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News and notes from around the world


A veteran poet revisits a much-changed literary haunt of the 1950s

PARIS — “That was my girlfriend,” says the poet Larry Fagin, pointing to a photo of American model Diane Barker in the lobby of the Relais Hôtel du Vieux Paris, a former flophouse in the Latin Quarter. “Gregory Corso and I double-dated her and Jean Seberg.” Receptionist Remi Lemonier, an aspiring filmmaker, seems impressed—not so much by the Seberg connection as by the fact that Fagin lived in the so-called Beat Hotel in the fall of 1959, with writers like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

“She was a little bit … crazy, yes?” Lemonier asks, referring to Seberg.

“A little!?” Fagin exclaims.

The 75-year-old Fagin, who lives in New York, is visiting Paris following the release of his first book of poetry in more than 30 years. He asks Lemonier if he can see the spiral staircase where the common bathrooms were located. The receptionist explains that a 1989 renovation elevated the hotel to four-star status; the bathrooms now are en suite.

The two men then head to a back lobby, where they gaze in silence at a replica of Brion Gysin’s “dream machine,” a light bulb encased within a spinning cylinder meant to induce hallucination. After a moment, Fagin recalls strolling down Rue Saint André des Arts with Corso: “A crowd was watching a beautiful blonde dance in the street to a transistor radio. It was Brigitte Bardot.”

“She always wanted to be a dancer,” Lemonier muses. “She was a symbol of the freedom of a woman. A woman who decided which man she wants.”

“A symbol of France!” Fagin says, picking up his coat. Nearby, the doorways of the cafés lining Boulevard Saint Michel are cluttered with smokers—who, by law, are no longer able to indulge their habit indoors. Fagin shakes his head. “Everything has changed.” —PORTER FOX



BARCELONA — This month brings the latest chapter in the soccer world’s most compelling drama: El Clásico, the match pitting Barcelona against Real Madrid. The long, acrimonious history between Spain’s two club giants—born of political and cultural conflict as much as sports rivalry—means that El Clásico clashes are invariably overheated affairs. Which, of course, makes them all the more fun to watch. —CHRIS WRIGHT

Barcelona El Clásico victories: 86
Real Madrid El Clásico victories: 87

Combined market value of Barcelona’s players: $764 million
Combined market value of Real Madrid’s players: $712 million

Average annual wage of a Barcelona player: $8.7 million
Average annual wage of a Real Madrid player: $7.8 million
Average annual wage in Spain: $30,000

Population of Barcelona: 1.6 million
Population of Madrid: 3.2 million
Estimated TV viewership of previous El Clásico: 400 million

Coach-on-coach assaults: 1 (Real Madrid manager José Mourinho was accused of poking a Barcelona assistant coach in the eye during a 2011 match)
Wars fought between the clubs’ regions: 1 (Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939)
Key quote: “Complimenting Barcelona makes you a traitor in Madrid.” (former Real director general Jorge Valdano)

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