Saturday, March 5, 2011

A stroll through Paris at dusk

I'm still trying to sell what little personal property I can scrape up in order to raise money, but the eBay store keeps shafting me. They were supposed to have a check ready for me on Tuesday, but now it's a week late. I've been going there for several days asking for it. It's bad enough that they take 1/3 of whatever an item sells for (even though their costs per item are fixed), and that they give buyers a money-back guarantee even though that's not allowed for auctions, and that they provide no seller protection against buyer fraud, but now they are taking forever to pay for anything.

And my employer was a month late in paying me, too. Kind of makes it hard to pay the rent when your meager wages are 27 days late.

Anyway, I have about ten euro to see me through until I get paid (by someone). So I tried going for a walk again to relieve stress.

Since I'm still in a video phase, I shot some video. Mainly three bridges: the Pont Alexandre III, the Pont des Arts, and the Pont Neuf.

The Pont Alexandre III is indisputably the beauty queen of Paris bridges. It was built for the Universal Exposition of 1900, and a few years ago it was restored to its original condition and colors. It's a pleasure to look at, and rather nicely located right between the big esplanade of the Hôtel des Invalides (below which some French spook agencies have their headquarters, supposedly) and the Grand and Petit Palais, giant exhibition halls from the same exposition with huge glass roofs, also recently restored. Lots of photo ops with this bridge. I made a two-minute video of it. I tried to put closed captions in it, but I can't get that YouTube function to work. I don't narrate the video because I can't stand the sound of my own voice.

I also have some footage of the Pont des Arts, but I didn't have enough coverage there to edit it into something useful, and the same is true for my shots of the Pont Neuf, although I have a handful of nice shots.

The Pont des Arts is the pedestrian bridge where people gather to socialize and hold picnics (weather permitting). The Pont Neuf, despite its name (which means “new bridge”) is the oldest bridge still standing in Paris, and it has also been recently restored. I'll have to try to get some useful shots of these later.

By the time I looked at these three bridges, it was getting dark, since I had to start late in order to pass uselessly by the eBay place (which keeps limited hours) in a vain search for respect of my contract with them. I decided to slip up to the Opera district to make a continuous strolling video.

I started at the Bonne Nouvelle Métro station on the boulevard of the same name, then walked west for almost half an hour until I ended up in front of the Paris Opera (the old one, the Opéra Garnier). During this I filmed continuously, producing 23 minutes of video with only one quick interruption. Unfortunately it was hand-held, but I tried to keep the camera still.

The interest of this video is that it provides an unedited look at the considerable activity on Paris streets. Paris is very densely population and the streets are always busy, and that is apparent in the video. You see people of all types doing all sorts of things, plus endless stores and restaurants extending for the entire length of the stroll (which covered about one mile). My objective was to provide a “you are there” sort of experience. The result was so-so, but if you've never been to Paris and you are curious, it could be interesting to watch.

This 23-minute video took 13 hours to upload to YouTube (it was almost 4 gigabytes in size). I suppose I'll have to wait another twenty years to see high-speed SDSL Internet service. France Télécom is making so much money with its 95% margins on existing ADSL service that it has no motivation to do better.

Since I have only ten euro, I bought some milk and mineral water and made some more of my favorite curry rice dish, which should hold me over for a while. I was also able to find two loaves of soft French bread, instead of those junk French baguettes that I bought several days ago, which were as hard as synthetic sapphire before I could even get them into the freezer. I had to throw the baguettes out. The two parisiennes are much more edible, especially with olive oil and vinegar—this provides a more balanced diet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed the "cinema verite" and the you are there quality. Feels very real, though also very much like being in NYC. Plenty of people speak French there too! So merci beaucoups! Have to paint a mural with a French/dusk feeling. Perhaps a bit more village, since the client doesn't want any people! Doesn't look like Paris comes without! Thanks, again. Hope you got your money!

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