D–Day In Paris
Sunday café in the Quartier Latin.
Red Carpets and the Marseillaise
by Ric Erickson
Paris:– Monday, 7. June 2004:– Sometimes the real weather doesn't turn out like the forecast, even if it looks like it's foolproof. There was a recent prediction here for fine weather and it flat refused. It was like a day of no weather at all. Everybody quit living until it was over.
It took the skies a few days to recover from it. This wasn't right either because there was supposed to be a series of fine days, but all we had was this weather that was recovering, as if it had a bad cold.
When you get burned like that and another good forecast comes along, it's hard to know what to do with it. If I pass this on, will it cause the weather to sneeze?
Okay, you've got a right to know. On one hand we are supposed to think that the weather will be very warm and very sunny. On the other hand the TV–weather news maps show a big sunball smack in the middle of a blue sky getting squeezed by semi–cloudy weather forcing its way into France from the west.
The fine area is trapped between fronts on the west and in the northeast tomorrow. On Wednesday the whole thing wheels a bit clockwise, pushing the clear area to the southeast. On Thursday the whole barn door lies across France from the western Pyrenees to Saarbrücken, with the sunny area hemmed in by another front along the Côte d'Azur.
If that doesn't sound promising, then high temperatures of 31 degrees tomorrow for Paris, may be fantasy. But the forecast thinks the high will be 29 on Wednesday and 27 on Thursday. This supposes that the low front from the west won't spread further east quickly. This is tricky. If I don't believe the forecast, what am I to suppose?
Café LifeOn the March Again
On Saturday the problem was that there were two other major demos. All three were in eastern Paris, and all started or ended at Bastille or Réplublique. Result – many people went to wrong demo at the wrong time and place. Yes, it is true – Paris can host the President of the United States and hold three major demos without anarchy breaking out.'Not in Normandy' on Saturday.
The anti–war demonstration began at Bastille at 17:00, and set off to march the fairly short distance to République. When I arrived at Bastille shortly after five the place was far from full. It almost looked like a very minor demo. The marchers were loitering in place at the edge of Bastille, in the Boulevard Beaumarchais. When I walked into it, it got started, but it went very slowly. There were a lot of people coming and going in all directions.
This erratic start allowed many lost Parisian demonstrators to 'find' it. Thousands streamed towards Bastille from République, often making the march seem as if it was milling around in a clot. Many more joined the tail end at Bastille. When I walked north I passed a small demo, but when I walked back later I passed one that had grown considerably in a hour.
The police estimate on TV–news for all of France – there were demos in many other French cities too – was 50,000. But organizers estimated the marchers as 200,000. Also, because of today's timing, it would have been possible to have taken part in all three demos in Paris.
Union presence was strong, especially CGT, FO, LO, LCR and Sud, plus there were human rights groups, There was a 'hands off Cuba' group, and pro–Palestinian demonstrators. Human rights in Palestine are linked to human rights in Iraq. The tail end of the march contained many new–looking red flags, carried by the Communist party PCF, and the ultra-leftist LO and LCR parties, the Trotskyists. These last two are fielding common candidates for the European elections next Sunday. They might score better than the PCF.
The mood seemed to be – as it often is – fairly festive. What better way to spend a clement Saturday afternoon than to march a bit to denounce the 'hyper–puissance,' the United States? Many of the marchers have real problems with their own government – the two other demos today – so the opportunity to march for the world's general well–being was refreshing to many.
An older lady I talked to complained about the start location and time mix–up. She had been at République and got into the march to protest against the 'reform' of the Sécurité Sociale – the Sécu – by mistake. She said her pension was fair enough and she wasn't worried about the government wrecking it. She perked up a lot when I guessed that a lot more people were joining the end of the parade. This turned out to be true too.
Near the end of the parade there were many more red flags. It looked like the PCF has got itself some new ones. They were very red. One said '100% Rouge.' New were the Cuban protestors. They seemed to have new flags too. The whole thing was followed by punkers with techno music vans. They didn't have any flags. They were beamed out on the noise they had – they were probably unaware of the United States, Iraq or Palestine.The 'Human Rights' platform at Trocadéro.
The police presence was discrete. Three or four officers from the police prefecture were managing the parade, and that was about it. Radio news and TV–news covered it, with pretty reduced crews. It was featured on the evening's main news show, along with video from Marseille and a couple of other cities.
Jacques and George had a news conference late in the afternoon. Jacques is a professional talker, so he can make things seem to be okay – yatta yatta – wave the hands around, he's animated. This weekend has been the non–stop 'Jacques Show' – he must have given a half–dozen major performances on Sunday alone.
During the news conference on Saturday George sat there looking like he wished he was home on the ranch in Crawford. The 'official' word about it was confused, so I guess even the diplomatic French had some problem putting a neat spin on it. I expected they would have been very fake–jolly; but I guess George couldn't, wouldn't, play along. Maybe the Pope said he was misbehaving.
Out in Normandy, in beautiful weather, the vets and everybody else did seem to be having a good time. There was all kinds of shows going on – including France–2 TV with its 'longest night' on Saturday, that began at midnight and went non–stop until the dawn of 6. June.
Some 30 of Paris' best hotels rolled out their red carpets on Friday to welcome invited American veterans of the 1944 landings, and the entire staff of the George–V lined the carpet to applaud their share who arrived by bus from Roissy. In the evening the vets were treated to a warm reception, with a live band playing Glenn Miller tunes.Coming up to the Arc de Triomphe.
Continued on page 2...
|Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2010
– unless stated otherwise.
| No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
– Waldo Bini