Just Above Sunset
Volume 5, Number 10
March 11, 2007

Just in from Paris

 The world as seen from Just Above Sunset -

"Notes on how things seem from out here in Hollywood..."

Received on Wednesday, January 31, from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis -

Doomsday Starts February 1st

PARIS - Do you have one of those postpartum depressions? Well, as bad as it may be it is nothing compared to what will happen in France tomorrow when we all have to stop smoking in 'public places.'

These include in hospitals, schools, universities, research labs, government offices like tax collection, police stations, army barracks, all offices and shops, garages and other places of work as well as in prisons and retirement homes.

This measure will be followed at the beginning of 2008 with a ban affecting cafés and restaurants, including the 'tabacs' that sell cigarettes.

On this morning's radio news one school director said, "Am I supposed to kick 500 students off the school grounds to comply with the law?" In France a school director is responsible for the kids while they are at school and normally they are confined to school grounds during the school day.

Long-time residents in care homes are also worried about losing the smoking rooms they have been accorded because they are slated for extinction. Office workers and hospital workers are also worried about the distances they will have to go in order to enjoy their filthy smoke. Employers, who have been providing smoking areas, are worried about increased absenteeism during the work day.

Many smokers, who can receive state-supported medical aid to quit, have been besieging clinics and doctors' offices for therapy, patches, gum, hypnotism, zen and yoga cures for smoking. Television has been bombarding the hapless populace with upbeat stories of smokers who quit, and lesser stories about those who failed.

Nothing has been as bad as the anti-smoking TV commercials shown in the New York area over the jolly Christmas season. The French are being told that they can quit if they really want to.

There have been restrictions on smoking in France for some time, and the SNCF suppressed all smoking on trains last fall. Many restaurants set aside non-smoking areas but many other small restaurants found it to be impossible. Some restaurants have banned smoking entirely.

The theory is that smoke is unhealthy for workers and therefore needs to be eliminated from the work place.

The government has announced repressive measures to go along with the partial ban. Fines are slated to be fairly high. However France has a history of lax enforcement so nobody knows exactly what will happen.

Although the new law was passed by a majority representing all parties, many voters are likely to remember that it is the current government's decision to activate the law at this time, just months before the coming presidential and legislative elections.

The one 'public place' not included in the ban is outside. Yes, like in America we will be able to go out on the sidewalk in all weathers and puff away to our struggling hearts' content, gray-faced and dismal.

Copyright © 2007 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

A few of the editor's pipes collected on trips to Paris. Now what?

French Pipes

The pipe shops in Hollywood just aren't the same…

Hollywood Boiulevard Pipe Shop

Also of interest, something that first appeared in the New York Times, and then in the International Herald Tribune, January 30, 2007


Paris fights the 'banalization' of the Champs-Élysées

Elaine Sciolino

    There was a time when the Champs-Élysées stood for grand living, high style and easy-going serendipity. With the Arc de Triomphe at one end and the Tuileries Gardens at the other, you could discover an underground jazz band at midnight and down oysters and Champagne at dawn.

    But the road where Charles de Gaulle celebrated France's liberation from the Nazis, the one known as "the most beautiful avenue on earth" has spiraled downward, like Times Square in New York and Oxford Street in London, into a commercialized money trap.

    Most of the music clubs are gone. More of the movie theaters are closing. Sometimes, all that seems to be left on the almost two kilometer stretch are the global chain stores that can afford the rent.

    And so, in a truly French moment, the city government has begun to push back, proclaiming a crisis of confidence and promising a plan aimed at stopping the "banalization" of the Champs-Élysées.

Read all about it.

Key quote -

    "High-class Parisians don't want to come to the Champs-Élysées," said Serge Ghnassia, owner of the fur shop Milady, which opened on the avenue in 1933. "It's not prestigious, it's not pleasant. The people who come are very common, very ordinary, very cheap. They come for a kebab sandwich and a €5 T-shirt."

And they probably smoke.

[Just in from Paris]

Last updated Saturday, March 10, 2007, 10:30 pm Pacific Time

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 - Alan M. Pavlik