French Win Rugby, Somehow

photo: american dream

Honk-tonk carnival in Paris - the
'Amerian Dream' of a nightmare.

Yet More Origins of Halloween

Paris:- Sunday, 31. October 1999:- Late last week, TV-news prominently featured the New Zealand rugby squad, the All-Blacks, in such a fearsome manner that no French rugby fan could hold a grain of hope for today's semi-final match with France's own mild-mannered 'Bleues.'

Le Parisien, in its Saturday edition, even went so far as to label All-Blacks' 118-kilo player Jonah Lomu as 'Public Enemy No. 1' on the paper's front page.

While stopping in a café today to check its supply of café, I saw part of the pre-game warm-up - which featured the All-Blacks being extremely fierce. So fierce in fact, that only three other café customers could bear to watch.

What joy, what amazement then, to see on the evening's TV-news that the mild-mannered French 'bleues' simply outfinessed the fearsome All-Blacks at Twickenham, to win with a score of 43 to 31.

Madame TV-news reader was thrilled, but the 'Bleues' spokesman-player Adelatif Benazzi, who has played 70 timesphoto: joe allen restaurant for the French national team, was very cool about it all - perhaps not realizing the final result on account of concussion or something - although he was shown wearing an All-Blacks' shirt.

Joe Allen's laid-back American bistro in the Les Halles area.

As quoted, also by Le Parisien, Benazzi said if he looks at the calendar and if he sees he is scheduled to play against the All-Blacks in two years, he begins immediately to put on 25 extra kilos.

With this - surprise! - win, France goes to the Rugby World Championship finals, which will be held next weekend in the hard-rock Welsh town of Cardiff. There the 'Bleues' will face Australia, who pulverized the South-African Springboks yesterday at Twickenham.

I can't wait to see the week's coming TV-news, showing terrifying videos of Ozzie Wallabie feats such as eating rails like soft noodles and kicking field goals from the Melbourne airport over the goalposts in the stadium in Sydney.

Meanwhile last week's visitor, Nigel, returns from Barcelona on Tuesday. Will he weep for New Zealand where he was born, or will he cheer for Oz, where he lives? Update: next week.

The Origin of Halloween, Version 87

The French are fascinated by Halloween. They have only been becoming aware of it over the past few years and this has been due to various resident foreigners supplying the media with tales of its origins, and acting weird on the eve of Toussaint.

Within the past couple of years, the true origin has been pinpointed as Ireland. This in turn allowed an 'origin' to be 'found' in Brittany, because of itsphoto: harry's new york bar Celtic connection with the little Green island - which is also known as the birthplace of 'Blarney.'

But with this years' total and blanket coverage of Paris - and possibly France? - with the full bogey of Halloween, Halloween origin number 87 has been turned up - where else? - in France!

This is Harry's, which says it all.

This I personally learned with my own eyes and ears from tonight's TV-news. Video images and sound were broadcast from the capital to the whole land - plus offshore territories, ships at sea, and Corsica - showing 'native' Halloween festivities in the Alsacian town of Logelheim.

Apparently without even knowing the word 'Halloween' Logelheim's residents have been holding a pumpkin party for years if not centuries.

That they do know about jolly pumpkins with eyes and mouths carved in them; lit from within by candles - that Logelheimers dress up in 'witch' costumes, and even have scarecrows with pumpkin heads - a true novelty to me - it was all amply shown on the news.

The report's narrator claimed that Logelheim had no foreign residents; thus its fête is a local one. As the town is not listed in the index of the great - but concise - 'Times' atlas, it is possible nobody has a Sony TV set or Japanese pickup truck there - which opens the possibility that Logelheim may in fact, be the 'home' of Halloween.

The Origin of Halloween, Version Monopoly

Meanwhile in downtown France, Philippe Cahen claims to have single-handedly 'imported' Halloween from the United States to France in 1995. He admits the 'importation' was not to a Halloweenless France - "The French never ceased to celebrate Halloween," he is quoted as saying.

The first thing Mr. Cahen did for Halloween in France was create a cake for it - Le Samain - in 1997.

After France Télécom used pumpkins in a publicity campaign, they were followed a year later by massive promotions by McDonald's, Disney and Coca-Cola - which supposedlyphoto: latina cafe convinced the French that Halloween was 'imposed' by American firms.

With pumpkins - 'citrouilles' in French - being a major symbol, Mr. Cahen took a big leap and very quietly registered 'Halloween' as a world trademark, which nobody else had thought to do.

With this monopoly of the name, Mr. Cahen has raised his firm's turnover, with his own products and with licensing fees, from 15 million francs in 1998 to 45 million francs.

Latina Café has cool interior and salsa music too, in Champs-Elysées area.

Meanwhile, French pumpkin growers - who pay no licensing fee - have seen a low-popularity vegetable turn golden. Last week in Seine-et-Marne there were none left for sale.

Horse Jailed for Speeding On Champs-Elysées

A couple of German car jockeys ran a red light on the Champs-Elysées last Monday and got flagged over by the flics. They were, as Le Parisien puts it, not polite to the cops - especially after they were told to pay a 900 franc fine on the spot.

They refused with a level of unpoliteness bordering on another offense, and were conducted to the nearest lockup. However, this swank jail had no place available for their horse, which was handed over to the Garde Républicaine, which has stables out at Vincennes.

On Wednesday, the jockeys finally decided to pay the fine. Their car was liberated and so was the race horse - without any extra charges for its upkeep and transport across Paris from its trailer to its lockup and back again.

Notre-Dame On View Again, Soon

After six years the restoration of the facade of Notre-Dame has been completed, according to Le Parisien's editions on Wednesday. The cost of the work has been estimated at 97 million francs - not counting the cost of disappointment to tourists and lost revenue by photo-film producers.

Its result is supposed to be beautiful, but when I passed on Friday, the scaffolding was still in place. Apparently it will be completely removed between Saturday, 20. November and Saturday, 18. December. Meanwhile, two other restoration projects begin on the Paris landmark.

Winter Time

Unless I have been unalert, this is the first year that Europe and the United States have returned to 'winter time' simultaneously. To be exact, by setting clocks back at 03:00 - 'Summer Time' - to 02:00 - 'Winter Time' - this morning.

This clock-changing measure is not really appreciated in France, where it has only been practiced sincephoto: falstaff, montparnasse 1976. Resetting video-recorder clocks two times a year is more than can be reasonably required of any householder.

Nearly three-quarters of residents in France polled say they prefer an unique annual 'time' and 62 percent would like this to be 'summer' time.

Falstaff has been in Montparnasse since the '20's.

Le Parisien reports that 'most' of Europe reverts to 'winter' time today. In past years, Britain and Ireland changed clocks on different dates, which created incredible confusion as there were two brief periods of the year when there was a two-hour time difference between London and the continent instead of the usual one.

Whether this is the case this year, is not explicit as both these offshore island countries may not be in the 'most' category.

French Web Life

Very little - that I became aware of - was the total of 'life on the Web' in France last week. There is always Internet 'business' of course, but this is mostly dreamland and the purest PR and I don't pay much attention to it.

The Week's URL Shorties - as a result of the recent 'Quay of Speech Balloons' in Saint-Malo, comic scenarists are exchanging speech balloons through the medium of 'volleybulles,' between designers in France and Gabon, which is supposed to be a way to show how comics are made using computers. Germany's Deutsche Bahn has started its Surf&Rail Web site which permits buying 2nd-class train tickets online. What is new is that you print them out too, and these tickets are good at 111 DB stations. All you want to know about the theatre; especially what is playing and what you should see, is presented by the new site, Webthea. The site also offers links to other theatre-related sites. Suggestions for these Web site references have been supplied by 'Internet Actu.'

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