Hey pallies, any of you dudes parlez vous francais? Reason I ask is 'cause there's a new volume out on Rat Pack lore written by a French historian George Ayache. Today's Dino-prose comes from a blog tagged "Who 2" (clicks on title of this post ot goes there) and a review of said book by Mr. Holznagel.
The title of the tome is "Une Histoire Américaine" which in the words of the reviewer
"translates as An American Story and it's the tale of our very own Rat Pack, a nickname which is rendered here charmingly as la bande de rats."
As you peruse the review you will find this is one cool look at our Dino and his rat pallies. How stellar that the French now have a randy read of these swingin' 60's legends. Just hopes this volume gets translated into english sometime soon.
Most of all loves the cover of this book....'cause who is front and center with his ever present cigarette? None other then our Dino....the true leader of this band of rats! Stay tuned tomorrow for more from "Who 2" and Mr. Holznagel 'bout this stunnin' cover Dino-pix.
Thanks to the "Who 2" folks and 'specially Mr. Holznagel for bringin' this new book to our Dino-attention! Dinodelightedly, DMP
Friday, January 22, 2010
Frank Sinatra and 'La Bande de Rats'
Book Review: Une Histoire Américaine
By Georges Ayache
256 pages -- 20.00 euros
We are holding in our hands Une Histoire Américaine, the handsome new book from French historian Georges Ayache.
The title translates as An American Story and it's the tale of our very own Rat Pack, a nickname which is rendered here charmingly as la bande de rats.
Une Histoire Américaine arrived at the Who2 literary desk through the kindness of Editions Choiseul, the Paris publishing house which has just brought out Mr. Ayache's French-language book. We promised to give it a look, and they didn't seem to mind that our French is typically limited to the phrases "comme ci, comme ça," "baguette," and "Brigitte Bardot."
No matter. Mr. Ayache starts things off with a bang on the very first page:
"Dépêche-toi, Phil. Notre gosier va se dessécher avant même que tu n'aies appuyé sur ton satané déclencheur!"
Which Google translates as:
"Hurry, Phil. Our throat is dry before you have pressed your damn trigger!"
That's Frank Sinatra talking, of course. The boys are posing for Esquire magazine and cracking wise while ignoring the directions of the photographer ("indifférents aux gesticulations du photographe").
And why exactly are they indifférents? Because they are "Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop. Des monuments du show business!"
Des monuments, indeed. Also, degenerates! The book calls them "un groupe de bringueurs, de dragueurs invétérés." Bringue is a slang term for a drinking party or rave-up, while dragueur means "minesweeper" (fantastic!) but can also be translated as "dredger" or "flirt."
Which gives us "a group of drinking party boys and incorrigible flirts" known as the Band of Rats. Who wouldn't recognize that description? (And let us please change Sinatra's nickname from "Ol' Blue Eyes" to "the Ol' Minesweeper.")
Other celebrities pop up in later pages, including Humphrey Bogart, whose wife Lauren Bacall is said to have coined the name 'Rat Pack' in the first place. Bogart is a world class bringueuer himself, as Ayache notes when Bogart is dragged before a judge for an incident involving (from what we can tell) drinking, a dame, $25,000, and the El Morocco nightclub:
Le juge, qui n'etait pas exactement un gai luron, entreprit de le questionner. Il ne devait pas être déçu: "Étiez-vous ivre au moment des faits qui vous sont reprochés?"
"N'est-ce pas le cas de tout le monde à trois heures du matin?" répondit Bogey.
Or in auto-translation:
The judge, who was not exactly a gay fellow, began to question him. It should not be disappointed: "Were you drunk when the crime you are accused?"
"Is this not true of everyone at three o'clock in the morning?" replied Bogey.
It may be true of everyone at three o'clock in the morning, but it was true of le bande de rats at practically all times. A glance through the book reveals parties and drinking sessions with a cornucopia of Hollywood names: Judy Garland, Ronald Reagan, Rita Hayworth ("tout juste de se séparer d'Orson Welles"), phony Russian prince Mike Romanoff, Marilyn Monroe and (of course) JFK.
The president is anointed an honorary dragueur by Sammy: "Tout le monde a Vegas savait que Jack voulait des filles." ("Everyone in Vegas knew Jack wanted girls.") Unlike some authors we could name, Mr. Ayache knows how to get down to brass tacks.
And how does it all end? Poignantly.
Enfin fidèles à euxmêmes, à jamais. Avec en musique de fond, Sinatra fredonnant à sa façon inimitable "The Best Is Yet To Come." Oui, malgré tout, le meilleur est encore à venir.
"Finally true to themselves, forever. With background music, humming in Sinatra's inimitable way with "The Best Is Yet To Come." Yes, despite everything, the best is yet to come."
Until now, a truly great book on the Rat Pack has never been written in French. Une Histoire Américaine looks to us like that book.