New Year wishes

2012 is slowly fading away, and 2013, like an early edelweiss, is already poking its nose on the horizon.
It might be a bit early, but before I get too sloshed to do it properly, I will present you with my best wishes for the New Year.

When I was a kid, a popular song (Que reste t-il de nos amours?) was often heard on the radio. It was first recorded in 1942 and made popular in France by Charles Trenet.

This song later evolved into the American version known as « I wish you love ».

“I wish you bluebirds in the spring
To give your heart a song to sing
And then a kiss, but more than this
I wish you love”

 So for 2013 I shall wish you love of course, and its inseparable companions: peace, health, laughter, and friends.

First and foremost, I wish you peace. World peace. A little optimistic maybe, but still something to wish for.
Peace is the sunshine of mankind and without it nothing much can grow. So peace is my Number One wish.


My next wish is love. The intoxicating romantic attachment to someone. The glue that binds humanity. A man or a woman consumed by passion are totally oblivious of their surroundings and very unlikely to stir any trouble.
So love has got to be on my list.

The next thing is health. When you are healthy, the world is your oyster and nothing is impossible. Health is more valuable than gold.

I wish you an epidemic of laughter. “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”Charles Dickens
So I wish you the ability to laugh, at yourself and with others. And I hope that by hugging and kissing you will contaminate everybody around you.

And last but not least, I wish for you to be surrounded by friends.
“For a friend with an understanding heart is worth no less than a brother” – Homer
Life without friends is like spaghettis without Parmesan. Unthinkable.

And finally, in 2013, may the Gods grant you a few (don’t be greedy) “carreaux” and the pleasure to share your delight with friends.

Meilleurs voeux de bonheur a tous!
My best wishes to all!


Walking the line

Quite a while ago, prodded by my wife, my doctor and my personal trainer, I took to daily walks. I am not especially fond of it but everybody says that it is good for you.
It is supposed to make you lose weight (not true), increase your testosterone level (I am not sure), relieve stress (yeah), help you to sleep and make you a better cook.
It is also a good excuse to slip away from your better half, and for me, to quietly mull over some article (like this one) or a blockbuster movie script.

As you well know, there are many different styles of walking.

There is the athletic walk. Energetic and a bit masochistic. These people like to suffer. To amplify their suffering (pleasure?) they will often carry weights on their arms and ankles, and probably on some other parts of their body that I don’t dare to mention.

There is endurance walking. These people will walk until they drop. They will also brag about it and probably drop dead some day from the excessive exertion.

Then there is the congenial walk, especially favored by women. They like to get together and while exercising talk about what men prefer to keep private. They probe deep in each other soul and find solace in each other’s misery. They have no shame.

Me, I walk to keep mentally and physically sound, but also to keep in touch with my neighborhood’s tail-wagging friends. They are in the habit of leaving coded messages on lampposts and shrubs and I have tried to do the same, but I had to stop doing this after some uncomprehending neighbors complained to the block warden.

Walking is popular because it is cheap (you don’t need special equipment to do this) and because shoes are cheaper than tires.

When I walk, I also like to carry a pocket camera. In my upscale neighborhood you never know when a TV reality star will pop up and do something gross.
I want to be able to catch it and post it on YouTube.

But with the proliferation of iApps, walking might disappear some day and be replaced by something virtual.
I keep on walking because I want to be able to tell small children that there was a time in America when men were men, and not soda gulping, video games addicts wusses.




With Christmas fast approaching, I am under pressure once more to buy gifts for members of my tribe. Unlike some, I don’t like buying compulsory presents because I find this task exceedingly stressful.
In order to buy a present for anybody, you need to know the recipient’s tastes pretty well and most of the time we don’t.
The gift giving business is therefore a hit or miss proposition (more miss than hit) and it often leaves the giver mentally exhausted and the recipient politely disappointed.
But as dictated by the powerful Business Lobby we must perpetuate this tradition for fear of incurring a business “fatwa” (like a lifetime ban of popular department stores).
So the show must go on.

My grandniece just started to study French and I thought that it would be a good idea to buy her a French book to familiarize her with this language.
Something more easily said than done. Finding a French book for a five-year old in America is not as easy as you might think.
After visiting a local Barnes & Noble store, I finally settled (among other things) for “Le Petit Prince”, the fabled novella penned more than half a century ago by Antoine de Saint Exupéry.

I first read this book (and promptly forgot about it) a very long time ago, when I was devouring everything in sight without really fully understanding or questioning what I was reading. I must confess that I read hundreds of books simply to sound “cultured” and because critics gushed about them.

Before wrapping my present, I decided to read Le Petit Prince one more time and I found this experience rather unsettling.
I perceived the book to be insipid and unworthy of all the extravagant praise heaped upon it.

First of all, even though it is seemingly written for children, it is definitely not a children’s book.
Second, it is full of obscure allegories that have been bandied about for a long time. Critics will tell you what the author meant when he wrote a certain sentence, but nobody but the author knows for sure what he meant, and since he died shortly after the book was published, he is not talking.
Some researchers for instance, have asserted that the famous baobab trees mentioned in the book were meant to represent Nazism attempting to destroy the planet.
To this, and to many other assertions I say phooey!
I am pretty sure that St Exupéry wrote many things without giving them hidden meanings.

And that’s where I have a bone to pick with “critics”.

Professional critics are a bunch of people who arrogate to themselves the right to decide if something is good or worthless.
If art critics decide that a painting or a book is a masterpiece, we better get along with it for fear of being labeled ignorant or even worse “bourgeois”.
So, many people fearing embarrassment shy away from contradicting those fellows. I don’t.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe Le petit Prince became so famous:

First of all, Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, (count) de Saint Exupéry was a genuine aristocrat, and that always gives a certain cachet to anything the bluebloods do.
Second, his book was published in the middle of World War Two (1943) when the US and its allies were eager to promote true Free French patriots.
Third, he had the support of very influential people.
Fourth, he was a glamorous (if not washed-up) aviator who insisted on flying combat missions despite physical handicaps and his advanced age.
And last, he died young (at the age of 44) and his early demise amplified his fame posthumously.
Everybody knows that to gain everlasting fame an artist must die young.

I do believe that if Saint Ex would have been a peon instead of an aristocrat, if his book would have been published after the war, and lastly if he didn’t disappear so prematurely, his book would never had achieved the ridiculous cult status that it now enjoys.
“Translated into more than 250 languages and dialects, selling over a million copies per year with sales totaling over 200 million copies worldwide”.

So, if you have not done so yet and if you are curious, read the book (only 85 pages), but don’t let anybody tell you that it is a masterpiece because some “critics” said so.
In my “expert” opinion it is a pleasant little walk in fairyland, but a masterpiece it ain’t!

But on second thought maybe I got it wrong… Maybe a five-year old will see in in this book what a jaded old guy like me failed to see.
So I’ll give her the book after all and quiz her later about what she truly thinks of baobab trees and talking snakes.
A five-year old wouldn’t lie to me, would she?