Wednesday, December 31, 2008

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday 42

Happy New Year!
Bonne année 2009!

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau -- click on it to enlarge. I promise it's worth the trouble.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

La France Profonde: Three years and three hundred posts!

A few of the guests at La France Profonde's third anniversary party

Today I am celebrating La France Profonde's third anniversary -- and my 300th France Profonde post.

I'm a few days late, as I actually started this blog on December 23, 2008. But I thought it would be nice to coincide with the 300th post. Plus, after three years, what's a day or two?

For this significant event, I took a look back over some old posts as well as my comment history.

First, what has been the most commented-on post on La France Profonde? I thought it would be this one, but actually it was:

Is life really a bitch without big chocolate chips?

So I guess among my readers, food wins out over politics any time.

I also made a list of a few of my favorites posts, in no particular order:

Traces of cafés past

Good-bye little bird -- and don't forget to fly home

An Odd Couple

La Gare de Rodez at Dawn

Old reflects against new

The latter post also contains what may be my favorite photo -- at least among those that I've taken:

After that, I also took a rather quick look at my early comments. I had been writing this blog for over a month before I got a comment that just "came in" from somebody I didn't know: on February 4, 2006, on a post about the local Bosch factory, I received a comment from Stéphan R., who kept up the Toulouse, One Day, One Photo blog very nicely for almost two years before disappearing from the blogosphere in May 2007.

I often wonder what happened to Stéphan, and I suspect if I went back carefully over my comments, I would find plenty of bloggers that I was in touch with for months before either their blog or our communication dwindled down to nothing.

But for now, I'm here, and La France Profonde is going into its fourth year with no plans to change much of anything.

Un grand merci to all of my readers for your comments and support!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Looking up, things are

These photos of Notre Dame de Rodez won't put a song in your heart, but they reflect a certain mood that she can get in -- a decidedly chilly one.

We've been through quite a cold snap, and Wednesday my daughter and I went into town for lunch. I was struck by the difference between the weather "up there" and "down below" on the sidewalks. It was certainly cold both places, but where we were walking, it was totally clear with no sign of fog.

But the Rodez cathedral can be in a totally different weather dimension from the city it dominates. The bell tower is 85 meters, or nearly 280 feet, high -- and this can mean a real difference in atmospheric conditions.

To give you an idea of how ethereal the cathedral can appear compared to the world below; my crystal clear Wordless Wednesday photo this week was taken only a few minutes earlier and only a few streets away.

Notre Dame de Rodez has often been described as "brooding." Perhaps these photos can help illustrate that image.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rodez: a basic street scene. What do you see?

I have so many photos of Rodez on my computer that I think it would take me a lifetime to post them.

When trying to capture the spirit of Rodez, I often put up scenic shots, or quirky takes. But I am also stocking a mounting collection of photos like this one that I don't quite know what to do with. It seemed interesting at the time, but...why again?

Now that I take a closer look, there are a few intriguing details:

  • The two very pale pink buildings are what stand out the most to me. That's a color which is fairly frequent in Rodez, but yet is never really associated with the town.
  • The street is empty, even though the shot was taken during the afternoon. You can find plenty of empty streets in the center of Rodez if you get away from the rues commerçantes.
  • The photo is marred, of course, by the big cable running between two buildings. What are those all about, anyway? I see them everywhere, but don't know why they still exist. I'm sure one of my readers can offer a cogent explanation -- I'm not much of an electricity geek.
  • The curved roof on the bottom right house is intriguing, and not very typical of the area.
What do you see?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday 39

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

An open message to the French media : He's black. (And white.) Get over it.

This post has been a long time coming. Bits and pieces of it can be found on inspired comments I left on other people's blogs, but it took some distance from the election to put my thoughts together on how unbearably annoying the French coverage of Barack Obama's campaign and election was to me.

It takes a lot to get my husband to turn off France Inter, one of France's public radio stations, but a few days before the election, even he couldn't take it anymore. "Le candidat noir, le candidat noir, le candidat noir..." The two words had become a collocation in the French press, one rarely appearing without the other.

Click. Sound over. We were free to discuss the real issues going on in the US election.

But it was perhaps that day, a few weeks before the election, when one of my colleagues (all of whom supported Obama and supported me throughout the stressful electoral process, I must add) sat down and grimly announced that he "had heard on TV that the polls were all wrong." He then proceeded to give a highly simplistic interpretation of the Bradley effect.

I took a deep breath and explained precisely why the Bradley effect was most likely not applicable to this election (hoping against hope I would be right) and my colleagues remarked that they wondered if they were really getting the full picture from French TV.

Now I cannot pretend to have kept up with ALL French media coverage and ALL American coverage of the 2008 presidential election -- who can? But I can say that while France was clearly in the grips of a type of Obama-mania, its citizens also couldn't get past the concept that Obama was, above all, le candidat noir. On the other hand, even when I gritted my teeth and watched Fox news from time to time, I got the feeling the US media were by and large ignoring race by the end of the campaign.

So what's the deal? Why, in the country of liberté, égalité et fraternité, was Obama's race constantly an issue?

For one thing, I have noticed that many French people are -- or were, hehe! -- extremely fond of pontificating about American racism. Nowhere is this more present than in the national school programs, where French schoolchildren spend what seems to me an inordinate amount of time studying Rosa Parks, the March on Washington, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Now don't get me wrong. These are worthy subjects and we can admire the fact that the French educational system cares so much to delve so far into American history. I'm sure that stateside, the same number of hours aren't spent on the 2005 French race riots or the presence of Jean-Marie LePen as a final candidate in France's less-than-glorious 2002 presidential race.

The image of a racist America died hard in France. Only days before the election, Télérama, a left-wing cultural magazine, issued a "Special USA Edition." Among the feature articles: Il n'y a pas de littérature noire! and Universités d'Alabama: la ségrégation toujours dans les têtes (original title from the magazine version.)

The articles proved more measured than their sensationalistic titles, but I couldn't help but think that the journalists were grasping at straws and just couldn't resist taking one last stab at their precious image of the USA as a bastion of racism.

Now French writers, especially schoolbook authors, can start to construct new chapters about race relations in America, preferably chapters that deal with events after 1963. They've got some catching up to do. And I hope when they do it, they will also be capable of occasionally disconnecting the word président from the word noir.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008