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Informed Personalities from Across the State, Across the Spectrum
Pierre Tristam's picture
"As an immigrant I’m always abroad in my own home -- happily so: American politics and culture in their Florida dialects are eternal attractions rich in paradox. My columns are an attempt to decipher this continuing experiment in American nation-building."
Monday, April 29, 2013 — Pierre Tristam

This beheading takes a little scene-setting.

I was in my yard, enjoying the kind of April afternoon that makes Florida tourism's safer holy land. Making it a sacred moment of my own, I was drinking whiskey, smoking a cigar, and reading Lost Illusions, Balzac's novel of the perditions of journalism.


Monday, April 22, 2013 — Pierre Tristam

It was one of those weeks of revolting paradoxes, with mayhem to match.

On Monday the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, initially killing three people and wounding 170. Two days later, a different sort of bomb went off when the U.S. Senate voted down the skimpiest of gun control legislation: making background checks universal, banning high-capacity gun magazines, and banning assault weapons, three...

Monday, April 15, 2013 — Pierre Tristam

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting next to two former Florida death row inmates.

Herman Lindsay was exonerated in 2006 after three years on death row. Seth Penalver was exonerated four months ago, after spending 18 of his 39 years in prison. They were in Flagler Beach to talk about their ordeal, and about one of Florida’s most enduring shames: a death penalty system so clunky, so...

Monday, April 08, 2013 — Pierre Tristam


In 1764, Geneva clockmaker Robert Covelle had the experience of impregnating a woman not his wife and the misfortune to be sniffed out by the government. He was required to get on his knees and apologize to the city state and to God. Absurd. But butting into the private thoughts and affairs of citizens had been the custom for centuries. So were humiliating rituals. 


Monday, April 01, 2013 — Pierre Tristam

Several years ago around Christmas I was standing at a Walmart checkout counter with my son when a stranger behind me felt compelled to make me his homophobic bosom buddy. He must have glimpsed a magazine featuring Brokeback Mountain’s two men behaving tenderly toward each other. Christmas be damned: It displeased him. It's his right. But he couldn't contain his scorn. So he shared it with me, the way men guilty of stupidity seek cover in accomplices when white hoods aren't handy....

Monday, March 25, 2013 — Pierre Tristam


It’s a tale of two triggers. 



It didn’t take long, after the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, for...

Monday, March 18, 2013 — Pierre Tristam

Can you hear it? If you listen carefully, you might detect the sound of indifference at what ought to be a significant marker. Ten years ago this week, American forces joined by a so-called “coalition of the willing” invaded Iraq in one of history’s bloodiest fool’s errands since Pope Urban II launched the first of too many Crusades a millennium ago.

Between Iraq and Afghanistan, 6,700 American soldiers...

Monday, March 11, 2013 — Pierre Tristam

Driving around Brittany and Normandy in France last week my wife and I fell in love — not only with the food, the booze, the sights and the French temperament, which can be as crabby as the weather. But with roundabouts.

You heard right: Those bewildering little circles at intersections that make red lights unnecessary, and that say so much about a particular form of European practicality that we could...

Monday, February 18, 2013 — Pierre Tristam

Every once in a while Floridians lose their senses over state-sanctioned lotteries, particularly Powerball. I’m not referring to the occasional debate over the lottery’s worth compared to its original promise, which is too muted for my taste: Floridians approved its state lottery by constitutional amendment in 1986 on the assumption that it would generate new revenue for education. It has instead done a better job shifting dollars than supplementing them, as the eroding value of Bright Futures scholarships...

Monday, February 11, 2013 — Pierre Tristam

Last year the Florida Legislature passed a bill that allowed returning outright prayer to public schools. Not a moment of silence, not the gathering around the flagpole on the National Day of Prayer, but the bona fide right of students to lead other students in prayer at any student assembly, even mandatory ones. School officials are prohibited from interfering, or even judging whether the prayer in question is appropriate.