GFiMP - A Short History

The Backstory
Until April 2010 I'd only ever considered myself a recreational user.

Place Morand, Lyon 6th District
For me the Internet was always just a passive way to spend a few minutes —or hours—at a time, watching page after page of script or image roll upwards and disappear silently into the top of my screen.

You might even say I was borderline skeptical of the intangibleness of it all, and therefore never gave serious thought to contributing to the seemingly endless stream of information ('garbage' as it has been referred to by some) already circling the planet and invading nearly every aspect of our lives.

About this same time I was writing a book to help non-native English speakers use the telephone, and included the following quotation:


There's a statistical theory that if you give a million monkeys typewriters and set them to work, they'd eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare.
Thanks to the Internet, we now know this isn't true.
--Ian Hart

The comment was strategically placed in the chapter on the Information Age and was ostensibly meant to provoke some sort of reaction from the student, thereby leading to conversation (it didn't always work).

But Ian Hart nailed what I was feeling at the time — unenthused about the overwhelming amount of uninteresting content, and dissatisfaction about my own inability to make sense of this growing digital world. But that would soon change.

The Impulse to Create
In the spring of 2010, one of the public television stations in France aired a documentary about how one woman was literally catapulted into the fast-paced and exciting career of editor for a high-end food magazine through some amateur, yet serious back-yard blogging.

That's what she was doing for fun — writing and taking photos of food. Basically, sharing with the world what she knew and loved.  Following her passion. And it's taken her places.

Oak trees at sunset/La Dombes
It was like the sun had finally crested the dark horizon after months of arctic night. I knew then that the time was nigh for my own contribution to come forth. The urge to create and share was building like a summer thunderstorm.

Surely there was still room enough out there for me to create something unique and interesting and funny and thought-provoking and engaging and why not even a bit silly; little blips of light, like starry jewels draped around the neck of a deep universe. Something even I could take delight in coming back to visit over and again.

But what? 

My job teaching English? No. Too boring, even for me.

Playing music? No good either; I'm too new at it.

Climbing? I don't practice it enough.

Living a vegetarian lifestyle in a carnivorous country? Maybe...

Why not a little bit of all of that, with a backdrop of living in France? I've lived here long enough. And as a writer friend once told me: Americans never tire of hearing stories about France. The same must be true for others as well, seeing the number of foreign tourists who bombard Paris year after year.

Settled. I'd blog about France. "Images and anecdotes" I originally used as a purposely vague guideline. Let's just see where it takes me. Now what shall I call it...?

The Name
Cousin Joe is to thank for that. At least partly so.

Fourvière
A few years back we saw each other at a family wedding in California. The tuxedo collars and bow ties were pinching at our necks and ash from some very local brush fires was falling from the sky. But that didn't dampen Joe's party-going spirit.

We did one of those one-armed bro hugs and suddenly we're talking about living in France.

"Got France in my pants!" he blurted out like an exploding party streamer. And it stuck, through all those passive Internet-using years until I decided to build up my own corner of the web.

There really isn't much more to it than the tongue-and-cheek affect it has rolling out of the mouth. But I think it's caught on.

There's a wonderful creative freedom being able to share my thoughts and photos of where I live, knowing I don't have to answer to anybody's demands or deadlines; like walking into the wilderness and choosing for myself which hills I want to walk over or which rivers I want to cross. And when.

The story ideas come mostly from personal experiences (chômage, for example), things I see on TV or hear over the radio, in the metro or even just walking down the street. They're often about Lyon, but not exclusively. And the photos span the hexagon from the north west coast of Brittany to the Provençe countryside. A real mixed bag. But one of discovery, at least for me.

So have a look around. You won't find any Shakespeare, though I can't vouch for what the monkeys might be up to.

'GFiMP' continues to exist because it's still fun for me. And with a little luck, you'll get a little "hit" of that passion as you enter the world of Got France in My Pants.

Thank you for reading!

Alex