For the price of a Motel 6, Jonathan Revusky and I have three floors in Florensac, a village of 5,000 in southern France. This house is older than the USA, for sure, with raw wooden beams in the ceilings, stone floors, twisting stairs, odd angled walls, and an entrance to the bathroom so low, the owner had to pad the top casing, lest her guests be knocked out cold.
A small couch has a cafe' crème floral design on a faded indigo background. Plopped on top are three cushions of red, red and Prussian blue. A tall casement window stares down at it. Matisse's ghost must be here. Hi, Henri.
We arrived just in time to catch the Pat Cryspol band performing outdoors for free. Trumpet, trombone, saxophone, bass and drums. In the night, dozens of people, mostly old, were dancing. Dozens more sat at long tables to watch and, when the mood struck, sing along. Près de la grève, souvenez-vous / Des voix de rêve chantaient pour nous / Minute brève du cher passe' / Pas encore efface, etc.
Next to the concert area, there was an inflatable slide, shooting gallery, bumper car rinks, merry-go-round and other rides. Cotton candies, churros, hot dogs, pizzas and fries were being sold.
Two police cars, four cops and a bomb sniffing dog guarded one entrance to the amusement area, but real terrorists would have had no problem causing havoc there, not to mention so many other targets, just in Florensac itself. It's merely theater and social conditioning, my dear chumps, from the same people who brought us 9/11 and the endless War on Terror.
We were sitting at a round wooden table under a maple tree. His wife and daughter were also present. College professors are conditioned to pontificate because, well, they're always surrounded by blank slates. I addressed him, "In the US, many people think that Europe is being overrun by immigrants. Do you think that's the case? Are people grumbling here?"
"Here, we think the US is being overrun by immigrants! We keep hearing all this talk about Mexicans this, Mexicans that." The man laughed and grabbed the stem of his Bordeaux glass.
"Are there many Muslims in this town?"
"Maybe 7%, but they've been here a long time and very well integrated. If you go to the main square in the evening, you will see about 20 Muslim men, sitting on benches and talking. They don't drink alcohol. It's their way."
"So there is no tension here?"
In Florensac, there are two kebab joints. At the weekly farmer's market, there's a very popular truck that sells Vietnamese spring rolls, rice noodles, Chinese dim sums, Thai curried chicken and other Asian dishes. Its proprietor is a 25-year-old born in France. His parents immigrated here from Nha Trang.
At Bistro d'Alex, a waiter is from Coventry, England. He's been in France for nine years. When told that I was from Philly, the man shouted, "I must go there some day, to try the famous sandwich!"