Paris Has the Dismals

photo, saturday night, rue roger The outlook on Saturday – deserted and dismal.

Flying Saucer Archives Opened

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Saturday, 24. March:– We did appreciate the soft winter that was so springlike so there's no purpose in complaining about the taste of winter going around that began with spring last week. In the east the regulation dump of snow landed and folks got out their shovels to heave it out of the way and truck drivers were seen on the TV news moaning about the autoroutes failing to be totally cleared so they can roll non–stop to their hearts' content.

Here in the big city the sky decided to be low, grey and wet all day. There are people who have come here expressly for mist and gloom and had to put up with those spring days we had, taking their unexposed film back with them. To tell the truth I don't mind having it dim and damp for a while. Too much perfection makes life seem phoney. Don't get me wrong though – I am not about to run up any Alp just so I can froth around in the white stuff.

I took a tour around my neighborhood, to the café and back, to get a Loto ticket so I can get my dumb self out of here. The sidewalks were glistening as were cobbles and roadways, and all the black umbrellas too. Not yet dark and the neons were reflecting reds and greens, yellows and blues – small islands of carnival like lone candles on a big blue cake.

photo, bar in rain, rue daguerre Well–lit and snug, warm and smokey.

Not much on the TV news. They are having a big party in Berlin this weekend, congratulating 475 million Europeans for having the sense to be Europeans instead of tearing each other's throats out. We have gotten so good at this that we don't really need a constitution. At least not before 2009.

In France the presidential campaign is as busy as ever. Everybody kissed a cow – except José Bové – a couple of weeks ago at the Beautiful Cow Show here. Bové held his own kiss his goats show on his ranch somewhere out in the mucky province someplace.

As of last week there are 12 official candidates. These are the ones who got their 500 godfathers to sign a paper for some sort of election commission. That was one big hurdle out of the way – one that eliminated several candidates. The big Jacques Chirac finally decided to tell the voters not the vote for him because he isn't running again. But he waited almost another week to suggest that we vote for Nicolas Sarkozy. It wasn't clear if this was a favor for anybody.

photo, boulangerie in rain Warm bread and dripping umbrellas.

Ségolène Royal is still rambling around the country drawing big crowds, wearing snappy costumes, standing up straight and looking straight into the cameras, and telling prospective voters what's on her mind. Lately she's been concluding her rallies with a warm sing–song of the Marseillaise. This comes after treating some of the themes of Sarkozy and Le Pen, such as crime and illegal immigration – which she calls the identity national – "L'identité nationale, c'est nous, c'est tout le peuple de France." Including, one presumes, the paperless.

The candidate the polls place in third place, François Bayrou, is either rising or falling in the standings. Monsieur Bayrou runs the centre–right UDF party that has loaned ministers to the governing UMP party, so he is far from an unknown on the national scene. He seems to be running as a choice for folks who don't trust Sarkozy and who will never vote Socialist. For every point he gains, Sarkozy loses one.

An opinion poll in Friday's Le Parisien puts Royal even with Sarkozy for the first time, with Bayrou just five points behind. For the second round run–off the paper says the poll gave Sarkozy and Royal each 50 percent – another first. Up until now Sarkozy has always had a significant edge. Right–winger Jean–Marie Le Pen has only half the points of Sarkozy and Royal, and what he is losing seems to be going to Sarkozy, Monsieur law–and–order.

photo, bar in rain, rue daguerre Well–lit and snug, warm and smokey.

Last week cops were outside a primary school in Paris and they attempted to arrest a grandfather without legal papers, who was there to accompany his granddaughter. In the fracas between teachers, parents and the police, the head of the school was arrested and held for several hours. Some of the young students complained about the tear gas used. The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, objected forcefully.

And we've just become aware that there is a proposed law, inspired by Sarkozy, that would make it illegal for ordinary citizens to report on actions like the one above. The ONG Reporters Sans Frontiers thinks this might be attempt to restrict rights of speech. In any case, such a law would be subject to scrutiny by the Constitutional Council, to decide on its constitutionality in France.

But the week's most exciting news concerned the opening of official archives containing all the flying saucer reports, going back to the end of WWII. Yessir, France stands second to none in this regard, and Le Parisien even has quite a good photo of one. For the curious, check out the official CNES Web site, which might be difficult to access on account of the zillions of curious flying saucer fans in France.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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