...Continued from page 1

Max Goes Chicken Crazy

Saturday:– When it started it might have been cool but by around noon the thermometre was flirting with 30 degrees under a sky still blue, full of hard sunbeams for the military parade on the Champs–Elysées. We hung in place in the 14th until the rendez–vous from the day before happened and with that out of the way we wandered over to the Luxembourg to get a sense of space and grass and trees, and chess players of course. Plus there was a free exhibition of modern paintings in the Orangerie so we looked at those too. A little culture on 14. July couldn't hurt.

Then it was time to eat again and we went fairly early to the café Rendez‐vous and Max had the chicken – a farm model – with frites and a Coke and I had my usual orange juice and a pepper steak. It was good enough for working guys and we hopped on the métro right there. Good thing too because it was full. By Montparnasse it was more than full, close, warm, jiggling together, as we bounced on the overhead rails to Dulpeix where half got off.

Usually when you are going to the Champ de Mars you will get off the métro at La Motte Picquet or Bir Hakeim, but on Saturday La Motte was closed. So there were trainloads of folks descending at the unknown Dupleix and wandering through the streets without knowing the way, twisting left then right, until finally cruising into whole crowds, stumbling in the dark, flowing around obstacles.

photo, view of paris from montmartre Our Sunday reward is a big view.

It felt as if the Champ de Mars was full before we got to it. There was a wall of people and we tried to ease towards the Tour Eiffel and after some heavy going there started to be spaces. Then we could get closer to the field, to see that it was full too, but with a lot of folks sitting on the grass. Taking up more space than they needed in fact.

It wasn't just the perfect weather for this 14. July, but Sarkozy's fault. Somewhere he got it in his head, instead of pardoning some short–term prisoners like past presidents, he would give the Parisians a free concert instead. Don't ask my why he chose the Champ de Mars and the very same night as the free 14. July Bastille fête and fireworks show at the Tour Eiffel which sits on one end of the very same Champ de Mars.

In good years and bad about 350,000 fireworks fans turn out for the free show. They bring their kids and pets, girlfriends and grandmothers, uncles and cousins, and everybody fits on the field and they go oh and ah and applaud the final sis–boom:–bam.

For this year they constructed a stage, bigger than the one at Bastille the night before, at the eastern, Ecole Militaire end of the Champs de Mars – thus removing that area from use for thousands of spectators. Then they told everybody that there would be a free concert with really Big STARS.

So this attracted an extra 250,000 folks, closed métro station and all. It is true that the free concert started at 19:30, three hours before the fireworks. It is also probably true that some fireworks fans, if they had known that there would be 600,000 attending, might have given it a pass. But as it was, we all fit on the field somehow.

The free concert. Well, the part I heard – and could see, a half kilometre away – was Michael Polnareff who has been making a big come–back lately after being a big pop star and then doing a flit for 20 years or so. It means that his fans are in their 40s or 50s, his songs are simple enough to sign along with, and he wears white shades. Compared to the Africans at Bastille on Friday night, he was very, too white.

All the same people were writhing their arms in the air and of course all the portable phones were out – pirating the sound? It was closed down in time for the fireworks when everybody on the field switched directions, and turned to face the Tour Eiffel.

Not that more space appeared but a lot of people decided it was a sit‐down show. There I was, standing about in the middle near the south edge of the grass, with a good clear view of the tower – the best spot I've ever had.

I became aware of two sensations. The fireworks did not look terrific with a 300 mm lens but I was right on top of them. The first sensation was that the sound – there's always some musical bombast to go with this – the sound was shorting out. Fifty thousand watts of crackle, skip and short. The second sensation was at my shirt–tail – it was being pulled. "Hey! sit down in front! Hat's off!"

This I tried to ignore but it got more urgent. Finally I relented and moved to the side. As I did so everybody stood up where I'd just been standing, and then I was stuck where I was, behind somebody's big head.

The fireworks, that impressed Max a lot, ended after their annual 30 minutes. Nobody sang the Marseillaise. The president was long gone. It was warm and dark, and the show was over for another year. As the last flare dropped into the Seine and the smoke drifted towards Meudon, the whole 600,000 of us left the Champ de Mars.

photo, max eats more, again Max eats more.

And most of us walked home, foregoing the dubious squeeze of riding a crammed métro. The walk home afterwards is part of the Fête de la Bastille.

Max Has Another Cheeseburger

Sunday:– I do the photos in the night right after taking them, so getting up at noon is no hardship at all. The windows were all open to the warm air and the fruit salad with yogi was as big as ever. I decided to show Max Montmartre because there's a lot of sky up there. I didn't exactly forget that there's a lot of folks up there too.

And so there were, perhaps as many as there ever are. But so much better going up those hills when you know it's going to be 32 degrees on top, and if you stop you'll dry out in no time. We saw Sacre Coeur and the artistes in the place du Tertre and went past the Dali place and parked for a while in front of Picasso's old home and studio. Then we took the métro from Abbesses and returned to the Quinze so Max could have another cheeseburger. I had the Mexican dish and forgot to ask for the hot sauce.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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