Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Sunday, August 08, 2004


Those Wacky French Are So Nutty

The longer I stay in Europe, the more convinced I am that America sucks. Sure, we're pretty good in the abstract, with our freedom and our democracy and blah blah blah blah blah. But in practice, Europeans just have so much that we're lacking.

For instance, we--as evidenced by our president--seem to have absolutely no humor about ourselves. Contrast that with the group of skater kids we saw in Bordeaux. They were skating on the edges of marble park benches, jumping things, grinding here and there. But in rollerblades. They looked so fucking stupid. Americans would never do that. But these kids didn't care. Pretty cool.

Then there's our cars. In New York, you can more than occasionally see Hummer Stretch Limos. So, a vehicle that's roughly tank-sized to begin with is then pulled out to ridiculous length. This thing gets about one inch per gallon and Americans think it's the perfect thing to show off how successful they are. Meanwhile, in Europe, everyone is buying Smart Cars. You may have seen them before; they're basically what Shriners drive around in parades. You could fit three of the things in one Chrysler Town & Country.

Every major European city has a great mass transit system. You walk--walk--to the nearest bus/metro/rickshaw/whatever stop, pay a relatively small fee and leave your car at home. You hear that, Phoenix? You don't' have to take your car everywhere! You don't have to drive half a block to get that microwave burrito. Plus, with a decent mass transit system, you can get as falling-down drunk as you want to and spare yourself the massive argument with your wife about who was supposed to stay sober enough to drive, the $35 cab ride home and the embarrassment of picking up your car the next morning in front of your friend's house with a pounding headache and vomit on your shoes.

Now, I'm not saying that Europe is completely superior to the U.S. For starters, thanks to our brave American capitalists, Europeans are eating more American fast food. There's a Dunkin' Donuts right by the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Not two blocks from the Sorbonne, you can by a Croque McDo and a large Coke. Soon, they'll have to increase the size of Smart Car seats to accommodate larger French asses.

And then there's the sorry state of French movie and theater posters. They all seem to be stuck in some bizarre 1988 time warp that's vaguely reminiscent of a Mentos commercial. Half of them feature a person with a "wacky" look about them and their friend/parent/pimp in the background, shaking their head as if to say, "Henri, you are so iconoclastic. When will you conform and lose your individuality?" The other half feature a group of people bunched together, each expressing their nuttiness individually. This is, I suppose, meant to entice the viewer into thinking, "I must go and see this to understand how such a diversely cooky group of people can form a cohesive, loving group." So we've got 'em beat there.

To sum up, then: America--bigger egos, bigger cars, bigger wastes of gasoline, bigger asses (for now). Europe--sucky movie posters.