Monday, September 16, 2013


“One asks one’s self how all this decoration this luxury of fair and chiselled marble, survived the French Revolution.  An hour of liberty in the choir of Brou would have been a carnival for the image-breakers. 

The well-fed Bressois are surely a good-natured people.  I call them well-fed both on general and on particular grounds.  Their province has the most savory aroma, and I found an opportunity to test its reputation. 

I walked back into the town from the church (there was really nothing to be seen by the way), and as the hour of the midday breakfast had struck, directed my attention to the inn.  The table d’hôte was going on, and a gracious, bustling, talkative landlady welcomed me.  I had an excellent repast—the best repast possible—which consisted simply of boiled eggs and bread and butter.  It was the quality of these simple ingredients that made the occasion memorable.  The eggs were so good that I am ashamed to say how many of them I consumed. 

“La plus belle fille du monde”, as the French proverb says, “ne peut donner que ce qu’elle a”;  and it might seem that an egg which has succeeded in being fresh has done all that can reasonably be expected of it.  But there was a bloom of punctuality, so to speak, about these eggs of Bourg, as if it had been the intention of the very hens themselves that they should be promptly served.  “Nous sommes en Bresse, et le beurre n’est pas mauvais”, the landlady said, with a sort of dry coquetry, as she placed the article before me.  It was the poetry of butter, and I ate a pound of two of it; after which I came away with a strange mixture of impressions of late Gothic sculpture and thick tartines.”
Henry James, A Little Tour In France (Ch. 33, "Bourg-en-Bresse").

NOTE:  When you know that the real thing is the remotest possibility, armchair traveling works well, especially reading en plein air with your human and animal tribe close by. 

Almost-autumn all day has been announcing its imminence, and an apéritif, the sounds of  the Eagles game in the next room, and life's triple pleasures of breathing, seeing colors (with eyes both open and closed), and scenting make everything sort of ok for now.

There was an excellent, grim and clear-eyed editorial in the New York Sun today limning the implications of the Syria mess, which included a Winston Churchill quotation (spoken in the House of Commons following the appeasement at Munich) that I hadn't heard before, but I know I will never forget.  The article made me remember that collection of fake commercials Paul Verhoeven created for RoboCop showing the cheapness, falseness, and inhumanity of contemporary life and its general absence of moral values. 

You remember how they all ended -- with the punchline:

“I’d buy That for a dollar.”  


I'd Buy That For A Dollar (Link)

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