Gallic Fever

Toujours francofolle !


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In Paris: Signs of change, photographed by Nathalie Prébende

Merci, Nathalie Prébende, French photojournalist, for sharing with GallicFever your vivid “Je suis Charlie” reportage. We’re so proud to be among your publishers.

Editor’s note: Don’t miss details like coiffure-as-political statement, sign text translated (where needed). See photos full-size, read captions, play slide show and click comment link — just move your mouse over the photo mosaic . . . .

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After a hideous coup : mourning the Charlie Hebdo victims

Ten journalists and cartoonists of the French satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, and three police officers, all died violent deaths on 7 January 2015. Some of the journos’ photos are here, in Le Point.  In this post, GallicFever offers some French and American tributes to the victims.

Drawing by Kanako, courtesy of MyLIttleParis

Drawing by Kanako, courtesy of MyLIttleParis

Descending on the Charlie Hebdo offices, a pair of religious radical terrorist gunmen murdered two policemen in and near the scene, and massacred veteran staffers assembled for their Wednesday morning editorial meeting. A hideous coup.

As “E.W. Count,” I was a longtime nonfiction and fiction writer about the New York Police Department and I remain an honorary member of the French-American police friendship association, 911/17. As they say in France these days, je suis Charlie, and, je suis flic. I identify with and deeply mourn the journalists and policemen who perished in the horror maelstrom at Charlie Hebdo.

Martin, a Princeton University French teacher honored murdered French police

1/10/15, in NYC solidarity, Martine, a Princeton University French teacher, honored French police

The officers assassinated inside the Charlie Hebdo office and on the street outside, are respectively, Franck Brinsolaro, and Ahmed Merabet. Montrouge officer Clarissa Jean- Philippe was gunned down, point blank, by a third terrorist whose murder spree later claimed the lives of four Jewish men doing pre-sabbath errands on Friday afternoon in a Vincennes kosher grocery. I mourn my fallen fellow Jews, Yohan Cohen, Yohav Hattab, Philippe Braham and François-Michel Saada. As they also say in France lately, je suis juif.

Tuesday, 13 January, saw the Jewish victims buried in Israel; François Hollande honored the three police officers (NY Times video link) in the Paris courtyard of the police prefecture. According to Le Parisien, President Hollande said, “[the unity] we have shown . . . [is] our most sturdy weapon . . . .The French people has rendered to the police . . . the most beautiful homage possible.”

Parisians honor murdered police

Parisians remember their three police officers, assassinated by three terrorists, January 2015

As successive shocks emanated from Paris, I was comforted by a statement of solidarity and condolences offered by the International Association of Chiefs of Police President, Richard Beary. “I am horrified,” Mr. Beary wrote, “and deeply troubled by the tragic events that have taken place in Paris. . . . [We] mourn the lives of those who have perished and applaud the bravery and dedication of the law enforcement officers who gave their lives in an effort to protect the innocent victims of this horrific attack.

911/17 Patch

Patch worn by members of 911/17 French-American police friendship association

“As the French National Police and other agencies in France continue their efforts to apprehend those responsible for this attack, I want them to know that they have the support of the global policing community. . . .

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and colleagues whose lives have been devastated by this tragic and senseless crime.”

Indeed, it remains no easy feat to think about anything else. Bon courage to all my French friends and colleagues.


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M. & Mme. Sarkozy and — a penguin?! French politics Q&A

My own personal French politics pundit is Thibault Leroux— but how selfish of me to keep his wit all to myself! It’s my pleasure to share a sample of his commentary, translated by moi. Oh, of course, Thibault can write English, too, though I hardly had enough brass to ask him to do that. I confess I had set a little trap by forwarding from the New York-based online journal, French Morning, a roundup of U.S. media coverage of French politics. “So,” I asked my former Paris neighbor, “what do you think of this?”  Obliging as ever, he wrote back . . . .

Thibault Leroux: Not too much new in this summary — unless it’s the U.S. media’s orgy of French bashing. Let’s say, your media have an embarrassment of riches at the moment. Each week, we give them some page one news! And we’re far from finished, since the Big Chief, the Savior, Raymond de Carla, is climbing back down into the political arena.

La francofolle: Wait a minute – (baffled, I had to follow up by phone) ‘de Carla’ means [former president] Nicolas Sarkozy is the husband of chanteuse Carla Bruni, but why ‘Raymond’?

Thibault Leroux: Carla has a song about ‘mon Raymond,’ who’s a stand-in for Nicolas. And there’s a penguin in the song — a subliminal reference to Francois Hollande.

 Ff: How so? Something about how (president) Hollande dresses

Thibault Leroux: I think the penguin image is supposed to remind us of how he walks.

So much for Monsieur Hollande!  When France won two 2014 Nobel Prizes, Hollande’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, gleefully stood up (again) against international and internal French bashing. The big prizes, Valls tweeted, were a sucker punch to French bashers.  What’s the French French bashing tract you told me is an influence on public opinion at home?

penguin12Thibault Leroux:  That would be the current best-selling polemic on the “decline” of France, “Le Suicide Français”. Notorius author Eric Zemmour, tries to defend the WWII pro-Nazi Vichy regime and its leader Pétain, as “saviors of the Jews.” Depressing!

You called the author ‘sinistre’ — which I translated as ‘notorious.’ To me, Zemmour is indeed a sinister character. I read that he’s Jewish. Talk about depressing! For some comic relief, at least relatively, let’s go back to Sarko. . . .

Thibault Leroux: Sarkozy could be our very own Berlusconi [the corrupt Italian former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who’s forever trying to sidle back to power]. The problem is, ‘Raymond’ hadn’t foreseen a comeback this fast. He foresaw it more towards the end of 2015, and he certainly didn’t plan on taking over the direction of his party.  These things are decided somewhere behind the scenes. Bottom line, he’s a long way from becoming president of the republic once again, inasmuch as a good number of his “friends” are about to be his best enemies.  We’ll have the right to two and a half years of Sarko Show and presidential campaign. French Morning  will have lots of fodder for their articles.

So, why did Sarkozy jump the gun? Explain a bit more about this surprise timing in relation to the sequence of French elections. And did the friends cum enemies give him a push?

Thibault Leroux: Primary elections are in 2016. But he came back in time for party elections this November, to try to take over his party – the UMP. It’s so theatrical, but it’s a dangerous game: if he doesn’t get 80 percent of the UMP vote, that Continue reading