Sunday, May 6, 2007

While We Await the Results

So here's what's up in our hood in Paris one hour before the polls close...

We are staying in the 18th Arrondissement, which butts up against the base of the hill at Montmartre. Our street, which begins at the edge of the Peripherique (freeway that loops around the entire periphery of Paris), ends at a set or two (or nine) of steps that lead up to Montmartre and the church of Sacré Cœur. It's an area that is rich in ethnicity, with Arabs, Moroccans and Senegalese. It's where we prefer to live. It is also the area where all the record labels, large (like EMI) and small, are gathered.

One block makes a big difference in the noise factor. We live closer to the Peripherique than Montmartre and one of our friends lives on the same street but one block closer to the steps up to Montmartre. She has bistro noise below her but we have a pizza takeout joint that fronts as a hashish depot directly below us. (She's pretty jealous about that) Late at night, down on the corner, the local boys gather at the tables outside of the two restaurants and rabble rouse. After closing time, the boys don't go home. They stand in groups on each corner and shout and laugh with each other. Cars with booming music screech to a halt, more shouting and laughter ensues, hash probably changes hands, and then the boom and screech, with a bit of rubber left behind, takes off and fades into the distance.

When we first arrived, the weather was beautiful so we romantically left the windows open. Not any more!

We're on the 4th floor. Directly downstairs and across the street is a Sarkozy campaign office. Within a few days of our arrival, and before the first runoff election that narrowed down the 12 candidates to 2, all of the windows were smashed. We thought it was some important symbolic sign that the windows remained smashed. Our local friends laughed when we asked this. "No, no. Everything takes time in France. You have to get the insurance guy out for an estimate. You have to file mounds of paperwork. You have to wait for approval. Then you have to order the glass. Then wait for someone's schedule to open up so you can have it replaced." So we're a little spoiled in the US. Even in Cave Creek, Arizona I could have had it replaced within a couple of days, or that day if I wanted to pay a premium.

ANYwayyyyyy. (15 minutes til 8)

We watched the debate between Segoline Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy last week. Our neighborhood was silent. Not a peep. Everyone watched that debate. People predicted that Sarkozy would be a bully and control the debate. Au contraire! Segoline held her ground quite effectively. They both interrupted each other rudely on an equal footing so that part was a wash. But Sarko was no match for Sego in the eye-contact department. She sat up straight, zeroed in on him, and never strayed. He on the other hand looked away, looked down, looked at the debate hosts. I enjoyed that. Since I can't understand the language yet, I watched the body language. More on the debate later.

So Sego is a woman and a Socialist. Sarkozy is a man (reportedly) and right-wing. He admires Bush and Blair (deluded, I know). Sego is for social services and helping the poor. Sarko called the people who live in neighborhoods near ours, where the riots occurred last year, scum. Sego believes in the 35-hour work week (I had to laugh at that. I don't think I worked less than 60 hours a week in the last 10 years of my career.) Sarko is running on a "work harder" platform. I am simplifying this a bit too much because I'm running out of time. 5 more minutes til the polls close.

TV is on!