Monday, November 28, 2016

A Walk To Parc Montsourris

The day was going to be Brilliant Paris Blue, which is just as impressive – but not more so – than Ghastly Paris Grey, AND I had left over chicken for a sandwich.

Looked like Parc Montsourris to me.

Out the door, up rue Mazarine to the Bucci Cirque, down rue de Bucci to rue Gregoire de Tours to Boulevard St Germain and down to rue de Seine – it turns into rue de Tournon at its intersection with rue St Sulpice – (John Paul Jones died in an apartment on the left side of rue de Tournon as you walk toward la Sénate) and then into le Jardin de Luxembourg.

I love taking pictures of tour Montparnasse when the sky is blue.

Paris 2016 tour montparnasse 112816 00000

And the chestnut trees look great without leaves with the Paris Brilliant Blue background.

Paris 2016 chestnuts in jardin de luxembourg 112816 00000

And feathers on the ground always get me to take a picture; however, I inadvertently also got another of my favorite things in the picture: flint.  It played a big part in A Curious Confluence.

Paris 2016 feather in jardin de luxembourg 112816 00000

I could not resist taking some shots of the spitting turtles in le Jardin des Grandes Explorateurs.

Paris 2016 grandes explorateurs spitting turtles 112816 00000


And I took the time for the first time to get a fairly decent picture of la Closerie des Lilas.

Paris 2016 clos de lilas 112816 00000

I practiced amazing digital self control from there until I got into Parc Montsourris; I walked around part of the uphill part of the Parc and then settled in for lunch on a bench on the little lake.

Paris 2016 birch tree in parc montsourris 112816 00000

Paris 2016 kaki in parc montsourris 112816 00000

Paris 2016 lunch in parc montsourris 112816 00000

And that was pretty much what I did today that resulted in images.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Perroquets Parisiens Encore Encore

Every November, sometime, they just appear out of nowhere.

Some of them go to le Bois de Boulogne.

Some of them sit in the sweet gum trees on the river by Pont du Carousel.

Some like to sit on the pilings of the Cop Dock Moorage by Pont Austerlitz.

They are the cormorants.

I’ve always liked cormorants, so, by extension, I like taking their pictures.

Since the distance from me to them is the least at the Cop Dock, that is where I take most pictures of them.

A couple of days ago I got a bonus for doing that.

As I was standing looking at several of the cormorant images I had just taken, I heard the squawk of a parrot.

One had just come out of le Jardin des Plantes and had lit on the trunk of a tree very close to me.

And it stayed there as I took shot after shot.

In fact when I decided I had taken as many images of that bird as posterity might ever want to examine, it was still there as I left.

I got fifty or sixty high quality, albeit highly redundant, images of the bird before I quit.

This morning I was reviewing and cropping the best of them with the idea of posting them to my blog.

Toward the end of the middle I encountered a series of eight images that tell a sort of story.


paris parrot 112616 00024

paris parrot 112616 00025

paris parrot 112616 00026

paris parrot 112616 00027

paris parrot 112616 00028

paris parrot 112616 00029

paris parrot 112616 00030

paris parrot 112616 00031

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Twenty Six Novembre 2016

Today is my father’s birthday.

If he had lived he would be 99 today.

He was the one I mentioned in a blog post on 6 June 2014, as having gone to WWII and never really returning.

But I was here and now is now, so I needed take advantage of the precious days I have left  here in Paris.

This morning I screwed around looking at emails and Facebook and related time sinks devoted to wasting it – time.

I sorta had a good reason: the day looked to be about to become a duplicate of the gray, cold, miserable yesterday (everything I love about Paris and why I come here at this time of the year) and, that love notwithstanding, I had convinced myself to go slow with getting on the streets.

So I didn’t – get on the streets until 1400.

I had decided, since The Weather Channel insisted that it was only going to be tres nuageux with 5% chance de pluie, to go on what would be a fairly long walk; not like yesterday’s 9 miles, but maybe six.

The walk was going to be up Canal St Martin as far as I felt like going or before it began to get dark, whichever came first.

My route of choice to get to La Bastille, which is where Canal St Martin starts, albeit underground until le premiere écluse, whose name evades me right now, and walk up Boulevard René Coty, was to go down La Seine on the right bank river level, which is the way I always go, so my protestations that taking pictures year after year and week after week and day after day  on the same route is not really stupid because the light is always different was going to be stress tested to the extreme.

The traverse started in a boringly vapid manner with my taking pictures of the muddy wake of a passing boat: the river has gotten a lot muddier, which it wasn’t yesterday, overnight.

Then some terns caught my attention.

A little farther on, under Pont St Michel, I noted that the muddy water had also risen overnight and was not far from spilling into the dropped level travers I was walking on; in 2010 that walkway never was above water in my entire four months here.

The point to this route – in addition to the fact that is one of my favorites – was that it leads to access to Pont Austerlitz where I cross over the river,  navigate the multiple life threatening crosswalks, and, once headed in the right direction, walk up to the street to the access ramp to l’ Arsenal de Paris where all the beautiful people moor their boats.

The picture of the entrance is across the river from the entrance.

That is an important note because just a little farther on, on the side of the river where I took the entrance picture, is the Paris Cop Boat Moorage.

That’s where, always on some day in November, the cormorants re-appear from seemingly nowhere.

I had stopped a couple days previously when I was going back from le Jardin Des Plantes to take cormorant pictures, but the day was so dark and grey that the contrast between Paris dark and grey and cormorant black was not going to produce anything worth the digits I was going to commit to the images.

So I just stood there thinking about how dark was the day.

My reverie was broken by the shriek of parrots, several of whom were catapulting out of Plantes out onto the river bank.

I have seen them dodge out and back from le Jardin previously, but never to the extent that they stayed outside of le Jardin for more than a few seconds.

In this case one of them landed on the lower trunk of the one of the sweet gum trees that line the access ramp up from the river to the higher quay level.

I jumped into action, but to no avail; the parrot didn’t stay.

But I filed that place away as a possibility for non traditional images des perroquets.

That’s why today I stopped and took pictures of the cormorants, light conditions being much more favorable than the day previously referenced.

As I was reviewing those images I heard the shriek of a parrot.

It landed more or less where the other one had landed but this one stayed.

And I got a lot of pictures; here is one of them.

That was the high point; the rest of the route went down hill rather rapidly; but the shot of the tower at La Bastille and the carousel at the beginning of boulevard René Coty are pretty good.

Then I got on the metro and, with a transfer at gare d’est, got off at St Michel and came out of the Quay St Michel maw in front of Le Départ St Michel. 

paris 2016 muddy wake 112616 00000

paris 2016 tern on seine 112616 00002

paris 2016 travers under pont st michel 112616 00000

paris 2016 canal st martin entrance 112616 00000

paris 2016 cormorant on piling at paris cop dock 112616 00000

paris 2016 parrot on seine 112616 00000

paris 2016 la bastille 112616 00000

paris 2016 la carousel on rene coty 112616 00000

paris 2016 metro stop 112616 00000

Friday, November 25, 2016

Little Birds Whose Name I don’t Know

I finally paid attention to what was available for travers alternate to les bouquinistes level a La Seine and went down to the river level quays in Paris in 2012; I think that that date is fairly accurate.

Anyway, I didn’t do it for the first several years that I have spent time here but now most of my walks are down on the river level on either sides of the river.

Once down there, I began to see a little bird.

I like taking pictures of birds of any size, so I immediately began trying to get a picture of this one.

They always appeared on the slanting stones of the seawall down to the river.

And they always kept at least one jump ahead of me and my camera.

Today, finally, one gave me a chance to get some pictures.

Here are some of them.

unknown bird on the quay 112516 00000


unknown bird on the quay 112516 00002

unknown bird on the quay 112516 00003

unknown bird on the quay 112516 00004

unknown bird on the quay 112516 00006

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Les Perroquets Parisiens Encore

The first time I realized that there were parrots in Paris was in 2010 on a really cold nasty Paris afternoon: I had just gotten to the entrance of Parc Montsourris and I heard that shrieking call that they make.

I was familiar with that sound because there is a flock in Seward Park in Seattle; and they sound just the same.

So as I got into the Parc I was on alert for that sound.

I finally actually saw some and got some pictures that were of the sort people present as evidence of flying saucers.

But over time I persisted and began to get some pretty good images.

One of them has even become a painting by avian artist Kim Middleton.

Here is an in-process status report image that Kim emailed me during her creation of the painting:

Perruches Paris 14- sm

The finished product is even more spectacular.


In 2012 I discovered that there was a flock of these birds in le Jardin des Plantes. 

That one, possibly with the help of several tube feeders, has become quite large.

I have gotten many really good pictures from le Jardin since 2012.

In 2014 I began to see these birds in Le Bois Vincennes.

The only place I’ve been able to get any pictures is on the island. 

The flock sits over there and makes a lot of noise and periodically shoots back and forth across the water.

I don’t have a camera, nor do I have the skill, if I did have a camera set up for that sort of shooting opportunity, to capture green bullets hurtling through space.

So I pretty much have to follow the squawks and hope to get a shot of one at rest in a tree.

I haven’t seen any yet in le Bois de Boulogne.

From that first encounter in 2010 I wondered if there were any parrots in Le Jardin de Luxembourg.

On a really cold grey day in 2012 I saw the first one there.

And since then there has become a pretty good sized flock.

But I have never been able to get a decent picture of any of them: too high in the trees; too dark a day for any contrast, bird with sky, and all those other things that make trying to get pictures of birds a maddening hobby.

But yesterday all conditions conspired in my favor.

Here are the four best images of a parrot sitting very high in a chestnut tree.

jardin de luxembourge parrot 112316 00000


jardin de luxembourge parrot 112316 00001


jardin de luxembourge parrot 112316 00002

jardin de luxembourge parrot 112316 00003

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

No Banner Under Which To March Next Time: It’s Downhill

I don’t really know what I am talking about.

I need to start that way because I have a few pretty doctrinaire things to say and I have absolutely no credentials to allow me to make these statements.

But that deep lack of credentials apparently doesn’t stop anybody else any more so I am just going to let it rip.

First, I want to crop my universe: I am talking about only Europe and its spawn – you know – places like the United States of America.

Second – and this is just a limiting statement – I am, more or less talking about that European mélange that has emerged since Pharamond became the first official Chef de France in 418 AD.


It took me until a couple of years ago – 72 years – to realize that the universal representation of the human race as an ancient and venerable manifestation of the improvement resulting from the never ending upward thrust of evolutionary biology and, latterly, the never ending and constantly accelerating motivating force of intellectual progress is a total sham; the human race is just a bunch of smart monkeys that is headed to perdition.

The story, properly told, is a short one, so I am going to tell it shortly.

In the time slice at hand – and think about how tiny that slice is that I have chosen to talk about – two things have continued to happen over and over.

Wealth has accrued to those who control power.

Those who control power, although never very many in number, have always been able to expropriate most of what all “the others” (the ones who have always had to work to produce something – back in Pharamond’s time that was mostly food); that is why and how the power controllers have always accumulated wealth; they have always taken it from the producers.

The sophistication of the power controlled and the sophistication of the product produced have both vastly risen over  the last 1700 years, but the end result equation has remained the same.

There have been over the time under scrutiny lots of attempts to change that equation: Wat Tyler in England in 1381; the French revolution; Andrew Jackson’s return to Jefferson in America in the late 1820s and through his successor into the 1830s and 40s; and the needs of winning WWII put the producers in the catbird seat, albeit financially controlled, for the duration of that conflagration.

And that bled into the 1950s and 1960s to produce the various socialist states of Europe and the golden age of unionism in America; (the American component of that phenomenon has produced the hallucinations that have resulted in the election of donald trump).

So here we are, all cultural descendants of Pharamond, Wat, Andy and the rest looking – if we are honest with ourselves – through a looking glass into a really bleak future.

I don’t have anything to say that is going to ameliorate that.

I do, however, have something to say and I haven’t ever heard it anywhere else; but I have quite a truncated grasp on reality and a not very deep participation in the daily news cycle – and/or the daily phony new cycle; so what I have to say may either be even more ridiculous than it sounds, or have been shouted from the treetops in multiple places; but I am having so much fun writing this that I don’t really care.

Here is the deal: the-almost-human-race-to-date battle between the few who control power and the rest who produce things has not really had much change to it for the duration of its existence.

But in the last few years the whole thing has changed: “producers” are no longer human.

Robots producing unlimited stuff are rapidly replacing the entire human race.

The controllers of power are still there.

The controllers, not ever having been stupid, are already shifting their real focus, concern and concentration to expropriating the wealth of the robots.

This leaves the human producers odd man out.

They just don’t know it yet.

That’s why $15.00 an hour is a farce.

The power holders are just making nicey nicey with the producers as transition plan: the robots can’t do it all yet and the humans need to be retained; but they aren’t going to be paid very much.

And they aren’t going to be there very long.

So the battle lines, obviously, are drawn around the robots.

The producers are not real stupid any more due to the educational advancements that have occurred as result of the various revolutions that have tried to change the equation.

They are going to figure out pretty soon that they can be the new masters if they get control of the robots.

But the holders of power are already doing that.

So what is going to happen – soon – is going to make Wat and the French Revolution and the uproarious Jackson era in America and all the other leaps toward being human that the producers have tried over our time slice look like child's play.

The only unknowns are how long will it be and will anything be left?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

When God Was Passing Out Noses I Thought He Said Roses; So I Asked For A Big Red One

I always loved that one.

It is one of many others I have heard; I don’t know what the figure of speech is called; I wish I knew; but I don’t; I even tried to formulate some once; I couldn’t do any; they are hard to do.

The reason for one of those “whatever they are” being the title of this blog post is that I have been being way too serious of late.

I have been posting serious opinion stuff that no one wants to hear because “no one” (the ones that don’t want to hear anything other than what they want to hear) are already tuned to their own totally acceptable channels.

And I think that is fair; I have people and places from which I find succor and  reinforcement.

For example, today after I got back from a two hour walk down La Seine in an intermittent heavy dew and grey lowering skies (god I love this place) I stopped at Le Depart St Michel for some onion soup, wine and reinforcement from a bunch of wait staff people that I really like – and have liked for a number of years.

I guess I introduced my tiny blog audience to Le Depart with the publishing of A Curious Confluence.

It has been a major part of my paris infrastructure for a long time.

Anyway, I got there about 16h45.

I signed on to their Wi Fi and went to Facebook to see if anybody had liked me recently – succor, right?

As I scrolled down the incomprehensible stuff that is Facebook, I discovered a really reinforcing post from a  friend.

I clicked on it because there was more to see.

Down stream a way I saw a post from “the dark side” accusing the cast of “Hamilton” of “throwing a tantrum, and demanding apology”.

I replied with an amazingly accommodating reply (which I meant – it yielded nothing and ceded everything, which I pointed out, is our bleak American plight) and immediately experienced the desire to vomit.

So, I decided: I can’t continue with this shit.

So here are a bunch of Paris roses that I have collected in various places over a number of years.

paris 2012 roses 010213 00000

paris 2012 roses 010213 00002

paris 2012 roses 121612 00002

paris 2012 roses 121612 00003

paris 2014 montsouris rose 052514 00001

paris 2014 montsouris rose 052514 00000

paris 2014 roses 061614 00000

paris 2016 rose on the promenade plantée 111816 00000

paris 2014 red rose for email 052314 00000

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Deja Ou Presque


I have a characteristic that I have no explanation for: frequently something I hear, apparently for the first time, elicits a vague but persistent state of deja vu or presque vu, I never know which, but both keep poking at me.

Such is the case with the "that asshole that got elected to the Presidency recently is demanding an apology from the cast of Hamilton because they dissed his asshole sidekick" story that is now swirling hither and yon.

I even got caught up and shared an MSN newsfeed about it to Facebook.

But I had that murmur mumbling in the in the background.

On the walk home from Le Depart this evening it finally hit me.

"You lie" floated into my consciousness.

"Joe Wilson" floated up from my stored information locker.

And then I remembered Scalia mouthing "not true" during an Obama State of The Union Message.

And then the floodgates opened: Obama put up with, I guess the kind of and amount of verbal abuse and disrespect that one would expect if one were black.

And, as we are all now becoming acutely aware, you have to expect that sort of shit if you are black.

And are going to have to continue to so expect if you are not white and born again.

But back to the mumbling murmurs: no one ever asked why, for example, a member of the House of Representatives - finally, we get back to ol' Joe Wilson - yelled "you lie" at the President.

Nobody ever asked for, or received, an apology for that possibly skirting the Constitution level of total, undeniable disrespect..

And none were ever forthcoming from any of the other lies and insults our President has endured from then to now.

I have no use for donnie the executive asshole, nor do I have any use for his little orphan annie eyed sidekick.

I suggest that he and mikie  just move permanently into trump tower and conjure up delusions of governing.

Grand Wizard donald trump

Friday, November 18, 2016

This Guy Was Great

The metro has a fairly constant stream of talent plying its trade in the catacombs of the stations or on the train cars themselves.

For me time has crept up in such a way that I just accept any and all of that as a part of the color of the paint on the walls or the occasional smell of urine in the tunnels.

That’s really too bad – for me – because a lot of the entertainers are really, sometimes really, really, good.

But I can’t help how I am.

As I passed from the phase of being an awed tourist to an occasional actually lives here resident of Paris, the needs of getting from point A to point B have overtaken that tourist specialness with its attendant awe.

So what happened today on the 8 line, direction Ballard, was really, really special.

I had managed to get my position of choice when I got on the car: I hadn’t had to wait for several stops for it to clear out so I could take it.

I had just settled into my metro trance when I heard toward the rear of the car a musical start up.

It was the typical recorded background stuff that individual musicians take on to the metro with them so they can add their own music, performed live and on the metro car, making the performance sound sort of fully baked.

So I was ready to ignore the whole thing.

And I did for a surprisingly long time.

I say surprisingly long time because when the stuff that I was hearing finally sank into my brain I thought I must be hallucinating.

I heard guitar such as I have never heard: notes were flying from everywhere; keys were not changing, they were merging and disassembling; there were several tunes seemingly in confluence.

I was just dazzled.

So I looked back to see who was doing this and how it was being done.

I saw a relatively slender, small man who was not playing a guitar (an acoustic, black flat top with a cut out for high fret access, and with an electric pickup) he was engulfing it.

All I can say about that is I saw an organic thing consisting of an identifiable human being who seemed to be connected to the guitar he was brandishing in a manner that made the guitar a part of him, or made him apart of it; in either event the music was sublime.

I saw him doing things with his fingers on the fret board that I understood – sort of – but couldn’t believe that I was seeing.

He even, I swear, played some base notes on the low e string at the highest fret locations with his thumb.

I fought my way back to the part of the car where he was playing, gave him a euro, for which he said “merci” and got off at the next stop which was Strasbourg St Denis.

I am posting a video of me singing an old Buddy Holley song because what I do on the fret board is a trivial to the point of not being very relevant example of the phenomenal stuff this guy was doing.

Fools Paradise

I am unable to figure out why someone beyond virtuoso is playing on the Paris Metro rather than the concert halls of the world.

Maybe he only knows the song I heard him play?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Almost Gone iPhone

One of the most prevalent scams on the streets of Paris, which, unlike the ring droppers, continues unabated, and has been for as long as I have been coming here, is the “flock of Roma with petitions to sign” gambit.

They have been here since I first came here in 1999.

Presumably they may always have been here, maybe back to the Revolution or before.

But who knows.

Anyway, they are here now.

The gambit is for a group of varying maximum numbers of young Roma, all brandishing what appear to be clip boards, and all waving pens, giving the visual appearance of nice young people out trying to get people to sign a petition.

Since I have a semblance of political sophistication I never bought into the “signing the petition” premise.

But I had no idea what the real deal might be.

Back when I first encountered this phenomenon, I had no idea what the real deal was, but I knew it wasn’t petition signing.

I always wondered what it was that they were about, but I knew that it was not good.

So I never stopped or talked to them.

But there was another level of Roma avoidance that took time and personal discipline to get beyond.

They ALWAYS start a transaction by shouting at their mark “do you speak English”?

It took me a couple of years not to jerk to attention when I heard that.

But I don’t any more.

I just keep walking and that seems to keep me out of the scam most of the time.

What the scam is is – I only found this out a couple of years ago - when the mark stops to talk to the “nice young people with petitions” the flock descends upon him or her while he or she is talking to the lead signature gatherer and the flock picks the mark’s pocket.

Today I was walking down the left bank of La Seine.

paris 2016 walk on la seine

I saw a flock heading my way and prepared myself for my denial of English demeanor.

“No problem”, I said to myself.

“Not so fast”, fate shot back.

As I broached the flock and kept to the right, brushing the wall of the quay, I heard the “do you …” and kept going.

But they surrounded me and a fat young woman took the lead.

I gave her a left swing of my arm which got her out of my way as I kept going forward.

“Get the fuck away from me”, I spit at her.

“Fuck you too” she replied as she floated left and back.

As this was occurring I was looking directly at her face; I always do that with enemies.

What I noticed during the cosmically short period of eye contact took a few microseconds  to register.

She was staring with a laser intensity at my left chest area.

It took only a minute to realize why that might have been.

My Hugo Boss Paris coat has an external pocket with a vertical zipper.

That’s where I keep my iPhone.

That thought flashed; I looked; the zipper was open ( I never leave it unzipped); I felt; the phone was still there.

Apparently my near physical violence saved me my phone.

By the way, I really don’t begrudge these young Roma their way of making a living.

Everybody has to feed their kids.

I just don’t choose to be among the feeders.

Bar Ou Loupe?

I went to la Mardi marche de Maubert Mutualite this morning.

Even though that market features awesome poissoners, I prefer the bricks and mortar guy next to la boucherrie.

I asked him to filet un bar - a bass - and was fascinated as I watched the efficient reduction of a fish to two, just like store bought filets.

I had forgotten to bring my coin cache so I had to ask him to change a five euro note so I could put a tip in the tip bowl.

A high roller would have left the note.

I'm not a high roller; although I did leave three euros - he also did six scallops, “sans coquille mais avec la choses oranges”.

Anyway, I got two beautiful filets.

I had one of them for dinner.

Interesting to me: in the Atlantic they call them "bar" (bass); in the Mediterranean they call them "loupe" (wolf).

I have eaten both and can't tell the difference.

paris 2016 filet de bar 111516 00000

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Day After My Birthday

When I got here on 2 Novembre, Thierry told me the dryer function didn't work.

But the part was on order to fix it.

The part became not available so Thierry bought a new machine.

I thanked him for a really nice birthday present.

Two guys delivered it yesterday, which was my birthday – hence the birthday mention.

They got the old one out and the new one in really fast.

Today Thierry came by and gave me my training.

Thierry doesn’t trust English speakers with his washing machines.

However …

Since I had read the owners guide after the guys installed it, my training was more of a joint exercise; but since he speaks French and I don't it was an asymmetric encounter.

Anyway, after my training I took off on a walk to Tour Eiffel for some pictures and exercise.

I put some clothes in the new washer before I left.

I am at Le Depart right now; I wonder how the washer/dryer did.


That was posted to Facebook as I sat in my favorite Paris haunt.

Now I am home and I can report: the thing worked great and I am midway through a second load.

If my apparent extreme concern about the washing machine, past or present, seems to you to be a thing with me, you are right.

Several years ago Mysti and I had a great apartment on rue Jacob.

It had a washer/dryer.

We put clothes in the thing, and – it being on toward sundown, we poured ourselves a couple of glasses of wine and sat down to enjoy the evening.

After about ten minutes the thing popped open and spewed clothes and water onto the floor.

When we called the rental agency they assured us that we had not closed the door properly; we pointed out that it was not possible for the machine to work unless the door had been closed properly.

That was a standoff.

God, I love Paris and its inhabitants.

Anyway, here are some pictures for today.

paris 2016 boat on seine 111416 00000


paris 2016 detritus 111416 00000

paris 2016 tricolour image 111416 00000

paris 2016 under pont st michel 111416 00000

paris 2016 le depart st michel 111416 00000