Just Above Sunset
January 2, 2005 - Happy Hedonism to you all from Georgia and Paris

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Pre-Christmas - Phillip Raines setting the scene…


Last night I walked up to the local pub (called the Brick Store) and had a couple of beers, fish and chips and a Laphroig scotch.  I came home with my pal and drank a chocolate latte with Jameson's, a piece of Sam's Club Crème Brûlée cheese cake, smoked a bowl and declared that the day between the solstice and Christmas was heretofore known as hedonist holiday, having nothing to do with astrology, the position of the sun, the manger and the three wise men, Dickens, the gift of giving, virgin birth or anything mythic in the least.  It was declared the holiday of the patron saint of bohemian indulgence, Henry Miller.  It should include eating, drinking of spirits, and shooting of convivial shit, with sex never too far from our thoughts.  In keeping with the rejection of all things symbolic and sacred there will be no sanctioned pronouncement of this clandestine observance, no key to the city, and no symbols like a light bulb in swaddling clothing.   There is one common thread in that there is an effort to be nice, even through the actions of naughtiness.  This morning I will drink the Eucharist of Alka-Seltzer and disregard the superstitious yearnings of the sheep led by the shepherd, but in a good natured way.  Happy hedonism to you all.


Rick Brown, not far away –


Happy hedonism to you all?  ...and to all a good night?


But after spending all day and night trying my best to do Xmas the way I assume X would have liked it to be, and listening to Teddy Wilson and Errol Garner and Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald while we all sat by the fireplace and twinkling tree, and my kids bubbling about Santa Claus probably dropping by sometime tonight and all, I must admit I'm not ready for the hedonist viewpoint quite yet - maybe when they're both in high school?


Christmas Eve - Phillip Raines


Last night (Christmas Eve) my family (Kathy, Will and Luke) went with my brother and his oldest son (Henry and Bobby) to the Imperial Fez, renown for belly dancing and expensive Moroccan cuisine.  The windowless restaurant is appointed with rugs and hanging fabrics that looks like the inside of a prosperous Bedouin tent, or the tent out side of the California state capital where Arnold can smoke cigars without violating the state law about smoking inside of, well pretty much anywhere.  We were brought beach towels to drape over our left shoulders and use as napkins for a meal that was to be eaten without utensils.  Water just hot enough to promote accelerated bacterial growth was dribbled over our fingers from a teapot splashing into a silver bowl.  Only the lentil soup was familiar food, slurped like soup I eat when no one else is in the house as I'm leaning over the sink in the kitchen.  A platter of odd salads was set in the center of the table where we all reached and picked at with our fingers, commenting on the fact that we'd never had a salad with pomegranate seeds, chilled mashed eggplant, carrots with pineapple and rose water, or pretty much anything we were eating.  After we'd had our fill of salad it looked like a basketball had bounced in the food and splattered it all over the table.  I spread the beach towel over more of my torso in an attempt to keep things from looking like I had been in a high school food fight.  It had all the makings of a memorable Christmas Eve, if only because it was so odd. 


Bobby, my nephew, is the smartest person my family has ever produced.  Sigma cum laude at Georgia Tech he was immediately hired by Lockheed Martin in an actual Top Secret job in D.C.  I was worried his relation to me was going to scuttle his clearance and asked him several times if they had asked about his uncle.  I tried to get him to tell me what he did but he kept saying he couldn't say because it was top secret and boring, but his pupils did constrict when I mentioned self-replicating invasive codes.  He did mention a soldier had to accompany him to the toilet when he went to the Pentagon.


The food continued to be peculiar with each of the five courses, but the highlight of the evening came when the belly dancer came out.  My leering older brother who is sixty but with the look and libido of a forty year old was transfixed on the dancer’s torso, which was lean with smooth defined muscles and flawless skin.  Maybe I was leering too.  The recorded music was like Euro dance mix with way too many drummers and slithering violins with an oboe thrown in for good measure.  She clicked the finger cymbals, which tickled me and my oldest son (a jazz musician) because her timing had nothing to do with the music over the speakers, as if she was slowly spilling coins onto a metal plate.  The waitress wanted to sprinkle rose water on our hands before she removed our chaotic food encrusted table cloth, but my brother said "Not now, she's dancing"  A few guys were trying to slip dollar bills into her pelvis strap that held up her bloomers (I'm sure they're called something else) but her hips were gyrating so severely that one guy would reach with the folded bill and she would move her hip away, then back again.  His head jerked like he was about to go into a seizure as he kept aiming for a spot to slip in the folded bill.  Then she left the room and the lights went out and she returned with a platter on her head with four flaming cups.  I looked at the dangling fabric ceiling for any sign of sprinklers thinking how bad this could go if it started to go bad.  It didn't, and she rested two of the cups, one in each palm, and did a nice trick of flipping the flames upside down, moving her slender arms in the way you would expect a belly dancer to move.  The bill was outrageous, but my brother and I started peeling off twenties like an ATM machine in a state of disrepair.  The valet parking guy took our ticket and ran ten steps to the car, backed it out and held out his hand for a tip.  My brother pulled his wallet out one more time like a zombie and gave him a bill.  I couldn't watch to check out the denomination.  We rode down a fairly empty Peachtree street and discussed how it was a Christmas Eve we would never forget.


Ric in Paris –


Fish and chips and a Laphroig scotch?


Fine for you to say. 'Fish and chips,' hells bells!  What about these backward parts of the world where there's no fish and chips?   What are we supposed to do?  Eat caviar and frites?  What does Henry Miller say?  Do?  Notre Dame in a teapot!


- fish and chipless in Paris, Ric


A note from Hollywood to Paris –


Ric - Fish and Chips in Paris?


Bertie's (la Table du Baltimore)

This restaurant serves good old Anglo-Saxon cuisine (fish and chips with tartare sauce, roast lamb with mint sauce), with vintage Bordeaux. There may be French wines, but don't worry "Bordeaux is a former British province," or so they reassure us. There's also a large whisky cellar, in the grand Scottish tradition. A business clientele fills the place at lunchtime, evenings see couples dining under the watchful eye of Bertie, as Queen Victoria's husband was affectionately known, whose portraits hang on the walls.

Phone: +33 1 44 34 54 34

Open Hours: Lunch: noon-2pm Mon-Fri; Dinner 7:30pm-10pm Mon-Fri

Neighborhood: 16th Arrondissement

Nearest Train: metro: Boissière



62 rue Mazarine, Paris, France

Phone: 01-53-10-19-99

To take in the scene at Sir Terence Conran's brasserie - and quite a scene it is, as this place seats 300 under a skylight roof - opt for a table on the mezzanine, where a long brushed-steel bar gives you a bird's-eye view. Chef Guillaume Lutard trained at Taillevent and Prunier, and his background informs the seasonal contemporary menu, which changes every two months. However, the restaurant has struggled to find its culinary identity -- the only dish that remains enduringly popular is the fish-and-chips.


The Frog & Princess [ Brewpub ]

9 Rue Princesse

Paris, 75006


phone: 01 40 51 77 38

We are looking for bar staff and waiters/waitresses for shift work. Working hours will generally include weekends, pay is competitive with similar jobs in Paris, and benefits include heavily subsidised food and drink. Full training will be given and takes about a month to complete (whilst working). We only employ people with full work permits. In general, we prefer to employ part-time staff (working two or three times a week) and only exceptionally take on full-timers for these jobs. Applicants must have fluent English and excellent French (part of the interview will be conducted in French). If successful, the interview will be followed by a training period. All jobs depend on the interview, so only applicants living in France should apply. Where possible, we try to work around the employee's outside commitments, but cannot guarantee this in every case. We can only offer jobs to applicants available for a minimum period of six months.


Ric in Paris -


Bertie's?  Fish and chips in the 16th?  You are kidding me.  A 'business clientele?'  Where does it say 'deep fried Mars bars?'  Their spoons aren't greasy enough.


ALCAZAR - Right arrondissement, but fish and chips with Sir Terrence? Are they ecolo? Did the fish jump out of the sea or were they kidnapped?


The Frog & Princess, 9 Rue Princesse - What's this place? You gotta wash dishes even before you eat here?  We know what this 'competitive' is.  Competitive with McDo's.  Means they'll be on strike any minute.  How can I invite 32 close friends to dine on fish and chips at a place that's on strike?  Do I look like a scab?


There used to be a Scottish place in the 5th near Mouffetard with fish and chips.  It was properly, authentically greasy.  They had deep fried Mars bars too.  Not the easiest thing in the world to cook in boiling oil.  They offered me one to try, and I got some poor freak to eat it.  It looked horrible.  The freak said it wasn't any worse than any in Glasgow.  I think they've been banned in Scotland because of their heart-attack value.


Yeah, Paris, is a hardship post.  They were talking about the midnight oyster harvesters again last week.  Seems like the guys who used to pop open armored cars with bazookas are now lifting oysters when no one's looking.  The gendarmes are complaining that there's too many of them to watch effectively.  Next I expect they'll be boosting herds of geese, if they can figure out how to shut them up.


To hell with your Hollywood fish and chips.  I'm going to Notre Dame to listen to the archbishop sing some carols.


 - humbug in paris, Ric


PS -  On the boulevard Saint-Germain Thursday evening, two dining hotspots featuring the most tasty streeteats, churros and crepes.  "Where are the fish and chip kiosques?"  "Shutup and pass the Nutella!"  Did you see her?  The sexy Italian actress - Ornella Nutella.

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Churros in Paris

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And a final shot from Georgia – Rick Brown -


Just for the record, last weekend, we ate at the Original Pancake House in Atlanta, and I ordered what was sans-ironically referred to as the "Texas Crepe" - which I'm sure any self-respecting Frog would have barfed at the mere mention of it on the menu - but was actually quite good, as long as you downed it without first dipping it in the "Jalapeno Hot Salsa" and/or BBQ sauce!


Quite a Christmas.


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Paris readers add nine hours....