Last Call

Last Call

East and West

By From the July/August 2011 issue


Fort Vincennes, as we would say, is a gem showing several centuries of architecture. The oldest structures, surrounded by a moat, date from the 13th century; the most recent, adjacent the nearby Boulevard des Maréchaux, is a compound built in the 19th century and used mainly for record-keeping, I am told, but that could be a cover.

Located next to parks and sports facilities on Paris’s southeast corner, including a clay court tennis club that is itself a gem, it is difficult to imagine this is the political prison that once housed Diderot and Voltaire, among others. It was also a royal residence, and the fort with its high walls and towers were important in the defense of Paris against the Prussians, both in 1815 and 1870, while the exquisite high Gothic chapel inside the walls reminds us what the city stood for once.

Last Call

Midnight at the White House

By From the June 2011 issue

As the news began to leak on the night of May 1 that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, a crowd began to form just north of the White House, in Lafayette Park. By midnight, President Obama had confirmed the news on national television, and the spontaneous celebration had grown to several thousand people, filling up Pennsylvania Avenue and spilling out onto the neighboring streets.

The crowd comprised, mostly, undergraduate students from George Washington, Georgetown, and American Universities. They waved flags, climbed trees, danced around, and chanted and sang: the national anthem and "U-S-A! U-S-A!" were popular choices, but so was "F**k Osama!" (without the asterisks) and other edgy cheers. Nor was that the only rowdy aspect of the scene. It almost felt like a postgame victory riot at a big university, complete with kids shotgunning beers and hopping fences to climb statues.