This Strike Won't Affect You

bar La Pointe de Longchamp
The sun peeks out for a minute, and everybody
piles on to the terraces.

But It Affects the Contents of this Issue

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 27. April 1998:- On Friday I put my legs in hustle-mode and got out the door earlier than usual. Coming out of the elevator, I looked at my watch and realized I wouldn't catch the next train.

I have two watches, and the one I was wearing I had recently re-set by using my super clock, which gets the time by radio from Frankfurt. I forgot that the watch wasn't four minutes fast anymore.

My upstairs neighbor was taking his dog for a walk so I killed some time strolling with him and learning about the state of things in France, until it was time to resume my sprint for the train. Instead of taking the cemetery route, I went up the long, stone stairs, which are steeper and not a shortcut.

The station was deserted when I arrived. The young fellow who sells tickets and gives away SNCF advice, said there was a train driver's strike, and the next train would be in 70 minutes. This would prevent me from getting to Paris in time to get the 'morning' story I'd planned to do - no Friday dateline at all this week - but also allowed me not to cancel my ticket.

As there was no one about and the sun was fitfully peeking out from behind some clouds, I had a chat with my ticket guy, who was catching some sun in the station office's doorway. First, I found outbagatelle- trees and flowers the train drivers were striking because they want more train drivers. They are so sore about this, that the strike is continuing until this morning.

One of the wilder parts of the Parc Bagatelle.

I had heard about the strike on the radio, but it said mainly the RER was to be affected. My own train line usually has sort of half-hearted strikes; say - one train out of three lopped off the timetable.

My ticket guy said he wanted to drive trains and was studying and taking the exams to get to do it. He said the 'book' is bigger than a big dictionary, and has all sorts of interesting steam-engine lore in it. I got the impression that every young person who signs on with the SNCF wants to drive trains.

We discussed what people do when there is a strike - take their cars to work - and maybe even get there around noon; and had a good laugh about this. While we were talking, a few people showed up at the regular train times and he sold some tickets and sold a round-trip to Poitiers.

One couple came along and when the lady learned the time of the next train she said she couldn't hang around for this, and abandoned the fellow she was with, leaving him to study a métro map in puzzlement.

My ticket guy agreed that the suburban train driver's worst fear was passengers falling on the tracks. I got thela lalanne a bagatelle impression that running a TGV train at 300 kph through France might be the absolute height of the profession, but driving a suburban train was interesting too because there was a lot of detail work to it, and a sense of satisfaction to be had by keeping it on time.

On the way back from Paris, the métro - which was not on strike - conked out at Saint-Michel, because a train got stuck at Cité on account of some demo. Saint-Michel is one of the few métro stations where you can't cross over from one direction to the other, without using another ticket.

Out of the handful of tickets I had in my 'unused ticket pocket,' only one was in fact unused, and I had to punch it out. When I got to La Défense to make the change to the train again, I did not punch out another ticket. The SNCF's barriers were open.

Handy Paris Maps

Some guys down in Montpellier got tired of lying around in the sun and they went inside and worked very hard to make a set of super maps - of Paris. Led by Dominique Allain, what they would like to do is sell their maps to Web sites - 'My crêpes take-away kiosque is here!' - but this is not necessary for Metropole, as I am all over.

You might be intending to book a hotel and want to know where it is in Paris. To find its location, click on the general area and then use the virtual magnifying glass to see the exact spot. The maps are clear and more readable than many printed versions.

The 'Freak Brothers' are Alive and Available

Last week I ran a feature about some odd comics people who live out in east Paris, named Gilbert Sheltonvive(z) l'opera and Pic. The feature was long on impressions and short on facts; mainly because I did it just to get out of the rain. One or two readers were sufficiently interested to ask if the Ripoff Press comics' 'The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers' are still available because I forgot to say if they are. They are.

You must remember that this literature falls into the classification of 'underground comix' and may feature high doses of gore, sex, violence and horrible bugs. However, this is done uniquely with lines on paper and will not seem real unless your own imagination is somewhat over-active. With this in mind, a visit to Ripoff's 'Fan Club' is a dubious undertaking but I suspect you will probably want to take a look anyway. Do so at your own risk.

Foire de Paris Starts This Week

The Paris Home Show is replaying itself for the 87th time for its customary spring extravaganza of too much everything. Besides the usual attraction of the annual inventor's show - the Concours Lépine - there will be an 'Espace Football' in the Hall Four, which will feature of quarter-size, or eighth-size, football field.

Paris-Expo, Porte de Versailles
From Wednesday, 29. April to Sunday, 10. May. Daily from 10:00 to 19:00. Thursday, 30. April, Tuesday, 5. May and Thursday, 7. May, open until 22:00. Usual entry charge is 50 francs, but look around a bit for reduced entry offers.

Paris Big Spring Shows at the Grand Palais:

Man Ray - La Photographie à l'Envers

Emmanuel Radnitsky was born in Philadelphia in 1890 and later became May Ray. He came to Paris in July of 1921 and fell in with a wildguitar de max crowd of Dadaists and ended up making a lot of wild photographs, and a good number of excellent photographs for other purposes, while having a good time and becoming very famous. Fights broke out between Dadaists and Surrealists, two groups of strange people who each claimed May Ray was one of their own. The Centre Georges Pompidou, known locally as Beaubourg, is being renovated, but is putting on shows externally, and this is one of them. Some 500 of Man Ray's works will be on display.

'Guitar de Max,' after a famous photo by Man Ray.

In the Galeries Nationales of the Grand Palais
From Wednesday, 29. April until Monday, 29. June.
Reservations can be made to see this exhibition, but ot at the Grand Palais, and elsewhere not of the eve of your visit nor on the day of your visit. Without reservations, visits can be made any day, except Tuesdays of course; after 13:00, and the show is open until 20:00, except Wednesdays, when it is open to 22:00.

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