Sure, the 41-minute virtual tour of the Winchester Mystery House is cool and all, but if you want to really go for spooky, turn off the lights and start exploring the underground ossuaries below Paris. While physically closed to the public during this time of coronavirus, the virtual visit to the Catacombs of Paris is still open.
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The history of the Paris Catacombs starts in the late eighteenth century, when major public health problems tied to the city’s cemeteries led to a decision to transfer their contents to an underground site.
Paris authorities chose an easily accessible site that was, at the time, located outside the capital: the former Tombe-Issoire quarries under the plain of Montrouge. In operation since at least the fifteenth century and then abandoned, these quarries were a small part of the labyrinth that extended under the city over approximately 800 hectares. Preparation of the site and the organization of bone transfers were entrusted to Charles Axel Guillaumot, an inspector at the Department of General Quarry Inspection. The mission of this department, which had been founded on April 4, 1777, by Louis XVI, was to consolidate the abandoned quarries following major collapses of the ground under Paris in the mid-eighteenth century.
The first evacuations were made from 1785 to 1787 and concerned the largest cemetery in Paris, the Saints-Innocents cemetery, which had been closed in 1780 after consecutive use for nearly ten centuries. The tombs, common graves and charnel house were emptied of their bones, which were transported at night to avoid hostile reactions from the Parisian population and the Church.
In Paris on Saturday, police fired water cannons and tear gas on protesters who gathered to mark one year since the anti-government “yellow vest” demonstrations of 2018. Read the rest
A clip from director Hugues Nancy's "Paris 1900, the City of Lights," featuring restored and colorized film footage from the fin de siècle. From C21Media:
Thanks to incredible archives restored and fully colorized, this film presents a previously unseen journey through time and space. Discover, Paris in 1900 at the time of the Exposition Universelle and the very beginning of modern art and cinema. The City of Lights became a showcase city, displaying the latest technical and scientific inventions, and also boasting avant-garde art galleries, lively cabarets, the ultimate in high fashion, and… the Parisiennes. The myth of “La Belle Epoque” reigned supreme.
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Anyone who’s visited France or who keeps track of the nation's doings through the news, knows that it’s a nation that’ll put up with a lot of bullshit -- being overrun by tourists, loud talkers, or smiling at strangers -- provided said bullshit doesn’t infringe on the quality of its citizens' lives. The Paris government is arguing that excessively loud vehicles falls on the infringement list. At first blush, it looks like they're trying to do something about it.
Parisians with powerful cars might want to think carefully before showing off their rides. Parts of the city (most recently the suburb of Villeneuve-le-Roi) are testing a "noise radar" system from Bruitparif that can pinpoint loud vehicles and, eventually, ticket them. The system uses four microphones to triangulate the origins of a sound and link it with CCTV footage to pinpoint whoever's making the racket.
Just shy of 40 of the devices are in use so far, primarily near bars in Paris' entertainment regions as well as 17 around major buildings.
It sounds like a great idea, but I suspect that there might be something greasy going on here. The technology being put into use sounds suspiciously similar to the gunshot locator systems manufactured by ShotSpotter and a few other tech firms. ShotSpotter’s website provides a basic lesson on how the technology works:
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Acoustic sensors are strategically placed in a coverage area. When a gun is fired, the sensors detect shots fired. Audio triangulation pinpoints gunfire location and machine-learning algorithms analyze the sound.
There's a proposal in the works to replace Notre Dame's spire -- which was a relatively modern addition -- with a new, starchitect-designed "statement" spire, which will be copyrightable under the same French rules that prohibit commercial photos of the Eiffel Tower at night (and other French landmarks).
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Police report finding 7 cigarette butts in the charred ashes.
[Editor's note: Gigapixel panorama impressario Jeffrey Martin (previously) offers us "an eye full from Eiffel" in this astounding gigapixel pano of Paris -Cory]
I shot this gigapixel photo in autumn 2018 from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Using an SLR camera and a variety of telephoto lenses, I shot a few thousand photos from both levels of the Eiffel Tower. The image you see here was shot from the top level, and you can actually see the Eiffel Tower itself in the image.
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It took 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama just seconds to reach a child that was dangling from the fifth-floor balcony of a building in Paris, saving the four-year-old boy.
The undocumented migrant worker from Mali was rewarded handsomely for his courageous act. French President Emmanuel Macron met with the man and granted him French citizenship and a job as a firefighter.
USA Today reports:
“Bravo,” Macron said to 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama during a one-on-one meeting in a gilded room of the presidential Elysee Palace that ended with Gassama receiving a gold medal from the French state for “courage and devotion.”
...The young man said he has papers to legally stay in Italy, where he arrived in Europe after crossing the Mediterranean, ending a long, rough stay in Libya. But he came to France last September to join his older brother, who has lived in France for decades.
Gassama, dressed in tattered blue jeans and white shirt, recounted his experience which took place at around 8 p.m. Saturday when he and friends saw a young child hanging from a fifth-floor balcony.
“I ran. I crossed the street to save him,” he told Macron. He said he didn’t think twice. “When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing.”
God “helped me,” too, he said. “Thank God I saved him.”
The boy's father was detained overnight for neglect. Read the rest
As a child in 1942, Mireille Knoll escaped the capture of Jews by police in occupied France during The Vélodrome d'Hiver roundup. The majority of those arrested during the roundup were sent to Auschwitz, where they were killed. Her evasion of France's Nazi puppet police force during the second world war allowed her to survive the horrors of the Holocaust, unlike so many of her neighbors and relations. But she couldn't escape racism. Her time on earth came to an end this past week after she was stabbed 11 times and left to die in her burning apartment, in Paris, France. She was 85 years old.
According to the The Washington Post, Knoll's murder has French journalists and Jewish advocacy groups concerned that, given the area and brutality in which her life was ended, there could be reasonable grounds for the murder to be considered a hate crime. As in North America, Anti-Semitic hate crimes have been on the rise in France. In the past year, bigots and fascists who were once too afraid to show their hate in public have made their way into the mainstream, emboldened by the politics of our times.
From the Washington Post:
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Jewish advocacy groups were quick to put the case within the context of rising anti-Semitism in France and to point out the similarities to another high-profile case being investigated as anti-Semitic: the April 2017 killing of Sarah Halimi, a 66-year-old Orthodox Jewish physician and kindergarten teacher who was beaten in her apartment and then thrown out a window.
When Disney built Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris), it was required to partner with a French company that borrowed heavily, couldn't get out from under its debts, and ended up beholden to creditors who forced it to limit spending on the park, trapping it in a cycle of unpopularity and underinvestment.
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O’Naturel is a nudist restaurant in Paris. The New Yorker's Henry Alford had a bite and an eyeful:
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After dodging security, photographer Nina Richard quietly hung Lorde's well-reviewed, sophomore album Melodrama onto the walls of Le Musée du Louvre in Paris, France.
Presenting her photographic evidence, she tweeted:
Why the Louvre?
According to Slate, the act of displaying the album in the museum is a way of bringing the lyrics of its fourth track, "The Louvre," to life:
But we're the greatest, they'll hang us in the Louvre
Down the back, but who cares, still the Louvre
Melodrama was recently nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award.
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The Louvre in Paris decided that the "Domestikator," the 40-foot-tall installation by Atelier Van Lieshout seen above, wasn't the right fit for the adjacent Tuileries Gardens. The plan was to show it during this month's Fiac! International Contemporary Art Fair.
“Online commentaries point out this work has a brutal aspect,” wrote the Louvre’s director, Jean-Luc Martinez Martinez, in a letter to fair organizers. “It risks being misunderstood by visitors to the gardens.”
The Louvre was also reportedly concerned that in the Tuileries Gardens the sculpture would be too close to a children's playground.
The new plan is that starting next Wednesday, the "Domestikator" will be situated in front of the Centre Pompidou that houses the Musée National d'Art Moderne.
“To have this major piece in front of the Pompidou is a victory,” Julien Lombrail, director of the London-based gallery Carpenters Workshop, which represents Atelier Van Lieshout, told the New York Times. “It’s an incredible moment for Paris and the public, when we have so many issues surrounding art and censorship. It’s important for us to engage for the future.” Read the rest
The International Olympic Committee took the unprecedented step of announcing the 2024 and 2028 Olympic host cities (Paris and LA), because both cities were bidding unopposed, and LA had to be bribed with a $1.8B "grant" from the IOC to agree to host the games. Read the rest
Paris, France is making good on its promise to reopen long polluted waterways to bathers.
Up to three hundred people at any time can use the lifeguard-protected pools, although the pools only have locker space for 80. Located in a part of Paris already popular as a place to stroll in fine weather, the new bathing spot is likely to prove a major hit in an already hotter-than-average summer. Early reports suggest that the water is indeed delightful, though a small residuum of green algae does make a post-bathe shower a good idea.
How did Paris pull this off? The city’s been working on cleaning up the waters here for decades. Paris’s canals here were once unsurprisingly filthy, running as they do through a former industrial area once packed with cargo barges and polluted by sewage. Since the 1980s, however, regulations managing industrial run-off have tightened substantially, while Paris has invested heavily in wastewater treatment and in preventing sewage from being discharged into the canal during periods of high water. Two years ago, following a concerted clean-up, bacteria levels dropped below safe levels, and rogue bathers have been jumping in the water here for a while. Meanwhile, the Canal Saint Martin, which runs downstream from the basin down to the Seine, was entirely drained and cleaned in 2016, a process that sent a powerful visual message to Parisians that the area’s historic filth was being swept away.
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The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs tweeted a ? video today on Trump's Paris Accord decision.
After president Emmanuel Macron's epic tweet yesterday, this is something else. Read the rest
The city of Paris has installed "anti-refugee boulders" beneath a highway overpass in Porte de La Chapelle in a bid to stop Syrian refugees from sleeping in the flyover's shelter while they wait for space to open up at a nearby humanitarian relief center operated by Emmaus solidarité. Read the rest