Tuesday, 31 July 2012

TiTS or G.T.F.O.


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ TiTS or G.T.F.O. ~


TiTS or G.T.F.O., originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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Utterly unfathomable bit of graffiti here, just round the corner from Rue Saint Denis, which leads me to the only threadbare theory I could come up with.

Either the local businesses want to preserve the monoindustrial charm of the area on insisting that only boutiques of the carnal type be allowed to open.

Or it's local customers who want to make sure that the neighbourhood's wide choice of cheeky establishments is maintained.

I told you it was threadbare, but you come up with a better explanation for a store-front sized 'TiTS or G.T.F.O.' emblazoned over this grotty looking garage-type iron curtain.

And then there's the language poser; why's it in English, for Pierre's sake?

Another mystery on another stroll around one of the less touristy parts of the city. Probably never to be solved but long to be wondered over. Your guess? Probably better than mine and I'd be delighted to hear it, along with any other conundrums worthy of our attention. The 'No.2' is delightfully artistic I find though, don't you?


And why not...
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© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Monday, 30 July 2012

A Relatively Long Post


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ A Relatively Long Blog Post ~


A Relatively Long Post, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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The Olympics make me laugh, as do all variations of all sports really.

If you take any sport, it's just by chance that it's evolved to the form it is today, and who's to say it won't evolve further in the future? Nets need to be adjusted to adapt to changing player heights and speeds of service; rules need to be modified to increase spectator interest and the flow of the game; rules have to be introduced to cope with modern materials which allow swimmers to slip through the water a little too quickly or balls to bounce off rackets a bit too forcefully or runners to run slightly too easily and so on. Not to mention performance enhancing drugs and the like.

It basically comes down to some concept of equality; either we all have access to these things or none do. Including training conditions, clever coaches and programmes, financial aid and incentives, emotional support, national recognition and who knows what else.

And then there's the vast range of sports each able (and disabled) human has to contemplate and choose between to specialise in.

What I haven't told you is that I would have been a greater tennis player than Federer, only I chose to listen to music and run (after girls, amongst other things) instead. Who's to say it's not true?

Maybe any tall or not so tall guy could be, or could have been a greater basket ball player than Tony Parker or footballer than Lionel Messi. Who's to say it wouldn't have been you, or me or anyone else we know?

People holding their arms up in the air in victory with a metal disc around their necks for which they've devoted the majority of their lives are to be admired for their dedication and discipline, but apart from that it's just a joke. Who cares if someone can poke someone else a few more times with a metal rod or throw someone else on their back or swim in a certain way faster than seven arbitrary others? Well, some 'care', of course, but that 'glory' is short-lived indeed.

To a great extent the supposed glory is directly proportional to the number of people who believe whatever these people do is a good or worthy thing.

If football has grown greatly in popularity in recent decades it's given people like Messi and Ronaldo the chance to receive adulation and crash Ferraris for what is, after all, a pretty useless ability: kicking a ball in a hole. Except that these days this ability can bring wild riches. Maybe next century it'll be something else equally pointless, but for now it's football which people judge one of the worthiest, thus enriching things to be good at, for better or for worse.

And again, I can't help coming back to the same old question: who cares?

Maybe 'enjoy' is a better term than 'care'. I can assimilate much more easily the concept of 'enjoying' (whilst realising it's all symbolic, if not utterly pointless) over 'caring'.

That brings us neatly back to the Olympic ideal of the taking part being the most important thing, and not the winning. Unfortunately, these days this principle is seriously flagging. Sport is supposed to be 'fun' in the ultimate analysis and that's what seems to be lacking in all these sporting competitions backed by demanding sponsors and violently passionate fans: fun.

P.S. I hope you like the picture of the shortest street in Paris (World, Olympic and Guinness record holder). But only because there isn't a shorter one. It's also not the longest only because there are longer roads in town, and only in Paris of course. And the current definition of 'street'. I mean rue. It's all relative, which is probably how we should see far more things in our lives. I've just been to a wedding full of weird and warring relatives so trust me, I know what I'm talking about ;~S


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Lonesome Strider


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Lonesome Strider ~


Lonesome Strider, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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That there sure be one lonesome rider pardner...

Not really, it's just a pony giving rides in the Parc Montsouris with the low sun setting in the west and mighty pleasant it was too.

You sometimes feel sorry for the ponies though, standing there in the heat waiting to trail yet another kid around a patch of grass but maybe they don't mind too much.

They don't seem too perturbed by the pompous equestrian statues Paris is so full of either. They just go on their weary way, leaving their dejections behind them every now and then in an age old Paris tradition, with ne'er as much as a whinny in objection.

Abjection might be a tempting term to use but they don't seem too miserable and probably lead a considerably more comfortable life than some of their predecessors when thousands of horses hooved the city streets carrying all manner of goods all manner of distances under all manner of not so pleasant conditions. A kid on their backs instead of a couple of huge kegs of wine, say, would have seemed like, well, a walk in the park...


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Pigeon Pie in the Sky


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Pigeon Pie in the Sky ~


Pigeon Pie in the Sky, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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Life can be cheap in this city, as we see in jewellery shootings, homeless hovelling and pigeon pasting.

Here's one that didn't make it, nimble as these birds tend to be. They also tend to be terrible risk-takers and sometimes their daredevil bravado pays its price. And not a pretty one at that.

Ever since the new bike lanes really got established there's been a spate of squished, or at least seriously shaken cyclists trapped by hastily right-turning motorists, but I haven't heard of quite such a gory accident as the one above.

It was probably the victim of a parked car which unexpectedly started moving as our beaky friend was trying to extract some tasty tidbit from under a wheel. Now it's the crows that deal with him in a like manner no doubt.

I'm actually seeing more and more incidents where pushchairs (with kids in) are not seen by cars which are either parking or temporarily stationary at lights and the peril is certainly real.

So let this be a warning to you; even feathers and flight don't always save you from the traffic's terrible teeth, so be prudent, or risk becoming pavement pizza, in Paris which is all too used to slimy sidewalk scenarios.


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Friday, 27 July 2012

This Is Not A Blogpost


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ This Is Not A Blogpost ~


This Is Not A Blogpost, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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Whether this comment - Ceci n'est plus un mur (This isn't a wall any more) - is a Magrittesque existential observation or a homage to the Space Invader piece above the street name plaque is unsure.

It's true that the Invader characters really have invaded the whole city and reached a popular, if not official, level of acceptance that almost ligitimises them. They are, however, far from ligit, and one of the only reasons far more of them haven't been removed or vandalised is that they are so damned high up.

With over a thousand of the things menacing the city's first floors you'd think that the image of a guy on a ladder must be a common night-time sight in the Paris streets, but I must admit I've never seen him.

Which makes me itch to get more of my infinity2 stuff out there. Maybe some 'You are not here' pieces to complement my Vous êtes ici (You are here) series, or some similarly themes work.

I should have a bit more time next week so maybe I'll do a bit of invading myself for a change... watch out!


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Rude or Just Nude


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Rude or Just Nude ~


Rude or Just Nude, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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I've got a feeling that a series on ridiculous clothing boutique names in Paris could be almost inexhaustible.

nude ux doesn't excape from the rule - what a screamer!

This type of store sometimes welcomes the general public but more often than not belongs to the wholesalers category and the last thing they want is some poor punter poking their nose in looking for a bargain.

The tackiness of these establishments and their garments varies as do their names, but in general the average seems to be fairly low. I always wonder , while wandering around the Sentier or parts of the 12th, or... where on earth they get these names from. I reckon it's either from something the proprietor happens to think sounds a bit English, therefore not French, therefore somehow 'chic', or smutty words just taken at random from some sex mag or other.

As I'm getting well into my 'Crap Paris' series more will doubtlessly be revealed in due course, giving us more food for thought. Until then.


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Don't Forget Your (Head)Scarf


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Don't Forget Your (Head)Scarf ~


Don't Forget Your Scarf, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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Nine little steps which have seen the final steps of so many, just before meeting the chilling M. Guillotine in person, far too close up and personal.

You can find them in Le Buffet du Palais de Justice on Ile de la Cité. The steps would be lined with 'admirers' who would pelt the condemned with rotten vegetables to make their final moments just a little less pleasant if possible.

They'd be coming out from the terrible Conciergerie where only the well-off could avoid filthy and rat-infested cells - oubliettes, almost - by dispensing their worldly wealth on a private cell and reasonable bedding and food.

Nine little steps which you can still stroll down if you visit the Sainte-Chapelle and hang a left just before leaving the front courtyard of the Palais de Justice. If you're not sure where they are, just follow the chill wind you can feel suddenly blowing around your neck and watch your back, just in case...


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Something's Afoot


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Something's Afoot ~


Something's Afoot, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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As crap Paris goes, you don't get much closer to the essence of that phrase than this.

A worthy new member of my semi-secret 'Crap Paris' series which I'm slipping in over on Paris If You Please without shouting too much about it.

Why would I not be publicising this phenomenal new initiative? Well, first of all, and in retrospect I'm not so sure how many people would be interested in a fairly anonymous pile of poney crap and a shadow, even if it was taken in one of Paris' most beautiful parks, the exquisite Parc Montsouris.

And secondly, I have a feeling people are looking for something more for their clicks in the way of Paris history and curiosities, so I'll just post it without advertising it and see how many clicks it gets.

But you guys. YOU guys. You love all this crap about Paris - this Paris crap, right? Which is why I feel totally comfortable sharing donkey dejections (if it isn't poney poo) with you here. I just know you're gonna understand. And it makes a change from the usual crap, you have to admit.


And why not...
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© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Parc Punch and Judy


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Parc Punch and Judy ~


Parc Punch and Judy, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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Very few, if it's even more than one, of the Paris parks have a puppet theatre - les guignols as they call them in French.

This one's a pretty serious affair, with a proper building and a ticket office and everything. I remember that these things would spring up more or less spontaneously in my local park in a funny little hut, Punch would smack the hell out of Judy - or was it the other way round? - for about 20 miinutes and the children, sat cross-legged on the grass would be enthralled.

I haven't been inside this one, but it may well be on the cards, if I can be bothered queuing and I might, with a two-and-a-half coming on three-year-old in tow.

The Parc Montsouris excels in kids entertainment, with the puppet show, poney rides, roundabouts, playgrounds, a beautiful lake with ducks and geese and swans and big grassy areas you can Actually Sit On. And ice cream. And coffee and beer for the adults. And a toffee-nosed restaurant. And a ton of curiosities which I did a Google Maps based quiz on for you here.

I should do some more - I've got the material - and people seem to like them, even on the other side of the world, it's almost like you were here, honest! It's either gonna be Parc Monceau or the Tuileries I reckon, or maybe Jardin de Luxembourg or Parc des Buttes Chaumont... But then again what about the Parc de Bercy and the Parc André Citroën, or the Jardin des Plantes and the Champs des Mars...

So much choice, so little time; the story of my Paris life. See you after the show for the next installment.


And why not...
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© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Paris Unveiled


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Paris Unveiled ~


Untitled, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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Sacré Coeur's backside is black and grimy and I wouldn't want it any other way. A bit of gothic gloom didn't do anyone any harm.

Unfortunately, perhaps, Paris is in the process of effectively culling centuries of accumulated crud in the name of cheering the place up a bit I guess.

Result: Notre Dame now sparkles; the Tour Saint-Jacques fairly blinds; and the once sinister towers of the Conciergerie, newly revealed from beneath their palace-sized Sumsung and L'Oréal ads now veritably glisten in the sly summer sun. Even the Sainte-Chapelle's currently under wraps - it seems no murky mediaeval ediface is safe from the vicious sand blaster, blast it!

None save Sacré Coeur, which isn't mediaeval at all of course. The front's pristine, certainly, but wander around the back and you'll see the true meaning of grime, and that after only a century or so - lovely.

The Conciergerie's now so white it disconcerts those who are used to its habitual darkness. It also makes the neighbouring buildings, like the Seine side of the Hôtel de Dieu, look filthy!

The one thing I am excited about is the revealing of the Tour de l'Horloge's renovated first Paris public clock. From what I can glimpse through the coverings it looks splendid. And as for the Conciergerie, I'll try not to lose my head about it.


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

A Place To Stay


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ A Place To Stay ~


A Place To Stay, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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In what must be one of the most desirable squares in the city lies what looks like a crumby little hotel but which I'm sure isn't but you still can't help thinking it seems a little out of place with its hand-painted sign and rusting hotelier plaque.

I've often both wanted to stay there and recommend it to others but I've done neither so it remains a mystery to me. It's 'moderate prices' in such a prestigious location - Place Dauphine on the tip of Ile de la Cité - does intrigue a bit. Who could and would offer 'moderate prices' where they could probably get away with extortionate ones?

Perhaps it's run by some little old granny who's still living in ancient francs and 1950s values. Or maybe some philanthropist who doesn't want to exploit people more than necessary - does that still exist in these materialistic days?

The Place Dauphine is as close as you can get to the Place des Vosges elsewhere in Paris, as it was constructed by this hotel's namesake, Henri IV, with its pretty red bricks and limestone and sleek slate roofs giving a certain unity which doesn't exist today due to changes over the ages. The Dauphine was actually male, Henri IV's son, the future Louis XIII, who got the actually triangular 'square' named in his honour. Nice nod if you can get it.

But you probably knew all that. For the moment I'll leave you with this rather idealised image of one of the last remaining 'reasonable' hotels in a sought-after area, hoping that one of you will check it out for me some time and let me know what it's like. Bon séjour à Paris !


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Hail and Regale


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Hail and Regale ~


Regale and Hail, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.


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Some places are just too somptuous to fathom, especially when you consider they were built many 100s of years ago.

This is one such place - La Sainte-Chapelle - on the Ile de la Cité. You probably know the story. It was built to house a whole collection of holy relics which had been obsessively collected by Louis IX back in the 13th century.

Some of the stained glass panels actually show King Louis IX bringing Christ's relics back to Paris, thus hammering home the sacred royal right to be God's representative on Earth. Ho-hum, whatev. After hubris comes nemesis, they say. Whether that's true or not, Louis did become the only French king to be canonised and get a whole bunch of towns, islands and bridges named after him for his troubles (which included carrying the holy relics into Paris barefoot and dressed as a penitant).

The thing that strikes me about the place, especially the upper chamber, which is the famous one with all the windows, is the detail. The detail and the sheer amount of glass, little pieces of glass all fitted together into one huge and hugely impressive example of, wait for it... Rayonnant Gothic architecture.

If it didn't make your neck ache you could spend hours just gazing up at those walls of windows - so to speak - in wonder. It's all because the walls are really just a spindly structure of supporting pillars for the roof, leaving the vast majority for the beautiful coloured glass masterpieces. Even if you're not religious, there's no denying the powerful impression it makes as you contemplate the lengths (and heights, more to the point) man will go to impress God and just possibly his fellow mortals too. Job done!


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Dark at the End of the Tunnel


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Dark at the End of the Tunnel ~



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Life is a funny old thing, isn't it? And death even funnier. The idea of the void, but not even that; literally nothing. Not even there to realise we're not there, literally not existing and not knowing we're not existing because we're... not existing. I know it sounds like I'm saying the same thing twice but it's necessary. The idea of not existing at all is quite difficult to comprehend.

I like to deal with it by trying to be as creative as I can in this life that I 'have', if one can 'have' a life, and imagine that when I'm gone people I have helped create will go on and might enjoy something of what I've done.

One of the things it's easier and easier to do these days is leave traces of our passing. The difficult part is getting rid of them! But what I really mean is something significant. I think that some of us would like to feel they have created something worthwhile which will stand up on its own once we've gone. Not passed on. Gone.

My own attempt, and it's happening here and now before your eyes, is to publish photos and words which, for what they're worth, which isn't for me to say, will be around once I've left the land of the living.

It's quite a nice thought that someone might spend some time checking them out and perhaps smile at the finesse and futility of some old codger taping and clicking away for all he's worth, and in the end, yes, that's probably all I'm worth. That makes me smile, and so it should for I'm not going to be doing any smiling once the dark at the end of the tunnel has envelopped me.

And maybe it is for us to say that, yes, that was quite good, that thing I've just done, and not for anyone else to judge. That's why I abhor competitions and critiques and condescension, even though I've been guilty of all three far more often than I'd like to admit.

I always say to people about their pictures or anything else they're trying to create, that if they like it, it's a success and stuff the rest. Then they can look to 'improving' it if they wish, but that fundamental feeling of pleasure or satisfaction at having created something which didn't exist before and has in some way improved your existence is primordial and the thing to hold onto and treasure. And share with those who care. They are there.


And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.
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