samedi 26 juin 2010

Les médias français sous surveillance

Le 7 avril 2009, je m'étais fait du souci à propos de l'avenir de France Inter, et je m'interrogeais sur la réelle liberté de la presse en France. Et quest-ce que j'apprends aujourd'hui? Les deux humoristes irrévérencieux de la station - Stéphane Guillon et Didier Porte - sont virés!!!
Je m'y attendais, mais en même temps je suis quand même tristement surprise, navrée.
Voici la lettre ouverte envoyée par l'ensemble de la rédaction de France Inter aux auditeurs:


La société des journalistes et la Société des producteurs de France Inter adressent une lettre aux auditeurs de la chaîne. La voici

Lettre ouverte aux auditeurs de France Inter
Chers auditeurs, C’est à vous que nous souhaitons nous adresser après l’éviction de Didier Porte et Stéphane Guillon. Evictions que nous avons apprises, comme vous, en écoutant l’antenne ce mercredi. Nous sommes sous le choc de ces annonces aussi brutales qu’incompréhensibles. Que se passe t-il dans notre radio, celle que vous aimez et celle que nous fabriquons ? Ce qui se joue à France Inter, au-delà même des personnes concernées, nous semble lourd de symbole quant à l’identité de votre, de notre radio. Nous vivons un tournant qui nous inquiète dans l’histoire de cette station. Nous, personnels de France Inter, partageons un attachement indéfectible à la liberté de ton, à l’impertinence, à l’exigence, à la différence et c’est ce que nous défendons tous les jours à l’antenne. Ce qui a fait le sel et la valeur de cette station depuis tant d’années ne peut devenir un simple argument publicitaire vide de sens. Ces valeurs dont nous sommes fiers et qui représentent l’ADN de France Inter, se trouvent remises en cause et gravement menacées. Avec le renvoi de ces deux humoristes se pose la question de la garantie de notre indépendance. De très nombreux membres du personnel de France Inter, techniciens, réalisateurs, attachés de productions et assistants d’édition, se joignent à nous, journalistes et producteurs pour vous adresser ce message. Etre une radio de service public a un sens. Vous auditeurs, nous personnels de France Inter, devons veiller à en garantir la pérennité !

24 Juin 2010


Et ci-joint une excellente chronique de Guillon. Juste, dévastatrice et déprimante:

vendredi 25 juin 2010

Two catch words : "Populaire" and "Community"

Summer! Warmth, heat, sweat, late sunny evenings, ice-cream, world cup... Now that I got myself a hat, I'm not fearing a heat stroke every time I set foot on the sidewalk, so life is good!

A week ago, the Southside Film festival happened in Bethlehem. 4 days of film screenings, parties, talk-back sessions, and opportunities to appreciate the creative and entrepreunerial drive present in the Bethlehem community. There, I said it. Community. That's one of those words I don't like to use too much. Because it's so full of political precedent. Everyone believes in community building, everyone wants people to live happily ever after together in the same neighborhood, blah blah blah.
But I have to say that the South Side fest is true to the core of the word. It's organised by local volunteer leaders, it uses the spaces of the town, from the Lehigh University campus to the local shops and coffee-shops. The general quarters are located at Deja Brew, the late night parties happen at the Wild Flower cafe, the opening party was at the decor-shop Home and Planet. People from Bethlehem made sure to come, there were auditoriums full of people watching documentary films, shorts and feature-lenghts, all non-mainstream films, part of the festival circuit. And yet, no snobbiness whatsoever. Just a love of film and a passion to make such a large-scale grassroots event work out. This is the festival's 7th year, and it's stronger than ever.
Touchstone also engages with community, working in local schools, bringing shows to kids during the summer, opening its space to artistic groups. The word "community" comes up a lot in our work, and yet we try to use it sparingly. Because it can quickly become stale, dishonest, hypocritical. And we don't want that.
I find similarities between the use of the word "community" in the US, and the word "populaire" in France. Maybe it's because the shadow of the Revolution follows French culture even to this day, but something that is "populaire" is very often seen as something good: Front populaire, fête populaire, bal populaire, soupe populaire, secours populaire, rassemblement populaire, etc.
And that word has been used SO MUCH by the political elite in France that it really is hard to stomach. To the extent that anytime someone says something is "populaire", I glance at them with distrust in my eyes.
But then, when a real "populaire" community event is set up, you can forget about the word, and revel in the beauty of being together. When the audience about to see an Ariane Mnouchkine theatre production is eating delightful food served by the crew in a tent on the outskirts of Paris, that audience is involved in what could be called a "dîner populaire", but all we're thinking about is how good the food is, and how nice it is to be there.
Same for the film festival in Douarnenez. Queues of people waiting to get into the cinema, dinners of sardines and fries made outside in a school courtyard... it might be called "populaire", but it's just a bunch of people having fun together.

So my question is: have we gotten to the point in our societies where we need to use catch words like "community" and "populaire" to bring people together? We must be pretty disengaged from our neighbors if we constantly have to find excuses and schemes to look at each other in the eyes and engage in activities. But since that seems to be the case, then it's all the more important for local leaders everywhere to show how natural it is to engage in community, and to have fun in a "populaire" kind of way. With no political agenda, just for the sake of being human.

mardi 8 juin 2010


I went to Boston. I moved my bouncy bottom out of Bethlehem and went out to explore the world, and it felt nice. Really nice. I'm starting to like buses a lot. Not nearly as much as I like trains, but trains aren't the way to go in the US. They're expensive, and impractical, and slow. Buses are actually faster, most of the time, and a lot cheaper.
So I took the bus from Bethlehem to New York, and when I got to Port Authority bus station, as I was standing on the escalator and seeing crowds of people pass me by, I heard myself whisper to myself "why the hell am I not living here". It always happens when I'm in New York. I can't help it. Completely spontaneous, completely uncontrolable. A real question: indeed, why am I not living here? Strange. But okay! I'm okay not living in New York. I really am okay with it. Nevertheless, everytime I'm there, I sense the vibe, the sheer energy of that city, and I'm drawn to it. I was a bit disappointed to simplytransit through, until I realized the bus from New York to Boston was crossing all of Manhattan before reaching the highway!

We rode on Amsterdam avenue, from the very lower part of Manhattan all the way up to Harlem. I watched and watched and watched as the neighborhoods changed, as we passed by a Central Park entrance, as a lady all dressed up for church (red and white hat, red suit, red and white shoes) stopped at the crosswalk. When we reached the highway, I could still see the roofs of a burrough, which I realized was South Bronx when I saw a panel on a building " Save the South Bronx".
Then we were on our way to Boston.
Past New York, Connecticut, into Massachusetts, I started realizing what the big deal was about New England. The big deal is that New England is really pretty. Forests and lakes, and you can almost see the crispness of the air. I remembered that some friends I had met in Dublin who were American came from here. And I remembered their descriptions as I was staring through the bus window. This was different from Pennsylvania. It felt more... "North", just as DC feels more "South".
When I got to Boston, I took the subway, which also made me happy, because that's what public transportation does for me. And then, I met up with Olivia. We hadn't seen each other for two years (!) so we of course had a lot to talk about, a lot to catch up on. And, as we immediately bonded again, and felt no awkwardness, we realized that, well, we really were good friends.
We walked a lot, visiting the various neighborhoods, going to Cambridge and seeing Harvard, and going to the Samuel Adams brewery for some beer tasting. And I got to eat the chowda', and some of the best cannoli in the world (Mike's pastry, you should check it out if you're ever over there). Life was good that week-end.
Maybe it was because I was with Olivia, and because we met up with another friend who used to go to Royal Holloway, but I could sense the Britishness, and the Irishness of the environment. Maybe because, for the first time since I've been in the US living here, I walked into a bar that felt more like a pub, more like a place where you actually take your time to sit and relax and drink good beer, and eat something else besides chips. Maybe because the buildings were all red brick, or because of the accents, or because of the public parks and plazas... Boston felt new yet recognizable. It felt like the perfect place to catch my breath, gain perspective and chill. Exactly what I needed!

Jack Nicholson hanging out on a Boston wall

The Harvard Philosophy Department

Harvard bookstore

A funny dentist's window

George Washington in the Public gardens

Old church - newer building