Photo of the Week

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Left to right: Eiffel Tower, Louvre Pyramid, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and Ferris Wheel. © Paris Update

 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Drawing through the ages

Paris-Update-Matisse-les-pommes
"Apples" (1944), by Henri Matisse. Eric Coatalem Gallery.

> Salon du Dessin: 39 galleries showing works on paper, from Old Masters to contemporary. Palais Brogniart, Paris, March 22-27.

Contemporary drawing fair
> Drawing Now: 73 galleries, Carreau du Temple, Paris, March 23-26.

More contemporary drawings
>Ddessin: 20 galleries. Atelier Richelieu, Paris, March 24-26.

Art and design fair
> PAD (Paris Art + Design),
67 galleries, Tuileries Garden, Paris, March 22-26.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, March 23-May 28.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Audrey Dana's Si j'Étais un Homme, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, Feb. 24.

Documentary film festival
> Cinéma du Réel showcases documentaries from around the world. Various venues, Paris, March 24-April 2.

Suburban blues
> The Banlieues Bleues festival brings major French and international jazz acts to the Paris suburbs. Various venues, through March 31.

Before and after ecological disaster
> The Chic Planète festival presents two types of films, those celebrating the bounty of the earth and science-fiction views of what will happen after an ecopalypse. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 13.

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WHEN GIVING IS NOT A GIVEN

Like all city dwellers, Parisians are subjected to a daily barrage of solicitations. And I’m not just talking about the usual horde of beggars and buskers. For years, there have been survey takers outside the department stores, and people collecting signatures for petitions (often a sleazy pretext for pocketing cash “donations”) all over town. And lately I have noticed an alarming rise in the number of telemarketing calls I get at home (let’s do hope that this is not a trend).

But in particular, in recent months there has been a surge in sidewalk charity drives. It seems as though every charitable organization in France, from the Red Cross to Smokers Without Borders, has little gangs of T-shirted solicitors loitering outside major Métro stations, trying to hustle up new donors.

I despise being stopped on the street by a stranger for any reason, no matter how noble, so if approached I say “I’m already signed up!” in a cheery, musical-notes-in-the-speech-balloon tone of voice and keep going.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not without sympathy for a worthy cause, or for the solicitors themselves. Most of them are young, well-intentioned and, of course, ill-paid, if paid at all. And it’s got to be a demoralizing job, trying to get harried Parisians to part with their hard-struck-for cash during a recession. So I try to be nice.

But apparently many solicitees are less charitable in their dismissal of the solicitors, because the latter sometimes start to lose their affectation of glad-handing cheerfulness, especially toward the end of the day. They change their tactics, becoming more pleading, more insistent or just plain more aggressive.

I’ve seen kids with clipboards follow people for whole blocks, demanding an explanation for their refusal to help Save the Cheese Mite, or whatever. But so far the most desperate charity-driver I’ve encountered was a young woman standing at the top of the steps as I emerged from the Métro at Madeleine who more or less screamed at me, “If you keep walking, children are going to die!”

Well! What could I do? I started running.

David Jaggard

Reader Roy Lisker writes: "Someone who says that he's hostile to any 'stranger' who stops him on the street for any cause, no matter how noble, is clearly the one who has the problem. Just yesterday I had to help translate, for the SAMU, the English of a woman who collapsed in the street. How dare she interrupt my reveries! I can't for the life of me see how anyone can object to a canvasser from Amnesty International or Doctors Without Borders. There is an expression in French, 'mendacite aggressif,' but I doubt that Amnesty can be accused of that."

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