"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 18 February 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.

The first duty of every media professional is to get a job that provides maximum instant gratification in exchange for minimum actual effort, and on that scale, the job of a Suckster ranks somewhere between "Key Grip" and "Adult Film Star." Thus it has been with a mixture of horror and Glückschmerz that we have watched the rise of a gig infinitely cushier than our own: The Occasional Paris Correspondent.

Occasional Paris Correspondent is the best job in journalism. You live in the City of Lights. You make lengthy studies of the delightful ineffability of the local culture - how French people go to the gym, say, or wait in lines. Once in a while you file a lengthy and numbing essay on the subtle differences between life in France and life in the Good Ol' USA (On the one hand, it's the same, on the other hand different). You cash your check. You head for Chamonix!

There is no discernible reason why the Occasional Paris Correspondent is back in vogue. Over the past few years the New Yorker has taken to publishing the Paris dispatches of Adam Gopnik. Roger Cohen kept the obvious belabored for years at the New York Times. Lately, widely-praised laffmaster David Sedaris has been lettin' us see Paree in the pages of Esquire. And since the beginning of this year, Slate has been running "I See France," an occasional series in which the always fresh-faced Michael Lewis and fresher-faced Tabitha Soren tell the tale of Yanks abroad in high style.

We want in, and we're sending our own correspondent to the French capital. Sadly, our editorial budget did not allow our reporter to bring wife Samantha and daughter Tabouli along on the jaunt. But with the Seine and the boulevards beckoning, our freelancer jumped at the chance with a spirited "Allons!"

March 3

Entering a Metro station near Pigalle, Suck's Paris commentator takes note of the sign "Poussez" on the station door, and the term doubles him over with mirth. "That's right!" he exclaims, "Because the French really are a bunch of Poossays!" None of the Parisians in the station join in his convulsive giggling, which leads him to pen his first essay, "Quelle Blague?", investigating the subtly stubborn yet very French way that Parisians approach comedy. Total: 25,000 words.

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