January 03, 2004


Zis perfectly illustrates ze dangers of, ‘ow you say, cowboy unilateralism, no?

Four French soldiers are accused of robbing a bank in Ivory Coast they were supposed to be guarding, sources say.

The men have been placed under judicial investigation, one step short of formal charges, say judicial and military officials in Paris.

They are accused of taking 58,000 euros from the bank in the northern rebel-held town of Bouake.

The officials in Paris said the men were detained after allegedly trying to buy diamonds and gold.

Bank robberies. Rebels. Diamonds and gold. It’s the Wild West over there.

UPDATE. Things aren’t much better back home:

France witnessed an orgy of vandalism as rioters set more than 300 cars ablaze, in what has become something of a New Year tradition.

Thirty-two of the 324 vehicles which ended as burned-out shells were found in and around the eastern city of Strasbourg, where the practice began in the 1990s.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 3, 2004 10:10 AM

Where is Wyatt Earp when you need him?

Posted by: Polly at January 3, 2004 at 10:19 AM

The French have a love of the American West; it's in the French character. James Thurber writes an essay on it, ``Wild Bird Hickok and His Friends'' (the French didn't get everything right) concluding with a paragraph showing this really American spirit:

``There were, in my lost and lamented collection, a hundred other fine things, which I have forgotten, but there is one that will forever remain with me. It occured in a book in which, as I remember it, Billy the Kid, alias Billy the Boy, was the central figure. At any rate, two strangers had turned up in a small Western town and their actions had aroused the suspicions of a group of respectable citizens, who forthwith called on the sheriff to complain about the newcomers. The sheriff listened gravely for a while, got up and buckled on his gun belt, and said, ``Alors, je vais demander ses cartes d'identité!'' There are few things, in any literature, that have ever given me a greater thrill than coming across that line.''

Posted by: Ron Hardin at January 3, 2004 at 11:02 AM

The Germans too. They've got that whole Karl May thing going.

Posted by: Donnah at January 3, 2004 at 11:15 AM

Guess it's a good thing the French didn't fight in Iraq. They would have joined the plunderers.

Posted by: doctor hook at January 3, 2004 at 11:44 AM


Can you remember in which Thurber book the "Wild Bird Hickok" essay appeared? I would love to read it - I'm a Thurber fan, but I don't remember coming across that one.

Posted by: Alice at January 3, 2004 at 12:04 PM

I didn't realize so many French were Lakers fans...

Posted by: Jerry at January 3, 2004 at 12:33 PM

Alice: ``Wild Bird Hickok'' appears in a Thurber book just entitled ``92 Stories'' - it's a collection of odds and ends of essays which don't appear in the standard collections. There's one copy available at alibris.com right now if you want to snatch it up.

Posted by: Annalucia at January 3, 2004 at 12:51 PM

It wasn't just the French who had fun on 31/12.

Try Mexico and South Africa

"At least 46 people were injured, two of them seriously, in New Year's celebrations in Johannesburg's notorious Hillbrow gangland district, a metro police spokesman said yesterday. Wayne Minnaar said revellers were injured by objects such as "rocks, bottles, beds and television sets" hurled down from apartments in the high-rise suburb where the hurling of objects to mark the new year has become a common occurrence."

Posted by: Peggy Sue at January 3, 2004 at 05:50 PM

Wild Bird Hickok is in _Let Your Mind Alone and Other More or Less Inspirational Pieces_, reprinted in _92 Stories_ as mentioned, and also excerpted the Thurber Library of American edition, if you don't mind reading on pages that you can see both sides of at once.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at January 3, 2004 at 06:54 PM

Pity the article didn't describe the culprits. One can only presume it was a mixture of atheists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jedi, Wiccans and Zoroastrians.

Posted by: Clem Snide at January 4, 2004 at 12:14 AM

Thanks for the Thurber info, I will go after it forthwith.


Posted by: Alice at January 4, 2004 at 03:58 AM