Saturday, June 23, 2012

Père Lachaise, elections, other stuff

Well, I finally finished my blockbuster video on the famous Père Lachaise cemetery. It took a number of trips to the cemetery to get all the shots I wanted. This video also cost me money because I had to pay ten euro to license a musical stinger of a few seconds that I use several times in the video.

Anyway, Père Lachaise is a really relaxing place to visit, provided that you aren't made nervous by the proximity of rotting cadavers. It's relatively quiet as Parisian locations go, and it has lots of trees that make a nice noise when there's a breeze, and the tombs themselves are often very interesting to look at, with a considerable amount of art incorporated into their design. You can spend hours at the cemetery quite easily. And it's a famous cemetery because many famous people are buried there, from Jim Morrison (who has been dead longer than he was alive) to Maria Callas to Oscar Wilde to Édith Piaf. The paths and walkways of the cemetery are like a Hall of Fame for the dead.

I've been to the cemetery many times. It is customary to pick up a map before or at the entrance. The free maps are so-so. The maps you have to pay for are often considerably better. I helped someone find several famous graves while I was shooting because his free map did not clearly show their locations, whereas my €2.50 map did. I guess that raises the production cost of my video to €12.50.

I divided the video up into a couple of parts, perhaps not very intelligently. It was hard to come up with constant narration, so some parts don't have any.

Moving right along … the French presidential elections have come and gone. The incumbent president, Nicolas Sarkozy, was kicked out of office after only a single term. He was replaced by François Hollande. Time will tell if this was a good choice or not.

Mr. Sarkozy is intelligent but has a lot of quirks. I think the quirks induced the electorate to vote him out of office. Voters weren't interested in his replacement so much as they just wanted him to be replaced.

Mr. Hollande has been in the old boys' club of French politics for decades, but, significantly, he has always been on the periphery, never in the center, like his ex-girlfriend Ségolène Royal. This implies to me that neither of them really has what it takes for positions of high responsibility, otherwise they would have climbed the ladder long ago. But in the last election, Ms. Royal was pitted again Mr. Sarkozy … for what reasons, I do not know. Perhaps the opposition had nothing better to offer (which is worrisome), or perhaps it was a gamble on getting her into office based on the fact that she's female. Whatever those reasons, she lost. Shortly thereafter, she broke up with Mr. Hollande, who found a new girlfriend. It seems that the brush with celebrity that Ms. Royal had may have catalyzed the campaign of her ex-beau to become president; at least that's my theory, as I cannot see why he would ever be selected as a candidate otherwise. In his case, though, when he ran against Mr. Sarkozy, he won. Whether he truly has the right stuff to serve as head of state remains to be seen.

Anyway … as a resident alien, I cannot vote, so I just observe. I hope things go well with this new president.

Thursday (June 21) was the summer solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere (at 2:59 AM local time here in Paris). It's also the Fête de la Musique, a yearly event that was first invented in France but has now spread to many other countries. On June 21, every musician and group that couldn't get a paying gig to save their souls at any other time of year surge out of the woodwork to perform in informal concerts in various venues, including the public right of way. This is not always a good thing for people who have to listen to them, especially when they have amplifiers that go to eleven. Fortunately, in recent years, the noise has settled down somewhat as the informal occasion has become more of a Major Media Event, with more professionals and fewer amateurs.

In any case, my arrondissement is rather sleepy so I'm not disturbed by amateur music blasting through the streets on this occasion.

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