Saturday, May 1, 2021

The More Paris Changes


Not much to report lately. Paris is largely in suspended animation, still mostly paralyzed by hysteria over the Deadly Virus. A third lockdown is in effect, although it is more bureaucracy than substance this time. The streets are not as deserted as the were during the first lockdown. There are still no tourists, however.

Some major hotels are laying off staff. Fauchon, next to the Madeleine, is closing that iconic store and others (its major competitor, Hédiard, went out of business several years ago). Disneyland is still closed, but has converted one building into a giant vaccination center. Most places are closed, in fact, this being imposed by the lockdown. Hairdressers (but not beauty salons in general) and barbers are allowed to remain open for this round, for some reason. The Louvre and other museums are closed. The Eiffel Tower is closed. Shopping centers are closed (I think—it’s hard to keep up). And schools are a mess, with policies changing daily. Each lockdown is more complex and absurd and bureaucratic than its predecessor.

Everyone must still wear a mask everywhere. There is a push to get everyone vaccinated; I suppose at some point everyone refusing vaccination will be rounded up and shot. About 30,000 people a day test positive for the virus; at that rate, the entire country will be contaminated … in six years. And with the current mortality, everyone in France will be dead in just six centuries.

You still need your “papers” to go outside, and there’s still a curfew at 7 PM. But with shops and restaurants still closed (except for take-away and delivered meals), there aren’t many places to go. The weather in Paris is excellent—as it usually is in April—but there’s no easy way to profit from it.

On a recent visit to the Champs-Élysées running errands, I noticed more people out and about than during the first lockdown; and considering that they’re all locals—tourists are still conspicuously absent—I guess it was a reasonable crowd. A fair amount of vehicular traffic, too, although less than normal (insofar as I can still remember what “normal” was like).

I’d like to shoot more videos for my YouTube channel, but with the city currently resembling a wax museum, topics are in short supply. I suppose I could document stores closing and going out of business. In the past year there has been an uptick in gang violence n Paris which is unusual … but everything happening these days seems to be unusual. Strikes, demonstrations, gun violence, virus hysteria, hysterical reactions to relatively trivial events: it’s all very strange, a bit surreal.

I should try to document the newly renovated place de la République, place de la Bastille, and place d’Italie, but with so much hysteria and uncertainty these days, it’s logistically challenging. I have a very long list of things t do when and if society ever returns to normal. I haven’t even had my hair cut in almost two years and it’s down to my shoulders.

The artists are disappearing from the famous square at the top of Montmartre, the place du Tertre. Already, 80% of the square has been taken over by tourist-trap restaurants (currently closed, but their terraces are still there), and another 25 artists’ spots have been removed to make room for still more restaurant terraces. A famous, huge wisteria tree near the square (place du Calvaire) has been cut down by the city, too, raising a local outcry—but trees do get old and sometimes sick and must occasionally be replaced. This 129-year-old tree was dying, so it had to go. When you look at the trees on the boulevard Clichy or the square du Vert-Galant, you see how quickly they can grow to a large size, so it’s not that big a deal to have to cut one down from time to time.

The Reich is now mumbling again about resuming the respect of civil liberties. It has mentioned gradually reopening society starting this month. But policies change daily and promises ring hollow.


No comments:

Post a Comment