Did you notice the item recently about the man in Baltimore named Patrick Turner who plans to open a new theme restaurant in January called the Crash Cafe?

The theme, apparently, is massive physical destruction, which is tastefully communicated through subtle architectural details: the smoking tail of a wrecked DC-3 jutting out of the cafe above the entrance, and the burning motor protruding from the other side of the cafe, which will serve as a fireplace for an outdoor deck.

Ding, dong, the plane has crashed.

Okay, let's eat.

The restaurant will feature a giant projection screen showing train wrecks and building implosions. And what else? Maybe during happy hour the explosion of the Challenger?

I've always wanted to open a theme restaurant. Mine would be political: Al Gore's Place. You'd be seated at a table, and then halfway through the meal you'd be moved to another table, "closer to your roots." Across the street, I'd open George W's Roadhouse, where everyone drinks heavily, but only until they're 40.

But I have to question the, um, taste of this Baltimore thing. Don't get me wrong. I chuckle at natural disasters as merrily as the next guy. Earthquakes that kill tens of thousands of people--now that's funny. The Johnstown flood? Jeez, I thought I'd never stop laughing. And believe me, nothing gets me rolling like a good car crash. I'm hysterical now just thinking about a tractor-trailer jackknifing on an icy interstate.

But a plane falling from the sky?

This is supposed to whet my appetite?

Excuse me, but there's a reason every seat pocket comes with a barf bag.

What's the next theme for this guy, "butchery"? People sit at the table, and their waiter comes over dragging a calf on a tether and announces, "This is Maybelle, she'll be your veal chop tonight."

Speaking of food, did you see that front-page photo of those French chefs gathered outside the parliament in Paris, in their starched white aprons and those absolutely ludicrous chef hats, protesting the high tax on gourmet restaurants by hurling food at the police?

Sacre bleu! (Or in this case: Sacre bleu cheese.)

It seems the tax on classic French restaurants is 20 percent, while the tax at a fast-food joint, like McDonald's, is 5 percent. Those are fighting words in France. Those might be the only fighting words in France, except perhaps "Your wife should shave her armpits." (What's with the French, anyway? They think Gerard Depardieu, a fat guy with a nose like an ostrich beak, is drop-dead handsome. If French women think this lardbutt, who looks like he's just been swept up off some barroom floor, is a hunk, then I'm booking the next flight to Paris, even if I am afraid to fly.)

As the chefs mobilized, they were met by the French gendarmes in riot gear, wearing helmets and carrying shields to protect themselves from potentially lethal flying escargots in a drizzle of piquant garlic butter sauce. Apparently, police academies in France require recruits to be trained in the art of deflecting foie gras.

Leave it to the French to undermine the only thing anybody likes about their country, the food. I tip my hat to them--taking those hideous gizzards and innards, and making them taste great. I'll tell you what, them boys can cook. What they can't do is win a war. The first week of French boot camp is devoted to learning how to say "I surrender" in German.

Are you crazy, Tony? You are going to infuriate the French.

What are they going to do, sic their poodles on me?

Apparently, food skirmishes are being fought all over France. The New York Times had a story this week about a French farmer who has become a national hero after making a direct, frontal attack on our sacred American values. He was arrested for using a tractor to tear down the roof of a McDonald's being built near his hometown.

Wow! What got under his skin? The Filet-O-Fish lacked fines herbes de Provence?

Actually, the farmer, Jose Bove, is furious with a U.S. decision to hike tariffs on the incredibly smelly Roquefort cheese, among other luxury imported foods. Bove's sheep provide milk for this vile cheese--whose name means, literally, "smells like dog puke"--so this decision hits him personally. His quixotic attack on the Golden Arches brought forth a wave of virulent anti-American sentiment from all quarters in France-- including President Jacques Chirac, who declared that he, too, hates McDonald's food. (But he loved "The Nutty Professor.")

Clearly, the French are going through an identity crisis. More evidence of this was given this week as France sought to update the image of the female figure--dubbed Marianne--who for centuries has represented the nation on town halls, stamps and currency. The mayors of France sought a living woman who embodied the national traits of "solidarity, openness and tolerance."

They chose a Victoria's Secret lingerie model.

I'll pause here, until you finish snickering.

Her exact words upon being chosen as the new symbol of the dignity of the French republic were "Like, neat."

What the French really need to combat McDonald's, though, is a theme restaurant that takes French traits and gives them some sizzle. Picture this: "Solidarity, openness and tolerance. And Totally Topless."