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If you add the fact that all sorts of people taking the lessons and the tests don't understand French too well – some who already know how to drive – you can understand that some would be willing to pay cash under the table for a guaranteed short–cut. The papers are howling that this is cheating – it's 'le Scandale.'

The actual scandal is making the test so fraught with angst that all drivers who do pass it immediately refuse to remember everything they're learned as soon as the are in possession of the pink license.

Tour Eiffel Strike

Finally I'm happy to be able to report that the strikers at the Eiffel Tower went back to work on Friday after picketing the closed tower for three days. The city of Paris owns the famous meccano set on the Champ de Mars but puts out a contact for its operation. This expires next year and the employees apparently had no guarantee from the city that their working conditions would remain unchanged with a possible new employer.

The city is currently a large shareholder of the semi–private operating company, and according to a recent law must become the major shareholder – so, in effect, the employees were striking against the city. About six million tower fans a year pay to visit it, and since it opened in 1889 it is estimated that 210 million have been up it. Which is not bad for an exposition attraction that was originally scheduled to be demolished after 10 years. The Eiffel family operated the tower until 1979.

Film of the Week

All the time I was writing 'other' news from Paris, I meant to write about Claude Lelouch and his new film. Hephoto, pont des arts didn't like what the critics wrote about 'Les Parisiens,' so on the day after it opened in France last Wednesday – 854 tickets sold in Paris – he offered it free, first–come first–served, at the 19:00 showing on Thursday at 400 cinemas throughout France.

Afternoon light on the Pont des Arts.

Spielberg's film 'The Terminal' also opened in Paris on Wednesday and sold 2494 tickets. Philippe de Broca tried the 'free' ticket trick in 1966 for 'Le Roi de Coeur' and advised Claude against trying it. For de Broca, the film attracted fewer viewers the day it was free.

However, cinema fans had good things to say about the new film, which is part one of a trilogy, 'Le Genre Humain.' Lelouch had to pay for the free entries himself. Happy ending – Lelouch has to pay for full houses. And the manager of the Grand Rex in Paris decided to let everybody in to see the film free at the following 21:30 showing.

Techno Boom

But do not let this detract from Saturday's marvelous 'Techno Parade,' which launched from Montparnasse at noon. I didn't actually see anything like the 29 'floats' advertised, but the weather confounded the forecast by being sunny and warm – perfect for wrecking Paris' Saturday traffic from Montparnasse to Bastille.

The so–called 'floats' are flat–deck trucks with generators for running the massive sound systems. Most are only sketchily decorated, manned by a few chickies who bump and weave – for eight hours! – and some young dudes. There's a lot of heavy boom boom boom, but not much else.

Contrary to how the beginning of the 'Techno Parade' looked, the middle and the end – thanks to TV–news coverage – seemed to be much more successful. The TV–news reported that between 100,000 and 600,000 took part in the parade. I guess it depended on how many spectators took part in it.

One view of the Rue de Rennes, from Saint–Germain, showed it to be full of techno fans. So much sophoto, techno vespa that Monday's crowd estimates were revised to 200,000. Close–ups showed many in costumes, who either joined the parade in its rear staging area at Montparnasse or joined it after it started. Many would do this in any case, rather than all trying to gather at Montparnasse at the beginning.

Three–wheeled bug–eyed Vespa sound truck.

The present Minister of Culture said 'techno' is a good thing, and the former Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, who was responsible for importing the idea from Berlin, said what he usually says. This year's 7th edition was without major causes other than to 'faire la fête,' and to turn Paris into an immense amateur dance club.

Then, as if to point out how utterly foolish this is, the city of Lyon had its 'Biennual de la Danse' on Sunday. The TV–news showed musicians playing musical instruments and groups of dancers in elaborate costumes – who have been rehearsing for months – and they were all out in the streets doing real dancing to real music, for the appreciation of an enthusiastic crowd of 200,000.

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