Gnome Snatch At Bagatelle

photo: cafe daguerre

This is the Café Dageurre's 'new look' which is pretty much the same as its 'old look.'

Graffiti That Lasts

Paris:- Sunday, 9. April 2000:- During the somber depths of the night of Saturday-Sunday, unknown thieves entered the Bagatelle park and lifted 20 gnomes from it. Park workers discovered the theft this morning.

A note was left behind, demanding "The immediate and unconditional liberation of all the dwarfs 'still detained' in the park." The gnome-napping action was attributed in the note to the little-known Paris branch of the 'Dwarf Liberation Front.'

Park guardians who keep a close watch out for gnome-nappers during the daytime, relax theirphoto: bagatelle park vigilance during the hours of darkness. This morning they could not detect exactly where the gnome-nappers entered the park.

Can you imagine ths setting as the site of a unspeakable crime?

This evening, Paris police are perplexed because no theft charges have been laid. The city is apparently not impressed by the threat to the 1980-odd other gnomes left who are still in the park, and plan to continue the current exhibition until Sunday, 23. July.

Some gnomes are highly valuable, and it is possible the exhibition's authorities do not want to put the idea of high ransoms into the gnome-nappers evil heads.

Full-House Party

As a top-up to last week's report about the RPR candidates for next year's municipal elections for mayor, I mentioned that ex-Prime Minister Edouard Balladur would probably jump into the fray.

He has now done so, and met with President Jacques Chirac today. With so many candidates from his own party trying out for the Paris office, the President gives everybody a hearing then probably says, "Bon chance!"

As far as I know the President is only meeting candidates from his own party, so I do not expect the lone Socialist candidate to be invited for any such good cheer.

Nor do I expect that candidates from the French Communist Party, Les Verts, radicals of the right or left, diverse Trotskyists or any ultra-right-wing Nationalists to be invited for these cheery Sunday gatherings.

Unremovable Graffiti

On account of a crew of graffiti-removers I ran into on my street corner Friday evening, I intended to cheer everybody up with the news that the city of Paris is offering free wall cleanups to all residents who ask for it.

The specially-equipped guys I came across, said they were working late because of the shop's walls they were cleaning. They had to wait until the shop closed.

They said that they would keep working until 22:00 and if they got further along to work on mine, they'd tap on the window to get me to close my shutters.

The was no tap. I closed my shutters to try and cut down the noise their machinery was making. On Saturday morning, my wall's graffiti was still there.

Now the bad news. The taggers with the paint-spray bombs have switched to scoring window glass instead. While the crew with the high-pressure hoses takes graffiti off buildingphoto: degraffiti, rue e cresson walls, taggers are wrecking shop windows, mirrors, bus and métro windows, telephone cabins and any handy glass surfaces they can find.

This fellow in the spacy suit was wiping out graffiti on my street last Friday evening - using a lot of noisy high pressure.

Le Parisien wants to know why these people want to bug everybody; while admitting that certain tags do have some aesthetic value. In contrast, glass scratching is pure vandalism and costs a fortune to repair.

Last year the RATP paid out 180 million francs to remove painted and engraved tags from its premises and rolling stock.

Sports News: the Paris Marathon

Tonight's TV-news gives today's 24th Paris Marathon something like between 45 and 75 seconds. This is not much, considering that a record number of runners got up very early this morning to be on time for the starting gun at 9:00.

When it went off, 31,904 runners at Etoile started down the Champs-Elysées, and continued running out to the Bois de Vincennes before turning around to run back to the Bois de Boulogne, to finish up at the Avenue Foch.

This year's route of 42.195 kilometres took French Foreign Legionnaire Français Mohamed Quaadi exactly two hours, eight minutes and ten seconds. This was a fast time, but did not beat the record held by Julius Ruto from Kenya, who clocked 2h 8' 10" last year.

Monsieur Quaadi had a clear shot after the 35th kilometre. Today's win assures him a place at the starting line at the Olympics in Sydney. His last best time was 2h 7' 55" - set at Fukuoka in Japan.

Today was also the first time in eight years that a Frenchman has won Paris' Marathon. Today, Abdellah Behar - also French - came in third in his first marathon; with a time about a minute behind Quaadi, also qualifying him for a starting place at Sydney.

The fastest Parisian, of 2186 registered for the race, crossed the finish line about 22 minutes after the winner. An estimated 80,000 Parisian residents and visitors turned out to watch the race.

One-Day Draft - Girls Too

The army's annual draft of 17 and 18 year-olds took place yesterday, and for the first time, included young ladies. The national service only lasts one day, so at the end of it, the 'draftees' returned to being civilians again.

However, the armed forces are looking for recruits and this obligatory day gives the military an early shot at putting across their story. It is their only 'shot,' and it seems as if they've become quite professional about it.

They tell all about what the services do, with talks and videos. In a way, it shows that the army has become more integrated into civilian life - in the sense that they have to be polite enough to convince young people to join up.

For this they need to be more than convincing; they need to say the army is more than an honorable occupation; they have to stress its career opportunities too.

There is one other thing. At some time during the day, the one-day recruits are given a literacy test. Thisphoto: fiat 500 of the week is not dull stuff. For example, the recruits may be given a TV program, and the questions and answers may be based on their comprehension of it.

And here is this week's 'Fiat 500 of the Week,' photographed at the model salon.

This is pretty easy stuff for many who are studying for their difficult BACs, but of all the boys who take the tests, 10 percent fail. Four out of ten of these are functionally illiterate.

Of the 30,000 who have been found in a 'difficult' condition in the past 18 months, 8000 have agreed to follow the plans proposed during the individual counseling that is given by the army after the tests are taken.

Odd as it may seem, only 30 percent of illiterates drop out of school - and the armed forces have been given the job of detecting the remaining 70 percent - during the one annual day of military service.

French Web Life

Le Boum de First Tuesday

Since the first Tuesday of last September, 'First Tuesday' has been organizing meetings between hungry Internet wolves and fat-cat venture capitalists in Paris.

'First Tuesday' started in London 18 months ago and has had a big success there, with some of its first attendees now being quoted on the stock markets. Meetings of 'First Tuesday' are now held in about 40 cities.

The first Paris meetings were held in the Olympic Entrepôt cinema, and at the one I attended in October there were about 300 present. photo: maison rose, bagatelleLast Tuesday's meeting had a filter that let 1500 - out of 3700 applicants - into the CNIT at La Défence; to meet with about 350 VC operators.

The Bagatelle's rose garden - the one the aluminum dwarfs were not 'promised.'

Since I was one of the 2200 not invited to the party I can only guess at what goes on these days at parties. But Le Parisien, being ever alert - and sometimes short of news - reports that the idea is to be able to make as many 90-second pitches with visiting-card backup, as quickly as possible.

On the VC side, the idea is to collect as many cards as possible and to remember as many of these 90-second commercials as possible. One suit from BNP-Paribas said he came away with 80 cards. These may represent 80 new gazillionaires next year, but I don't think so.

Paris' Peace Wall

In last week's Café column I mentioned Paris' Peace Wall on the Champ de Mars opposite the Ecole Militaire and wrote that it is supposed to be possible to send 'peace messages' to it via the Internet.

At the time I did not have the URL for the site, so here it is: 'Mur Pour la Paix,' which is a Dot-Com and not a Dot-Org. You can also learn how to read the word 'peace' in 32 languages.

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