I was curious about the girl in Kenny Chesney’s video “You and Tequila”. I discovered she fronts a band called Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and if you want to be blown away, check out her videos; hope you enjoy!
If this doesn’t blow you away, you might just be on life support. Now, on to a fresh serving of “Texas Toast”.
In our last installment, Jack and I were off for an eight-week working holiday to Europe to shoot commercials for Oil of Olay. Upon our arrival in Rome, we discovered that the former Italian Prime Minister, Aldo Moro, had just been kidnapped that morning and the city was shut down tighter than Paris Hilton’s brain. The ad agency’s plan for us to audition Italian actresses for the commercials we would be returning to shoot later in the trip, became pretty much a Mission Impossible, so we moved on to Stockholm.
As a sun-loving Leo, I was enchanted by the idea of a never-ending day in Sweden. Of course, that Land of the Midnight Sun doesn’t happen until summer, and this was deep winter, better known as The Land of The Noontime Dark. After 48 hours in that city, I understood why the suicide rate was so high. I would have given my left arm for just one tiny ray of sun. It was like being marooned on an alien planet, surrounded by gloom, twilight, and ice. The thing that struck me was the models and actresses at the casting calls were astonishingly beautiful, but icy, glacial. I wanted to reach back to Italy and grab a big handful of passion and lust for life, and rub it all over their perfect, silky blond heads.
From Stockholm, we moved on to Copenhagen Denmark. Jack’s ad agency had satellite offices in all these cities, and the powers-to-be went out of their way to excel as awesome hosts and show us around. It soon became apparent walking to dinner one night why the city was gleefully referred to as ‘Gropenhagen’. The sex trade was ripe, rife, and open for business for all to see right out on the boulevards. Ironically, we were on our way to have dinner in a working monastery. This group of monks had developed quite a following for their haute cuisine, and served only two dozen guests per dinner service. The irony of being served an unforgettable meal by these kind, gentle, robe clad men after passing through the infamous prostitution district was not lost on us! This ‘legalized commerce’ was even more blatant in Amsterdam, but I would much have preferred to see the tulips on display than the tartlets of the night. Alas, it was not to be, too early in the season.
From there we moved to Paris (insert the sign of the cross and much rosary clutching here!). Our first of the two stops in The City of Lights wasn’t quelle terrible, though it was where I discovered my former agent, Claude Francois, had said his final adieu in his bathtub, doing a little Ben Franklin mambo with some inappropriate electricity. No, the real Parisian kick in the teeth came on our second leg of the filming, and it was not to be believed!
After dinner one evening, in an unfamiliar district of the city, Jack and I stumbled upon a men’s boutique featuring an exquisite cashmere coat. I decided to forgo the next day’s shoot and head out to purchase this coat for him. It was a Chamber of Commerce mid-May day, with just a bit of morning chill in the air, with fluffy clouds and brilliant blue sky. Delighted with my planned mission, I headed to the boutique in a taxi. Leaving the store with the cashmere coat and several other irresistible gifts in hand, I set out to find a taxi stand in order to return to the Hotel George V. Anyone who knows me realizes that I should have been born with a GPS attached to my umbilical cord, such is my propensity for getting lost. After wandering about for half an hour, I had to admit I had no clue where the hell I was. Walking any direction was pointless, as I didn’t know one way from another. Soon after, I spied an answer to my prayer, a gendarme. OK, now we’re getting somewhere. Approaching him respectfully, dressed in head-to-toe Calvin Klein, and laden with bags bearing the name of a very exclusive shop, I told him, in quite flawless French, that I was lost and needed directions to the nearest cab stand in order to return to my hotel. Looking back on that scene later, everything seemed to blur, time seemed to shift into slow motion. The gendarme was quite young, and had an appearance that has always frightened me to the core. Though half German myself, I can’t bear to watch movies depicting the Holocaust, or the SS. Something about those slender, ramrod-straight, blond-haired, blue-eyed authority figures in uniform completely unhinges me. Today would be no exception.
I immediately sensed something not right about this officer. He was very aggressively questioning me, and seemed quite hostile; he was clearly trying to escalate a simple request for street directions into something more sinister. He began jabbing his index finger into my chest, causing me to move backward, all the while shouting words in French to me. After four years of high school and college French, and after living in this city for a brief time, what I thought of as a fairly good grasp of the language quickly failed me in view of his hostility and aggression. The ability to conjugate verbs in a foreign language while sitting in the peaceful setting of a classroom, becomes quite another thing when confronted by the authorities in a foreign country. Suddenly, my mouth was dry and I couldn’t follow what he was yelling at me. One final push of his finger into my chest and, courtesy of high-heeled boots and arms carrying too many packages, I went cartwheeling backwards and landed flat out on my back.
In mere seconds, my tormentor was surrounded by approximately eight other police officers, all looking down derisively at me. Then, Herr Hitler removed his baton from his belt and began to jab me in the chest with it. This soon escalated into being kicked by all eight additional pairs of boots. Herr Hitler was now straddling me on the cement where he began to punch me in the face and ribs, repeatedly. Shock and disbelief were flooding my brain and making it impossible to figure this out. WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON HERE?!? I realized I was not in an ideal spot to be rescued; it seemed to be a very quiet, government-type of enclave of ivy-clad buildings; I didn’t see or hear a busy street nearby.
Suddenly, as so often happens in my life, the cosmos sent a guardian angel in the form of a pudgy, slightly rumpled, corduroy-wearing British professor. With great authority and outrage, he demanded the badge numbers of these officers. Slowly, one by one, they removed their badges and put them in their pockets. These bullies might be comfortable beating up foreign women on their streets, but apparently a middle-aged history professor who was bandying about terms like ‘American and British ambassador, and embassy’, was a tiger they didn’t choose to tangle with.
In short order, I was in a taxi with my rescuer, racing back to my hotel. My kindly professor and the concierge summoned the hotel doctor, who immediately dispatched me to the hospital. I was treated for three broken ribs, and a fractured jaw, and a hairline fracture of my cheekbone. Within two days, my entire face and body looked like one of my hippie tie dyed tee-shirts, all purple and blue.
In the ensuing two months, after much correspondence with the State Department, and The International Herald Tribune, we learned that there was a rogue band of police officers who were preying on young British and American women, simply for the sport of it. No purses or possessions were ever taken, no rapes were committed, just the infliction of random acts of terror and bullying. Jack mounted a massive letter-writing campaign, along with my dear rescuer, and apologies were eventually forthcoming from the Commissioner of Police.
Stubborn biotche that I am, I insisted on accompanying Jack to our final stop in Venice, instead of flying directly back to NY and medical care. Wired jaw or not, there was no way I would miss seeing this amazing city with the man I loved. The next three days I spent at his side, sipping Campari and soda at Piazza San Marco, gumming risotto Milanese, vitello con carciofi, fegato con cipolle, and sucking down bottles of 1920 Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino through my straw.
B.I.T.E. M.E. F.R.O.G.S
The only thing wrong with Parisians is that they’re French!
FEATURE PHOTO OF GRACE POTTER COURTESY OF ZIMBIO.COM