The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Thursday, January 04, 2007

We Must Stop This Mad Course to the Future

News item (In English, from

NANTES, France, Jan 1, 2007 (AFP) - Taking the French love to say "non" to a new extreme, some 600 people gathered in the western city of Nantes not to ring in the New Year, but to protest its arrival on Monday.

Lashed by rain, the organisers joked even the weather was against 2007, as they milled about under banners reading "No to 2007!" and "Now is better!"

"The world will come to understand that it must stop this mad course towards the future and we demand the governments of the world and the United Nations declare a moratorium to stop this December 31 in the future," said one of the organisers.

The tension mounted as the minutes ticked away, but the arrival of midnight and 2007 did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm as they began to chant "No to 2008!".

Having passed my 35th birthday the day before, I can kinda see where they're going with this.

New Year's Eve in France generally doesn't involve fireworks or Dick Clark or countdown clocks or Auld Lang Syne. Instead, there's usually a substantial feast (how did you guess?) often involving foie gras or the biggest damn shrimp you've ever seen--seriously, about the size of a squirrel--and of course champagne. The young folks do get their drink on and head out to soirees at bars or clubs, so there is a bit of Gallic hollerin' around midnight.

We passed the twelfth stroke of midnight in a hotel in Nimes with my sister's family, accompanied by langouste (rock lobster) and bull sausage (you always wondered what happened to the losers after the bullfights, right?). In the building across the street from our balcony, an entertaining-looking party was in swing, featuring outlandish costumes.

V: Keep the kids away from the balcony.
Me: Huh? That railing's plenty high...
V: No, there's an S&M party going on over there. See the guy in the bondage mask?

Yet nakedness did not prevail (no matter how hard we wished or how often we checked) and the drag queens hollered incomprehensible husky-voiced greetings across the street to us as we raised our glasses in toast.

Happy New Year to all y'all. Sorry no pictures this time, but check back later, I've got a big ol' post coming up with lots of pics as soon as I get a minute to upload them.


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