Letter from Santa Clara
Paris: Living with
I'd never experienced European neo-terror until I was in Paris in 1985.
(On August 9, 1982, the bombing of Paris' Rue des Rosiers by the Abu
Nidal faction had left 6 dead, 22 wounded.)
As a member the National Writers' Union-Boston local, I was making initial
face-to-face contacts with our peer unions — in Paris, at Radio France on
the right bank. Suddenly, I came upon one of Balzac's many short-term
addresses (all with commemorative placques) from which he'd fled for lack
of funds, usually a few steps ahead of the police, often out the back
window, descending by rope ladder. This was one of his small houses, set a
few feet just below the street, in its own little parklet; you had to
descend a little set of stairs to enter it.
Right across the street was a children's school; it was just letting out,
guarded by a squad of machine-gun toting French paratroopers in combat-cammies
(not midnight-blue genderme capes), so I asked the Balzac house curator:
what was going on? She said it was just a diplomats' children's school.
Guarded by armed paratroops? Is this what life in The City of Light is
like now? Obviously — yes.
Well, this is what it's like now, here, on mainland USA. Welcome to the
belated metropolitan present. All it takes is a few (terrorist) bombings
to change any metropolitan atmosphere considerably. It goes with
the imperial condition.
Among other things I take now exception to here is the preemptive slogan:
"Everything Is Changed" — which I instantly took as a politically
motivated counter-terror slogan. Look, if all's changed, then we were
demonstrably vacuous airheads before this.
Frankly, the Brits ought to tell us to shut & shape up: what they went
thru in WW2 was more spectacular than 9/11 by many magnitudes, but it
takes mainland Americans to suck the whole world into their
trip. Look, the WTC was bombed a few years ago. Why wasn't NYC fully
prepared for a re-run? Why was the civil air-defense so
ineffective? People are to blame.
This is just more proof of what's hopelessly wrong with Bush2 & Co. Their
incompetence feeds into compensatory neo-imperial wars: we've gotta save
the world by war because we got zapped at home. Listen, they know we're
gonna get zapped again: the RNC, via Cheney, is already pre-blaming Kerry,
because you know sure-as-hell they won't ever blame Bush2, their savior of
metropole (French) = metropolis, a capital-city of an empire.
Although Bill Costley has moved from Paris to Santa Clara, he is still
a member of the National Writers' Union.