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Page 219: The Four Seasons
An iconic New York restaurant in the Seagram Building, The Four Seasons was a spot for power lunches and special occasions. It was famous for changing its plantings four times a year — even the 5-meter-tall fig trees around the pool.
After half a century, it closed in July 2016, the month I moved to France.
Page 220: Cannes
My college friend George Hickenlooper's first feature film, Hearts of Darkness (a documentary about the making of Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now), was shown at the 1991 Cannes film festival. (John Singleton was there too, with Boyz in the Hood.) George invited his friends to come share the fun.
Patrick and I took this photo when Hearts of Darkness had its theatrical release in Paris a year later. My Yale backpack and international Herald Tribune are props chosen for George's benefit. That's Patrick's girlfriend Sandrine sitting in foreground in the bus stop. The man between us is not an actor, although he looks like one.
That summer, George dragged me and our friend Greg D'Elia on a road trip from Cannes to Munich to interview Leni Riefenstahl, the brilliant/infamous director of Triumph of the Will. It was a surreal experience for me to spend two hours with Hitler's favorite filmmaker and listen to her life story. In general, she defended her choices, expressed few regrets, and felt she'd been unfairly stigmatized.
George has a cameo in Replay, Chapter 8 (page 262).
Page 220: Benzene
This was a rare instance where my dad's memory (or Lisa's) appears to have failed. He remembers her saying benzene had a lower freezing point than water. In fact, it's a bit higher. Why she kept a bottle of benzene — a toxic chemical — in their hotel room in the first place, I still wonder. But in any case, if it froze solid, the room was definitely chilly.
Page 222: Dachshunds
My dad remembers this joke being sung by a cabaret performer in the Catskills in New York after the war.
Page 224: Chantons quand meme
The title of this 1940 musical comedy struck me as a succinct expression of the attitude that the Nazi and Vichy regimes must have hoped French people would take toward life under occupation.
It translates to "Let's Sing Anyway."
Page 226: Gambit
My dad's apartment in Manhattan is the one place in my life that's stayed the same for as long as I can remember. It's the only location in Replay that appears in more than one timeline: yellow (chapters 1 and 8) and blue (chapter 7).
In the fifty years he's been there, the butterfly cases and paintings on the walls have been rearranged, and the couch replaced, but it hasn't really changed much.
Page 227: Rotoscoped Film Shoot
For our game The Last Express, the team created (and patented) a digital rotoscoping process. We custom-made special costumes, makeup and wigs for a cast of 30 actors, filmed them against a blue screen, and converted the footage into something resembling an animated pen-and-ink line drawing, which we then colorized.
Today, you can get that effect with one finger in Instagram. In 1994, it required inventing a new technology.
Page 228: Cote d'Azur
I visited Nice in February 2022 in preparation for the final chapters of Replay. I'm grateful to Fabien Delpiano and Stephanie Manfrini for their guidance, including where to find the best socca. (Below: Quick research sketch made on site.)
Fabien, a game developer, connected me with his childhood friend Claude Seyrat, who met me at his father's bookshop (La Sorbonne). With Claude's help, I gathered period photos, books, and old postcards that helped me draw the Nice chapter.
My thanks to Fabien as well for recommending I read Romain Gary and Joseph Kessel, and for warning me about Parisian pitfalls to avoid when making a salade Niçoise.
Page 229: Near the Beach
My parents went to Nice in 1962 on their honeymoon, and visited Paul and Lisa's old address at 5 rue Gloria. The landlady was still there, and remembered him. She confided that she'd always assumed he was Lisa's illegitimate son; she never believed the "nephew" cover story.
In 2022, Paul's little apartment and the landlady's bungalow behind it are long gone.
Page 230: Pebbles
The evening I arrived in Nice, I took a video of the beach and sent it to my dad. He said that the sound of the pebbles crackling as the waves rolled back brought back vivid memories. You don't hear that on every beach.
To see more of Jordan's visual art, visit the Artworks page.
Page 233: Promenade des Anglais
I was happy to discover a 1930 student film by a young Jean Vigo and Boris Kaufman, "A propos de Nice." It's a compilation of shots of Nice, its boardwalk and fascinating denizens, often from striking and unusual angles.
Vigo's intentions were subversive (his parents were militant anarchists, and he spent much of his childhood on the run). From his description: "In this film, by showing certain basic aspects of a city, a way of life is put on trial... the last gasps of a society so lost in its escapism that it sickens you and makes you sympathetic to a revolutionary solution." He made only two more films before he died at age 29.
My dad made this crayon drawing of the promenade in 1940, ten years after Vigo filmed it:
Page 235: Marché noir
Choosing posters, ads and background objects for different settings and eras — and drawing them — is one of my favorite parts of research. As a kid in the 1970s, one of my first dream jobs (before video games came along) was to be an artist for Wacky Packages.
Page 236: La casino de la jetée
My dad had told me about Nice's famous casino-on-the-pier that was destroyed in a fire. He remembered it as a burned-out shell. This detail confused me, because when I researched it, I learned that the fire happened in 1883. The casino was quickly rebuilt, and reopened to the public in 1891.
Between the wars, the casino was a glittering crystal palace, often pictured in films, photos, and paintings like this one by Raul Dufy.
My research left no doubt that in 1940-41, when my dad was in Nice, the casino was still intact — though I imagine dark, due to wartime power shortages and curfews. In 1942, the government closed it and stripped it for parts: copper, brass, and electric wiring, to be used by the German army fighting the Allies. The ruin was later demolished.
My guess is that my dad conflated the two stories of the casino's destruction — one he'd heard as a child, one as an adult — and visualized it as destroyed. Having only ever seen it from afar, he then remembered it that way.
As a psychologist, he's well aware of the tricks memory can play, and inclined to be skeptical of unverified reports, including his own. That's why he was so unexpectedly moved when my research confirmed details about Le Touquet, La Bernerie, Willi and the Rois (mentioned in earlier chapter notes) that he was sure he remembered, but had no proof. After 75-80 years, without Lisa around to confirm his memories, part of him had begun to wonder.
Page 242: Cannes
Apart from my one visit in 1991 (see note to page 220), my image of Cannes was formed by a film I've enjoyed since childhood, Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. I drew from it shamelessly in my portrayal of cousin Marcel and his iconic hotel.
Page 245: Potato Fields
After Irish painter Charles McAuley (1910–1999). Also, Renoir and Van Gogh.
Page 246: Ellis Island
Pszenicznagóra means "wheat mountain" in Polish. My mom thinks this was either her grandfather's original surname, or the name of his village.
The Ellis Island panel is my own fantasy, influenced by having seen The Godfather, Part II (1974) at a formative age. Like many people, I believed that 19th-century U.S. immigration officials routinely Americanized foreign-sounding names. Editor Tess Banta set me straight during fact-checking for Replay's English edition: In reality, immigrants often changed their own names overseas before departure. Ellis Island inspectors just recorded what was written on the ship's manifest.
The most likely port of departure for Polish emigrants in my great-grandfather's day was Hamburg, Germany. Since Weitzberg is not an Americanization, but rather a Germanization of "wheat mountain," I'm guessing he chose that name himself, maybe with some local advice, before he sailed.
Page 252: Cuban Missile Crisis
At the height of the Cold War, the world came close to nuclear Armageddon. Having discovered that the Soviet Union was secretly constructing ballistic missile sites on Cuba, just 90 miles off Florida's coast, the U.S. imposed a naval blockade on the island.
My parents vividly remember hearing Kennedy address the nation on Monday, October 22, 1962. (Replay being a graphic novel, I took the artistic license of giving them a TV set rather than a radio. In reality, they got their first TV in 1969, in time for the moon walk.) I've compressed and paraphrased Kennedy's words in these two panels. You can watch the full speech here:
After hearing Kennedy speak Monday evening, my parents spent Tuesday selling stocks, getting cash, opening international bank accounts, getting plane tickets, and packing. They flew out Wednesday morning, just before civilian flights were suspended.
For thirteen days, tension between the two nuclear superpowers was so high that Kennedy adviser Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., wrote: "It was the most dangerous moment in human history."
In the North Atlantic on October 27, U.S. Navy destroyers spotted a Soviet B-59 submarine violating the blockade. They dropped warning depth charges to force the sub to surface. But the submarine's captain had lost contact with Moscow, and didn't know there was a blockade. Assuming war had broken out, he gave the order to launch the sub's nuclear torpedoes. Protocol required two other senior officers to concur. One, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, refused. An argument ensued. Thanks to Vasili standing firm, nuclear World War III didn't happen that day.
If you're in the mood for Cold War Armageddon entertainment, I recommend Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (1964) and John McTiernan's The Hunt for Red October (1990). WarGames (1983) isn't in the same league, but I have a soft spot for it; I was about the same age as the kid in the movie when it came out, and my bedroom looked a lot like his.
Page 253: Venezuela
My parents took 8mm and Super 8 home movies of many trips and family vacations in the 1960s, along with endless footage of me and my siblings playing. It's fascinating yet boring to watch. I dug their old camera out of our basement in 1982 to film rotoscoped motion capture for Karateka.
Page 256: Passover
I set the third Passover on this page in Czernowitz, 1904. That's 7-year-old Bubi (my grandfather Papi's childhood nickname) in front, and his grandfather Alter Bayer leading the Seder.
A. Bayer died in 1910; his grocery store on the Ringplatz was sold. The family tradition of strictly observing Jewish holidays died with him. In my dad's childhood memories, the Mechners and Zieglers in Vienna had normal dinners on Passover, Shabbat and Yom Kippur, with no special ceremony. As assimilated Viennese Jews, they felt Judaism as a cultural heritage, not a religion.
Papi was the only Mechner of his generation who stayed Jewish. His sister, Else, converted to Christianity around 1915 (see Replay chapter 5, page 170) and convinced their brother and mother to join the Lutheran church as well. That may have helped save their lives.
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