Tour de Farce

Unless you’ve been spending your days whittlin’ birch limbs, swiggin’ bathtub gin and strummin’ “Flop-Eared Mule” on a cigar-box banjo while sittin’ on the front porch — hi, mom! — you might be aware that this here is an election year.

And after careful consideration, I’ve decided to cast my vote for a man of few words. A man with dogged determination in the face of criticism. A government servant. A true American patriot. A Texan.

That’s right: I endorse Lance Armstrong for president.

No rain, sleet, hail, cancer or parasitic paparazzi can keep the United States Postal Service cyclist from completing his appointed rounds of jamming a stale baguette up the clenched posteriors of his detractors. Plus, the dude fills out a spandex bodysuit way better than G-Dub, Johnny K, or (shudder) the Rev. Sharpton ever could.

But that’s not Armstrong’s greatest triumph. And neither is his gunning for a record sixth straight title in Le Tour de France. No, his strength is foreign policy. Because for all the playa haters — or joueur détesteur — in France, the ones with their knickers in a kink over zees Amerrycahn weth dee yell-o jahersee, Armstrong has still won over many a Franc with his diplomatic but persistent bitch-slapping of the biggest French national pastime this side of surrendering to the Germans.

We need an ambassador like Armstrong to give Franco-American relations the Bell Biv Devoe treatment: Smack ’em up, flip ’em and rub ’em down. Our government has a Jacques itch it can’t quit scratching. There is the awkward we-told-you-not-to-go-to-war debacle. And the whole freedom-fries thing.

Christ, politicians are retarded.

But it isn’t fair to saddle goodwill solely on the sturdy spokes of Lance Armstrong. So I headed to the Bourgeois Pig in Lawrence to celebrate Bastille Day. I would pour wine in honor of Charlemagne, munch fetid fromage in tribute of Gerard Depardieu and applaud all the musical treasures the French have bestowed upon the world. Artists such as … um … well, you know … um … the renowned Frenchman … uh …

I was stumped. A majority of my cultural awareness had been culled from the French chef in The Little Mermaid. But that wasn’t enough. So I sat like Rodin’s “Thinker” and racked my brain until my thoughts became an impressionistic Monet bog.

Then the names of famous French musicians trickled in. Air, the electro-pop duo. Techno pioneers Laurent Garnier and Jean Michel-Jarre. Classical composers Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy.

And that’s all I got.

Somehow, counting Le Bouche’s “Be My Lover” or NOFX’s “Les Champs Elysées” seems like cheating. But perhaps the Bourgeois Pig would have answers. After all, it was celebrating the 215th anniversary of the day French citizens stormed a prison, freed inmates, grabbed some weapons, looted, pillaged, drank, ate, chopped off some heads, and proved once and for all that revolutionaries know how to party.

But things were sedate when I arrived at the Pig. The crowd spilling out onto the sidewalk was made up mostly of emaciated hipsters, freeloading frat boys, wrinkled intelligentsia and assorted guttersnipes, most of whom had already skeletonized the free viande, poisson, pain and fromage. People sipped bottles of La Belle Fischer and picked at the buffet remnants beneath red, white and blue decorations. It was like a festive soup kitchen, only the food was better and the drunks were more fashionable.

The evening’s entertainment came from an unknown soldier of the Jimmy Buffet army, a man who sported long, gray hair and a tropical shirt that paid homage to exotic ferns and fruity cocktails. He sat on a stool in the corner, playing a small accordion with “Le Capitaine” painted on the side.

I couldn’t quite make out the jaunty tunes the man was coaxing, but most sounded like variations of the nah-nah-nah-nah-nah interlude in “Centerfold.” I think I also caught “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” but I’m pretty sure the man’s piéce de résistance was the theme from Bonanza.

Still, people didn’t seem to care if it was Sean Paul or Jean Paul. They were just happy to wallow in the Pig’s vive la France vibe while supping from the musical trough of Monsieur Parrothead. They had erected a little Arc de Triomphe of their own. Lance Armstrong would have surveyed the scene with tears of joy welling in his eyes.

Merci, Le Capitaine,” he would have gasped. “Merci.”

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