There’s a punch line at the end

by Yule Heibel on November 7, 2004

What a long, tiring day. What a short, exhausting weekend. Can I have the weekend over again before Monday starts, please? How about some humour? I need a laugh. Jim Harrison wrote the Summer 2003 “Eat or Die” food column in Brick. I don’t know if the column is online, but basically, it’s about Harrison’s frustration over the Bush regime’s demonisation of France around that time. (Remember “freedom fries” and all that?) So Harrison, out of spite, took himself to France in May 2003 to see how much French wine he could drink. My man! He called this particular column “Paris Rebellion,” and, keeping the rebellion “aggressively fresh,” he immediately heads to the Bon March� to buy good stuff (comestibles and wine) for his hotel room picnic. And so the column starts, an ode to good food and wine, and to the people who enjoy it. But here’s a funny bit where the gourmandising gourmet puts the knife not just into his t�te de porc cul noir � la broche, but also into politics:

An attractive aspect of Paris is the freedom of the press. I’ve been told the press isn’t as free as it seems, but compared to the many cities in America that have been reduced to a single newspaper that may not wish to quote you exactly, it is wonderful to shoot off your mouth without regard for propriety. For instance, years ago in Chicago I was asked for my feelings about the recent death of Nixon and I said that a wooden stake should be driven through his heart to make sure. The newspaper refused to quote this! In Paris, however, when I said that as a gourmand, I couldn’t be a politician because they regularly shit out of their mouths and that would taint my dining experiences, the newspaper quoted me in full.



elck November 8, 2004 at 5:03 pm

I love Jim Harrison, and I love Brick: I’m delighted to find both here.

Jim Harrison is so goddamn funny, and intelligent.

I’ll bet you read Granta, too.

If you don’t you should.

Doug Alder November 8, 2004 at 8:44 pm

What a closing line – perfect! and I liked the one about Nixon too LOL

Yule Heibel November 9, 2004 at 1:31 pm

Glad you liked the Harrison quote, Elck & Doug. What makes the passage work, I think, is how pithy H. is — eg.: “to make sure.”

Elck, I actually have only that one copy of Brick — picked it up in a local bookstore. It’s expensive! But I wanted it because it contained a play by Carol Shields. Ditto Granta ($price$) — I have read bits of it, but typically only while lounging in bookstore aisles. They’re both excellent publications, though, and Brick is Canadian to boot, so what’s not to like?

Essentially, though, re. reading material, I’ve come to believe that I’m like some kind of magpie or crow, “diving down to pick up on some shining thing” (Joni Mitchell). There’s no method, I just follow my nose, …er, beak. 😉

Anonymous August 24, 2005 at 12:39 pm

You are the best. Thank you

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