This is an open-ended blog ranging from news about my latest gigs and publications
to ruminations about politics, world affairs, culture and whatever piques my interest—or ire.
Contact: tomsancton@yahoo.com

Monday, August 22, 2011

DSK: OFF THE HOOK BUT STILL IN THE DOGHOUSE?

As I predicted some time back, Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr., on Monday dropped all charges against former IMF director and ex-French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn, accused of raping a housekeeper at the New York Sofitel last May.
The alleged victim, Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, was judged an unreliable witness by Vance because she was found to have lied on numerous points ranging from her refugee status to the mysterious sums of money in her bank account to the precise circumstances surrounding the May 14 encounter in Strauss-Kahn's room.
But if Strauss-Kahn is out from under the legal cloud that has hovered over him for the past three months, he has hardly gotten off scott free: his career and reputation are ruined, his presidential hopes dashed, and let's just see what becomes of his marriage to multimillionaire former TV journalist Anne Sinclair once he gets back to France.
Sinclair footed the bills for his lawyers, luxury lodgings and $600 pasta dinners at fancy restaurants while he was obliged to remain in the U.S., but now that he is free she no longer has to pose for the cameras holding his hand and putting up a good front as a loyal and supportive wife. One can just imagine the kind of pillow talk they have had since the news first broke.
As has become evident during the course of this lamentable episode, Strauss-Kahn is a serial sex predator who has been groping and harrassing women for decades. As long as his appalling behavior remained behind closed doors, Sinclair apparently turned a blind eye to it. But now she might well start singing the old Fats Waller tune: "How Can you Face Me?"

Friday, August 19, 2011

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD!

One of my all-time favorite restaurants in Paris has always been Chez Polidor, located in the Latin Quarter near the Luxemberg Gardens. I have been going there since my student days in the 1970s and have been returning ever since. The place was founded in 1828 and looks like it still has its original d├ęcor of pitted mirrors, framed prints, antique posters, high ceilings with elaborate moldings. On one wall, there are little drawers for the regulars to keep their personal napkins in. It has red and white checkerd tablecloths, long communal tables and a menu written on a big chalkboard. This is not a nouvelle cuisine or world food place; it features traditonal Parisian bistro fare—snails, beef bourguignon, onion soup, rabbit stew—at reasonable prices.
My wife always begged me not to tell any of my "foreign" friends about the place because it was a little-known treasure frequented almost exclusively by locals. Well I pretty much kept my word on that, but unfortunately Woody Allen did not. He (rightly) considered this place central casting's idea of an old-fashioned Parisian bistro and filmed a scene from his recent "Midnight in Paris" at Polidor. (This is the scene where the time-traveling American hero meets Ernest Hemingway over a bottle of red wine.) Since then, the place has gotten into all the guides, features a photo of Woody in the front window, and has been overrun by tourists. I tried to go there last night and was astounded to see a line outside consisting of whole American families in shorts and sandals, with kids no less, couples pushing baby carriages, Japanese tour groups with guidebooks in hand. I stuck my head in and heard no French being spoken. Call me a snob, elitist, misanthrope, whatever, but I won't be going back there. Thanks a lot, Woody! Oh well, I'm headed home soon anyway after a wonderful summer.