The first article, on March 3rd on a "French news in English" site, came as a total surprise to us. They didn't ask to interview us for the piece, but they did a good job reporting on our then-tiny campaign and the site comments went berserk with the debate - locks, or no locks? Six days later, we were asked to write an OpEd piece on a different "French news in English" site. Then, a French news site did a great on-line piece about us; their editor called the topic "cadenas-gate" (a cadenas is the French word for padlock).
A day or so after that, we were interviewed along the Canal Saint Martin by 20 Minutes. The piece ran that night online and the next day in print. And then the insanity really began.
Since that first week, my friend Lisa and I have probably given, between the two of us, something like 50 interviews, and only three of them involved both of us. I have personally been summoned to "that damn bridge" (as I have taken to calling the Pont des Arts lately) more than a dozen times, plus I've been over to "that other damn bridge" (Archevêché, behind Notre Dame) three times. Phone interviews. Radio interviews. TV interviews. Email interviews. Skype interviews.
Every week since that first week, we would tell ourselves it would only last for that week, and then the next week would come and with it, more requests for interviews. I think on one given day we had five or six different journalists contacting us, all of them insisting it was URGENT and that they HAD to speak to us THAT DAY (or BEFORE 2PM or BEFORE NOON). We got two more, just today - French radio and German television want to talk to us.
Personally, I've had several meltdowns over the past SEVEN WEEKS of media insanity for our NoLoveLocks.com campaign, as a result of the demands on my time between starting a new job and the media crush, and I'm pretty sure Lisa has had her fair share as well. We were simply not expecting nor prepared for any of this. In our wildest dreams, we never thought we would be giving interviews for Danish/German/Colombian/Brazilian/British television stations. I never thought I would be talking (and occasionally being mocked for my accent and mistakes in French on) French radio and TV programs. Lisa gave interviews to NPR and The Guardian, and wrote a killer piece for the French version of Slate. We couldn't believe it when Georges started finding articles about us in online publications in Chinese, Romanian, Russian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch. I sat in a park talking to a journalist on-camera, wondering why people in Rio di Janeiro would care about love locks on a bridge in Paris.
It was the American thing that did it. If we had been any other nationality -- Swedish, Australian, Vietnamese, Spanish, Italian, even Canadian -- the global press wouldn't have been anywhere near as interested in two women starting a petition to try and get the town hall of Paris to ban padlocks on historic bridges. But because we are both American, suddenly it was NEWS and everyone and their brother had something to say about us.
Not all of it good, either. We have been called every nasty word in the book, and in several languages, too. Thanks to Google Translate, we understand you when you call us heartless lesbian bitches who probably haven't had sex in years. Oddly enough, some of the crudest and rudest criticism came from other Americans IN America (and they say the French are rude? Well, the French weren't calling us the "C" word.) We expected push-back from people who think the locks are romantic; it was a surprise to find out some people didn't give a crap about the locks one way or another, but they hated the idea that we were Americans who had decided to live in Paris. Usually this kind of attitude came from Americans who most likely had never travelled and never wanted to. Or maybe it was an anti-French thing; would they have called us ugly, fat, old, spinsters if we'd moved to London or Amsterdam or Rome? Probably not.
In actual fact, we never thought of ourselves as Americans when we started this thing; we were acting as Parisians: people who actually LIVE in Paris and who care about something we think is wrong and needs to be changed. Maybe it's our American-ness that allowed us to dare to believe we COULD make a difference, that we COULD somehow, someway, someday get the newly elected (and first woman) Mayor of Paris to finally do the right thing, and abolish the locks on the historic bridges and monuments.
But whatever. Whatever the reason, the press came. And they kept coming. Every week for going on eight weeks now.
AFP. Le Figaro. Le Parisien. Le Nouvel Obs. GQ France. 20 Minutes. Métro. BBC. The Guardian. The Daily Mail. Associated Press. NPR. ABC/CBS/NBC affiliates all around the country in the US of A. Pittsburgh. Cincinnati. Norfolk. A small-town newspaper in Dalton, Georgia even wrote about us because love locks have even showed up THERE.
And today, the Holy Grail of Journalism (at least in the States) ran an article talking about us: THE NEW YORK TIMES. The only "big fish" we haven't heard from is Le Monde, and they even linked to us below a little time-lapse video they did about 10 days ago, so can an actual interview be far behind?
We don't know where this will all lead (except to maybe to exhaustion). We don't know if we will eventually succeed and will one day be able to look at a locks-free Paris. But we're in it now, no matter where it takes us. The media has made it impossible for us to quit now. The whole freaking world seems to know about "those two American women in Paris". Hell, even my new boss came back from a two-week vacation with his family and the first thing he said to me was, "I've been reading a lot about you lately".
But here's the thing: today, we cracked 6000 signatures. It's only a few weeks until we break 10,000. We discovered that the entire Parisian riverfront from the Eiffel Tower to the Ile Saint Louis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And now we have about 100 media outlets around the world who know what we're up to. That kind of pressure on the town council will have to have some kind of impact. How can they ignore it?
So... we're tired. We're overwhelmed. I'm getting better at my French but it still never seems good enough. We long for our old quiet lives again. But we're not going to stop.
No Love Locks. Go there. Read the press articles, listen to the audio, watch the video, look at the photos. Sign the petition. Tell everyone you know, again and again. Don't stop believing. Because we won't stop... until there are NO MORE LOCKS on the beautiful historic spaces of Paris.