Monday, May 15, 2006

TRAVEL

All day on the train from Waterloo to Cannes. Must remember to get Euros beforehand next time since the train cafe doesn't take pounds or credit cards. Barely got any sleep the night before, but I am up like a shot at 510 a.m. and out the door at 6. The first leg to Lilles I spend trapped in my seat. Normally I'd go to the dining car, but the woman next to me falls asleep IMMEDIATELY. (I swear she was asleep before the train pulled out of the station.) And I didn't have the heart to wake her. Besides, I'd purchased two newspapers, water, a croissant, and a pastry of some sort to tide me over. So it was cramped but passed quickly. Two hours. The second train was 7 hours and I spent every moment (as always)in the "dining car." Just a few awful, expensive items and three little stools. Most of the area is just for standing while you scarf down an espresso. I like it because people are coming in and out, so there's plenty to see while I'm reading and it's easy to stretch every once in a while. The girl at the counter works almost non-stop and smiles at me even though I buy nothing. (No Euros.) Five or six hours into it, a pretty good looking young guy with a wedding ring is hanging out. Black pants, black and white shirt. When we make a stop, she stands by the door outside to chat with people. The young guy walks towards the "register" (a calculator, really) and leans over to grab a napkin and then goes into the next car. When the train pulls out and the girl serves her next customer, she shouts out "Merde!" and other words. The kid had robbed her. I said I noticed nothing when security asked because clearly the kid got off at the last station, so it served no purpose and I was embarrassed I'd said nothing before. I spend the day reading a book.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser *** -- Much better than I expected. I thought it would be a glib "you're all fat" sort of book, or boringly pseudo-philosphical with a broad social perspective a al No Logos. Or like the movie Super Size Me, where you get the whole point in five minutes. In fact, it's serious muckraking a la Upton Sinclair. I didn't realize Schlosser had written for The Atlantic Monthly or I would have read it sooner. He focuses in on the horrible conditions (both sanitary and safety) at the meat-packing plants where McDonald's gets most of its food. One third of the employees at some of the main ones are injured every year -- and injured is defined as something that can't be dealt with by a first aid kit, ie they need to see a doctor or go to the emergency room. Constant breaking of labor laws with teens in state after state -- and why this isn't something minor that should be ignored.Busting unions. Destroying small farmer. Also a colorful history of the fast food restaurant and the colorful people who built them. Hard on Republicans, but an afterword is hard on Clinton and his relationship with Tyson foods. Quite stomach-churning at places and I can't fathom going to a fast food place for at least a day or two. The movie surely will focus in on a meat-packing plant.

I have a lavish dinner by my standards -- steak and frites with chocolate mousse and cafe americain while reading my next book, a biography of Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser, the best-selling author who is married to Harold Pinter. Both books, of course, have been adapted into movies at Cannes. The apartment is just past the McDonald's on Rue Negrin. Two restaurants on this side street but not as noisy as the cafes and bars at the last two apartments. A bit farter away from the Palais then our last place and of course we'll have to go PAST it to get our morning newspapers. Mon dieu! The bathtub is very deep and commodious. I even get bored waiting to fill it up all the way, which never happens.

1 comment:

Ed Sikov said...

I love the fact that you noticed that the thief wore a wedding ring.