Photo of the Week


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












Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Silent films from Switzerland?


> 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 !


France Finally Bags the Plastic

Parisians, I Just Want to Say  
One Word to You...


If the government’s good intentions are anything like mine, we’ll still be ankle deep in these things a year from now.

I try. I really do. Every morning I promise myself that this will be the day that I finally kick the habit. I’m fine until lunch and can usually get through the afternoon without much trouble, but by the time evening rolls around, most days I’m back to my old destructive ways.

No, I’m not trying to quit smoking. Or drinking or snorting or slamming or any other means of getting wasted — I’m trying to quit wasting. To be precise, I’m trying to quit wasting plastic. And to be punctilious, I’m trying to quit wasting plastic bags.

Like everyone with a frontal lobe, I’m alarmed about the 150 million tons of plastic microbits thickening the oceans, reportedly including at least one zone in the Pacific where the concentration of indestructible manmade matter is so dense that it will soon be possible to walk on it, erect buildings and a flagpole, and declare it the sovereign nation of Polymernesia.

And then appoint a Minister of Environmental Protection.

However, as I am learning from experience, it’s hard to change long-ingrained behavior. Since I moved here, the routine for purchasing any kind of product in any kind of store anywhere in France has followed an invariable eight-step procedure:

1. Enter store.

2. Say “bonjour” to the shopkeeper.

3. Find or request desired items.

4. Pay for them while the shopkeeper rolls his or her eyes because you didn’t say “bonjour” politely enough, meanwhile putting your items in a plastic bag.

5. Take items home.

6. Crumple bag into a messy wad (optional).

7. Throw bag away — in another plastic bag.

8. Pour glass of wine and flip on the TV to drown out the sound of the earth choking to death.

But there has been some progress. A couple of years ago, many stores started offering lightweight, compact reusable shopping bags for a nominal fee, typically a euro or so.

These bags are great, except for one thing: they should come with a sticker reading, “WARNING: Do not use!”

I say this because when you buy one it’s always folded perfectly inside its pouch so it looks nice and tidy and flat, like this:


But from the second you take it out of there and unfold it, it will forever after look like this:


I suppose that there are people somewhere who can refold those bags so that they fit perfectly back in the pouch. Probably the same people who iron socks, actually squeeze toothpaste from the bottom of the tube and mail their income tax returns on January 3rd.

In other words, not me. But finally, after about six months of studying the bags’ crease patterns and channeling memories of high-school geometry class (with some interference from P.E.), I figured out the technique.

By sheer coincidence, it also happens to be an eight-step procedure:

1. Flatten bag neatly and carefully with the handles away from you.

2. Fold bag neatly and carefully from the bottom up, following the creases, until you reach the handles.

3. Fold sides neatly and carefully toward the center, following the creases.

4. Fold handles neatly and carefully down over the rest of the bag.

5. Realize that it is frankly impossible to fold the entire thing plus the handles in any way that remotely resembles neatly and carefully.

6. Try to stuff bag sloppily and haphazardly in the pouch anyway.

7. Fail.

8. Crumple bag into a messy wad (required).

That’s all there is to it! When you’re done, it should look like this:


Oh, by the way, I lied — this is a nine-step procedure. The final step is:

9. If it’s the kind of bag with a separate pouch, lose the pouch after one day. If it’s the kind with an attached pouch, lose the entire bag after one week.

So my lightweight, compact reusable bags have never been nice or tidy or flat, but they are still lightweight and compact. And I guess they’re reusable, but I can’t say for sure yet because, of course, in order to reuse something, you have to use it first.

I seem to have trouble with that part. It took me another six months to remember to take a bag when I left the house. Now I almost always have one with me, but I still haven’t quite got the hang of remembering to use it at the store — which kind of defeats the whole purpose, if you think about it. Or even if you don’t think about it.

And I, for one, don’t: at least half the time I forget about my eco-friendly alternative until I’m already carrying my purchases home in yet another dozen grams of future pollution, destined to make the journey from the trash can to the garbage truck to the landfill, and then I suppose at least partly to the ocean and ultimately to the gills of the descendants of the fish that I just bought for dinner. Who I’m sure would remind me not to use so much plastic, if only they could.

But now, in 2016, I’m finally going to have to break my habit. Probably. At long last, France has passed a law banning stores from handing out non-biodegradable single-use plastic bags.

I added “probably” because the law’s application date has already been pushed back twice. Originally set for January 1, it was delayed to April 1, and now is scheduled for July 1.

In other words, France has been dragging its heels on this initiative about as much as I have. This is not a good sign. Sometimes I think I might as well emigrate to Polymernesia. Who knows? I hear the streets are paved with gold Visa cards.

Announcement! As few readers know, I am also a musician. I have compiled a short album of my comic compositions, which is now available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and every other music downloading and streaming service in the solar system. To find it, do a search for “David Jaggard” and look for an album called “Totally Unrelated.” Which includes, by sheer coincidence, a track entitled “Plastic Bag.”

David Jaggard

Note to readers: David Jaggard’s e-book Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011 is now available on Amazon as well as iTunes, iBookstore, Nook, Reader Store, Kobo, Copia and many other distributors.

Follow C’est Ironique on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to read all of this week’s new articles on the Paris Update home page.

Reader Reaction: Click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to respond to this article (your response may be published on this page and is subject to editing).

Click here for more C’est Ironique! columns.

© 2016 Paris Update