Saturday, 30 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Somewhere In Between'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Somewhere In Between ~

Somewhere In Between, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Aren't I just the social butterfly... vernissage here, soirée there, grab a croissant and a petit noir somewhere in between, and keep on going...

This one was great, because it was at someone's place, which is much more intimate and friendly - I mean, you can actually talk to people without feeling the need to sound like a dick so as not to be taken for one, if you see what I mean.

The pics were a pleasure to look at, being abstract, which is right up my street. And he had this interesting technique where he'd made lots of little veiny patterns with allowed the paint to accumulate and gave it an organic, earthy kind of feel.

Damn! you know what, I honestly got carried away there and suddenly realised I was talking like the aforementioned d... - isn't that funny?!

Then again, maybe I'm simply practising an advanced form of inverted dickism by pretending not to be one, whereas in fact that's what I am all along. Oh dear, there I go overworking my brain again, and the doctors have warned me about that several times...

Let me have another try: "I went to see some pictures the other day. They were very nice." Ahh! Back to normal; I'm feeling much better already :-S

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Bucolic Bounty Hunting'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Bucolic Bounty Hunting ~

Bucolic Bounty Hunting, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Where can we be, you ask yourself, in some secret somnolent backwater of rambling rural France?

No! We're in some secret somnolent backwater of perambulating mural Paris...

For the first time in 20-odd (very odd) years I find myself at the legendary Jim Haynes place, and this is his next door neighbour. I'm not preserving Jim's privacy or anything (50 strangers to dinner every Sunday evening for the last 30 years is hardly the lifestyle of a raving recluse) and I'll be doing a bit of a feature on him on Paris If You Please shortly.

No, it's just that I'll be saving up a couple of pics for that actual piece, and pictures of people mingling is not quite what Paris and I is about.

It looks like an artist's place as the walls are lines with pictures, but then again maybe it's just an art lover's retreat, and this place is a real retreat and a real discovering. You make your way through a big green gate and find yourself in... another time almost more than another place. Jim shouts at anyone who's just arrived to stop standing there like an idiot and say hello to people and the evening's off to a good start.

So, another surprise for me yesterday and a pleasingly subtle insertion into yet another aspect of authentic Paris life, and one that's surprisingly open to anyone. Check it out!

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Paris and I ~ "A-hitchin' an' A-hollerin'"

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ A-hitchin' an' A-hollerin' ~

"Jus' look a-tchew, graynpaw, hitchin' yer pants up in the phota, an' yer awl reyd in the fayce - yow're a wawkin' disgrayce!"

That was supposed to be said in a south-United States accent if you can imagine one. Don't ask me why. It's Saturday morning, that must be it.

You'd be amazed if you could zoom out from this old, OLLLDDDDD door in the 4th arrondissement, I mean, really amazed, but that's another story for my 400 Paris Quirks (he-he, shameless plug ;-)

But growing old digracefully is something Paris is quite good at. For all the beautifully preserved architecture, you can still find plenty of grotty old, crumbling vestiges of the past without looking too hard. Especially in the classic older areas themselves, such as the Marais.

The Marais which is rapidly heading towards the top three of my fav places in Paris, if it isn't there already. I'm probably still in a honeymoon period as I've been finding a lot of curiosities there recently, and you will too if you get off the main roads and wander around the backstreets for a while.

OK then, I have a vernissage this evening Chez Grace, a Picnic For The Planet for 'Earth Day' tomorrow in my Paris If You Please Meet Up Group and I'm going to legendary Jim Haynes for dinner in the evening. So you could say I'm keepin' busy. Disgracefully if at all possible. I'll report back.

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Signs of Things to Come'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Signs of Things to Come ~

Signs of Things to Come, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

I'm in a strange period right now. Kinda between things, waiting for other things to take off, not quite sure which of them it's gonna be that happens first, or maybe something else altogether, is that clear? Great, now let's move on.

I've got a new series of conceptual art pieces which I'm on the point of (shhh) putting up in the city, and I could keep it a secret, but what fun would that be, so here goes. They're part of my infini2 concept as usual, on boring white bathroom tiles for the street (...and my paintings rose, like the phoenix from the flames... yeah, right...) and are based around a 'You are here' slogan with an arrow and a big red dot.

My idea was that it's really funny when you look at maps and desperately search for the 'You are here' dot as though suddenly know that you are, in fact, 'here' (which is where you've been all along) is, well, funny.

So for this series I've imagined follow-up lines to that earth-shifting revelation that we are, in fact... here. And I write them repeatedly over the background of the picture. Listen, you'll have to... be there to fully appreciate the enormity of the thing.

Hey! Maybe that's 'the thing' I've been waiting for. I'll let you know. Things may be looking up, as they say.

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Something Sleepy This Way Comes'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Something Sleepy This Way Comes ~

Now you don't need me to tell you that Paris is riddled with tunnels and passages and secret underground mysteries... but I wasn't expecting this one!

Captured on infrared film and converted as best I could to something viewable, this is an extremely rare sighting of the mythical Paris 'Mighty Mole', talpa Lutecia gigantis, spotted in the penumbra of a sleepy museum courtyard just off the popular Place des Vosges in the Marais two days ago.

I must admit that far from being fierce and agressive as his legendary reputation would suggest, he seemed more disoriented than anything else. A definite 'just got out of bed - wot-time-iz-it?' look if you ask me.

I ventured to ask him if he needed any assistance, and, spotting my English accent, he immediately wondered if it might be near elevensies, or even three-o'clocksies would do, as he was dying for a cuppa.

After a good old chinwag about the ins and outs of the underbelly of the city he went on his way, feeling much better I'm glad to say. I did ask him if he would mind me taking his photo (I'd already done so, but manners is manners), and he seemed quite flattered, so here he is.

Keep your head down, Moley, but feel free to pop up for a brew anytime you're in the vicinity - the kettle's always on when I'm around :-D

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Double-breasted Suits Me Fine'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Double-breasted Suits Me Fine ~

If any of you doubt what I said in a recent post about breasts being everywhere in Paris (not real ones, that goes without saying, I mean hard cold in your face in the street ones), check this out.

Literally at the heart of Paris' biggest (?) shopping centre we have this globular spectacle to marvel over as we're chomping on our McDonalds or Quick burgers...

And one can only wonder, can't one, and one is sorely tempted to keep his mouth shut before a stream of priapic puns of boobalicious bawdiness spurts all over the page.

You can see why the French have a more laid back attitude to things like this when presented with the hard cold facts of life on an average Saturday afternoon family shopping jaunt basis, can't you?

If you're a smoker in France, by the way, you'll have something else to contemplate as of today, as you sit dragging away on your once-relatively-smoke-free outdoor terraces of the capital; some nice juicy images of huge cases of throat cancer and rotting teeth on your cigarette packets to wash your equally teeth-staining coffee down with.

Who knows if it'll make any difference. One blog showed all the images with the title 'These images that want to make us stop smoking' or something along those lines. Almost as though there was a set of nasty, fascist images out to spirit away our life-given right to kill ourselves as painfully and gorily as we please.

Anyway, that's today's news - hey, one is turning into a regular Paris news service here, don't you think? - and no doubt there'll be something else tomorrow, there usually is. But I'll tell you what. I won't do boobs or gore or Eiffels - how about that? Instead I've got something rather unusual surfacing in the middle of one of the impeccable lawns of a classic French museum near you. Watch this space (and who needs newspapers..?).

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Leg Man, Me

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Leg Man, Me ~

Leg Man, Me, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
BONUS: For Street Photography Fans!

The Paris metro can throw up some surprising sights and this was one which grabbed my attention the other day. If I hadn't done a funky mirror effect you'd have seen these shapely appendages filling the frame from here to kingdom come and then some.

Grotty little underground boutiques intrigue me, both from the point of view of those who have (decided) to work in them, and from those who might feel the urge to actually buy something from one of them. A less glamorous Parisian shopping experience you couldn't wish to find.

Not that underground or covered consumer experiences are alien to the city; the legendry passages have been doing business for ages. But buyiing your nylons from a hole in the ground has to be the definition of last-gasp giddiness. Galerie Vivienne it ain't. Even if the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is just a few feet above your head. Irony of ironies; the injustice is almost transparent.
© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Little Guys Lament'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Little Guys Lament ~

Between Little Guys, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Let's hear it for the little guy today. Those who pick up the litter in the trains once they've stopped and everyone's got off; those who change street lightbulbs and clean the glass globe which protects them; those who paint the railings at your local railway station.

There are so many 'little' jobs without which our society wouldn't be what it is today. Somebody had to lay those rails and sleepers with who knows how much expertise and experience. Someone else had to stick that "ne descendez pas sur les voies" notice to the wrong side of the platform and paint that yellow line. Not to mention the gravel grabbers and transporters.

And then there's the railings guy. How often do we look at the railings which protect us from breaking our necks when falling down the gaping hole called a stairway which takes us under the tracks from one platform to another? Never? Well there's a little guy who's job it is to paint these things. I would have thought they would have come prepainted these days but maybe not. Or perhaps he's redoing them after years of heat and platform life and the paint's started peeling.

Would you notice if they weren't done? Do you notice that they are? These are valid questions, I feel, when someone's life literally revolves around them.

Good job, little guy! Good job you have a job. I like your pristine white railings. They make our stations a bright and pleasant place to be. You're doing a valuable job. Every little imperceptible degradation of our environment leads to others and before you know it the cumulative effect is oppresive and menacing. I'm glad you are doing it.

And when I say 'little' guy, how condescending is that, you may be saying. Let me put things straight. For a start, I wish I had a body like his. And secondly, part of me will forever envy people who have found a stable job they don't mind too much, maybe even get some real satisfaction from, and are able to stick with. Who says that isn't happiness?

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'In The Pink'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ In The Pink ~

In The Pink, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

What a cliché - spring time in Paris, but it does seem to be particularly glorious this year! I know I'm repeating myself, but that's what you get early on a Monday morning when I'm only on my first coffee with nothing in reserve on the old iFoh!ne...

This would be a typical square in the 13th arrondissement, packed with cherry trees in the full flush of their pretentious pinky glory - marvellous.

Whether my attempt to add something to the original is extremely debatable, but I'm keen to get on with the day so this is my offering to you today; I sincerely hope it's looking good where you are too, wherever that may be in your world. Have a pink one!

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Rails To Nowhere'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Rails To Nowhere ~

Rails To Nowhere, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Very excited at the moment - my Paris Quirks project is taking off very nicely, with new people coming on board, i.e. signing up for the 20 free articles every day, so I'm extremely happy about that.

Happy to have an excuse to write about Paris and photograph everything that's 'under the radar', so to speak, of the average city dweller? You betcha!

This pic, taken yesterday, isn't directly part of that, but of course it's still a delightful Paris Quirk, this spooky abandonned railway you see sneaking over roads and through deep cuttings in Parks around the edges of the city.

The reason I took it is for a list I've been asked to create of my Top Ten Favourite 'Offbeat' Things To Do In Paris. You know that Top Ten lists are all the rage, don't you, so I don't see why I should be the only person in the blogosphere not to have jumped on the listwagon. It's coming out in the next day or two, so watch out on Paris If You Please and elsewhere.

It was quite tricky actually, to find places which aren't just weird things like 'the oldest tree in Paris' which you might glance at and say 'Oh yeah!' but don't go much further than that.

In the end I've gone for themes, especially walking ones, which can take up at least a couple of hours or more, and no, the Eiffel Tower isn't in there in any shape or form, in case you're wondering. I could, of course, have designed a little trail based on a series of unexpected things in a pretty small radius from Lady Eiffel, but I think that'll have to be for another time.

It's sunny and Sunday as I type where I sit, so here's wishing you a good one, wherever and whenever you maybe, from Paris :-D

P.S. Sorry, I've just remembered, there's something else about this photo I just wanted to tell you... something a little intriguing. If you look at the tunnel, no, look into the tunnel, you can just about see a couple of flecks of light on the left of the tracks as they go in. These are people. Although I couldn't see very clearly, and it was a bit of a grabshot, it looked like a man with two kids. Believe me, coz I'm not kidding you, and I'm as intrigued as you are. A man and two kids at the edge of a pitch black tunnel in a cutting with no visible way in or out and a high fence all around. Hmmm...

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Sartorial Arabesque'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Sartorial Arabesque ~

Sartorial Woes, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

(This is a satire...)

Here we have, finally unveiled, two female offenders who were forced to publicly 'come out' after having staged an undercover protest on the terrace of famous Fouquet's on Paris' Champs Elysées yesterday.

What's all the fuss about? Well they belong to a group who call themselves 'Muslims', and one of the things female members do is cover themselves from head to foot in cloth, leaving just a tiny slit for them to see out of as they go about their daily lives.

This mode of dressing is now illegal in France. These two don't like that so they protested about it by... continuing to wear the aforementioned offending garment.

However, our stalwart defenders of law, order and skintime saw to it that they be revealed... and as we can see here, it really would have been better if they'd kept them on. One can now fully understand the protests coming from both the female and male members of 'the Muslims' given the scary secret they are hiding underneath: they are not quite like the rest of us...

The women were accompanied by a remarkably unveiled 'man', admittedly reasonably normal-looking, who was there, it would seem, to help these women defend their 'fundamental liberty' to hide their hideous deformities and thus protect themselves from the ridicule of their peers and society in general.

A couple of the policemen got a bit over-excited and started stopping motorcyclists and demanding they 'take their lids off' or face the consequences, but the former obviously hadn't read the working instructions for applying the law on a daily basis issued by the French government at the beginning of the week.

These state quite clearly that it's still OK to hide your face with a motorcycle helmet, medical bandages, a soldering mask, fencing safety equipment (the sword sport, not the barrier construction), and carnival disguises.

Is it just me, or is this all getting just a little silly. Will we soon have female Muslims suddenly all becoming Allah's Angels in leather biker gear with 'Niqab' and 'Burka' tattooed across their knuckles, or will we see a dramatic increase in membership of dangerous sports clubs and welding unions from Arab factions of the curvier persuasion (not that we'd know)? Or maybe they will simply become avid fans of the performing arts all of a sudden, and feel the need to wear their clown masks on an almost permanent basis to really 'get into' the role.

Let's hope that the surgical bandages option is not one that captures the collective Islamic imagination [sic] as a potential solution to this eye-wateringly painful problem in any case. Who knows where that could lead. A thousand tacky remakes of 'Revenge of the Mummy', perhaps, starring herds of newly liberated Sisters of the Cloth, slitted eyes ablaze, clutching a bloody croissant in one hand and their French Actors Union cards in the other..?

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Wrong Side Of The Tracks'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Wrong Side Of The Tracks ~

Ha ha! Just when you thought I couldn't get any grimier... check this out!

I must admit I'm being heavily influenced by an interview I'm working on for Paris If You Please with someone who can think of nothing more fun than to wait until the very last train has left the station way after midnight, and then... but that would be spoiling the surprise now, wouldn't it?

Suffice it to say that there's a superb rencontre and series of photos coming, and that the world of the Paris metro ain't nothing like what you believe it to be.

Be afraid? Be very afraid? That's certainly an option. For the time being I'm staying firmly on the reasonably well-lit side of the tracks - although there are still curiosities to spot, if you keep your eyes open.

Just be careful not to lean in too much; the strange air currents, eddies and back drafts kicked up by these monsters can play havoc with your bleary-eyed balance...

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Pretty In Pink'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Pretty In Pink ~

Pretty In Pink, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Nothing particular remarkable about this photo, you may be thinking, if it's not the surprising chromatic cacophony of wearing a bright red bagpack with a violently pink anorak.

Pink and green, on the other hand, if we take into account the verdure she's passing, do wonders for my retinae on a cold and frosty morning.

But I'm not here to talk about colour if it's not the yellowing of the years down the ages. I'm here to talk about... ages, in fact. But I'll refrain from getting all deep and meaningful for once; I'll just tell you one thing that might be obvious: this tree has been here for ages. I mean literally AGES.

It's the oldest tree in Paris, they say, sixteen hundred and something meaning the later Louiss (that's Louis-more-than-one, as opposed to 'Louise', who was never a French king) could have swung from its branches. If the guillotine hadn't been so popular.

Most of the green we can see is parasitic ivy though, if it's not the seeping envy of one who's past his prime; this old man of paris is dying, on his last leg, propped up with concrete splints and splices.

It made me sad to see the sorry state he's in, but still he managed to cut a certain dash when a damsel, formidable in fuchsia, happened to cross his path, the old rogue.

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Talking Crap'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Talking Crap ~

Talking Crap, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Instead of just talking crap about Paris as usual, I thought I'd show you a picture of some for a change.

We're in the depths of the 11th arrondissement if I remember correctly, so the backside of Belleville area, slightly off the beaten track, and here's a Paris street corner in what they call a 'quartier populaire'.

This doesn't mean 'a popular quarter', as in lots of people like it, but is much closer to 'a working class area', although there may be a link to the English meaning of populus too, that is to say 'densely populated', as the two often go together.

Oops, I'm starting to spout ordure again and I said I wouldn't. Have a great day now, and remember... try not to throw too much crap down, ok? Bye :-S

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Too Bold, Les Tableaux?'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Too Bold, Les Tableaux? ~

Too Bold, Les Tableaux?, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

"Paris... the final frontier...
These are the voyages of the Skinship Sab.
His 50 year mission:
To explore strange new galleries...
To seek out new exhibitions; new curiosities...
To boldly go where no Paris chronicler has gone before!"

You really do enter this place through what you see above - it's impressive.

I'm off here again in about an hour to have a chat with one of the owners and I'll publish a piece on Paris If You Please in due course.

It's a modern art gallery (or should that be 'contemporary' - I never know) with a delightfully doable amount of stuff, coupled to the fact that you generally go on a guided tour, which is essential to fully understand what it's all about.

Well, some may say you should just look and think and absorb and feel whatever it is you want to feel, but I like to have a bit of background personally.

Art affects us all but in different ways, including negatively, and I think it's a vital part of the experience to discover why someone decided to invest time, money and emotion in what someone else might consider less worthy.

I'm talking about the new Rosenblum Gallery in Paris by the way, and it's about time to boldly split, so I'll see you around, if I ever make it back... Wish me luck; I may not be quite the same the next time you see me...

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.
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