Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Paris Surreal

 

As you’ve probably read, here in Paris we’ve got a few terrorists on the loose and some 195 heads of states from around the world in town to begin 12 days of negotiations to try to reach an agreement on restricting greenhouse gas emissions. I just walked with my brother up to Montparnasse. Everything looked normal enough. We walked back; I dropped him off at my father’s apartment, and I walked back to mine. Now, my brother isn’t going to believe me, because the part of the city we walked through looked normal, if maybe a bit subdued. It was the stretch back over the Seine and to my apartment that was surreal.

For obvious reasons, I’m not going to say exactly where I live, but it’s a neighborhood that usually has a fair share of winos, a few louches hanging out on the corners, maybe a few local petty drug dealers. In the past few years, since what the French call la crise began, it’s also been home to a growing number of homeless people and panhandlers. They’re harmless. I share what I can with them — when I buy bread, I try to remember to buy an extra loaf, and if I forget to do that, I just give them mine. And I must say, French winos are the best in the world: I’m on friendly terms with all the winos in my neighborhood; we make small talk; and sometimes they want to read to me from some lousy volume of French wino poetry, and sometimes, if I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll have a long, serious talk with them about their wino poetry and what it means to them.

I mean, it’s France.

But tonight, owing to the terrorists on the loose and the visiting dignitaries, and because what’s at stake here, in President Hollande’s words, is “the future of the planet, the future of life,” Paris has become very strange. In my neighborhood, anyway. Remember when I said France wouldn’t have a clue how to become a proper police state? I was so wrong. I crossed the Seine into a really familiar environment, to those of us who’ve lived in Istanbul: The ratio of cop to civilian was about 1:1, and half the civilians looked like plainclothes. And the normal people were gone. The streets were all blocked. helicopters were circling above; sirens everywhere. I guess this was the route the officials were about to take. I kept making eye contact with the cops to be sure that they grasped that I was just a harmless American; I really didn’t want them to get over-excited and mistake me for something else.

It was surreal.

CVFTAkIXAAU7yDGAnd since we’re under a state of emergency, why not put some climate protesters in the pokey? 

Of course, to find out what was actually happening in my own neighborhoood, I had to race home to check the Internet.

But I didn’t really find out. Because what I want to know is what they did with my winos. They weren’t a threat to anyone. I hope they’re okay.

And I’d like them back.

Oh, and this happened, too:

 

There are 28 comments.

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  1. Henry Castaigne Member

    Jonah Goldberg said that when he was growing up in New York before the Rudy years mad hobos would terrify and chase him. So are the French homeless not mad?

    • #1
    • November 30, 2015, at 1:17 PM PST
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  2. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    Winos and hobos make me thankful for concealed handgun licenses.

    • #2
    • November 30, 2015, at 1:24 PM PST
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  3. Eric Hines Inactive

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: 12 days of negotiations to try to reach an agreement on restricting greenhouse gas emissions.

    No, Ma’am, they’re there for 12 days of trying to reach an agreement on restricting atmospheric CO2. Greenhouse gases have nothing to do with this beyond the hot air that’s about to be spewed over the next couple of weeks.

    As to Russia’s actions, Erdogan has it right: he has no need to apologize for defending Turkish airspace. And he has little to worry about regarding Russian economic sanctions. There are lots of other markets for what Turkey now exports to Russia.

    You know Paris better than I, but I suspect, if things aren’t too different from Chicago or San Francisco, your wino friends will be back in a few days; they’ve just been relocated to other ‘hoods. Out of sight, and all that.

    Eric Hines

    • #3
    • November 30, 2015, at 1:24 PM PST
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  4. Arahant Member

    Henry Castaigne:Jonah Goldberg said that when he was growing up in New York before the Rudy years mad hobos would terrify and chase him. So are the French homeless not mad?

    When the US “solved” the problem of abuse at insane asylums by releasing the crazies out onto the streets, we wound up with the mad hobos. Maybe France has not tried that experiment?

    • #4
    • November 30, 2015, at 1:29 PM PST
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  5. kelsurprise, drama queen Member
    kelsurprise, drama queenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve had one homeless guy grab me by the arm and scream at me, another one try and take a swing at me, several have cussed me out and they regularly harass me for change.

    Not a single one has tried to read me poetry. (Unless, of course, one of those tirades or near-assaults was actually some new “street” art form that I just wasn’t hip enough to appreciate.)

    • #5
    • November 30, 2015, at 1:39 PM PST
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  6. MarciN Member

    I’ve seen cities get rid of the homeless before events like the climate summit. I don’t know where they put them, but they remove them.

    The homeless are much more likely to be victims than perpetrators.

    Speaking of homelessness, readers might be interested to read about the plight of the homeless in, of all places, Hawaii, state with the highest number of homeless people in the country. What we lack in the United States, and probably Europe lacks it too, is sufficient affordable rental housing–a home a person could rent on a minimum-wage job.

    • #6
    • November 30, 2015, at 1:45 PM PST
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  7. Douglas Inactive

    Were I still a single young man, after reading Claire’s piece here, when picking up girls, during the small talk I’d tell them I was studying French Wino Poetry.

    • #7
    • November 30, 2015, at 1:56 PM PST
    • Like
  8. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Claire,

    Well, at least they didn’t try to read you any Vogon poetry.

    https://youtu.be/A8JJH7ZL_Fk

    Either die in the vacuum of space or tell me how good you thought my poem was.

    DON’T PANIC!

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #8
    • November 30, 2015, at 1:58 PM PST
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  9. Arahant Member

    James Gawron: Well, at least they didn’t try to read you any Vogon poetry.

    Cruel, Jim, so cruel.

    • #9
    • November 30, 2015, at 2:05 PM PST
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  10. Retail Lawyer Member

    I have not heard the term “Wino” in years! In San Francisco it is always “homeless” (although they may have homes) or “at risk” or “substance abuser”, or something else that does not go so well with “poetry”. Thanks for the chuckle, and take good care of all those world leaders for us.

    • #10
    • November 30, 2015, at 4:18 PM PST
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  11. Arahant Member

    Retail Lawyer: …and take good care of all those world leaders for us.

    How would you like them taken care of?

    • #11
    • November 30, 2015, at 4:22 PM PST
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  12. Eric Hines Inactive

    Arahant:

    Retail Lawyer: …and take good care of all those world leaders for us.

    How would you like them taken care of?

    They’re there for the climate. Make them walk everywhere. Take away their artificial fabric finery, and make them wear only natural fibers and skins. They don’t need the carbon footprint.

    Eric Hines

    • #12
    • November 30, 2015, at 5:14 PM PST
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  13. Front Seat Cat Member

    I want to read some French wino poetry and hear Claire tell us what the long conversations with some yielded? They may have the answer on how to save the world (not kidding), or at least save us from climate change! Bring back those winos or else!

    • #13
    • November 30, 2015, at 5:47 PM PST
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  14. Arahant Member

    Bring back the winos.
    Bring back the winos right now.
    They might have all the answers
    regarding the flatulent cow.

    • #14
    • November 30, 2015, at 5:55 PM PST
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  15. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Remember when I said France wouldn’t have a clue how to become a proper police state? I was so wrong.

    Welcome to the kook side, Ms. Klabalinski. We’ve been expecting you.

    • #15
    • November 30, 2015, at 6:16 PM PST
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  16. Doug Watt Moderator

    Paris with all its’ flaws is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. Unlike the rumors of Parisians as snotty or snobbish I met Parisians that went out of there way to show me their city. It has a seedy side but I can tell you unlike Chicago and New York that are just seedy, and filled with sterile glass boxes, Paris is well worth the visit.

    • #16
    • November 30, 2015, at 6:49 PM PST
    • Like
  17. Petty Boozswha Inactive

    And I must say, French winos are the best in the world: I’m on friendly terms with all the winos in my neighborhood; we make small talk; and sometimes they want to read to me from some lousy volume of French wino poetry, and sometimes, if I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll have a long, serious talk with them about their wino poetry and what it means to them.

    Sounds a lot like the life of a Ricochet editor.

    • #17
    • November 30, 2015, at 7:42 PM PST
    • Like
  18. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Claire & all,

    Perhaps Paris is the capital of Surreal.

    When in Paris… President Obama has a ‘working dinner’ at three-star eatery

    Fighting Climate Change is hard work but it has its benefits.

    Paris Climate Change Activists ‘Desecrate’ Memorial To Terror Victims

    Well, you must not let a little thing like mass murder distract you from the important crusade against imaginary weather conditions.

    Marine Le Pen And Front National Surge In French Regional Elections

    Claire, I know I know Le Pen likes Putin. Wait..wait..I know who should be the center of political attention in Paris right now.

    A 1942 portrait of artist Salvador Dali.

    He is the man of the hour.

    Dali Clock

    Sort of.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #18
    • November 30, 2015, at 8:11 PM PST
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  19. Arahant Member

    Jim,

    Quit Dilly Dali-ing around.

    • #19
    • November 30, 2015, at 8:16 PM PST
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  20. Big Green Inactive

    Eric Hines:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: 12 days of negotiations to try to reach an agreement on restricting greenhouse gas emissions.

    No, Ma’am, they’re there for 12 days of trying to reach an agreement on restricting atmospheric CO2. Greenhouse gases have nothing to do with this beyond the hot air that’s about to be spewed over the next couple of weeks.

    Eric Hines

    Not sure I am following you here. Assuming Claire meant (or at least included) CO2 emissions when she referenced “greenhouse” gas emissions, are you suggesting that there is no connection between CO2 emissions by automobiles, airplanes, energy production, etc. and atmospheric CO2 concentration?

    • #20
    • November 30, 2015, at 8:35 PM PST
    • Like
  21. Eric Hines Inactive

    Big Green:

    Eric Hines:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: 12 days of negotiations to try to reach an agreement on restricting greenhouse gas emissions.

    No, Ma’am, they’re there for 12 days of trying to reach an agreement on restricting atmospheric CO2. Greenhouse gases have nothing to do with this beyond the hot air that’s about to be spewed over the next couple of weeks.

    Eric Hines

    Not sure I am following you here. Assuming Claire meant (or at least included) CO2 emissions when she referenced “greenhouse” gas emissions, are you suggesting that there is no connection between CO2 emissions by automobiles, airplanes, energy production, etc. and atmospheric CO2 concentration?

    I’m not suggesting anything. I’m stating quite clearly that atmospheric CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas.

    Eric Hines

    • #21
    • November 30, 2015, at 8:42 PM PST
    • Like
  22. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor

    Mike LaRoche:Winos and hobos make me thankful for concealed handgun licenses.

    You wouldn’t feel that way about these guys. They’re genuinely just winos and people without a place to sleep. They’re not violent, they’re not on crack, and most of them either inspire my sympathy or in fact amuse me, because they’ve got a good attitude: They may be winos, but they don’t steal, they’re part of the neighborhood, and some of them are funny and sweet.

    • #22
    • November 30, 2015, at 9:06 PM PST
    • Like
  23. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor

    Henry Castaigne:Jonah Goldberg said that when he was growing up in New York before the Rudy years mad hobos would terrify and chase him. So are the French homeless not mad?

    No, they’re not — that was a lot more about the crack epidemic, which never made it big, here. These are good, old-fashioned winos.

    • #23
    • November 30, 2015, at 9:07 PM PST
    • Like
  24. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor

    Eric Hines: You know Paris better than I, but I suspect, if things aren’t too different from Chicago or San Francisco, your wino friends will be back in a few days; they’ve just been relocated to other ‘hoods. Out of sight, and all that.

    Yes. I get it now:

    “No cartons of takeout — instead, the gang fueled up after a long day of climate talks at L’Ambroisie, the three-Michelin-starred temple of gastronomie in the Marais neighborhood.”

    L’Ambroisie is literally across the street from me. No wonder they cleaned up the ‘hood.

    I ate there once when a wealthy aunt came to town.

    • #24
    • November 30, 2015, at 9:08 PM PST
    • Like
  25. Big Green Inactive

    Eric Hines:

    Big Green:

    Eric Hines:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: 12 days of negotiations to try to reach an agreement on restricting greenhouse gas emissions.

    No, Ma’am, they’re there for 12 days of trying to reach an agreement on restricting atmospheric CO2. Greenhouse gases have nothing to do with this beyond the hot air that’s about to be spewed over the next couple of weeks.

    Eric Hines

    Not sure I am following you here. Assuming Claire meant (or at least included) CO2 emissions when she referenced “greenhouse” gas emissions, are you suggesting that there is no connection between CO2 emissions by automobiles, airplanes, energy production, etc. and atmospheric CO2 concentration?

    I’m not suggesting anything. I’m stating quite clearly that atmospheric CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas.

    Eric Hines

    I considered that but didn’t think that could be possibly what you intended. In any event, what you are stating quite clearly in this post then is completely false unless you are using a different definition of “greenhouse gas”. If CO2 isn’t, then nothing is.

    • #25
    • November 30, 2015, at 9:43 PM PST
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  26. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Water vapor.

    • #26
    • November 30, 2015, at 9:57 PM PST
    • Like
  27. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Eric Hines: I’m not suggesting anything. I’m stating quite clearly that atmospheric CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas.

    Your understanding of “clearly” and mine clearly diverge.

    • #27
    • December 1, 2015, at 1:21 AM PST
    • Like
  28. CuriousKevmo Member

    I’m moving to Paris and becoming a wino so I can meet Claire and read her poetry.

    • #28
    • December 1, 2015, at 8:17 AM PST
    • Like

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