More than two years since I saw him last, the Moroccan-French waiter in the small oyster bar near the St Paul métro stop in the Marais.
Recognize each other at once, shake hands.
After I speak friendly words he corrects my French.
Even the pissed-on ex-colonized are language pedants in Paris.
Never mind the Starbucks-McDonalds low-grade infection, Parisian cuisine is comme toujours, but expensive, and the dollar, formerly king, is not just shit, but reeks of it.
Maghreb French boys do the hip-hop thing -- rhythmic walk, sideways cap, gang-banger hand-signals.
Hand-signal -- the other hand strokes the mobile.
Myself, aimlessly walking, Baudelaire's flaneur, post-millennium, sans hashish.
Sidestepping shoppers, not catching an eye, nearly everyone tonguing their mobile.
Pause at a café for a Pastis.
No more colorful Gitanes or Gauloises packets laid on the cafe table.
Unexpectedly, the French have followed the US anti-smoking route, even as the streets and highways are congested, polluted.
Ah, but the métro is still a Cartesian marvel of efficiency.
Underpaid transit workers are threatening to strike.
In solidarity with university students who now pay more for less.
The strikers will ritually take over the streets.
In this 40th anniversary, books on the student almost-revolution in May 68 are prominently displayed in the bookstore windows.
No correspondence between Soixante-huit and Sarko's current repression.
Régis Debray, onetime revolutionary who fought with Che in Bolivia, has published his memoirs to critical acclaim.
They too are featured in bookstores.
Debray has rotated 180 degrees and now despises Che, Fidel, Mao.
Scion of a high-toned French family, Debray is proud to have finally acknowledged his birthright.
Revolution, even in this country of Communards, has devolved into a noun like "archeology" or "Social Darwinism."