Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-bicycles-courtyard

Bicycles in a Parisian courtyard. © Paris Update

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Stick up for science
> The Paris March for Science begins at 1pm at the Jardin des Plantes (Place Valhubert), April 22.

Silent films from Switzerland?
> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, April 20-May 2.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, April 19-29.

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.

Take home a winemaker
> Winemakers from Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux come to Paris to offer tastings of their products in wine bars and private homes for the event J’Irai Déguster chez Vous. Various venues, Paris, April 20-22.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Bedos’s Monsieur & Madame Adelman preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 21.

Polaroid pix
> The “Expolaroid” exhibition features Polaroid images by nine artists. La Maison des Ensembles, Paris, through April 25.

Binge-watching
> Festival Séries Mania shows TV series from around the world and holds debates, conferences and special guests like Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife,” all for free. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 23.

Travel yarns
> Travel fanatics get together at the Paris Travelers Festival to swap tales of their adventures. FIAP, Paris, April 22-23.

Street art indoors

ParisUpdate-UrbanArtFair-Felipe-Pantone-2
The gallery Art in the Game will be showing works by Felipe Pantone at the Urban Art Fair.> Some 30 galleries show street art at the Urban Art Fair. Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 20-23.

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.

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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Hot Topics - Tales of la Ville

 

Bad Air, Bad Hair

Bad Air, Bad Hair
pollution police paris
The pollution police on the Place de la République, stopping cars to check their emission levels.

“What’s that in your hair, Nick?” asked a friend during a recent, over-priced macrobiotic meal in the fifth arrondissement. “Dunno. What are you talking about?” “Looks like you’ve got a clump of hair wax stuck in there.”

I wanted to say that I hadn’t worn hair wax since the days of my French crop hairstyle when it became fashionable in London during my mid-20s, but I already had a hunch as to what it was and so made my excuses and sloped off to the toilet, the foreign body still doggedly attached. It wasn’t in fact the first time someone had said something similar over the dinner table, before proceeding to extract a large pellicule from my hair. The truth is that Paris has given me dandruff, and flakes of it the size of which leave me rather breathless.

I have never suffered from dandruff before, and having searched all the Internet doctor web sites to find any seemingly probable causes, the best contributive factors I have come up with are stress and air pollution, in my case probably both at the same time: the stress of having to live with air pollution.

It has not escaped my notice that the air in Paris is unforgivably polluted. I remember a friend commenting about a year ago about how her blonde hair had turned brown as a result of it. I also remember looking out of a window in the 20th arrondissement one day and seeing that the bottom half of the Eiffel Tower had been blotted out by a brown cloud of pollution, and then later reading in a magazine that not one street in Paris meets the EU guidelines for clean air, all of which is trashing my own personal directive for clean hair.

There is not a lot of manufacturing industry going on in modern, service-sector Paris, so I am pointing the accusatory finger at transportation: the delivery trucks puffing along the main boulevards, the cars clogging up quaint medieval streets with carbon monoxide, the motorcycles the lads love but are no less guilty than four-wheeled vehicles ( even more so, according to some studies) of dirtying the atmosphere with pollution and greenhouse gases. (I let buses off lightly here as they at least convey a group of people from A to B, but they are nonetheless a contributory factor.) Paris is chockfull of fumes, with the situation rounded off nicely by the eight-lane périphérique ringing the city.

I once took an Ashtanga yoga class in a ground-floor studio near St. Paul. The idea is to breathe in and exhale deeply throughout the entire one-and-a-half hour practice, but there’s little point when all you are doing is inhaling exhaust fumes and poisoning the purification process. I was amazed how used to it the Parisians yogis had become.

My general hard-line (and I admit it, utopian) policy on pollution is that humans have no right to leave the planet in a worse state at the end of each day than they found it at the beginning. The planet hosts us and we need to show it respect. When I arrived in Paris, I was surprised that it hadn’t already followed London and introduced some kind of congestion charge, especially as you can get from the outskirts of Paris to the center in around 30 minutes on the Métro (a good deal faster than in London), so the Métro must be quicker than a car anyway.

The Vélib system is cute but it is only really a small plaster on a much bigger gash in Paris’s environmental problem.

There are myriad possible solutions to the pollution issue in Paris – some of which have already been put into place but could be further expanded, like car-free days in different areas on the weekends, for example, giving us all somewhere clean to go and spend time – but politics is more about the economy, the ability to breathe coming in lower down on the political agenda. Maybe if Sarko*, who is reportedly an extraordinarily vain man, got a good bout of dandruff, it would be enough to make him reconsider his priorities.

Nick Woods

*French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Reader Wendy Patterson writes: "I was interested to read that you, too, were pestered by dandruff in Paris! I have never had dandruff before but when we stayed in a rue Pecquay apartment in December, I certainly did develop it! My head was so itchy too!

"Now that we are back at our apartment in the 17th, I have my favorite"natural" shampoo and the water just seems better. My scalp has completely cleared up.

"I don't know why the water would be so different, but it just seemed harder in the apartment. My understanding is that our skin and scalp is healthiest with a slightly acid 'mantle' and the hard water would interfere with that, making it more basic rather than acid.

"One thing that did provide some relief was to rinse my scalp with diluted solution of vinegar and water. It made my hair shiny and soothed the itchiness.

"Good luck with your condition!"

© 2009 Paris Update

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