The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Metro, Boulot, Do-do

One of the first blogs I ever read regularly was Hunkabutta. A Canadian who moved his family to Japan, Mr. Hunkabutta took his camera everywhere he went and took pictures of ordinary, everyday people and ordinary, everyday things. There were, for example, lots of pictures of people waiting at commuter train stations. Hunkabutta eventually moved back to Canada, where he lost interest in blogging, presumably because most of his readers already know what Canada looks like. But the archives are still there; I think they're fascinating, more so than anyone's photos of vacations or historic sites (which I've been pretty guilty of posting). So I decided to take my camera around with me on a vaguely gray typical work day last week.

The French have a rhyming expression that means "the daily grind" or "the rat race": Metro, boulot, do-do. Metro for the commute; boulot means "the job", and do-do is diminutive for dormir, approximately analagous to "beddy-bye". French rats race a lot more leisurely than American ones (and take a lot more vacations), but there is a certain ennui in the same routine each day. The first pic is the Bellecour Metro station, 3 levels deep, where Boog and I catch the Metro around 8:15 in the morning.

Boog's school is on this street down in the 7th, a formerly industrial area that has been in a continuous process of renovation for about 15 years now... all sorts of new weird-looking buildings interspersed among old warehouses and machine shops. Boog's school is the yellow-painted building ahead on the right. I don't know what the graffiti stencil art means, but at least it's well done.

After dropping Boog off at the school, I head to work via this Metro station at Place Jean Jaures. The giant world map that covers the entire platform wall has a black line cutting across it at about eye level, indicating the latitude where Lyon is. Didja know Lyon is further north than Minneapolis, Halifax, or Vladivostok? Well, there you go.

This relief, on my way to the office, is part of a memorial celebrating those who work in the medical profession. And their brave dogs.

I had thought about taking a picture every hour on the hour throughout the day, but then I realized that I'd have a bunch of pictures of the inside of my office. And nobody wants that.

Around midmorning I often take a break to walk down to the corner patisserie for a cafe eclair or a pain au chocolat. This billboard hangs on the building over the patisserie. I'm not sure why they left this little guy up there when they took down the last billboard, but I'm glad they did. He makes me happy.

By the way, I've learned that avenir not only means "future", it's also the name of a billboard/advertising company. Which makes the sign in the third picture in this post make a little more sense.

This ghost of a building is right next to the patisserie. If you click to enlarge, you can see the remains of the inside wall of someone's house there--old wallpaper, kitchen tile, the bones of old chimneys black with soot. It reminds me of cutaway drawings I made when I was a kid, showing secret hideouts and firepoles and subterranean escape tunnels.

This house apparently lacked an escape tunnel or rooftop helipad. Probably not many ninjas or attack robots, either.

Around 1PM I head for the square to pick up a sandwich from a sidewalk stand. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings there is a market here, selling fresh produce, meat, seafood, cheeses, bread, and so forth. The stalls close at noon, the city's cleanup crew arrives at 12:30, and by 1PM there's nothing left of the market except the puddles of runoff where the cleaning crew has hosed off the squished strawberries, stray lettuce leaves, and fish goo.

Cliche alert!
Photo of florist's sidewalk display!

I didn't notice until I'd uploaded the photo that the flower variety in the foreground is marked "Reagan".
Must be forget-me-nots.

More graffiti, at a demolition site. Ours means "bear"; I'm not sure if he's meant to be pooping or just sitting there contemplating. I also wonder if he was sitting on the step before it was torn down.

Something about this building, probably the name "Cristal Palace" on the center roof arch, makes me think it's a formerly glamorous old movie theater gone slowly to seed. The top two floors are some sort of health club; the bottom is occupied by a greengrocer (a good place to go if you can't find what you need in the market because it's out of season).

I kind of forgot about the camera on the commute home--probably just as well, more of the same--and the rest of my evening was spent cooking dinner, bathing the boys and getting them put to bed.

So let's just skip ahead to do-do. This is looking from the bed out through the balcony doors. At bottom you can sorta make out kitty plotting his escape (or at least determining how to eat the plants in the planter box).

Beddy-bye time.


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