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As Usual, Confusion

photo, water slide, tuileries

High, wet, times in the Tuileries.

Stealth Marriage

Paris:– Monday, 1. August 2005:– France has taken a number of sharp pokes in the eye in the first half of this year. The French defied their political betters by saying 'non' to the new European constitution. Then the Olympic Committee said 'non' to the French bid for the games in 2012. Jacques Chirac went empty–handed to the G8 meeting in Scotland while his minister of the interior Nicolas Sarkozy stayed home, promising to make the French more British if he takes Jacques' job away from him in 2007.

If some Americans are looking at France and thinking that things can't be all bad here with all of our short work weeks, long holidays, comfortable way of foodlife, decent health care and educational opportunities for nearly all, they should be made aware that not everybody in France thinks God lives here.

For the past couple of weeks the rumor that Pepsi–Cola has mounted a hostile takeover of Frenchphoto, drummers, paris plage jewel Danone has prompted French leaders from right to left to climb the barricades and defend France from unwanted takeovers by wretched foreigners.

Drums of the week on the beach.

No matter that Danone is taking its chances by being listed on the stock exchange, no matter that it is already majority–owned by the major international investment groups, no matter that it is not a state enterprise and never was. No matter that the state didn't say 'zut!' when Danone closed a biscuit factory in a single–factory town last year and laid off 300 workers.

The situation was quietly defused when Pepsi issued a formal statement saying it has no intention of taking over Danone 'at this time.' The government has 'saved' Danone through its heroic action. Time for the holidays.

A keen view of the French economy shows that the French are just as productive as American workers. The difference in perceived benefits is explained by saying the French are satisfied with less – 35–hour week, smaller salaries, smaller girlfriends, smaller swimming pools, smaller cars, smaller toasters, and why not? – the French are smaller than Americans, and France is smaller than America.

Most French are perfectly happy with this tiny situation but there are some malcontents, like short presidential aspirant Nicolas Sarkozy. 'Speedy' Sarkozy says he is highly impressed with Britain's police, with the huge work ethic in Britain, and he is backed up by countless TV–news clips shown here depicting happy French expatriates extolling the virtues of working at least 60 hours a week.

They may as well like it because with the rain and the lousy food and the stony beaches in the UK, what else is there to do? French TV–news never reports on all the Brits who take their holidays in France – millions of them annually – man, if you work 60 hours a week you deserve a fine holiday. You want your money's worth and if you don't get it in France at least you get sunshine!

Small wonder that the French prefer having their holidays in France with each other. One would think that, after being harassed all year by the government and the tax collector and 'Speedy' Sarkozy, the French would just say 'merde alors' and go to Spain to forget their sorrows.

But no, they prefer to stay where they think they can eat well, drink well, and well, hang out in France, well. It is only Germans who think God lives in France. The other 70 million annual visitors simply think the French are on to a good thing.

As long as it is summer we should just let sleeping ducks lie, regardless of the hunting season openingphoto, lion, concorde so early that young ducks will get blown away before they even learn to fly. According to French hunters, shooting sitting ducks is sporting, especially if it puts them in the pot.

Royal comfort at Concorde.

With an attitude like this you would think that the French would be willing volunteer to work 60 hours a week, buy lots of the latest model stuff on credit, drive hulking gas–guzzlers to the hypermarché, and loll around in front of their 95 cm digital televisions eating ultra–pâté by the spoonful and drinking champagne out of silver buckets – as 'Speedy' Sarkozy is urging.

The odd thing is that it is conservative Jacques Chirac and the Socialists and the Communists, a good deal of the middle class and possibly a majority of the working class and students, who prefer that France keeps its 'social' character, sort of embodied by the republican notions of 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity' – not mere words, but the truly popular ambition of the French within France.

Aye, that's the French problem. There's too much history and too many people believe in it. The revolution was for a reason, no less valid today than a mere 206 years ago.

Paris–Plage News

The re–opening of Paris–Plage signals the season between the real life we've just had for 10 months and the coming future after August. In between nothing is serious or real, and this is supposed to apply to news more than anything else. This is called far and wide the 'silly news season.' If it's not worth reading drape it over your face to keep the flies off.

Marriage of the Week

Some reports characterized the marriage on Tuesday of Béatrice Schoenberg to Jean–Louis Borloo as a 'stealth wedding.' The ceremony was not mentioned on the TV–news and seemed to be the exclusive property of the magazines Paris Match, Ici Paris, and France Soir.

In fact spokesmen for France–2 TV said that it was a private affair and the network had no comment to make. Béatrice Schoenberg presents the news regularly on the national network's FR–2 channel and has done so for many years.

Jean–Louis Borloo is the current Minister of Employment and Social Cohesion in the government of Dominique de Villepin, and his office also refused to comment. The deputy mayor of Rueil–Malmaison, Patrick Ollier,photo, ferris wheel, tuileries also refused to comment after performing the marriage ceremony.

The SJD journalists' union at France–2 raised doubts about the future credibility of the journalist, caused by her marriage to the government minister.

And as one politician put it, 'marrying a journalist isn't the best way to get talked about. There's a risk of not being quoted by the partner's media.'

Whirling, twirling, in the Tuileries.

Jean–Louis Borloo has degrees in philosophy, history, economics and law as well as having a MBA from the University of Manchester. Member of the Paris bar, Mr. Borloo had a consultancy specializing in assisting companies in difficulty with financial markets; mergers and acquisitions. From 1989 to 1992 he was a member of the European Parliament. He was elected as a French deputy in 1993 and has been mayor of Valenciennes since 1991. His first ministerial post came in 1992 in the government of Jean–Pierre Raffarin and he has a bright future.

Another Sorry Record

The weekend between July and August is traditionally the weekend with the most traffic because the July shift is returning and the August shift is heading out to fun in the sun, and in France this criss–cross migration involves a large number of other European holidayers.

Traffic authorities in France classed the departure direction from Paris as 'noir' while those on the return trip were only 'orange.' At 13:00 on Saturday officials estimated the length of traffic jams in France at 749 kilometres, which was a fair amount more than the 674 km figure for the same weekend a year ago.

Difficulties began at sunrise on the favored routes to the south and continued until sundown. The roads around Lyon were saturated as usual, and there were huge lines stalled at all exit toll plazas in all major directions.

Not to be overlooked, wine growers were protesting in the Aude department and waterfowl hunters were protesting the late opening of the season in the area around Caen.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

After the 2012 Olympic games were attributed to London, I am a bit surprised the learn that Olympic games will be held in Vancouver in 2010. I wouldn't know about this expect for reports of local bears infesting areas of North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Port Moody and Coquitlam.

The report says that bear sightings in the city have increased fourfold over 2004 and that they have been spotted 1200 times this year since the beginning of summer. The authorities say that the plague involves about 50 animals who are attracted by slovenly habits such as sloppy garbage bags left on the streets, pet food dishes out in gardens, or even the seeds in birdcages.

None of this is happening in the City of Vancouver, which is a civilized place pretty much surrounded by waterphoto, fog, paris plage and Burnaby. Where the bears are is close to the mountains where the bears live, but if they put one paw on a paved street they are shot, as 39 were in 1999., much to the disgust of bear lovers – or residents of Vancouver, where there aren't any.

That's how it is, at the beach.

A local association is even willing to show doubters that living with wild bears is a possibility, with a big dose of caution and a bigger dose of nerve. Thanks to these fine folks the number of bears getting blown away has diminished, and some are even getting free trips to the interior of the province where they are supposed to get lost.

Also, fines of up to 525 Canadian dollars are being handed out for sloppy garbage habits, and the government is supplying two full–time employees to get rid of the unwelcome zooless bears. North Vancouver is not only a paradise for folks who love living on a mountainside, but bears appreciate the tasty free salmon in the rivers that tumble down it and the wild berries that grow like plump, ripe weeds in the forest.

According to Olympic officials, visitors to Vancouver for the games have little to fear. They aren't going to give the bears any choice – if they persist in hanging around in games areas, they will be helped to leave. Also I assume these are winter games scheduled for 2010. If so, bears are usually asleep in the winter, even in British Columbia.

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