Tuesday, 2nd November, 2004
Dear "Paris Set Me Free" Reader,
Welcome to the Third Edition of the brand new and unique FREE Creative Paris Newsletter: "Paris Daze".
1) Introduction - Welcome to the City of Light & Love!
2) SPONSOR'S SPACE ! - The Great People Who Keep Us Going !
3) Parisian Picks - photos
4) Pardonnez-Moi - personal journal
5) Pause Poétique - contributions welcome
6) History Corner - this is.. Paris
7) Weird Paris - strange & obscure facts & findings
8) Hint of the Week - not a lot of people know this, but...
9) Readers' Letters - have your say
10) Up-Coming Events - selected cool stuff to see and do
11) Quotes of the Week - Paris inspired...
12) This Week's Special Offer!
13) Contacting Us, Related Links and Subscription Info
14) Copyright notice
Welcome, Paris-Lover and Friend!
It's the first of November folks, which means the shops are starting to get their Christmas decorations up and people are starting to turn their thoughts to end of year holidays and all the madness and excitement that involves. For those of us who have contacts and family in other parts of the world it's also the time of plane tickets and travel arrangements, and looking forward to seeing loved ones again.
It's a very grey Monday in the capital today, which is a bit depressing, but I'm going to go out to get THE shot that's going to cheer us all up, hang on...
Oh yes, this one's quite nice. Well actually it's one of the most romantic places in Paris taken from... one of the most romantic places in Paris! Read down the our Hint of the Week section to find out exactly where it is.
Now let's go on to some more great stuff about our favourite city...
(Don't forget to send in your e-mail here: firstname.lastname@example.org to receive notification every time there's a new edition of Paris Daze. I look forward to hearing from you!)
***2) SPONSOR'S SPACE
This issue's featured Parisian landmark is WH Smith, the excellent English language bookshop at 248, rue de Rivoli, Mmetro Concorde. It really is just like an very good British bookshop, transplanted to foreign shores (in this case the shore of the river Seine. It has very acceptable sections on books about Paris, obviously, English language magazines and newspapers, history, business books, kid's section, language learning department and so on. Long live WH Smith! P.S. We'll be working on some great prizes from future sponsors if we can persuade them - watch this space!
If you are interested in publicising your Paris-related site, event or product here, do let us know, (with a special offer or two for some of our readers) and you'll become an official Paris Daze sponsor! Contact us here: email@example.com
3a) Parisian Picks (part 1)
Remember the view from my apartment from last week's Paris Daze? Check out the thumbnail on the left here to see what it looked like just seven days ago... well look what happened: it's somewhat sad, isn't it? But then again it's all part of life's rich tapestry, making way for next year's growth and accomplishments. And if we wished the leaves didn't fall, we might as well wish that children didn't exist, grow and flourish. It's all part of the same thing, so COME FALL SWEET LEAVES, and so be it for another year.
3b) Parisian Picks (part 2)
And now a little bit of Parisian magic. I decided to stroll back to my place from having a hurried lunch with the Marmot, and as I had my camera with me I thought I'd try to see what I could do with a completely unresearched part of pulsating Paris, around the high-fashion/exclusive boutique-ridden area in the Sixth Arrondissement.
Of course, my roving eye found more than enough material to satisfy it, as usual, in THE photographer's paradise - Paris, FRANCE! Here are a few examples, more of which can be seen soon on a more comprehensive and higher-resolution section of the site. See if you can see what I saw...
Here's one for the USAians, or "USians" (a Spanish student of mine told me recently that this term actually exists in Spanish, which helps to avoid any insult to South Americans who equally consider themselves, 'American'. The snotty-looking French concierge/host in front of this top-notch tea shop is over-hovered by the US flag, covering the European one and almost obliterating the French offering...Course, I could have stood on the other side to take the pic ;-) The colours are the same, in any case, which does little to wipe out the differences, however. Profound or WHAT this week!!!
Across the road from the posh cafe with the flags, were some Parisians moving apartment. Only in Paris the staircases are so narrow and twisting that they have to use a strange contraption - a sort of massive extending ladder with a platform - to extract their chaise-longues (chaises-longue? - chaises-longues?? Brother, my French!) and their armoires from those high-up windows. Quite an interesting spectacle to witness on a balmy autumn afternoon, wondering if the precariously balanced furniture will topple off or not, and if it does, just who or what it will crush to a paltry Parisian Pulp.
Whirling around through about 120° reveals a supremely impressive sight indeed. Forget Montmartre and Sacré Coeur, ignore the Eiffel Tower, laugh derisorily at Notre Dame... and check this out. Back-dropped by a classic Parisian apartment block, we have what can only be described as... well, as a half-man, half-horse-thing, wearing a cute little pair of shorts, having a wide array of what look like oversized DIY tools shoved up his backside and sporting quite the most impressively mounted pair of cannon balls I've seen in a long time. Only in Paris, I tell you folks... ONLY in Paris.
Gazing directly at this monumental sight, was the young lady I spontaneously snapped on the right, mouth agape and nostrils flaring. Of course I was being artistic here, but I assure you that there are no photographic high jinx or double exposures involved - what you see is what I took, give or take a few sneaky colour and rendition manipulations, so: how did I do it???
The first person to guess correctly gets a free copy of my first poetry collection sent to them by regular mail and their name in the next Paris Daze! The answer's quite simple really!
Talking of monumental architecture, here's an example of just another typically Parisian landmark. Bearing up stoically to all that the fickle Gallic climate can throw, this image is as timeless as Paris itself. And that's just the guy in the cap.
The problem with Paris is, from a photographer's, a poet's, or a writer's point of view, that there's just too much to absorb: too many contrasts, too many ironies, and too little time. It's a beautiful dilemma, but a frustrating one at times. I want to write about it all. I want to capture everything. I want to wax lyrical over every bright yellow letter box, grubby Romanian beggar or wistfully dreamy café girl.
But there's not enough time. You have to accept it. Look at how the people rush. Always moving past and away from each other. Sad. Look at how the newspaper kiosks scream out their message: buy buy buy; read read read; learn learn learn; consume consume consume. And yet where are we supposed to find all those stolen moments to do all that buying, reading, learning and consuming? Not to mention love. Where does LOVE fit into the grand scheme of things in this city of Light and Passion, with big 'L's and 'P's? Squeezed in between the cigarette butts and the urine stains on the pavement? Stuffed down the side of the smelly metro seats? Or cowering under the tumbling autumn leaves, maybe.
My love for Paris is in my lens and my words; I have no other way to express it. When you read my stuff, don't read my words. Feel my heart beating in time with my keyboard strokes. And when you look at these images, don't see the pictures. Sense the finger gently pressing the shutter release, the finger linked to the body, the body's eye focused on the instant, the moment the brain judged decisive, the brain linked to the heart of someone who cannot dissociate Paris from his own being. That's what you should see.
4) Pardonnez-Moi ParisAnd here's a day-old pic of your Roving, and let's face it, Rapidly Balding Reporter, Sab (if you will) Will. I obviously fiddled the foto to make myself look MUCH balder than I really am. For a laugh. I guess I'm just that kinda guy.
I'm going to keep the Pardonnez-Moi section mercifully short this week, as I've gone on quite enough in the Paris Picks section for a whole newsletter. Suffice it to say that autumn has definitely kicked in now and people are dressing and acting appropriately. Everyone here seems to have had at least one cold, and there's a certain creeping malaise around as winter approaches, which would be worrying if it weren't for the underlying bustle and joy of Parisian life keeping everything chugging along as ever.
And today was a glorious, warm autumn day, with the café terraces full and the fashion victims out in force. Even the odd expat Paris chronicler was to be seen roaming the streets, cradling his trusty old 4 mega-pixel Canon in his palm, on the lookout for extraordinary sights to blast in a seemingly ordinary world...
This particular Parisian chronicler wonders if others will see a little of what he sees. He hopes that a little of the magic will be conveyed through his words and pictures, and he wonders if people will understand and get back to him with a few words of encouragement. It would be great to hear from others who also love their city (not necessarily Paris!), even if it is an adopted one like mine is.
5) Pause Poétique
I'm very much hoping to include some original Paris-inspired poems from other poets shortly, and for this I shall be trawling the famous Shakespeare & Co. bookshop Monday evening poetry readings for potential contributions.
In the meantime I shall simply offload all my Paris-related junk here, until I don't have to any more. You could even write something for inclusion in the Newsletter if you want! If Paris can't inspire you, I don't know what can. Just think of butt-stuffed horses if you don't know where to start and take it from there... no, wait, I'm really a sweet and unusually sensitive guy... ;-)
This following poem was written in a Parisian McDonalds (unfortunately), drinking coffee as part of a seemingly banal fastfood-scape, while I let my mind fly, imagining what the person opposite me could possibly be thinking...
You are not here
You are far away
And for every bite
Of this croissant I take
You move, imperceptibly
People are chattering
Barging in isles
But you float above them
You’re light as skimmed milk
And for every sip
Of this coffee like silk
You’re rolling in air currents
Greet the wild migrators
Play for a while
But you float above them
You rise like fresh bread
And for every inch
Of this butter I spread
You slip through my fingers
My universe grasp
I struggle to reach you
I falter and gasp
But you laugh and leave me
You bend with the breeze
I’m paying the bill
You’re soaring with ease
We’re racing together
I cunningly clasp
You come down
© Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free 2004
6) History Corner
Last Paris Daze I told you all about the very origins of man, staggering over to lil' 'ol Europe as we know it today, and discovering fire and agriculture. Well what about some more detail?
The Arrival of Homo Erectus (although the odds are stiffening that he had been erect quite some time before that or none of us would even be reading this column, but to move firmly on...)
Homo erectus came along about 1.7 million years ago in Africa. This primitive guy moved around a lot, over to Asia and then arriving in the south of Europe around 900,000 years ago. That's quite a long time folks. Even my grandmother wasn't born yet, and she's really old! The climate was so darned chilly that he was literally forced to discover fire in order to keep warm and as a useful side effect learn how to make cooler tools (well, hotter first) and nastier weapons too.
A Sturdy Dude
The scull of the oldest Froggie is that of "Tautavel Man" (might be a bit wrong, that), found in the err, something of something, in the, to the best of my knowledge, eastern Pyrenees. (is it really obvious that I'm translating this from zee French..? So, do YOU know what a "caune de l'Arago" is? Well, do you?!) Anyway, this guy is was stockier* than most people today, not including the *Welsh, of course. He had a low, sticking-out brow, was a completely Chinless Wonder, but had a mean set of incisors to make up for it. Apparently his linguistic capabilities were extremely limited. Not unlike today's "NO NO, SHUT UP, SHUDDUP ALREADY..." [Editor's Injunction]!!!
*Stocky is a bodily characteristic, not a racist Insult!
Life in the Open Air (careful not to catch a chill in that skimpy loin cloth...)
Folks used natural hidey-holes in those days: caves, of which they only inhabited the well-lit outer part; or indeed, overhanging rocks which provided a certain shelter, nicely warmed if south-facing but cruelly wind-swept if otherwise oriented. They learned to construct often dodgy branch-based shelters, of which we've found traces today.
|Whacky Historical Note: The Adventurous Nomads
Arriving from far-off Africa, about a million years ago, the first humans made their way to the south of Europe. They didn't really colonise all of Europe until 600,000 years ago, probably because before then the John Peel Radio Show wasn't widely available on their local cave-length.
Here they discovered an irritatingly variable climate, not unlike that of Modern England today, although nevertheless giving endless opportunity for disgruntled conversations around the cave mouth fire (their linguistic capabilities being as limited as the majority of today's.. OW! OW! OK.., I didn't say anything. Jeez...
The glacial periods are marked, significantly, by extremely low temperatures, during which they REALLY wanted to KILL, IN THE UGLIEST WAY POSSIBLE, that original camp-designer cave-guy dude who had the bright idea of inventing the Loin Cloth as the original one-size-fits-all essential fashion accessory (especially the big guys...).
The interglacial periods were, according to my unerringly accurate (as far as I can ascertain, given the circumstances) sources, more temperate than the other bits. (Jeez, who wrote this tripe...?) Anyway, there'll be more of the same in the next exciting instalment of "The History of France (no less!)". You have been warned.
7) Weird ParisLast time we left you with the chilling message from a Secret Parisian Catacombs Society Web Site, viz.:
"NEVER Go Down Without A Guide !"
This week, as promised, we bring you the remainder of their spooky missive:
"Visiting the ancient passages, caves and quarries of Old Paris is dangerous and forbidden. An excellent knowledge of the extensive networks combined with suitable professional equipment are absolutely essential before you venture in. In no way do the plans published on this site allow you to attempt a descent. They are not accurate enough and the rare portals still in existence are not revealed here...
"The catacombs are the victim of their own success. The visits to these places by uninformed persons (in other words "tourists" in cataphilespeak) are responsible for their degradation and undesirable incidents. So that the 'catas' remain an amazing place of expressive freedom, and so that the police continue to 'tolerate' us, we must be extremely discrete when we slip through a grill on a building site, or down a manhole cover on a sidewalk.
It's the price we must pay if the catacomb-lover's tradition is to survive."
Translated from French by Me (can you tell?). Next week... WHO KNOWS!!!
8) Hint of the Week
This isn't a particularly remarkable place, but I happened to have a photo of it that I rather like, so I thought I'd throw it out here.
It's "La Bourse", a fake Greek Temple sitting right in the middle of the Second Arrondissement. And those of you who know me will know that Greece has had a certain affect on me. (God how I love Kids & Wives...) Even got a Metro Station named after it. You'll have to go to the 'Bourse' Metro and then walk around and ask a bit to find it.
And then there's the flip side of the coin. The next two photos show that Flip Side.
The Flip Side is that people are crashing out in Paris all over the place, despite the glamorous image. There are so many little Romanian women sitting on metro stairs with their babes-in-tow, it's almost a cliché. There are guys without shirts (but REALLY without shirts) schlopping down wherever they can't go on any more. There are these people for whom a metro's hot air ventilation outlet is a benediction and a bed for a night - in the middle of the street.
There are so many people like this, it's difficult to know what to do about it. There are people who play their music every time you get on a metro train, sometimes you get to know them, sometimes you wish they would shut up, but you can't escape them.
And then there are the ones who simply tell you their life story and plead for money. What do you do with them, too? Are they worthier than those giving you something to listen to, or should we haughtily eschew them all?
If you really think about it, and how many people really do, Paris is not the simple glamorous place it is made out to be. It's a buzzing micro-cosmos of millions of individual characters living their own individual lives. As any metropolis must be. Word!
So if you want to check out this weird Greek Temple right in the heart of our amazing city, pop over to La Bourse and see for yourself.
9) Selections from Readers' Letters
Maria Antonietta from Italy, wrote:
"A unique experience! I was led along roads and streets of Paris where no
guide would ever lead me! And I was told words coming from the heart and not
from a tourist book. Hey Sab! Will I ever be able to love Paris as deeply
as you do? I know... it was a stewpeeed question....!"
Thanks Maria Antonietta. I certainly do feel some very strong feelings for this place, and I can't really see myself ever leaving again. Maybe from a writer or an artist's point of view this isn't really a good thing, but then there's an argument for really getting to know a place as no-one else does, not necessarily better, just differently, and that's what I'm trying to do here, in 'my' Paris! - Sab
Carol from Paris! wrote:
"...I've been sending your links along to all my Aussie Paris lovers (not my
Paris lovers, of course) .. many of whom keep turning up and crashing on a
mattress on the floor at chez nous ... (the Aussie ones, not the Paris ones,
It's lovely (your site I mean) and keep it up (again, your site I mean) ..."
Thank you, Carol, and I'm glad I seem to have struck a chord with you. I'm very much looking forward to having a strong Aussie contingent amongst the Newsletter readership. I lived Down Under for a year when I was just nine, so have fond memories of my time over there.
Kaye from the United States said:
"I like "
'Magpie' from the United States said:
"tell me why i think it leaks with love....... tell me why i think it stands alone and out "
If you would like to send in a comment or suggestion, please do, to firstname.lastname@example.org . Some or all of your letter may be published in a future issue of Paris Daze!
10) This Paris Week That Is Was Will Be
Yasser Arafat has come over for a check up. I hope he's ok, in the spirit of not wanting any human being to die. Whether he'll ever be allowed back to his 'compound' in Palestine/The West Bank and why he would want to leave his beautiful young wife, well, these are all questions that a lot of people are asking.
Is not LOVE the only reason for living? Well, love of WHAT is the question, I suppose.
I also see that 25 countries have come together to ratify the European Constitution. They are pledging to act as a sole, democratic 'union', working together on issues such as defence, working hours and simply to give all members the chance to decide on Europe-wide decision-making policy.
We're just starting up this section, so if you have any items of interest that you think might fit in well here, send them in and they'll be posted here.
11) Quotes of the Week
"The best thing I know between France and England is - the sea."
Douglas Jerrold 1803-1857: 'The Wit and Opinions of Douglas Jerrold' (1859) 'The Anglo-French Alliance'
"When Zola tried to repopulate France by writing a book in praise of parentage [Fécondité, 1899], the only comment made here was that the book could not possibly be translated into English, as its subject was too improper."
George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950: preface to 'Getting Married' (1911)
"I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour everywhere."
William Shakespeare 1564-1616: 'The Merchant of Venice' (1596-8)
12) This Issue's Special OfferGet a few people (at least five !) to subscribe to this newsletter (and tell me who they are to prove it!), and I'll send you my Complete First Collection of Paris- and Life-Inspired Poetry (32 poems from a genuine Modern Poet living the Parisian Dream) as read at Shakespeare & Co. (legendary Parisian bookshop and poetry-reading venue), no less!!!
Anyone who wants to offer an even more attractive prize (although this will obviously be difficult) in return for some free publicity in this great newsletter, please get in touch! NOW!!! ;-) To subscribe you just have to send an empty e-mail to: email@example.com .
13) Contacting Us, Related Links & Subscriptions
You can contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .
You can visit the web site at http://www.parissetmefree.com where you can read previous newsletters (only, err, there aren't many yet... umm - give me time) and loads of other great Paris-related stuff (only, err, there isn't any yet, but we're working on it - HEY! You've gotta start somewhere, RIGHT?!).
We have very close (almost incestuous, one might say... ;-) links with various other web sites in various states of development. Do feel free to drop by any of them to see what's happening at any given point. You may be disappointed! But give us time - our credit is good!
Here they are:
Language Fun Farm: http://www.languagefunfarm.com
(for Teachers & Lovers of English)
Lazy Pig Millionaires Club: http://www.lazypig.com
(for Entrepreneurs & Creative People Everywhere)
Black Witch World: http://www.blackwitch.com
(Optimise Your Life!!!)
Mystic Rhythms: http://www.mysticrhythms.com
(for Artists & Poets-doesn't even exist yet-don't even bother!)
Hotch Potch: http://www.hotchpotch.com
(Absolutely No Idea... still working on this one - cool name tho', isn't it?! - also doesn't exist...)
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Thanks for reading! See you next time.
And tell people about it - please!