honoring Janis Joplin who died on October 4

On October 4,1970, Joplin died of an accidental heroin overdose in her Los Angeles hotel room. She was 27 years old.

In the words of one critic, she was second only to Bob Dylan in importance as a creator/recorder/embodiment of her generation’s history and mythology.

Love ya, Janis. You’re in our hearts. And on something called YouTube. You wouldn’t know about the internet, social media and smartphones. But you’re there, watched by young and old around the world.

This needs to be played loud. Over 13 million hits.

gratin dauphinois, a perfect fall and winter dish

I’ve been making gratin dauphinois for decades, it’s one of my specialties. Rich and substantial, this is your true comfort food. The word “dauphinois” comes from a region in south-east France called Le Dauphiné. I wouldn’t make gratin dauphinois in the summer. For me, the first signs of autumn is when my mind begins to wander to the making of this dish.

For purists, no cheese is added. But most people like a sprinkling of grated gruyère or emmenthal, so we will add it. The big question is always: what to eat with it? Grilled sausage, pork roast, beef or any kind of meat. Or just on its own with a green salad or green beans on the side and a glass of wine.

So here you go, from me to you, a fab recipe for this fab dish.

A few notes: I replace the cream with natural yogurt (less calories.) Slice the potatoes thin. The first step is to parboil the potatoes, not cook them thoroughly, that happens in the oven at a fairly low heat. Go easy on the nutmeg, you want to taste no more than a faint soupçon (a hint). Don’t use any old potato. Depending on where you live, they have to be the right kind for this dish. If you wish, you can grease the baking dish with butter and a cut garlic clove before pouring in the potato mixture, but that’s optional. And lastly, if the top of the gratin seems to be cooking faster in the oven, cover the whole dish with foil then take it off later.


photos from Sunday’s protest

It wasn’t a protest march, but rather a large assembly that took place on the Place de la République. At the center of the Place de la République is a bronze statue of Marianne, the personification of the French Republic. She holds aloft an olive branch in her right hand. Resting her left hand on a tablet engraved with the Droits de l’Homme (the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen), Marianne is surrounded by three statues personifying Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, the values of the French Republic. At the statue’s base is a lion that represents the people who express themselves through the ballot box.

The state of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran is abysmal. The Middle East and North Africa hold some of the worst records of freedom of expression in the world. Many countries in the region lack legal protection for human rights and the rule of law is undermined by gross corruption and ineptitude by the religious-political elite.

There are approximately 40,000 Iranian exiles living in France. Many of them were at the Paris protest today. Worldwide, the Iranian diaspora consists of around 4 million. The United States is the most popular destination for Iranians living abroad, Canada is next followed by Germany, the United Kingdom and Turkey.

According to data extrapolated from the U.S. Census Bureau, they are one of the most highly educated minority populations in the country.

To pressure the Tehran regime, the international community must listen to the voices of the Iranian diaspora and support them.

Sunday October 2nd – Paris protest movement to support the struggle of Iranian women





There’ll be crowds and riot police. I think it’s gonna rain too. I’ll be there with my camera. Unlike Iranian men and women, we won’t be murdered or imprisoned for our right to protest. We might be tear-gassed, though, if it gets out of control.

DOWN WITH ISLAMIC PATRIARCHY (and patriarchy in general)!



Rendezvous: Place de la République, 2 pm.

Every woman deserves to be free.





The Queen of Denmark strips her 4 grandchildren of their royal titles

Smart woman. The mere notion of monarchy today is anachronistic and undemocratic. Furthermore, royal families are financed by taxpayers. The French would never stand for that, we pay enough taxes already. Monarchy was abolished in France in 1792. During the French Revolution, King Louis and his Queen, Mary-Antoinette, were imprisoned in August 1792. By September, the monarchy was toast.

Politely called a Sovereign Grant, royal families are in fact subsidized/funded/bankrolled by their respective governments and, as I said, taxpayers. In 2021, the British Royal Family received approximately £120 million. Aside from the Queen of England and Prince Charles, now King Charles, no one else in that family pays taxes on the unearned wads of cash they receive. The Danish royal family is exempt from all taxes.

As an egalitarian (and a taxpayer), I find that deeply unfair.

And all that obsequious scraping and curtsying. It’s embarrassing, don’t you think? With my current lumbago, I’d probably fall over if I tried.

Bob Dylan and Tom Petty – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

When Petty advances to the front of the stage to start singing, Dylan waves to him to wait until he finishes his harmonica solo. It was a little bit rude, but I guess Dylan wanted to show everyone who was boss (as if there was any doubt!) They harmonize beautifully in this song. (video below)

Tragically, Tom Petty died of an overdose after accidentally mixing a variety of medications including fentanyl, a potent opioid 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. He was 66.

I’m going to be posting a few more Dylan vids in the coming weeks. Since learning that the legendary singer-songwriter will be playing Paris mid-October, I’ve taken an interest in the man. I was never a fan. Oh, sure, like everyone else, I knew and sang along to his greatest songs: Lay Lady Lay, Blowin’ in the Wind, Like a Rolling Stone, etc. but he was on the periphery of my musical odyssey as I romped and rocked my way through the 1970s and 80s.

I’ve spent the past month watching his early performances from the 1960s, reading his memoir (Chronicles), viewing Martin Scorsese’s documentary on him called No Direction Home, and observing his startling transformations and mutations over the decades. He’s been called so many names. Shape-shifter. Protest singer. Jewish boy from Minnesota. Born again Christian. Trickster, troubadour, joker. Iconoclast, innovator, icon. And in 2016, Nobel Prize for Literature winner. What an extraordinary life this man has lived. And to think that it all started with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica and a clutch of amazing songs.

lipstick lover

Introducing the lovely Andreea Ali, professional makeup artist here in Paris. In this video she shows us 14 iconic lipsticks (that are worth the hype.) I too am a lipstick lover.

Header image photo credit: Irving Penn.

patriarchal domination

Patriarchal domination: Mandating women to cover is a deliberate way of controlling them and their bodies, the American equivalent being the conservative right’s recent decision to take away the bodily autonomy of women by overturning Roe v Wade.

The good news is that the American government has placed sanctions on Iran’s morality police, accusing them of abuse and violence against Iranian women and holding them responsible for the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody last week.

“We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

The following opinion piece appeared in one of France’s mainstream newspapers today. I’ve translated a portion of it. The author is Jeannette Bougrab. The daughter of Algerian parents, she was born in France in 1973. Bougrab is a doctor of public law from the Sorbonne, a former academic, former president of the HALDE (Haute Autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l’égalité) and former Secretary of State. (Source: Le Figaro)

Jeannette Bougrab

A cry of support for Iranian women and of rage against Western neo-feminists

Mahsa Amini died on September 16 after being arrested by the morality police in Iran for “wearing inappropriate clothes”. Bougrab underlines the courage of Iranian women and deplores the ignorance, even the complicity, of Western movements, which identify the veil (hijab) as a symbol of women’s emancipation.

“We must not be mistaken about the meaning of the veil. It is neither a social phenomenon nor a fashion artefact. It serves a deliberate policy that aims to subjugate the female mind and body,” says Bougrab.

The courage of Iranian women today commands admiration. They are engaged on the front line. These genuine feminists are well aware that they will not benefit from the support of the West, which is too preoccupied with organizing the wearing of the burkini in swimming pools.

Western self-proclaimed feminists are feminists in name only. In reality they are far left activists or deconstructionists. They don’t care about the lives of these women in Iran.
Any feminist who does not possess a modicum of Islamophobia, without which there can be no emancipation of women, is not credible.


“the complicity of Western movements which identify the hijab as a symbol of women’s emancipation.”

Take, for example, World Hijab Day. World Hijab Day is observed every year on February 1st to honor Muslim women who wear the hijab. It’s also a day to urge women of various origins and beliefs to try on the hijab and wear it for a few hours.

Why is this day held on February 1st?

On February 1st, 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran in triumph after 15 years of exile. The shah and his family had fled the country two weeks before, and jubilant Iranian revolutionaries were eager to establish a fundamentalist Islamic government under Khomeini’s leadership.

Lift the veil and underneath you will find a political ideology: a set of doctrines, myths or symbols of a movement, institution or large group that explains how society should work and offers a political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order.

The founder of Hijab Day is activist Nazma Khan, a Bangladeshi-American owner of a Brooklyn-based headscarf company, and a Shiite-proselytizing TV station called Ahlul Bayt, “dedicated to delivering the pristine message of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and His Holy Household.”

Sounds like a brilliant marketing gimmick to me. The owner of a headscarf company who promotes the buying and wearing of headscarves. And the whole world has fallen for it.

murdered because of a stray lock of hair – violent protests and backlash in Iran

Iranian women are burning their headscarves and cutting their hair; mass protests are in progress.

Last week, a 22-year old woman was travelling with her family from Iran’s western province of Kurdistan to the capital, Tehran, to visit relatives. Her name was Mahsa Amini. Because of a loose-fitting hijab and a stray lock of hair, Mahsa was arrested in the street by Tehran’s “morality police” and placed in a police van. There, she was beaten into a coma. After spending three days in a coma, she died in hospital last Friday. Tehran’s police chief said her death was “unfortunate”. Riots and protest marches are occurring all over the country.

Days earlier, Iran’s hardline president had ordered a crackdown on women’s rights and called for stricter enforcement of the country’s mandatory dress code, which requires all women to wear the hijab head-covering and a full-length black cloak called a chador.

After “National Hijab and Chastity Day” was declared on July 12, women have been arrested across the country. One of them was a writer and artist, reportedly beaten and tortured in custody before making a forced apology on television. (see link below)

‘National Hijab and Chastity Day’ marks the country’s strict rules over women and their bodies. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, it is mandatory for women and girls above the age of nine to wear the hijab in public.

Above the age of nine? Does this mean that Iranian clerics consider ten-year-old girls to be sexually arousing?

My interpretation? A despotic regime of corrupt wanking mullahs who force its female populace to cover their hair and bodies so as not to excite the male populace. The country is governed by sex-crazed, misogynistic, religious zealots.

And this brings me to another topic which I will address in my next blog post: Islamic revivalism (or Islamic awakening) in the West – an active political movement – yes, political – that is occurring before our very eyes and altering the landscape of Western democratic countries. France has understood this for decades – other countries, like my native country, Canada, has not.

Called upon to “restore Islam to ascendancy in a world that has turned away from God”, the movement seeks to renew commitment to the fundamental principles of Islam and the reconstruction of society in accordance with the Quran and traditions of the Islamic prophet, Mohammed.

An obvious sign of the re-Islamisation of many Muslims is the rise of the hijab in the public space. Among immigrants in non-Muslim countries (and the children of those immigrants), it includes a feeling of a “growing universalistic Islamic identity”, otherwise known as trans-national Islam.

YOU WOULD THINK that in solidarity with their oppressed sisters in Iran, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, Muslim women in the West, happy to be free from theocratic regimes and religious zealots, would choose not to don the hijab. That’s not what’s happening. To the contrary.



something light and fun

I don’t know about you, but I need some levity this weekend. Reading the on-line newspapers is too depressing. The Queen is dead. Russia has turned off the gas and Europe’s bracing for a chilly winter in our homes (we’ve been told to turn down the thermostat and put on an extra sweater). The inflation surge is accelerating. The Russian-Ukraine war grinds on. Supermarket prices soar – I bought my usual tin of ILLY ground coffee earlier: the price has jumped from 6 euros to 8 euros …

This video uplifts me. Enjoy!