Friday, 31 December 2010

Year of the (Fluffy) Pig

Year of the Pig, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Following some exhaustive research i reckon this rat has just missed its own Chinese new year by a couple of incarnations, as we're about to move over from the Year of the Tiger to the Year of the Rabbit. Does this suggest gentler, indeed fluffier times ahead? Don't bet your last yen on it.

And as for our poor old common or boutique woof-woof, well he's got another eight dog years before a fleeting twelve months or so of Sino-zodiacal supremacy.

But why all this talk of brutish bestiality? We're in France, for goodness' sake, where the real question on lips that live for this sort of thing is whether the Year of the Macaroon will be succeeded by the Year of the Boot or the Year of the Shades.

Umm. Maybe because i'm more interested in fantastical vermin than fashion victims but that is, as ever, just me, and how could it be otherwise?

So, whatever your particular foible or folly, i wish you plenty of it in this two thousand and eleventh year of the common era, and good health, happiness, motivation, productivity and productivity to all of you. Thanks for reading my words and looking at my pictures from time to time - i appreciate it more than you could imagine.

~ Sab, 31st December, 2010

(P.S. I have a thing about pigs - china or fluffy ones as a rule. Will fluffiness be a recurring theme in 2011? Let's hope so!)

(A Paris iPhone street photograph by Sab Will for the 'Paris and I' photo blog @ )

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Walk On By

Walk On By, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Did you know that if you add yellow and green, you get blue? No, hang on a minute; if you divide purple by red, then multiply by the square root of orange you get a rainbow? Wait, that's not right, oh dear. i should never have taken up painting - the grade i got in my maths A-level ought to have told me that...

Anyway, witness Paris' latest freakout, courtesy of the '' initiative. OK, sorry, let me explain. On practically every food ad in France these days there's what must be an obligatory mention of the aforementioned site, in small letters, somewhere near the bottom. This site encourages you to do exercise and stuff to counter the effects of the crap we're being incited to swallow by the ads on every spare bit of wall space all over the place. A bit like cigarette companies sponsoring sporting events, that sort of thing.

So anyway, the intention is at least honourable, and here's their latest wacky idea; to put walking signs up around Paris and other cities telling us how long it'll take to get to such and such a destination on foot. The idea being we walk to places more often.

As someone who spends an enormous amount of time tramping the streets of Paris i'm vehemently against it of course; the last thing i want is thousands of fervent foot soldiers clogging up my favourite solitary strolls. But the general word i'm getting 'on the street' is cute idea, but of dubious effectiveness. And some of the timings are treacherous. See a cab, anyone?

(A Paris iPhone street photograph by Sab Will for the 'Paris and I' photo blog @ )

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

An Actor's Life For Me

An Actor's Life For Me, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

What a wistful gaze, what studied contemplation in this young lady's features. You might almost think she was real, basking there in the boa-dispersed backlight of someone else's glory.

In a backwater of a famous Paris passageway a theatrical costume supplier leads a perpetually pointless existence, or seems to, every time i go past, with the proprietor sitting outside drinking coffee, or quite simply nowhere to be seen.

Quite a scene, as are many of these curious corridors, which makes them particularly enriching places to visit, especially the hidden corners and hidey-holes, if you seek them out.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Smoking Too Long'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Smoking Too Long ~

Smoking Too Long, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Fancy a fag (that's English slang for cigarette)? Feel like a good pipe (that's French slang for, well, never mind)

Of if none of the above are tempting enough, you might just want to follow the example of this, what, Puerto Rican, Havanan girl, happily sucking on her thick tube of burning leaves like there's no tomorrow.

There must be something phallic about the whole business (or i've been smoking too long), especially considering this was just a few doors down from this, which i won't go into right now as the quiz is still running, but you'll see what i mean i think.

In any case, you can visit their 'Cave à cigares humidifiée' although i doubt that the smoky young lady in the picture will actually be down there, a-smolderin' an' a-waitin' for ya. Whether that would tempt you or not. And i don't dare think what's happened to the famous Parisian café Le Fumoir or even the equally famous restaurant Le Chien Qui Fume since the no-smoking laws came into effect. i'll have to put them on my investigative list and get back to you on that one.

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Bear With Me'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Bear With Me ~

Bear With Me, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Bear with me on this one as icy how many bare-faced puns i can make in one posting. Although we may appear to be polar opposites... oh no, i can't do it, just haven't got it in me. My corniness has its limits, believe it or not.

This was a fitting window display to see as I trogged though Paris on my Big Snow Shoot, which, late as usual, resulted in about five or six usable shots, but never mind, it's better than nothing. i'm now in Barcelona, so if Paris decides to snow now, as it did, gloriously, when i was in London, i'll miss it all again, and i wouldn't put it past her...

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Footprints In The Snow'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Footprints In The Snow ~

Footprints In The Snow, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

There's a superficially charming tale called 'Footprints in the Sand' about a dream. In this dream the narrator talks about a walk along the beach with 'The Lord'. Sometimes there are two sets of footprints and sometimes only one. The single set coincides with the toughest periods of the narrator's life, and she berates The Lord for his absence during these difficult times. He, however (or rather the writer of the poem) does some nimble thinking and comes up with the excuse that those were the times when he 'carried her'. Hmm. Very cute.

i used to feel uneasily touched by this little story; touched because it was cute, and uneasy because I knew that it was nonsense and that i shouldn't be touched by it. Nowadays i get far more satisfaction out of driving myself crazy with some of the real, or at least far more intriguing questions in life. Such as why we get emotional about things we know are not real. Such as shedding buckets of tears whilst watching actors who have been directed to pretend to be performing certain actions or activities for large amounts of money. Or putting off reading the last few pages of a book through not wanting the excitement to end or the suspense to fade out or the intrigue to be revealed.

But what intrigue? What suspense? What revelation? It's all in the mind. We've invented it all! Perhaps we even invented the events (if we wrote the play, or opera or song) which would then give rise to these false emotions, thus doubly fooling ourselves. Perhaps if we did write a story which affected others emotionally we could get emotional about that. Would those emotions be 'realer' than the fake ones we've elicited or incited through our creative fiction?

i could feasibly get emotional watching the reaction of someone who reads the 'Footprints in the Sand' story and is touched by it, if i feel some attachment to the person themselves.

Would i also be touched by watching someone who really thinks they are being possessed by spirits during a voodoo ritual after having slackened their brains by smoking or drinking or eating some weird stuff?

Or by people who have convinced themself they are literally drinking someone's blood or eating someone's flesh (otherwise it's just booze and snacks) whilst also in a state of altered awareness due to hypnotic chants, evocative scents and impressive visuals.

Good questions, you may be thinking. Or you may be thinking what on earth are you on about. Or maybe you're just thinking... what?

Be that as it may, i'll leave you with my very own footprints in the snow. Not really 'my' footprints, you understand, unless i can claim some sort of proprietorship over them having seen them through my very own eyes, or maybe i'm only refering to the ones in my picture and not those which were on the left bank of the Seine next to Pont d'Alma and the entrance to the Paris Drains Exhibition. But then again, to be honest i doubt you would find them even if you did rush over there only a couple of days after this picture was taken. And if you did seem to notice some traces, I assure you they wouldn't be quite the same as the ones above. They wouldn't be ultramarine and cyan and lime and lemon and orange for a start. And if you click this link here even the ones you're looking at above will magically disappear, i promise you. Try it now. You'll be looking at the same bit of space and you can scroll all you like; those footprints, whatever they are, will be gone forever. It's all in your head, you see... By the way, what do you see?

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'You Get Angels With It'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ You Get Angels With It ~

You Get Angels With It, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

A grimmer, greyer, grimier, grungier facade you couldn't wish to contemplate. So much for architectural wonders; so much for pristine, perfection; so much for the unified elegance of the Parisian streetscape. There's no denying it: 51 rue Reynouard in the 16th is grotty with a capital 'G'.

And all the more so when captured on a grotty evening under grotty street lighting on a grotty little photo camera.

And were it not for some post-picturing playing around the picture above would be even grottier still. (Don't you just love words beginning with 'gr'?)

Oh, but you get angels with it. Great!

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'I Kid You Not'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ I Kid You Not ~

I Kid You Not, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Should society be more equal? Maybe. Oh, the guy's sign says "C'est vraiment pour manger" by the way. It's really for food.

Anyway. It's snowing like crazy, as much as snow can be like crazy. It's freezing cold. It's dark and the cars are creeping and crawling and polluting along. People are tired, hungry and frustrated. They'll all be a bit late home to their nice comfortable warm homes this evening. And then there's this guy.

He hasn't got a car or a nice warm home to go to in it. His home is a few metres away under a bridge of the Paris ringroad. His presence disturbs us somewhat.

We know it's not right, but we're not quite sure how it's not right. For the vast majority it's not quite 'unright' enough to get out of the car, grab his sign, give him our car and house keys along with the address and wish him 'bon voyage and kiss my wife'.

Slightly less extremely, his situation also doesn't seem unfair enough to go to the hassle of looking for a coin, winding the window down and giving it to him with a rueful smile.

Indeed, for the vast majority his situation isn't bad enough to do anything at all. Most people are probably just grateful if he doesn't scratch the car.

But if it's not worth doing ANYTHING, why do we still feel that undeniable pang of guilty panic when he (or she) approaches the car? Why even bother with that?

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Castel Deranger'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Castel Deranger ~

Castel Beranger, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

i'm on an Art Nouveau kick at the moment - in the process of discovering some gems i didn't even know existed or thought i had just dreamt about from fleeting glimpses at long-lost guide books where i'd thought, wow, i must go and sniff that out sometime.

This is one such find, with more to come. An amazing (for Paris) doorway, the likes of which i didn't think you found outside of Barcelona.

i'm always a bit sad that Gaudi didn't decide to add his wonderful weirdness to Paris in the way he did to the Catalan capital, but you can't have everything i suppose...

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Schnapps Shtorm-a-Comin''

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Schnapps Shtorm-a-Comin' ~

OK, OK, i know. Kitsch, kitsch, and more schmaltzy Paris kitsch. But well, y'know, there are some blogs out there where all they ever post is kitsch, so consider yourselves lucky it's not every day (or unlucky it isn't, if that's your trip) and don't worry, i've got some real grim stuff coming real soon...

But i must say it's impressive... So i will. It's IMPRESSIVE looking up at the Galeries Lafayette's enormous dangling Christmas cone thang (you can't quite call it a 'tree', to be brutally honest), surrounded by all those sumptuous balconies, heaving with people.

But that's enough about the sales assistants. i don't quite think it'll be the last of the seasonal snaps though (oops, i almost typed 'schnapps' - must be hallucinating). i went out, finally, in the freezing cold yesterday to get some wintery snaps so get your mitts and mufflers on and hold on to your hats; there's a slow showy snow-snap schnapps storm a-comin'. Say that quickly three times to my face and i'll buy you a bottle of schnapps the very next day, i prommisch ;-S

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Welcome To The Dance'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Welcome To The Dance ~

Welcome To The Dance, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Every trip a kick in the senses, you might say, and all the better for it.

Urban urchins act out unexpected scenes for my amusement.

Indeed, the metro metes out mirth of sorts from station to station.

i'm waiting for the day when i'm the one in the picture, dancing.

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Bouffons Du Riche'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Bouffons Du Riche ~

Bouffons Du Riche, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

i'm afraid the passing shadow is hiding the precious timepiece this woman is supposedly going all misty-eyed over. You'll just have to use your imaginations, ok?

'Bouffons du Riche', which someone has scrawled on the model's hand, means something like 'Rich Idiots' or 'Stupidities of the Rich'.

i'm not sure if the main target is luxury goods the scrawling one can't afford, or the ever-invasive advertising itself which certain factions enjoy defacing or sending up.

Personally? Well personally i'm not too fond of these idealised and totally over the top evocations of conspicuous consumption worship. And isn't it a teeny bit demeaning to suggest, as the expression surely does, that this woman's life us now complete just because she has some stupid watch on her wrist like all the rest of us?

What? Oh, it's not just any watch? Right. And the mistiness actually comes from thinking of the person who gave it to her? Well if you like, but i usually treat adverts like this as mini exercises in working out what emotion or weakness or insecurity the advertisers are trying to exploit this time. Do you have the time?

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Fishing In The Rain'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Fishing In The Rain ~

Fishing In The Rain, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Fishing In The Rain

It was cold when i took this, and raining, not snowing, despite recent prevailing conditions.

Back in France, i'm on the A6a heading into Paris in fairly significant snow, or at least it looks that way according to our headlights.

But it was raining in the city's allegedly narrowest street, although i know there are a couple of pretenders to the throne. Raining in Fishing Cat Street on a soggily saturated Sunday.

Nemo knows the perils of a slippy sidewalk, sensitively offering the comfort of a ruby red umbrella to passers-by. Thank you Nemo.

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Gorra Lorra Light'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Gorra Lorra Light ~

Gorra Lorra Light, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

There's no denying it, even in these frugal times of low-energy doom and gloom, Paris still manages to come up with (at least a few of) the goods.

This shot's pretty cheesy, i readily admit, but i'm not going to inject even a hint of irony or snidiness to this pleasant image; yes, your wryly ruminating reporter enjoys seeing the city lit up as much as the next guy!

Oops, bit of third-person slippage there - gotta watch that. i'll start thinking i'm the bloody queen next. Happy thingummywhatsit anyway, whenever it turns up. We've got a week to go i believe, so i'll have to see how many times i succumb to a seasonal theme before then. i'm thinking maybe another two or three but we'll see. It's as much of a surprise what falls out of my fingertips each day as it is to you, believe me.

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'See You In Rue Agar?'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ See You In Rue Agar ~

See You In Rue Agar?, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

i'd seen this sign from time to time in guide books and gloomy places but i was never sure if it was for real or just someone's mushroom-enhanced reality of Paris taking over.

But here it is, nevertheless, the way it hit me, mushroom-enhanced or not...

At least i know i'm not alone in my obsession with all things weird and wonderful hiding in the French capital. Indeed, i get confirmation from my fellow freaks nearly every day.

Each has their own special way of manifesting their love or fascination with this place and each is as valid as the next.

i'll leave you with rue Agar, feel free to track it down, but don't, of course, expect to see what i saw, because you're not me, so how could you. And vice versa. And once again i'm itching to know: what do you see in all this?

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'No Time Like The Present'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ No Time Like The Present ~

i was reading about the future though soon i'll be thinking about the past, and you may ask:

if i was me yesterday, and i'll still be me tomorrow, may i postulate a question? How long will i be now? Do you live for the present? Yes, but which present, pray tell!

Perhaps you live in the past, spending your present moments reliving warm memories and regretting missed opportunities. Or perhaps you pass your time planning for the future, your next holiday, a possible promotion, which may, in truth, not actually occur.

Now, here's a thing. i bet i can guess whether you would prefer a painful operation or a tough exam to be in the past or the future. And whether you would prefer a long anticipated romantic evening or fantastic holiday to be over, or just about to begin. In the past and in the future, respectively, right?

And yet, what should it matter, if we are exactly the same person from day to day, throughout our lives? All our at-some-point presents (but not right now) should carry equal weight and importance for us, as 'us' (whether past or future) if we are actually the same person throughout our lives.

Whether the pleasant or unpleasant event is coming or gone we are not experiencing its pleasantness or unpleasantness now, so why worry about it?

Having said that, what is 'the present', by the way? When did your current (present?) present start, and when will it finish and the future take over? Well if yesterday was the past and tomorrow will most certainly be the future, then that would make today the present, right? Mmm, if you like, but personally i'm glad this morning's packing is over, but i hope i'll be able to find a hotel without too much bother this evening (i'm writing this under the channel tunnel).

It seems to me that my stressful packing was in the past (thank goodness) but that my worrying hunt for a hotel is still to come (oh dear), and all of this happening in what i call 'today'. Today, yes, but 'the present' i'm not so sure.

If you perform a fancy Latin thing i can't spell, but which means reduce and reduce the length of time down we consider to be 'the present', or, seen from another point of view, extend what we consider to be 'the past' and 'the future' so much that we squeeze the present from both ends as it were, at what point would we stop?

Maybe, just maybe the past and the future would meet and we'd suddenly realise that there's no such thing as 'the present'. In which case where does that leave us right now?!

With brainache.

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Pyramids Of My Mind'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Pyramids Of My Mind ~

Pyramids Of My Mind, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Now some of you may think you know Paris preeettttyyy well. Prreeeetttyyy well, right?

Wrong, smart asses. You might think you would know the answer if I asked you where there was an upsidedown pyramid in Paris, non? Well what if i told you there wasn't one. Not even two. But hundreds of the things all over the left and right banks. Would you believe me? Well the proof is in this photo guys.

See it and weep, suckers, one of the secret yet numerous spooky upsidedown pyramids of Paris, if only you know where to look...

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Messiahs Need Not Apply'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Messiahs Need Not Apply ~

Messiahs Need Not Apply, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

A new campaign was rolled out in Paris yesterday which a government spokesman said was 'Aimed at curbing the increased religification of French society'. France, a famously secular country, feels itself coming under increased pressure from religious organisations with highly political agendas seeking to sway opinions on some highly controvertial laws such as the recent ban on the wearing of the burqua in public by Muslim women.

Another thinly veiled stab at the Muslim community, some were claiming before they actually saw some of the new posters and stickers, many of which clearly target the Christian faith as well.

The campaign has chosen a vivid and unambiguous image - the familiar red circle with a line through it, and features the slogan 'No Miracles' and variations thereof.

In the picture above we see the 'No Walking On Water' prohibition sticker next to the Louvre Pyramid in the 1st arrondissement, while others depict the themes 'No Feeding The 5000', 'No Burning Bushes' and 'No Salt Pillars'.

In defending the initiative, a spokesperson for mayor Bertrand Delanoë stated: "Most of these are actually practical matters and fall under the health and safety regulations so I don't see what people are making a fuss about, personally." He continued: "Obviously burning bushes are a serious fire hazard for both pedestrians and motorists, while no feeding of wildlife in the streets, starting with pigeons, has been our policy for several years now and is accompanied by a fine for offenders due to the hygiene risk incurred."

As for the potential creation of pillars of salt he stated "We feel this would be surplus to requirements as the Colonnes de Buren at the Palais Royal have just recently been restored (and God knows we had enough difficulty getting those approved in the first place) and the Mairie de Paris has no plans to install further artworks of this type for the time being." He stopped short of repeating the plagiarism claim which erupted the first time this was attempted within the city walls, although he did add "There is also, of course, the womens' rights issue to consider here, and the thorny issue of whether the women have been properly consulted before the salt pillar conversion takes place, but I really don't have time to go into that right now."

Whether these measures will actually have an effect on the incidence of miracles performed in Paris remains to be seen but signs are not looking good; i was in the city yesterday bursting for a leak and lo and behold! in two minutes i'd found one of those peepod things in the street which actually worked for once, which was a minor miracle in itself.

© 2010
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.
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