vendredi 30 août 2013

Does Goldie know?

I've just discovered this segment of another film by Woody Allen with Goldie Hawn dancing with him on the quais next to the Pont de la Tournelle south of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Some visitors (and most Parisians) may not know that on the bridge stands a statue of Sainte Geneviève (yes, 1500 years ago) that was realised by a French sculptor best known for this other world known piece:

Did they tell Goldie?

jeudi 29 août 2013

SemperFidelis needed here

At the end of his resignation speech Tricky Dicky famously says "au revoir" and tells there's no correct word in English to convey what he meant. Why weren't "We'll meet again" or "See you someday" for example appropriate to what Nixon wanted to say? "We'll see you again" does he eventually says.

And weren't American voters somewhat flummoxed by the use of a foreign word (and a French one at that!) in such a circumstance by an American president? 

mardi 20 août 2013

Which future for America?

There was this article in the NYT some days ago and I was musing about the perception of American identity by current white American citizens.

I explain: What do Latinos care about the history of the US or Native Indians who have nothing to do with England and the British colonies except that their arrival meant the beginning of their downfall?

And colored people as well as Americans with Asian ancestry, I guess they couldn't care less about the Indian wars, the Siege of Yorktown or the Civil War (except for Black people of course since that battle marked the beginning of the end of their plight).

Europe also knows a great influx of immigrants mostly from Africa and Arabic countries and the process of integration is far from being an easy one.

My guess is that Turks in Germany don't care a fig about former kings, princes or dukes and that they hardly know who Bach, Goethe or Kafka are or that a German monk named Martin Luther was at the origin of the most major split within the Christian Church, a split which eventually caused the migration of thousands and thousands believers to the New World. On the other hand they’re free from any guilt regarding Auschwitz or Edith Cavell (don’t mention her name when you’re having an Englishman and a German as guests in your house).

The difference between our two continents being that, according to all demographic projections, white Americans will be the minority in America about 30 years from now whereas native Europeans will remain a strong majority.

How do white Americans feel about this trend which tends to illustrate that a nation of colonists eventually is submerged by other immigrants because in a world where all nations have at least hundreds and hundreds of centuries - if not millenaries - of History, new comers just arrive too late and will always lack what lays at the core of all nations.

vendredi 16 août 2013

Marie-Antoinette in Hollywood

Seven years ago the American director Sofia Coppola directed a movie dedicated to the life of Marie-Antoinette, and it wasn't the first one coming from Hollywood, far from it. Remember Norma Shearer among others?

And I was wondering, why does this unfortunate French queen raise such interest in America?

One may expect an English queen to be the subject of an equally attentive curiosity. But which one, save Anne Boleyn? And past English Royalties probably don't sound too sympathetic to Americans.

- A very dramatic story, good script for Hollywood, yes but what else?
- Nostalgia for a time when the Ancient Régime looked like a Disney fairy tale?
- She was the wife of the French king who was on the throne when Lafayette went to the help of the American revolutionaries?

I can't see any other reason for this apparent American fondness for Marie Antoinette, something you won't find in the UK.

A former Austrian princess who became queen and who was the very image of luxury and abandon with eventually an infamous death, and all this somehow related to the very first days of the American Republic, that must be it...

samedi 10 août 2013

Henri le Chat noir

When Maureen Dowd wrote her unwillingly funny piece in the NYT the other day, she quoted A. Camus and a line I have never heard before: "Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?" 

The existential trend of post-war France and Sartre as well as Camus have apparently left an enduring imprint on the image many Americans have of France and the French. It is not the first time -by far- that I read a text which indeed indicates how in America France is often associated with philosophy and deep thinking an essential element of everyday living.

As a funny illustration of this perception here are the thoughts of an American French speaking cat.

mercredi 7 août 2013

Three Americans in Paris

A feel-good film which also reminds how depressively sooty the monuments were in Paris at that time. At 3:10 Audrey Hepburn is standing on a terrace at Montmatre and the second after we see the Hôtel de ville and the river Seine. Just the camera has moved in between since this view is impossible from Montmartre. The second segment was shot on top of the left tower of the Notre-Dame cathedral. And the same goes at 3:23 where the camera now is situated on the roof of the Grand Palais. The reason is that each of the three stands at different locations as we soon discover.

I haven't the sligtest idea what are the structures we see at 3:50 framing the Eiffel Tower on the sides of the screen???

lundi 5 août 2013

I am so scared!

And now there is this joke of (fabricated) purported menaces from Al Qaeda that have been intercepted and have led to the temporary closure of some 20 American embassies in the Middle East.

This is the umpteenth time in the last 10 years that we're being told that there are impending acts of terrorism which require that special security measures be taken. Some cynical anti-American minds would be too happy to note how quickly the US recedes in front of imaginary threats as reliable as the grand story of the wmd in Iraq.

Better take it in a humorous light mood and watch delicious Jean Seberg in one of her very early movies, whose title is quite appropriate to the current situation. 

But wait! I'm told Jean Seberg too was taken care of by the infamous Ruskies.  

What a world of illusion and manipulation we live in! Once again I turn to Kant and his famous Sapere aude!

vendredi 2 août 2013

The Poor People of Paris

Just because I like it...

O.B.L.'s triumph

Who could ever have thought an American citizen would someday be granted political asylum in Russia? And even more stunning, that Putin would ever appear like a guarantee of freedom and human rights and the US of A. as the new evil empire in the eyes of the world?

Remember when any defector from former USSR was instantly granted political asylum in the US and hailed as a hero who had the courage to defy the forces of darkness and tyranny?

Someday Edward Snowden will be revered as an American hero for his courageous adherence to the values the Founding Fathers wanted to be the ultimate symbol of the United States of America. Just compare how M.L.K was treated in the 60's and his posthumous status in contemporary America. Or think of Nelson Mandela who after decades behind bars is now a world icon of honesty and humanity.

After it had to apologize to the natives Indians, the interned Japanese of 1942, the black community and innumerable single individuals, the American administration someday will pay tribute to the whistle blower whom half the current American population wants to be hung and the other half considers like another American hero.

After the whole world has been exposed the sinister truth that it was under surveillance by American secret services of all sorts, the US is again viewed the world over as the bad guy and the most dangerous player on the international scene.

Just that is the eventual triumph of Osama Ben laden who instilled fear and paranoia in the American psyche to the point that the US engaged in two senseless wars, has spent trillions of $ and going, killed dozens of thousands of people in the Middle east and Afghanistan/Pakistan, assassinates hundreds and hundreds innocent people with its drones, has its economy on its knees and thinks terrorism as soon as it hears a sparrow winging in the night.

After Charlie Chaplin had to leave into exile because of the anticommunist frenzy America was a victim of 60 years ago, it is now Russia which appears like a heaven of freedom against the tyrannical spying powers of the US.

Well done Osama!