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Is Paris What?

photo, miramar cinema, montparnasse

Bright lights in Montparnasse.

Burning It's Not

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 14. November 2005:– It looks like November weather in Paris is settling down to be November weather in Paris. This means that the temperature bounces around but does not bound over 10 degrees and in case you are still too warm, there is a neat wind from the northwest or northeast, to shiver your timbers. It may even rain, but at best it will be puny.

So, you stand here and look at the map. At the top it has one of these single Citroën windshieldwipers, and it sweeps back and forth, dragging mucky clouds from the northwest, Britain, the Channel, in a big sweep across France, to batter themselves senseless against the Alps.

In their wake, on Tuesday, there will be a pause for partly sunny here, with clouds and blue sky between, and that famous temperature of 10 degrees. Then without skipping a beat, on Wednesday, that windshieldwiper blade will be way down south where it won't concern us.

While we think about lolling in the radiant sunshine, if that's what it is, we will hardly be tempted because the high is not supposed to exceed 8 flipping degrees.

Then on Thursday, the windshieldwiper folds up and lies along France's northern border, while here in the centre of the world very close to the Vavin carrefour, it may be quite sunny. Do not,photo, breakfast at monoprix however, by fooled by imitations, for the temperature is not expected to greatly exceed 7 tiny little freaking degrees. Possibly ditto for Friday.

For your tasty wake–bowls and something to put in them.

Metropole's exclusive weather scribbler, Météo Jim, presents us this week with a pre–forecast, many days in advance of the gigantic Christmas tree move to Rockefeller Center. No, I have this wrong. It is here! And now!

Rocking Appleballs!

First thing, cut, cut, cut out last week's leafy story. Start with A sign of the approaching Christmas season is the arrival of the yearly Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. This and its decoration has gone from a 30–second spot on the news to a 2–hour nationally broadcast spectacle. No matter what, le sapin de Noël de la Grosse Pomme is, as a famous red–covered guide book would put it, worth a detour. Another feature of the Christmas season is the very Big Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall. This year, the orchestra has added a bit of French flair to the show. It has gone on strike. Canned elevator music has replaced the stupid musicians. As for Pommeland's weather, whether or not anyone will like it, this weekend is and will be warm and sunny with temperatures in the low 60s a–grad – still too warm. The warmth will continue until Tuesday when a cold front with showers will arrive. Temperatures will drop into the upper 40s to low 50s. As for hurricanes, it is less and less likely that Hurricanes Zeta and Omega will arrive by the end of the hurricane season *

*Disclaimer – this week, of the 5 disclaimers on offer, all are unofficially declined.

Café Life

Paris Is Not Burning

Some of you may have seen alarming TV reports about urban violence taking place in Paris so the first priority is to mention that there has been no urban violence here, not in the city of Paris.

TV news units from around the world have converged on Paris and immediately jumped in taxis and rental buses and have driven out of town to selected suburbs – usually ones featured in local news three days or a week earlier – and have commenced reporting about our troubles.

Through the narrow eye of a TV camera all it takes is one Molotov Cocktail and a few blurry figures in thephoto, daguerre meats dark to give the impression of civil war. Visions of red and yellow flares against a black background are flashed around the world and I get emails asking, "Is Paris burning?"

'Meat by Night' to match other tasty moods.

The answer is 'no.' There were a couple of isolated incidents near République about 10 days ago but since then, nothing. The police, after intercepting some dubious SMS messages and seeing some alarming Web sites, stocked Paris with 3000 extra police on the weekend – but they had little to do.

If you ask, "Are the suburbs burning?" then I will have to say, 'they were.' But in the area around Paris, for the past several days, the unrest has settled back to its customary level. According to reports of police comments, in 'normal' times about 80 vehicles are burned daily.

Perhaps this is why interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy went out to Argenteuil on Tuesday, 25. October, when he was greeted with boos, catcalls and some rocks and beer cans. In return he said what he thought of the reception. Then two kids running away from the police were electrocuted in Clichy–sous–Bois two days later, and Sarkozy persisted with his remarks.

I have heard that non–French news has been treating the Paris suburbs as if they are the world's latest disaster zone, the week's hurricane or the current scene of religious lunacy.

As far as is known here the urban unrest is none of these.

Public housing estates located in the Paris suburbs, or in the suburbs of all French cities, are where poor people live. In most cases the buildings are well kept–up, modern, in landscaped surroundings. Their problem often is that they were built and designed in the '50s, '60s and '70s, in tall buildings or in 'bars,' vast walls of apartments.

They were built on cheap, available land – out in suburbs. Also often, they were built without much concern for what makes a community beyond bedrooms – few shops, restaurants, cinemas, or other essential items of urban tissue.

Then with low rents, lower than in Paris certainly, the towers and 'bars' filled up with those who couldn't afford better. And this is often only with the help of considerable aid, usually supplied locally from the nearest city hall. The result is high concentrations of the poor, often the working poor.

Or not working. At times France moans about the lack – for example, of building workers, the very people who build these housing estates. Thus immigration is tolerated, rather than energetic recruitment of the youth on hand – whose parents may have built the public housing. Mainly, in the estates, the unemployment for youth is far too high, twice as high as the too high rate for all of France.

Decent housing has been a goal in France since the end of WWII and high unemployment hasphoto, crepe stand, montparnasse bedeviled the country since the 1970s. Government after government has addressed these fundamental problems with more or less sincerity. Where we are today is the result./p>A stand offering six courses, all standing up.
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