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54th Formula One Grand Prix de Monaco

Le Parisien's headline today of 'Red Alert in the Principality' turned out to be a sports story about this weekend's annual Formula One race in Monaco and not about a revolt of the local masses.

Today the bimbos are trucking in from Cannes, just down the road, and the yachts are snuggling up to the Tip Top Bar where champagne costs the same as the rent of a two-bedroom flat in Paris, while the ball-bearings are heating up on the roulette wheels in the casino; which is also the off-season club of many of the racing drivers. If there are any 'masses' living here, they are not revolting as they are obviously outnumbered.

If you are interested in F1 racing, you'll probably see the outcome of the race before you read this. I quit following F1 racing some years ago when guys like Prost and Senna were doing it. I thought they were a little too serious about winning for the glory of their sponsors; and lacked the sheer pluck of the Laudas and the class of the Hills, although I see that Hill Fils is currently leading the points this season with 43 after five races.

I am tempted to say, let the most deserving budget win - but the Monte Carlo street course is a real road race and is not quite as risk-free as the tracks specifically built for high-end high-speed high-stakes automobile racing, so the drivers deserve some respect for the nerve to drive fast here.

Sunday: 20:25 - Winner of the Monaco GP was France's Olivier Panis, driving a Ligier, and winning his first Grand Prix. Eric Coultard was second in a McLaren-Mercedes and Johnny Herbert came in third, and disliked being sprayed with champagne the most.

Ray Charles Featured on TV with French Producer

Thursday evening's A2 TV 'Envoyé Special' program featured an unusual documentary with Ray Charles and his French record producer, Jean-Pierre Grosz, a Montmartre locksmith. I did not hear this program because of the usual racket of my kids, but I did see parts of it accidently as the TV happened to be tuned to A2's frequency.

According the Le Parisien, this was the first time since 1973 that Ray Charles has been the subject of a TV report. While it was really nice to see Ray - if I can be a bit informal (I know a lady in Seattle who went to the same high school... or was that Jimi Hendricks, and a different high school in Seattle?) - onscreen, in something other than the bit he did in the 'Blues Brothers' - the unusual part of the piece was without doubt, Mr. Grosz.

Besides being a locksmith, Mr. Grosz is a jazz fan. He'd heard a song that he thought would suit Ray's style. He learned that Ray Charles was to be in Paris, so he wangled his way to the bottom of the steps when the plane arrived, and sold the song there on the runway. In the eighteen years since then, Mr. Grosz has seen Ray regularly, and he recently produced eight of the 12 titles for the record, 'Strong Love Affair.' Mr. Grosz has also produced five albums for Dee Dee Bridgewater.

Bus vs Circus

I missed giving you a circus story last week, so this one is in compensation. Last Thursday evening, in the Paris suburb of Courneuve, a circus had packed itself up and was hitting the road just as a RATP bus was coming along. As the bus driver didn't wish to get stuck in the middle of the caravan of circus vehicles, he beeped a couple of times and tried to overtake them. This blocked other circus vans and they in turn blocked the bus and then they got out their iron bars and bats. After the driver and two RATP security men had been neutralized, fifty policemen entered the fray. Result: 16 circus people arrested and three policeman plus two RATP agents injured.

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