First Jobs of Famous People: Gerard Depardieu

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Gerard Depardieu is a little nutsy. After all, isn’t he the dude that was so outraged by the idea of paying taxes to his native France that he fled to Russia, and who claims to subsist on 14 bottles of wine a day? (Yes and yes.)

Well, according to Vanity Fair, he has written a memoir — sadly not yet available in English — in which he is candid about his days as a young grave-robbing, car-stealing, john-robbing thug:

In addition to stealing a car in his teen years—for which he went to prison—the actor claims that he also helped a man rob graves, digging up newly buried bodies and stealing jewelry and shoes from them. “At 20, the thug in me was alive and kicking,” he continues. Still working as a male escort, he writes, “I would rip some of [my clients] off. I would beat up some bloke and leave with all his money.”

It is precisely this hardened side of Depardieu that the actor says attracted Russian president Vladimir Putin, whom he now claims as a friend. “We could have both become hoodlums. . . . I think he immediately liked my hooligan side . . . the fact that I had occasionally been picked up off the pavement dead drunk.” Depardieu writes that his luck did not change in France until a gay theater talent spotter offered to pay for Depardieu to study drama.

Grave robbing can be a semi-noble pursuit: medical students used to have to sneak out to cemeteries at night to exhume bodies for research. It’s certainly one of the more challenging and unusual first jobs I can imagine. And in ineffable ways it probably prepares one well for being BFFs later on with one of the world’s most repellent plutocrats.

French Café Enacts Rudeness Tax

Owners of the Petite Syrah café in the south of France were fed up with rushed customers coming in to order coffee and forgetting their manners, so they decided to take action.

In a feat of brilliance, they edited menu prices to hit customers where it hurts: their fancy French wallets.

The new menu prices (translated for your convenience) include:

“A coffee” €7 “A coffee, please” €4.25 “Hello, a coffee, please” €1.40

Although Pepino admits he’s never actually had to enforce the price scheme, he says he has noticed a difference in his customers’ behaviour.

“Most of my customers are regulars and they just see the funny side and exaggerate their politeness,” he said, adding “They started calling me ‘your greatness’ when they saw the sign.”

“But people are more relaxed now, and they’re smiling more. That’s the most important thing.”

Photo: phvolmer

Places I’ve Lived: Don’t Hold Your Breath for Your Security Deposit in Spain

Liz Rush has lived in some places. Some of them were abroad!

The 35-hour Work Week

How much of a difference would it make for you if your workweek was cut to 35 hours?

Neighborhoods in U.S. Cities the French Government Warns Its Traveling Citizens to Avoid

The Washington Post has a list of 16 cities in the U.S. that France warns their citizens about, with reasons or advice to stay vigilant. The advice is generally to keep an eye out on your pocketbooks when in high-tourist areas like Times Square in New York, but it's also about avoiding areas like Harlem in NYC, Anacostia in Washington D.C., the West Side of Chicago, and Inglewood in Los Angeles (see a trend here?).

France, After 6 p.m.

First Germany, and now France.

France’s Housing Shortage Continues

Reuters has a special report looking at France's housing shortage, which has some homeless families squatting in an empty office block with the support of the housing minister.