Monday, June 8, 2009

Major Media Events

A few days ago, the President (of France) and other celebrities attended a service for the people who were lost on Air France Flight 447, at Notre-Dame. I was fortunately away from the area at the time.

This weekend, apparently the President (of the United States) and his family are visiting Paris on the taxpayer's dime. Every time a U.S. president visits Paris, the entire city (almost) must come to a standstill, and the locals must suffer as everything is closed off and sealed off and forbidden so that the President can visit the city as if it were a wax museum. I wish U.S. presidents would just stay home, as their visits elsewhere involve massive hardships for the locals and wide curtailments of civil liberties. The people in Washington are presumably used to this, but I don't see why the rest of the world must suffer.

So I guess the President and his kin got a nice look at Paris—as a ghost town. Why he couldn't bring his family here before becoming President, at his own expense, is a bit of a mystery to me; I'm sure this visit probably cost several tens of millions of dollars. And of course he and his family will have absolutely zero interaction with real Parisians, since only a few Yankee-White VIPs will be allowed to get within a football-field-length of them. I guess they went to a restaurant in the Seventh, too—I pity the other people who dined there (if any!) at the same time, since that entire section of the city was probably sealed off by men in black on Hummers with miniguns.

In general, I don't like it when celebrities or VIPs visit Paris, as they are too much of a disruption to city life. And the President of the United States is treated more like a deity than an elected official, with extremes of security that say much about the depths of paranoia that apparently grip government officials when they don't often have reality checks to reset their perspective. It's interesting to note that the President of the United States gets far more security than the President of France. Perhaps that's a tacit acknowledgement of the relative importance of the two officials … or perhaps it's just hype and star worship.

Anyway, I missed it all, thankfully. I've spent this slightly rainy weekend playing chess, flying, and wandering about in Second Life, amongst other things (all things that cost nothing and can be done seated in front of a PC). I've become vaguely aware of some sort of tennis event taking place a few miles from here, on the west side of town, but I've mostly ignored that, too.

There are many things I like about Paris, but Major Media Events™ are not among them. The latter is part of the price you pay for living in the world's most glamorous city.

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