Upon returning from Sayulita, my first travel photo diary was going to be of my trip, until I was shaken with news of the madness going on in Paris. I am not President Obama; no one is searching for me to say the words, “I condemn these acts of terror,” but, je suis Charlie in support of freedom of speech mais je ne suis pas Charlie in the type of political satire the newspaper often engages in (see an eloquent explanation of what I mean here).
One thing that stood out to me in several reports was the surprise at the perfect and articulate French of the gunmen in the Hebdo attacks. Paris is a beautiful, romantic, multicultural city, and part of it’s make up includes immigrants from French colonies around the world. The modern Parisian could be 10th generation French, French-Haitian, French-Tunisian, etc. etc. However, within this melting pot, fissures run deep; the 16th arrondissement is a far cry from the banlieue of Clichy — the tension this breeds is something I can definitely understand as a New Yorker.
My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their lives in both the Hebdo office and supermarket attacks and my condolences to the city of Paris. Freedom of speech and the French tradition of la provoc as exhibited by Charlie Hebdo caricatures are ideals that are so important to maintain. In our response, calling for justice, I would implore everyone to remember that violence begets violence.
This post is a small reprieve from the flood of stories of the tragedies in Paris. I am lucky to have been to Paris a few times, but my trip to Paris in April 2009 is when I really fell in love with the city; I got why my favorite American authors flocked here in the 20s.
April in Paris. There’s a reason why there’s a song and movie of that name. It is an absolutely magical time. I arrived with the first wave of nice weather. The city thawed, the cherry blossoms, the sunshine, the picnics. It was almost nauseatingly romantic — luckily part of the reason I was there was for a date with a well-known Frenchy so….
It was a week to remember: speeding down the Champs Elysées with French waiters blasting the Joe Dassin song of the same name, getting drunk off of wine served in a baby bottle at Le Refuge des Fondues (menu? savoyarde ou de bourguidnonne, rouge ou blanc), wandering for about two hours with my girlfriends on a Saturday night for a taxi, heels in hand, and taking a moment to look at the Seine and realize there is no other place in the world I’d rather be at the moment…
Paris, je t’aime.
Photos by myself