Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Return To Miettes

There was a huge celebration in Montpellier the day I returned, and, much as I might wish it had been for me, it was for the inauguration of not one, but two new tram-lines. I'd joked about this in the past, with the town dug up just about everywhere, but I wasn't expecting this huge work to be finished on time, let alone that there'd be two, instead of one, new line.

But there it was, in the mail that had accumulated in my absence, the new tram map, folded into a credit-card-sized thing you could carry in your pocket. Like many public transport maps, though, it's more schematic than informative. I don't yet see the point of Line 4, which seems to describe a circle, mostly passing through places that already have tram stops. Tram 3, though, has two end-stops. One is Lattes, where the Roman village which helped give birth to Montpellier is, along with its excellent museum, and the other is Pérols, where the tram stops at the Étang d'Or -- the beach, in short. I intend to make this journey soon, before it gets warm enough that everyone will be doing it. The beach here is kind of skanky, but it has the kind of seedy vibe that has its own appeal.

As before, the two trams have been decorated with their own color-schemes. The one for Tram 3 seems to be the Mediterranean and its sea-life.

The motif for Line 4 is, I think, the American Express Gold Card, only with the water tower in the Peyroux Park added to the design.

As you can see, they're polished to a mirror finish, and these were in motion, but I think you can get the idea.

The main result of all of this is that Lines 1 and 2 have been slightly changed, so that both now stop near my place on the Comédie, and the schedule has been screwed up so that at any given time you'll see trams backed up at the main stations like Comédie and Corum. Surprising? Uh, not really.

* * *

Meanwhile, just like you lucky folks back in the States, we're about to have elections. This means, among other things, that posters for all the candidates are posted near where people will wind up voting later this week, and that people have already started voicing their opinions. 

As you can see here, the Socialist candidate, Hollande, is the only non-mutilated poster, and as you can't see, the far-right National Front candidate, Mme. LePen, didn't even bother to put up a poster. Montpellier, and this region generally, is pretty left-wing, and every LePen poster I've seen has been ripped to shreds. At any rate, Sarkozy (who, come to think of it, isn't up here either) will likely have his ass handed to him locally. I, of course, can't vote, but I can urge Americans to visit Vote From Abroad if they're living overseas and want to vote in the U.S. elections in November. 

* * * 

There is suddenly an alarming number of cats in the street here. They started off as spray-paintings, and there are still a bunch of those around

but there are also a bunch made from mirrored glass showing up, too. 

The spray-painted ones work best at night, where they seem to be real cats. I've also seen them in other towns in the area, but here in Montpellier, the guys who work for the city's Enlevement de Tags department can't tell the difference between street art and gang tagging, so it's always good to shoot these when I find them, because they might not be there tomorrow. 

Still, there are street artists who are in and out of the mainstream. This guy, Jonny Style, I've caught at several unauthorized places, and, authorized or not, he's doing glamour paintings on high-end shops around town. The first one I found was erased in 48 hours, but this was still up today. 

This may or may not have something to do with the coming of spring, which is sure taking its time. 

* * * 

Finally, some things I learned on my recent trip to the States. 

1) Young American women are turning into Germans. I was unnerved to hear them talking to each other and, when agreeing, saying "Yah" instead of "Yes" or "Yeah" or something. Young American men are well-advised to monitor this situation. German women are nothing to fool around with, take it from a grizzled veteran. 

2) The word "awesome" has come to mean "nice," "okay," "interesting," instead of "filling me with an almost inexpressable sense of wonder." I assume a new word is in the pipeline to describe actual awesome things like the Grand Canyon. Or maybe it's that flattening of affect thing again. 

3) I will never take a 5-week vacation again unless I'm being paid crazy money to do so. Oh, I said that last time? Maybe I have to keep reminding myself. 

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