Under the Black Flag

City of Light, Summer of Hate

It was the merry month of May, 40 years ago.  I had been living in Paris for a decade, had just moved into a beautiful farmhouse ten miles west of the city, had recently become a bachelor again at age 31, and had given up competitive tennis for polo and the Bagatelle polo club.  My horses were young and mobile, the girls were plentiful, and life seemed to be as go­od as it gets.  There were some clouds on the horizon: The Tet Offensive had the hippie crowd cheering the little men in black pajamas back in the states, and North Korea had captured the U.S.S. Pueblo without firing a shot; but all in all, May in the City of Light (and laughter and girls) looked brilliant.  It got better when that great con man LBJ announced that he would not seek another term; and then, suddenly, it all went down the you-know-what.

In quick succession, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, followed by Robert Kennedy; 1968 suddenly turned from the 1967 Summer of Love into the Summer of Hate.  Radical feminism in America reached its apogee with the “radical writer” Valerie Solanas’s shooting of Andy Warhol, while the brave Alexander Dubcek of the Prague Spring uprising against the Soviet invasion was given the cold shoulder by the “Free World.”

Still, the polo season began in Paris, the elegant crowds turned out every weekend to cheer us on, and the first ball of...

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