Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Paris, je t'aime

  • One City. 10 Million Hearts. One Love Story. One Film.
  • Fall in love with Paris 18 times.
In the summer of 2006 a special film was released in Paris called Paris, je t'aime or Paris, I love you. The concept was to invite 20 of the best film makers to create 20 five-minute films of Paris, one for each arrondisement in Paris. The list of directors includes Walter Salles, Alfonso Cuarón, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven, Alexander Payne, Gurinder Chadha and Joel and Ethan Coen. Only 18 films were included in the final version but still each film shows the diversity of Paris, the different lives one can lead in Paris and certainly the different interpretations of Paris, and especially love in Paris.

The film is released in the United States in June 2007. It is a very special film and not to be missed. Do not be afraid of watching a film while reading many sub-titles; there is a mix of languages, mostly French and English. The actors are French, British and American movie actors, some quite well known. Interestingly, some of the better known actors play minor supporting roles.

One can find several trailers and even several of the films by individual directors on the internet. Here are some that I really enjoy...

The Simple Things in Paris

Very often I walk through the streets of Paris in the neighborhoods where I live. There is always something new to see, people, buildings and quite often small objects almost hidden from normal view. I like the ancient door knobs, small stone steps and the iron bars constructed to protect doorways from cartridge wheels and now automobile wheels.

One day while walking past the Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondisement where I live, I noticed part of the iron entrance gate to the gardens, finely crafted with an interesting pattern. It was a strong image against the cobble-stones and very typical of the images I enjoy in Paris.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Honesty and Lost Rings in Paris

There are many, many honest people in Paris, certainly the great vast majority. But then again, there are some people in Paris of less means and morals who take advantage of us honest people.

Take advantage of honest people ?? Isn't there the old saying "You can't cheat an honest man?" This saying is quite true but let me tell you what happened to me and you can decide if I am honest or not.

Tuesday was May 1st, a national holiday in France and all stores were closed except for a few local épiceries or grocery stores, the French version of the American Wawa or 7-11 convenience stores. They are open late in the evenings and often on holidays. I was dying of thirst because of the warmer than usual weather and dreamed of a cool drink of San Pelligrino water. I picked up two bottles and a few other essentials at the local

I left the store, crossed the street and noticed out of the corner of my eye as I passed, that a man nearby was bending over picking up a shiny object on the sidewalk. I thought at first was a bottle cap of some other junk. I stepped almost directly over his arm as he picked up the object and I kept walking.

That's when he spoke.
"Excusez-moi, Monsieur. Vous avez laissé votre bague ici." He showed me a large gold wedding band.
"What? No, it is not my ring, Monsieur."
"Mais oui, c'est à vous."
"Mais non. I have no ring."
"Mais oui, it is your ring. Well, if it is not then give it to your woman. It will make her happy. It is a woman's ring."
He hands me the ring. Indeed it is heavy. Apparently gold. "Um, no. It is not mine."
"I cannot wear it. I am a man," he said. "Give it to your woman." He turned and walked away.
"Well, OK. Merci, Monsieur." I turned and walked away.
He turns again. "Ah, Monsieur. S'il vous plait. I am hungry. I don't have enough money for a baguette."
"Um. OK. Take some change." Hmm. He is honest but only needs money for a baguette. I gave him a few coins from the change still in my hand.
"No, that is not enough. Just a little more. I gave you the ring."
"Well, OK, here is two euros but nothing more." And I walk away.

I was thinking that it was better that I have the ring rather than this roughly dressed man. At least I could return the ring and this other man would have not returned it, he would have sold it. Then I thought that if I could not find the owner then perhaps I could sell it for a few euros. But it would be a waste. Those few euros would mean nothing to me. The ring would mean a fortune of memories to the poor woman who was given and had loved the ring. The proceeds from the ring would also mean many meals to the roughly dressed man, who was frankly more honest than me. My head was spinning. It was the worst possible outcome. Everyone lost something.

I though a lot about the poor woman who lost the ring.
How will I give it back? At home I wrote a little note simply stating Une bague (a ring) and my phone number. I would place this little sign near the wall and sidewalk where the ring was found. I thought that if this woman searched for wedding band she would see the sign and understand. Certainly I would insist that she describe the ring when she called. Certainly I would not ask for a reward but if she insisted, I would accept two euros since I had given the honest man two euros. This would be my compromise so that both of us would gain. If I did not hear from anyone in six months, I would sadly sell the ring. It would have been replaced by the woman by this time. Six months was the limit I set. Six months was fair.

A day passed and then I thought, is this correct ? Is this moral ? What would someone else do ? I 'googled' for
morality, morality test and other words seeking advice.

Then somehow I 'googled'
lost ring.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !!!!

Sucker !!

What a fool I am.

One of the apparently famous tourist scams in Paris is the "lost ring" scam. A stranger, an honest man bends over to pick up a "lost" ring and offers it to the mark
. Negotiations follow and the mark gives money to the honest man. The honest man does not accept the valuable gold ring because it is not his, not the right size, against his religion, blah, blah. It turns out that the ring is brass and almost worthless. The honest man walks away with more than he paid for the ring and the mark walks away with a worthless ring, a few euros poorer.

What a fool I am... and I consider myself as 'street wise.' What would you have done ? Did I do the right thing or was I less than honest ?

Now I am thinking that I will get rid of this valuable ring by appearing to pick up this "lost" ring in front of one of the many tourists in Paris this time of year. I have no doubt that there is only this one lost, gold ring circulating among all of us honest people of Paris.

Here is some required reading for us honest people....
PollyVousFrancais --> With this Ring I Thee Scam
Confidence Tricks
Schemes, Scams & Fraudes
Tourist Scam Alert

Thursday, December 07, 2006

France 24, on-line TV

JustmeinParis has often wished that one simple connection to the internet would bring voice, video, text and images directly to the television, local PC and please, just one, one portable telephone with one unique number that we can carry anywhere and talk with anyone.

Internet Channel France 24
We are one step closer to this dream with the introduction of France 24. This on-line, live channel on the internet is a 24/7 news channel based in France and certainly France's answer to CNN. Jacques Chirac proposed this concept four years ago and last evening at 7:30pm, the station president pushed the "go live" button. The broadcast is made on normal televisions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The rest of the world must go on line to France 24 to watch the broadcast.

In an recent interview Chirac said that France has it's view of the world and should broadcast this view that conforms with the French traditions and their concept of peace, humanism and globalism.

On this live telecast, there are a French, Englih and Arabic versions but.. hmm, the Arabic version switched to English this evening. Well, this will be resolved soon I am sure.

Also this evening at 8:30pm France time, France24 introduced the full France 24 website. Wow, it's so cool to click between the French and English versions. The news stories are not exactly the same but they are quite similar and are broadcast in parallel. Certainly for the students of French, it is a great tool to improve the comprehension of French.

It is estimated that this channel will reach 190 million viewers. Hey, why not be the 190 millionth at first viewer ?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Crooners Busking in Paris

A friend Lucinda who writes for BonjourParis, introduced me to a band she's passionate about, The Crooners, who got their start busking in Paris. Here's what she writes about her discovery of the group along the streets of Paris...
The Crooners, dressed with old-fashioned charm, their hair worn long and shaggy, appeared to me on rue Mouffetard, like a vision from a bygone era. I learned they were not from Colorado as I presumed, but were actually boys from upstate New York, recent post-grads who had started a band during their days at Cornell. This is the dynamic, and the energy, the band will always capture, the “unbridled revelry” of three collegiate friends. But unlike most college bands, the Crooners had artistic integrity—they were dedicated students of the old-school. There aren’t many of the Napster Generation who listened to Dylan and Nat King Cole as religiously as did the Crooners... Nyles Fitzgerald, Kevin Denton, and Chris Merkley.

Then again, Nyles of the famous washtub bass, had incredible mentors. While a student in Paris, he was able to train under and perform alongside his great-uncle, Danny Fitzgerald, the “granddaddy of busking” who played with the best of them, including Madeleine Peyroux, and introduced Nyles to the world of street musicians and a to a swing revival that European culture had been catching onto since the early 1980s. Fitzgerald taught Nyles the almost technical art of street performance—how to discern the best spots to draw the attention of passerbys, without also attracting the notice of the police. Busking, for Danny Fitzgerald and later for the Crooners, was beyond a technicality—it was a way of life inseparable from the pursuit of art, connecting musicians to their listeners at the most basic, grass roots level.
Brooklyn, New York is now home to The Crooners. They have gained wider following since their days in Paris (take a look at the references to The Crooners or their 'my space'). The Crooners will always fondly remember their roots busking on an unlikely and crowded street in Paris and drawing the attention of a crowd of passersby.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mois de la Photo-Off and Frédéric Tran

November in Paris, the Mois de la Photo and the parallel Mois de la Photo-Off were indeed the highlights for the month when for JustmeinParis takes time to visit the new photography expositions in the more accessible formats (Mois de la Photo) and the more contemporary (Mois de la Photo - Off) formats.

Recently, I found myself at the Gare du Nord and there in the adjoining Gare du Magenta was displayed the photography of Frédéric Tran. Frédéric Tran's too few photographs were displayed in large format along a wall of a hallway along with videos of photographs in series (taken by another photographer in the exhibition). This exhibition, as part of Mois de la Photo-Off, featured movement and I thought there was no better way to pay tribute than to take a few photographs to "abstract" the work.

Although a few people stopped to enjoy the photographs and videos of the exposition, most walked by without a glance. What a shame since Paris has wonderful art like this to enjoy and many new and exciting artists like Frédéric Tran offering contemporary art in places as common as a train station.