Always amusing, Rosecrans Baldwin’s dispatches from Paris. Unless (or perhaps especially) if you’re French.
One afternoon a roving band of 30 teenagers stopped traffic on the Champs-Elysées, marching toward the Arc de Triomphe, followed by a battalion of 60 police officers in riot gear, marching in rows of two. I asked a French co-worker what the kids were celebrating. He squinted, looking into the sun. “That it’s May,” he said. “That they’re French, that they’re young. You will not understand.”
Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down is the latest is a series of dispatches from Rosecrans Baldwin during his Parisian residence.
“So who would win in a fight,” the Welshman asked me, “New York or Los Angeles?”
It took me a second. “Los Angeles. New Yorkers would be too busy to fight,” Then I asked him: “OK, imagine it’s you and a hundred five-year-olds in a locked room. The children are overcome with a desire to kill you. How many could you put down?”
He thought for a second. “Can I use one of them as a weapon against the others?”
“Sure. But you have to remember they’re a mob.”
“Yeah, I can’t let them get me on the ground.”
A minute later we gave the game over to the French: “Who wins, Coca-Cola or Uma Thurman?”
The French didn’t answer and remained staring out the windows-it might have been Battersea, or Shepherd’s Bush. Then the French director said, “That is not a game.” He started coughing. “It is so Anglo, this game. It is not a game. How do you judge this? It is a soda and a woman. Then how do you decide?”
“One wins, one loses. Just pick,” I said. But he refused: “It is nothing a French person would think is a game. It is so stupid.”
The traffic wasn’t moving. I asked him then to suggest a French game instead that we could play. “OK, OK, here is a French game,” he said. “We will talk about something for a little while. It will be about nothing. We will talk and talk and talk about it. Sometimes I will take the other side of the conversation, just to say you are wrong. And then we will stop.”
He resumed his brooding silence. The composer turned to say he agreed, this was a classic French game.