Tag Archives | Paris

Inside Paris’s Belle Époque-Era Human Zoo

human zooMessy Nessy Chic on a surreal symbol of the history of colonialism — the human zoo:

In the furthest corner of the Vincennes woods of Paris lies the remains of what was once a public exhibition to promote French colonialism over 100 years ago and what we can only refer to today as the equivalent of a human zoo.

In 1907, six different villages were built in the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale, representing all corners of the French colonial empire at the time– Madagascar, Indochine, Sudan, Congo, Tunisia and Morocco. The villages and their pavillions were built to recreate the life and culture as it was in their original habitats. This included mimicking the architecture, importing the agriculture and appallingly, inhabiting the replica houses with people, brought to Paris from the faraway territories.

Over one million curious visitors [attended] from May until October 1907 when it ended. Today, the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale is kept out of sight behind rusty padlocked gates, abandoned and decaying.

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Eleven Decades of Anaïs Nin

Anaïs Nin was an American born to Hispanic/Cuban parents in France on February 21, 1903. Although we associate the author with Paris, she spent most of her life living in the U.S.

A writer of essays, short stories and novels, Nin’s literary triumph was the publication of her diaries which chronicled more than six decades of experiences. Nin carried on a famous affair with author Henry Miller and it was during her time with him that the pair both started writing erotica to make ends meet. In the Paris of the 1930′s, enterprising publishers cultivated collectors of forbidden writing and paid authors well and quickly for custom-crafted smut. Nin was a pioneer as one of the first women to ply the dirty book trade and she eventually let the works be collected and published widely under the titles Delta of Venus and Little Birds. She’s considered to be among the best writers of the female sexual experience.

Along with Miller, Nin became a counterculture hero during the unrest of the 1960′s. While Miller championed freedom of libido in his writing and fought for free of speech in his battles against censorship, Nin was perceived as the kind of strong, talented, liberated woman that the just-budding feminist movement was still trying to articulate. While she became a popular lecturer at universities, Nin never became involved in radical politics. It seemed she was always a lover more than a fighter. Nin died of cancer in 1977.

Here is the woman herself as she appeared in Kenneth Anger’s The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome in 1954

Stay Awake!

Joe Nolan

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Hell In 3D, From 1860s Paris

comboA strange find from nineteenth-century Paris, a miniaturized version of Hell photographed in 3D, promising rewards for sinners in the underworld. Via Cine-graphics:

In the opening lines of his 1978 publication, Diableries: La Vie Quotidienne Chez Satan, Jac Remise relates how a crew of demolition workers in Paris discovered a mysterious wooden box hidden in the ruins of a condemned building. The box, which had been wrapped with old military belts, was found to contain a collection of photographs depicting a hedonistic world filled with drunken devils, sinister skeletons and scantily clad women. An anonymous note found buried among the glass images added:

“This is the work of my life, it is thus that I dreamed of Hell. If my visions are true, then the wicked may rest assured, the afterlife will be sweet for them to bear.”

What the demolition workers discovered that day was a series of photographs known as Les Diableries, The Diabolical.

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Images of 19th Century Paris’s Hell-Themed Café

Manning Krull at Cool Stuff in Paris has posted some rare pictures of a Hell-themed café that was founded in late 19th century Paris.

interior

Little is known about the establishment, which appears to have operated into the mid-20th century. National Geographic has this to say:

“A hot spot called Hell’s Café lured 19th-century Parisians to the city’s Montmartre neighborhood—like the Marais—on the Right Bank of the Seine. With plaster lost souls writhing on its walls and a bug-eyed devil’s head for a front door, le Café de l’Enfer may have been one of the world’s first theme restaurants. According to one 1899 visitor, the café’s doorman—in a Satan suit—welcomed diners with the greeting, “Enter and be damned!” Hell’s waiters also dressed as devils. An order for three black coffees spiked with cognac was shrieked back to the kitchen as: “Three seething bumpers of molten sins, with a dash of brimstone intensifier!”

Next door was a less interesting café called Le Ciel (Heaven). See more at Cool Stuff in Paris.… Read the rest

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Petty Criminals Unite! Subway Fare-Jumpers In Paris Form Insurance Fund

03172010jumperAs someone oppressed by the ever-expanding ticket prices of New York’s corruptly-run MTA subway system, I find this example of criminal ingenuity inspiring: turnstile hoppers in Paris have formed an insurance fund so that whenever one of them is caught by the police, their fine/expenses are fully covered.

“It’s a way to resist together,” declared Gildas, 30, a leader of the mutuelle movement. “We can make solidarity.”

“There are things in France which are supposed to be free — schools, health. So why not transportation?” he said. “It’s not a question of money…. It’s a political question.”

The fare dodgers who jump the turnstiles or sneak in through exit barriers on the Paris Metro are practically as much a fixture of the city as the subway itself.

Those who get caught without a proper ticket, though, face fines of up to $60. So what’s a poor freeloader to do?

For about $8.50 a month, those who join one of these raffish-sounding mutuelles des fraudeurs can rest easy knowing that, if they get busted for refusing to be so bourgeois as to pay to use public transit, the fund will cough up the money for the fine.

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