If I Had Time To Read

photo: bistro joe goldenberg

Even if it's called a delicatessen, I say it's a bistro.

This 'News' Would Be Full of Facts

Paris:- Sunday, 28. November 1999:- It has been one of those weeks when I have been running into 'news' as it happens. I guess I have been in the right spots at the right time.

I usually use radio France-Info as a nasty form of wake-up alarm, but the state radios have been on strike over the 35-hour business. I don't care if France-Info broadcasts FIP's good music instead, but I object to FIP broadcasting 'France-Musique's' semi-classical program.

If I didn't have manual radio tuning, I would hunt around for 'France-Musique's' frequency, to find out if they are playing techno or something else out of character.

Strike Interrupted for News Report

Last Wednesday, France-Info interrupted its strike with a burst of news, which allowed me to catch the Paris Meridian tree planting in the Luxembourg last Thursday morning.

photo: christian poncelet, president of french senatThe French Senat is located in the Luxembourg Palace and the President of it, Christian Poncelet, was on hand to help the kids shovel dirt into the hole where the tree was planted.

French Senat President, Christian Poncelet, with 'Robin-Hoods.'

This was surprisingly informal, with no particularly noticeable police presence, or secret service guys wearing designer shades lurking around.

The only problem I had was borrowing a chair to get a low-angle shot of President Poncelet talking to some 'Robin-hood' kids, with the palace in the background.

The chair in question, one of the park's, was in the temporary possession of a TV-lady who was 'saving' it for her cameraman, who was nowhere to be seen. Impatient people who snottily ask me if I don't speak French, I usually ask if they don't speak German.

With ill-grace she 'lent' me the chair for 22 seconds. The shot I got, I trashed.

At these low-priority 'spot-news' affairs I often see the crew from the Korean KBS network. Their clothes look like they sleep in them and their video camera looks like a 2nd-hand one from the Boulevard Beaumarchais. It looks like their organization has about the same budget as mine.

Taxi Drivers and Slavery

The day before, I was walking around my 'quartier' looking forphoto: bookshop rue pavee the 'posters of the week' when I ran into the taxi drivers' strike. I'd heard about the protest march of the managers, but having the taxi strike on my doorstep saved me from running down to the Quartier Latin.

The 'angry' managers looked good on TV-news though; all the 'suits' marching along with their nifty banners, chanting their slogans, doing their 'talking heads' for the media mikes.

What was slightly surprising was that some of the managers were honestly angry. Some of these men and women who are on the low end of the 'cadre' scale often get little more pay than ordinary employees, but they have to pay out more for their social benefits.

Sometimes in France it seems as if nearly everybody except top-level politicians, administrative big knobs and the big-hats of industry and commerce, are subsidizing somebody else.

It must be catholic. Those who aren't rewarded in the here and now will get theirs later - if they stay in line.

Blues In a Bottle

The government's decision to give the thumbs-down on Coca-Cola's bid to take over French soft drink Orangina from Pernod-Ricard has left gloomy faces on TV-news all round except for Pepsi France.

Announced with some fanfare a couple of years ago as a fivephoto: giant wheel at concorde billion-franc deal, it promised cash for Pernod-Ricard and a vastly increased bottling capacity for Coke in France. But it would have withdrawn most if not all of Pepsi's French bottling facilities - effectively driving Pepsi out of the French market.

All involved, except Orangina, are big companies and I wonder how much they appreciate having to wait around for a couple of years to get a decision on a deal like this.

Paris' 'Big Wheel' takes shape in the Place de la Concorde.

For Orangina and its faithful fans, it has meant being deprived of some of the world's best lunatic advertising, which is more than an intellectual substitute for the drink itself.

In fact, the decision may see the return of this - so us little people will have something to look forward to - between the end of the TV-news and the beginning of the TV-weather.

French Web Life This Week

Inside Paris

Mon Quartier is a Web site that presents Paris by the activities of Parisians in their arrondissements, quartiers and 'villages.' It has lists of local businesses and merchants, public services, local news and a large area devoted to local associations and artistic activities.

The Advertising Museum

On Tuesday, 16. November, the Minister of Culture, Catherine Trautmann, inaugurated the Musée de la Publicité, which falls under the wing of the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs - or UCAD for short. Advertising I see on the streets of Paris while I make my rounds is something that has always been considered to be part of the city's decor, and is the reason for the 'Posters of the Week' in each issue.

Very few posters featured in Metropole are of museum quality. I think it has something to do with the sheer volume of them; with a new set appearing every week. Either this, or French graphic design is in a low state of creativity at the moment.

French Comics Online

Comics 'made in France' are not like comics made elsewhere. BD Philia is a virtual comics bookstore with references to 8000 titles, which is a little less than an average year's production. Besides featuring new titles, pages are devoted to the authors and artists, as well as their editors. According to Internet Actu, you can order comic albums online - but it is up to you to verify whether the site accepts foreign orders.

Only Guitars

Everything you want to know about guitars - everything! - is featured on 'LaGuitare.com.' This 'portal' site also has a bit of its own editorial material, especially concerning French makers of guitars - including, I suppose, models with more than six strings.

Shorties: - The TV-guide magazine 'Télérama' and the city's 'Forum des Images' have organized thephoto: rue guillemets, propped up 4th Multimedia Festival, which intends to show off the best French CD-ROM productions of the year. This can't be done without the Web, so check this festival out. France Télécom's ' Voilà' is testing the waters of the robot-translation act. Try changing Metropole into Spanish or German - for a friendly little snicker, try English too. I accidently threw out my copy of Le Parisien with next year's 'Tour de France' map on its back page. See it here; see it now before it's too late!

What holds up some Paris buildings? Other buildings, and popsicle sticks.

Some of the suggestions for these Web site references have been supplied by 'Internet Actu.' For more weird stuff, give The Liar's Chronicles a shot. If you understand French, look around for anything by Pierre Lazuly and his acid pen.

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