Azzadine Alaia Ride The Stars

Azzadine Alaia was born in Tunis, Tunisia, an ancient city dating back to Carthage.

His family were wheat farmers, but his glamorous older sister nurtured his love of fashion and his mother’s friend gave the young man VOGUE magazine.

Elegance extraordinaire.

After studying at Tunis’ École des Beaux-Arts Azzadine lied about his age and migrated to Paris, the City of Light, where he was hired to be a tailleur at Christian Dior, because he was an Arab.

When the Algerian War broke out, Azzadine was let go.

“When I was growing up, I never heard the word ‘racism.’ It was only in Paris I encountered that.”

He moved to Guy LaRoche and then onto Thierry Mugler after which he opened his line at his tiny apartment of Rue de Bellechasse.

Within his rooms he dressed the elite and the beautiful.

Marie-Hélène de Rothschild.

Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin.

And the reclusive Greta Garbo.

They rightly loved his sober hue and simple lines.

The diminutive designer was their secret weapon.

Ever the perfectionist.

As he said about another designer, “Karl Lagerfeld never touched a pair of scissors in his life.”

Azzadine knew how to snip like a surgeon to frame a woman’s body for beauty.

His name was murmured in the 1970s.

People discovered his work.

And they knew his dog.

Patapouf, le etoile de mode.

Le Super Punk.

“I put myself on the same level as everyone else around me – from the directrice to the workman, everyone. Except my pets – they are the Kings; you must treat them like royalty.”

I moved to Paris in 1982 to be the physionomiste at the Bains-Douches .

The previous doorperson, Farida, had upgrade her life by haring her statuesque Levantine beauty at Azzedine’s larger atelier off the Marais.

As did my good friend, Christine Bergstrum.

The exotic Marpessa.

And the lovely Candida.

A grace d’elle I was invited to dinners at the Rue du Parc-Royal.

Laughter, freidns, good food, the dogs, and the Napoleon de la mode.

It was the best of times and Azzadine voyaged into the heavens after French Vogue honored his genius.

He was a star.

“There is a sensuality about fabric. I think all materials should be inviting when they touch the skin. When I watch children stroking their mother’s clothes, I feel that I have succeeded.”

“My obsession is to make women beautiful. When you create with that in mind, things can’t go out of fashion.”

“Fashion will last forever. It will exist always. It will exist in its own way in each era.”

After the death of his sister Azzadine retreated from the limelight.

He served his public at his atelier.

I guess he was more comfortable there.

“I would rather die than see my face in a car advertisement.”

I feel the way way too and salute the grand master.

I did not know him well, but as a physionomiste I recognized his soul.

Azzedine shared his smile with the world a good smile and for me that says it all.

Bon Voyage, Mssr. Alaia.

You ride with the stars.

THE END OF RICE by Peter Nolan Smith


Thailand has many superstitions. One concerns rice.

Never joke while eating or else a ghost will steal your rice.

The ghosts will have to wait, for this is the beginning of the rainy season and throughout the Kingdom aging farmers are planting rice. The current price for jasmine rice per tonne from the wholesalers is between 15,000-20,000 baht, which has been guaranteed by the government since last year. Mothers and fathers call their children for help with the crop, but fewer and fewer Thai young work the fields. Manual labor is beneath them. As one old farmer said, “The only thing my son knows how to carry is a mobile phone.”

Several years ago at dawn in Bannok my wife’s father asked, if I wanted to plant rice.

“Plant rice. Know life Thai.”

“I don’t know.”

I had seen rice planting all across South East Asia. It never looked like an easy job.

Not in Bali.

Not in Java.

And not in Thailand.

Maybe you not man. Maybe you ladyboy,” joked Den.

“Ladyboys make more money.”

Not you. You ugly ladyboy.”

My mother-in-law, wife, and daughter laughed at the thought of me as a kathoey.

“Okay I’ll give it a try.”

Finish eat. Go field.”

Nu begged off going. She had had her share of the rice fields as a child. Angie, my daughter came with me, carrying cold beers. She knew my weaknesses better than most.

We arrived at the rice paddies with the sun creeping over the palm trees.

Ten migrant Burmese were already hard at work.

To the west mountains marked the frontier.

The air was gentle, but the first rays of the sun promised a hot one by mid-morning.

“Paw-ter, not do rice,” my daughter begged and pulled me from the path.

Angie was worried about my health.

I was not a young man, but neither was Den, who handed me a shoulder bag crammed with baby rice shots.

See me do.”

He stepped off the path into the brown water and began the traditional repetition of planting rice without ever standing up straight.

Now farang.” Den motioned for me to join him.

I stepped off the path. My bare feet sunk into the soft mud and the water lapped at my thighs. Old stalks poked at my tender soles. My technique of stick the rice shoots into the field were met with harsh criticism from the old farmer in Ban Nok.

“A pig shit rice better than you.” Den was joking, but only half-joking about my effort. He was 65 and his fatless body resembled the starving Buddha.

“I never work rice.”

“I see you never work rice.” Den was planting twenty times faster than me and my daughter laughed from dry ground as did several of the Burmese migrants whom Den had hired to assist with the crop. They got paid about $5 a day with a meal.

I got nothing.

“Farang no work rice.”

I had picked apples as a young boy on the South Shore, but couldn’t recall working on a farm since then. Only ten minutes had passed and I was ready to call it quits. I headed for my daughter, who wore a wide-brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt to protect her skin from the sun. She grabbed cold beer from the cooler.

“You stop work?” Den nodded with satisfaction.

He had bet his wife that I wouldn’t last more than fifteen minutes.

“Yes, I stop work.” I sat on the dirt and drank a Leo beer in one go.

“You same all farangs.”

“Same all Thais too. Where young Thai?” I waved my hand across the fields.

“Your daughter lazy.”

“Not lazy. Not stupid same kwaii,” Angie disrespectfully muttered under her breath and stormed back to the shaded rice shack.

“I last Thai. After me no Thai grow rice. Then they eat air,” Den shouted after me. “Thailand old now. Not young. No one have baby. Only farang.”

He was right, for Thais have been abandoning the rice fields for work in hotels, factories, and bars. Thai families have been shrinking too. Once Den’s generation is gone, the communal rice tradition of long kek will disappear into the abandoned paddies.

Back at the shack I asked Angie, “If I am old and have no money, will you work rice so I can eat?”

“Mai.” Her refusal was quick. “Growing rice for stupid people.”

“Farmers aren’t stupid.”

“Then why they not rich?”

“Money isn’t everything.” Most rice farmers are hopelessly in debt to the banks and one in Asia worked harder.

“You want work rice?”

“No.”

She brought another beer and hugged me.

“Same me.”

My beer was very cold and I was glad she was my daughter.

Smart and loving.

Always.

Den came over to join me.

Angie gave him a beer.

We gave them together.

A Thai and a farang.

He souted for the Burmese to get back to work.

“They drink lao later. We too.”

He is the last Thai I know.

Chai-yo.

Men Versus Women – The Eternal Struggle

“Women are always right and they are never more right then when they are wrong and you try to convince of this.” Pascha Ray.

They’re different creatures rom man as proven by this email from Brian LeBouef featuring a short story exercise written by a male and female student at the U of Phoenix.

The professor told his class: “Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and copy me on the email. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also copying me. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back-and-forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is be absolutely NO talking outside of the e-mails, and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached.”

The following was actually turned in by two of his English students: Read More »

The Shine of Donyale Luna

America was white in 1964 from coast to coast, however Malcolm X preached resistance up in Harlem and Martin Luther King led marches in Selma, Alabama. Reacting to the blowing in the wind, Nancy White, the Harper’s Bazaar editor, transported an unknown black teenage from Detroit to the starry heights of the international modeling set.

According to Wikipedia Donyale Luna was 5-11, flat-chested and X-ray skinny. Her legs were as stilt-like as a Giacometti sculpture, her fingers extended and spidery. She had caramel-colored skin, almond-shaped eyes, full lips and an oval-shaped face, which, in certain poses, portrayed an owlish surprise, as if she’d just been pinched from behind.

Half African and half Quechuan from the Andes the black model strode onto the runways of New York and Paris.

The world was hers.

London’s Telegraph reported that Luna wrote a friend, ‘New York is a dream… a man danced me down Fifth Avenue, and all up and down Broadway men were eyeing and whistling at me, and so many other unbelievable things. I’m really getting the works from head to toe by Harper’s Bazaar’s best! As soon as possible I’ll send you a picture of the new me. I’ll be on top of the world if it takes every breath I have, every muscle of my skinny body. I feel it, I know it. I’ll be some kind of star real soon. Real soon.”

Avedon shot her for Harper. After a violent family tragedy in which her drunken father had been shot dead by her mother in self-defense, Luna took solace with high class friends, but defected to London, as her career languished in racist America.

In the city of BLOW-UP she became a star for David Bailey, William Klein, Helmut Newton, William Claxton, and Dali.

“She had no tits, but lots of presence,” quipped her model friend Pat Cleveland in the Telegram article. “We’d walk down the street and men’s mouths would drop open in awe. When we walked into restaurants people would stop eating and stand up and applaud. She was like a mirage, or some kind of fantasy.”

And like a mirage she vanished into the world of drugs and died a model’s death in Rome.

A black beauty forever.

ps America is no longer all white.

No matter what white people think, because goddesses come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Judge Lest You Not Be Judged

In April of 2017 Alabama’s Supreme Justice resigned from the bench after suspension by the state’s other justice for improprieties while in office. Roy Moore accepted their ruling and declared himself a candidate for the US Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions who had become # 45′s Attorney General. The GOP hierarchy supported Luther Strange for the Senate, however Roy Moore beat him in a runoff election.

A staunch Bible Thumper, anti-Gay advocate, Confederate supporter, and has gone so far into the lunatic religious fringe to say that 9/11 was a result of America’s break with Christianity.

Alabama is deep Bible Belt.

God, thoughts, and prayers are the cure for any woe. Roy Moore is their choice. A Man of God.

Two weeks ago the New York Times published an article accusing the potential senator of having had sex with five underaged girls while he was the chief prosecutor in Etowah County, Ala.

The girls ranged in age from 14 to 17.

Moore at the time was in his thirties.

The ex-justice denied all the accusations and has rejected any and all interviews about the matter.

Mainstream Republicans have called for his withdrawal from the Senate race, but many Alabamans are of a different mind.

One pastor said that women are the predators and another informed the press that Mary was 14 when she had Jesus without adding that the Blessed Mother was supposedly a virgin.

Alabama GOP office holders have come out in support of Roy Moore and the Governor has vowed to vote for the man, but Trump has remained silent on the issue.

# 45 has been accused more than once about sexual misconduct.

The people of Alabama deserve better, but the age of consent in that Dixie state is 16.

In the 19th Century it was 10 or 12, except for Delaware which had set its bar at 7.

And everyone wonders why men are the way they are.

Because they control the lives of women.

From birth to death.

The Democrats aren’t much better.

Still they aren’t as bad as the GOP.

Vote for Doug Jones, a former United States Attorney.

It’s time for a change.