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Howell Hurst Humans, Nature, People

Nice, France . . .

If you can read English, don’t read this!

My previously-reported promise not to tell you any details about Nice is beyond my mental control. Yesterday, I visited for the first time The Old Village of Nice. (Vieille Ville). Tiny foot corridors filled to their brims with every delectable, eatable wonder of the world. And people scrambline after them in a quietly joyful cameradery.

Not like one of our corporate super-markets, jammed to the rafters with eager buyers filling their GMC-sized shopping carts to overflowing to take home and throw half away while still edible. No, not like that.

Rather, people walking on their own two feet with small bags they brought from home, visiting individual shops actually owned by local people. Where they buy only for today. In small quantities, selectively, carefully, to insure a real quality meal once they get home to the family.

It seems that by some marvelous concurrence of laws giant financed supermarkets are unable to corner and dominate the food market like our U.S. economy. The little food guys bringing produce and meats from the local fields are able to compete and daily supply totally fresh food. That keeps pricing low for everyone.

What is the result of this mandated real competition that denies a food industry the ability to price gouge the population? The supply and pricing of everything is amazing. Most little individual shops feature one item: meat, for instance. Quality is everything. And so are the prices. Low prices.

Take meat. The prices are consistently 1/4 to 1/3 to 1/2 the price in America. Veal, steaks, all possible cuts of meat not at $18 to $35 a pound, but $7 and $9 a Kilogram (which is double the size of a pound). It is amazing how reasonably one may buy meat here.  Fish too. And here on the Med, fish IS fresh.

Incredible cheese shops with incredible cheeses. Again, a fraction of the price in America. Each shop filled with both local Nicoises and visiting tourists and expats. This true free-market situation makes home cooking so cheap that locals and tourists can also really afford to eat in the endless numbers of fine restaurants.

And do they ever. The Nicoises, visitors, and transplanted others living here, pack the restaurants both at lunch and evenings. It is the local pastime, this eating and drinking and talking out in the open in street cafes and such. Familes. Couples. Singles. Young. Old. All out hobnobbing about, both during the mid-day workdays, and in the evening.

Veggie stores. Fruit stores. Spice stores. Soap stores. Candy stores. Ice cream stores. All with hundreds of items in each class of product. (Diverting from food a moment: beautiful Italian men’s shirts in tiny stores for $35, not the $100, $200 prices in exclusive corporate stores back home.)  I think I shall up my sartorial style.


Forget I just said all that!

I repeat: Do not come here!

The mixture of people and products and weather and human psychological contentment approaches perfection. With this kind of life, one does not need type-A driving personalities to lead a sensible life. It just comes naturally.

Today, Sunday, it’s raining.

And in typical Mediterranean fashion, it is a mild, steady, soft rain that washes what little dirt exists away into the outer firmament of space. I’m sipping a Vin Ordinaire at home I paid $4.50 a bottle for that beats most “exclusive” American imported $20 & $30 French wines for taste by a factor of 10 – at least.

Real economic competition that prevents the corporate dominance of markets, that does not allow high financial interests to put a lock-hold on a population, does not require that everyone work like a slave 45 and 55 hours a week to keep up with their fellow citizens.

Real competition lets people bring some financial control to their lives. Do poor exist here? Of course. There are poor. But there are no surprisingly-large self-created clusters of poor like the ones you see in every major American town.

But, enough!

Please take a deep breath now as I hypnotize you. You are feeling sleepy. You are content. You are going into dreamland. And now that you are there, you are forgetting everything you just read.

When I snap my fingers, you will still be content to live where you are and deceive yourself it is the best place on the planet to be. And that you are leading an exceptional life. You really enjoy the rushing freeways,  the hectic day-to-day speed necessary to keep up with the Jones’s, the bicarbonate of soda, the Tums, the Weed, the boozing, whatever you take to keep a level head among the group chaos of home sweet home.



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