Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Frenchly speaking, I'm world weary

I laughed out loud when I saw this headline.

France needs to quit thinking and 'get to work'

PARIS (Reuters) -- France's love affair with ideas has gone too far and it is time for the country to quit thinking and get to work, Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said Tuesday as she plugged a tax plan aimed at boosting the economy.... "France is a country that thinks. There is hardly an ideology we don't have a theory on," she told parliament... "That's why I would like to tell you: that's enough thinking, enough prevaricating. Let's just roll up our sleeves."

There's a picture for you, a frenchman with his sleeves rolled up, getting down to work. Somehow I keep seeing Yves Montand in a perfectly tailored suit, pulling up to a chateau in his Audi, lighting a Gitane, and getting down to work is not what's on his mind.

Most stereotypes have some kernel of truth, hence the image of the cafe-bound French who are more interested in living on their own terms than being productive rings true. And yet, isn't this the exact quality many Americans want to replicate? Doesn't some part of us long to be that devil-may-care European who is unbound by the need to strive for success - or even show up for work, or use deodorant. But that's another topic entirely.

I surely see it here in California - "work is work, but what I am all about is lifestyle." Hell, I see it in myself. After all, if the Chinese are going to have their way with us anyway, we might as well slip into something more comfortable and open another bottle of the Cotes du Rhone.

There's something immensely sad about those diminished French. They had their glory days back when the....during the period of the...well, they had some good moments back before those mean old Germans got pushy. And now all they have is a reputation for being weak, and a faded empire, and a bunch of tourists they resent. A cautuionary tale, perhaps? Be careful what you wish for?


Scott said...

Vincent: And you know what they call a... a... a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?

Jules: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?

Vincent: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.

Jules: Then what do they call it?

Vincent: They call it a Royale with cheese.

Jules: A Royale with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?

Vincent: Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it le Big-Mac.

Jules: Le Big-Mac. Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Whopper?

Vincent: I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King.

Jaime Barrett said...

Another great post. I think about society's tendency to get lazier and lazier as prosperity increases, the never-ending calls to sequester more private wealth to fund the need-of-the-day (think about the ballot initiative to impose another tax on the "rich" in CA to fund free pre-school for all...thankfully rejected by the voters). What were those nuthead Montanans called who didn't want to pay any taxes at all? I'm not in that camp, I know we need to pay taxes to fund the government, but over time these little new taxes add up to a point where innovation and hard work don't pay, and anyone can live in relative comfort without doing a goddamned thing. All of a sudden, you wake up, and...and you're France!