We were in Paris for a Saturday, one-night-stayover Holiday to participate in yet another epic struggle for economic fairness for the dwindling French middle-class with our brothers and sisters of the Gilets Jaunes. (Yellow Jackets) We entered the city, past a two-kilometer snake of spray-painted hieroglyphics of the neo-Visigoths, past the eternal winding grey slabs of highway barriers, sullen glass and steel buildings of business and cold-faced opulent monoliths of Culture Nuevo, and finally exited. We then made a right, then left and suddenly were on a beautiful street of ancient trees and four and five-story buildings of 19th century French classical architecture. This had to be another city from the one we had witnessed only minutes before. It was another universe for certain.
The three-star Hotel Astrid was located some 400 meters down a slopping cobble-stoned street from the famed Arc de Triomphe, one of twelve such boulevards that converge on that venerable monument which was built to honor those lost in the Napoleonic wars and French Revolution. (It’s where the tomb of the unknown soldier from WW1 is also located). We checked in at the small receiving desk where a beetle-browed, efficient and friendly Parisian greeted us. The classical hotel lobby was adorned with refined wood finishing and had filigreed designs along the staircase balustrade. This fine hotel was suffused with the charm of Old Europe.
After check-in, we took seats at an already crowded brasserie terrace on the Champs Ellysée, not far from the Arc de Triomphe. Sipping from tiny cups similar to those suited for a child’s game of let’s play house, we drank our coffees slowly. That came to about a euro per minute, as each cost €3,80. We then observed the yellow movements before us. Groups, swarms and masses of Gilets Jaunes passed by, many in a festive mood, honking horns, carrying signs and loudly regaling all with shouts of Macron Demission!, along with other insulting tirades directed at those in power. Suddenly, a small army of mostly black-attired youths, (some were wearing yellow jackets and many had their mouths covered for potential tear gas), marched past us. These we surmised were the left-wing Black Block hooligans, the European version of ANTIFA. They marched past swiftly, resolutely, likely to confront police further up on the Champs Elysée or to start tossing bricks and firebombs. Amazing that these scoundrels infiltrate without a gesture of protest, all while police are seemingly within walking distance.
We left after an hour and wandered across the Champs Elysée where we encountered a person of partial derangement and a charming and engaging fellow of about 65 years of age who was decked out in a colorful La Grande Armée (18th & 19th century) French military uniform. A photo of this jewel of circumstance is now posted on Facebook. The maniacal denizen, who appeared to be around 45 years old, was shabbily dressed. He was at first kind and friendly, but then quickly showed his flip-side by screaming high-decibel expletives which sounded as if they represented the composite angst of the nation’s economically disenfranchised. Of the two, the former was committed and the latter should have been.
Lieve was interviewed by a television reporter from Abu Dhabi, (capital city of United Arab Emirates). The nervous little guy, as Lieve described him, staged the segment within view of a phalanx of Parisian police on the Champs Elysée. Cool, articulate and passionate as usual before a video camera, she expounded in flawless French on the… “disingenuous RIC – Citizens Initiated Referendum. The French government has rigged the game by allowing Macron to use the referendum as a campaign platform while locking out his adversaries, namely right-wing Marine Le Pen and left-wing Jean Mélenchon, both of whom cannot start campaigning until much later. It is fixed because the questions being asked are not exactly what the Gilets Jaunes would’ve liked. The questions are loaded and are ambiguous and misleading, and guarantee the result that Macron and his bosses desire, so in effect, it’s a fake referendum”. Revved-up now on all cylinders, Lieve continued with “Macron and his filthy-rich bosses and cowering acolytes should all hang by their ankles from the Eifel Tower until the crows peck their eyeballs out! All traitors of the people should do hard-labor at work camps designated for the purpose of re-education to instil attitudes of fairness to the middle-class tax-payers! For the more despicable scoundrels in power, they should all be given a life-sentence to work as counter people at Mc Donald’s! Viva la Revolution! Viva la France! Viva la Gilets Jaunes! Viva la… Excuse me, sir, a call from my father. We’ll have to stop the revolution, as it were, and continue this interview a little later. Dear old dad wants some fresh brioche sent to Belgium, and right away”…*
The piece, with the ending cut, was seen by millions throughout the Persian Gulf, no doubt lighting a fuse of political discontent throughout the vast oil-rich region, even if none had previously existed.
Interview done with, we continued walking at a smart pace along the Champs Elysée towards the River Seine. The weather was sharp, brisk and invigorating. On the other side, we met an energized and loquacious half-Senegalese Gilets Jaunes. His name was Aina and he was hoisting a purple flag with the seal of the House of Bourbon or was it the House of Orleans (?) monarchy stitched on it. This guy is a gamer who hates the left-wing-bastards who a