Presidential Dreams

In the early days of 1991, the late Senator Prescott Sheldon Bush appeared to his son, then-President George Herbert Walker in a dream:

“We were driving into some hotel near a golf course, and there was another golf course way over across the fence, though not a very good one. I heard Dad was there, so I went to see him, and he was in a hotel room. We embraced, and I told him I missed him very much. Aren’t dreams funny? I could see him very clearly: big, strong, and highly respected.”

Ronald Reagan believed in the divinatory power of dreams:

“It was always the same thing, maybe a different locale or something, but I evidently had a yen for big rooms. And I would dream that I was in a big mansion, and I could buy it for a song. A man was showing it to me, and I would go from room to room, and maybe go into the living room, which was two stories high, and there was a balcony. And always, it was within my means to buy it. And I had this dream all the time. After we moved into the White House, I was IN the big room. And I never had the dream since.”

Abraham Lincoln’s former law partner Ward Lamon recalled that the President was disturbed by a dream he’d had a few weeks before his assassination.

“… I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me, but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break?… Determined to find the cause of all of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived in the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards, and there was a throng of people gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers. ‘The President,’ was his answer, ‘he was killed by an assassin.'”

The Automated Distribution System of the Free University’s Klinikum, West Berlin, 1970

“Control center monitors the automated distribution system of the Free University’s gigantic Klinikum, the most modern medical center in Europe. Flashing lights pinpoint trouble spots in the network of conveyor belts and pneumatic tubes that whisk drugs, food, and supplies around 44 acres of rooms and corridors on five floors.

Opened in 1969, the $75,500,000 installation, funded by West Germany and the United States, provides a 1,400-bed hospital, clinics, and laboratories, as well as facilities for 1,000 medical students.”

“Berlin on Both Sides of the Wall,” Howard Sochurek, National Geographic, Vol. 137, No. 1, January 1970.

Bill Clinton Plays his Saxophone on Arsenio Hall

On June 3, 1992, Arkansas governor Bill Clinton appeared on the Arsenio Hall Show. When the show commenced, the camera pulled back to reveal that Clinton was the saxophonist with Hall’s house band, “The Posse.”

He segued into a solo of Heartbreak Hotel. “I thought it was embarrassing.” said George H. W. Bush’s press secretary Torie Clarke, “He looked like a sad John Belushi wannabe.”

Clinton talked about the Los Angeles riots. “People that feel like they don’t even exist, to people of other races, until they walk into a department store and people follow them around to make sure they don’t steal anything. But, day in and day out, they get up and they trudge through their lives, they live in substandard housing on unsafe streets, they work their guts out, they fall further behind, and nobody even knows they’re there until there’s a riot. I think that, in the nineties, this whole business of economic empowerment has gotta be at the center of the civil rights movement.”

Hall asked the governor about his admission to CBS that he had smoked marijuana but “didn’t inhale.”

“I took it and I tried to smoke it like a cigarette,” Clinton explained. “I did my best. I wasn’t trying to get a good conduct medal.”

After a commercial break Clinton was joined by his wife Hillary.

“The strength beside the man, not behind anymore, but beside.” Arsenio said, then alluded to the scandal of Clinton’s affair with Little Rock lounge singer Gennifer Flowers, “Through all this controversy, have you ever found yourselves at home fighting, honestly?”

“No,” Hillary said firmly. “Not about anything important. We fight about what movie we want to see.”

“This is the only movie we’re going to see for a month, and you’re going to make me see this crazy cheap thrills movie, you want to go see Lethal Weapon 3 when we’ve got all these other movies on?!” Clinton joked. “That’s the kinda stuff we fight about.”

“It’s hard to think that at some point you never said, ‘Who is Gennifer?’ You know?” Hall pressed Hillary, “‘Who the hell is she?’ And it’s like, you know, I mean…”

“I know who she is,” Hillary replied, “I mean, know who she is.”

“And you know what her problem is?”

“She’s got lots of problems,” Hillary said, smiling thinly.

The audience roared its approval.

When Clinton appeared on Arsenio Hall, the Democratic candidate was trailing Bush on the issue of trustworthiness by 24 points. He went on to win the election with 43% of the vote to Bush’s 38%, the first Baby Boomer president.

Asma and Bachar El-Assad: Two Lovers in Paris

Deux Amoureux a Paris

Bachar Assad was still a goodie back in 2010. “Elected,” Joan Juliet Buck wrote coyly in Vogue, “with a startling 97 percent of the vote.” Buck’s notorious profile of Asma, called “A Rose in the Desert” ran in the March 2011 edition. Paris Match headlined the Assad’s 2010 visit to France, “Two lovers in Paris.” 

On the edges of their official visit to France, the Syrian president and his wife took a romantic break in the most romantic of capitals.  

You were a businesswoman. Is that an advantage in your work today?
Asma Assad: There are things you can plan in life. I studied information technology at university. I wanted to work in an investment bank and do my MBA. But I couldn’t have predicted marrying a chief of state. Life is full of surprises. I married him for the values he incarnates and because we felt very close. Of course, my professional experience, everything I learned in finance, helps me today: having critical judgement, being capable of working under enormous pressure. I work in development, in education and with the citizenry, and my foundation helps me.

Paris Match, December 17, 2010.

The Bare-Legged Look

Gaby Deslys“Victorian women considered even the merest glimpse of female leg indecent– much more so if the leg was unclad. Right up to the present times, no fashion-conscious woman would go stockingless– despite a virtual ban on them by the British government during the Second World War because of material shortages. Even when supplies of wartime cotton and rayon stockings ran out, many women used specially prepared leg make-up.

The first real attempt to abandon stockings was made during the First World War by actress , mistress of King Manuel of Portugal. She shocked women and amused men by declaring that she would not wear stockings again until Germany surrendered to the Allies. In the 1920s Hollywood femme fatale Pola Negri went bare-legged, and actress Joan Crawford discarded stockings for evening wear in 1926.

In 1934, after a long debate, the fashion weekly Sketch concluded that ‘going bare-legged is inartistic and tends to spoil the softness of skin’. The British government’s official disapproval of stockings came in 1942, when the Board of Trade warned that if women did not stop wearing them in summer, there would be none by winter.

As late as the 1960s, matrons in Melbourne, Australia, disapproved when model Jean Shrimpton appeared as guest of honour at Flemington racecourse, hatless, gloveless– and stockingless. Then in 1983 the Princess of Wales attended a Government House party in Canberra with her elegant legs covered only by a golden suntan: the bare-legged look had finally won the royal seal of approval. Nobody could argue with that.”

Reader’s Digest Book of Facts, published by the Readers’ Digest Association Limited, 1985.

Who Said It: Mary Kay Letourneau or Brigitte Trogneux?

Like the films of Jerry Lewis, the romance of the American schoolteacher Mary Kay Letourneau (now Fualaau) and her pupil-turned-husband Vili Fualaau was more warmly received in France. While Mary Kay served time in prison for statutory rape, the couple published a book in France about their relationship called Un seul crime, l’amour (Only One Crime, Love), and were married after her release.

When Mary Kay talks about her affair with the adolescent schoolboy she sounds remarkably like the former drama teacher and first lady of France Brigitte Trogneux, whose affair with her own pupil, Emmanuel Macron, also resulted in marriage. Macron met first met his thirty-nine year old teacher when he was fifteen years old. At seventeen, Macron’s parents sent him to Paris in the hopes of ending the relationship.

Image result for mary kay letourneau“What is clear is that when Emmanuel met Brigitte we couldn’t just say ‘that’s great’,” his mother told the author of Emmanuel Macron: A Perfect Young Man. 

The President of France and his wife have refused to reveal when their relationship became romantic. “Nobody will ever know at what moment our story became a love story,” said Trogneux, “That belongs to us. That is our secret.”

1. “Without doubt he wasn’t like the others. He was always with the teachers. He simply wasn’t an adolescent.”
2. “Well he’s quite the man, and was back then actually.”
3. He was definitely forceful with his advances.”
4. “Little by little, he overcame all my resistances in an unbelievable way, with patience.”
5. There was an air about him that was older.”
6. “He wasn’t a teenager. He had a relationship of equals with other adults.”
Mary Kay LeTourneau: 2, 3, 5.

Brigitte Trogneux: 1, 4, 6.

Prince Rainier’s Holiday Inn Monte Carlo

Robert Lacey’s biography of Princess Grace of Monaco detailed her husband Prince Rainier’s dream: to break the Société des Bains de Mer’s monopoly on his principality.

“My own feeling,” he said in 1965, “Is that the economic wealth of the principality would be greatly improved if we could start off with two thousand modern, comfortable hotel rooms of the kind at which the Americans are so good. Not super-deluxe, but modernly equipped, functional, and agreeable hotel rooms with a maximum price of fifteen dollars a single day.”

The Holiday Inn Monte Carlo opened in 1972 on Avenue Princesse Grace. The next year it was visited by MotorBoating & Sailing magazine.

“Later, if you feel you have been… over-sauced and truffled, you can keep walking as far as the Holiday Inn, and relax over a supper of hamburgers, french fries, and a chocolate shake. While we were there, the Inn was, probably not so oddly, entirely populated by Europeans, enjoying for the first time those sanitized swipes across the john and the water tumblers done up in Handiwrap. Coke Machines, Color TV. Free ice on every floor. Our continental cousins were getting a huge charge out of what we have come to regard as our birthright, motel-wise.”

The Holiday Inn Monte Carlo had 320 air conditioned rooms, with radios, color TV sets, and direct telephones, a heated pool and a private beach, a night club, a shopping gallery, a parking attendant and a masseuse.

Alas, as Lacey wrote, “By the time the hotel opened in 1972, its high construction costs had priced it out of the reach of normal Holiday Inn travelers, while people who could afford the room rates did not want to stay in a Holiday Inn.The hotel went out of business in the early eighties and was converted into another apartment block.”

It exists now only in the auctions of matchbooks ($12.99) and hotel key and fob’s ($14.00) on Ebay.