This image portrays a person waiting for something that could potentially be bad. It is a photograph taken by Sam Lipsyte.
It could happen any minute now: Michel Houellebecq, the notorious French author, is about to do something egregiously inappropriate. Despite his behavior over the course of our week together being exemplary, one can’t help but feel something’s about to give.
After all, his history of alleged sexual exploits at clubs and with prostitutes, as well as his habit of harassing female journalists with the promise of a better story if they spend one night with him, not to mention his past characterization of Islam as “the stupidest religion”.
All point to something untoward. The Bel Age in L.A., a place filled with smoke, is the perfect place for him to break the bad news before he flies back to Europe tomorrow.
At 48, Houellebecq is an attractive, slight, and seemingly delicate figure. Sometimes I have to remind myself he’s an adult and not a kid affected by a rapid aging condition.
He is in a swivel chair talking to a renowned book critic who is kneeling before him, debating the prospect of love in a joyless world. A group of us are on the couch drinking beers and whiskey, anticipating the ‘bad thing’ to happen.
We speculate he might defame Allah and urinate on a Gideon Bible, or curl up and weep, or request for us to please him. But it is unlikely as he has been a well-mannered individual since arriving in San Francisco and appears quite sleepy.
In the foreground of the photograph taken by Sylvie Christophe, Michel Houellebecq is pictured alongside Dorna Khazeni with her camera in Carmel, California.
Despite my desire to leave, I stay. What if this guy orders up something outrageous while he debates monotheism? Brendan Bernhard from the LA Weekly is also in the room, so I can’t leave him here to witness anything questionable without me.
We both want to go, but it’s a stand-off. We’re stuck in this unsavory individual’s room, with the book critic kneeling before him, making jokes with Sylvie, the French cultural attache (who also wants to depart), and waiting for something to happen. Any minute now…
I have been a fan of Houellebecq for some time. A few years ago, I wrote an essay about him for a magazine, but I never imagined I would get the chance to meet him, let alone go on a journey with him.
Margaret Atwood said that wanting to meet an author because you love their book is like wanting to meet the duck after eating some pate.
However, I still had a part of me that desired to meet a duck and when the invitation came to have a public conversation with Houellebecq in Los Angeles at the Hammer Museum.
And drove down the Pacific Coast Highway with him – which was a prerequisite for the tour – I surveyed my cluttered apartment in Queens, my screaming, food-covered eleven-month-old son and my exhausted wife, and said, “Yes.”
This past week was tough for me, but Michel Houellebecq’s life has been difficult for much longer. He was born on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and was abandoned by his parents as a child, having to be raised by his grandmother.
At eighteen, he became addicted to morphine and had to go through various psychiatric clinics.
The English-language release of his first book, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, by Believer Books, brought him to California — it starts off with “Life is painful and disappointing,” and he has been exploring that theme, with increasing intensity and success, ever since.
Houellebecq gained notoriety with his first two novels but it was his third, Platform, that made him more than just well-known. This book was concerned with the sex-tourism industry and concluded with a Muslim terrorist attack.
His lover is killed and the protagonist is left in a state of solitude, his only joy derived from hearing of Palestinian losses in Gaza.
The author himself conceded with the views of some of his characters in an interview with Lire, where he declared that Islam was the “stupidest religion.”
This was published right before 9/11, which led to the “Houellebecq Affair” becoming a subject of discussion in France and other parts of Europe.
Islamic groups took him to court for defamation, and when asked if he knew the French legal code pertaining to the case, he answered no but assumed it was full of “boring passages.”
After the acquittal of Houellebecq, the debate quieted down, with the September 11th attacks giving the book an aura of prescience.
Still, the animosity has not disappeared. Houellebecq resides in semi-seclusion in Ireland with his wife and canine companion, and most recently in Spain.
Once I arrived in San Francisco from New York, I was looking forward to taking some time to relax. However, I was immediately surprised when I stepped into the elevator of the Hotel Nikko, for there I encountered someone I had never seen before.
The woman, Dorna Khazeni, was born in Tehran and had been living in California for a large part of her life. She was an eloquent and attractive translator fluent in French, Farsi, and English.
It was her godfather, film producer Tom Luddy, who had first introduced her to the concept of translating Houellebecq’s Lovecraft book into English.
We suddenly find ourselves at Enrico’s, a cafe in North Beach, with the renowned Bad Boy of French Literature, all due to her prompting me to “Follow me!”
Houellebecq’s eyes appear to be telling everyone around him that he would be pleased if they could silence themselves.
Coffee consumption is high and cigarettes are held between his middle and ring fingers, the tip of which is stained with nicotine. It’s as if this stain has some sort of power over him.
We exchange a few words, punctuated by long pauses, about his recent flight, the challenges of translation, and his fondness for his corgi (later, he will share with me that he “would be lost without his dog”).
His grasp of English is quite good, yet he mumbles and hesitates a lot.
(Naturally, as an unilingual American, I don’t feel qualified to comment on the English of non-native speakers, and the fact that I don’t have a driver’s license makes my role in this mission even more questionable.)
We move on to talking about films for a while. He is very well-informed about the most current serious cinema, but he still makes a strong case for the last two Matrix movies.
Is this kind of unexpected thinking what has caused a stir in Europe? I order a beverage as we ponder where to eat dinner, and then I start detailing the Hearst Castle, which I have visited several times, and I recommend it as a stop during our upcoming trip.
As I hear myself muttering “Rosebud” more than once, I see his eyelids lower again, those pale azure eyes fixed on me. I recall reading somewhere that Houellebecq is not as enamored with that vintage Hollywood allure as many of his compatriots. I should probably shut my mouth.
Following the meal, our attempt to find our way to the lodging is unsuccessful. Houellebecq is snoozing in the rear of the car. An excessive amount of double espressos had been consumed, likely three (or maybe it was nineteen).
I ponder that only a real maverick would indulge in so many double espressos. What could happen next is a mystery.
We’ve been in San Francisco for a short period and thought a drive out to Napa Valley would be a great idea. This city is strange.
As I was walking down Mason Street, I was feeling good until a construction worker shouted out, “Hi, faggot!” Then, an elderly African American man with a cane came up to me at the intersection.
He asked why I was grinning and admonished me not to. He pointed out that none of the others in the area were doing the same, remarking that it made me stand out.
The bigoted attitude of some individuals has made me not want to smile in San Francisco ever again. Now, we have a luxury rented Chrysler for the week, which was requested by Houellebecq, in order to go to Francis Ford Coppola’s winery.
Tom Luddy, who was with us, is a close friend and long-time colleague of Coppola, and there is a chance Francis will be present at the place. As soon as the area becomes pleasant, Houellebecq starts to feel more relaxed and he has a realization to share.
He has been restricted from international flights due to smoking bans in the past, but after taking a business flight, he is of the opinion that the amenities almost make up for the patches and nicotine gum.
He wonders if inmates who are to be executed in America are allowed to have cigarettes.
I don’t think any of us have a definitive answer, but I suggested a less than satisfactory solution like, “It varies from one state to the next.”
Last night when I went to the pub nearby the hotel, I encountered a Mexican optician named Frank.
He said that if he were in charge, he would give death-row inmates the opportunity to gain their freedom through heroism by sending them to fight in Iraq. This memory has just come to me.
He informed me that there were some rather nefarious criminals on death row.
When I said my farewells, Frank – a heavy metal bassist who chose not to become a law enforcer in Mexico because he was aware he’d be tempted to bend the rules – seemed like he would give the doomed persons the opportunity to have a puff.
He even proposed to get me some fashionable sunglasses.
My daydream is broken by a palpable change in the car’s atmosphere. Evidently, some magazines are interested in having a longer photo session with Houellebecq in the days ahead.
Houellebecq’s response to me was a simple “No”. I felt he was implying the tour, or any press involvement in it, was finished, but I also felt there could be a more profound meaning behind it.
Tucked away in the valley, the Niebaum Coppola winery boasts some attractive acreage. Had I any understanding of grape-growing or soil composition, I’m sure I’d be impressed.
After a visit to the movie research library and sound-editing center we proceeded to the museum and gift shop.
In the museum, one could find an abundance of Coppolalia such as the Tucker car and Kilgore’s surfboard from Apocalypse Now.
Likewise, the gift shop was stocked with a wide selection of food and wine, as well as various trinkets featuring the Coppola name, from olive paste to leather-sheathed thermoses.
Upon sampling the merlot, I queried Houellebecq on his knowledge of branding strategies, prompting him to express enthusiasm for launching his own cigar line. To commemorate, he purchased the least expensive cigar cutter available.
Francis isn’t here, but maybe on our journey south we’ll visit Clint Eastwood. Tom Luddy is familiar with him, which doesn’t surprise me. I take in the view of the hills while driving back to San Francisco and Tom talks to Andy Garcia and Werner Herzog on the phone.
I try to make it seem like Garcia might be calling me, too, but the only message I receive is some gibberish from my son and a short “We miss you” from my wife. I miss them, too, and I’m concerned that I’m not seeing the bad boy being bad in the U.S., but the week is young.
He appears to be polite and composed right now, but by the end of our trip, when he’s shoving a bottle of Veuve Clicquot up his or my backside and denying the Holocaust, I’ll have quite the story to tell.
When we re-entered the city, Tom pointed out some low brick buildings which were apparently leather bars. We drove past an OfficeMax, which I sarcastically referred to as the biggest leather bar of all.
Michel’s eyes lit up, but it wasn’t for any impure reason; like many authors, he was fond of stationery, and he had a French person’s ambivalence to big-box retail. We stopped the car and went in.
He declared himself an “efficient consumer” and, indeed, knew exactly what he wanted: erasers, folders, and most curiously, Scotch tape.
This last purchase, along with an earlier statement about working in his room tomorrow sparked my curiosity – what was the tape for? What project was he working on in his room? Could it be a collage?
I’ve gone on book tours and bought stationery in foreign cities, but never Scotch tape – that’s the genius of Houellebecq.
On this Wednesday afternoon, there is an atmosphere of tension and unease due to the upcoming event at Foreign Cinema, a San Francisco restaurant.
The event is a discussion between acclaimed novelist Michel Houellebecq and Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, and the restaurant will be hosting a banquet for fifty people, organized by Martin Muller, a San Francisco art dealer.
Earlier in the day, Dorna had informed me about a website that was calling for a protest against Houellebecq, which had some phrases like “anti-Muslim” and “the new face of Nazism”. I felt strangely excited at the prospect of street demonstrations.
Furthermore, I thought that it might help to increase the sales of his books.
My zeal for the experience does not appear to be shared by the other participants. It’s tiring to drive around in this city and to hear so much French, with me having to wait for some of it to be translated or else interject to initiate the shift to English.
I feel as though I’m wedged between two worlds, neither being my own nor that of Houellebecq’s. At one point, when I asked his opinion of San Francisco, he said it resembled “any other Anglo-Saxon city.” I felt like retorting, “Tell it to Frank the Optician!”
The following day I was feeling much better; the potential for a demonstration may have been the cause of my improved mood. I imagined barricades, law enforcement on horseback, and tear gas, followed by a delicious dinner.
The security measures were found to be superfluous, although they looked smart in their black suits and Kangol hats.
At the crowded venue, Houellebecq and Handler discussed the tribulations of Lovecraft, who he argued wasn’t particularly literate, but this was meant as a compliment.
Houellebecq believes that there is value in having a “bad taste,” which is contrary to the bourgeois expectations of “good taste,” and is still a way forward.
The conversation was a success, even eliciting laughter from the audience, despite the topic being the perpetual fear and the futility of life. This made me anxious about how my own talk in Los Angeles will go, as I lack the composure of Handler.
That being said, once you have such a large number of children in your control, does one more French writer really matter?
At dinner I had the pleasure of trying some delicious braised duck. We were all gathered around one large table in the restaurant courtyard.
Right next to me sat Martin Muller, a Swiss man with an intense demeanor who has been exhibiting art pieces at his Modernism gallery since 1979, featuring renowned works by the likes of Warhol, Crumb, and Malevich.
On this particular evening another of his artists, Mark Stock, was also present. Stock was a large man with some incredible talent for card tricks. He put on a show for us that was purely old-school, but it left me completely mesmerized as I cannot even successfully shuffle cards.
During this time, Muller was speaking to me about the Bohemian Club and its camp for world leaders located in Sonoma. He clarified that it has unjustly gained a bad reputation over the years, and he insisted that it is not an exclusive club for those with money.
Instead, it is a place for people to share their ideas regardless of their wealth.
The meal continues with a few more courses, and the atmosphere is cheerful. I’m contemplating joining the Bohemian Club, since I have some ideas. Houellebecq orders his usual double espresso, looking either content or bored – perhaps the two are indistinguishable for him.
I’ve had a few glasses of wine, and I can’t seem to stop talking about Scotch tape – I’m still fixated on it. Some of the guests give me a sympathetic glance.
Eventually, I returned to the hotel. There were no outbursts and nothing outrageous. I hadn’t even spotted Houellebecq inebriated, he was just fatigued.
We’ll be embarking on our journey tomorrow.
Only a few hours away from the coast of San Francisco, we are taking a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. Houellebecq is in the front, which has become his usual spot.
Unfortunately, the door to my side is not working, which requires him to open it for me each time we make a stop. It’s quite pleasant having a renowned author as my personal servant.
Sitting beside me is Sylvie Christophe, the deputy cultural attaché to the French consulate in Los Angeles. The consulate provided a bit of funding for the tour, so she tagged along to make sure that Houellebecq doesn’t get into any trouble.
We joked that she was a spy, but with her level headedness and sense of humor, she could be an asset to Chirac if she wasn’t one.
Sylvie is as fashionable and chic as any other French person in California. To keep her entertained, I taught her some Americanisms, a few of which I created.
The day is gorgeous, so we take a break for lunch in Carmel. We make our way to the Mission Ranch, co-owned by Clint Eastwood, with instructions from Tom Luddy to pass a note to Clint and see if he’d like to join us.
I lean in close to Houellebecq’s ear and relay the message.
I inquired, “Do you admire Clint Eastwood?”
Houellebecq takes a long pause, narrowing his eyes to take in the scenery as it passes by.
He expresses his lack of knowledge.
No one is present in the restaurant apart from an elderly man riding a motorized tricycle. When we inform him that we are acquaintances of Clint’s friends, he inquires how we can deliver a message to him.
The gentleman suggested sending it to Paramount Pictures.
Sayonara to the world of famous people.
At the Italian restaurant, three of us devour some pizza while Houellebecq abstains from having lunch. We conversed about the movie he intends to direct and his findings while in Pattaya, Thailand.
He mentions the many U.S. citizens who venture to the area and, when their money runs out, take their own lives.
I pose the question: “Just Americans?”
He responds with a definite “yes,” accompanied by a faint smirk on his visage.
We stroll to the beach and park ourselves on the sand, which Houellebecq gently caresses and comments on its smoothness.
Then an older gentleman, who we later discover is a solitary Danish dentist, snaps a picture of us. He enthusiastically gesticulates towards the image in the digital viewfinder.
It’s obvious that I’m always including feet in the photos I take of people. I don’t think that any picture of a person should be taken without their feet in it, because without them it’s incomplete.
I was hoping that Houellebecq’s comment about photo shoots could be interpreted in another way, but it appears to be the same as a statement made by a Danish dentist.
Nevertheless, we have to note that Houellebecq is wearing leather loafers with no socks, light trousers (usually red or beige), a skinny belt around his belly button, and a turquoise wife-beater shirt beneath his striped shirt.
It is a peculiar combination, although it works with the author’s literature style, which he defines as the “brutal attack.”
As we made our way through our journey, Houellebecq would often drift off to sleep. However, he would still manage to interject with insightful comments, seemingly having been following the conversation even in his slumber.
This was indicative of his larger persona, where he appeared to be disorganized and disheveled, yet he had the capability to surprise people with his sharp wit. It was hard to determine if this was a facade or a genuine expression of his unique talent.
It seemed to be a combination of both, but his eccentricities and his “geekiness” were a consistent trait. He was not usually one to engage in conversations and was rarely curious about anything that wasn’t directly related to his observations.
His narcissism was not a result of his insecurities, but rather a cold and calculating trait. He showed a pessimistic outlook on life, which was possibly due to his status as a major writer. He was not well suited to the responsibilities of running a country.
My friend, a devoted Houellebecq admirer, expressed disbelief, saying “You wouldn’t want that chap managing the petrol station, would you?”
Tom Luddy was generous enough to provide us with a day pass to visit Esalen, which was founded in 1962 on the cliffs near Big Sur. It was initially a center for people to explore their “human potential” and had a New Age feel with hot springs and encouraged nudity.
That said, it has since become a more typical spa destination. I proposed this stop as Esalen is mentioned in The Elementary Particles as the source of inspiration for the French colony where Bruno’s stepfather runs and the young protagonist endures his formative sexual humiliations.
When we show up, it’s almost time for dinner; yet, we choose to take a walk around the premises instead of eating. We want to appreciate the gorgeous sunset and maybe observe some people who are not wearing any clothes.
Houellebecq goes to some other place, maybe he is thinking about the failure of the European Union. I sit on a bench and witness a female in spandex and earphones twirling on the edge of the cliff.
If she had skates, it could be Washington Square Park; still, something strange about her movements in this place. It must be the cliff.
As I observed Houellebecq on a balcony, I approached him and stood beside him. From our elevated position, we were able to see a multitude of individuals in various states of undress, going in and out of the many stone bathhouses below us.
I query, “What is your opinion of this situation?”
He surveyed the hill, taking in the dining hall and the area around the main entrance.
He states that there is plenty of parking available.
I express, “Considering the fact that you composed about this particular spot,”
Houellebecq commented that he had never put pen to paper to document this place.
As we arrived at the garden, we took a seat on a bench which was encompassed by well-arranged and flourishing vegetation. Houellebecq took out a cigarette and lit it. I questioned him if he had ever done meditation to which he responded saying not really.
I reminded him about a certain group of monks I had seen on the television who were capable of controlling their body temperature.
He declares that he would rather don a jacket.
Our stay at Esalen, which was momentous, is over now that the sun has set.
When it comes to Hearst Castle, there is no time for that; however, we can fit in a visit to elephant seals. As dusk falls, we pull off the road to observe the seals lying on the beach.
It’s a sight to behold, with dozens of large gray blobs in a pile, most asleep, but some making their presence known with loud bellows from the outer edges of the group.
We took a trip to a seafood restaurant in Morro Bay, where we enjoyed some fish and a few bottles of Riesling. Houellebecq is relaxed as he recounts his most recent visit to the States, and specifically, New York.
Even though he’s mostly speaking in French,
Sylvie and Dorna translate the more important parts; such as his observations that the barmaids in New York are “big-titted, ambitious bitches,” or that one of his middle-aged, long-haired American editors looked like a “rock music producer in his comeback phase.”
It’s time to let the bad boy go!
We were in San Luis Obispo and checking into our motel rooms when we said good night. I stayed up watching Dune on TV until I saw the scene where Kyle MacLachlan has to put his hand in the pain box.
I thought of the old intergalactic sorceress/glossy magazine editor, who had probably tried to write a captivating work about Michel Houellebecq, and I imagined her speaking to me or Kyle, or both of us.
Kyle and I timidly inquired, “Did you make an effort but it didn’t work out?”
Endeavored and perished.
In the morning we began the last leg of our Tour de Cali with a meal at the Madonna Inn. This peculiar tourist attraction is well-known for its unique and oddly decorated rooms, such as the rock room, which is basically a cave with furnishings and a bed.
The waitstaff is dressed in traditional Heidi attire and the men’s restroom even has a waterfall urinal. Unfortunately, the food is not good and although Houellebecq is amused by the urinal, he mentions that he’s visited places in Bavaria with even more extravagant kitsch.
I affirm, “However, this is still in the state of California.”
I feel that my perspective has been accepted by Houellebecq and this has created an odd connection between us. Later, as we make a stop at a petrol station in LA, I am confirmed of my correctness when he allows me to take a sip of his Frappuccino.
Having just arrived in Los Angeles, it is hard to accept that the journey is finished. Our little group was just settling in and beginning to enjoy the trip, even if Houellebecq spent a good portion of it asleep.
It appears that the stunning scenery of the California coast didn’t quite meet his expectations. “I was hoping for something like Colorado,” he said to me. Now, it is time to face the rest of the world.
There is an interview with the renowned book-talk radio host Michael Silverblatt and the issue of a photo shoot is still up in the air. Houellebecq is willing to take a few pictures, but nothing too formal.
At last, a prominent figure had been secured. Oliver Stone had desired for Houellebecq to dine with him and I had been asked to join them.
However, I decided to go against my professional instincts and reject the offer, for they would be conversing in French and I had the intention to visit an old companion.
Subsequently after Stone’s supper with Houellebecq, he was stopped by the police and taken into custody for driving under the influence and possession of drugs. To my relief, Houellebecq was not in the car.
This was someone else’s misadventure. When I questioned Houellebecq about Stone’s demeanor, he replied, “Agitated.”
On Saturday, Houellebecq stayed in his room until late in the afternoon. As we drove to a nearby PETCO, he searched for dog toys and a GPS tracker for a collar, but the store was not advanced enough for that.
I then proposed implanting a chip in the dog’s head, which he disapproved of. The day before he had commented on how terrible it was to breed animals for killing, so I asked him what about humans?
His eyelids lowered in response, and it made me realize I was speaking with the same writer who introduced the concept of “post-human”. It is too late for us, but maybe not for the pit bulls.
We later went to a drugstore, where Houellebecq purchased an expensive facial mask. As I watched, I wondered if I should buy one as well. That evening, a group of us went to Mel’s, a well-known burger establishment.
The conversation drifted to The Lord of the Rings and Houellebecq remarked that the appeal of the series lies in its ability to allow people to imagine themselves as various creatures from Middle Earth.
What would be the profession you would choose?
He has a hazy look on his face when he responds to my inquiry.
A creature from folklore that is known for its magical powers.
As we sat at the table, something extraordinary happened. A stranger was so astonished that they hovered near the renowned Michel Houellebecq, an acclaimed novelist.
He utters, “Good grief!”, upon seeing the quadruple espresso.
On that Sunday afternoon, the Hammer Museum was alive with activity. The Velvet Hammer, an unrelated burlesque troupe, had been hired to entertain the throng of people present.
An MC came out and told some classic Vaudeville jokes, spiced up with the accompaniment of a drummer. Then, the strippers came out. There was the pretty one, the fat pretty one, and then Bobby Pins, who was particularly petite – almost circus-like tiny.
A few of the more experienced museum-goers couldn’t help but be surprised as she twirled her pasties.
Houellebecq and I, a strange combination, make an effort to get along. We don’t always make the most of our bad microphone, but we discuss a range of topics, from the work of Lovecraft to the referendum results of the French EU constitution.
Houellebecq noted that “You can’t have direct democracy if the people won’t obey,” and I couldn’t help but think of how this applies to the local gas station.
Finally, after winding up the wine-and-cheese reception and another lengthy dinner, we find ourselves in Houellebecq’s room for the last get-together. A book reviewer had also joined us.
She appears to be quite intelligent, albeit slightly eccentric, and Houellebecq looks pleased to have her here. I am pleased that he is delighted.
This has been a difficult week from a journalistic angle, and even more so from a human, or even post-human perspective, yet I truly appreciate this man.
Particularly when he is being a bit silly, exhibiting his kung fu moves as he did earlier tonight, or when he combines English words, proclaiming himself not a glory to but an “otter of” France.
Houellebecq proudly displayed the cover of his new book, The Possibility of an Island, on his laptop. The image depicted a woman submerged in water, which the book critic deemed too low-brow for the significance of his work.
However, Houellebecq was enamored with the cover model, gazing at her with admiration.
He announced his desire to go to North Dakota, which I found to be completely unrelated to the topic at hand.
As the conversation turns to planes and trips, I remember a quote from the Austrian author Thomas Bernhard.
Bernhard declared that it was of no consequence if he traveled from New York to London or London to New York.
Houellebecq affirms that Thomas Bernhard preferred to be on the plane instead of smoking.
I queried, “What if you did not smoke? Do you prefer to be on the plane instead?”
I am inclined to agree.
“Hey Michel,” I uttered. “I’ve got a question for you.”
“What is it, Sam?”
What is the purpose of the Scotch tape?
I was so disenchanted by the unremarkable explanation of what was keeping the pill bottles together that I was almost moved to tears. It was his plain, everyday purchase of Scotch tape that was the real symbol of Houellebecq’s genius.
It is only because we, the public, attribute great significance to his every move and word that Houellebecq has been able to become the phenomenon he is today.
I then suggested to Brendan Bernhard, the LA Weekly reporter, that we both depart so that nobody would miss out on any potential scoop. To which Brendan responded by casting one final glance at Houellebecq before leaving with me.
This evening, no inappropriate behavior will take place, no offensive language directed at the prophet Mohammed, no underage prostitutes, nor any homemade pornographic material. The infamous French writer appears to be ready for bed.
However, it is also possible that the book reviewer who was discussing the concept of love with him may stay the night.
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