Actually, it used to be the corporate headquarters of Marcel Dassault Aviation, which I assume explains why it was considered so appropriate to expose a Mirage there. In fact, the full name of the Rond Point des Champs Elysées is now Rond Point des Champs Elysées Marcel Dassault. The next building up the street used to be Dassault's luxurious cinema, where he imposed only family entertainment. Then it was the Thai Airways building for about 15 years, and now it is being transformed into an Abercrombie & Fitch superstore. All of these buildings go through so many incarnations over the years!
To demonstrate how many people were killed in a certain period of time on South African roads, our city laid out a pair of shoes for every victim. Donated by individuals, factories and shoe stores they were later all donated to charity.
Kimby - Sorry, I really do not know the correct answer. At first I thought it was over the period of a year, but then noticed signs that read Monday, Tuesday etc.etc. It could have been a series of fatalities starting with a week of deaths, then a month, then 12 months. I will try and find out.
Kerouac, when we were in Paris last September we watched a homeless man drag his mattress back and forth down Rue St. Germaine attempting to just find a place to lie down for a rest. We did not know what to do, we wanted to do something... but what can be done. Especially since a large part of the homeless population are mentally ill, it is hard to convince them there are agencies to help them.
I have been asked and accepted to volunteer at the hospital to assist the patients who have had strokes, have dementia etc.
That scene of bodies kipping on flattened cardboard boxes is all over my city as well. Any doorway that gives a bit of shelter is occupied at night. The problem is there are very few (maybe two or three) public toilet facilities in the whole town, so you can imagine the pollution these unfortunate people create. What on earth they do down in the metro when nature calls........ ?
Mich64 - I know where you are coming from because whilst in Hong Kong I fed an old man everyday (who looked at least 100), when I left the hotel. But take heart when I tell you that just off Blvd Saint Germaine in rue Clement, there is a (one of many I suspect) daily free food facility. Here they sit down at tables and are given a main meal and I think it could be two courses which includes dessert(?)Not too sure. Several times I witnessed them all inside eating as the building was next to my hotel.
I'm sure Kerouac knows all the things the city of Paris does to alleviate their plight?
Yes, the city does its best to get these people into shelters, "but it's a free country and I'm not going!" is a common response to the social workers. The most deranged don't want to go because they don't want anybody controlling them, and the recent homeless don't want to go because the shelters are full of thieves, addicts and crazy people. That still leaves plenty of middle ground to fill the shelters.
Near where my office used to be in the 15th arrondissement, there was a big fat homeless woman who lived on the sidewalk. She absolutely never moved from her place and refused all assistance. he had about 20 bags of all sorts piled around her. One thing that you quickly learned was to never give her any copper coins -- she would angrily throw them across the street. I was usually on the other side of the street anyway, because the stink from her was so intense that I couldn't stand it.
Anyway, the police finally had to move her, because the building against which she was positioned was going to be torn down. This provoked a major crisis of course, and on top of that, the police could barely lift her bags, which were full of thousands of coins. It was in the news -- she had collected about 75,000€ in change. Further investigation revealed that she owned a large house in Brittany. Of course, then she dropped out of the news.
I don't think that the people in my photo are sleeping on a fortune, though.
As for toilets, they relieve themselves just beyond the yellow danger sign in the upper right of the photograph.
I was driving downtown yesterday afternoon and saw a fellow bundled against the cold sleeping against a shop wall. Another bundled figure (female?) appeared to be patting him down. Was he being robbed? Or tucked in? Hard to tell.
You can lead a homeless person to a shelter, but you can't make him go in. Especially if the shelter has a no-alcohol policy and your only joy in life is the bottle....
One good thing in Paris is that they have finally opened some shelters that accept pets, obviously the only faithful friend that a lot of these people have, and the center of their life. They will find food for their dogs before they will find food for themselves. The aid workers now also have little bags of dog and cat food to hand out to the homeless.
When they are so lacking in food for themselves, why don't they choose a smaller dog that would eat less than the monstrous german shephards and mixed breed brutes they tend to have? Personal security, probably.
It also irks me that in addition to begging money for their own food and their dog's food, they all seem to smoke and most of them drink, too. Budget out of whack.
During the day many of them occupy street corners with a crudely lettered sign saying "Anything helps. God bless." Or "Carpenter out of Work" (like anyone would be crazy enough to invite a shabby vagabond into their home). My personal favorite says, "Why lie? I just want a beer."
Today, I walked to the end of avenue George V during lunch hour to see the zouave. A zouave was a North African French colonial soldier, famous for his bouffant trousers.
A small anecdote first. When my mother was a little girl, when she would come to Paris with her parents, or maybe even in Metz, but certainly not in the local villages, she would sometimes see a zouave, and this intrigued her tremendously. "Why do they wear pants like that?" she asked her father.
He told her, "they only take those pants off once a year, and all of the extra space in the legs is to hold the shit."
She said that she spent the next several years peering even harder at any zouave she saw to try to verify this statement. There are no longer any zouaves on the street, so I guess we will never get confirmation of my grandfather's extensive military knowledge, but Paris has its very important
Zouave du Pont de l'Alma
The bridge was changed around the end of the 1970's but the zouave remained because his very important role is as the flood gauge of the city of Paris. Is the water up to his shoes? His shins? His knees?
That's what people want to know. As you can see, his shoes are dry today, but they were wet last week, and they might be wet again by the end of the week. I have seen water up to his thighs in the past, and that was a big worry. In a case like that, both expressways along the banks are underwater, and so is the RER C train line that follows the Seine.
In the great flood of 1910, the zouave was up to his neck in water.
I knew that this building was part of the complex of the Faculty of Science of the University of Paris. Even though a lot of these geeks are interesting in their domains, they are not really known for artistic flights of fancy of this sort. However, I walked up right next to the building and found the answer to the mystery.