In NYC, ‘Je suis Charlie’ solidarity with France — Beryl Goldberg photographs for GallicFever

10 JANUARY 2015. A day before millions mobilized in France for Je suis Charlie solidarity, hundreds assembled in New York City’s Washington Square Park to let France know we support freedom of expression from Paris to Timbuctu — and everywhere else. Without fear of being silenced by late-model weapons in the hands of terrorists.

The form of free expression chosen by one New Yorker in the park was dance . . . pole dance. As leather-clad Carolyn Chui slowly waved a Je suis Charlie placard from high above the crowd, onlookers smiled.”Only in New York,” commented Lamia, who’s from France via Algeria.

Carolyn danced to music of Chopin and Rachmaninoff, played by Colin Huggins on a grand piano. Especially haunting to my ear was Colin’s rendering of Yann Tierson’s, “Contine d’un autre été.” Tierson wrote his ‘little story of another summer’ — as I later learned, for  the movie, Amélie.” That frigid January Saturday [scroll down. . .]

Editor’s note: Play slide show, read captions and click comment link — just move your mouse over the photo mosaic.


was not the first time Colin played Chopin in the Greenwich Village venue, nor will it likely be the last. Where does he garage his grand piano? Wait for warmer weather, stop by the arch in Washington Square Park. . . and maybe he’ll tell you.

Colin’s fingers surely were ready to freeze — as were mine, and GallicFever photographer’s Beryl Goldberg’s. Beryl has photographed West African dance on location, but outdoor pole dance in New York was a first. For me, a chance to stand with the French couldn’t have been more welcome, once I discovered the Je suis Charlie invitation on the New York in French forum. French Institute Alliance France (FIAF), organized the bittersweet moment of Franco-U.S. solidarity.

Beryl and I had planned a second stop that Saturday afternoon: Albertine bookstore, uptown on Fifth Avenue. We’d long wanted to take some photos of my fave Franco-American cultural hotspot, but first we decided to warm up over hot chocolate at the Eighth Street branch of Vive la Crêpe. We thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant warmth of the shop, the French posters and our fresh fruit-filled crêpe. Tasty, and totally French — right? Only the former, since it’s a Mexican chain that opened their first Vive la Crêpe in Manhattan about five years ago.

At Albertine, I scoop up my budget-priced Folio paperback of Le Père Goriot, the Balzac novel we’ll read in the FIAF class I’m taking this semester. Meanwhile, Beryl has been shooting. We sit down in the shop’s upper level reading room and chose perfect photos of la belle Albertine, where the flower of French literature is shelved in both French and English editions. And where, every week, fascinating Franco-American cultural events inevitably attract full complements of my brothers and sisters in francofolie.

Missing urban presences — Paris, Brussels, Bordeaux

Ria (l.) and Suzanne, two from my Brussels charmed circle

Ria suggested in an email that Paris, in tandem with her city, Brussels, are like my part-time lover. Maybe, she added, that’s why you’re so in love. Ria is one of a Brussels circle of long-time special friends whose welcome charmed the city for me. The part-time lover idea appealed; after all, part-time is known to keep feelings potent, n’est-ce pas?

Place Royale in handsome Brussels

My first Brussels belle, Nicole, took this photo of the Musée Magritte, irresistible lure of the Royal Art Museum complex in the Place Royale

When I thanked Ria for the insight, she replied in an even deeper vein: In life, she wrote, rather than keep on missing — one feels better sustained by desire.* The better I get to know my friends’ handsome city, the more Brussels complements ethereal Paris. Two capitals after my own heart. And city missing may attack with no warning. . . .

On New York’s extreme east side — genteel but remote turf well north of midtown Manhattan — on a day when I’d skipped lunch, where could I go to fend off late-afternoon starvation? Just one more block east, said an informant, at a place named something like Pinocchio’s –? The array of sweets at first had my full attention in Beanocchio’s, but then as I Continue reading

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.