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The French Were Definitely There
From France-Amerique
July 16, 2003

By Jean-Louis Turlin

But where did the reporter from the New York Times go to get its “information”? It would be better to speak of “disinformation”. In reading the article published under the title, “Lacking a certain Je ne sais quoi” by Alan Feuer, the great Daily had visibly decided, for the July 14th editions, to show that the French hadn’t dared…to show themselves in the city for their national holiday.

Free to the paper to send its reporter to the side of Orchard Street, in the Lower East Side, or to the Café Charbon, which organized and animation “Bastille Day” as it exists in numerous neighborhoods of the city, often to the initiative of American or French restauranteurs. But to judge the French participation on this one day turns it into intellectual dishonesty.

The reporter in question saw but three French Cancan dancers that weren’t French, searched for the French that he did not find and concluded that the beret wearers and baguette holders had stayed home, for fear of going out during a period of “French bashing.” Mister Feuer had carefully omitted official festivals, which, with the exception of the reception of the consulate on the 14th, took place on the 13th, the day of his report.

It was the case of the ball organized by the Committee of the Associations of the Franco-American Chamber of Commerce, but the manifestation took place in the rooms of the Pierre Hotel.

For revenge, how to ignore the great holiday typical on 60th Street? Mister Feuer mentioned it without naming it, and above all without having evidently set foot there, he wrote, “At another festival on the Upper East Side, some people were speaking French.”

Of the 10,000 people present for the great street festival of the French Institute’s Alliance Française, which went from Central Park to Lexington Avenue, it would have been difficult to not hear French being spoken, even to not see any French… But where, the French were definitely there because they had no reason to hide, whatever one thinks, or to have given to thinking the “Times”, that one believed over the lowness of the New York Post.

Maybe, there was not as much world as in the times of preceding editions. David Black, the Director of the FIAF, does not believe that the street festival was any less than a success with “the largest number of stands and of quality spectacles.” The youth chorale of the L’lle de Paris notably seduced the public with their singing. All this makes an ambience of more “friendly.”
The ball was also a little less frequented, but it is true that taking place on a Sunday evening constituted a handicap. By comparison in all the preceding years, the dancers had a little more space to waltz to the sound of Jacques et Marie and to their Paris Swing Orchestra.

The next day, French restauranteurs found themselves close to Provence for their usual part in “Pétanque” (a game of bowls) and the servers in the café did the same near the markets for their unavoidable race. But where was the New York Times?

Translated from French by Charlotte Triggs.


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