Funeral In Saint-Tropez

photo: bar de l'entreacte

This bistro is just outside the Palais-Royal.

Any Bright Ideas for Concorde?

Paris:- Sunday, 20. February 2000:- I should have left off that Valentine nonsense last week and written something about the death of Roger Vadim, but I thought he was sort of a 'Valentine-type' guy and my thing would be sort of a homage, even if I didn't mention him by name.

French television, instead of rushing historic-obits onto the little screen, usually deprograms whatever 'entertainment' it has ready in the can, and substitutes it with a handy film. In Vadim's case, the film was, 'And God Created Woman,' made in 1956.

This is shown once every five years anyway so I've already seen it two or four times. Curt Jurgens was pretty good in it, as the nasty real-estate hustler and slimy get-rich-quick guy. Jean-Louis Trintignant was about as young as BB in this film, and I can't remember who played his older brother.

Anyhow, the fall of the final curtain of the Vadim saga has managed to spread itself over two weeks with his death on Friday, 11. February, the Saint-Germain-des-Prés service last Monday, and the funeral in Saint-Tropez on Friday.

This sad event was attended by four ex-wives out of four, and his widow, Marie-Christine Barrault. Janephoto: ex art squat, bourse Fonda arrived directly from the US to follow Brigitte Bardot past the casket; Catherine Schneider and Annette Stroyberg also attended the ceremony.

Le Parisien wrote that it could have been a traditional 15th of August, with all the limos and their personages in Saint-Tropez present, but it is winter.

Cinema-wise, Roger Vadim jerked France out of its post-war doldrums, much like the effect rock-and-roll had on American popular music a year or two earlier.

Former art-squat, facing the Paris Bourse.

This entire fun part of the history of the funky western world lasted until the 1959 release of Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita,' which pre-announced our dismal future and it has been downhill ever since.

The ghost of rock is still around, but cheaky French 'chic' seems about as rare as the Dodo.

Plant Medicine May Be Dangerous

After all the recent stories of dangerous food - which are continuing with brand-new stories - now it is the turn of medicines derived from plants.

Perhaps in fear of food, the French are turning more and more to diet supplements made from plants. But are they a good defense against microbes, or parasites; do they really combat stress?

The British medical journal 'The Lancet' has recently warned that products based on herbs can conflictphoto: palais royal with other medicines that are being used for serious illnesses - such as AIDS - or medical procedures such as heart transplants.

Other scientifico types think that plant remedies are being over-done and over-sold. The French ingested 37,500 tons of wild plants in 1997, compared to 12,500 tons in 1986.

Arcade of the Palais-Royal.

The big pharma companies are in on it too. They are going as far as Madagascar to consult local herbalists in the search for the magic plant. One company barters aspirin for Centella asiatica, which, when rendered into packages and advertised on TV, sells in pharmacies for 25 francs per box.

Meanwhile, other firms who have seen their plant-based business develop at dizzying rates, warn that exploiting sources like Madagascar to extremes, will kill the golden bushes and weeds.

Basically, if you are going to self-medicate yourself with para-pharmaceutical products, make sure in advance that what you intend to take won't conflict with anything else you are taking.

I thought there was going to be something humorous in this, but there doesn't seem to be any 'mad-dog killer weeds' in this report. Maybe I should switch back to the mad-cows or listeria - which aren't much funnier.

The Place de la Concorde - What To Do?

Despite all of the plans that have been announced over the past few years for the Place de la Concorde, the city has now decided to ask its citizens what should be done with it.

Before doing anything, the city must conduct a public enquiry in any case, but the present action which continues until Saturday, 20. May - seems to indicate that nobody has the 'master' plan yet.

Paris' mayor Jean Tiberi is on record with a desire to reduce Concorde's daily traffic by 80 percent by 2005. Thisphoto: chocolates debaude & gallais could permit pedestrian paths between the Tuileries and the Champs-Elysées, if north-south traffic were suppressed entirely.

The city is supposed to have a kitty of 160 million francs for whatever project emerges, but expects - what else? - the state to toss in some too.

This fine-looking Debaude & Gallais chocolate shop is near the Bourse.

This seems like an excessive amount of money simply for erecting a barricade to keep cars, taxis, scooters, tour buses, trucks and the Bastille Day's army tanks out of the huge place.

At the moment, the entire Place de la Concorde is classed as a national historical monument - and I assume this includes its traffic as well.

Apparently the state is willing to finance a 'historical study' of the location - which shouldn't cost more than $500 because its history is no secret, even to Metropole readers.

According to the report, 'Parisians' have been invited to share their ideas with the city. For this purpose, a info-tent has been put up at the Tuileries' main entrance.

If you are in the area, check it out. I'm not sure an expensive airline ticket will be proof that you are a bona-fide, if temporary, resident of Paris.

As for me, I suggest that Concorde be turned into an all-weather swimming hole with a sandy beach and palms. For the winter, the glass roof could be etched with the sundial lines, so you could lie on your back and see what time it is - on sunny February days.

How To Not Fall Asleep While Driving

Driving in Paris, and to a lesser extent, in France, is pretty exciting - even thrilling! - so if you are actually behind the wheel there is little danger you will fall asleep. In fact, the danger of driving will tend to keep you awake.

This is not the case in the United States where the number of accidents due to falling asleep while driving is estimated at 200,000 annually.

Yawning is not a sign of falling asleep. It is what your brain tells your body to do when there is insufficient oxygen in the blood in your head. Yawning, therefore, is a good thing.

Being hypnotized by road markings on autoroutes is not unknown, and 25 percent of the accidents on limited-access highways may be caused by this.

Some people also suffer from 'sleep diseases,' such as narcolepsy- cataplexy - neither of which, hyphenated or otherwise, I have heard of before. It's a good thing not many people suffer from this combination, because together they mean passing out suddenly - with or without facial convulsions.

Sleep disorders can be detected by finding out what your brain is up to while you are asleep. Victims who are aware of their tendency to narcolepsy-cataplexy can take elementary precautions, and there are medicines which exist.

However, fatty foods, alcohol and a wide variety of medicines are not the recommended diet of drivers. Lack of sleep before setting out long trips is not recommended either.

The time-zone of 13:00 to 15:00 is one prone to sleepiness, so if you have a chance to take a siesta in this time period, make sure your car is parked first.

Paris' Online Life Rehash

Practically every Paris taxi has a banner ad on its flank and these all have URLs. Now URLs are popping up where posters used to be - one of this week's posters - but my source for French Web site ideas has no new ones this week. Voilà, a small re-run of last week's:

The 'Fête' de l'Internet

Every year this event is announced with some fanfare, and every year I fail to grasp what it's all about, because it seems to be entirely 'virtual.' In order not to forget it, I'll run this one yet again.

The Fête's organization is non-profit and it is coordinated by the AFI association. This event is not restricted to France; at the European level it is called the Fiesta 2000. The actual Fête/Fiesta will take place from Friday, 17. March to Sunday, 19. March.

Beaubourg's Stars au Féminin

The reopening is old news now. During the klotzy culture factory's two-year renovation, its Web site kept ticking over. Take is look for a current show titled 'Stars au Féminin' which has something to do with 150 films; on show until 2. October.

GNT = Greenwich Net Time

'Greenwich Net Time' has been on trial since January and is supposed to be rolled out on Tuesday, 29. February, which it 'leap-day' - which is in some dispute too. The idea, I think, is to have a universal 'Net Time' so all our emails carry some sort of correct time, independent of GMT. It might even be some new metric-type system.

Web Shorties: Re-Re-Runs:

The 27th comics festival at Angoulême ended two weeks ago. This Web site presents this year's prize winners, plus links to other sites featuring 'bandesphoto: imprimerie dessinées' - BD for short. In France, the 'comic books' are hardcover and they outsell practically all other forms of published fiction, except magazines and newspapers.

The annual 'Milia 2000' is now past history. This was the annual market showcase for multimedia, which included more Internet than CD-ROMs this year.

Some of the suggestions for these Web site references have been gleaned from 'Internet-Actu.' Internet-Actu has also just launched a new bi-weekly newsletter called Pixel-Actu, which concerns digital imaging; also in French. Laurent Katz is the editor. For a taste of Pixel-Actu, give its Web version a hit.

Both of these newsletters feature many items you may already be familiar with, but they also include news of developments in Europe. Both are well-written in French, so if you want to build up your techno vocabulary, these newsletters can help.

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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