In my book, the butcher is a good lad. Always polite and pleasant. Always calls you by your name… regularly enquires about your family… not like the butcher on rue de Bretagne… you know the red haired guy with a southern accent. He must be Corsican or something like that.
And Corsica is not worth the trouble it is giving us. They want independence? Give them independence and let them starve. Look at all these African countries… they are all independent now. And what did it get them? Wars, diseases, starvation…

– Mother, the dog’s name?
– Oh you are so impatient… I am getting to it. You young people are all alike. You want everything right away. When I was young, people were more polite and more patient. Do you know that in my days, before you could kiss a girl you had to show that you were an upstanding young man? Today, young people kiss on the first date and hop in bed before even knowing the name of…

– The name Mother, the name?
– What name?
– The name of Madame Charpentier’s dog?
– The name? Oh yes… You mean the black one?
– Yes
– I totally forgot… Sorry. But you seem to be in a hurry… Anything wrong?
– No Mother, everything is fine.


People who digress endlessly are not at the top of the list of my Bêtes Noires, but some days, when it’s hot and muggy, they come dangerously close to light the fuse of my righteous wrath.


A memorable mêlée

Yesterday was not a day for the faint-hearted; it was cold and unpleasant. At 9:00 am, it was 41° with 70% humidity. But in the afternoon the weather changed for the worse. The day turned blustery with freezing gusts of wind sweeping the field and creating havoc everywhere.
How cold was it?  “It was colder than a room full of ex-wives.”
I bet that the people who had the audacity to show up in shorts cursed their macho clothing decision.

At 10:00 am a small crowd had congregated on the pétanque field. With the flu epidemic still in full swing, the “fist bump” or the “rump bump” was still de rigueur. Many participants spontaneously grabbed some tools and proceeded to groom the courts. Kudos to all of them.
I did not do any of this. As a photographer, I put my priority on recording for posterity most of the details of tournaments. I will let you judge the results.

The organizer/accountant/scorekeeper/enforcer was Noel Marcovecchio. A first-time job that he managed to accomplish very well. He registered contestants, collected fees, kept scores and put together the 12 following doublettes:

  1. Alain Efron $ Sabine Mattei
  2. T.Wetzel & Monique Bricca
  3. Mark Shirkey & Susan Wyatt
  4. Bernard Passemar & Sandra Shirkey
  5. Ed Porto & J-C Bunand
  6. Evan Falcone & Tamara Efron
  7. Rob Houton & François Moser
  8. Charles Davantes & Logan Ginzberg
  9. J-M Poulnot & Helga Facchini
  10. John Morrison & Mireille Di Maio
  11. Jonathan Dalmau & David Lindsay
  12. Liza Moran & Calvert Barron

The tournament, by the way, was open to all (newcomers and seasoned players) and the format of the event was “a la mêlée”.

One game was played before lunch and 3 games after lunch.

I was lucky to be paired up with my old partner in crime Sabine Mattei. She is a good player and above all a cool chick. We are both natives of the Parisian area and we speak the same language. We have an easy, playful relationship and there is never tension ever between us. The way a team should be.

We managed decently, winning 3 games out of 4 while losing one 11/13 and I credit Sabine’s excellent pointing for these results.

Some of the people we played with were very good, among them Charlie Davantes, François Moser, and newcomer Logan Ginzberg. The previous day I also noticed Liza Moran who is becoming an excellent shooter and a threat to male egos. Don’t be fooled by her angel face! Under her smiling face, she hides the instinct of a killer.

To everybody’s relief, the tournament was over around 4:00 pm. and prizes were awarded to the top players:

1st prize: Rob Houton & François Moser
2nd prize: Calvert Barron & Liza Moran
3rd prize: Monique Bricca & T. Wetzel
4th prize: Alain Efron & Sabine Mattei

Everybody went home for a well-deserved rest and a hot beverage.


Then, shortly after I arrived home, shazam! I received a telephone call from Noel Marcovecchio (our scorekeeper) telling me that the previous results were erroneous.

After a recount, the official results are now as follows:

1st prize: Alain Efron & Sabine Mattei
2nd prize: Rob Houton & François Moser
3rd prize: Calvert Barron & Liza Moran
4th prize: Jean-Claude Bunand & Ed Porto

Sorry folks! Poopoo happens!


I hope that you like the pictures!

Fine print

I have a beef with “fine print”.

As my old friend Andy Rooney once said, “nothing in fine print is ever good news.” I firmly believe that.

But the damn thing is multiplying like crazy, breeding like rabbits on a Caribbean holiday. It is everywhere, and like most everything that you cannot see, it is hazardous to your health… and to your retirement plan.

“Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.”  Pete Seeger

A wise person (or a seasoned lawyer) will read the fine print before gracing any document with his John Hancock. But unfortunately there seems to be a shortage of wise men; in their eagerness to acquire something new, very few people bother to scrutinize (especially the benign last paragraph) of the document that they are signing.

Fine print basically means that the author of the document is loath to reveal what the law constrains him to do. He thus complies through the artifice of miniaturization.

I realize that my sight is not what it used to be, but even when wearing my spectacles I strain to decipher some documents.

I just purchased a Thermos bottle, and it came with a “care and use” guide. But this guide (hiding in the bottle) is barely 3 x 2 inches and the print is so small that I need a magnifying glass to decipher what it says.

Is Thermos trying to pull a fast one or am I becoming paranoid? In this climate of “fake news” everything is possible. Is a microphone hidden in the walls of the bottle? Am I going to get infected by a mysterious virus by drinking from this container? Is this a surreptitious way of converting me to Scientology? Are the Russians involved?

Washington’s paranoia has affected all. Everybody is jittery and inclined to believe the most outrageous claim.

Make America clean again and built a beautiful wall around Un-American fine print.


The big print giveth and the fine print taketh away. Fulton J. Sheen

Pensées interlopes

Ne berces-tu jamais                       Don’t you ever entertain
En tout bien tout honneur               With honorable intentions of course
De jolies pensées interlopes ?        Fetching lascivious thoughts?

Those are some of the lyrics of “Penelope », a song composed by famous French singer/songwriter Georges Brassens. This ballad was published in 1960 and as it shows, Georges was not the first person to cast some doubts on women’s declared rectitude.

Sexual Harassment deserves condemnation and should be reined in, no doubt about it. But not all men are villains and not all women are innocent victims. In view of the Sexual Harassment tsunami, we need some kind of a reset.

Yes, there has been a lot of sexual harassment in the past but let’s not turn this into the Reign of Terror or the Red Scare.

In the current climate, someone’s reputation and livelihood can be wiped out in seconds by allegations, and one needs to be cautious before casting stones and ostracizing anybody.

In some cases, women were the amorous instigators. But what if the romance goes sour and the man decides to put an end to the relationship? There is something called vengeance and it is a very tempting retribution tool for scorned women. Could then a consensual relationship suddenly become a case of sexual harassment?

The key to all of this is consensual agreement. If both parties agree to some hanky-panky there is no cause for melodrama. But the main question is “when does the woman agree to a sexual interlude?”
Some men are seemingly unable to tell.

In my ever-inventive mind, I see an opportunity for another smartphone voice-activated app. It would work like a miniature stoplight. Since most people bring their phone near or into their bed, it would be easy to handle.

During any prelude to sexual activity, the would-be seducer would have to pay attention to the phone lurking in the dark. If the light is green, there is a consensus. When it turns orange, easy does it. If the light turns red, STOP. An alarm could also be activated if the Lothario persists in his unwelcome advances. Running a red light as everybody knows is a serious offense punishable by law.

To sum it up

If men don’t see the light, the Stop Light could become the indispensable killer app for the woman on the go. What da ya think?


Do you have style?

You gotta have style. Without it you are nobody. Diana Vreeland.

In the last 10 years, I must have taken at least 30,000 pictures. I have photographed just about everything under the sun including men, beasts, and pétanque players.

Antonia Paulsen

During this time, I have shot the same individuals multiple times and I have noticed that every person has a very distinctive way of casting his/her boules. This is called style, and a photographer is very partial to form. The more graceful you are and the more the camera will like you, increasing your chances to be seen in various publications.

Style is inimitable and often defines a player. Having style though does not necessarily mean that you are a top-rated player. You can be photogenic without being effective, but generally speaking, a stylish individual is usually a good player. Style and outcome go hand in hand.

By the same token, a bland player can be extremely accurate and as capable as a flashy player; he might not be stylish, but this does not prevent him from scoring.

Skills can be learned, but style is innate. You are born with. It also partly depends on your morphology. It is also not exclusively a man’s attribute. Au contraire! Some women can be very stylish and when they are, they draw larger crowds than men players.

Style is definitely crowd-pleasing; to be popular you need to win games, but it is the way you do it that will shape your reputation.

Style is whatever you want to do, if you can do it with confidence. George Clinton

Tennis pro Anna Kournikova was not a particularly successful player; she never won a single title but she had style and the crowds cheered for her.

Moral of the story:

Winning games is great, but winning with style is the cherry on top of your achievement.