A friend recently recommended the French police thriller Spiral, and it’s addictive.
The literal meaning of the French title, Engrenages, is closer to gears (as in the grinding of the judicial system) than to spiral, but Spiral is very apt.
Taking place in Paris, this is not, repeat, not a travelogue (in four seasons, there’s only one shot of the Champs Élysées); it is the Paris of ugly rough neighborhoods, banlieus, and squats. The “French judicial system” means the cops can rough you up, strip-search you, and leave you in the clink for 3 days, and Miranda is the name of some girl, not of a SCOTUS decision regarding your rights.
A combination of Good Wife-type soap opera, CSI, and Law & Order, the characters are perfectly cast and the stories follow an arc through a season. Mostly Film has spoilers, but lists the main characters with great élan,
There’s also all the usual mixed-bag of recurring characters that a show like this gathers over time, including one man who looks so very French it hurts…
My favorite so far is Judge Roban, with his perfect hair,
TIME Mag took the side of the terrorists:
The tab title is “Offices of Satirical French Newspaper Charlie Hebdo Get Firebombed.” Innocuous enough. If you look at the official article title, Firebombed French Paper Is No Free Speech Martyr; it goes on to state,
So, yeah, the violence inflicted upon Charlie Hebdo was outrageous, unacceptable, condemnable, and illegal. But apart from the “illegal” bit, Charlie Hebdo’s current edition is all of the above, too.
However the article’s original title, i.e., how the author posted it initially, is “Firebombed French paper a victim of islamists, or of its own obnoxious Islamophobia?”
Bruce Crumley, Paris bureau chief for TIME, helps shape TIME’s coverage of France and Europe in areas including business, politics, religion, terrorism and sports.
He has been particularly active in TIME’s coverage of al Qaeda-sponsored terrorism since September 11, 2001-an area he has followed closely since 1994, when France became the favored European target of Islamist extremists.
Helping “shape TIME’s coverage” with full sympathy for the arsonists.
This is what Charlie Hebdo’s offices look like now,
Charlie Hebdo, the Paris satirical paper that in 2006 was the only in the country to publish the Mohammed cartoons, was firebombed last night, since they wouldn’t submit: Satirical Magazine Is Firebombed in Paris
The office of a French satirical magazine here was badly damaged by a firebomb early on Wednesday, the publisher said, after it published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the victory of an Islamist party in Tunisian elections. The publication also said hackers had disrupted its Web site.
The magazine, Charlie Hebdo, had announced a special issue for publication Wednesday, renamed “Charia Hebdo,” a play on the word in French for Shariah law.
James posts about blue jeans. In the course of the post I found out he owns a tux. Very impressive.
I’m of two minds about blue jeans. I only wear blue jeans if I know I’m not going out. I believe the only time recently that I wore blue jeans to go out was to tango lesson a couple of weeks ago, and I’d rather tango wearing skirts anyway.
A parcel bomb explosion has killed one person and injured at least five others at law offices in central Paris. The former law firm of President Nicolas Sarkozy is located in the same building as the office where the device exploded, at 52 Boulevard Malesherbes. … Another parcel bomb arrived at the same address, but remained unopened, officials said.
But this is what caught my attention:
The building also houses The Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah – a Holocaust remembrance body.
Rioting broke in one of Paris’s tinder box suburban housing estates last night after two young boys were killed when their moped collided with a police car.
Molotov cocktails were thrown, and cars and plastic bins set on fire following the tragedy in Tolinette, a notoriously crime-ridden district of Villiers-le-Bel, some 20 miles north of the centre of the French capital.
One police station was set alight and another, in a neighbouring suburb, was ransacked after youths threw cocktails, and set bins alight and upturned cars.
Officials said seven police and one firefighter had were injured and there were fears the violence, which spread to the neighbouring town of Arnouville-les-Gonesse, could also take hold in other poor, suburban enclaves.
The boys who died were said by locals to be “aged between 12 and 13″.
advertisementPolice insisted that their car had not been chasing the boys, and that the officer driving suffered facial injuries in the incident, which happened soon after dusk.
While one rioter asserts that “the rioting ;was not violence but an expression of rage,’”, France24 reports that gangs torched cars and looted shops and buildings in the north Paris suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, injuring 25 police officers. More blogging later.
It’s been a rather busy week so for a change of pace it’s time for a movie review.
But first for my first day in Paris, a day I have thought of often.
In my much younger and prettier days I arrived in Paris by train early on a November morning, and after having a nice breakfast, finding a place to stay, and having two cups of expresso, I went walking on my own. I was wearing my red trench coat, which I still own.
I’m a city girl and love walking when I arrive in a new city. Paris was the ultimate place for walking. I walked for at least six hours, stopping only to eat at a cafe for lunch and later at another cafe for afternoon snack. It was the most extraordinarily beautiful city I had seen in my whole life.
It still is.
The people were nice (some even understood my French), the place was uniquely beautiful, the weather was cool and clear and pleasant for a long walk, and the place was made for walking.
After walking for miles admiring the people, the shops, the architecture and the sights, the food, and even the traffic, it was getting late in the afternoon just as I started to cross the ponte Alexandre III. The bridge has everything one can throw on a turn-of-the-19th-century bridge: winged horses, cherubs, lamps on Art Noveau pillars. I was quite familiar with the story of Tsar Alexander and of his son the last Tsar, Nicholas and Alexandra his wife, but I opened my guidebook to read what they had to say about the bridge and to collect myself for a moment.
I closed the guidebook, returned it to my shoulder bag, and touched the cold stone railing. Every city smells different, so I breathed in the cold Parisian air. It smelled of bread and metal and water.
The particular setting is quite lovely, as you are standing on the bridge over the Seine, with the sightseeing boats carrying tourists rolling beneath, the Hotel des Invalides to your left, the Grand Palais and Beaux Arts buildings to your right, the Eiffel Tower in front of you and the rush-hour traffic running by.
I stood on the bridge for I don’t know how long, taking it all in. Then I crossed the bridge and watched the view from the other side.
I absolutely loved it.
The sun was low in the sky. The air was clear and the light had turned everything a unique shade of light blue. I thought of my next door neighbors when I lived in Puerto Rico, three girls who loved Guerlain perfumes, and one of the perfumes was named L’Heure Bleue. “This was what Guerlain had in mind” when he named his classic fragrance, I thought.
The outdoor lights from the public buildings started to come on. As I stood on the bridge watching the Eiffel tower, the sun was about to disappear on the horizon while the entire sky slowly turned from orange to red, and the Seine changed from water to a stream of resplendent fluid silver. And just then, the evening light changed to dark blue.
It was the most amazing sight I had experienced in my whole life.
I was completely overwhelmed with emotions, elation, happiness, joy, sadness, excitement and amazement.
My right cheek felt damp and when I touched it I realized that tears were flowing down my face. A sob came out of my mouth, almost as if I were hearing it come from someone else. I groped for Kleenex in my shoulder bag.
A young and very handsome French guy walking by asked me in English (because believe me, they can tell you’re American), “Are you alright? Is anything the matter?”
“Oh, I’m alright. It’s just allergies”, I said, and moved on.
I remembered this while I watched the ending of Paris, Je t’aime, which is not a film, but rather a collection of 18 short films by famous directors. Parts of it could be called “Americans in Paris”, some parts are so-so (if you find mimes annoying), and some are excellent:
A grieving mother has a last chance to say good-bye. A lonely guy meets a vampire. A movie star gets her fix. A blind guy finds a short-cut. Oscar Wilde comes to the rescue. Steve Buscemi waits for the metro. A man’s heart leaps at the sight of women in red raincoats. Ben Gazzarra and Gena Rowlands visit Gerard Depardieu’s restaurant. The mail deliverer walks around the city.
Update, Wednesday 31 JanuaryLileks sheds a most unromantic light on the lights-out:
Let us all be inspired by the darkness. It seems to be part of a general French effort spearheaded by some toothless meth-freak
To see the meth-freak you’ll have to go to his post.
Later… I was looking at this post and would like to ask any of you who have any idea of how to do blog things, Currently I have my encoding setting at Universal (Unicode UTF-8). Unfortunately, after I switched to my own domain the Blogger platform doesn’t seem to want to accept foreign punctuation marks. Does anyone know what I should do to remedy this?