Just Above Sunset
June 20, 2004 - This Week's Exchange with the editor of MetropoleParis

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This Week’s Exchange with the editor of MetropoleParis -  

I tossed two items over the transatlantic wall to Ric this week, asking what was up.  The first item was all over the news…


Protesters Cut Power to Eiffel Tower

Associated Press, Wed Jun 16, 5:38 PM ET

Jean-Marie Godard, Associated Press Writer


PARIS - French power workers cut electricity to the Eiffel Tower and President Jacques Chirac's residence in western Paris on Wednesday to protest the government's plans to partially privatize state utilities in an effort to raise money.


Electricity was shut down at the presidential Elysee Palace, several government ministries and the Champs-Elysees avenue for about 15 minutes Wednesday afternoon. Some stores evacuated shoppers.


At the Eiffel Tower, tourists did not notice the outage because a backup electric plan kicked in, officials at the monument said.


The power outages affected homes and offices in western Paris, including The Associated Press bureau. Power authorities said 52,000 clients were hit.


The CGT trade union said the outages were part of attempts to force the conservative government to drop plans to transform Electricite de France and Gaz de France…


The electricity thing?  Only my small cadre of four or five mad Francophiles cares.  It's not news here, really, except as it echoes California's recent sad experience with letting the "free market" dictate how that public service is delivered.  People never learn.

Click here for full-size view...
June 2000 - no lights....

BUT - what about this?


Paris library seeks falcon with appetite for pigeons

AFP - Wed Jun 16, 9:50 AM ET


PARIS (AFP) - Tired of the mess left by thousands of pigeons that foul its buildings, France's national library in Paris is going to lengths to attract a new resident: a peregrine falcon with an appetite for its stout avian cousins.


Managers of the modern complex in the east of the capital on Wednesday unveiled an artificial nest designed specifically to bring a passing falcon in to roost.  Built atop one of the four 80-metre (260-foot) high towers that store the library's books, the concrete nest built inside an opening has a floor covered in sand.


Falcons don't build their own abodes, but rather look for cavities in cliffs or other lofty areas, including city buildings, according to France's Bird Protection League, which is helping in the project.  The group said there are around 2,800 peregrine falcons in France, each of them with razor-sharp vision able to spot the custom-made nest -- and the ready food supply nearby.


Far more interesting!


Attempts to attract viscous birds to Paris' new library?  I just found it odd, politically.  As Ric had said, everyone wants to get with the Verts.  Raptors will do.

From Ric –


Bonjour Alan -


I forgot this.  So yes, to keep Paris' pigeons in check, the city has hired some mean falcons to keep them in abject fear.  Falcons don't like building their own nests, and are perfectly happy moving into pre-fab concrete blockhouses on top of the Mitterrand BNP, where they'll have a good view. I don't know about the 14th though.  The city built an apartment building on a pole for pigeons down in the southwest corner.  The sneaky idea here is to lace their birdseed with dope so that when they screw, no eggs are the result, not even for Easter.  I don't think they do this with the regular public housing; a lot of it right around this pigeon apartment house.


This morning's news was new.  Electricity workers in Bordeaux cut power to local politicos, and restored power to 30 families cut off from it for non-payment.  Then they shut down some nuclear thing.  The usual charges have been laid with the gendarmes against 'X.'  The bad workers were wearing ski masks.  Usually when they cut the politicos' power, they restore it after a short time.  For Rafferin, they tore out his electro-metre and paraded it around like a hot, bleeding scalp.  The CGT union is taking most of the credit for these pranks, but they sound like they were dreamed up by the FO or SUD.  I can't help feeling that the electro workers have a personal beef with Sarkozy.  He's taking all of this hard, a bit like Reagan and the air traffic controllers.  I'm sure he's keeping notes so that revenge can be applied where it belongs.  By the time Sarkozy is through, it'll belong everywhere.


The item I forgot was last night's 'White Dinner.'  Every year for the past 16 years, some mysterious person organizes a spontaneous dinner for selected guests, at a mystery location in Paris.  Last night 2000 people aged between 25 and 40 dressed in white showed up at the Palais Royal and sat down to eat raspberries and drink champagne for three hours until midnight.  They didn't ask anybody's permission to do this and the police didn't interfere with them.  As described in Le Parisien, all were west-Paris bobos - many perhaps from Sarkoland - aka Neuilly.


There are a lot of people out there who may not feel perfectly comfortable mixing with the unwashed Red rabble of eastern Paris, so they have their own tidy circuits in the 16th and 8th arrondissements, their own snotty clubs, 'tea dances' and overpriced eating holes.  A few were featured speakers on Radio France-Info this morning.  These are people who not only know the most frequently used 700 words but use them too, mostly quite clearly.  When not wearing virgin white, the ladies wear dark plaid skirts with big safety pins holding the pleats together.  Both sexes wear dark blue cardigans all year around.  There are refugees of these folk living in the 14th of course.  Here they wear greasy jeans and work in the publishing houses in the Quartier Latin, and only pay short visits to the 16th to top up their allowances.  It is quite possible to pass an entire lifetime in Paris without ever meeting any bobos, or wanting to.  If they vote, they vote for Sarkozy, the UMP or Royalist.  The three of them together are not electric, although Sarkozy by himself seems frequently wired.


-          regards, ric


And some of us know exactly what he’s talking about.  As for women in dark plaid skirts with big safety pins holding the pleats together, well, my high school steady wore that uniform in 1964 all the time – so I suppose Ruth was ahead of her time.  The French do have that saying about the more things change the more they remain the same.  So it seems.


And as for Sarkozy channeling the ghost of Ronald Reagan as possibly destroying the union by firing them all… the more things change the more….

As for what is coming next, be sure to check out next week’s MetropoleParis for Ric’s reports on the Fête de la musique – Jack Lang’s idea from a few years back that has become somewhat of a monster.


This Fête de la musique is something that now happens each year at the summer solstice – music everywhere, free bands in the streets, concerts in churches and courtyards and narrow squares, amateurs and professionals – anyone who want to play or sing and dance. 


So this is Monday night.


This is madness in Paris, where the longest day of the year gives everyone reasonable natural light until well after ten in the evening.  (Paris in on the far western edge of its fifteen-degree time zone so the sun sets very, very late.)  In 1997 up in Montmartre, strolling rue des Abbesses, you would have heard a lot of Brazilian bands, as I recall, and then, further east down the street, one could walk into an ancient stone church where one could sit and listen to some ancient looking nuns doing plainchant sorts of things.  In June of 2000, on a long walk from rue Daguerre down rue des Rennes and ending up at the Buci market area (a long slog), the city seemed filled with over amplified seventh-rate amateur rock bands, crappy novelty New Orleans groups doing “Hold That Tiger” (Tenez ce tigre?) and such things – and a heavy mental band outside the hotel window that played (quite badly) until four in the morning.  Awful stuff.  I missed Patricia Kaas across the river on the right bank.


This year?


L'Orchestre de Paris et de son Choeur  - doing the Dvorak New World Symphony, conducted by a Swiss fellow, at the Senate (Le Sénat).  Kurt Masur is conducting The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Pictures at an Exhibition (what else?) by the big glass pyramid in front of the Louvre – with the L'Orchestre national de France (starting at 10:30 at night!).  Less intimidating, your basic accordion music over at l'Alliance française on boulevard Raspail.  Ah heck, lots of stuff, everywhere.


And it’s not just Paris.  It’s the whole country.  Like this: Les Pays de la Loire larguent les amarres sur des chants de marins au son du rock celtique, du groove berbère et du jazz manouche.  That would be a sea shanty or two, some Celtic rock and roll (!), and techno-groove and jazz.  Something for everyone.


Read all about it here in le Figaro!


Fête de la musique : faire la bringue un lundi

Jacques Doucelin  [19 juin 2004]


… A 10 heures, l'accordéon sera roi dans le hall de l'Alliance française (101, boulevard Raspail) avant la musique traditionnelle d'Irak avec le groupe Aïwa à 12 h 30. A la Villette, le Musée de la musique accueillera les enfants dès 16 heures pour les initier à la construction d'instruemnts ainsi qu'au rôle de l'électricité dans la lutherie moderne. La nuit appartiendra aux DJs et à la musique africaine dans le Parc.

Le Sénat se transformera en ruche musicale forte de 400 musiciens de l'heure du déjeuner à minuit, les manifestations se succédant dans sa cour d'honneur : quintette de cuivres l'après-midi en attendant la venue de l'Orchestre de Paris et de son Choeur en soirée pour une Symphonie du Nouveau Monde de Dvorak dirigée par l'excellent jeune chef suisse Daniel Klajner. On pourra entendre dans les Salons de la présidence du Sénat le pianiste Cédric Tiberghien dans quatre Sonates de Beethoven.

L'Opéra Bastille recevra le public dans son amphithéâtre, de 14 à 18 heures, pour entendre des stagiaires de son centre de formation et quelques invités en marche pour la gloire comme Gaële Le Roi, Karine Deshayes et Stéphane Degout. L'Orchestre national de France et son patron Kurt Masur, proposeront un concert festif à 22 h 30, sous la Pyramide du Louvre avec L'Apprenti sorcier de Dukas et Les Tableaux d'une exposition de Moussorgski orchestrés par Ravel.

Les mairies de Paris et d'arrondissements favorisent la mixité entre professionnels et amateurs à l'occasion de concerts de proximité éclatés dans des squares et des parcs (Montsouris et Buttes-Chaumont). De nombreux centres culturels étrangers parisiens se mobilisent également. La RATP collabore avec diverses radios. La chanson française fleurira à travers l'Ile-de-France avec Jacques Higelin à Epinay-sur-Seine ou Sanseverino à Issy-les-Moulineaux.

Les initiatives de chaque région reflètent les caractéristiques de la vie culturelle de chacune. L'Alsace mêlera élèves d'écoles de musique et big bands pour des réjouisances éclectiques. L'Aquitaine s'affirme comme une terre du bien vivre avec des apéritifs musicaux tandis que les Basques sacrifieront à leur amour du beau chant. La Bourgogne sait marier musique et son riche patrimoine architectural. La Bretagne évoquera ses korrigans avec force bombardes et fest-noz mêlant joyeusement tradition et électronique. Le Centre se place sous le patronage de la Bonne Dame de Nohant à l'occasion du bicentenaire de la naissance de George Sand.

La Corse exalte ses chants polyphoniques passés au filtre de la fée électricité. La Franche-Comté mobilise fanfares, musiciens amateurs et atelier jazz. Le Limomusin offre des contes musicaux aux enfants de ses villages. Si vous passez par la Lorraine, les professionnels seront sur le pont, son Orchestre national en tête qui jouera Wagner salle Poirel à Nancy. Dans le Midi-Pyrénées, le jazz préludera au Festival de Marciac. Le Nord-Pas-de-Calais mobilise ses célèbres harmonies et ses chorales. La Normandie sort ses contrebasses à Caen et ouvre l'Opéra de Rouen au répertoire classique et au jazz. Les Pays de la Loire larguent les amarres sur des chants de marins au son du rock celtique, du groove berbère et du jazz manouche. La Picardie passera le tambour sur le parvis de la cathédrale de Laon avec plusieurs centaines d'enfants. Au nom de l'éclectisme, le Poitou-Charentes ouvrira ses musées de La Rochelle et de Poitiers. En Provence, l'Afrique sera chez elle à Marseille et le rock investira le pont d'Avignon. Rhône-Alpes reste la plus musicienne de nos régions, tremplin pour les jeunes talents musicaux autour de Bourg-en-Bresse et de Grenoble qui organise des parcours thématiques. Capitale musicale, Lyon a choisi le thème de la peau pour réunir au Musée des Beaux-Arts danse, percussion
et sculpture.


Such things don’t exactly happen over here.

Click her for large version....
Poster Photo - Ric Erickson


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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Paris readers add nine hours....