Thursday, February 01, 2007


I picked up a copy of Le Monde today, part of my ongoing efforts to Frenchify myself. I had forgotten that today marked the coming-into-effect of the new anti-smoking laws, which ban smoking in public places like restaurants.

To mark the occasion, Le Monde has a very witty front page opinion piece mourning the end of an era:"With a cigarette, one was partaking of a metaphor and an idea. Smoke to be. Smoke under all circumstances, and with no reticence for the feelings of non-smokers. Those were good times."

It concludes with the line that should other pleasures be eradicated with the same efficiency as smoking than "Beaufisme {vulgarity, I believe} triumphs."

I cannot, in my wildest imaginings, picture a similar article on the front of, say, the New York Times or the Globe and Mail. This, my friends, is the spirit of the mob in 1789, the taxis of Paris bringing serious faced troops to the Somme in 1914 to fight the larger German Army to a standstill. It is the Resistance fighting their lonely battle against the Nazis in 1942 and hirsute students arguing in the cafés before taking to the streets in 1968.

Light up, mes amis. Light up the darkness! Breath the carcinogenic air of freedom!

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