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Dimitri Is Worried

photo: cafe l'atlantic, roller night

The nearest café to the start of Friday night's roller-rando.

Nuit Noir, Nuit Blanche

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 29. September 2003:- Dimitri got over his Wednesday hangover, but I have been running into him a lot lately. The big windows are being changed in his atelier, so he's had to partly dismantle it while the renovation is going on. It means he isn't working a lot there.

On Friday he called up and asked if I could edit an estimate he wanted to send to a potential customer. Dimitri came over and we found his files, copied one, and put in the new date and numbers. We used a total of four calculators to figure out the value-added tax. He wanted the franc-euro converter too, but I couldn't find it. I thought I'd thrown it out.

Once printed out, he stuffed the papers in an envelope and we went by the post office and he sent them off. Then we went to the café next door.

Some group of local citizens has decided to hold a poll to decide 'what to do' with the Rue Daguerre. This has Dimitri pretty upset. He was already 'doing something' about what he says is theposter: expo edith piaf degeneration of the street - too many sushi places, too many Asian fast-food outlets, too many real estate offices, and getting to be too many boutiques for bobos - so the idea of a poll unnerved him.

My copy of it has four varying propositions for making the street 'safe for boutiques,' plus it has one option for doing nothing - 'ne rien faire.'

The expo for Edith Piaf opens in the Hôtel de Ville's Salon d'Acceuil on 8. October.

There's a good possibility that the last option is the one that will get adopted because the changes to surrounding heavy-traffic streets - such as the additions of bus-lanes - have jammed up traffic considerably. As Laurel Avery points out elsewhere in this issue, stalled car and truck traffic may cause more pollution than fast bus lanes allievate.

[The idea is, of course, is to make driving private cars disagreeable - while giving dedicated lanes to buses so they can be faster - thus maybe converting car drivers into bus riders. But in phase one, with car drivers grimly hanging in there, the traffic jams are much worse than ever before because of reduced road surfaces. But - the average speed of buses has risen.]

The Rue Daguerre doesn't carry much traffic, but two one-way cross streets are vital arteries. One proposition suggests changing their directions, and another suggests changing Daguerre's direction. I think these proposition are smokescreens for the real one - making all of Daguerre a pedestrian area like Montorgueil.

If this happens, Dimitri fears the whole street with be boutiqued from end to end and what remains of its slightly seedy charm will be lost. On the weekend Daguerre was partly closed for its artists and artisans' days.

The fellow who owns Paris Accordéon was playing in the café nearest to his shop. It seemed natural - every café should have accordion music on Saturday afternoons, so long as it is played by a guy who owns a nearby accordion shop. If the quartier gets 'boutiqued,' goodbye accordions.

This morning Dimitri saw me in the café and he came over. He was in a proper dither. The customer with the frame that needs re-doing bought the estimate we turned out on Friday, and is sending some house painter over with it.

When this guy phoned Dimitri he didn't bother listening to the directions of where to bring the frame. Evenphoto: cafe les 2 moulins, rue lepic if he knows where to come, he might leave it with the building's guardian - and not carry it up the four flights of stairs.

One of the cafés in the Rue Lepic, just up from the Place Blanche.

Or, if he does, he may wreck the frame doing it. What does a wall painter care, if he won't listen to directions? But this isn't Dimitri's main worry. His main worry is that when he's finished the frame's restoration, he'll have to hire a couple of heavy-duty guys to get the thing back across town and reinstalled on its wall.

That's why he put 'taking down, transport and rehanging' is not included in the price on the estimate. Just doing that stuff might cost more than the restoration job.

It's like whatever plan comes out for the Rue Daguerre. The street may get improved so much that it ends up wrecked. Like the bus lanes are unimproving the air quality before they start to improve it by making car drivers ride the buses.

Nuit Noir, Nuit Blanche

Last week I intended to do an update to the 'weekly' Scène column, but fell behind an eight-ball of a clock. Nevertheless, I had already added a few new items to it. Like this one:-

La Notte Bianca - this may be Rome's first sleepless 'Nuit Blanche,' so I've moved Paris' date up the list - above - to put in Rome's La Notte Bianca here. It begins on Saturday, 27. September, and goes all night into Sunday. I won't say you can get two for the price of one, but this year Europe has two, which is sort of 'two for one.'

As you must know by now, the night lights of Rome went out at 03:20 Sunday morning during its 'Notte Bianca.' As in Paris, the Roman métro was meant to be running all night until it stopped dead with the lights out.

Just as it was Canada's fault for the blackout in the United States in August, now it might by France's fault for the blackout in Italy during the 'Notte Bianca.'poster: week of foreign cultures

But this is not actually possible because Paris' mayor Bertrand Delanoë was in Rome for the first Notte Bianca at the invitation of his pal, Rome's mayor Walter Veltroni. The two mayors toured the Villa Borghese, the Castel Sant Angelo and the Coliseum.

This is the week for open doors at all of the foreign cultural centres in Paris.

Let's wish Rome better luck next time and turn our attention to Paris' 2nd 'Nuit Blanche,' which begins next Saturday. Last Friday Le Parisien said, 'Be prepared!'

The original concept, imagined by Christophe Girard, in charge of culture at the Hôtel de Ville - was to have an evening of performances in places that are normally closed during the night.

However this was a bit too successful when too many Parisians showed up to 'faire la fête' in locales that were too small for their numbers. So the concept has evolved a bit, to focus more on larger places or places that are more open.

The guides for the night suggest sticking to a quartier - such as near the Bibliothèque Nationale in the 13th arrondissement, where a dozen expos and performances will be concentrated. In all, there will be 110 projects for the night in the city.

And, not because of any expected failure in the electrical supply, France Télécom intends to lend Parisians 250 bikes, while Citroën plans to have 60 cars available to haul hitchhikers around.

The Hôtel de Ville will not be open to the public this year as it was last year, but the mayor has promised that something will be happening for anybody passing by. Aside from being lit up like a birthday cake, at 05:00 Sunday morning baker-artisans of the professional bakers syndicate will be offering warm croissants to all.

Roller Nights Forever

The Friday night roller-rando changed its start location from the Place de l'Italie to the forecourt of the Gare Montparnasse some time ago, but I only got down there to see them take off last Friday even though it's only a five-minute walk away.

The place in front of the station is big enough for several thousand people on wheels - POWs? - without them hindering passing traffic. But at 22:00 in the evening here, it is dark, and it was impossible to tell how many were waiting to roll through the streets for three hours.

Since there were many police cars and ambulances grouped near the Avenue du Maine side, I figured they would roll out there, but couldn't tell which way they'd go - up the avenue or down the Rue du Départ to the boulevard.

Just after 22:00 some signal was given somehow. Led by police motorcycles, the horde poured out on to the avenue and headed uphill towards Alésia. I walked up the opposite sidewalk to the Rue de l'Ouest and waited there for about ten minutes for the tail-end of the roller folks, who were followed by the usual sweep-up crew of ambulances, and what looked like, tow-trucks.

All this time, maybe 20 minutes in all, the surrounding streets were full of Friday-night cars that were stalled until the people-on-wheels, rolled out of their way. The roller wheels make little noise and while some of the participants do shout or sing, the whole crowd is pretty quiet compared to the usual noise of traffic.

Except of course, for the gasoline-crazed automobilistas, who need to blow their horns when stalled, just to be doing something besides listening to their 200-watt stereo radios or illegally babbling on their phones.

WiFi in Paris

Paris may be the world's capital for portable computers with capability to connect to the Internet without wires. Some time ago the RATP said its 'Naxos' unit was going to run a trial by turning its entire line 4 into a high-speed wireless access antenna. Since then more than a dozen other operators have joined in a frenzy of optimism to give the whole city access - with 'Naxos' also equipping Bus 38 and line 11 with antennas.

Many hotels offer the service now, as well as a lot of restaurants - including some McDonald's locations. Onephoto: rollers on maine problem is that there are many operators, each with their own access card. But the operators and the phone companies are apparently discussing the possibility of a unique access card.

Friday night roller frenzy in Paris happens year-round.

For the moment, the big news is that wireless access is available in Le Coupole. With this innovation this old-time brasserie seems to be saying 'adieu' to its past arty clientele in favor of the bobos in the quartier, who want to work while they dine - or hold multi-portable meetings.

So far, according to reports, La Coupole isn't making bundles of money off the service. Maybe it's the wrong brasserie in Montparnasse. The Flo Group that owns the café-monument is watching closely. The service might be more suited to its Vaudeville brasserie next door to the Bourse.
signature, regards, ric

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