Jospin Sings, Followed by Lots of Music

Bar-Cafe Paris-Londres
Not at the bars around the Gare du Nord are called
Paris-Londres, just this one.

Parisians Dance in Streets, but Not
to Government Proposals

Paris:- Saturday, 21. June 1997:- Today is the first day of summer and it feels more like the last day of winter. It is a shame, because this is also the date of the Fête du Musique, when everybody who can play even door-bell chimes, is invited to do so in public.

At the Gare du Nord on Friday, workmen - or roadies? - were building a stage at the front of the station. Free public concerts are held all over town - all over the country for that matter - and there was to be a Really Big Concert at the Parc des Princes tonight.

Le Parisien ran a photo in today's editions, of Joe Cocker seriously concentrating at a set of drums - and his likeness, in this particular photo, to Willy Brandt is amazing.

In general, Parisians are going carnival-crazy. They don't understand why it is not celebrated here so they are taking matters into their own hands and starting their own 'citizen-carnivals.' There are to be three separate parades tonight. One around the Louvre-Tuileries, another out at the Bastille area and the third up along the Fete du Musique Place Clichy-Pigalle-Barbés line. All three are to converge at Gare de l'Est and then move as one to République.

One of many band-stands set up in any available space in Paris.

The evening France 2 TV-news choose instead to show the Fête de la Musique as it was played out at the French Embassy in Bejing. To be fair, they also had three stars who will be performing tonight at the Parc des Princes, but as talking heads.

I am wondering if this citizen-organized affair is something being avoided by TV, as you have to have a sharp eye tuned to its arrival, and a sharper eye yet to see it on TV if you can't happen to get to it.

Saturday's Le Parisien at least gives it a page one photo and a double-page inside, which gives dates and locations of the major events in the city. Oops; I see the private TV station, TF1, is carrying the Parc des Princes show live tonight. All these local fêtes des écoles have gotten me bungled up.

Le Parisien is putting more resources into its weekend local tourism section, with four to six pages devoted to it being the norm. The trouble with it is, by the time you get the paper and read this section, the events have already started, or you've already planned to go bungee-jumping.

Oh no! While I was up at the Gare du Nord yesterday, I was not reading Friday's Le Parisien. It has a 12-page Fête de la Musique program for Paris, plus the two pages for Yvelines which it re-ran today. Count Basie's Band is playing Mantes-la-Jolie tonight.

There were no newspapers except for the International Herald Tribune in Paris on Wednesday due to some dispute, and I thought at the time - lucky me! - one less paper to read this week; now look where it's gotten me. Prunes!

'Euro' Summit Meeting

President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin went up to Amsterdam at the beginning of the week to tell France's European partners that France wants more 'social' and less 'austerity' and I can't quite figure out what the response was, other than Chancellor Helmut Kohl said 'nein' again.

The reports are so contradictory that I have to say I don't know what is happening.

The whole exercise is a negotiation and France has just done a governmental flip-flop from hard-line 'austerity' to take up a softer line. With a little time, perhaps more of the partner governments will swing over to France's - new - position, and when it becomes a solid 13 to two, say, then Herr Kohl will be able to politically fold up his opposition, and go along with it in the name of unity.

German economic facts are just as grim as France's and they haven't changed in the last two weeks. Britain's new Prime Minister, Tony Blair, seems to be smiling at lot but otherwise playing very cool and not saying much. I have fallen behind with keeping up with current German public opinion, so I don't know if Le Bourget airshow - A2-RV Kohl is painting himself into a corner or getting further out on a limb.

Dassault's new and nimble fighter was French star of air show.

He is no lightweight and with his age he is not as nimble as he used to be. I have a feeling that if he persists in really going after a fifth term as Chancellor, he'll miss his chance to get off the carrousel with his dignity intact.

Meanwhile, there are 18 million unemployed Europeans who are waiting for austerity to be over.

Jospin Takes Over

On Thursday afternoon, Lionel Jospin gave the country some broad outlines and some details about what he intends for his government to do. As his group has a majority in the Assembly National, his proposals received a vote of confidence.

In all, he announced 40 measures, many of them proposed earlier during the election campaigns. Some of the proposals brought immediate reactions from employer's groups, such as the proposed raising of the minimum wage by four percent.

The proposal that could directly affect families - the suppression of cash allocations to families with higher incomes - brought immediate reactions from all concerned and many who aren't.

What we have so far are proposals - not detailed legislative projects - but the French are not shy about protesting if they think their interests are being injured, and by Saturday all and sundry were busily doing this, while more experienced government ministers were playing damage control.

This 'running ideas up the flagpole' to see if nobody salutes is common practice in every democracy, and we will have to wait to see how these 40 measures stand up to political reality.

Bouncing them all off the citizens just before summer holidays has been a stroke of luck. This way, everybody gets to mull over the proposals during the summer, when nothing much happens except for the raising of transit fares, and the government can beaver away quietly until mid-September, until the country is ready to wake up again.

Sports News

This on-again and off-again section of 'Au Bistro' is off-again this week.

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