2000 - A Really Big Show

photo: cafe de paris

What could be more Parisian than the Café Le Paris?

With a Really Modest Budget

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 10. January 2000:- Hey, what do you know? Doesn't 2000 seem to be a lot like 1999? All the stuff is the same. Everything is going wrong and everybody is grumbling about it, as usual.

We are not supposed to be doing this. This is a bright, shiny, new year - if not century, if not millennium. We should give it the benefit of doubt. Trust it a bit. Stop condemning it before it's hardly started.

Take New Years for example. I got roasted for my comments about 'Le Grande Parade de Paris.' I just grumbled a little bit about it - but this was taken as severe criticism, and the person taking it wasn't even the target.

I prefer, and this is a purely personal opinion, that it not be a 'grande' parade; that it remain the fairly simple and straightforward Montmartre affair that it had quietly been for several years already. So what if it didn't get on thephoto: rue de commerce national TV-news for that day? It probably made it onto France 3's more localized news.

In Paris, everybody thinks the show at the Tour Eiffel went off okay - even if the count-down fell out on the 999th day at the 19th hour.

The unexciting Rue du Commerce in the 15th.

It's this minor countdown thing that the papers want us to remember - as if this made the whole thing, the hundreds of thousands there to see it, relatively nothing. The egg-timer broke - so what? - the egg is okay.

Fact is, outside of Paris, the Tour Eiffel fireworks show was a triumph. Maybe Sydney's was better for sheer size, but the Tour Eiffel's showed 'French Flair.' And remember, the professionals that do this, have to try and top themselves because they do it two times a year - the other time being on Bastille Day, Eve, or sometime.

The Champs-Elysées was properly chock-full of people. It would have been crammed to the building fronts even if a nickel hadn't been spent on all the wheels and their 'Portes de l'An 2000' show.

After all this, plus the full night up on legs for many, meant that the 'Grande Parade' was doomed to a less than full blaze of glory.

No matter what the Hôtel de Ville plans for Paris in the way of cakes and circuses, it is Parisians and anybody else who happens to be handy, who make these things successes. We are the army and if we don't show up there isn't going to be any fête - no matter how much money is spent on it.

On New Years Eve we showed up. On New Years Day, we were a bit worn out.

While there is a little grumbling going on here, you should hear what our offshore cousins, the Brits, are saying about their London show.

Apparently, what Paris spent was a drop in the bucket compared to London. And you know how the GB's are so good at PR - biggest this, that, greatest and so on.

While we are hearing rumors about their super-gigantic 'Millennium Dome' - copyright and Trademark registered - the greatest thing since man's first step on the moon! - and, I'll admit it, a bit envious - little did we know -

That the whole thing was a rubble bubble erected in some still-vacant swamp in the still unrealized Docklands.photo: cable rollers On top of it, it was supposed to be something like Paris' Cité des Sciences but 43 times larger, with all this stuff crammed into it showing off the wonders that await us in the new century.

Not for storm damage, but for mobile phones. Cable rollers outside my window.

According to my sources who would rather remain unnamed, visitors were herded through the place on treadmills and allotted exactly 45 seconds for a wink at each true exhibit, plus a bit more time to gander at all the sponsors' exhibits. That London's - biggest wheel in the whole world! - didn't turn makes Paris' countdown fumble seem like a hiccup.

Meanwhile, back in the land of 'French Flair,' Paris newspapers - who simply cannot match the insane viciousness of their cross-channel counterparts - are mildly chiding the Hôtel de Ville for some announced - and promoted by Metropole - projects that turned out to be non-starters.

Paris' budget for 'Paris 2000' is supposed to be 40 million francs, to cover the whole year. These are francs, so they are a drop in the ocean.

The city has to count on individuals to think up projects, and also think up how to finance them. If the first is acceptable and the second comes through, then the project gets a 'Paris 2000' logo.

From 500 projects submitted, 170 passed the first test - but one of these had a budget of 30 million francs.

The 'Paris 2000' czar, Bernard Bled, says that so far the global project is a success. The wind blew away the attendance at the Trocadéro alpinephoto: ol delivery van village after it received nearly a million visitors, and the privately-financed balloon at the Parc André Citroen was doing fine until the wind ripped it to shreds.

'French Flair' everywhere you look, even in the Rue du Commerce.
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