Just Above Sunset
May 15, 2005 - Hollywood versus Paris

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Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis (who is published in these in these pages as Our Man in Paris), has his club meeting each Thursday on the Right Bank.  And this week in ''Where are the Gypsies?'' - the club report for 12 May - I see this -


At the café Patrick says, "Il y a du monde."  By the time I enter the café's 'grande salle' du monde is merely two people, who have come to join the club.  Two new members are not so rare these days, but I take off my coat all the same and sit down and start the meeting, bang on 15:00.


We have Carlyn and Robert Alpert from Woodland Hills in California.  This is a modest town with average palms that are no threat to Paris palms.  They could be cousins, get together and sneer at Hollywood.  Carlyn says Woodland Hills is rustic.


And on Monday, 9 May 2005 in Morning, Noon, Night Ric posts a photo of a Paris palm tree.

Photo actual size...
Ric: When the palms return to Luxembourg can summer be far off?

I sent him a note –




Saw your club report.  Want to have a palm war? 


Your palms?  I seem to recall they keep the palms in a greenhouse thing attached to one wall of the Luxembourg Palace, somewhere down by the Medici Fountain, and roll them out each summer.  It's kind of a tradition?  I would guess they've been doing that since the 1850's or something - and that has something to do with the Crystal Palace in London (one amazing giant greenhouse itself) in the final years of odd Queen Victoria?  Competition with the Brits? 


The German Luftwaffe headquartered in that same Luxembourg Palace in the WWII occupation.  I supposed they watered the palms.  Some of the German command took over the Ritz up on Place Vendôme, with some guys at the Maurice.  Nothing grows anywhere near Place Vendôme - all stone.  The Maurice is where?  And what Germans used the Hôtel de Ville?  And who watered the palms?


Germans aren't big on gardening, and certainly not big on tropical plants - or so I suspect.  But the palms made it through the war.  Unless they are post-war and then you can forget all this.


But our palms are fading -see this from July 11, 2004 - Götterdämmerung, Hollywood Style - where I cite a depressing local article –


Palms in Twilight

These improbable immigrants came to define the city. Alas, their days here may be numbered.

Emily Green, Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2004


In most cities, buildings make the skyline.  Paris has a tower, London a clock, New York an island-long roof-scape.  Only Los Angeles signed the sky with trees.  Tens of thousands of palms tower over the city like flagpoles, their arching trunks and rustling fronds marking the progression of the California dream.


It takes a circling eagle to do a better job catching the last rays of a Western sunset.  The crowns of the palms of Los Angeles are still bathed with gold a good half-hour after the streets below are dark.  At dusk, no tree, no structure, no animal can match their blithe grace.


Yet as boomtown comes of age, these skydusters are nearing the ends of their natural lives.  Few of the urban foresters responsible for their care think that 100 years hence, our skyline will have the same fluttering brio.


Why?  Palm buyers for Vegas casinos have driven the market for young specimen trees beyond the reach of the municipal purses.  L.A. needs more broad-canopied shade trees to fight a resurgence of air pollution.  Trimmers prefer shorter trees.  Falling fronds.  Disease.


... We may be living in the twilight of the palmiest days of Los Angeles ...


Our palms are better!  Here’s my favorite shot…

Photo actual size...

Ric replies –


Let's have a short mini-war.  On its face it's nonsense, Paris palms against Hollywood's.


In the past few weeks the Senat has hauled out its palms and scattered them around the pool in front of the palace. They are cleaning out the Orangerie, getting it ready for something.  It is a sort of 'rites of spring.'  I have a few photos, plus there are some photos from last year's Paris-Plage.


I don't know if the Senat keeps its palms in the Orangerie over the winter.  There's a city palm garden at the Serres d'Auteuil, open all year.  You can go there in the winter and have tea in the tropics.


By the way, the Maurice is on Rivoli, near Castiglione.  It's still classified as a 'palace' I think.  As for the Hotel de Ville, the Vichy probably used it.


Germans aren't big on gardening, and certainly not big on tropical plants?


I dunno.  There's a tropical institute in Hamburg.  Then there's all the Germans living on Majorca and Ibiza, and down in the Canaries too.  Palms, where they are natural, tend to be ratty.  I think they need a lot of care even if they aren't so high.


I seem to remember reading that LA's palms have a 'father,' there is somebody who got the idea of importing them wholesale, and they were all put in more or less at once.  They aren't native to LA.


Okay, I’ll have to look that up.  And I do remember peeking in the Maurice – lots of gold trim – and hooked up to or near Angelina's Tearoom, 225 Rue de Rivoli – famous for its hot chocolate. 


But hot chocolate aside, the Paris palms just won’t do.


The war begins.




Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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