France has a new president. With 51.9% of the second-round vote, François Hollande has beaten Nicolas Sarkozy to become the first Socialist president of France since 1995. In his victory speech, Hollande declared that "austerity is not inevitable," but international business interests have already started rumbling about Hollande's plans for higher taxes on the rich and large-scale public sector investment. The change in power is to be effected in next ten days, with Hollande scheduled to appear at the G8 and NATO summits on May 19 and 20.
In Bed With Invader One night in Paris with street artist Invader (SLYT)
Those Americans who are familiar with the name Claude Lanzmann most likely know him as the director of “Shoah,” his monumental 1985 documentary about the extermination of the European Jews in the Nazi gas chambers. As it turns out, though, the story of Lanzmann’s eventful life would have been well worth telling even if he had never come to direct “Shoah.” In addition to film director, Lanzmann’s roles have included those of journalist, editor, public intellectual, member of the French Resistance, long-term lover of Simone de Beauvoir and close friend of Jean-Paul Sartre, world traveler, political activist, ghostwriter for Jacques Cousteau — I could go on, but it’s a good deal more entertaining to hear Lanzmann himself go on, and thanks to the publication in English of his memoir, “The Patagonian Hare,” we now have the opportunity to do so. (previously)
French hospitals have rooms where medical students (internes) can rest, lunch and vent off steam between calls, but these salles de garde are not your usual staff room. They are brightly decorated with lively mural paintings showing the current internes, the doctors and other hospital staff engaging in very (very) explicit sex acts. The frescos are done by the students themselves or commissioned from local artists, and are replaced on a regular basis. Here are some choice examples (sorted by hospital): Ambroise Paré, Cochin, Widal, Louis Mourier, Saint-Louis, Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Institut Gustave Roussy (ibid) (ibid), Lariboisière, Robert Debré, Saint-Cloud, Tenon. Many other images can be seen on the website of an association of former internes. [Totally NSFW unless you're a medical student training in France] [more inside]
France has passed a law that all cars must carry a road safety kit that includes a breathalyzer, .. [more inside]
Le Club des Croquers du Chocolat (The Chocolate Cruncher's Club) is an exclusive private association of 150 connoisseurs who gather four times a year to sample and judge the best in French chocolate. Clotilde Dusoilier, the blogger behind the well-known Paris-based food blog Chocolate and Zucchini, gives her readers a peek inside its workings. [more inside]
Last year it was Amy Chua, Tiger Mother (previously on mefi). This year, Paula Druckerman has written Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, inspired by a trip to a coastal town when her daughter had temper tantrums and French parents didn't. French kids eat the same food as their parents, and aren't constantly snacking. And "when French friends visited [...] the grownups had coffee and the children played happily by themselves." It's about patience -- let the kids cry it out a bit, let them learn how to play alone instead of hovering. And perhaps obsess a little less -- the French don't even obsessively buy books about how to parent. Wall Street Journal article, and video interview by WSJ's Gary Rosen.
Anti-ACTA protests have begun around Europe after the secret treaty was signed in Tokyo last Friday. Activists have planned larger protests for Saturday 11 February. The European Parliament will formally consider ACTA in June. (previously) [more inside]
This stealthy undertaking was not an act of robbery or espionage but rather a crucial operation in what would become an association called UX, for “Urban eXperiment.” UX is sort of like an artist’s collective, but far from being avant-garde—confronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new—its only audience is itself. More surprising still, its work is often radically conservative, intemperate in its devotion to the old. Through meticulous infiltration, UX members have carried out shocking acts of cultural preservation and repair, with an ethos of “restoring those invisible parts of our patrimony that the government has abandoned or doesn’t have the means to maintain.” The group claims to have conducted 15 such covert restorations, often in centuries-old spaces, all over Paris. - Wired.com "The New French Hacker-Artist Underground"
In one of the strangest new bids to get tourism dollars, Yves Jégo, the current veep of France's Radical party and the former Overseas Secretary of State, has announced plans to start raising funds for a new theme park dedicated to Napoleon. [more inside]
Urban Flipper As part of the Festival of Lights, CT Light Concept, created a giant interactive pinball game with 3D projection mapping on the facade of the Celestine Theater in Lyon. [more inside]
Back in Town is a song by Izia, a French rock band fronted by and named for Izïa Higelin. Even though she comes from a showbiz family, the band initially found little favor on French radio. But after a string of blistering live performances all over France, the self-titled first album became a hit and won a couple of awards at the prestigious Victoire de la Musique ceremony, where Izia performed the song Let Me Alone. There are a bunch of live performances online, including of Life is Going Down, a cover of AC/DC's Touch Too Much and a duet with Iggy Pop. This past November, sophomore album So Much Trouble was released, featuring such songs as the title track, On Top of the World, and my favorite, Baby.
Was Dominique Strauss Kahn set up? This recent NYRB article suggests that there was some serious skullduggery going on, although that doesn't mean that DSK isn't guilty of something.
Le Crimp (mostly en français) is a French collective that explores organic and abstract geometric [ I | II | III ] (PDFs) approaches to the art of origami. Read the white papers, browse the gallery or watch videos of artworks being made or being used in still-motion animations
Hanover Historical Texts Project is a collection of primary source texts from ancient times to the modern era in English translation. There is a great number of interesting texts, for instance accounts of Zeno, he of the paradoxes, the diary of Lady Sarashina, a lady-in-waiting in Heian era Japan, a letter from Count Stephen of Blois and Chartres, a crusader writing to his wife, Arthur Young's travels in France before and during the Revolution, a report by the American ambassador in St. Petersburg on March 20th, 1917, immediately after the February Revolution, and finally Petrarch's letter about his graphomania. That last one is from what is perhaps my favorite part of the website, a trove of Petrarch's Familiar Letters. But there's much more in the Hanover Historical Texts Projects besides what I've mentioned.
The Solitary Walker - a blog (mostly) about walking.
35 days, 2822 miles through 9 states at a cost of $252.51 ($7.21 per day). George 'the Cyclist' Christensen spends a good part of each year bicycling through a different country and wild camping in places like Iceland, Turkey, China, the foot of Mt Fuji and around Lake Victoria; And writing about his travels on his blog from libraries and internet cafés. For the past eight years, too, he has also followed the Tour de France after first watching upwards of 70 films [in 12 days] at the Cannes Film Festival.
"Food is very important here," said Hazan of the parents federation, "and we can't have children eating any old thing."
"We absolutely have to stop children from being able to serve those sorts of sauces to themselves with every meal. Children have a tendency to use them to mask the taste of whatever they are eating."The French government, in an effort to honorably represent traditional Gallic cuisine to its schoolchildren, has banned the indiscriminate application of ketchup during school meals, reserving it only for the once-weekly serving of Gallic fries. [more inside]
Frédéric Back was born in 1924 in France, where he studied drawing and lithography. He was lured to Canada by Jack London's stories and Clarence Gagnon's paintings, as well as correspondence with a Canadian pen-pal. Back moved to Canada in 1948, married his pen-pal Ghylaine Paquin, and was hired by Radio Canada at the birth of their television network to create still images for display on and to promote moving pictures. The drawings lead to experiments with animations, which lead to a series of animated shorts, starting with the wordless short Abracadabra (9:23, YT) in 1970. You can read and see more about Frédéric Back on his extensive website, and see more animations inside. [more inside]
Just over five months after the ban came into force, the Guardian reports on the impact of France's so-called burqa ban on niqab-wearing women.
The State of France has banned prayers in public starting Friday in a move widely seen as being targeted at (what might be) the largest Muslim community in Western Europe. [more inside]
The French romantic thriller “Diva” dashes along with a pellmell gracefulness, and it doesn’t take long to see that the images and visual gags and homages all fit together and reverberate back and forth. It’s a glittering toy of a movie... This one is by a new director, Jean-Jacques Beineix... who understands the pleasures to be had from a picture that doesn’t take itself very seriously. Every shot seems designed to delight the audience. - Pauline Kael, 1982 [more inside]
Novelist and H.P. Lovecraft biographer Michel Houellebecq is missing. Houellebecq was due to give a reading from his new work Le Carte et le Territoire, in the Netherlands on September 12th. [more inside]
Tania Blanco is a modern artist who shares her time in France and Spain. She says of her collection Sleepdrunk Vademecum, "The body is made up of a large set of rounded painting formats. Medical instruments, high precision technology, scientific devices, anatomical models, clandestine laboratories and human representation become the object of study and thought. The bizarre represented objects reflect a mixture of past and future, and an ambiguous clinical atmosphere flows in them. On many of these painted surfaces, a soft cool-cold gradient isolates the represented elements and gives a non-gravitational character to the compositions." [via]
Architectural theorist David Gissen has recently been travelling through France to learn about wine. His dedicated Twitter account @100aocs has attracted the attention of sommeliers, importers, and winemakers. Edible Geography caught up with Gissen to discuss wine, wine culture, geography, and Gissen's re-thought wine map of France based on Metro maps such as London's Tube map. How Wine Became Metropolitan: An Interview with David Gissen.
16 of France's mega-rich signed a petition urging the goverment to raise their taxes. Despite relatively high taxes and a wealth tax signatories such as the L'Oreal heir and the head of a major oil company, Total, are asking the government to raise their taxes to help solve the country's financial issues. Original petition (French).
Babies by nobody and for nobody are an institution in France and a hundred-thousand+ dollar illegal commodity in LA. [more inside]
Starting last month, the French daily Le Monde has been publishing an economic thriller in series, called Terminus pour L' Euro (in French) (The End of the Line for the Euro). The series is behind a subscription wall, but Presseurope has started republishing the series in ten languages, including English... The story narrates the events of summer 2012, as Germany decides to leave the Euro and what follows. It has caused a stir in France, as rumors about the true identity of the author (who signs the series as Philae, after an island in Egypt apparently) continue to circulate, and some think he is the French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire. Some say that the rumors that led to the precipitous fall in French banks' stock a few days ago, were due to misunderstanding the fictional character of the story... Real rumors that Germany threatened to leave the Euro last year, were dismissed by its Chancellor, yet as the eurozone crisis develops, no one is certain any more that the series is simply fiction and not a possible, real scenario, advocated by many...
Nancy Wake AC GM, nicknamed "the White Mouse", was an heroic resistance fighter in Occupied France in the period 1940 - 1944 and reportedly the Gestapo's most wanted person. She died yesterday. [more inside]
Evan Osnos joins a tour group from China as they traverse Europe. In the front row of the bus, Li stood facing the group with a microphone in hand, a posture he would retain for most of our waking hours in the days ahead. In the life of a Chinese tourist, guides play an especially prominent role—translator, raconteur, and field marshal—and Li projected a calm, seasoned air. He often referred to himself in the third person—Guide Li—and he prided himself on efficiency. “Everyone, our watches should be synchronized,” he said. “It is now 7:16 P.M.” He implored us to be five minutes early for every departure. “We flew all the way here,” he said. “Let’s make the most of it.” [more inside]
After Kad & Olivier sign off and the Satisfaction production logo fades, viewing audiences are oftentimes treated to a cold open of an empty talk show set... one that quickly becomes the impromptu dance floor for a shameless Frenchman making an absolute giddy fool of himself while lip-syncing pop songs alongside a menagerie of... wait, *what*?! That's right. The Late Late Show's Craig Ferguson appears to have a not-so-secret French admirer -- one who's not above ripping off both his opening titles and his signature dance sequences (including the iconic animal puppets): "ABC" by The Jackson 5, "Flashdance" by Irene Cara, "On the Floor" by Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, "Waka Waka" by Shakira, "Men in Black" by Will Smith, "Let's All Chant" by the Michael Zager Band, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!, "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls, and "Vive Le Vent (Jingle Bells)" by Tino Rossi. Luckily, Ferguson's sense of showmanship is more prodigious than litigious -- he responded to Arthur's "homáge" by booking a pair of translatlantic crossover shows, with Arthur visiting LA that week and Ferguson flying out to Paris just last month. Video of both shows (plus lots more) inside! [more inside]
Seagull steals video camera (1m41s).
Kaydara is a French-made Matrix fan film, released on the 21st of May 2011, which has been noted for the high quality of its special effects. The entire 55-minute film is now available to stream for free from its site. [more inside]
So far this year there have been 118 cases of measles reported in the United States. [more inside]
There's really not much to find out on early '80s pop chanteuse, Henriette Coulouvrat. Not even a wiki. Just a long neglected web site. She's French, and she's dance and she's synth-pop, and seems to be remembered for these two songs, Rockin' On The Red Book and Paddy Field, along with several appearances on French tv.
The story begins in 1879. Cheval, then 43 years old, had been working as a rural mail carrier in the southeast of France for 12 years. Because his daily routine involved walking about 20 miles (32km), mostly in solitude, he did a lot of daydreaming. One day (perhaps while his mind was elsewhere), he tripped over a small limestone rock. He picked up that stone and over the next 33 years went on to build his dream, Le Palais Idéal, an amazing fantasy palace. [more inside]
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the IMF and likely French Presidential Candidate, was arrested in New York for sexual assualt today. The Port Authority of New York removed Strauss-Kahn from the first class cabin of an Air France flight ten minutes before it departed for Paris and handed him over to the NYPD, whose Special Victims Unit is handling the case, for questioning. He is expected to be arraigned later tonight. [more inside]
Safari Disco Club / Que veux-tu double-feature music video for two tracks from Yelle's second album
The Airtight Garage (some images may be NSFW) is a blog that explores the artwork of Moebius (Jean Giraud), France's most acclaimed comic book artist. It is named after The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius, a comic loosely based on Micheal Moorcock's protean hero. Moebius was recently the subject of an appreciation in Comics Alliance.
"I don't think the chief of police drinks water when he's having a meal." Members of the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité, the French riot police, are up in arms about a new regulation forbidding them to drink alcohol during the workday. The ban is said to be a reaction to widely publicized photos of riot police drinking beer while policing a high-school student demonstration in Perreux-sur-Marne.
A law has come into force in France which makes it an offence for a Muslim woman to conceal her face behind a veil when in public. [more inside]
Didn’t you notice the palpable difference between what is happening in Libya and what is happening elsewhere?
"[T]he real target of Western bombers and soldiers is in no way the wretched Gaddafi...For the target of the bombers is definitely the popular uprising in Egypt and the revolution in Tunisia, it is their unexpected and intolerable character, their political autonomy, in a word: their independence." Philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the left's support for the NATO intervention in Libya. Background: Europe's economic entanglements with Gaddafi's Libya in the Irish Left Review.
WANTED: Known as 'La Bête' but kills under three aliases. Reddish brown with dark ridged stripe down the back. Resembles wolf/hyena but big as a donkey. Long gaping jaw, 6 claws, pointy upright ears and supple furry tail - mobile like a cat's and can knock you over. Cry: more like horse neighing than wolf howling. Last seen by people mostly now dead.Wolf, werewolf, hyena, baboon or mesonychid: In many respects the beast of Gévaudan was like other creatures in the annals of cryptozoology - but for one: historical records indicate that, over a 4 year span, it (or 'they') killed around 100 people - eating most of them. [more inside]
"War has returned to the Ivory Coast in the guise of massacres, mercenaries, a besieged capital, and a humanitarian nightmare." Several months after incumbent Laurent Gbagbo stole the presidential election, the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire has escalated as the forces of rightful president Alassane Ouattara have reached Abidjan to force Gbagbo's surrender. [more inside]
The Légion Étrangère is a French special forces unit comprised mostly of foreign nationals who wish to fight for France, and the promise of a French citizenship. They are today considered an elite unit, on par with or superior to the British SAS or Russian Spetsnaz, and have in their long history served in campaigns as far-flung as Mexico and Vietnam, but are most famous for their image as colonial shock-troops in North Africa and the Middle East. Legionnaire fought Legionnaire in the Second World War during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, as the Vichy's 6e Régiment Étrangère d'Infanterie lined up against the Allied 13e Demi-Brigade de Légion Étrangère in a critical, yet unsung battle for North Africa. Their first campaign was in Algeria - will their latest be in Libya?