Let Us Not Forget Paris
My lapses in travel posts show a laziness that embarrasses and motivates me at once. However, my time between posts was not all idle; I did use it to process my experiences in Paris – not in a lineal way (me lineal? Nah) but more visceral; I sorted the colors, the stories behind the structures, the tastes of the wines and the smiles of the genuinely nice people I was fortunate enough to meet. No, Paris was not all grumpy and ill-mannered people and from this distance I can appreciate, more fully, the good and the beautiful.
Speaking of the good and (sometimes) beautiful, the Paris metro system is by far the best means of getting around. Some Paris metros have a theme and my favorite was all copper Arts et Metiers (so named for the Museum of Arts and Crafts) with its constant luminous interior giving it an other worldly feel. Standing on the platform, at a loss for words, I could only guess at the fate of all this shining beauty if it existed in some U.S.
city: There would be some Americans who would have this entire metro stop stripped down to its girders before anyone realized they were being robbed. The copper would be parsed and sold quick and silent to those who make a living in that shadow economy known as the black market. Just a thought.
Without FDR , I suspect this metro would have a more German name.
The Metro Quatre-September (the closest to home base) was so named to commemorate the date of the beginning of the French Third Republic after the capture of Napoleon III in
1870. The entry, wrought iron twisted into the metro name became a point of arrival and departure so many times that I began to feel rooted to the area.
Opera Metro with two lovers sealing their pact with Paris : they really were kissing with abandon.
And then there were those metros treated much like the starving unseen we fail to acknowledge due to a collective shame, guilt or worse, lack of compassion. These metros (usually in the outer arrondissements) wage war daily against the olfactory with the stench of unwashed walkways and walls crawling with urine and vomit. The steady barrage of smells are the only weapons that these metros’ have at their disposal. I did not capture the travesty of human injustice that is the unloved metro. The times I could, I chose otherwise as there were humans – often just one but other times children sat with their elder (on a thin blanket to protect them from the filth but not the stink) in simple supplication. The yoga of misery; sitting behind an empty cup, legs lotus-crossed, praying-hands together beneath a bowed head begging – for anything. To photograph this agony would be to cement the fate of the subject – for me, such a purloined image would never change. I began to see little difference between photography and thievery – making me a thief of space, time and experiences that were not mine to share.
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