The Frogmarch

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

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Object At Hand

There's no mystery about what this is: its name is rather helpfully printed right there on it [photo]. This is a spent Flash-ball cartridge, found next to the gutter just off Place Charles Hernu by the Charpennes metro station.

Flash-ball rounds are used by law enforcement (in France, the term used is les forces d'ordre, which sounds like they should be headquartered at the Hall of Justice) in crowd control situations. Considered a less dangerous alternative to rubber bullets, a flash-ball projectile is a bit like a raquetball propelled by a 12-gauge shotgun shell [photo]; it has enough velocity to knock a person down (and presumably really really hurt) but it's less likely to break the skin, penetrate, etc.

So why did I find this spent shell on the street a few blocks from my house? I can't say exactly, but it's telling that I found it the morning after Olympique Lyon lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League, the most important tournament in club soccer. I'm sure that with the World Cup starting up next week and the France team seemingly destined to fail spectacularly despite being loaded with talent, the forces d'ordre have been stocking up on flashballs.

I have no interest at all in being on the receiving end of any of those, but in the meantime, this spent casing makes a groovy pencil holder.

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