Friday, May 31, 2013

Charming snakes at the Georges V

Since I have taken the decision to become a snake charmer, I have met with little resistance on the part of friends and acquaintances who feel, no doubt, that I have finally found my true calling and if that is what it is, I wish it for everyone.

Most careers require years of study and experience before attaining the ease and elegance to get one through the rough passages, if personal experience is anything to go by. Without the benefit of having visited India or certain neighborhoods of London, I find that my overlong experience in Hollywood has adequately prepared me for anything a cobra might hand out. Just you try negotiating cross-collateralization on a slate of films from the position of writer.

The chef here is one of the finest yet my king cobra has shown an indifference to the hotel's cuisine bordering on that of The Chad (who recently upgraded to a better rehab facility in Malibu to celebrate stealing a very successful actor/director away from a rival agent at UTA). Don't think for a minute that it was easy getting the kitchen to deliver live pheasant to the (junior) suite, either, for there are some requests at which even the staff of a five-star hotel will balk.

After a difficult getting-to-know-you period, "Shelby" and I have settled into a routine that works for both of us to a reasonable degree--though we've been asked to cease our rehearsal sessions in the courtyard--and it reminded me of the first few months I suffered under my first production deal with a major studio. "Shelby" only tried to bite me, whereas...

The only real problem is getting him back into his basket everyday at about noon when the service comes by to restore the (junior) suite to its original condition. I don't for the life of me know how he gets out and it is probably a riddle I should try to solve but there is only so much one can do in a day.

As in Hollywood, we snake charmers learn quickly to dream big and not sweat the small stuff.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Constitution of the United States of America

As with any good professional wrestling match, the actors on the political stage read (scream) their lines with all the conviction they can muster spewing invective and ad hominem attacks at one and all. During the primary election period, they libel and slander those of their own road show troupe. When the cycle moves into the national election period, they sully and defame members of the other acting troupe who have been chosen to be on that repertory company's ticket--the poster boys (or girls, as the case may be).

That they all knowingly lie is a given. It has become a part of the process to see video of an actor speaking lines the day after he or she has denied ever speaking those lines. For example, Ms Palin and Ms Clinton--like all the other performers--had both been caught out in the most outrageous lies but, really, what standard should we apply to professional wrestlers and their kind?

All of this "reality" is scripted to service those who foot the bills and the game--whether it's Jersey Shore, wrestling or the Republican/Democrat carnival--is to inculcate the viewing audience with confusion and conflicting messages to the point that the truth is out of reach and clarity becomes a fictional concept from some parallel universe.

The sponsors who pay the bills understand that some wrestlers are more popular and attract more viewers and goodwill. When a less popular wrestler seems to be gaining traction, the authors of the script will have the less attractive performer commit an act or utter an epithet so repulsive as to ensure the scripted success of their incumbent star. This is as true in wrestling and TV soap operas as it is in political performances.

Do they all lie? Well, which of them has explained the difference between the United States of America and the United States? Has any one of them explained the difference between Virginia and the State of Virginia?

Have any of them countered concerns about the constitutionality of the NDAA or banning contraception by saying, "You must be referring to the antebellum constitution of the United States of America of 1787 but we're functioning under the Limited Liability Act of 1851, the Emergency War Powers, 12 Stat. 319, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and the constitutional provision allowing Congress authority to pass any law Congress wishes within the ten-mile square territory of Washington, DC."

The 14th Amendment was proclaimed ratified in 1868. Within that framework, on February 21st, 1871, Congress passed the District of Columbia Organic Act, Forty-first Congress, Session III, Chapter 62, page 419, 16 Stat. 419, “An Act to provide a Government for the District of Columbia,” which act was revised in 1874 and reorganized June 8, 1878, 20 Stat. 102, Chap 180, 45th Congress, 2nd Session, “An Act providing a permanent form of government for the District of Columbia.” This “government” is a private corporation now known and copyrighted by such names as “The United States Government,” “United States,” “U.S.,” “U.S.A.,” etc., all referenced herein as “US Inc.”

So, let's have no more frivolous claims about the "constitutionality" of oppressive acts to which you give your consent by registering to vote in the US polling procedure.

It's time for my Grand Marnier. I'll be downstairs.

Monday, January 2, 2012


I have, of course, become aware that it is no longer New Year's Day but rather the day after that day. My only excuse is that I don't think there is really that much to differentiate the two and, through my eyes, they are indistinguishable.

I spent New Year's Eve in Le Bar where I had a heart-to-heart with a Ukrainian who claimed to be Russian--what is it with these ex-KGB/SBU guys?--and enjoying more than a few glasses of The Widow with a favorite single malt Scotch as a chaser. What caught my attention was his elegant Patek-Philippe Calatrava on a strap. As a true narcissist, he failed to notice my 5004J, but I was rather counting on that and would have been disconcerted if he had.

Somewhere toward the end of the evening, my friend disappeared to the consternation of his entourage. Ex-KGB/SBU mafia types aren't supposed to go off the map like that and one vocal party was speculating he had been the object of an extraordinary rendition of some sort. I suspected that he was more likely to be suffering from a slight case of indigestion (local slang for multiple abdominal stabbings) and that he would be right as rain in the morning--which never came if my own personal experience is anything to go by.

Ivan's mistake--I'll refer to him here as Ivan--was to allow himself to be photographed in public with me and a few other notables present on the scene. A Patek-Philippe on a strap may be low-key relative to a gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona but having yourself photographed with strangers in the bar of the Georges V on New Year's Eve is beyond the pale and his comeuppance was a certainty in anyone's book.

It is a new year but, apparently, old habits die hard. He did have a nice watch though.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hollywood lunch

I was treated to lunch at a café terrasse with a fellow who sat down and talked about himself in glowing terms for an hour and a half. I can't tell you how delighted I was to get away from him and his dim-bulb view of Hollywood--be it here or there--and his plaintive refrain that he needed millions of dollars to launch a slate of films that would make his career as well as millions for the investor though he professed to know nothing about marketing or who might want to see these proposed films in terms of market segments or demographics. He presumed that the investor had millions not understanding that a more likely scenario would be an investor whose funds were borrowed and was not looking to indulge in a spending spree. Rather than talking about his vague ideas that would become the foundation for the slate of films yet to be written into screenplay form, the fellow should have been talking in definitive terms about repatriation of funds, return on investment with emphasis on the potential for laundering large sums of money. Instead, he kept reiterating that he could get the budgets lower, if necessary.

It is easy for outsiders to view a modern movie studio as a Disneyland for filmmakers. A Las Vegas casino--wherein every single game is engineered to ensure that you lose and the house wins--is a more apt analogy. What is known as 'the Skim' in 'Vegas is the differential between the wholesale and retail budgets in Hollywood. Only the retail figures are released which explains why movies that never made any money are approaching double-digit sequels.

I almost said something to this fellow--nothing meaningful, relevant or even informative--but I had determined not to speak until he stopped talking and that never happened. Finally, I got up and made my way to the WC and never found my way back to the table.

I believe I need to re-think my decision to get out of the hotel from time to time. I really see nothing to be gained by it at all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Personal Branding: Plight of the "Living Dead"

The concept of personal branding has expanded far beyond amplifying the careers of actors, entertainers, sports figures, politicians and the reprehensible personalities that populate various "reality" television shows. It evolved into the brand management of public figures who had passed on but still had products to be marketed to a loyal audience. Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Steve McQueen and even Albert Einstein fall into this category and often posthumous licensing revenues can exceed those earned while the celebrities in question were alive.

The most challenging form of personal branding, however, involves brand management of the "Living Dead" which is to say that the client--usually an agency of the Intelligence community--wishes to plunder or make use of the assets of an individual who has become troublesome, downright uncooperative or too valuable an opportunity to ignore. It is of primary importance that the public believe that the client's subject is alive and well in spite of having passed away owing to expedience, error or--in the least likely scenario--natural causes.

Step One is to dis-associate all who have been directly connected to the target--I mean subject. Family, friends and work associates must be re-directed and all contact with the subject must be cut off. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, the least sophisticated but very effective method being imprisonment. A limited coterie of new friends/associates/confidants--be they fictional or real--must take the place of these former intimates of the subject and serve as liaisons between the subject and the general population thus providing the public with the impression that the subject is alive and condoning all that is happening with his or her assets.

Step Two is to create a denigrating controversy surrounding the subject. Hold him or her up to ridicule or scorn so as to cut the public's interest in the subject. We call this clearing the area which serves to keep the fans away. It also helps to discount any rumors that the client would ever have an interest in such a disgraced individual.

Step Three is to maintain the brand with updated press releases and pronouncements from the subject via the liaisons in order to explain and/or justify the new and strange use of subject's assets.

Step Four is to replace any real liaisons with fictional liaisons to minimize catastrophic leaks. This can be accomplished by applying this protocol to real liaisons who are no longer viable.

Step Five is to announce the demise of the subject after the immediate objectives of the brand have been realized and, advisedly, before the subject attains his or her 119th birthday leaving the now all fictional coterie in place to continue operations into the future.

In branding, as with catering, one must know what to do with one's left-overs.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Police riots

Inasmuch as the police are rioting and revolting against the people, I am beginning to wonder if the time isn't ripe for Dubai to play its hand. I am of the belief that Dubai was intended as a safe haven in the event of an economic apocalypse where the world's richest could escape the rioting, dispossessed masses--in other words, you and me--and where they could wait out the anarchy comfortably in a secure environment.

That the anarchy is being perpetrated by police agencies in various cities does not preclude the fact that they could turn on the rich as easily as they have on those other people. Anger and aggression fails, more often than not, to discern and discriminate hence the term innocent bystander came into being. It wouldn't be the first time that the gardener took over the household (See: The American Civil War (1861–1865) whereby Washington DC defeated the States).

It may only be a matter of time before the anarchists come to the realization that there is more to be gained by aiming their aggression at rich folks rather than the peaceful, out-of-work victims of gross financial thievery they are currently attacking. Those who have enjoyed the experience of having their own ferocious guard dog turn on them can confirm that "This isn't what we had in mind" is not a sentiment that soothes the wounds.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

URGENT: Immediate reply requested

Mr. Shosay,

In the event that news stories concerning certain radical and disconnected groups which inexplicably have been receiving an inordinate amount of attention should cause an antipathy towards this institution and banking resulting in falling share prices and/or regulatory/legal action against us, we are asking for your suggestions on re-branding our institution and products as a per-emptive measure.

Money is no object but time is of the essence.

[name deleted]
[corporate name deleted]

[name deleted]
[corporate name deleted]

Dear Mr. [name deleted]:

Thank you for the direct deposit into my account pursuant to our phone conversation. The following are my suggestions.

Slogan: Debt is the new wealth!

Institutional re-brand: Debt Distribution Center (replacing the nomenclature "bank")

Customer admonition: If you can live on what you earn, you aren't in America! (Any country can be substituted as necessary)

Per your concerns regarding terms and conditions and disclosure statements, I see no need to obscure them further as it is my observation that your customers do not read them or understand the significance of the language presented therein nor their voluntary abrogation of rights or they never would have signed them. If it's not broken, don't fix it.

I would encourage you to order the politicians on your payroll to implement new programs to keep your customers in debt to you. The current crop of 'Keep you in your home' offerings aren't performing to expectation and many mortgage holders are walking away leaving you with no leverage over them.

Increase your advertising on television--especially shows that feature a laugh track (increased hypnotic quotient) or any reality TV format show.

Demand that politicians on your payroll cease and desist from extolling the rights of people in Egypt, Libya and other countries to protest. This raises awkward questions as to why they are not supporting the protests of those in America speaking against you and your industry.

Best regards,
Ray D Shosay

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Louis Vuitton

She arrived last night with a baise-en-ville big enough to hold wardrobe for the entire cast of the upcoming production of Salomé at the Opéra National de Paris. She does not know half-measures. Neither does she know me as she says I need change. I think I have changed though not necessarily for the better. I made it all the way to Fouquet's on foot the other day but I'm not certain this is an improvement on using the hotel's chauffeured Mercedes. Time will tell.

Yesterday, a fellow offered to buy Oscar, my Ferrari 599. I told him I still needed a few more near-death experiences with the car to be able to complete my memoirs for which my publisher is importuning me to see a manuscript. They are also asking me to change the title from "The Worst Happened, Then We Moved On" to "The Worst Happened, Then I Moved On", but since others were involved in varying degrees I thought they should be acknowledged in the title, at least, if not in the book itself.

My iPhone coach seems to believe only a few of my voice mails were hacked during the period spoken of in the press and publication of these would land only The Chad (my agent) in jail, which is where he currently finds himself in matters unrelated so apparently there's no harm. This is certainly cause for celebration and I believe I'll take She to dinner downstairs at Le Cinq.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


If one true thing can be gleaned from the DSK episode it is that it pays to hire good writers. I suppose the second meaningful lesson is that one should do the re-writes before releasing the story to the public.

Whether or not DSK is a fan of Steve McQueen is not known. What is clear, however, is that DSK followed McQueen's on-screen example. Steve knew that the others do the talking and the star reacts. The opposing party in the instant case did not know this and, to some extent, was obligated to talk inasmuch as she filed the complaint. One cannot file an accusation and tell the police "I'll get back to you" when they ask for specifics. Thus, the story went out before a story conference could be convened and the subsequent re-writes are working against rather than in favor of the production.

Civil proceedings are always about money and never about justice. A judge cannot award justice but he or she can award damages that are financial in nature. The best one can hope for in a modern criminal courtroom is procedure and if that doesn't send a shiver up your spine, nothing ever will.

Hollywood has taught us many things and much of the current unpleasantness could have been avoided if either of the parties had seen a movie or two. In fact, I have a short list for both of them though they feature different titles. My advice to anyone wishing to chart an easier course through life would be to see good films and stop typing with your thumbs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hôtel Georges V

I find myself becoming more and more reclusive spending most of my time in my (junior) suite and venturing only as far as Le Bar, La Galerie or Le Cinq when I do leave the confines of my sanctum sanctorum. Reasons to go forth from the hotel are becoming harder to reconcile and it is evident to me that I am living in the very center of the universe where everything and everyone will present themselves in due time and elegant proportion.

This is not a Howard Hughes scenario where dark forces have done away with me so as to make use of my assets or reputation. Those people always circulate discrediting rumors when they’ve gotten rid of some recalcitrant nuisance and are keeping them ‘alive’ for the purpose of cover. You haven’t heard stories of me growing ten-inch fingernails or watching Ice Station Zebra forty-seven times a day though a female companion once took to watching Hitch a few hundred times a week on pay-per-view to the extent that the cable company called to inquire if there was a malfunction with the system. I assured them that the malfunction, to use their term, could be found elsewhere in the household. They of the dark side always like to trivialize and ridicule those they have dispensed with whilst helping themselves to whatever their ravenous appetite craves. This is a long standing pattern of behavior obvious to anyone who is the least bit observant and in possession of a prehensile mind.

I do not suggest that the Georges V is the best hotel in the world--merely that it is the only one.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Used cars

Lately I have seen interest in classic and exotic cars revive after what we will politely refer to as the recent economic downturn. That's not to say that everyone has funds sufficient to buy a Ferrari GTO or 412P or even a Berlinetta Lusso for that matter. Cars that you've owned and swore to yourself you'd never drive again are starting to fetch stellar sums of money which is a clear warning that a bubble is reforming for an upcoming burst that no one could possibly have forseen like every other bubble that ever was.

The trick in car collecting--also known as flipping for profit which you affect not to need--is in acquiring a car with provenance and chain-of-snobbery intact. A friend of mine owned a Ferrari that previously belonged to Françoise Sagan, a fact that increased its value. Someone else owned something that had been Steve McQueen's at one time resulting in a valuation at least double that of a similar car owned by some other guy somewhere. It explains why a friend of mine engraved an inscription from Mr. Rolls to Mr. Royce on a silver hip flask--"Dude, epic party!" or some similar sentiment thereby rendering the cost of silver a moot consideration in the sale price of the item.

All this is neither here nor there unless you are the first to realize that a celebrity connection exists with the car you are flipping. I mean collecting. If the party who is selling the car to you knows that it had been owned by Eric Clapton, the Shah of Iran or Porfirio Rubirosa, you are going to pay the price for it and then where is your profit margin? The essential is to find a car whose buyer is completely unaware of the car's history and therefore willing to sell it to you for three back of book.

The best approach for anyone seeking to purchase a car prior to establishing its celebrity provenance would be to visit a rental car agency's sell-off department and acquire the most expensive offering they have with the assurance that, at some point, a celebrity drove the car and you should now be able to flip it for a sum exceeding what you paid for it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Movie producers

Once in awhile, something so jawdroppingly extraordinary happens to underscore the fact that anyone can consider themselves a movie producer notwithstanding the fact that they have never produced anything or gone through the motions of learning the trade, craft or black magic that it is. The fact of being in the proximity of those who have taken action in these areas is sufficient for these folks to present themselves as players in the game knowing not the first thing about movie business protocol and convention or, often as not, the basic etiquette of social intercourse to further aggravate the situation.

To learn the art of producing, one must read copiously selecting from a menu of subjects including marketing, literature, art, mathematics (it helps to know that one plus one equals two in understanding when and how to break that rule), horse racing, Las Vegas odds-making and whatever else you can get a grasp of as a practical application. It really does help, however, to actually produce a movie for nothing else lets you know what it is that you don't know about the subject than doing the deed.

As an aid to those who don't know what they are doing and so that they can carry on their pose a little longer, I offer a few rules that may be of assistance.

1) The old business adage that if you look around the room and don't see a sucker you are "it" goes double in Hollywood. The top producers in the movie business didn't get where they are by giving a sucker an even break.

2) W.C. Fields' motto, "Never give a sucker an even break and never wise up a chump" should be repeated here for cautionary emphasis.

3) When you are the one asking for something, it is you who pays for the lunch.

4) When it is you pitching a project to someone who can fund it, it is you who pays for the lunch.

5) When anyone who has actually made a movie agrees to meet you for lunch, it is you who pays for the lunch.

6) When one of the movie industry "grown-ups" pays for your lunch it can mean one of two things: He/she likes the project you pitched or he/she does not like the project you pitched. In the latter instance, paying for lunch means he/she has absolved himself/herself of any further obligation to take your phone calls or answer your emails.

7) When trying to raise money for a project, learn the difference between buying a property that someone actually owns and having the opportunity to cash someone out of their option as it is about to expire (See 1 & 2 above).

8) Know that posing as a movie producer when you have never done it before is not as dangerous as posing as a thoracic surgeon but it can be just as embarrassing when push comes to shove.

9) In the movie business, push always comes to shove.

10) There's no business like show business (and be aware that the consequences of this truth are wide-ranging and far-reaching.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mouammar Kadhafi

I read with interest about Mouammar Kadhafi's elite personal guard of women--Amazons, to quote Le Figaro--who have acted as a human shield for the dictateur sanguinaire. Whether he was inspired by Hugh Hefner's antics or possibly those of Porfirio Rubirosa we'll never know, however, it would clearly take a very special sort of assasin to launch an attack into that entourage.

We'll see if other world leaders grasp the brilliance of the Libyan mad man's tactics or that, possibly, they have come to accept that most assassinations are brought upon the martyr by elements of his own intelligence organizations therefore rendering extraordinary precautions moot.

Happy birthday, Clotilde!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Submitted without comment:

From: John Douglas (
Sent: Fri 3/11/11 5:18 PM

Dear Friend,

This message might meet you in utmost surprise, however,it's just my urgent need for foreign partner that made me to contact you for this transaction. I am a banker by profession from Burkina faso in west Africa and currently holding the post of Director Auditing and Accounting unit of the bank.I have the opportunity of transfering the left over funds ($15.5 million) of one of my bank clients who died along with his entire family on december 2003 in a plane crash. Hence,i am inviting you for a business deal where by this money can be shared between us in the ratio of 60/40 and 60 for me while 40 is for you .



[Check your inbox, John]

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ségolène Royal

Well, here comes Ségolène Royal again with her vapid smile as begging bowl. It didn't fool anyone last time and now we all know how that story ends. I confess I have never enjoyed soap operas and would be loath to watch one once let alone twice and I doubt, if this election had the standing of a real soap opera, that advertisers could be drawn to the project. It is said that her candidature has divided the party and ended a period of unity. Nevertheless, here we go again.

Whilst we are on the subject, an article in Le Figaro claims "Mice rejuvenated in laboratory" writing that "The experience makes one immediately think about the story of Benjamin Button, the hero of Fitzgerald, born old and growing younger with time." How and if this will benefit the candidate is anyone's guess but I somehow imagine that this would not be an odds enhancer.

What I can say with certainty is that if Picasso gifted me two hundred and seventy-one of his works, I would not have kept them in my garage for forty years. Where I would have put them is open to discussion but, since at no time was I ever Pablo's electrician, it remains idle speculation best pondered over a bottle of the Widow.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Air Sarko One

As you might expect, I am patiently awaiting my invitation to fly aboard Air Sarko One, the Airbus A330-200 acquired from Air Caraïbes to be the presidential plane. I don't mind being overlooked for the trip to South Korea as it would have been unlikely I could have slipped away and across the 38th parallel to get Kim Jong-il to sign my DVD of Team America. I shall be less understanding if the next flight is to Dubai or, for that matter, Nice.

It is good to know that €176 million can still buy the sort of conveyance that makes traveling tolerable in a time when most airlines treat passengers as though they were condemned prisoners in a maximum security facility. It is all part of the French government's austerity drive and I commend their restraint in buying d'occasion in this instance avoiding the temptation to get that 'new plane smell' that is so seductive.

This puts to shame the G5s that I have been known to frequent and I must say that even a used A330-200 trumps a new G5 in my book any day. Too bad about the full bath though. It would have been nice to have a hot, candle-lit soak with cabinet level filles sympas but, all things considered, the flood-proof hip bath is a sensible alternative to shorting out all the electrical circuits in heavy turbulence at forty thousand feet.

Perhaps I'll see you on the plane.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Le Bar au Georges V

It occurs to me that the art of staring into space is undervalued by the general population and almost entirely ignored in the academic world where there exists no instruction whatsoever in its practical application in spite of the fact that it is an essential and signature skill for philosophers and writers of every stripe. Sadly, large corporations see no need for philosophy and writers are diminished in their role to that of propagandists though they retain the misleading job title of writer.

Earlier, I sat at a café terrasse for almost three hours most of which were spent staring indiscriminately at various things and people with interstitial asides to the waiter who kept my glass--and later my cup--topped. I find that the time was well spent and I must confess that I experienced one revelation after another whilst in the throes of this exercise. I value it as highly as an hour spent in the gym having more long-lasting results if personal experience is anything to go by.

It is a great reflection on the French that no one objected to or attempted interruption of my activity and I highly recommend that anyone reading this commit to spending more time with their own thoughts as an alternative to the thoughts being constantly downloaded from others via one evil media source or another.

This should not be taken as an instruction to ignore the commercial messages of our sponsor and looking into the pre-green batch furnace offerings of ACME Industrial Blast Furnaces can only reward the inquisitive. For my part, I'm going down to Le Bar and stare at the folks I find there.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Constance Meyer: secret love of Gainsbourg

They say the best writing is done by hungry writers and, as I've skipped lunch, I thought I would take pen in hand and put some stick about. Whether it is harder to love than be loved is a question for the ages. Hollywood says one thing but the divorce rate says quite another. What I do know is that if the cost of being loved is having a book written about you, the price might be too high by half. If every fille sympa who ever slipped a note under my door took to advertising the follow-up, I might be obliged to change my hotel room if not my hotel. With four pianos, Serge had a tougher time of it.

I have had the privilege d'être côtoyé on more than a few occasions and I can tell you that I have remained the soul of discretion (if we don't count that episode with Désespérée) not that I expect such decorum on my part to immunize me against whomsoever writing whatsoever. It could be said that waiting twenty-five years to let the cat out of the bag was a public service but some among us feel she should have heeded the words of one Sidney Falco when he observed that, "The cat's in the bag and the bag's in the river" before inflicting her book-- La jeune fille et Gainsbourg--upon the world. Alas, we live in different times and woe is us.

I was going to dine downstairs but, on second thought, I think I'll head over to Les Deux Magots and drop in afterward at La Hune to see if they have her book.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Pierre Salinger once explained that he liked writing fiction because it was the only time he could tell the truth. This from the press secretary for JFK is a reminder to all of us that we had best not believe anything we read, much less anything we see. It was ever thus but mind control has become a state of the art signature skill amongst the most improbable people not to mention the obvious scoundrels many of whom I've worked for from time to time. Like the laugh track on a dreadfully unfunny sit-com, the six o'clock news is meant to give viewers the idea that what they just saw is one thing and not some other thing entirely. I must say, they are pretty good at it. Just ask anyone what happened today and they'll tell you what they heard on the news. It doesn't get any better than that, I can tell you.

There is a trick to writing fiction that must pass for truth. To begin with, and strangely enough, it must not be too believable. There must be inexplicable inconsistencies that defy logic and will stimulate vitriolic arguments about its veracity. This is in accordance with the rule of divide and conquer--one nullifies those elements that might otherwise unite to rise up against you and upset your game--and, additionally, is a nod to the fact that most human souls dislike confrontation, finding it ugly, and will shy away from the subject simply to avoid unpleasantness. Understanding the foregoing, one can sell anything for truth and not an hour goes by that such sales aren't consummated on a wholesale basis at market prices.

All this comes to mind because I have been asked to write a legend/true story of what happened to someone. It is not your typical 'based on a true story' which is industry speak for 'fiction' and is always accepted as nothing but lies. No, I've been asked to create truth and that means I have to start an argument--the bigger the better. I'm just not sure I feel like it. I'd much rather go downstairs and share some convivial conversation and a Bruichladdich with whomsoever I find in the bar.

What to do?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

I was moved by the importuning of people I hardly know to leave my (junior) suite for the purpose of filling a room at a screening of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. What convinced me to go was the memory of Michael Douglas' performance in the original, Wall Street: A Fool and his Money Were Lucky Enough to Get Together in the First Place. The original film was a tour de force offering that I have revisited many times over the years. I expected no less from the sequel. What I got was a combination of three films--a chick flick with two very annoying principals, a superficial documentary about the derivative disaster with very obvious things being overstated by some fine actors and, finally, a charismatic turn by Michael Douglas.

Michael's character kept disappearing from the film for half hours at a time and I was left to party with people I never heard of much less cared for. I came to see the continuing saga of Gordon Gekko and was short-changed, which is not so unusual when Hollywood is the cashier. It would be like doing a sequel to Apocalypse Now and setting it in Des Moines (which is not to say that isn't where the action continued). On the other hand, it was great if you'd never seen a movie before.

I avoided the after party and sneaked off to Fouquet's where an honest working man can still get a bite to eat for under a thousand euros.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Le Figaro à la une

Is it my imagination or is Ségolène Royal still sporting that disconnected smile which proclaims elle n'a rien compris that cost her the election when she ran--stumbled--against Sarko?

A boat of militants left Cyprus for Gaza. Reminds me of my youth when the circus came to town.

Le livre de la Jungle (Même le silence a une fin) de Ingrid Betancourt--not Disney's Jungle Book, but one well worth reading.

Bernanke defends economists. Trapped like a rat in the biggest con game ever invented, what choice does he have?

The transgenic salmon on the hot seat in the U.S. And yet, every day, people eat McDonald's without a qualm...

The Serengeti threatened by a road project. Nothing wrong with the world that the Teamsters can't put right!

The state should extend assistance to the press. Yes! Please forward all assistance to room 743 here at the hotel.

France Television: Coping to maintain advertising during the day. Somebody has to do the job of drilling corporate messages into our skulls. Why not television? Some people act as though television was invented to pump the truth into our homes!

The French are more proud their trains than the Germans. This may be the tipping point...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Room service at the Hôtel Georges V

Last night I dreamed I was going 225KPH in my Ferrari 599GTB (aka Oscar) on the Périphérique at four in the morning. I woke to find that I was only doing 215KPH but that I was about to miss my turn-off for Charles de Gaulle. A lightening response on my part put me onto the transition and all was well again. It isn't often I meet people at the airport and even less common that I do so in the early morning hours but this was a case of do or die. A fille sympa had been kicked off a G5 half way from London to Nice and mine was the only number in Paris she knew by heart. Mine must be an easy one to recall though I confess to having trouble remembering it from time to time.

I found her in the terminal sleeping on a bench with her pieds maquillés and chignon décoiffé using a large cotton sack--marked Ritz London laundry--full of Louboutins as a pillow. Her friend with the G5 had refused to open the luggage bay so she was obliged to leave her bags on the plane. The shoe sack was carry-on she said explaining that with the right shoes a woman can go anywhere and that's exactly where she wanted me to take her--the baisodromes of Paris.

Once in the car rolling back towards Paris at 220KPH, I advised her that anyone still looking for happiness at five in the morning faces a very low order of probability in finding it and that we might leave a tour of the baisodromes for another time. She nodded her acquiescence and fell asleep for the rest of the ride. I began to wonder if I'd given the right advice.

Entering my (junior) suite, she pounced on the phone and ordered oxygen from room service, which arrived quicker than usual as they assumed some kind of medical emergency was in progress. The very nice fellow waited patiently while she and I used the buddy system with the oxygen tank that he carried in a sort of emergency backpack. This boosted our energy as well as our appetites and, after handing a generous tip to the lad who now had to refill his oxygen tank for someone who might really need it, we ordered bacon & eggs, Champagne, carafes of orange juice, a basket of croissants, yogurt and a side order of lunch to obviate the need to call down again later.

I don't remember what time we finally got to sleep but it was after the owner of the G5 called her with a weeping apology and asking if he could come for her. "Tell him to land his plane on the Champs-Elysées. That would do Lelouch one better" but she wasn't into conversing with him.

At three in the afternoon, I was awakened by a call from the police telling me that my Ferrari was blocking traffic at Charles de Gaulle and had been towed. As I wondered if last night had been nothing but a bad dream, the caller wanted to know if the sack of women's shoes that were found in the car belonged to me. They do now, I told him.

It had been a bad dream after all.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cannes 2010

I've had both good and bad experiences at the Cannes festival--last year I had to listen to someone's incessant anecdotes about working in a video store as the price for a ride down on the G5--but this year takes the cake. I find very few reasons to leave my (junior) suite but the festival can usually be counted as one of them and so it was that I made my way to a villa in Cap d'Antibes where I enjoyed a reasonable degree of seclusion from this, that and the other thing until I was convinced, against my better judgment, to attend a party on someone's yacht.

In spite of the hour, I knew I'd arrived early as the starlets still had their clothes on which meant that I would be required to make conversation with people until I could effect my exit once the official jambes en l'air got underway. It wasn't long before I was braced by a representative of the Turkmenistan film commission who importuned me about locating my next film production in his country. He showed me pictures of dungeons and modern torture facilities that he could place at my disposition complete with ex-KGB staff who could serve as technical advisors in addition to providing security for the production. I made the mistake of making what was taken for an expression of approval and, the next thing I knew, I was being hustled into the helicopter perched on the stern of the yacht and we went airborne in the direction of the local landing strip. Since my escort--not the film commission rep--spoke no English and sported a side-arm of considerable caliber, I allowed myself to be bustled onto a small jet bearing military markings which took off without awaiting clearance from whomever might have been authorized to give it.

It has been a long, long time since I have enjoyed such vast quantities of Beluga caviar and the Champagne that was laid on was without equal. It is probably one of the few times such offerings were served up in the rooms that I visited and I can only imagine what the previous guests were provided during their stay. I wonder if they, too, were offered such attractive tax incentives and service facility discounts, but I suppose we'll never know. By the end of the evening, which was actually the next afternoon, I was returned via ambulance to the military jet and whisked back to Cannes. Later, I loitered in the bar at the Hôtel du Cap and attempted to sell my newly acquired shares in the Turkmenistan film consortium to anyone who would take them.

I may think twice about attending next year.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I am a foreign investor and...

Received today:
Dear Friend,

I am a foreign investor and I want to invest in your country in any profitable business / investment that will profit me and you. I want to invest in any business venture or Investment that you can handle either as my Investment Manager or Partner (Partnership) in your country. Kindly get back to me with your telephone number so I can call you and discuss further about this with you. Kindly reach me / respond to me via my e-mail:

Mr. Frank

Dear Mr. Frank,

I cannot adequately express the joy with which I received your email. That you would select me for this honor has truly touched me. Unfortunately, it has been proven time and again that I am incapable of handling money in a responsible manner and any such commission from you would put us all into financial peril including some legal liabilities that don't bear mentioning though I imagine you can imagine what I mean by this.

There is also the point to be made that my country might not merit further investment by you or anyone else at this time. I would, however, be interested in acquiring the title of 'Investment Manager or Partner (Partnership)' as you suggest. This would impress me, if not my friends, though I think 'Premier Manager of the Investment Partnership' has an undercurrent that I rather like.

Please advise soonest.

Your new friend,
Ray D Shosay