The actor George Clooney called a press conference three days after Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car accident in Paris. “I suddenly became a partial spokesman for this,” he later recalled, “People wanted to hear something about what I wanted to say.”
“Princess Di is dead. And who should we see about that? The driver of the car, the paparazzis, or the magazines and papers who purchase these pictures and make bounty hunters out of photographers. The same magazines, television shows, and papers that use their pages creating the news, causing altercations and then filming them. Well you must be exhilarated. You bought and paid for one of the greatest news stories of the year… You’ve deflected responsibility. Yet I wonder how you sleep at night. You should be ashamed. I watch as you scramble for high ground, saying that you won’t purchase these pictures. Pictures of a dying Princess trapped in her car. I’m impressed. What ethics!”
September 3, 1997.
In May of 2007, Liverpool played its second Champions League Final against AC Milan. Liverpool fans visited the Acropolis and celebrated into the early morning in Syntagma Square. The following season, fans would become embroiled in a battle to oust their unscrupulous new owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. In Athens, Hicks’ son Tom Hicks Jr.–who would later tell a supporter to “Blow me fuck face. Go to hell”– joined the singing fans on the steps in Syntagma Square, his bodyguards watching at a discreet distance.
La Grenouillère (“the frog-pond”) was a popular bathing spot and a floating cafe on the Seine. It was painted by Renoir and Monet, and the setting of “Femme Fatale,” a short story by Guy de Maupassant.
“The place reeked of vice and corruption and the dregs of Parisian society in all its rottenness gathered there: cheats, conmen and cheap hacks rubbed shoulders with under-age dandies, old roués and rogues, sleazy underworld types once notorious for things best forgotten mingled with other small-time crooks and speculators, dabblers in dubious ventures, frauds, pimps, and racketeers. Cheap sex, both male and female, was on offer in this tawdry meat-market of a place where petty rivalries were exploited, and quarrels picked over nothing in an atmosphere of fake gallantry where swords or pistols at dawn settled matters of highly questionable honour in the first place.
… Despite the proximity of the river and the huge trees shading it, the place was suffocatingly hot. Mingling with the fumes of spilt drinks came the smell of flesh and the cheap perfume with which the skin of those trading in sex was drenched. Underlying all these smells was the slight but persistent aroma of talc, which wafted with varying intensity as if an unseen hand were waving some gigantic powder-puff over the entire scene.”
Femme Fatale, Guy de Maupassant, translated by Siân Miles, Penguin Books.
Painting: La Grenouillère, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1869,