Category Archives: Stories

In Search of David Dodge

In August of 2010 I received an email from Jean Buchanan, a writer from England who had been commissioned to dramatize the novel “To Catch A Thief” for BBC Radio and to make an accompanying BBC Radio Arts feature about the writing of the book. American author David Dodge penned the thriller in 1950 while living in a rented villa (Villa Noel Fleuri) in the south of France with his wife and young daughter, Kendal. The idea for the story came to him after the luxurious villa next door was robbed by a daring “cat burglar” during a cocktail party. As guests dined on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean, the thief climbed in at the back of the house and snatched items from the guest bedrooms. Dodge would later remark that after hearing about the brazen robbery, “To Catch A Thief practically wrote itself!”

Jean had stumbled upon my blog during her research for the BBC projects and asked if I could help locate Villa Noel Fleuri. I agreed to assist in any way possible and the search began, aided in no small part by another of Jean’s recruits, Randal S. Brandt in Berkeley, California. Randal is the creator of A David Dodge Companion, an outstanding website devoted to the works of David Dodge .

Several months prior to hearing from Jean I had actually been in touch with Dodge’s daughter (at that time she was still alive and living in Mexico) in an attempt to find the villa used as John Robie’s house in Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation of the book. I asked her about the villa she lived in with her father and her only memory was of a long, winding driveway with lots of trees leading up to the house. She thought it had been somewhere near Juan les Pins.  Continue reading

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2016/10/30 · 3:18 PM

An Evening in St Tropez…

A few years ago I had dinner with two female friends in St Tropez.

The restaurant was very stylish, one of those where you sit outside along a charming, pedestrian-only street, sip wine, watch the ultra-chic stroll by, and pretend you belong there.

It was a wonderful evening except for the fact that my friends kept rambling on about how incredibly handsome our waiter was.  I’m not usually the jealous type, but an entire meal spent talking about an attractive waiter is a bit much don’t you think?

Something else bothered me.

He was apparently so good-looking that they were rendered completely oblivious to his abysmal English.  I’m not just lashing out here.  My Italian was better than his English and I don’t speak Italian.  For the girls, though, the carnage discharged from his mouth that night sounded as smooth and silky as just-served foie gras.

“Oh my god, did you see his eyes?”

“An endless sea of blue!”

“I know!  I know!  And it’s so obvious he works out!”

“And his English is sooooo good!”

“I know!  I know!”

During the first course, thankfully, Mr. Marvelous remained pleasantly absent, resting comfortably, I assumed, in a secret mirrored room reserved exclusively for irritating handsome people.

Then, at just the right moment, he swept in on a cloud of pulchritude to collect our plates. Continue reading

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Filed under Misc., Stories

First Class is where I belong…. really.

“The temperature is all right sir?  Too warm, a little too cold perhaps?”

The beautiful blonde flight attendant is clearly concerned with my well-being, and who am I to argue?

Thirty thousand feet below me, the green and brown Polish countryside is laid out in perfectly checkered summer patterns as far as I can see.  The day is clear and sunny and I am the only person in the first class section of LOT Polish Airlines flight 341, Warsaw to Nice.

“Maybe it’s a bit warm for you?”  her bottomless blue eyes yearn to please.

“Thank you no, really it’s perfect” I respond with, I hope, just the right amount of affected insouciance.

Smiling demurely, she disappears.

I lean back in my oversized chair, close jet-lagged eyes, and mentally applaud the decision to donate a substantial number of hard-earned frequent flyer miles to the rarefied, seldom breathed air of first class.  This is not how I usually travel (OK, I never travel this way), but it’s obvious to me now that first class is exactly where I belong.

Really.

The lightest touch on my shoulder.  “Sir, I was just wondering….

Something catches her attention and we both turn to see Continue reading

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Filed under Stories, Video

Benicio Del Toro at The Cannes Film Festival:

VIDEO BELOW

At this point in my life I guess there’s a fairly good chance I’ll never be famous, rich, content, liked-by-many, sober, smart, handy around the house, well-dressed, desirable, a doctor, the third member of WHAM!, asked to a party for any reason other than to serve drinks and help clean-up, comfortable, or witty.

But hey, who’s perfect?

I feel like now is the right time for me to take a profound step on my journey of personal growth and acknowledge a few negligible imperfections.

Why?

Because I’m competing for my wife’s affections, that’s why, and in order to improve my chances of winning I think I should first recognize one or two minor shortcomings so that I can move forward and become a better man.

With whom am I competing (you may be asking yourself in perfectly irritating proper English)?

Benicio del Toro.

Ever since my wife and I spotted Benicio del Toro (what does that mean anyway, Benicio of the Bull?) at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year I know she’s been thinking about him.

A lot.

She won’t acknowledge it but I know she knows I know.

I can feel it.

Of the Bull feels it too.

I’m certain.

That’s why I’m taking this bullfight public.

Check out the video I took outside the Hotel Martinez in Cannes. Continue reading

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Filed under Stories, Video

Monaco’s Hotel de Paris Invaded by Russians?

It seems the Russians have finally invaded – Monaco, that is.

I recently spent a very enjoyable morning in the lobby of the Hotel de Paris in Monaco and let me tell you there may be no better spot on earth for people watching.

The Russians were in full force, the men in ill- fitting designer jeans and sweaters, greeting each other with big smiles, a quick hug and two firm slaps on the back.

The women were gorgeous, mostly demure, and decked out in the finest couture that money can buy.  The weekly allowance for hair, make-up, and clothing alone for just one of these beauties would probably pay my mortgage for a year.

I’d heard so much about the Russians, how rude, loud, and unsophisticated they were, but at least at the Hotel de Paris, I found them very appealing.  They seemed completely unaffected by how others perceived them, they were polite to the wait staff, and there was a gregariousness that seemed pleasantly out of place in the stuffy lobby of this Monaco institution.

So have the Russians really invaded?

If so, it may not be all that bad.


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Filed under Stories

Christmas Eve in St Tropez


Brigitte Bardot on the beach in St Tropez

I‘ve only been to St Tropez once and let me tell you my expectations were not high.

It was Christmas Eve day several years ago and my wife and I, with our good friend Yamina, decided to hop in the car and take a leisurely ride.

A little under two hours later we were pulling into St Trop.

I had mixed emotions.

Images of Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson cavorting on a yacht with their drunken entourage were a bit hard to shake, and I didn’t really have any interest Continue reading

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Filed under Stories, Villages

Alec Harvey Guest Post: Thoughts on France

Alec HarveyFeatures Editor for The Birmingham News, has been kind enough to submit Le Stuff”s very first Guest Post.  For those of you who are regular Le Stuff readers, you may remember I posted a story in July about the, um, transmission problems Alec encountered early on during a Spring 2007 trip to France.  I really do hate to mention it again, but honestly it’s just too difficult for me to let it go.

So thanks Alec for your contribution, and I very much look forward to our next adventure.  I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of The Birmingham News, one of the nation’s most respected newspapers, and to check out City Scene, found in the Entertainment section every Friday.  There’s no better way for hipsters like you and me to get a handle on the goings on in The Magic City.  Finally, “Alec Harvey’s blog and column” (does this guy ever sleep?) can be read at http://blog.al.com/aharvey.

Sincerely,

Le Stuff

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Two years ago, I fell in love with France .

I had visited Paris the summer after I graduated from college, and I probably fell in love then, too, but the nearly 25 years that had passed had dimmed that affection. What remained were memories of good food and a little too much good wine, but not much about the people and places I encountered.

This time, I don’t expect the love affair to end.  Visiting the countryside of France is much different from the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s greatest cities.  The villages have a quaintness that Paris can never duplicate, and their charm – and that of the people that inhabit them – is not likely to fade.

If you’re planning a trip to the South of France Continue reading

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Filed under Guest Posts, Stories, Tips