It must be summer when the New York Times starts running articles on France every day of the week. The paper's reporters and columnists know how to enjoy themselves by writing about French malaise, starting with Maureen Dowd, who invented a quote from Camus to bolster her case. Today finds not one but two pieces, one on sullen consumers avoiding the Clignancourt flea market, the other a column by the inevitable and ineffable Roger Cohen in which he cites another column he wrote 16 years ago, which also found the French to be morose, hence, he concludes, French moroseness is a "myth," but a useful one, always available to be illustrated by profiling an in-law's gruff uncle.
The kernel of the "sullen France" story is always that the French are ingrates. Blessed with natural and created beauty, glücklich wie Gott im Frankreich, they nevertheless insist, so we are told, on stewing in an existential funk. Why is it that none of these junketing journalists ever reports on the theater festival in Avignon, the opera in Orange, the skateboarders at Trocadero, or the sunbathers on Paris Plage? Frankly, I'd rather be morose in France than forced to watch the George Zimmerman trial nonstop on CNN.