Second Strike of 2009

Protesting puppets at the March 20th strike in Valence.

Protesting puppets at the March 20th strike in Valence.

This morning, I woke up to find a scorpion lurking outside my door. I didn’t want to risk a scorpion in my room, so I’m sorry to say it was killed by my giant French dictionary. I hope that this will not happen often. As much as I love animals, I prefer it when the ones that could sting me in my sleep stay outside my living space.

Yesterday I spent a lovely day in Aix-en-Provence, but I will get to that in another post. This Thursday there was another strike in France, this one claiming to be bigger than the January 29th “grève.” I didn’t have to go into work due to the disruptions with the buses and the fact that only two of the teachers I usually work with would be there. So after running the errands that I could on a day when most public buildings were closed, I walked to the park to see the strikers gathering. The umbrella issue was the economic crisis, with most believing President Nicolas Sarkozy is not doing enough to slow the recession. Even though this strike had a little more of a serious vibe than the January strike, there were still people walking on stilts and the giant puppets in the photograph above. I’m going to assume they represent people in the DOM-TOMs, although they could just as easily be leftovers from Carnaval. They kind of scared me, because when they walked their giant hands reached in front of them like they were trying to grab people in the crowd and their necks bobbed up and down. They also danced to the music, which ranged from drum groups to solo bongo players to U2 blasted out of a car stereo to a guy with a megaphone doing a version of Gavroche’s song in Les Misérables. He just substituted “Sarko” (short for Sarkozy) for Rousseau, which I guess was clever. Ex: “Misère est mon trousseau/C’est la faute à Sarko.”

Strike going down the boulevard in Valence.

Strike going down the boulevard in Valence.

I saw a couple of my students who screamed “ALLEESOON.” The kids are always shocked that I actually live in France and don’t fly home to the States every night. I guess their spatial reasoning is still being formed. I also ran into some other assistants lounging in the park, and we enjoyed a couple bottles of Clairette while watching the strike pass by. I’m still not sure about the strike culture here. It’s fantastic that people are so attentive to what their government is doing and are willing to express their opinions. However, it happens so frequently that it seems like it would lose some of its effect.

I taught a short lesson on American music in my private lessons this week, introducing the five main genres of the 20th century: jazz, country, rock and roll, hip hop, and pop. I showed a short video for each, using Miles Davis, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, The Roots, and Feist (I know, technically Canadian) respectively. The least favorite for all the kids was The Roots, alas. Anyway, I bring this up because there was a moment when we were talking about other types of music related to these. One of the kids said punk, so I played a short clip of The Misfits and their grandma, who was in the other room, shouts: “What is going on? Is everything okay???” I guess the punks are still making the older generation uncomfortable.

4 thoughts on “Second Strike of 2009

  1. Jennie says:

    Those puppets FREAK ME OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!! It looks like you had gorgeous weather down there this week. I don’t know why I still haven’t been to Valence. I’d like to check it out one of these days.

  2. Allie says:

    It’s definitely worth a trip over. And usually it’s not haunted by puppets with giant hands.

  3. m says:

    strikes look kind of fun…

  4. Allie says:

    They definitely seem to have a party-vibe in Valence. I imagine the ones in Paris, Lyon, and Marseille are more serious.

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