A Mad Dog in Bretagne

Part VII
C'est la Guerre

by Mad Dog


The broadcast stations are French, though if you have satellite you can get news in most every language, even English if you’re lucky. But not all satellites are created equal.
     It’s interesting being in Europe during this Kosovo bombing. The last time we had a big Yugo mess I was in the United States but no one blinked an eye. Why should they have, everyone agreed the cars were a joke.

     But this is no joke. Instead of cars it’s about airplanes. And bombs. And people being killed and displaced. All just a couple of countries away from me. But for all the proximity, I’m very news deprived about the situation. I don’t understand enough French for the radio to be of any help. I can pick out the important words, but I’m way too far from French Nuances R Us to do me any good. The one English language station I can pick up is the BBC from Jersey, but they’re more concerned with the farm report and whether they expect any fallout (of the non-political kind) to affect the daffodils this year.

     I don’t have a TV, and even if I did I’d have the same problem. The broadcast stations are French, though if you have satellite you can get news in most every language, even English if you’re lucky. But not all satellites are created equal. When I was in Paris staying with a friend he got mostly foreign shows like M*A*S*H dubbed in German (odd) followed by the Cosby show the same way (now there’s an interesting concept) and late at night there was the Turkish station which would show a fire in a fireplace, broken up periodically by an arm that reaches into the screen and pokes the logs or throws another on top.



I just finished reading a London Times I picked up in the ferry terminal before we left. Yesterday’s.  I’m starting to wonder whether the Europeans use a metric calendar, and their today converts to our yesterday. Give or take 14 degrees.
     I did get to see a bit of International CNN the other night at Vincent’s mother’s house, ready to finally be brought up to date. What I got was back-to-back-to-back press conferences, first the State Department, then French President Chirac, then the White House. No one had much of anything concrete to report, though they all did an admirable job of restraining themselves. It was obvious they all wanted to keep admonishing the reporters with, "That’s a dumb question, next!". Why is it the viewers all knew there was no news to be unearthed but these highly paid investigative reporters didn’t and kept asking questions as if they get paid per question asked, no matter whether it’s intelligent or not?

     The newspaper’s not much help either. It’s hard to find an International Herald-Tribune in St-Malo, and when I do it’s always a day old. I’m writing this on a ferry while crossing the English Channel. I just finished reading a London Times I picked up in the ferry terminal before we left. Yesterday’s. I’m starting to wonder whether the Europeans use a metric calendar, and their today converts to our yesterday. Give or take 14 degrees.

     Aside from word that the Russian attempt to negotiate appears to have failed, the rest of the stories in the newspaper about the NATO attacks on Kosovo cover things like how the cloudy weather is causing a problem, how there are email and Internet reports coming out of the area, and whether the fallout (of the non-political kind) will affect the daffodils this year. No hard news to be found.



After wading through the big front page sports headline and the article about whether Leonardo DiCaprio was going to be cast as Milosevic in the upcoming movie "You-go!", I finally found one about the bombing in Kosovo.
     It dawns on me that no one knows what’s going on there. Hell, no one seems to know what’s going on here either. Vincent told me he saw on the news that there were big Serb demonstrations filling the streets of Paris, and I should be careful in London since, as in France, it would be obvious to anyone who looked at me that I’m an American.

     (Let me note here my friend Sara’s theory that when we fall asleep on the airplane on the way over here the flight attendants rubber stamp our foreheads with the word "American" using special ink that’s only visible to Europeans. If she’s right, I only hope it will also get me into some clubs in London free.)

     Anyway, the other day when I couldn’t find the International Herald Tribune (Motto: "All the Metric News That Fits in Yesterday’s Paper") I sucked it up and bought a copy of *gasp* USA Today. After wading through the big front page sports headline, the article about whether Leonardo DiCaprio was going to be cast as Milosevic in the upcoming movie "You-go!", and the small article on the bottom about whether the fallout (of the non-political kind) will affect the daffodils this year, I finally found one about the bombing in Kosovo. On page three. Next to it was another one about the demonstrations at various U.S. embassies around the world. The very, very last sentence read, "Several hundred Serbs demonstrated in Paris."

     Point of view is everything.

 

[Index]     Previous ] A Mad Dog in Bretagne - Part VIII ]

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