The New York Times spends so much money on traditional, in-depth journalism that it is a wonder the newspaper stays afloat at all in this age of 24-hour media. One example among numerous articles by a small army of reporters deployed in Paris since Friday is one by Dan Bilefsky, who (though no doubt pathetically underpaid) spent a good many hours researching the death by terror of a young Frenchman who is representative of the mostly young, vibrant crowd who were slaughtered in the Bataban and in the bistros of the hip northeast section of central Paris.
I was raised in a family of ardent Francophiles on both my mother’s and father’s sides, so it is irritating to hear glib slurs against the French constantly tossed off by many Americans. Paris is in my blood (although to my mother’s dismay I never succeeded in being fluent, or even passable, in French). We were in Paris for 8 days last year and my collection of photos from that visit has been the screen saver on both my laptop and my desktop ever since. This Times article about the irrepressible young people, one waiter in particular, who were out on that Friday evening to savor the fabled Parisian nightlife, conveys so much: the joyful sidewalk culture of the city, the promise of youth, the attractions of the “Onzième” and its ethnic diversity, the arbitrary mindlessness of the attacks — it’s all here. Please read all the way to the end; the last three paragraphs are about a presumably secular French family, but they convey a Christian sensibility.
And parenthetically, here is the best explanation/evocation of the unique Parisian experience, especially in the 11th, that I’ve read in some time: