Having recently published a book about Paris, France, Rosecrans Baldwin visited a number of towns named Paris around the US to see how Americans perceive the French here in 2012. Here’s part one of his report.
The survey has eight questions ranging from general opinions to particular trivia. For example, “Whose side was France on during the American Revolutionary War?”
Sixty-six percent of respondents get it right: our side. Twenty percent are wrong. Incorrect answers include “the British,” “England,” “the opposite side,” and, oddly, “the French.” Other responses: “History was not my class in school — I hate it,” and “I am averse.” My favorite comes from a gas station attendant in Lexington, Ky., who writes: “I refuse to answer the rest of this survey. I love the French language. I have had many French friends.”
One guy in a parking lot outside a Dallas strip club says, “This has got to be a trick question.” And there’s another person, at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, who will ask me, “You mean our American Revolutionary War?” Which appears to be a general concern — of the 55 people, at least 10 ask me to which American Revolution I am referring. Two people say, “But we didn’t have a revolution.”
The Morning News is serializing the other parts of this story all this month but you can get the whole thing right now on the Kindle.
GQ has an excerpt of Rosecrans Baldwin’s new book about the eighteen months he and his wife spent in Paris.
Bruno sat under a machine shaped like a palm tree that sucked up smoke. He lit a cigarette, unpopped a shirt button nonchalantly, ordered Sancerre, and began talking over my head. After fifteen minutes, I understood that he’d worked on the infant-nutrition project for eleven months, ever since he’d joined the agency. They’d gone through four copywriters in the same amount of time; I was number five.
Bruno said, Reservoir Dogs, did I know this film?
“Bien sur,” I said, adding, “Mr. Pink?”
“Okay, good,” Bruno said in English. “Then, Mr. Pink… do not be this. Do not be saying in the office, ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck.’”
Evidently Bruno had overheard me swearing. He wanted me to know that cursing wasn’t cool in Parisian office culture. It seemed to weigh on Bruno, speaking English like that, correcting my behavior. As though envisioning trials to come.
The book is called Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down and is due out soooon.
Rosecrans Baldwin, one of the co-thinker-uppers of The Morning News (a favorite around these parts), has released a novel, his first. It’s called You Lost Me There (Kindle). So far, it’s about a scientist and an artist and this episode of Radiolab. I’m wary of novels, especially contemporary ones written by friends, but YLMT has me hooked; I’m going back to it as soon as I finish a bit more work.