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Dimitri Is Worried

photo: cafe l'atlantic, roller night

The nearest café to the start of Friday night's roller-rando.

Nuit Noir, Nuit Blanche

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 29. September 2003:- Dimitri got over his Wednesday hangover, but I have been running into him a lot lately. The big windows are being changed in his atelier, so he's had to partly dismantle it while the renovation is going on. It means he isn't working a lot there.

On Friday he called up and asked if I could edit an estimate he wanted to send to a potential customer. Dimitri came over and we found his files, copied one, and put in the new date and numbers. We used a total of four calculators to figure out the value-added tax. He wanted the franc-euro converter too, but I couldn't find it. I thought I'd thrown it out.

Once printed out, he stuffed the papers in an envelope and we went by the post office and he sent them off. Then we went to the café next door.

Some group of local citizens has decided to hold a poll to decide 'what to do' with the Rue Daguerre. This has Dimitri pretty upset. He was already 'doing something' about what he says is theposter: expo edith piaf degeneration of the street - too many sushi places, too many Asian fast-food outlets, too many real estate offices, and getting to be too many boutiques for bobos - so the idea of a poll unnerved him.

My copy of it has four varying propositions for making the street 'safe for boutiques,' plus it has one option for doing nothing - 'ne rien faire.'

The expo for Edith Piaf opens in the Hôtel de Ville's Salon d'Acceuil on 8. October.

There's a good possibility that the last option is the one that will get adopted because the changes to surrounding heavy-traffic streets - such as the additions of bus-lanes - have jammed up traffic considerably. As Laurel Avery points out elsewhere in this issue, stalled car and truck traffic may cause more pollution than fast bus lanes allievate.

[The idea is, of course, is to make driving private cars disagreeable - while giving dedicated lanes to buses so they can be faster - thus maybe converting car drivers into bus riders. But in phase one, with car drivers grimly hanging in there, the traffic jams are much worse than ever before because of reduced road surfaces. But - the average speed of buses has risen.]

The Rue Daguerre doesn't carry much traffic, but two one-way cross streets are vital arteries. One proposition suggests changing their directions, and another suggests changing Daguerre's direction. I think these proposition are smokescreens for the real one - making all of Daguerre a pedestrian area like Montorgueil.

If this happens, Dimitri fears the whole street with be boutiqued from end to end and what remains of its slightly seedy charm will be lost. On the weekend Daguerre was partly closed for its artists and artisans' days.

The fellow who owns Paris Accordéon was playing in the café nearest to his shop. It seemed natural - every café should have accordion music on Saturday afternoons, so long as it is played by a guy who owns a nearby accordion shop. If the quartier gets 'boutiqued,' goodbye accordions.

This morning Dimitri saw me in the café and he came over. He was in a proper dither. The customer with the frame that needs re-doing bought the estimate we turned out on Friday, and is sending some house painter over with it.

When this guy phoned Dimitri he didn't bother listening to the directions of where to bring the frame. Evenphoto: cafe les 2 moulins, rue lepic if he knows where to come, he might leave it with the building's guardian - and not carry it up the four flights of stairs.

One of the cafés in the Rue Lepic, just up from the Place Blanche.

Or, if he does, he may wreck the frame doing it. What does a wall painter care, if he won't listen to directions? But this isn't Dimitri's main worry. His main worry is that when he's finished the frame's restoration, he'll have to hire a couple of heavy-duty guys to get the thing back across town and reinstalled on its wall.

That's why he put 'taking down, transport and rehanging' is not included in the price on the estimate. Just doing that stuff might cost more than the restoration job.

It's like whatever plan comes out for the Rue Daguerre. The street may get improved so much that it ends up wrecked. Like the bus lanes are unimproving the air quality before they start to improve it by making car drivers ride the buses.

Nuit Noir, Nuit Blanche

Last week I intended to do an update to the 'weekly' Scène column, but fell behind an eight-ball of a clock. Nevertheless, I had already added a few new items to it. Like this one:-

La Notte Bianca - this may be Rome's first sleepless 'Nuit Blanche,' so I've moved Paris' date up the list - above - to put in Rome's La Notte Bianca here. It begins on Saturday, 27. September, and goes all night into Sunday. I won't say you can get two for the price of one, but this year Europe has two, which is sort of 'two for one.'

As you must know by now, the night lihts of Rome went out at 03:20 Sunday morning during its 'Notte Bianca.' As in Paris, the Roman métro was meant to be running all night until it stopped dead with the lights out.


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