San Francisco, it seems, is a place where we think of new ways to celebrate Bastille Day. New ways that are très
fou. Last year we noted that one of the area celebrations of the holiday was
a "messe officielle du 14 juillet" --
the official mass of July 14. Yes, it is odd for a Catholic church to celebrate the event that inaugurated the systematic dismantling of French Catholicism and led to a multitude of priests fleeing the country or losing their heads.
Less odd, perhaps, is this year's "Bastille Day at AT&T Park Honoring French-American Heritage"
taking place during tomorrow's Giants game
. Two things immediately pop up:
A. French people do not like baseball -- and taking a French person to a ballgame on Bastille Day is like taking your wife out bowling and to a Dirty Harry double feature on her birthday. No one has tried to convert the French into Giants fans harder than your humble narrator, but I fear the task may be tout à fait inutile.
B. The term French-American is meaningless. Compared with Italian- or Irish-Americans, there really isn't such a thing as French-American culture. There was never an exodus of French people into America -- if anything, they went to Canada. There really aren't any French neighborhoods (like there are Irish, German, Scandinavian, Russian, Persian, Syrian Jewish, Polish Jewish, etc. neighborhoods). Sure, there are Cajuns -- but the folks speaking French down in the bayou are the descendants of French Canadians expelled from present-day New Brunswick* by the Brits in the 1750s. Unlike Irish-Americans who describe themselves as "Irish" even though their relatives sailed over during the potato famine in 1845, third-generation Americans of French descent do not tend to say "I'm French."
The Giants, by the way, are well aware of both of these factors. Cameron Lochte, the team's special events sales coordinator, told SF Weekly
that the Giants for years resisted the notion of a French-American Heritage night because they didn't think it was a viable fan base. This year, however, the team is partnered with the Alliance Française
-- and you really couldn't find a better organization to pass information on to the French community or attract large amounts of non-French San Franciscans who want to be around French people.
So far, Lochte says, the team has sold 560 tickets for the July 15 French-American section. Other heritage nights (Jewish, Irish, Italian, etc.) usually sell between 1,000 and 3,000 tickets. But, Lochte says, this is just the first year so he hasn't been able to market to a built-in fan base. "For a first-year event, the sales are good." You can buy tickets here
Shrewdly, the team has enlisted a platoon of area French restaurants to cater the pre-game meal -- Fabrique Delices
, Butler & the Chef
, and Brittany Crepes
, M. Lochte. Perhaps you've figured out a way to draw les Bleus
to watch l'Orange
after all. Bon Courage
! *This story originally misidentified the Cajuns' Canadian homeland as Newfoundland. Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF