France does not suck

Coming into town on the E Street exit off southbound Business 80 is always a treat. There, at the corner of 29th and E streets, sits the Pine Cove Tavern, and beneath it, the Pine Cove Bottle Shop and the Pine Cove Barber Shop.

I once got a haircut at the barber shop, during one of the televised invasions of the first Gulf War. When asked what cut I wanted, I made the mistake of using the nebulous word “short”; the barber got so carried away with the festivities onscreen that he gave me a Semper Fi-approved jarhead cut.

These days, the bottle shop next door is flying the colors proudly. In its front window, next to an immense flag, is a huge poster that reads, “No Spin Zone! No French Wines Sold Here! Phase One!”

Although a joke might be made that our Gallic friends really don’t excel in the manufacture of screw-top varietals, a surprising number of wine bottles in the store contained corks. Nearby, however, Grand Marnier liqueur was on display, and the liquor shelves contained a number of brands, including Wild Turkey bourbon, Jameson Irish whisky, Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet scotches, Seagram’s gin and Wyborowa vodka—all products of Pernod Ricard, a French company.

When asked about the apparent contradiction, the man behind the counter laughed it off. “It’s Phase One,” he said, laughing. “All wars are fought in phases.”

Now, picking on the French may be a tradition in the English-speaking world, going back at least to the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453). But why do we Yanks still hate the French?

Here are a people who revere sensuality—in bed, in the kitchen and in life. They prefer diplomacy over bellicosity. They have given us great art, great music, great film and great architecture. Their joie de vivre should be embraced, not ridiculed—even if we still think they think Jerry Lewis is a genius. France rocks.

Speaking of film, this weekend marks the second annual Sacramento French Film Festival, now at the Crest Theatre. SN&R film critic Mark Halverson previews the fest.