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Published: November 7th 2005
moon rising, view from my window
Well I suppose those of you who read the news deserve some word from this end of the world. I don’t really know what to say. If you really want to understand the underlying psychology and attitudes, I suggest you rent La Haine, or HATE. I’ve seen it in Blockbusters and independent movie stores.
I couldn’t believe when I read this in the New York Times:
"This is just the beginning," said Moussa Diallo, 22, a tall, unemployed French-African man in Clichy-sous-Bois, the working-class Parisian suburb where the violence started Oct. 27. "It's not going to end until there are two policemen dead." New York Times, Craig S. Smith, published: November 7, 2005
There seems to be a very tit-for-tat mentality that was represented very well in that film. I warn that the film is very intense and not pleasurable, but I recommend it in order that you all might better “understand” the riots. Last night was the first night where the violence actually entered Paris proper, all the other riots have been in the surrounding suburbs. I don’t think the French press is saying anything different than the American press from what I have been reading. It is on every front page here though. They say it hasn’t been this bad since May 1968, which is saying something. It has moved from just damaging property into violence. There is a face off perhaps rooted in a Jewish/Arab conflict, perhaps stemming from Sarkozy fanning the flames, or even just because the areas where these things are taking place have an unemployment rate of 30%! I don’t know how this all will end. Chirac and Villipan had a meeting and what came out of it (mind you this is my translation of a French paper!) “The greatest priority is the reestablishment of security and order of the people. The last word will be of the law.” Like I said, the riots have just entered Paris and were not in my area at all. Though the areas they chose don’t make much sense either. I am not scared but admittedly my senses are heightened. My school at home has not emailed me saying to lay low and my center has not done anything either. All we do is talk about what the paper says. Thus, I feel like the people who are responsible for my well being (beyond myself of course) think I am safe. Here I am living in History!
On a lighter note I finally kicked my blues. I went to the opera on Friday night for the closing night of La Bohème. I waited in a line for a few hours before and got a 9 Euro seat! I was on the main level and had a great view. Because of the overhanging though I couldn’t read the super titles! Thankfully I know every word of RENT, which is based on it so I was able to follow the plot. It was a beautiful production. The lights dimmed right at 8 and the French just erupted with applause. Perhaps for the orchestra? Then the conductor came out and the applause peaked again only to die down with the rising curtain. The final bow was just as interesting, only the principles bowed, none of this row after row of chorus members business that we love to do. And while I am sure this was in part because it was closing night, they stayed seriously for twenty minutes bowing! My hands were killing me. I am shocked they were able to fit their big heads back into their dressing rooms. Yikes. They did deserve it though as the voices were impeccable.
I finally went to a movie! I have been meaning to go for two months and finally got around to it with Winnie on Saturday. It was a kick. You go hours in advance and wait in a really long line to buy your ticket then you line up fifteen minutes before your movie begins outside the theater with everyone else going to your movie. The theater was smaller than the size of my apartment and each row had only one exit, this did not mean that the French went and sat next to the wall and filled in, OH NO, they sat as they wished meaning that Winnie and I stood up and sat down about 8 times letting people by. Très sportive! Then we ventured to a French party of a “friend” that was great. It was just like a party at home only in French! I realized American youth gets such a bad rap for not being able to control themselves and being loud, but I have seen so much of it here too. Kids drinking too much and vomiting, yelling and screaming, being completely unaware on the metro….maybe it is just a universal that youth are a bit loud and do things in excess.
Sunday the Montgomery/Brown family came into Paris and we wondered about the Jewish district. It was great. We got a bit lost, but I found out they have bagels and cream cheese in this city! Woo hoo! We ended our stroll with a trip to the Jewish Museum, which I enjoyed but it seemed to be geared toward Jewish people or people with an intimate understanding of their culture and customs not the curious visitor. The security to get in was remarkable! It was also interesting to see the blocks they have to prevent terrorist car bombings I guess since there was one in the area in the late 1980s. It was a lovely day well spent with good company and scenery.
Beyond that I have been enjoying art exhibits and walking about. I spent three hours by myself in a Girodet expo in the Louvre on Thursday. I was blown away! It was huge and very well currated. It is so fun getting to study an artist in class and then go experience their works. I have a real sense of him as an artist now and a much greater appreciation of his talent than before. I think I should ask how much it would cost to take up residency at the Louvre as I seem to be there enough……..
I hope all is well in your respective corners of the world. I will keep you updated as I can about the riots and myself.
Love and misses!
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