Category Archives: General

Paris Saint Germain Vs. l’Olympique de Marseille

Fabrice FiorèseEach team calls the other their meilleur ennemi, and their fans shout obsenities that are only common when you have heard them all your life. Football families and clubs reserve huge swaths of seats at the ends of the stadium and are known to be so rowdy, lighting fireworks, chanting, jumping, and swearing, that they are contained inside 12 foot metal walls with spikes at the top, incongruously painted pleasant shades of red or yellow.

At the game of the season tensions were especially high as it was the first time the enemys met since Fabrice Fiorèse, a PSG attacker, had betrayed his team. He moved to OM from PSG on the last day of trading after swearing he was sticking around. This left Paris with no time to replace him after having met his contract demands and thus expecting he would stay. When asked to explain his decision he said, “Paris is a prison.”

They already hated each other, Marseille having a well deserved reputation for cheating, and Paris being accused of being supported by public funds, so it was no surprise when the Marseille fans were forced to collect their tickets 50 kilometers from Paris on a bus, were brought to the stadium through seperate entrances, and kept in a cage. I’m not making this up! They can’t come and go as they like and are forced to stay in the stadium until all the Paris fans have dispersed. When they finally leave, again by bus, and aren’t released until they’ve traveled back the fifty kilometers and are seen as no longer dangerous, or at least not nearby.

Fiorez accepting his OM jerseyEvery time he touched the ball the entire stadium shouted, “Fiorèse, Fiorèse, fuck you in the ass!” Police in riot gear protected him from organized groups of fans throwing things at him as he made beautiful corner kicks.

I would have wondered if these fans were really French, they don’t act like any French I know, and yet they proved it again and again. Who else would wear a matching turquoise velour sweatsuit, or a warm-up suit reminicint of the globe trotters in blue satin with white piping only several sizes too small? As the US suffers from a bigger is better complex so french men suffer from a tighter is better dilusion.

A PSG player received a red card with 70 minutes still to play for tackeling Fiorèse with the obvious intention to take him out and yet Paris, playing one man down for most of the game, won for the eighth time in a row. Each time they scored I felt the thick concrete under my feet jump up and down as if it were made of 2 X 4’s on the flat. Unnerving really.

I thought of football as something of a posh sport, at home the fans are people with international connections, who are interested in what happens in Europe, and drink wine. Not so.

Bed Bugs

Red Bed Bug on an aqua background  that looks as scary as they feel.One of our neighbors moved out rather uneventfully a few months after his wife left him and his apartment had begun to stink through the floor of cigarettes. A few times a little drunk in the elevator with strange women and poof he was gone.

Hugo was convinced it was mosquitos. One doctor was convinced it was allergies. Another said it looked like crawling bugs because the welts were in lines, something we would later learn is called “breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” I wish I had believed him, but for a doctor he talked too much about porn, and didn’t charge me. Maybe I’m still too American to understand healthcare that isn’t about raking in the cash.

Several months later I was crying all the time, I itched so badly and my back looked like I had been beaten with one of Mason’s late night creations. Hugo wasn’t going to take action, he was still playing the mosquito bite card, until I started talking about moving away. Let the bugs have the place, I reasoned (lets give me the benefit of the doubt and just say I was being reasonable), clearly we are outnumbered. Finally, another neighbor happened to mention that the man who moved out might possibly have had an issue with bugs.

That’s when we called A.B.A.C. Nettoyage, who sent their insect technician. No man exists who is more delighted with his work. He grins vaguely and wears no protective equipment. He says he works so quickly he stays ahead of the fumes, meanwhile the air was choking even outside the apartment.

It didn’t work the first time. No, I’m not kidding. We had to have him back. After the first spraying we just pissed them off. They took their vengance on my back.

Bed Bug Bites

the namesake

Cover of the namesake by jhumpa lahiriby jhumpa lahiri

Maybe the immigrant experience is universal, maybe it doesn’t depend on what country you have left or are working to integrate into. This book was far better than Interpreter of Maladies because of the continuity, the development of the characters, and the obvious sincerity with which it was written.

She cried as she feeds him, and as she pats him to sleep, and as he cries between sleeping and feeding. She cries after the mailman’s visit because there are no letters from Calcutta. She cries when she calles Ashoke at his department and he does not answer. One day she cries when she goes to the kitchen to make dinner and discovers that they’ve run out of rice. She goes upstairs and knocks on Alan and Judy’s door. “Help yourself,” Judy says, but the rice in Judy’s canister is brown. To be polite, Ashima takes a cup, but downstairs she throws it away. She calls Ashoke at his department to ask him to pick up the rice on his way home. This time, when there is no answer, she gets up, washes her face and combs her hair. She changes and dresses Gogol and puts him into te navy blue, white-wheeled pram inherited from Alan and Judy. For the first time, she pushes him through the balmy streets of Cambridge, to Purity Supreme, to buy a bag of white long-grain rice. The errand takes longer than usual; for now she is repeatedly stopped on the street, and in the aisles of the supermarket, by perfect strangers, all Americans, suddenly taking notice of her, smiling, congratulating her for what she’s done. They look curiously, apreciatively, into the ram. “How old?” they ask. “Boy or girl?” “What’s his name?”

Mine might be a bichon frise, but he has had somewhat the same effect on icy Parisians. Too bad I didn’t get him sooner.