The Last Casbah By CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS The French took pity on their cooks and stopped serving cheese

soufflés 30 years ago, but not Jonathan Dawson, a British journalist in his 60s who turned in his press card to become a voluptuary in Tangier, a full -time job in this Moroccan city within winking distance of Spain. When I phoned Dawson to introduce myself and invite him for a drink, he cut me off, insisting, ³But you¶re coming to me today!´ ² a perfect example of how Tangier society and its famous grapevine works. I had had dinner the night before with the retired antiques dealer Christopher Gibbs, whose clientsslash-chums have included everyone from Jaggers to Rothschilds, and before the last morsel had been downed, a big lunch party at Dawson¶s was already in the works. In Tangier, you are only as grand as your rooftop terrace. Dawson¶s tops off an apartment house that¶s a little more distinguished than most buildings in the scrappy Ville Nouvelle, the architecturally neutral (and that¶s being kind) ³New City,´ much of which went up after Morocco became a French and Spanish protectorate in 1912. Smothered in bougainvillea, Dawson¶s terrace has jaw-dropping views of the port, Gibralter and Spain, not 10 miles across the strait. The table service at lunch was French, expertly executed by my host¶s majordomo, a dwarf in a fez whom he rescued from a hard life on the streets, so it was difficult to be blasé. In the guise of a centerpiece, an uncaged parrot was fed grapes by Dawson as he stroked a pet rooster in his lap. The gossip, meanwhile, was fresh and unsparing. At a dinner a few nights before, the French consulate general had told delightedly of a meeting with the American ambassador to Morocco, where the ambassador revealed that he had no idea who Paul Bowles was. As I had attended the dinner, given by one of the casbah¶s reigning hostesses, Laure Welfling, I was happy to confirm the story and earn my second scoop of soufflé. Lunch ended with some not very skilled acrobats throwing each other in the air. Cigars were passed, the latest international auction catalogs drowsily thumbed as guests lingered in squishy upholstery waiting for the claret to wear off. Later we trickled off to the Gran Cafe de Paris for tea, past the homeless boys sniffing glue and the spontaneous eruptions of garbage that pock even the poshest neighborhoods. Boho holdouts that roll out the carpet for libertines and eccentrics are falling like flies these days ² think of Sayulita in Mexico, or José Ignacio in Uruguay ² but not, inshallah, Tangier. The ci ty¶s contradictory charms, as they are wryly termed, its fabled mix of savoir-vivre and absolute crumminess, remain in good supply. While Marrakesh has turned into Miami in a caftan, with traveling ³Sex and the City´ hen parties, good old-fashioned decadence hangs on in Tangier, where the louche life is cultivated by its poster boy Dawson and a vast, colorful community of socially ferocious expats. (Bowles, of course, led the way for his generation, arriving in 1947 and never looking back.) If you are passing through Tangier and have anything at all to offer and make your presence known, the foreign set will adopt you in less time than it takes to stuff a sardine. Bored, starved for amusement and news of the outside world, the city¶s fraternity of non-natives is always looking for fresh meat for its croquet parties, color-themed parties and Easterhat parties. Any excuse for a party. At the top of the pyramid in an eye-bending matrix that would require 10 pages of footnotes are the interior designers Jean-Louis Riccardi, Stuart Church and François Gilles; the painters Claudio Bravo, Lawrence Mynott and ³Gipi´ de Richemont Salvy, Welfling¶s husband; the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy and his wife, Arielle Dombasle; the photographer Tessa Codrington and her husband, Stuart Wheeler, the immensely wealthy tycoon and UK Independent Party treasurer; the garden designers Madison Cox and Umberto Pasti; Pierre Bergé. . . . Minus the gentleman¶s sport of pig sticking and the white gloves women wore even in the depths of the summer, Tangier society today is a hangover from the one that first took root in 1923, when France agreed to run the city with other colonial powers. Thus began Tangier¶s ³golden years´ ² the drugs, the smuggling, the Chinese menu of sex ² as a free port and international zone governed by European delegations. By the time Morocco was handed back to the Moroccans, in 1956, the beau monde was made up mostly of the diplomatic corps. Which explains how the Mayfair peeress who asked me for cocktails one day has a villa packed with Vieux Paris silver-plate and Louis XVI armchairs covered in needlepoint scenes from La Fontaine¶s ³Fables.´ ³In London, if you want to get rid of something, you send it over to Christie¶s or Sotheby¶s and you¶re done with it, you never see it again,´ Gibbs told me over a nightcap on the Vieille Montagne, where he has reconstituted an ancient

five years after independence. targeted way they move. ³There are times when I could die of boredom. who was all of 35 when he succeeded his father on Hassan¶s death in 1999. For a lot of people it¶s still the old Tangier: servants are cheap. the king was spirited aboard his train for Rabat. more or less.Portuguese chapel as a home for himself. . say. Hashish is cheap. from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Hashish money. home to 10 households. the known worl d ended below our windows. Most of the real power in Morocco resides with Mohammed VI. Nec plus ultra!´ With 50 rooms. . grifters. whose flamboyant caftans ² one part Saint Laurent to two parts Lacroix ² are sold at her namesake gallery in the medina. . He is known in Tangier as a great host and an even greater demagogue: ³The government has destroyed everything!´ he raved. The expats try to ignore it all. you see why we put up with it. with a parliament with teeth.´ she said. They put everything in the same place: factories.´ Pasti started out in 1985 on the Nouvelle Montagne with two ravishing little 1920s pavilions. Tangier natives even more so. to Miami. what Paul Morand described as ³Nordic mill owners with morals as movable as their yachts´ and men who chose Tangier simply because they liked sleeping with other men. and where Pasti. the New Yorker artist and longtime connoisseur of Tangier. Built in the late 18th century as Spain¶s first legation in Tangier. The mostly peaceful demonstrations in Tangier and Marrakesh called for remedies that would restrict the king¶s authority and create a more legitimate democracy: a constitutional monarchy. Flyblown Tangier was his blind spot ² a stain. ³But the crazy way antiques are recycled here. You can never escape them.´ she said at home at Dar Cherif Ben Sadek. Morand¶s ³Hecate and Her Dogs.´ is seen as an advocate of the poor and of social reform ² and he¶s just crazy about Tangier. they tend to just wash up. ³M6.´ But the expat colony¶s worst fears came true this winter when the events convulsing the Mi ddle East reached its doorstep. a trippy.´ People don¶t move to Tangier in the deliberate. Neither he nor anyone in the government trusts the people of Tangier. Moorish and Neo-Classical booty. And there¶s a total lack of urban planning. Bowles remembered how in 1989 thousands of people waited in vain along the waterfront to see the king¶s ship come in: ³Last night .´ In fact. So he held back development money. the climate of forbearance could make you delirious. Tangier had no fan in King Hassan II. scrapped and tortured´ until it was indistinguishable from its older neighbors. willfully baroque palace jammed with a patchwork of Victorian. and we¶re losing three to four species a year. For take the edge off Tangier and what have you got? Welfling. Moroccans are naturally indulgent. . money changers. an embarrassment. just before Welfling took over. observed that everyone in the city gives the impression of having ended up there for reasons that are unknown even to themselves. who¶s a close friend. I¶ve never understood the official antipathy. or else ³inavouables. They¶d rather gossip. he would take his goods to the other¶s house. who assumed the Moroccan throne in 1961. . with that calm composure which makes the manners of the Orient so accommodating. Pierre Le-Tan. vows to leave it if it becomes like Marrakesh. it¶s like if you razed Central Park or the Bois de Boulogne! Tangier had the largest concentration of white flowers in the Mediterranean. and so he makes a point of not ever coming here if he can help it.´ an erotic novella about a French banker and his mistress. With a vague program of escape or reinvention. rental villas. a weapons arsenal and. if you were from some stuck-up little tittle-tattle place like Philadelphia. ³and 50 years later the French consul in Tangier wooed the daughter of his Spanish counterpart here. is doing the garden. estranged or at loose ends. your lovely old possessions turn up in somebody¶s filthy stall in the Casa Barata flea market. ³But with a 360-degree view of the Bay of Tangier. the black sheep of good families. leaving it for dead. Boys are cheap. ³Delacroix visited in around 1830 when he was traveling through Morocco.´ The consulate crowd lived side by side with spies. Until the middle of the 15th century. Dar Cherif is the largest single-family dwelling in the old city. office blocks. All the construction money is dirty money. then commissioned a third that he ³hammered. gold dealers. both pedophiles. With its druggy profile and fleshy sins. sketches this wonderfully: ³If a tradesman called on one of us and got no answer. drained of Moroccans. his son. He wants to transform the city . Hassan¶s inattention suited the tourists and blow -ins. ³What¶s been done to the Forêt Diplomatique. The unbelievable coincidence is that the Frenchman was Vicomte Roger de Richemont ² my husband¶s great-grandfather. scratched. Set in Tangier in the 1920s. like Britain¶s.´ In a way. it went on to become a madras. But while Hassan was often characterized as a brutal despot.

he shrugged. Kasbah. 011-212-5-39-94-97-89. 3. 011-212-5-39-94-77-31. Codrington went on to have an affair with Rachid Alaoui.´ a top official told Pasti when he raged against the pillorying of nature.into a slick. Kasbah. boulevard Pasteur. Ms. In her 20s. the decorating. from Imari vases and Orientalist paintings to metallic-embroidered silk caftans. Chez Abdou Paella and fish you choose yourself amid a deliriously kitschy décor on the beach 20 minutes outside of town. entrees from $11 to $25. and everything we love. ³You must understand. roll-up-your-sleeves Ville Nouvelle joint. mint tea and pastry $6. Marhaba Palace Restaurant Ho-hum (if that) couscous and tagines. rue Amrah. entrees from $7 to $25. Forêt Diplomatique. entrees from $4 to $25. Rue de la Liberté. specializing in whole fish grilled over a wood fire. 71. Morocco Hotels Dar Sultan When you can¶t spring for the Nord-Pinus or get into the Tangerina. the photographer.´ the people were suddenly ³treated to the sight of the young King driving himself to the mosque. rue de la Liberté. 011-212-5-39-94-33-53. the future king of Spain. the other end looks down on a mountain of building parts and putrefying junk. Galerie Tindouf Super-high-end antiques. the perfumery sells only its own encyclopedic range. 011-212-5-39-93-15-25. 011-2125-39-93-79-27. Place de la Kasbah. 11. 64. Galerie Laure Welfling With YSL no longer around to run up a couture caftan. rue de la Kasbah. the deposed sultan. and I did the flea market one Sunday. rue les Almouhades.´ a kind of road map to Everyone Who Matters in the city. Welfling to the rescue. The people were amazed. Kasbah. doubles from $275. 72. Boutique Majid Exhaustive selection of antique textiles and Berber bijoux. 69. up-to-the-minute. 011-212-5-39-93-86-00. 011-212-5-39-93-88-92. 66. but oh. Hôtel Nord-Pinus Tanger Sister hotel to the Nord-Pinus in the South of France. well. Madini No No. El Dorado A been-around-forever. with knockout views of the Strait of Gibraltar. home buyers and yacht owners with more traditional appetites: Morocco¶s answer to Dubai. Palais des Institutions Italiennes. entrees from $7 to $20. Oh. doubles from about $130. 49. 5. Gilles. mostly appalled by the viral building boom under way. 011 -212-6-4233-66-01.´ Westerners stand by. you detest. rue Allal Ben Abdellah. doubles from $80. 011-212-5-39-93-63-48. 5 here. 011 -212-5-3933-60-61. the grandson of Mohammed ben Moulay Arafa. Many. rue du Riad Sultan. Shopping Bazar Tindouf An archaeological retail experience when you can¶t face the Casa Barta flea market. 011-212-6-61-22-81-40. she writes in ³Spirits of Tangier. -------------------------- . full-service resort appealing to vacationers. One end has views across the tops of umbrella pines and the Emir of Qatar¶s palace to the strait of Gibralter. going swimming and jet-skiing in the sea. the interior designer. Essentials: Tangier. Le Salon Bleu Charming multilevel tea salon overlooking the Place de la Kasbah. rue Touila. and as an 11-year-old in 1955 she watched her sisters wash their petticoats in a sugar bath so they would be properly stiff for dinner at their grandfather¶s with Juan Carlos. and even more stylish. strain to see the glass as half full.´ You don¶t have to be an adept of the souk to notice that the brass workers and tailors are being squeezed out by teleboutiques offering Internet hookups. with the same owners as the Dar Nour hotel. 011-212-6-54-32-76-18. rue du Riad Sultan. ³everything you Europeans love. Gilles said that it had always been there. 19. On to the next party. 011-212-5-39-93-4388. we Moroccans despise. Or that the pagoda roofs attacking the countryside are not vernacular. ³Used to centuries of neglect by all the sultans. route de Rabat. Restaurants Casa d¶Italia The gratin of Tangier¶s canteen for good-to-slightly-better-than-good Italian food. La Tangerina Hotel Excellent value and beautifully appointed. Her family has been sunning here for four generations. an eye-bending Arabic-Andalusian cocktail. From the new king¶s first day in power the change was tangible. returning to his villa down the street from Malcolm Forbes¶s old compound for aperitifs on the terrace. 21. like Codrington.

in case someone manages to carry the safe away) and automatic watch winders (so expensive watches stored in the safe keep perfect time). In fact.. customers have an expanding range of products from which to choose. Her burgundy-colored safe.´ said James Skousen. Conn. Others are less concerned about burglars than the sticky fingers of those they know. as well as a stash of emergency cash and a backup hard drive for his computer. including the mortgage crisis. are prompting more people to keep their valuables at home. Although her home already had an alarm system.2-cubic-foot safe to lock up his seven shotguns. have increased 40 percent since 2009. vice president of Brown Safe. Two years ago. carpetlike interior and a capacity of two cubic feet. adding that his company had seen a surge in people buying safes to store gold and silver bullion bought as a hedge against the dollar.´ who may feel strapped these days because of the higher cost of gas and food. as they are known in the trade): not ju st the standard hollowed-out book. Berryhill said. has a door that is a half -inch thick and walls a quarter-inch thick. ³You know how women used to get hope chests?´ said the man. FOR many. hunter green exterior finish. was a custom job: it has a high -gloss. which was installed in March. sales have risen 30 percent annually over the last three years. But he also stores his wife¶s jewelry in there. with space to hide that gold watch or diamond bracelet. a safe with the lowest rating. ³We¶re hearing a lot of people say they are closing their safety deposit boxes and bringing their valuables and important pap ers closer to home. he said. Sentry Group. Some of these safes also have biometric locks (which read fingerprints or irises). ³Customers increa singly have been telling us they want a safe to prevent petty theft of jewelry and cash by their help.Sales of Home Safes Surge. have gone up 30 percent in the last year as well. where they can get their hands on them quickly.´ he said. which has a gray. Allied Safe and Vault and Brown Safe Manufacturing ² report an increase in sales to customers like the Danbury engineer. exoti c hardwood shelving and a custom exterior finish. in San Marcos. GPS antitheft systems (LoJack -like devices. a 38 -year-old office manager in Columbus. this is a man chest for my man cave. There is no third-party authority. including housekeepers and greedy relatives. Recent events. Safes are no longer just gunmetal gray boxes with locks ² they have a host of customizable features to satisfy owners¶ aesthetic desires as well as their security needs. ³It looks great and gives me peace of mind. for instance. A safe can be rated B. Calif. who insisted on anonymity for fear of tipping off thieves. bought a 175pound safe not because she feared economic Armageddon.. B. sales of residential safes at Liberty. C or E. Indeed. and spiked 25 percent in the f irst three months of this year. MOST people.´ she said. N. ³I didn¶t want to have to drive to the bank to get my jewelry out of a safety deposit box every time I dressed up to go somew here. some of which are family heirlooms. the recession. ³We just installed a safe in a guy¶s living room who wanted it to exactly match the color of his MacBook Air. As Lynel Brown Berryhill. wanted the 19.700 safe. but because she wanted a convenient place to lock up her jewelry. noted. but less expected items like a fake head of lettuce or a can of soda. ³It was kind of like ordering a new car. they say. which make up 20 percent of the company¶s business.´ or very high-end safes. . Driven by the Recession and Recent Disasters By KATE MURPHY THE engineer in Danbury. and sales of ³luxury. ³Well. There are also more safes that look like ordinary household items but have secret compartments. having a safe ³makes me feel more secure. a spokesman for Liberty Safe. But so-called luxury or estate safes might be as big as an armoire and cost as much as $100. however. for example . that verifies these ratings. is bolted to the floor of her closet. (or diversion safes.´ ³You can¶t just pick up that thing and walk out with it.J.´ Manufacturers of residential safes ² companies like Liberty Safe. tornadoes in the South and the earthquake in Japan.. Other manufacturers and retailers of residential safes report similar trends: At Brown Safe Manufacturing. she said.´ His $2. the primary appeal of home safes is easy access. The 52-year-old. Such a safe often has an upholstered interior.´ she added. is feeling more secure now that he has an 875-pound safe bolted to the floor of his den. Prices for residential safes start at about $20 for a basic fire -resistant lockbox about the size of a loaf of bread. brass hardware and a fawn-colored velour interior.´ Ms. are more concerned with basic security: how well does the safe protect their belongings from theft and fire? Some manufacturers use standard industry ratings to communicate this to consumers. who is a skeet shooter. depending on how thick its doors and walls are.000. however.

the best place to store valuables is one that would take a thief considerable time and effort to find.´ he said. owner and presiden t of the Safe House in Nashville. ³Generally. The designation RSC. ³They are great for hiding stuff like money and jewelry. there are three UL ratings: 350 (as in degrees). a can of soda and a can of shaving cream. but these are the first places burglars look.´ said Annie Blanco. When he returned to the charred rubble that was once his house and opened the safe. like a toaster or a coffee maker. which sells safes and moves them for people who are relocating. ³Burglars want to spend as little time as possible in your home. Just make sure you put it on a shelf crowded with other books. and will protect paper documents. and are designed to look like various household objects: a head of iceberg lettuce. which was guaranteed to keep the interior at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. said he is skeptical about their value. meaning it was independently tested by Underwriters L aboratories. ³So they know what to look for. and 125. Their strength is pretense.But a safe can also bear a UL symbol. the more work it is to hollow out. isn¶t any better. ³Burglars are looking online at these kinds of safes. An outdated almanac.I. indicates how long the inside of the safe can maintai n the designated temperature while the exterior is engulfed in flames.´ And consider how many pages the book has. A little of our prefire history had survived. Or you could make your own diversion safe. ³You may think you¶re being clever. he added. in the freezer or buried in the dirt of potted plants. Calif.´ All the important identification and financial papers he had stored inside were intact as well. but the more you can hide in it. are not fire resistant and do not even have locks. the more expensive the safe.´ he said. a professor of criminology at the University of South Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland. And because the D. as was his wife¶s jewelr y and a computer backup (although some of the disks had melted). jars and aerosol containers found in pantries and bathroom cabinets are typical. he said.Y. When it comes to fire resistance. for instance. except for the contents of his 25-cubic-foot safe. for those that will protect computer hardware.´ Criminologists and law enforcement officials also advise against putting things inside toilet tanks and cereal boxes (where addicts tend to hide illegal drugs) and inside medicine cabinets (where thieves look for prescription drugs with resale value).´ Gems on the Bookshelf SAFES disguised as books cost $15 to $45 ready-made. or Residentia l Storage Container. So a Class 125/1 hour safe. who ha s interviewed scores of professional burglars in his research. will keep most belongings in fine condition for an hour in a raging fire. drives and disks. o r tucking it into the stuffing of one of a group of stuffed animals. for safes that get no hotter than that ins ide. ³It was a very emotional moment. Apart from a steel-clad ³The average time a professional burglar will spen d there is five minutes. variety is made out of a real book. follow the se steps: Choose a hardcover book with a title that a thief (or anyone else) is unlikely to pull from your bookshelf. but you can make one yourself for less. by cutting pages of a book and stashing your treasures inside. on the other hand. for example. blowtorches an d eight ounces of nitroglycerin.´ said Mark Brasfield. it tends to look more authentic than a fake one. So the last p lace you want to hide your diamond necklace or a roll of bills is inside an empty bottle of Oxycontinor Adderall. ³Crime and Punishment. Everything he owned was destroyed in a wildfire in 2007. and perhaps choose a title that wouldn¶t appeal to a thief ² say. for those that will protect film and m agnetic tape. of course. The thicker the book. They cost $5 to $ 100. To hide your stash of emergency cash and jewelry. D IVERSION safes. . But Paul Cromwell.´ because the safe held ³personal items ² the photos. the more letters and numbers in the rating. for example.´ Good options might include putting what you want to protect in a nondescript box surrounded by a pile of junk in the attic.´ Hiding valuables in coat pockets or shoeboxes. like surge protectors and clocks. signifies that the safe can withstand a five-minute attack with basic tools like crowbars and screwdrivers. diploma and so on. A time rating. ranging from 30 minutes to four hours. These stealth safes also come disguised as other kinds of things. he said. A TXTL-60x6 safe. too. marketing coordinator for homesecuritystore. A 59-year-old project manager for Motorola in San Diego knows the importance of fire-resistance. Cans. can withstand an hourlong attack with manual and power tools. 150. is probably a safer bet than ³The Joy of Sex. based in Riverside. an online retailer of home security systems. UL has dozens of ratings that indicate varying levels of theft and fire resistance.

2011. Leave a border of at least a half -inch to an inch around the compartment. ragged edges. brush glue on the interior edges of the cut pages and let the book dry for a couple of hours. Finally. Mark the area you wish to hollow out. Then. Fold a piece of waxed paper over the front and back of the book (sort of like a dust jacket ) to keep the covers clean. Start cutting. a pencil. Wait a couple of hours. on page D1 of . a ruler. liberally apply glue around the edges of the book to make the pages stick. the process will go more quickly. or overnight. Leave a few pages in the front unglued to conceal the cavity. and pushing the blade through too many layers will leave you with messy.Other supplies you¶ll need include a box cutter. A version of this article appeared in print on May 5. Put a heavy object on top of the book to compress the pages while the glue dries. using the pencil and ruler. but be patient: the box cutter will sl ice through only a few pages at a time. a sponge paintbrush and glue (pH -neutral is best). with the sponge paintbrush. If you own a scroll saw or have a friend who does.

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