|Cabu's prophetic book cover: "Can we still make fun of everything?" (2012)|
Good mourning, my friends.
No, I made no typing mistake. I think the title of this post is the best tribute I can pay to the irreverent spirit of Charlie Hebdo, twenty-four hours after they were decimated by stupid and criminal zealots. I can't think of anyone more witty than Cabu, Wolinski and the rest of the group. So, I'm sure they'd approve the way I'm saying good morning to you all today.
For nearly fifty years, I've read, followed, ran across, and even on occasions - many years ago - worked with members of the Charlie team (first, Hara-Kiri) in Paris. In the early 1980s in particular, my Greenpeace office in Paris was a couple of blocks from Charlie's on the Rue-des-Trois-Portes. We would coincide in the local bars and restaurants, and whenever we'd need an illustration for a publication, a campaign poster or a banner, there was always someone at Charlie willing to do it and help. With their acid sense of humour, their style had become the hallmark of the 1968 and post-68 generation in Paris. They were the least expensive too, as they would never charge more than a bottle of wine or two. I'm not sure how many times I've been at demonstrations and meetings with Cabu who was certainly one of the most constant, diligent and talented advocates for human, environmental and animal rights, and a seasoned anti-military activist.
It does me good to write this, because I've been useless for more than twenty-four hours now. Getting this out of my body is probably going to help getting me back to work. That's what they call mourning, I suppose.
It must be difficult for those of you who are not French, or even for French people who do not belong to my generation, to understand the significance of yesterday's killing, the significance of Charlie/Hara-Kiri in the last half century, and why French people of my generation and culture are so upset; why we're all mourning.
I'm trying to think what would be the equivalent of yesterday's killing in three other countries I know well, and from which some of my readers come from. So, imagine...in the UK the entire Monty Python and/or Private Eye's editorial team being shot dead together in the centre of London; in the US Jon Stewart, Sephen Colbert, the rest of the Comedy Central team wiped out within three minutes together with the producers of The Simpsons and South Park, and Neil Young who happened to be passing by; and in Spain, that could be El Gran Wyoming and his El Intermedio gang, machine-gunned on a day Miguel Ríos, Joan Manuel Serrat, Ana Belen and Joaquin Sabina are all with him on the plateau.
So now, you can understand why, together with me, all my French friends are mourning.