April Fool’s, But No Joke
The train pulled into Gare de Lyon late last night, and I got home to a “chaudière” (gas water heater) “en panne” (broken/not functioning), so that means no hot water, period. Today is a holiday in France — “Lundi de Pâques” (Easter Monday). Easter Monday is celebrated in all European countries except Russia, Portugal and parts of Spain. For the French, their long weekends are sacred, meaning that my repairman isn’t working and I’ll be lucky to have hot water by tomorrow.
Last week was spent in glorious Nice that ended with Easter Sunday being one of the brightest blue-sky, aqua-water days of the year. The sun was so intense and warm that we stripped down to one layer as we basked in the rays and got a bit of pink color on our cheeks while lunching on Niçois specialties at Le Safari in Old Town on the Cours Saleya.
After lunch we moseyed along the Promenade des Anglais and watched the high tides roll in big frothy waves on the pale milky aqua water. A lot of brave souls were in their bathing suits going not much further than knee deep, but that was more than I would have considered. An “awful” lot of women were bearing their breasts to start their tans early. I say “awful,” because now that toplessness is “passé,” the women still doing it are the peers of Brigitte Bardot (she’s 83 now) who thought it was cool then and (in my opinion) look pretty “awful” and not cool at all. (Call me catty, or just truthful?)
The “chaises bleues” we all know and love as the symbol of Nice were missing on Sunday. The day before the chairs were their usual blue selves right where they were supposed to be. In their place were yellow plastic chairs.
We wondered: where did they go and why the yellow chairs?
We thought maybe city officials took them away to repaint them and replaced them with the yellow ones, but then Nice Matin ran an article about them on Sunday calling the new versions “banal.”
The headline (translated): The Famous Prom Blue Chairs Replaced by Banal Yellow Chairs
Here’s what the article had to say (translated):
“On Sunday morning, Nice city officials discovered that more than 200 blue chairs of the Promenade des Anglais, between the Palais de la Méditerranée and the Quai des Etats-Unis, had been stolen. The thief or thieves, thinking to deceive Nice’s vigilance, replaced the famous chairs by banal ones…yellow! Who is behind this theft? What are the motivations of these thieves? The officials of the Metropolis are currently conducting an investigation.”
Is this an April Fool’s Joke?
It wasn’t sunny all week in Nice, with a few scattered showers, but sunnier than the weather reports predicted. As the clouds rolled by at dusk, the views from the balcony of Le Matisse were spectacular. Le Matisse is the name I bestowed on the apartment…of course, named after the artist, Henri Matisse, and decorated in a way to honor him with a wide range of bright Provençal colors. It’s south facing and as sunny as is the city. I let friends of Parler Paris stay there when I’m not there, so if you’re interested, be sure to write me a request to email me: [email protected].
I hate to admit that I didn’t have my usual Passover Seder while I was in Nice. The news about the brutal murder of Mireille Knoll in her 11th arrondissement Paris apartment — an 86 year-old Jewish woman, who had managed to survive the Holocaust — put a cloud over our sunny Nice days. It made big news and rocked the world at the onset of the annual Jewish holiday.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said that the murder was an anti-Jewish hate crime. Two young men in their 20’s were taken into custody immediately as suspects and the funeral held on March 28th in Paris drew thousands of mourners. Mayor Anne Hidalgo attended as did political party leaders Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon who were booed by some attendees and told to leave! If there had been a march in Nice, I would have been there. Others were held in Marseille, Lyon, Tours, Dijon, Strasbourg, Metz and Nantes.
Mireille wasn’t the only one to lose her life for what is considered an anti-Semitic hate crime. About one year ago, a 65 year-old Jewish woman named Sara Halimi was murdered by her neighbor, also in his 20’s, also known to have screamed “Allahu Akbar.”
France’s Jewish community is the largest in Europe, with more than half a million. Emmanuel Macron has not stood by without acknowledging the seriousness of the crime. He tweeted: “I would like to express my shock at the appalling crime committed against Mrs. Knoll. I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight anti-Semitism.” He has described anti-Zionism as a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism.”
Headlines like “Jews Are Being Murdered in Paris. Again” (New York Times), don’t do France any justice for where the real blame lies. Just because these recent anti-Semitic attacks were on French soil, doesn’t mean France is tolerating them. “Au contraire.” France continues to openly show that it does not condone anti-Semitism in any way. These are Islamists.
Media campaigns with a budget of 100 million euros are in place by French authorities to fight racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism. Billboards are already up to battle the blight. And France isn’t the only country in Europe to feel the pressure. Far-right groups are gaining ground across the continent, “thanks” to the immigration crisis and fear of militant Islamists such as these.
We’ve seen an awful lot of senseless violence, not just in the past 20 years, but from the beginning of time in the name of hate. And who do we really have to blame for that? Our own political and religious leaders? Fear of the unknown, or of what? Globalism vs tribalism? Or just our own ignorance? And when are we going to get clued in?
We are all human. We may have different colors of skin, we may speak different languages, have different religious and moral beliefs, but we all do just what other humans do. When are we going to realize the bad joke’s on us?
A la prochaine,
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group
(in Nice, by Patty Sadaukas)
P.S. Don’t miss our newest episode on House Hunters International, “Living Large in Languedoc,” TOMORROW, April 3 — 11:30 p.m. EDT/10:30 CDT Wednesday, April 4 — 2:30 a.m. EDT/1:30 CDT. Set your DVRs now!
P.P.S. VERNISSAGE OF PORTRAITS OF CARNAVAL, BY JASON GARDNER
Jason Gardner will be exhibiting his series “Portraits of Carnaval” at the BY CHATEL Gallery, in the Marais district of Paris, steps from the Place des Vosges. The show, in collaboration with another Parisian photographer, will present his ongoing work from Carnaval around the world, including recent images from Sardinia and Guinea-Bissau.
The opening is Sunday, April 8th from 3 to 9 p.m. and the exhibit will remain open until April 15th. Individual visits can be organized on demand. Please share with friends in Paris!
Jason GARDNER / Matthieu SUPRIN
“Portraits de Carnaval”/“Morceaux d’Asie”
April 7 to 15, 2018
BY CHATEL Galerie, 58 rue des Tournelles, 75003 Paris
Vernissage: Sunday, April 8th, 3 to 9 p.m.
P.P.P.S. I can’t seem to get enough of the funny and talented Oliver Gee. In advance of my Live Show with the Earful Tower on April 18th, I’ll be appearing on another Facebook Live Video with him on Thursday, April 5th! There will be five other guests and me over the course of one hour. I will be giving a taste of the topic “Why Paris” — and also talking about the House Hunters International show — we’re filming our 32nd episode this week! Watch it live at 5 p.m. on The Earful Tower’s Facebook page or listen to it live on the radio.