The View
from Here:

    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline and is the new editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine, and when she's not organizing the St. Barth Film Festival, or writing for various magazines, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.

    September '06
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    If The Shoe Fits ...
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    I recently read an article in the New York Times, which said that flip-flops have become the footwear of choice in Los Angeles. From the beach to the boardroom, and even the red carpet at the Academy Awards, these casual shoes are becoming de rigueur for men as well as women, and the male species has taken to getting pedicures to pamper their toes for such extended exposure. And they're wearing those flip-flops in all styles and colors, from the $1.99 plastic ones from the "five and dime" to jewel-encrusted ostrich models by the top footwear designers. In Saint Barth, flip-flops have been the rule of thumb forever, the simpler the better, as it would be pretty silly to go to the beach in a pair of stiletto heels by Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo. Flip-flops can go everywhere here, even to the finest restaurants, even though they can be dangerous when driving a four-wheel drive jeep. Which brings me to the subject of cars. Saint Barth used to be the home of the flip-flop and the mini-moke, a small car that wasn't much bigger than a golf cart, but was pretty good for tooling around the island. Everybody loved them even though the open sides were a guarantee you'd get a good soaking in a rainstorm and it was sometimes a challenge to get up some of the bigger hills around here. Now the island seems to be suffering from big car envy. If somebody gets a bigger one, the next guy has to get a bigger one yet. To the point there are actually some of the smaller (and that's a relative term here folks) Hummers on the island. I just don't get it. As my friend Frank says, "where 'ya going?" After all, you can't drive more than a half an hour to the farthest destination on the island from wherever you happen to be, okay maybe 40 minutes if we're really going from one apogee to the other. But hey, do we really need all that car power for such a short trip. Our perfectly beat-up four-wheel drive Feroza (yes the one with the Philadelphia sports teams bumper stickers - go Eagles!) gets us where we need to go just fine. I mean in the old days, shoe leather was the only means of locomotion for most islanders, but even then they walked primarily barefoot, so even the flip-flop is a luxury of recent times. If it works for shoes, why not for cars? What is the automotive equivalent of the flip-flop? A Smart car? A VW Beetle? A Mini Cooper? Hey all of those seem the right size for around here. It's all you need, unless you have a family of six with a few large dogs who need to go along for the ride. I can see it in LA, where those flip-flop-footed drivers might get stuck on the freeway for hours on end, or may actually do some off-road navigating where all that car power would come in handy. But around here, it seems like overkill. So maybe we should consider our cars like our shoes. And the only thing you need on your feet is a pair of flip-flops... and maybe a little sand!

    More to come,
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
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