Tintin's 70th Birthday

photo: le select montparnasse
The bohemian's home away from home; Le Select
in Montparnasse.

Euros and Taxes Are With Us To Stay

Paris:- Sunday, 10. January 1999:- While hardly earth-shaking, today is Tintin's 70th birthday. His creator, Hergé, was not around to celebrate because he died at 76 in 1983.

Of the 23 published albums, with translations in 58 languages, some 200 million have been sold and most likely read by more than one reader. About three million more copies are sold each year.

This is not bad for a freelance comic-strip author and designer, who was asked for a serial character in 1929. The request was for 'un petit bonhomme avec un chien,' and Hergé thought of a 14 year-old reporter who was mainly a Boy Scout.

Over time Tintin became 15 years old. The talking dog, Milou, was essential; but the grand success of the character and of the long series, was due to the fact that Hergé was able to write stories - which he did about everything that interested him; himself being a sort of Belgian Boy Scout too.

Hergé did one final good thing: his will stipulated that with his death, there was to be no continuation, no 'new' Tintin stories. No 'Tintin forever'-type stuff.

However, with Asterix coming to the big screens in February, Tintin may not be far behind. Can you see Leonadro di Caprio as Tintin and Sean Connery as Captain Haddock? If you can, then look around for a talking dog to play Milou and let the producers know about it.

The 'Euro' Cheque Scam

Five days after we started living with the new 'Euro' and the banks are already kicking us in the teeth about it. Sincephoto: window 'little' kids Monday it has been possible to get and use chequebooks designated for 'Euros.'

However, if one absentmindedly forgets it is a 'Euro' cheque and semi-automatically writes "quatre-vingt-deux mille six cent vingt-cinq francs et 51 cts" on it, one will get a hundred franc 'fine' from the bank.

High-end kids clothes are almost affordable at 50 percent off.

This kind of thing is not called a 'fine' but 'frais,' which means service- charge. French banks have not been able to impose service-charges on residents for writing simple cheques, and something like two-thirds of all transactions are done with them.

There is a forest of service-charges surrounding every other sort of activity short of breathing, so dreaming up a dumb one for the 'Euro'-launch week is no surprise.

Let's say you have a spare million of something and you don't want to keep it around the house. You take it to a bank, essentially to lend it to them, and they offer you one of their 'products.'

Along with some mysterious government taxes, you will see that you are being hit with a 'frais du dossier,' which is like saying 'a charge for the paperwork.'

This is like going to the supermarket and being charged a dollar for the cash-register receipt, or maybe a five-centime charge for punching your ticket when you get on a bus. The possibilities are endless and a lot of them are already in operation in France.

Design News

So many ideas come to us from America, so this is not a French story. Yesterday's Le Parisien, in its usual Saturday automobile feature, has a photo of a new Chrysler model, set to roll out of showrooms next year - 2000!

This new car, called the PT Cruiser, looks like a 1938 Dodge, sans running boards, but with a '50's style waffle-iron grill. Le Parisien has correctly placed it in the '30's too. What is not said is that this is a rip-off of VW's 'new' Beetle imitation; so I guess I should correct myself, except that I heard the VW's look was cooked up in California.

But, isn't something strange going on here?

Volkswagen is a German company and I think I read that Mercedes- Benz bought Chrysler recently, and Mercedes is German too. Can it mean that German auto manufacturersscan: mag: der spiegel are going to conquer world markets with retro California designs; ones looking more than vaguely like late '50's hotrodder dreams?

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