Friday, March 20, 2015


Dinner parties in Paris can be dreary affairs full of bombast and xenophobia. All reasonable efforts are made to conceal these ugly traits but no one is ever fooled for long.

With that said, I would rather endure a month of Sundays with a table full of Frenchmen than an hour breaking bread with North Americans.

The politeness is enough to make you wish you were sitting next to a skinhead with bad teeth.

I don't know how my dear friend David Schoffman does it. He must have the patience of a snail.

At a typical French dinner party there is rarely any music playing in the background. If there is it is typically something either lugubrious like Shostakovich or jingoistic like Debussy. In the States hosts always feel obliged to soften the atmosphere with some barely audible jazz, typically something canonical and old. It's as if the musical clock stopped ticking after A Love Supreme

 Then there's the small matter of the food. Let's just face it: Americans have little respect for crustaceans, butter and beef and too much respect for the Food section of The New York Times. Their tin, tone deaf palate for wines only compounds the offense but that's an entirely different indictment.

But getting back to Schoffman, whenever the poor guy finds himself at a table with people he hardly knows his foot invariably lands in his mouth. He once told a Los Angeles collector of "a certain age" that her taste had atrophied with her surgically frozen face. One hostess was asked why she let her 19 year-old daughter dress like a prostitute only to learn that the young woman in question was unrelated to her, had come to the dinner as her brother's date and that in fact she was a prostitute.

Schoffman is extremely maladroit around people and I suspect that if he could live his life again he would have been happier as a thief.

Or if not a thief than a recluse with a tidy little trust fund.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


My brilliant friend David Schoffman can be so dumb sometimes.

Here's a man who spends most of his time either painting in his studio or buried in a book and yet when it comes to the practical side of life he thinks like a child.

Take pets for instance.

From my understanding of American culture most people give their dogs cute names like Buddy or Charlie or maybe even Ziggy. 

Not David.

He named his dog Jihad.

And if "here, Jihad" and "good boy Jihad" wasn't bad enough, imagine the day, not too long ago when the poor Boston Terrier tore loose from his collar and started dodging midday Los Angeles traffic. The way David tells the story, he ran after the dog frantically screaming through the hectic city streets "Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!"

Sure he eventually got his dog back but not before being pulled over and subjected to a thorough grilling by a battalion of alarmed and heavily armed LAPD Homeland Security specialists.

What a simpleton.

Or how about David's amorous misadventures?

For some odd reason this leathery-skinned bald-headed Semite attracts the fairest of the fair sex like fly paper dripping in molasses. He claims to be something of an athlete - a limber lover with an uncanny sensitivity for what every woman wants. And yet I have heard from reliable sources that much of his bluster is unfounded.

On one particular occasion, something of an "event" if you are to believe David, he found himself drunk and in flagrante with the runner-up of the Miss Aquitaine competition. 

While love is the universal language, words if properly purred, can be easily decoded by their context.

"Doucement, doucement, doucement," whispered Miss Reine de Beauté Manqué. "Doucement," she tenderly breathed into his ear. "Doucement mon amour, doucment ..." 

Rather than calming the avid artist, the unhurried chant filled my dear friend with a deep performative anxiety.  

As you would guess, the evening unraveled unfavorably and it was only much later, after referring to his Larousse, that he realized that it was not that he was too small, only a wee bit too quick.