Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-JohnGoodmanforFrenchPresident

Humor on the hoardings spotted before the first round of the French elections: “John Goodman (Jean Gentilhomme) for President,” the candidate of the “Nice Peoples' Party. That would make a change. © Paris Update

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Silent films from Switzerland?

ParisUpdate-train300

> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, through May 2.

Retail heaven
> You can buy just about anything at the century-old Foire de Paris, a gigantic pop-up store. Porte de Versailles, Paris. April 27-May 8.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, through April 29.

Photo walk
> Eight Paris galleries hold special photography shows and events for Parcours Fotofever. Various locations, Paris, through May 1.

Photo shows galore
> Le Mois de la Photo has been moved from autumn to spring, with 96 exhibitions taking place all over the greater Paris area. See Web site for locations and dates.

Art videos
> The theme of this year’s Videobox Festival is “noise and movement.” Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 27-29.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Boukhrief’s La Confession, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 28.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

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, through May 28.

 

Hot Topics - C'est ironique !

 

Paris Shop Signs: From the Ridiculous to the Sublimely Ridiculous, Part 10

Payback for the
Norman Invasion

Paris Update Ironique 1-FootPImp2

“You can find anything in Paris.” “Oh yeah? Can you find a storefront escort service for toe fetishists?”

Despite the fact that it’s downright convenient for me personally, I think English is a terrible choice for an international language. The spelling is fraught with anomalies, the prepositions are treacherous, and the verbal phrases are murder. Do we really expect everybody in Tajikistan, just so they can surf the Internet or export a few bales of goat hair, to master all the nuances of “get around,” “get along,” “get into,” “get down,” “get it up,” “get it on,” “get it off,” “get over it,” and “like all get out”?

Of course, a lingua franca is not chosen by logic but by social evolution, so, thanks to the large population of the United States, its powerful economy and the popularity of its pop culture, we’re stuck with English as the world’s go-to language — instead of, say, Spanish, which has way more native speakers, no tongue-twisting consonant clusters (“twelfths,” “angsts,” “worldly,” “schmorldly”) and what-you-see-is-what-you-say spelling. But apparently that counts for nothing as long as English has The Simpsons, Adam Sandler and “Achy Breaky Heart.”

So, for better or worse (hint: worse), English continues to make inroads into other language groups. This phenomenon can easily be observed in Paris: walk down any commercial street here while keeping an eye on the signs, and you’re virtually guaranteed to step in dog crap. But that’s not the point: you’re also virtually guaranteed to see a large number of English or part-English business names.

As a Francophile, I find this lamentable, but as a humorist I love it — because it gives me the material for this recurring feature (see part nine, which contains a link to part eight, which contains a link to part seven, and so on back to part one, which contains a link to a video of your 10h-grade economics teacher doing a striptease on the beach in Cancun during Spring Break 1994).

In real life, part one contains a photo of “Scarfood,” a restaurant on Rue Pierre Fontaine named as a (cryptic, off-putting) tribute to Al Pacino in Brian De Palma’s 1983 film Scarface. But not all cryptic, off-putting English business names in France are conceived, or rather ill-conceived, out of admiration for American pop culture. Some are ill-conceived out of admiration for British pop culture:

Paris Update Ironique 2-LetItBen

And others are ill-conceived out of admiration for both American and British pop culture:

Paris Update Ironique 3-FoxyMinky

I’m guessing that this furrier on Rue Hauteville couldn’t decide between an homage to the Jimi Hendrix song “Foxy Lady” or the Rolling Stones song “Minky Man.” Whereas the owner of this boutique on Boulevard des Poissonnières is more of a girl group fan:

Paris Update Ironique 4-ShirElles

In recent years the French penchant for cheap, unchallenging American consumables has expanded from movies and music to food items like hamburgers, hot dogs, cupcakes and so on. In the “so on” category, we have this lunch stand on Boulevard des Malesherbes:

Paris Update Ironique 5-FreshBagels

Note that it’s not “fresh bagels,” but “fresh and bagels.” If this is intended to mean “fresh stuff and also bagels,” then the place is accurately named — I ate there once and my bagel tasted like it was old enough to remember the Shirelles.

Like everywhere else, Paris has its food fads. Besides bagels, in recent years we’ve have successive waves of Italian panini, Chinese takeout and sushi joints. I suppose it was inevitable that sooner or later some visionary entrepreneur would try to cash in on two trends at once:

Paris Update Ironique 6-Bagel-Jap

 

This one was spotted by reader and devoted sign hunter Katie Anders. Thanks, Katie!

They must have stayed up all night trying to decide between that and “Sushi Jew.”

Of course, an English business name in Paris doesn’t have to be ugly-sounding and borderline offensive. As an alternative, it can be stupid-sounding and borderline braindead, as exemplified by this car rental office on Rue Legendre:

Paris Update Ironique 7-VeryCarTrip

“How was your trip?” “Oh, very.” “Very what?” “Very, ah, very. And I’m so glad you asked.”

Very confusing, in any case, unlike the name of this lingerie store (also unearthed by Katie Anders), whose name is only slightly confusing:

Paris Update Ironique 8-Pull-In

What is it that needs to be pulled in here? And how exactly is that going to be accomplished? Perhaps it’s best not to know.

The indefatigable Ms. Anders also found, but for some reason refuses to patronize, this hair salon:

Paris Update Ironique 9-Squared-Hair

They also do makeup applications, so you can get your hair and face squared all in one session! Whether that’s going to leave you looking more attractive is a different question. You might end up needing to take the advice emblazoned on the wall of this shop (also Katie’s find):

Paris Update Ironique 10-Play-With-Yourself

It’s a shoe store — I bet some of the customers also patronize Foot Pimp. And if that doesn’t give them a happy enough ending, they can always try this massage parlor on Boulevard Richard Lenoir:

Paris Update Ironique 11-FangFang

I’m not sure which concept is more disturbing: a two-fanged “special” massage or a Dracular bikini wax. Or both at once.

I hope I never find out. And I hope they at least change fangs between customers. And, as the saying goes, where there’s hope there’s...

Paris Update Ironique 12-HopeNLife

Hope ’n Life, on Rue d’Alexandrie, no longer has either — it’s out of business. Just like this corporate training center on Rue Saint Sebastien is going to be if they live up to their name:

Paris Update Ironique ridiculous-shop-signs-13-IFOCOP-Alternate

 

My guess: they specialize in training people to make up English business names.

Have you seen a ridiculous sign in Paris? Or anywhere in France? Don’t focop! Send me a photo in care of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

David Jaggard

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