Thursday, November 10, 2005

# Posted 2:57 PM by Patrick Belton  

ECSCUSEZ MONSIEUR, JE CHERCHE RACAILLE: I'm in hiding, writing to file the first of two magazine pieces from here.

This from the mail bag, and David Harbottle.

It's great that you got yourself to Paris; I'm envious.

I have some questions. Feel free to ignore them, respond to them or do anything else with them.

To what extent do you think Sarkozy's policing policy caused the riots? Do you think, for example, that it might have disrupted the narcotics economy too successfully and added to the backlash?

According to reporters, there's supposed to be "coordinated organisation" - use of mobile phones, vehicles (gasp, vehicles!), bomb factories. But this sounds like the sort of organisation any reasonably well-nourished Arab gentleman would devise on the fly, rather than a sinister central brain at work. The latter would of course be more exciting, but are you hearing anything to support the idea?

How old is the average rioter? I understand he's around fourteen, and in my view this would explain the light touch of the police - serious injury or death to a child would cause the suburbs to explode. No wait... that's what already happened. But you get my point.

I'll leave it at that. Greetings and best regards from the frozen north of England.

More soon, elsewhere but will link from here. But I must pause to defend a haunt, Sartre's Café de Flore, from vicious charges it's grown intolerably touristic. I defend my loves bitterly; like much of Saint Germain it has free wireless internet, and without the horrid need to procure WiFi cards each 15 minutes, as per Parisian tradition; and though a café crème is 5.50 rather than, i.e., the Bastille's dominant 3.50, you're actually getting a bit over two cups of coffee, by volume, when you take into account the beaker in which it's served you. And among the tourists you're likely to get also some of life's interesting people, such as the hare krishna fellow who just paused to tell me a story about how at the Mac Expo at La Defense several years ago, they killed twenty apple trees for the advertising of a computer. After the hatred and fear of the young rioters of Aulnay, it's rather nice to be around couples embarassing their flower peddler with their displays of affection. I would have taken a photograph.
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