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CALIFORNIA, NOT RED, BUT HOT

When my father arrived in France, he didn't intend to stop there permanently. He thought it would be a stopover. A sort of appetizer to Western life, before crossing the Atlantic and settling in New York.

Patricia Blanchet

In Brooklyn to be precise, where his aunts and cousins were already waiting for him. There, they had set up a small delicatessen whose specialty was chakchouka, in all its forms. There was the succulent classic, of course, and then there was the spicy, green chakchouka, cooked with marijuana, and the Persian, prepared with gold threads. Their success was limited to the block, but it was real. They needed reinforcements and offered my father a job as a doorman. He liked to fight, he was young then, and Brooklyn wasn't quite the hipster haven it is today.
Patricia Blanchet

So he thought he'd only be in Paris for a few weeks, while his American family applied for papers to bring him to them. But weeks soon turned into months. Having slept at a friend's place, he had to find another to squat in, then another, and so he hopped from bed to bed like a bedbug, from friend to friend, until his situation improved. But the welfare state had turned off the immigration tap, and the promised El Dorado had turned into a coal-colored horizon.
Patricia Blanchet

He didn't give up hope of reaching his family and New York, which he also saw as a staging area, because what he was aiming for was California. He'd been raised on the Beach Boys and the Doors, and all he wanted to do was ride the waves of Venice Beach. And yet he was nothing like a Californian: no square jaw, no blue eyes, no blond hair, or any hair at all for that matter. So, on weekends, he'd set off to train on the Marne with a piece of board salvaged from a pallet delivered to a Félix Potin store. Of course, it was a far cry from the raging waves that battered the Californian coast, but it already gave him an idea of the surfer he wasn't and would never become. So, failing to tame the waves, he set about becoming an improvised weed expert. Not as a dealer, but as a tester, almost like a Palace sommelier. It's easy to forget, but in the seventies, there were a lot of weed-related overdoses, because back then, weed was cut with all kinds of crap that drove people crazy at the best of times, or killed them at the worst.
Patricia Blanchet

Thanks to his chatty personality and a carefully studied network, he became a consultant to the stars. He would go to their homes and advise them as if they were drinking Château Petrus or Romanée-Conti. He saved them from stumbling across junk and getting their brains fried. He knew and advised Cerrone, Robert Castel, Pierre Richard and Bernard Ménez. And always with the same motto in mind: "What counts is the trip, and the memories we bring back". Of course, he was against this consumerism, but since nothing could stop it, he thought it best to protect those who abused it. André Malraux may have been thinking of him, for the Ordre National du Mérite and all the people's lives he saved, but that didn't stop him from getting the hell out to where the sun was shining. But since destiny is mischievous and likes to tell men what to do, just as he was about to go to the town hall to pick up his passport, a promise of sunshine, he met my mother who had come to get her identity card. Having just arrived from her native Normandy, she was captivated by my father's glibness, as he endlessly recounted anecdotes about Michel Delpech and his plans for the future. Little did he know, however, that he would soon be blessed with a beautiful little girl, me, and that their life would be built here in Paris. My mother had no desire to go to California, because for her, the sky is the sky. And a tree is a tree. Whether here or there. So, a few years later, I wanted to pay tribute to his wishes by dedicating this boot to him, not far from being one of my most successful, the California.
Patricia Blanchet

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