horz line

The Gay Parade

photo: express cafe

No express at all on Sundays.

Cheap In Paris

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 28. June 2004:– I remember few weeks with such feeble forecasts as the last one had. Between the Eurofoot in Portugal pushing the weather completely off the screen and 'no show' for predicted blue skies, we've had seven days of broken promises. The tempering factor is today's unpredicted sunshine in blue skies with mellow temperatures. For a surprise it hasn't been too bad.

Tonight's forecast, without promising a true and deep blue sky, calls for sunshine tomorrow. The sun might be above some high clouds but it shouldn't feel like a washed out and colorless blanket. Should, should not – who knows? So many forecast sunny days turn out to be blotted by clouds. At least, it is June, so the temperature may be reliable at 24 degrees.

Tonight's TV–news weather forecast for Wednesday has predicted a sunnier day than Tuesday. If to be, then probably to be the sunniest day of the week, with a high staying pegged to 24.

Thursday looks like it will see the end of the blue when clouds begin to take over the north of the country. Unclear is whether these will completely blot out sunbeams. Certain is that they will force the high temperature down to 22, which is probably below 'normal' for the time of the year.

The TV –weather news showed the clouds drifting ever further south and this may continue on Friday, accompanied with another drop in temperature. If you are in France this week and you want truly summer–type weather, you'll have to go the Côte d'Azur to find it. In Paris, it will not be great for camping, jumping in fountains or sunbathing.

Café Life

Gay Pride, Part 2004

My memory has a leak. When I pump it full of facts they leak away so fast I am not sure I know anything anymore. Sometimes it feels like I am forgetting more than I knew, almost faster than I knew it. It is probably time I took a holiday but I don't have one on the horizon.

On Saturday morning the radio said it was the day of 'La Gay Pride' parade. This surprised me even thoughphoto: gay pride mention of it is in last week's 'Scène' column, which I only finished compiling last Monday. Maybe it was a long week shorter than I thought.

Folks on their way to join the parade on Saturday.

The actual name is something not even other people can remember, so, like them, I'll call it 'Gay Pride' too. Technically it is supposed to be a march against homophobia, but in a wider sense it is supposed to be against all forms of discrimination. This means it is the parade for everybody who isn't a pea–brained crypto– fascist, which is just about nobody.

In France, nominally a land of tolerance, a parade like this can attract a lot of good thinking people. However I decided to go and see it mainly because it was starting at neighboring Denfert–Rochereau – plus, if I hadn't turned on the radio, I would have forgotten all about it.

I guess this classes me as wishy–washy in the anti–discrimination department. I go to a lot of demonstrations but I don't take part in them. I never joined the army either. Nor boy scouts. Maybe I'm like a 'white diner.' I eat but I don't give.

But somebody has to keep score. The cops had sealed off all the streets within 500 metres of Denfert, including all of the Avenue Leclerc down to Alésia. The usual hordes of teenagers were pouring out of the Métro exit and streaming towards the Lion.

Also as usual, there were a few tourists clustered around the entry to the Catacombs. I wondered what they thought. Here they were, coming from around the world to see piles of old bones, and right in the same place it looked like there is going to be some sort of riot.

Well, not riot exactly. The usual hot sausage stands were smoking, the drinks wagons were in place, the balloons with slogans were swaying above heads, and the bloody techno–noise was bashing away. And there were a couple thousand people under 30 standing aimlessly around in a big place watching a crew of singers all dressed the same on a canvas–topped flatdeck truck.

Come to see the bones and get this as a bonus. Well, we've got three other major things to see today and a demo isn't one of them. Let's just get down there and snuggle with the bones.

Meanwhile the place was filling up, especially on the half that faces the Avenue Denfert Rochereau. Looking east,photo: bibliotheque nationale the entire Boulevard Saint– Jacques seemed full of people and trucks. I couldn't see far, and the overhanging trees made it seem pretty dark – an unknown number of people were down there.

The very grand bibliothèque at sundown on Friday.

Except for more people arriving all the time – the RER station is close by too – nothing happened for a long time. One lady near me put on green makeup for 45 minutes. She was still doing it after things began to lurch forward.

The truck with the singers finally got in gear and moved slowly off. In 20 minutes it got to the other side of the place and was lined up with the avenue. Following trucks, towing flat decks loaded with loudspeakers and amateur dancers, were followed by street dancers. You know – the kids in their techno–trances, deafened by trash sounds.

There were some paraders who had dressed for Halloween, and these were in the narrow paths between trucks, proceeded by hordes of amateur photographers. Yes, Halloween on an overcast afternoon in June is a lot more interesting than on a dark night in October.

The crews on the flat decks of other trucks tossed packages of condoms at the spectators. Some of these trucks were tied to balloons painted with the initials of school teachers' unions. It was all pretty stirring. The people around me tried to catch all the condoms they could. Souvenirs?

There were several educational union trucks, some with educational slogans. But we need to face facts here – as laudable as this 'Gay Pride' parade may be, it's a sorry substitute for carnival. A few individuals take care to dress up – some undressed up – but the vast majority are in ordinary clothes both on the trucks and on the pavement. And ordinary clothes these days are next to rags.

The worst part of these things is the techno–noise. There isn't any reason why anybody should have to hear this crap. It's like anti–music and I can't think of a suitable time for it anywhere, anyplace. Music for morons isn't good enough. Get music good enough for carnival and there'll be no stopping dancing in the streets.

It's all Jack Lang's fault. He went to 'Gay Pride' in Berlin a decade ago and brought street techno back. Then, as Minister of Culture, he didn't kill it. Anybody who thinks they like it should have to work in a steel mill for five years. Get to grow old deaf.

There. I've had my semi–annual rant. Once you've seen one flat–deck littered with amateur dancers and techno sounds, tossing out condoms to all, you've pretty much seen them all. Bam, bam, bam. Dull thrills.

Of course, the evening's TV–news saw much more. The famous people and politicians got slotted into the parade at a suitable video slot, for the evening's TV–clips and sound bites. It's not like they had to line up at Denfert for hours and walk at a crawl all the way to Bastille.

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