No yellow vest required: This half-naked Frenchman & ‘old piano’ challenge Macron’s cops (VIDEO)
It was a scene worthy of the most self-indulgent French art house cinema, yet here it was, happening in real life, in the middle of Paris.
As the “gilets jaunes” (“yellow vests”) protests against rising fuel prices – but also President Emmanuel Macron and his unpopular efforts to overhaul France – turned violent on Saturday, the crowd found their hero.
He did not have the martyr-like visage of Che Guevara, he was not wearing a superhero cape – in fact, he wasn’t wearing much at all. It’s unclear when this protestor decided to strip down to his waist, or if he brought his swimming goggles with him from home to the Champs Elysees.
Yet here he was, rolls of fat juddering, the tattooed dragon on his chest twisting furiously, as the man strutted, crying obscenities at the unmoving cops, challenging the water cannon to smite him. Finally, the police obliged. As the column of cold water was about to strike his chest, he did not flinch, but lowered himself down on one knee, and spread out his arms like a Gallic Jesus.
“I shall not tremble, for my strength comes from truth,” he may have been saying, though the camera microphones were not powerful enough to pick up his actual words.
And just as he seemed on the verge of summoning the divine retribution to reverse the unequal contest… an old 'piano' rolled into view.
Was it a sign from above? A tool of protest? The final element in an elaborately-choreographed performance art piece.
Was it even a piano at all? A photograph taken from a reverse angle suggest that the scene invader was, in fact, an ordinary desk on wheels.
Other questions abound: we do not know the name of the man, what prompted him to take to the streets, or whether he even owns a car.
But what we know is that although ironically he is not wearing one, the gilets jaunes have their icon.