Friday, 30 September 2011
Thursday, 29 September 2011
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The legendary tower. The pavement cafés. The romantic riverside walks. The horrendous bright lime green cubic draft-board abortions. The timeless leafy avenues. The... Hey?! :-/ What the f@#%???
Whoa! What alternative artistic universe did THAT break through from? And more to the point, who signed the planning permission papers?
Oh well, that's the 15th for you I guess. Unimagined wonders of the extrarchitectural kind. Go forth and wonder whatever happened to Lutecia, if you will.
Wednesday, 28 September 2011
I was sad when the one by the Saint-Germain des Prés church got slowly washed and walked away but now it looks as though old rattlebones is back from the dead (this one's near the 'Au Rapide' café at Montparnasse), with a nice lilac tint to boot.
My contacts tell me he's not the only one either. Soon the streets will be teeming with skeletons, and we won't be able to move for old bones clogging up the cracks underfoot. Long live the lying dead.
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
So the thing is, all over the city, in various garbs and guises, we find the symbol of Paris: a proud sailing boat, being hassled by the humours of the Seine, but never, no never going down.
Like the proverbial car you're thinking of buying which suddenly starts appearing everywhere, as soon as you start thinking 'that Paris boat thing' (and keep your eyes reasonably open and interested, of course), you'll pretty soon start seeing watery apparitions of it stamped into your baguettes and swirling around in the froth of your café crème. Tear one of your macaroon burgers apart, and there she'll be, our little sail boat, ready to happily float down your very own river of loquaciousness.
So here's the first in the series, 'Sab's Top Ten Paris Boat Thingies', soon to be immortalised over at Paris If You Please, and in terms of superlatives, I'd say it's certainly both the biggest and the brickest version of the city's symbol I've yet come across. I'll love someone to outdo me though - anyone! Let me know about your fav version and I'll buy you a coffee next time you're in town.
Monday, 26 September 2011
So in their desperate attempts to alleviate people's loathing they've starting holding funky events in some of their larger open spaces, like this one at Miromesnil on line nine the other day.
They don't really call it 'Metro Beach' of course. That would be too silly. But they did have beach parasols and live music and free coffee and orange juice being handed out by pretty bikini-clad metromaids. Well, actually that last bit's not quite true, and if you've read this post you'll be quite thankful it's not...
Anyway, I'm not wingeing or nitpicking; hey! - I like a free orange juice as much as the next weary traveller, and in fact would be more than happy for them to raise the cost of my monthly train pass by well over the rate of inflation to pay for all this malarkey instead of addressing the root of the problem, which is that they're not always as pleasant as they should be on a day to day basis.
Oh, they have. Well... that's, err, fine then. And we all know there's nothing they like more than a good fine or two...
Sunday, 25 September 2011
If you thought the Louvre pyramids (yes, you're not forgetting there are at least four of them, are you) were the only versions of this ancient form in the city, you'd be radically wrong. Polygonically challenged. Way out. You might as well be on the dark side of the moon!
Look, here's one here. Well, a kind of one, albeit somewhat dramatically rent asunder, wot?
In the middle of a rather grim housing estate in the 20th, was it? Yikes! Watch out for a seriously piqued sun god next time you're in the vicinity of an unexpected four-sided Paris pointy thing.
Saturday, 24 September 2011
This one reminds me of one of my paintings from a few years back called 'Earth Lies Screaming', or something equally cheerful, with its raw red wounds and apocalyptic theme. There are a lot of memorials to Second World War inhumanity in Paris, and I don't know if this is one of them, but it certainly could be.
The word 'decimé', which I presume is French for 'decimated', meaning literally 'reduced to a tenth', give a further idea of the sombre nature of the work.
I find them inspiring rather than depressing though, and try to let the power of the art and its message dominate the experience in a positive way, even if the underlying theme is tragic.
They're not all miserable either. Right next to this one were some huge chain links, symbolically broken, representing hope for freedom of body and thought I imagine. Unless they had been restraining an unstable Paris chronicler with a sharpened tongue and a wayward wit, now on the loose, looking to savage allcomers with an arresting image and a sly turn of phrase. Now that would be worrying.
Friday, 23 September 2011
One of a row of brightly clad clones nevertheless dutifully reminds him to mind the gap.
The colour of their skin is the same; that of their uniforms and, indeed, their uniforms' forms radically different.
Does the tall robed one know what 'a gap' is? Well let's not be too patronising; there are millions of colourful characters who have been successfully living here for decades, perfectly aware of how the metro works. And possibly finding as ironic as I do these bright young things earnestly telling us still alive oldies how to avoid getting splatted by a train for one more day. But the intention's a good one, I suppose, although I don't know what platform plunging statistics are behind this initiative.
Or perhaps it's just a public relations stunt by a highly visible organisation desperate to be 'seen to be doing' something, irrespective of how useful that 'something' actually us. As well as getting a few kids off the dole queues, which is always seen as a Good Thing.
Cynicism aside, though, I reckon it probably is good to give young people a taste of the social responsibility such a role involves, and maybe the authority, or at least the respect, that comes with a uniform, even if the respect is sometimes grudging, and the uniform simply a red jacket with some writing ironed on the back.
And anyway, it's true that the rush hour at certain stations in Paris can be unpleasant to say the least but I don't think Japanese-style sardine stuffing duties are yet part of the scarlet ones' job descriptions, and I hope it stays that way. And I'd still like to know what the other uniformed one thinks of it all. We all wear uniforms of one kind or another, in fact, whether we like it or not. The hardest part is to admit it and, if useful, shed them. Appearances can be deceptive. Will you show me yours if I show you mine? And don't mind the gap. It's usually just an illusion.
Thursday, 22 September 2011
So I hereby, proudly introduce you to the first in my brand new series: L'Institut National des Noms des Rues de Paris Vraiment Silly (particularly for, but not limited to, foreigners).
Admittedly, I might only ever find this one which I find vaguely amusing, but I reckon the idea of interesting or unusual Paris street names definitely has a lot of 'kilometrage' to it.
So if you have a particular favourite (come on, get your thinking caps, and why not your tit on)and let me have 'em.
Long live school boy humour, and the days when the French towns of Brest and Condom were well worth wetting oneself over in the language lesson, that's what I say.
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
And there are a lot of these under pressure giants; it's a bit like when you're thinking of buying a new car and suddenly see the particular model you're interested in everywhere. As soon as these characters enter your consciousness it's as if half the buildings of Paris are being supported by them. They're everywhere.
I like this one in particular (and his twin, just out of shot), from the 8th arrondissement I think it was, because of the incredible contrast between the perfectly smooth glass and steel or aluminium of the facade with the purposely rough as can be bronze which looks like it's been smeared on straight from the oven with a pastry knife and left to harden in violent visceral layers.
Another omnipresent architectural feature is the hundreds of little heads and faces looking down at us from walls and doorways all over the city. They're not as impressive as these guys but some of the expressions can tempt us to wonder what was going on in the architect's head when they were made, and if they really considered what it would be like to come home to a boggly-eyed leerer every day. Whilst others are so bland and anonymous the only explanation can be that either they have some personal importance to the designer or that there's some symbolism there which has gone... way over my head.
The final and highly popular option is to adorn the upper reaches of your abode with a babe (as in Pamela Anderson, not chubby cherubim) whose own upper reaches are generally gratuitously unadorned by anything as unnecessary as a toga or modesty protecting robe. That's architects for you. As I often say some of the most fun in this city is to be had by looking up, just to see what's looking down on you. And there's a few.
Tuesday, 20 September 2011
The second thing that struck me was how similar those top little ledgy things are to the latest incarnation of Parisian urine-removal devices, otherwise known as 'toilets', or 'bathrooms' if any of my North American friends with fragile sensibilities are tuned in.
Can this be a coincidence, or did the designer have (water) closet Communist architectural sympathies? Whatever the case, all I can urge you to do is reflect as you relieve, upon the cyclical nature of things. I hope I'm not repeating myself. And don't forget to shake. Ladies, a simple wiggle will suffice. Good grief, how did I get onto this? I started off talking about architecture! See you tomorrow for more tall tales and toilet training.
Monday, 19 September 2011
It calls itself the Saint Gabriel Parish Church, and I suppose it's only trying to make the best of a pretty bad hand, bad being the operative word, but as an observer of religions as opposed to religion, I wouldn't feel particularly blessed if this were my local.
OK, I'm probably not being very fair, and I haven't even been inside, so what on earth right do I have to slag off this humble place of worship for those who feel the need to worship something. Don't look at me like that - it's their word, not mine!
So I'll stick my head in, and contrary to all appearances I actually quite like the atmosphere one finds in churches - it's a pleasing mixture of musty peacefulness combined with enough thought fodder on human folly and ignorance to inspire a whole bunch of new missives, so all in all a positive experience generally speaking. Which has to be a good thing in the end.
Sunday, 18 September 2011
A level crossing? In the middle of Paris? Yes, that's right. If you were in this particular quarter at the right time you just might see a good old green metro, of the line 6 variety I would say, or could that be line 2, trundling across the road. Amazing, I mean it's got those descending red and White striped barriers and everything. I haven't actually seen one go across yet, but I'll bet there's a cool beeping sound just like the ones in the Enfield of my childhood, all those years ago.
What's even more curious is that about 15 metres further down the very same road is a Petite Ceinture railway bridge soaring overhead. Humour me and just accept that railway bridges can soar in Sab's universe today, OK? Two quirks for the price of one. Now there's value for money for you.
Saturday, 17 September 2011
And isn't Paris supposed to be a bleedin' smoke free zone, and all that? Whatever happened to the Kyoto Protocol, eh? That's what I'd like to know.
Strictly speaking though, we're not quite in Paris yet here. Only a pigeon poo away mind you, but not - quite there.
It always grabs me, this industrial landscape just a moment before entering Paris proper. And there's something about the railways which seems to encourage this wistful wariness, and uneasy foreboding, as if we should be grateful the train we're on's still moving, because if it drew to an inexplicable, shuddering halt...
Then again, it frequently does, with intercom explanations ranging from manically enthusiastic, off-the-rails drivers who give us the second-by-second, flickr-by-flickr account of the slightest signal change, through manic depressive, feeling-our-pain bleeding hearts who need a hug, right the way down the line to the most frustrating of all... sinister, stony silence.
Anyway, this train didn't stop; we're looking at an on the move, suburban Paris urban landscape of the sort a million commuters don't see on any given weekday or weekends either, I'd be so bold. It was there for the taking and it took me, the smoke's theoretically steam from the motors being used to disappear a metropolis' worth of muck, and then there's us, sat here in the middle of it, still moving if we're lucky, watching our filth go up in flames, all the more thankful for the fact it's someone else's job and we can get on with the highly specialised task of watching the world go by, whilst pretending not to notice.
Friday, 16 September 2011
I Don't Say I'm A Good Man..., originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
... oh, but I would be if I could...
This one's being written, highly unusually, in reverse. The pic and the link were posted in some state of delirium only the good lord could bear witness to. Now I'm hammering out the accompanying words. If incoherence is your weekly watchword, you've come to the right place.
The pic's a statue by a guy called... hmm, now wouldn't it be nice to authoritatively fill in that blank? In all my years of wandering past this thing I can't honestly say I've ever noted down definitively who actually did it. I'm thinking César... Baldaccini... but I'm not sure at all.
Whatever the truth, he (or she) likes chopping people up and doing strange things with their bodies. As any good sculptor should if you as me.
I was looking for a new take on this one and, although the angle's pretty much what I always go for, I like the way the background building just disappears off into the ever-after. Oh, and it's green in reality. You'd never have guessed, would you? I'm a good liar, if not necessarily a good man...