If I Had Time To Read

photo: bistro joe goldenberg

Even if it's called a delicatessen, I say it's a bistro.

This 'News' Would Be Full of Facts

Paris:- Sunday, 28. November 1999:- It has been one of those weeks when I have been running into 'news' as it happens. I guess I have been in the right spots at the right time.

I usually use radio France-Info as a nasty form of wake-up alarm, but the state radios have been on strike over the 35-hour business. I don't care if France-Info broadcasts FIP's good music instead, but I object to FIP broadcasting 'France-Musique's' semi-classical program.

If I didn't have manual radio tuning, I would hunt around for 'France-Musique's' frequency, to find out if they are playing techno or something else out of character.

Strike Interrupted for News Report

Last Wednesday, France-Info interrupted its strike with a burst of news, which allowed me to catch the Paris Meridian tree planting in the Luxembourg last Thursday morning.

photo: christian poncelet, president of french senatThe French Senat is located in the Luxembourg Palace and the President of it, Christian Poncelet, was on hand to help the kids shovel dirt into the hole where the tree was planted.

French Senat President, Christian Poncelet, with 'Robin-Hoods.'

This was surprisingly informal, with no particularly noticeable police presence, or secret service guys wearing designer shades lurking around.

The only problem I had was borrowing a chair to get a low-angle shot of President Poncelet talking to some 'Robin-hood' kids, with the palace in the background.

The chair in question, one of the park's, was in the temporary possession of a TV-lady who was 'saving' it for her cameraman, who was nowhere to be seen. Impatient people who snottily ask me if I don't speak French, I usually ask if they don't speak German.

With ill-grace she 'lent' me the chair for 22 seconds. The shot I got, I trashed.

At these low-priority 'spot-news' affairs I often see the crew from the Korean KBS network. Their clothes look like they sleep in them and their video camera looks like a 2nd-hand one from the Boulevard Beaumarchais. It looks like their organization has about the same budget as mine.

Taxi Drivers and Slavery

The day before, I was walking around my 'quartier' looking forphoto: bookshop rue pavee the 'posters of the week' when I ran into the taxi drivers' strike. I'd heard about the protest march of the managers, but having the taxi strike on my doorstep saved me from running down to the Quartier Latin.

The 'angry' managers looked good on TV-news though; all the 'suits' marching along with their nifty banners, chanting their slogans, doing their 'talking heads' for the media mikes.

What was slightly surprising was that some of the managers were honestly angry. Some of these men and women who are on the low end of the 'cadre' scale often get little more pay than ordinary employees, but they have to pay out more for their social benefits.

Sometimes in France it seems as if nearly everybody except top-level politicians, administrative big knobs and the big-hats of industry and commerce, are subsidizing somebody else.

It must be catholic. Those who aren't rewarded in the here and now will get theirs later - if they stay in line.

Blues In a Bottle

The government's decision to give the thumbs-down on Coca-Cola's bid to take over French soft drink Orangina from Pernod-Ricard has left gloomy faces on TV-news all round except for Pepsi France.

Announced with some fanfare a couple of years ago as a fivephoto: giant wheel at concorde billion-franc deal, it promised cash for Pernod-Ricard and a vastly increased bottling capacity for Coke in France. But it would have withdrawn most if not all of Pepsi's French bottling facilities - effectively driving Pepsi out of the French market.


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