petite anglaise

November 10, 2005

wrinkling my nose in distaste

Filed under: french touch, misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:44 pm

Three things offended my delicate sensibilities today. In the following order:

First, the grafitti in the lift which takes me into the bowels of the earth to catch my morning métro:

“Pas heureux chez nous? Allez donc crever de faim chez vous!”

Glad to see the spirit of fraternité is alive and kicking in the twenty first century.

Second, old greasy bum is back on a billboard near you (shameless recycling on the part of the Galéries Lafayette) and almost succeeded in putting me off my brioche.

Third, work. I don’t talk about work. It’s my new rule. But if I say I decided it might be prudent to revamp the CV today, that’s not really talking about work, is it?


  1. its funny when I read “old greasy bum” I still had my bus ride today on the mind. I was crammed onto a rushhour bus when I noticed a nasty oder. Turned around and there was an SDF that reeked of all things nasty. So when I read your post I didn’t understand what you were getting at. Thanks for adding the link so I could see that you meant ‘bum’ and not sdf! :)


    Comment by karina — November 10, 2005 @ 11:16 pm

  2. Please, oh please, put translations of the French phrases you use for those of us on the other side of the pond who speak only one language and whose knowledge of French consists mainly of frites.

    Comment by Alyce — November 11, 2005 @ 12:05 am

  3. I too had a problem with that French phrase so I used the translator tool at dictionary dot com. The result?

    “Not happy on our premises? Thus burst hunger on your premise!”

    Erm…I wrinkled my nose in confusion…help!

    Comment by Pomgirl — November 11, 2005 @ 12:18 am

  4. Actually it’s not Casta on the picture… yes I know it had to be said. ;-)

    A. who liked a lot the ad for the swimwear this summer. :o)

    Comment by Adrienhb — November 11, 2005 @ 12:26 am

  5. ah, the old stalemate of urban living: the witty graffitti. quand tout bourgeonne dans la haine / le racisme n’est qu’une rengaine (les negresses vertes).

    why don’t you try to get a job with marketing at galeries lafayette? first mission: deep-six greasy bum! two problems solved in one go.

    Comment by sydneysnider — November 11, 2005 @ 12:42 am

  6. Alyce,

    The graffiti says :
    “Not happy here? Then go starve back in your country”.
    It refers to the recent Paris riots (you’ve heard, haven’t you??).

    Comment by A Frog in Oz — November 11, 2005 @ 2:05 am

  7. My husband thinks it looks as if the woman is exploding from her clothes.

    I wish she’d explode out of the ugly shoes with nylons and white socks–stupid looking if you ask me.

    Yeah, leave it to me to pay attention to her shoes. I don’t think that was the point of the campaign, now, was it?

    At least she wasn’t riding another girl, like in the last one.

    I’m not an american prude–I really don’t care about the nipples or buttocks or penises or what have you, and in fact rather enjoyed the recent ad of the older gentleman with the penis book held at crotch level while awaiting the bus, funny stuff–but the strange and kind of stupid for the sake of strangeness and kind of stupidness doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever.

    And they are trying to promote lingerie by showing someone who doesn’t seem to want to wear it?

    I don’t get it.

    Comment by Ronica — November 11, 2005 @ 2:20 am

  8. Sorry you are offended. But American seems to be going in two directions – more ‘sex’ scenes on TV while the Republicans try to make talking about it mor illegal. I guess it all averages into staying the same, but somehow it hurts.

    Comment by joeinvegas — November 11, 2005 @ 4:51 am

  9. I’m not such a prude that I’m offended by the merest glimpse of a bottom. It’s the whole “I just poured a bottle of olive oil over myself” look which just makes me squeamish first thing in the morning, I’m afraid.

    Comment by petite — November 11, 2005 @ 10:00 am

  10. Hmm, the greasy bum… I may be too French, I hadn’t even noticed!

    But the grafitti does shock me. So much hatred in so little words. Not all of us French people think that way, but still, more than 20% of the population are still convinced that M. Jean-Marie le Pen, leader of the French far-right party, is the only politician who speaks the truth.
    What do you make of “liberté, égalité, fraternité”? (And I am addressing all the people who are taking advantage of the current situation, be them racist or car-burners)

    Comment by Marie — November 11, 2005 @ 11:17 am

  11. I’ve been living in paris for 16 years and I constantly rave about how wonderful life in France is, however reading your post this morning depresses me, I try not to think too much about the undercurrent racism here (and I’m not confronted with it every day living in a mixed culture area of Paris) because when I do my rave changes to a rant.

    Greasy bums don’t offend me, they give me something better to look at than all the miserable faces of my co-travellers going to work, oh oops looks I’m heading towards a rant…

    Comment by croque madame — November 11, 2005 @ 11:35 am

  12. “Not happy to us? Be therefore going to be famished at you”

    So much for online translators. Hmmm.

    Comment by Germain — November 11, 2005 @ 2:30 pm

  13. Revamping your cv? I know it is a pain in the neck, and sending them out, too. But it’s doing something posivite and one feels (slightly) more in control. Best of luck!

    Comment by Angie — November 11, 2005 @ 2:41 pm

  14. Maybe ‘Greasy Bum’ is some cunning ploy by the politicians to stop young men writing graffiti.

    Comment by Universal Soldier — November 11, 2005 @ 2:53 pm

  15. Hopefuly, the wave of car-torching, & the graffiti it stimulated may be on the wane. But has the racial element in this been over-emphasised by the media? Aren’t there also may ‘indigenous’,low-income french people living in these poorly constructed & overcrowded suburbs? Paris is a great city, but its geography is unique in having such a dramatic periphique, cutting off the central arrondisssments from the districts beyond. I know there are some very upmarket suburbs ‘beyond’ as well….. but I just wonder if categorising these events as unrest created by ‘immigrant-origin’ French might be over-simplifying?

    Comment by fella — November 11, 2005 @ 11:00 pm

  16. Thanks for the translation, Frog. And I certainly have heard!

    Comment by Alyce — November 11, 2005 @ 11:10 pm

  17. I like fella’s comment a lot. I know a lot of rich, French white people. I mean, they have jobs! Which pay well and come with a host of benefits and are often in the government sector. I also know a lot of super-qualified young French white people doing their second or third year of unpaid ‘stage’ (internship) and getting ever more desperate.(I confess I don’t know any French of African descent, although I have been beaten up and intimidated by them).The gulf is just not between blacks and whites but also between the haves and have nots in France. 20% employment among young people? Spot the gerontocrats stealing the future of a generation which doesn’t have the status and power to defend itself. It’s a very ironic situation where the state serves those with jobs very generously, but only at the price of efficiency and flexibility (ie by excluding more efficient, younger labour). So you are actually building higher barriers to entry, and more inequality, than in the arch-capitalist US.
    The French unions are incredibly selfish and the government needs to rectify the labour market by smashing it open. But the government is run by crooks (Chirac) and posturers (Sarkozy). It’s a grim outlook. Althoug you have to give Chirac credit for being right on Iraq, I suppose.

    Comment by dan — November 12, 2005 @ 3:48 am

  18. Ouch that grafitti is sharp! I am sure the underground in London is equally pleasant! I was amazed (not in a good way) to see the maps of France showing the towns where rioting had taken place. And old greasy bum …. she doesn’t bother me one way or another, but nothing should be allowed to put you off your brioche!

    Comment by Jo — November 12, 2005 @ 6:42 am

  19. Further to Croque Madame’s comment, I’ve never in my life witnessed as depressed looking a crew as Paris commuters in the a.m. My first morning en route to (I blush at the cliche) classes at the Alliance Francaise, I couldn’t understand the po faces of my fellow passengers. One month later, I knew that if I ever again was forced to suffer through another half-assed gypsy band rendition of “Besame Mucho” I would have no choice but to kill.

    Comment by Louis — November 12, 2005 @ 7:35 am

  20. The appalling efforts of online translation engines convince me more than ever that we will always need human translators. I think I’ll carry on studying for my diploma…

    I’m probably not qualified to comment much on the riots, but I agree with fella in that the way French cities (not just Paris) have been developed does not seem to make for happy integration between the haves and have nots of whatever racial origin.

    I remember one of my French students talking about London. His comment was something along the lines of “what I found strange was that you are constantly confronted by the contrast between rich and poor”. Maybe he was used to living in cities where the poor were swept away to the “zones”, out of sight and out of mind…

    Comment by anxious — November 12, 2005 @ 1:13 pm

  21. Dan: By including the statement “I confess I don’t know any French of African descent, although I have been beaten up and intimidated by them” your true opinions (dare I say, prejudices) shine through.

    Comment by Just Dazzle — November 12, 2005 @ 3:06 pm

  22. Actually, I think if you look a little deeper, you’ll find than dan’s comment is far from that and actually an ironic comment on the iniquity of the status quo. Of course, I could be wrong…

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — November 12, 2005 @ 3:18 pm

  23. D’oh! Too many “actually”s and “comments” but you know what I mean.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — November 12, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

  24. Let’s hope so :)

    Comment by Just Dazzle — November 12, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

  25. I agree with Gorgeous Jim Dazzle … you may well be reading too much into Dan’s statement …. I do not have many acquaintances of Aboriginal descent [or Armenian, or African, or Japanese, etc] (I live in Sydney) … but I do have some. I just have not lived in areas where there is a large obvious cohesive population of people of these backgrounds. I will say I haven’t been beaten up by any that’s for sure! I’m of German, Irish, Croatian [Dalmatian] heritage myself, with Chilian, Spanish, French, English family connections, so am a multicultural mixing pot all on my own!

    I read an interesting article in an Australian paper yesterday, commenting on a statement by a French minister (I think) … basically along the lines that the lessons of France should be learned by all countries with a multicultural population. The point being made by the writer of the article was the idea that in France there is actually no integration of ethnic populations … ie keeping their customs/foods/traditions adn blending them with the French customs/foods/traditions to have a constantly evolving whole … but that immigrants are expected to ‘become French’ … or end up living in enclaves of their own ethnic group.

    Now, before anybody goes off half cocked … remember Australia is a long way away so we can only go via TV/internet etc … and we’re certainly not perfect ourselves in how we treat immigrants! … above para is a comment only, not a criticism! Is this how life is for an immigrant in France? Or is it a media beatup?

    Comment by Miss Lisa — November 16, 2005 @ 1:16 am

  26. Totally off-topic:
    I’ve just read your “33 things” and I wanted to ask (as a fellow Joy Div / New Order enthusiast), what sort of letters did you once write to poor Barney? Did you fancy him? Were they….y’know, luurve letters? Hee hee!
    I always imagined that Hooky was the one who’d attract the most attention from the ‘laydeez’, what with the way he, erm , “swings his instrument about”!
    Anyway, this puts a whole new meaning on Bernard’s lyrics. I can just imagine him singing:
    “Hey, petite…..sophisticated lady!
    You know I’ve met a lot of cool chicks,
    But I never met a girl….with all her own teeth.
    But you’ve got style….and you got classssss….
    But most of all…..[stop] –
    You got luuuurve technique!”
    (from “Fine Time”, 1989)

    Ha ha, excuse me for being so flippant.

    Comment by Tom — November 16, 2005 @ 6:09 am

  27. JD’s comment is so clearly drivel that I am reluctant to waste time with a rebuttal. It’s obvious to everyone else what I mean. I’m afraid she represents the PC mush which substitues for debate and brains on so many American campuses. Go away and tap dance why don’t you. Oh, and stop calling people racist on no evidence.
    I can just imagine you hunting down and burning witches in the 18th century, probably safely in the middle of an equally intolerant and brainless mob.

    Comment by dan — November 16, 2005 @ 6:23 am

  28. Miss Lisa,

    That is the main difference between young countries (USA, Oz, NZ) and old ones, or should I say anglo-saxon countries and other ones?

    The fact that immigrants are expected to become French (speak French, go to French schools, respect French laws, mix with the rest of the population, adopt some cultural values…) is true but seen as part of the “Egalite” statement of the French Republic. That’s what makes France what it is, its centuries of crafts, traditions, food, history, language, culture. It doesn’t mean you have to forget your own culture and traditions or that the culture doesn’t evolve with time but that France won’t absorb them as much as other countries. The main positive aspects are this equality (harder to achieve with the current unemployment rate, true) and the cohesion or shared identity of the whole country.

    It might sound weird and intolerant for somebody who is not from France but is it better to have neighbourhoods in the US where the only language is Spanish or streets in Auckland where everything is written in Chinese? In these cases, these immigrants will never be integrated in the society and live in microcosm or ghettos all their lives! And on top of that, that’s probably why when you ask people in social research in NZ to define the identity of the country and their shared values, they struggle to find any…

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — November 16, 2005 @ 9:54 am

  29. Oh Petite, where are you?
    You’ve got us all going now and you’ve gone AWOL.

    Comment by Flighty — November 16, 2005 @ 11:36 am

  30. Sorry, have been away in England with Tadpole. Will be back in the saddle shortly..

    Comment by petite — November 16, 2005 @ 11:57 am

  31. Oh dear Dan –don’t get yourself all worked up ;)Nobody’s calling you a racist and there is no reason to get all childish and defensive –let’s leave that(and the insults) for the playground.

    BTW Petite–this morning I passed the “greasy bum” poster for the first time this morning and had to laugh aloud!

    Comment by Just Dazzle — November 16, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

  32. The Chinese in France live largely in their own communities, keep to their own and are too busy making money to go out burning cars.
    They, at least, expect nothing of French society or government, unlike some other naive sods who actually believe that Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité is for them too.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — November 16, 2005 @ 3:02 pm

  33. Did I mention I was of German, Irish, Croatian descent? I guess I LOOK Anglo-Saxon … and I guess superfically Australia would be considered Anglo-Saxon … if you disregard the 200 odd nationalities that have leapt into the Ozzie Melting Pot. Adn remember the bit about my question being a question?

    Comment by Miss Lisa — November 17, 2005 @ 3:39 am

  34. JD, it’s pretty obvious what you were implying, so don’t try to weasel out of it. At least have the courage of your convictions.

    Comment by dan — November 17, 2005 @ 11:06 am

  35. Gosh, have been away myself and just look at all these interesting comments. My penny’s worth… I was in London, and as a hick from the sticks (put THAT in an online translator!) I was SO impressed by some of the evidence of racial integration I saw. I did huge amounts of walking around, and saw so many mixed groups of friends or couples. And I passed a nightclub queue where people were extravagantly dressed for a club night called Kinky – they were all dressed in over the top outfits and make up, like a scene from Cabaret or something. There were people of ever colour in the queue, and a I chatted to a fantastic Asian guy who was laughing with his (mixed) friends about his first-ever experience of wearing mascara and a sparkly headscarf…! It was cool, and heartening.

    But… today’s Guardian front page shows a pic of Anthony Walker, the black 18 year old who was killed by thugs last year, with the headline “He was murdered for no other reason than the colour of his skin.” Yet Tuesday’s Guardian front page had a column headed “Racial integration increasing, study shows”. It’s confusing. I guess the sad truth is there will always be bastards out there who can’t stand people who aren’t exactly like themselves. In the meantime, the silent majority just get on with their lives, being reasonable to their friends, colleagues and neighbours.

    Comment by Helen in beautiful Bath — November 17, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

  36. another brilliant post!! I love France! I want to go back! You should take a pic of the graffiti for us! Love your blog as always!!!

    Comment by francesca — November 17, 2005 @ 12:59 pm

  37. Helen you’re a legend!

    Comment by Miss Lisa — November 17, 2005 @ 11:56 pm

  38. What do you mean, Lisa honey?!

    Comment by Helen in beautiful Bath — November 18, 2005 @ 5:18 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: