01:38:38 amCategories: Fieldwork, Politics

14th of July

Someone asked me if I wasn’t going to write a post on the 14th of July, He had read somewhere that there use to be a military parade in Paris that day, but on my blog he only saw some funny photos that didn't really looked like a military parade, so he didn't really understand what was going on…

Yes, there is a military parade at Champs Elysées in the morning at 14th of July – I could hear the fighter jets all the way into my sleep on the other side of town. Due to lack of personal – as well as professional interest – in military parades, I chose not to go, but I saw a little of it at the news before I headed off to another parade. During the months I’ve been here – thus after the November riots – French media has finally decided to make a little effort in showing that non-whites can do other things than play football or make rap music, so quite a few of those interviewed as either participating in the parade or as audience, were black or of north African origin. That was quite interesting to observe, but as an angry young (and white) man I know says, while getting a little bit angry: yes, they have started showing blacks and Arabs on tv the last months, but it’s just normal that they represent the diversity in the country! (I can understand why he is upset, particularly if one looks at all the fuss there has been about a new news presenter on the biggest channel, because of his black skin colour.)

Neither did I go and look at the fireworks in the evening the 14th, nor did I go to one of the traditional fire brigade balls which take place all over the city the night before. The latter I think could have been very anthropologically interesting, but I was in stead at a slam/spoken word session and afterwards I was hanging around outside until the early hours, seeing the city go to sleep as well as waking up. At the slam soirée, they took very little notice of that fact that it was the night before Bastille Day, instead they celebrated that it was their own third anniversary and gave away a piece of cake to every performing poet.

So, after sleeping soundly through the exhibits of France’s military splendour, I went to a quite different and very nice activist event nearby Louvre, with the revolutionary motto “France is like a baby, if you love it change it!”, where various anti-elites were gathered. It was various groups of sans papiers (Droits Devant! and Le 9ème Collectif des sans-papiers, a couple of groups for the right to proper housing (Comité des sans logis and Droit au logement bicycle activists (Véloroutions vélo means bike in French), other enviromentalists against nuclear power and France's attept to export it's old ship Clemenceau full of asbestos to India, AIDS north-south and gay-activists (Act-up), anti-militarists, and of course the Brigade activiste des clowns (BAC, which also connotes Brigade anti-criminalité), for the day I think renamed to Clown à Résponsabilité Sociale (CRS)(photo).

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