Texan Wins Tour for 2nd Time

photo: bistro rue saint paul

A Paris style 'bistro rustico' in the Marais.

Friday Roller Rando Banned

Paris:- Sunday, 23. July 2000:- Today was two kinds of great day in Paris as large parts of major traffic arteries were closed for the 'stroll' of 12,000 cyclists over a large part of the Tour de France's route; followed by the final stage of this year's Tour de France.

While crowds were not great at the Pont d'Iéna starting point below the Tour Eiffel for the amateur bike fans at 8:30 this morning, they were in their usual large numbers on the Champs-Elysées in the afternoon for the arrival of the Tour, or the 'Big Loop' as it is loosely called.

At 9:20, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain, former multiple winners of the Tour, arrived at the finishing line - of what was supposed to be a non-race.

The youngest participant was 13 and the oldest was 89. Some of the 'competitors' carried passengers who were younger than 13, and others did the 'Little Loop' on tandems.

For the arrival of the Tour itself, many Americans were on hand to see the victor, Lance Armstrong from Austin, Texas, win his second Tour de France riding for the US Postal Service team.

These included his wife, Kristin, who had quite a lot to say to French TV-news in French, and nine-month old Luke who made no noticeable comments.

Lance Armstrong participated in the Tour de France for the first time in 1993. Despite a boutphoto: randonnee begin, pont de l'iena with cancer, which slowed down his ambition for two years, Armstrong's motto remains, "Kicking ass and making a name for myself!"

Seconds after 8:30 this morning, on the Pont d'Iéna, the quiet horde advances.

One of his European team-mates characterized him as a 'Yankee' bulldozer' - without realizing that this might not be appreciated in Texas - with a "Brain of Steel" - which might more than acceptable to other Texans.

After the Yellow Shirt for Armstrong, Erik Zabel captured the second-place Green Shirt for Deutsche Telekom and the Columbian Santiago Botero of the Kelme-Costa Blanca team got the Red polka-dot Shirt for third place.

Kelme-Costa Blanca was also the over-all winning team. Francisco Mancebo captured the White Shirt in the young-rider category and he rode for Banesto.

The 87th edition of the Tour de France was thought by some to have been the best in at least a decade; or at least since Greg LeMond snatched victory from Laurent Fignon by eight seconds.

After 21 stages over 3660 kilometres, the 128 surviving riders of this years' Tour and its entire rolling circus, can go on holiday. So can everybody else too.

Roller Rando Banned

A week ago the famous Friday night roller rando through the evening streets of Paris was canceled, and a smaller 'rando' normally held on Sundays was also canceled.

This was the result of a disagreement between the organizers of the two randos and Paris' police prefecture. According to a decree by the prefecture made on Monday, 3. July, only four pre-defined routes could be used for the randos.

The prefecture, which was also the world's first to create a unit of 'roller-flics,' felt it had to impose some legality on the activity of wheeled citizens in Paris.

The police explained that an emergency ambulance had been held up because a Friday night rando horde had blocked an intersection by taking 30 minutes to get through it.

These 'randos' have long been escorted by the roller-cops, motorcycle cops and police in cars as well as emergency ambulances - all presumably equipped with radios - and the routes followed have not been totally random. The organizers have always proposed routes in advance in order to have police security present.

The two sets of organizers say that they can't accept the four routes decreed, and predicted that 'savage' randos would be the result.

They called for a suspension of the decree until roller problems in general can be discussed. Whilephoto: bikers take first curve waiting for an answer, they declared they would not organize or accompany future randos.

All the same, they also maintained the time of 22:00 on Friday and the Place de l'Italie as the meeting point.

In the first corner, there was more than a little jam.

Last Friday at the appointed time and place, the organizers announced to those assembled there that the night's rando was canceled that evening.

The roller-folk present - estimated at 10,000 by the organizers and between 3000 and 4000 by police - were asked to disperse by the Pari-Roller organizers - on the sidewalks, but not all listened to this request.

The resulting rando 'savage' led to a kiss-and-make-up on Saturday, which allowed the Sunday edition of the rando - which had 6000 - 10,000 according to the organizers - onto the streets and through the barricades put in place for the final stage of the Tour de France.

Apparently, the prefecture has again agreed to consider the routes proposed by the two groups of organizers.

All of this is the visible part of a long-lasting scrimmage to wrest control of Paris' streets away from four-or-more-wheeled traffic.

Lanes uniquely for buses have found many places on Paris pavements, and after years of agitation bicyclists have finally been permitted to use them too.

The citizens on rollers present a special problem because they are not legally allowed on either sidewalks or on the streets. There is simply no law concerning where roller traffic may operate.

And there is no definition of the roller-folks' status. Are they pedestrians on wheels or are they traffic?

Blow Up the Factory!

This is the threat that was used to impress the media when workers recently occupied a factory that management had decided to shut for good.

The entire work force in Northeastern France faced layoffs for 'economic reasons.' Normally, when a business ceases operations, if it is broke, there is a fund that steps in to pay off workers - usually what they could expect if they were retired normally.

But even in normal circumstances these sums are not great. In the case of Cellatex, its geographic location in Givet in the Ardennes, would condemn its former employees to permanent unemployment, or they would be forced to move elsewhere.

So the 153 employees said they were goingphoto: horde heads down quai de new york to blow up the factory, which seemed to have enough chemicals in it to do it. But after two days of non-stop negotiations both sides gave in a bit, and the workers were promised a 90,000-franc 'layoff bonus.'

After sorting out the first corner, there they go!

Earlier in the week, the angry employees created a mega-media flap by releasing some sulfuric acid into a local creek. It looked very dangerous to the media because it was bright red.

In Thursday's editions Le Parisien wondered if the Celletex were creating a dangerous precedent with their threatened 'eco-terrorism.'

By Saturday this was reality when the workers at the Adelshoffen brewery in Schiligheim, in a similar situation, threatened to blow up the brewery with 15,000 litres of gas on hand.

I don't know if brewery gas is capable of this, but Schiligheim is a suburb of Strasbourg, and is definitely not in some lost corner of France that is more surrounded by Belgium than other suburbs.

Summer Sales Almost Over

The summer sales began in Paris on Tuesday, 27. June and continue to early August. Be quick because the deadline is approaching - even if there isn't anything really good left. If you miss out, start haunting all the discount clothing places - to maybe get even lower prices.

Web Life In France:

Big Smiles

The huge Internet conglomo Vivendi was reported to have paid the three operators of a modest Internet service named 'Vis-a-Vis' 24 million francs to not bother Vivendi about its 'Vizzavi' service, which it launched some six-odd months after the 'Vis-a-Vis' name was registered.

'Vis-a-Vis' is the name of a cybercafé located in the Chapelle area and it was set up for conductingphoto: backetball in marais online video-conferencing between Paris and Dakar as well as other locations in Africa. It is run by two longtime multimedia journalists, and their Web guy is a former spokesman for the 'Sans-Papiers.'

More normal sports activity; this time in the Marais.

In addition to paying each of the founders eight million francs, Vivendi reportedly agreed not to contest the 'Vis-a-Vis' name; and the three smilers agreed not to talk a lot about the deal.

'Vizzavi' is Vivendi's brand-name for a portal that is supposed to unite portable phone, TV and Internet access services. Due to what has already been paid, I don't think Vivendi is in the market for a new name for their fledgling 'portal.'

Only Smiles

I read the explanation and then I looked at the Web site. I am so hard-boiled that it wasn't until I was about to quit - there's no gags! - that I realized all the images had a smile of one sort or another; without one stupid 'Smiley.' Where is this marvel? Try the Musée du Sourire today, before your hair turns out to be having a bad day.

Snap-Shot Gallery

This is meant to put you off by pretending to be trivial, but its French name is 'La Galerie de l'Instant' which might make you think of throw-away photos and throw-away cameras. Neither are the case; a simple collection, simply presented - not eye-candy but photos to look at for a little bit or more.

Repeat: Summer Festivals

Take a look at the Ministry of Culture's Web site for the section "Organismes" and then look for the Festivals category, and should find nearly 1000 events on this summer throughout France. These are classified by regions, themes or key-words and the information is updated weekly with addresses and telephone numbers. There are also some links to additional information.

Forever: Paris' Peace Wall

This still leaves the URL for Paris' Peace Wall which I imagine is still on the Champ de Mars. If so, this 'Mur Pour la Paix' is worthwhile because 'Peace' lives on! You can also learn how to read the word 'peace' in 31 languages, including Texan.

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