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There are lunatics and then there are LUNATICS

by Lupin Mon Mar 13th, 2006 at 11:45:35 AM EST

Sometimes I feel that Europeans don't quite get the true depth of American lunacy. Yes, the faits-divers in the paper are full of rather appalling stories of deranged people. But then one comes across this genuine advertisement on polygamy.com (thanks to Jesus' General for the link) and one realizes that when it comes to genuine, full-blown lunacy, boy, you guys are sooooooo behind.

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American Expat in the South of France book now on Amazon

by Lupin Mon Mar 13th, 2006 at 06:39:22 AM EST

Mrs. Lupin's new book, OVER HERE: AN AMERICAN EXPAT IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, already the subject of a diary last week is now available on both Amazon US and Amazon.co.uk.

It can also be ordered direct from the publisher, click on the cover below.

Briefly, the book tells of our decision to leave Los Angeles after the "reelection" of you-know-who and diaries our relocation to the South of France during the ensuing 12 months. It's illustrated with 100 b&w photos. It's a cross between A YEAR IN PROVENCE and DAILY KOS.

Promoted by Colman: the Amazon.co.uk link is to the Eurotrib.com affiliate account that is one of the ways that Jérôme and Martin try to make this site pay for itself. If you're going to buy the book, buy it that way: Jérôme has a mid-life crisis coming up soon he needs to finance. While you're at it, click on some ads or something.

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An American Expat in the South of France book is out

by Lupin Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 04:21:17 AM EST

Being a writer is a bit like being a whore, sometimes you've got to walk that sidewalk and hawk your wares.

Mrs. Lupin's book, OVER HERE: AN AMERICAN EXPAT IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, is now en route from the printer back to its publisher; we here, in France, have ordered an extra box to sell ourselves.

The book is a diary of our one-year relocation journey from Los Angeles to the Aude in Southern France, a decision taken after the "reelection" of GW Bush. After 30 years in California, this was a pretty harrowing decision. The book is like A YEAR IN PROVENCE with bits of DAILY KOS thrown in. There's about 100 b&w photos taken by yours truly.

The book can be ordered using PayPal direct from its publisher here and I'm told it will be on both Amazon US and Amazon UK pretty soon (I'll post an update with links when it's up).

Review copies can be sent to folks with an outlet for book reviews; stores' discounts are also available.

Apologies for the hawking.

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What I love about America

by Lupin Sun Feb 26th, 2006 at 03:25:21 AM EST

cross posted from Daily Kos

 There are so many things to hate about America today than, prompted by a trollish comment that asked me what I did not hate about America, I decided to pen this diary.

I won't go into generalizations like "Americans are generous, this or that."  To paraphraze Rod Serling, people are alike all over, and there are generous Frenchmen, Germans, etc. In my experience, when it comes to human nature, often context (big city, small village, education, wealth) is more relevant than passport.

What I listed below the fold are things that are indeniably and uniquely American, and which I love. All in my humble opinion, of course.

Read more... (113 comments, 842 words in story)

Verdun remembered

by Lupin Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:52:36 AM EST

(cross-posted from Daily Kos)

My local rag here in the South of France ("La Depeche") had an article on how today is the start of the commemoration of the battle of Verdun, the bloodiest battle of World War I.

The battle lasted from February to December 1916, something I can barely comprehend.

French casualties during the battle were estimated at 550,000 with German losses set at 434,000, half of the total being fatalities -- all in truly horrible, Hell on Earth circumstances.

More here.

Interestingly, according to the paper, there are still a handful of survivors, the oldest being 111 years old. (TV interviews here)

Next time, I see a macho [American] asshole dressed in fatigues babbling on how "we're at war" and rag about "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" I will reflect on how we don't know the true meaning of war.

I also find it revealing that the French still care about this. When is the last time we heard from or about a WWI veteran in the US?

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My Dinner With Andre, Andre and Andre

by Lupin Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 05:04:37 AM EST

Continuing my series of occasional anecdotes about life in the South of France.

Last week we went to a pre-Xmas dinner party with a bunch of local "notables": a wine-merchant, his brother, a tax inspector, the local newsagent, a hotelier and their wives.

These are reasonably well-educated, well-informed people. Somewhat surprisingly for the area, they're "right-wing" (in values) but not necessarily pro-Government. The wine merchant would be what we'd consider a bit of a red neck in the U.S.

But this is not about French politics or society.

The conversation turned to the U.S. (not suprisingly with us being there) and since we're all in friendly terms, and have been part of the community for almost a year now, I felt they were being very candid.

Plus the French like to talk politics.

These are people who have been to the US in the past and describe themselves as traditional pro-US, defenders of American power, values and policies. Not the usual thinly-veiled snotty anti-Americanism you often get from the French Left.

Yet, to a man (woman), they all think the US "has gone crazy" -- Iraq, the Montreal Summit and NOLA (completely inconceivable to them) were the topics discussed.  

In the case of Iraq, what leads them to their belief is not some pro-Arab/Saddam moral stand (au contraire! they'd even understand going to war for oil) but a recognition of the general fuckedupness of the situation. Algeria was mentioned more than once. Vietnam too.  

Speaking of which, they also didn't understand the Kerry Swift-Boat Vietnam revisionist thing. They literally didn't understand how Americans could "fall for it."

All this leads them to believe (like Obelix in the ASTERIX comics) that "Americans are crazy". Sort of literally crazy.

More interestingly (as one who has frequently championed this point of view in the past), they've come to the notion, by themselves, that America is going down, fumbling down ("en train de peter," "degringoler"), or soon may be.

A hearty discussion ensued on whether the rot is in, whether the decline is irreversible (à la USSR) and what will happen and how long it will take for the US to either sort of collapse, or turn into something else, but then what? A typical Café du Commerce-type discussion, if you know what I mean.

(Jerome, you'll be pleased to know that they'd heard of "peak oil" even in Chalabre!)

These folks don't know about Daily Kos, etc. and a number of recent facts from the trenches of American politics (not reported by French Media) that I shared with them were met with a a mix of not-quite-disbelief and dismay, only reinforcing the above feelings.

Sadness, not glee, worry, not triumph, was the mood

So there we are. Anecdotal data, of course. But even in the southern provinces, the cracks in the once-mighty American giant have begun to be noticed...

As I have said before, my own belief is that the subject of the next 5 years will be, how to handle the collapse of the United States.

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100 years of Chuch/State separation in France

by Lupin Tue Dec 6th, 2005 at 02:55:15 AM EST

Yes, December 9 is apparently the 100th anniversary of Church & State separation in France.

Who knew?  (Not I.)

A bit more, cribbed from our local rag, on Mrs Lupin's blog.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote in one of his latest books (3001 I believe) that, in the future, religious faith may be diagnosed as a form of mental illness, the survival of an evolutionary mechanism that enabled cavemen to deal with the power of nature, long after it was no longer needed.

Like Clarke, we believe in greater powers and spirituality, and I think the ethical guidelines set by most religions are something to be followed, but often, religion has been associated throughout history with war, hatred, intolerance, corruption... in a word: all too human politics.

As an avid comic book reader I remember when, as a kid, I used to argue who was stronger, Thor or the Hulk. (Answer: the Hulk and don't say otherwise.) Religion is sadly a bit like that: "my invisible friend is stronger than your invisible friend" seems to be at the core of the old evolutionary mechanism.

Bottom line, I think it is an excellent idea to keep the two separate; the Founding Fathers certainly knew a thing or two about bigotry and intolerance and persecution. The US is, sadly, losing its way and for all intents is becoming a "Christian Nation" ("Christian!"  if only! Like Torquemada was a Christian)

I applaud France for sticking to its commitment of keeping Church and State separate.

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Join us at the fair...

by Lupin Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 01:14:51 AM EST

Euro Trib has had requests for more photos of Europe, so here you go - thanks to Lupin's diary ~ whataboutbob

It being Sunday, please join us in a virtual tour of the local market fair held this week-end in the neighboring village of Espezel, in the South of France.

The tour begins here and as usual, there is more narrative on our blog.

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Two Kossacks meet in the South of France

by Lupin Wed Oct 26th, 2005 at 03:13:04 AM EST

(cross-posted from Daily Kos yesterday.)

Not much to write really, except to note that I just posted some photos of the recent visit of fellow Kossack (and Eurotribber) "cambridgemac", a.k.a. Michael from Boston, the first Kossack to have visited us in our new digs in the South of France, and hopefully not the last! Anyone visiting the region is very welcome to contact us!

Our blog is, as always, here.

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A visit to the rheumatologist (Life in France 2)

by Lupin Sun Oct 9th, 2005 at 05:52:27 AM EST

More on a newly expatriated American's life in Southern France:

A visit to the rheumatologist on Friday brought home, once again, the differences in how medicine seems to be practiced here and in the U.S.

I was referred to the specialist by my family doctor. No need for any approval from an insurance company. Just a letter with the information I needed to give to the new doctor.

I called for an appointment on Wednesday. The receptionist apologized for not being able to get me in to see the doctor in the next two days! She asked if an appointment the following week would be all right. The last time I needed to see a specialist in L.A., the usual waiting time for an appointment was a month.

When I got to the clinic...

Read the rest on Mrs Lupin's blog here.

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Living in France

by Lupin Sun Sep 25th, 2005 at 03:59:43 AM EST

I posted this Thursdayday on Kos, but I thought it might also find a curious audience here.

General caveat: it's very hard to generalize on the basis of one's personal experience.  Lots of good and bad everywhere; different strokes, etc.

Premise: we're dual American/French citizens, and we speak the language; my wife and I moved from Los Angeles to the South of France last January; some have followed our story and looked at the photos on our blog here.

For what it's worth, here is a bullet list of what I have observed since our move:

Read more... (78 comments, 1163 words in story)

Timber!

by Lupin Thu Sep 15th, 2005 at 05:42:54 AM EST

On Daily Kos, Jerome has a (as usual) exceedingly well-written diary about energy, "a crisis of epic proportions" as he dubs it, and the fact that not enough people are paying attention to it.

Fair enough.

I will see his bet and raise him.

The biggest elephant shitting in the middle of our collective rooms right now, without a peep, IMHO, is the impending collapse of the United States.

(As recent examples, Talking Points Memo, Billmon, but there are tons of others, and let's not get started on Iraq.)

The premise is this: some of us, at least, believe that the US is irremediably fucked (excuse my French) and that within  a, say, 5 to 10 years tops, period, the US as we know it will collapse and become a strange combination of Russia, Argentina and Zimbabwe.

Europe waited for Brezhnev's USSR to collapse under its own weight, but from Chernobyl to Chechnya, Afghanistan to Ukraine, Galloway to Hitchens, we have yet barely scratched the consequences of the crumbling of that mighty empire.

Logically, the disintegration of the US -- as we know it today -- will have even far deeper and lasting consequences: militarily, economically, geo-politically, etc.

Jerome, you will grant me that there are at least a few people discussing the future of energy. But is anyone drawing scenarii about and planning for the collapse of the last remaining superpower?

We all live in the shadow of the tree; who will be the first to cry "timber!"

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la folie americaine

by Lupin Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 12:06:30 PM EST

Views from the south of France, promoted from the diaries ~ whataboutbob

I don't post much here, mostly because I often feel that I don't have an educated opinion about the issues generally discussed here, but I always read this site regularly, with great interest.

Now that it's been 7 months since we moved to the South of France (blog), I do have one piece of opinion to contribute.

At the time of the European Constitition vote, I read about the disconnect between France's elites and its people, the elitist media and the folks in the streets.  Perhaps so.

There is one more disconnect that I have become aware of, which I think has not been reported elsewhere - as far as I know.

I touched upon it briefly yesterday in a post on Moon of Alabama, from which I will re-quote myself.

In my little village in the South of France, Saturday is market day and, in between buying fresh produce and picking up a new clock for the kitchen, one can't help chatting with the local hobbits who, like their fictional counterparts, have no or little idea what's cooking in the Land of Mordor, beyond the Seas.

Yesterday morning, I was struck by the fact that local people -- I can't say all of them for sure, but at least most of them -- think Americans are crazy.

Read more... (63 comments, 514 words in story)

The smell of America burning in the morning

by Lupin Wed Jun 15th, 2005 at 12:36:31 AM EST

I could have posted this on Kos or Moon of Alabama but I figured it might have a certain resonance here.

One of my most startling discoveries since we moved to France is how POORLY the French media cover the US, both quantitatively and qualitatively. I shudder to say this, but the LOS ANGELES TIMES generally covered France better than LE MONDE or LIBERATION cover the US.

Jerome, you should get a gig writing about the US for a French paper, and if you need help, call me! :-)

These are two stories I picked up on the Net today, which, to me at least, scream "The Apocalypse Is Coming".  (And then some folks on MoA wonder why I'm so Chicken Littleish!)

Story #1 from the New York Times (no less): Next Generation of Conservatives (By the Dormful).

I've rarely read anything scarier. They are young and bright and ardently right. They tack Ronald Reagan calendars on their cubicle walls and devote brown bag lunches to the free market theories of Friedrich von Hayek. They come from 51 colleges and 28 states, calling for low taxes, strong defense and dorm rooms with a view. Go read it and shudder.  

Don't try to tell me the US is going to change tacks soon when that lies waiting in the wings. It reinforces my belief that nothing short of a major catastrophic fuck up will stop "Dark America" -- and since we all know reality will eventually collide with and crush these little Hitler Youths, I for one can't wait. But dark times sure lie ahead, whichever way you cut it.

Story #2 from Der Spiegel online site: ANTI-TERROR ABSURDITY IN AMERICA: Hemorrhaging Money for Homeland Security.

Fear can be a lucrative business. That, at least, is what American companies selling security gadgets are finding out as the US government continues to spend billions of dollars on a variety of different Homeland Security programs. The only problem? Most of them are useless.

Smell the greed, the incompetence, the Marie-Antoinette playing shepherdess delusional attitude and the Potemkin Villages short-sighted opportunism.  Can anyone read this and truly not smell the incoming rubble?

It's a pretty morning here in Chalabre as I type this, birds singing in the old platanes, sun shining, fresh air and a few villagers leisurely getting their bread from the bakery.

Thanks to high speed connections and the global villge, one can get up, have one's cup of tea and tartines in the morning, and sniff that faint odor wifting from across the ocean.  

America.  

Sort of like a cartoon character whose tail is already on fire and yet sniffs in the air saying "do you smell something burning?"

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Hello from the South of France

by Lupin Mon Jun 13th, 2005 at 10:08:50 AM EST

Some of you may have seen my posts on Kos or Billmon's or lately Moon of Alabama.

I used to frequent the newsgroups during Clinton's Impeachment, then moved to the blogs after the 2000 Coup.

The Impeachment was the first sign, to me, that neo-fascism was on the rise in the U.S.

Ever since, my worst fears have been more than realized.

After "Black Tuesday," last November, my wife and I decided to leave the United States and, earlier this year, we relocated to the South of France (south of Carcassonne - (blog here).

I am frankly extremely pessimistic about the future of the US for next 5 to 10 years. I believe Democracy has failed and the Right will not relinquish power. I hope to be proven wrong, but fear to be right.

The domestic Civil War, the risky economy, the looming energy crisis, the consequences of the Iraq War and many other factors, including possible strikes against and/or by the US, everything leads me to believe that the US is on the brink of major, lasting, catastrophic changes -- not unlike what happened to the old USSR.

I think such changes can no more be avoided/prevented than Communism could be rescued.

I believe the Left has been, and still is, far too reactive -- and, amazingly (to me), shocked/surprised by what's happening -- instead of being proactive.

The neofascists worked hard for well over a decade to make their vision into a reality. We must imitate them.

Like Hari Seldon in Isaac Asimov's FOUNDATION, I don't think we can prevent the Fall of the Empire at this stage, but we should brainstorm and reflect and act to make the transition to, hopefully, a better future shorter and smoother.

Europe, for all its perceived (and real, no doubt) problems, has a flexibility and a capacity for compromise than the US -- which never compromied once in its entire history -- sorely lacks. Especially now.

I hope to learn more about Europe, and the World, on this blog.

A great many thanks to Jerome and his team for starting it.

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