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March 27, 2005 - "Good Americans, when they die, go to Paris."

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World’s Laziest Journalist

March 28, 2005

By Bob Patterson


The drive from the newspaper office to the police department didn’t take long, but faster is always better when deadlines loom, so when the traffic light turned green and the car ahead of me didn’t budge, I screamed at my windshield: “What are you doing?  Admiring the scenery?”


I turned to my left.  About 20 yards away was the southern edge of Lake Tahoe.  Twenty miles further to my left on the opposite side of the lake, the snow covered Sierra Nevada mountains (Sierra Nevada means snow covered mountains) were shimmering in the early morning sun.  (Cue the cliché about a king in ermine.)  Okay, fair enough.  I conceded the point and left the horn silent.  The Lake is 1800 feet deep and does not grow a skin of ice in the winter, but it doesn’t get very warm in the summer, either.  In some places the snow remains on the ground all year long.  Most summers there is a cross of snow (that must drive the ACLU crazy because it is in a wilderness area and it can not be altered to accommodate the atheists) on Mount Tallac. 


As my impatience with the driver at the traffic light indicated, there are times when the folks who live in “America’s All Year Playground” become impervious to the picture postcard surroundings, and itch to “get away from the humdrum.”  So where do they go to relieve cabin fever and “get away from it all”?  They run a few miles South to a natural hot springs in Markleeville.


[Back then, one of the homes in Markleeville had a bank teller’s window on the front porch.  If you needed service, you rang a buzzer and the resident would answer the call.  It was reported to be the Bank of America’s smallest branch office.  It has been replaced since then by a more traditional brick and mortar example of corporate thinking regarding franchises.]


Having thus established that even when you live in the midst of spectacular mountain scenery, the locals dream of a temporary getaway, we will now explain why the staff of Just Above Sunset, that lives in “the city of angels” each spring, cables (via e-mail) the correspondent in Paris (France, not Texas) and asks if the position of Summer Intern at his website is available.  The website

provides feature stories, news, and tourist information about the City of Light.


( “Feature writers think that when they die they will join the staff of the International Herald Tribune.”  That’s my own quote.  Do the Bartlett’s people read my column?)


Not that it isn’t fun to run all over the LA area and see movie stars and media biggies, it’s just that after all these years, it seems it would be a nice change of pace to shop for used books in Shakespeare and Company rather than Wilshire Books for a little while.  Subtle little changes like that can sharpen up the powers of observation which may be getting a wee bit rusty due to complacency.


In even numbered years, in November, Paris [France, not Texas], they have a month long celebration of the art of photography which is an excellent off-season time to go and enjoy the appropriately called City of Light.  Paris [Texas, not France] started a November celebration of photography for odd numbered years.  We don’t know if the Texas tourist event is still being held, but it would be fun to see the event just for the contrast (photo pun!).


Assuming that there we are unable to land a job in Paris for the summer, it seems that we are unlikely to get to visit that city this year.  We had just about given up all hope when we got a second chance to feed our fantasies when we received an e-mail from Rolf Potts with the information about the course he will be teaching at the Paris American Academy from July 2nd through the 28th – and our imagination switched back into overdrive again!  Can you imagine being in Paris to take a course on travel writing?  Potts has the website

for vagabonds and participated in the recent Drive Around the World effort which helped raise funds for and public awareness of Parkinson’s Disease while simultaneously promoting the study of geography by grade school students.  We did a story about his efforts before he started on his journey.  The thoughts of learning about travel writing while being in Paris got our adrenaline running.  Talk about carrying the coals to Newcastle!  Now, if we can only find an editor who would like a story about going to Paris to take a course in travel writing. 


[Speaking of carrying coals, you can take the boy out of Scranton, but even when you are living at Tahoe or visiting Paris, you can’t take Scranton out of the boy, so we will be adding the new comedy The Office on NBC to our rather short list of appointment TV shows.  (The Outsider, Along Came Bronson, Mork and Mindy, The Apprenctice, and Boston Legal have been worth the effort of seeing regularly. {Three series added to the list in one year?})  Scranton Pennsylvania is where the events shown on the new series purportedly take place.  It will be fun to watch just to see if they have any second unit shots of the “electric” city <so named because Scranton was supposed to be the first place where they used electrical trolly cars .>]


If you dream of running away to Paris, check out the links on the Just Above Sunset smorgasbord of Paris links page.


In the movie Casablanca, what was the name of the bar in Paris that Rick ran?  Answer: Le Belle Aurore.  (The Beautiful Morning.)


There’s an old show business adage that says: always leave ‘em begging for more.  There are two things (at least) that we want to go back to Paris and experience.  While we were there in 1989, we went to the take the tour of the sewers, we fumbled the ball and didn’t find it so we have to go back someday.  Our life won’t be complete if we don’t take the sewers tour in Paris.  Does any other city in the world offer a tour of the sewers?


Now, we are also anxious to attend the weekly literary salon held in the Café Tobac La Carona, at 2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny, or the entrance at 30. Quai du Louvre.  The group meeting is held every Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m.  (Just think of it as going to Ric’s place in Paris.)


Guess we’ll just have to go back, but probably not this year.


“Good Americans, when they die, go to Paris.” - Thomas Appleton


Robert Andrews in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotions, credits Thomas Appleton for saying this in a book published in 1858, and notes that it was included in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was published in 1891.


The disk jockey had many suggestions for the song to close this week’s meeting:  Anything by Edith Piaf, Thank Heaven for Little Girls by Maurice Chevalier, Jack Nicholson’s rendition of Edith Piaf’s signature song Le Vie en rose (used during the closing credits of Something’s Gotta Give), The Last Time I Saw Paris, or perhaps April in Paris.  We asked him what was the name of the Marianne Faithful song that had the line “at the age of 37, she realized she’d never drive through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair.”  He knew the song.  So, now while he plays The Ballad of Lucy Jordan, we’ll zoom out of here for this week.  Join us next week, for our slightly late April Fools column.  Until then, have a Hemingwayesque week.



Copyright © 2005 – Robert Patterson


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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