There Was 'Happy' Weather

photo: cafe le lutetia, ile st louis

Rollers, bikers, strollers, and terrassians make up
a typical summer scene.

Last Week

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 22. July 2002:- I am pretty happy with the weather. Last week's forecasts were a little pessimistic but the actual climate thumbed its nose at them. Yesterday was supposed to be mostly cloudy and cool but it was mostly bright and sunny and warm instead.

It was so fine that a half-million residents and visitors turned out for the opening day of 'Paris Plage' on Sunday, which was good in one sense but in another gave a good impression of a beach that was a bit too crowded to see the sand.

The bad news is that the weathermen actually looked outside late yesterday and thought - oops! - andphoto: cafes and bikes then went ahead to tell the TV-weather news people to tell everybody in France that we should expect summer weather all week long.

What exactly, would bikes be, without cafés?

So, what happened? Some place in the high Alps was bombarded by hailstones as big as golfballs, people were hurt, roofs were punctured and car tops were turned into sheetmetal peppered with divots.

That was an isolated and local mistake, caused by fluffy clouds that floated so high that they started snowing inside themselves and got so cold that the snowflakes stuck together until there were enough of them to overcome gravity.

If you get hit with a big snowflake that has fallen 20,000 metres, then it is going to knock your hat off if you are lucky enough to be wearing one.

On account of this oversight, the weather people have kept their heads inside today. The word that the TV-weather news people have passed on calls for mostly cloudy tomorrow, I forget what on Wednesday, and partly sunny on Thursday - all with flat temperatures of 22 or 23. Gone is yesterday's rosy outlook for next weekend.

The way to look at this is calmly, with complete 'sangfroid,' and remember that last week's forecasts were no better, and better is what we really had in Paris. Besides, it is after 15. July, so it must be summer.

Café Life

Some weeks Café Life is lively and other weeks it is kind of routine. Go to the café and have a double-café and come back and do some work, or walk around and look at things and have a café and do some work. And between one place and another look at the sky and see that it bright and blue, and feel a bit good about it. It is not so bad even if it isn't terribly interesting.

'Is It True?'

The 'Is It True' corps of snoopers were active last week because Jonah Goldberg decided to use 'The National Review' to bash France as a subterfuge for bashing 'liberals' in his own country, which is the United States, where 'liberalism' is about as red as you can get if you can believe 'The National Review.'

Along the way Mr. Goldberg managed to re-use just about 30 percent of all the well-worn and usual complaints that the 'bash-the-French' troops routinely fling carelessly around.

For his readers that might not have read all of this several thousand times before he even offered a capsule history of French-bashing, which he claims began before the French were French, but when the Romans were Romans.

Basically, Mr. Goldberg claims the people who were not French yet could not beat the Romans, so they had to cook for them. This may be true, but I do not think either Italians or the French claim to have invented pizza.

He also claims that other Europeans do not care for the French much with a purportedly Germanphoto: sunbathers, ile st louis quote, in English, "The friendship of the French is like their wine - exquisite, but of short duration."

This Ile Saint-Louis beach scene is arranged to have a view of 'Paris Plage' on the right bank.

Mr. Goldberg obviously doesn't know that Germans probably drink more French wine than Americans - because they can afford it. I lived in Germany for seven years and the only thing I remember anybody saying about France was that 'God lives in France,' and 'He drives a Citroën DS-21.'

Then he claims that French-bashing is as 'in' as it ever was in the United States, and that it is even an 'industry' that is more popular now 'than in the 80s,' even though the France referred to sounds like a caricature of the early 1940s. To have time stand still for 60 years must be comforting.

There is a lot of other nonsense that only makes sense when the author points out that the leading notions that constitute right-wing thinking in the United States come from an animated TV-show called 'The Simpsons.'

But getting away from the comics, it appears that the cardinal French 'sin' is - or was - thinking differently from 'us' - meaning America's right-wing pundits. "While most of the West, if not the world, is Americanizing for good and for ill, France remains determined to stay French."

There's another few hundred words repeating this in various ways that would be intensely boring to detail. But it is only after two-thirds of the article that we learn the reason behind its drift, and this turns out to be 'domestic America-haters.'

Mr. Goldberg is not really annoyed with the French after all. He writes, "If you go by French attitudes alone, America has the largest population of Frenchmen never to have surrendered to Germany."

Then he explains why 'American liberal cosmopolitans' love the French. There are four reasons he writes, one of which is, "The French are trying to outlaw hard work and, perhaps eventually, work entirely."

Other bad French things are tolerance about the private lives of citizens and making celebrities out of intellectuals, instead of say, 'The Simpsons.' The worst of all is that 'the French elites' say bad things about America.

In his last paragraph, Mr. Goldberg admits that he has grown weary of years of endless French-bashingphoto: fete forain, tuileries because he thinks he has been at it so long without managing to change any 'American liberal cosmopolitan' opinions.

On top of it, France shrugs it all blithely off by increasing its number of cheeses from 200 to nearly 500 varieties, while enticing more and more Europeans and Americans to come to France to try them all.

Flying high on one of the rides in the Tuileries. Note the not-so-small ferris wheel behind.

Even though Mr. Goldberg is tired of French-bashing, the 'Is It True?' watchers felt that his latest effort falls far short of his customary low standards because it is so repetitive and so patently worn out.

I felt the same way, and suggested four other countries that it might be fun to 'bash,' but the group surprised me by picking Canada out of a ht when they could have had Albania.

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