Paris had been my home during the 1980s. I had good reasons to be out of the States. My name graced a FBI report about police corruption in New York.
France lay on the other side of the Atlantic and I felt safe in my hotel room in the Marais. Life was good and I had many friends from working at the Bains-Douches and Balajo nightclubs.
A few enemies too, but too few to mention in public.
I returned to the East Village in late 1986, but ping-ponged between the two continents for most of the 90s. Moving to Thailand erased Paris from my destinations for the 00s, but my appointment to be unofficial writer-in-residence in Mittel Europa was an ideal opportunity to renew old friendships.
My first trip to the City of Light was too short. The next was a little better. I scheduled a lunch with friends and we met at a popular restaurant on Rue Reaumur. None of them had to be to work and we drank several bottles of red wine. Bucky and I drowned out the ex-model from Paris ranting about impending apocalyptical doom by humming POPCORN. I regaled them with tales of Thailand and America. The ex-model's boyfriend was a sullen intellectual, whose book on anti-Americanism had won a literary prize. The sixty year-old was successful in a way that I would never be, but he was jealous of my amity with the ex-model and interrupted my monologue on the silence of elephants walking the streets of Pattaya by saying, "Is not the elephant the symbol of your GOP party?"
"Yes, but they're not my party." I refused to vote for any candidate unwilling to support the legalization of marijuana, even though I stopped smoking weed more or less.
"All your politicians are hypocrites. They pray in their churches and then have affairs with young boys," he spoke elegant French and drank only water.
"Unlike France's minister of culture," I slurred in his native tongue with a Boston accent. I was hated the Democrats as much as the Republicans for selling out America, but it was my country and the French are in no position to assume the high moral ground. "Didn't he pay for young boys. Not that I think that's a sin."
"No one can have sex in your country without saying they're sorry." The table had gone silent. Those next to us were unabashedly listening to our conversation. The philosopher wasn't BHL, but the he had sold tens of thousands of books. A seat at his lectures cost 50 Euros. The eavesdroppers were getting his attack on America for free.
"You have a point. Gary Hart was caught with a beautiful blonde on a yacht in Miami. If he had admitted sleeping with her, he would have been president." Donna Rice was that beautiful. "France is different. Your old socialist PM was famed for his admiration of youthful beauty. He had a child out of wedlock, yet at his funeral his wife stood next to this woman and her daughter. She was a true radical."
"Unlike JFK's Stepford wife." The philosopher narrowed his gaze in his right eye, as if sighting down a rifle barrel. His rumpled attire was homage to ageless sophistication.
"Jackie?" I came from Boston and while the Kennedys were not gods, we forgave these foibles and worshipped them as sacred icons. No one could say bad for them and I accepted this fault as the core of my hypocrisy.
"Yes, that smile was slapped on her face by a daily shot from Doctor Feelgood." The philosopher sensed that he had struck a nerve, but I wasn't letting him profit from this edge. "
"And you're criticizing a woman for holding herself together with an upper?" I liked a little speed to perk up my life "Life isn't easy and less easy in the White House or France's Elysees. That palace is no stranger to scandal. It's just that French press don't tread on matters of the bedroom. Take Madame Pompidou. She had orgies in the Elysees and not all of them finished with happy endings. Take the Malkovich scandal."
"Markovich," the philosopher corrected my mispronounciation with a smirk.
"Mea culpa." I had received a C in Latin in high school, but my grades in history were straight Bs. "May 1968. Paris in rebellion. Leftist students oust De Gaulle. Pompidou announced his candidacy. The Gaullist spread stories about his wife cuckolded him with Alain Delon's wife. That guy Malkovich was blackmailing them with photos. Delon drove up from St. Tropez and shot Malkovich dead in the Elysees."
Most movie stars are pale shadows of their on-screen characters, whose portraitures of murderers, criminals, and assassins are formulated by acting skills instead of life experiences. Alain Delon is not one of those film poseurs. The French leading man spent 11 months in military prison for discipline problems. His connections to the Corsican gangs in Marseilles were well-known and Delon never walked away from these friendships.
"A few problems with your fantasy same as there was with your press buying GW Bush's lies about WMD. Americans don't go to school to learn, they go there to have a good time and you show the harvest of this system with your lack of knowledge and disregard for facts and research. Delon was filming in St-Tropez at the time Markovich was killed and the French Police official report cited 10 witnesses, who were with Delon in St- Tropez 3 days before and 3 days after the murder. Delon did not leave until the 4th day. You need to do your homework before spreading inaccuracies. What are your sources?"
I had been told this story by a mercenary in a Marseilles bar after praising Delon for his acting in Joseph Losey's MONSIEUR KLEIN. The ex-legionaire was well-known for mayhem from the shadow of St. Charles cathedral to the train station on this side of Ventemiglia and accused the actor of being a gavroche or punk. Patric was obsessed with Delon's wife. Her name began with N. This was the first time I had recounted the ex-mercenary's account of the Markovich scandal and once was one time too many. "I'd rather not say."
"Do not be afraid of admitting your ignorance. It is the first step to knowledge." The scraggly-haired philosopher tested the bounce of the diving board once and leap into the aether pinballing from genesis to Adam Ant to romanticism to the Red Guard ad infinitum. His universe knew no bounds, but only so much abuse can be unleashed on a donkey and when I reached for the bottle of water, my elbow contacted with his glass of wine. The red spilled onto the table and the philosopher leapt from his chair to avoid the blood of grapes. He was in good shape for a man both his and my age, but some splatter reached its destination.
I handed him a cotton napkin.
"Sorry." Wine wasn't meant to stay in a glass.
"Imbecile." He glowered with rage.
"Pas de tout." I wagged a finger to dispute his accusation. "I am a drunken imbecile. Put some salt on that wine and then wet them. Should take out the stain. If not I'll buy you a pair. We can go shopping together like your rast-de-pe Culture Minister and his boys."
Rast-de-pe was pederast in Verlain for pederast, which I had learned from Left Bank gangsters and homeboys from Bidonville. "Salaud." The philosopher noticed several people VDOing him with their cellphones and he stormed out of the restaurant with the ex-model in his wake. Bucky was amused by the entire episode. She was from Berlin and Germans have scandals of an entirely different nature.
I am not at liberty to say what.
At least not in Europe.