Paris, 09 January, 2007
the camera is my butterly net. i use it to collect rooftops of paris.
this has been a hobby for some years now, but let it be reread that the rules to this game are like so:
- it must be done during sun rise (more or less)
- it must be done outside (stairs, elevators and such internal niceties are off-limits)
- no falling, no getting caught by cops or spiderman
- once at the top a 360 photo must be taken (more or less)
i've moaned about the grey weather of paris. but it contains paris' real beauty. first, it makes everything subtle and painfully delicate. the harsh realities of life are not as easily seen. mysteries thrive in overcast skies. second, the clouds make the dawn dramatic. the sun has one chance to shoot its shaft under the skirt of clouds before it all slides back into the grey mysterious drudge of the day.
so if i can get onto the rooftop during that five minute period its nice and i've won the game.
as of this writing i've collected photos from the 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 15th, 18th, and 20th. so there is work left, but i still have to sail four of the seven seas, too.
and before i get into the story, here's what's important:
i met the eiffel tower was in '92 when i spent two weeks living in the foot of the west base, behind one of the spotlights that they shine up. it was winter, but behind the big drum of a light it was warm, and there was enough dust that i knew no one would find my things. earlier that year i'd gotten kicked out of college so i left for france and hitch-hiked around with Le Petit Prince and a french dictionary to learn important things like how to speak and read. and smoke and drink, and eat. these are the national past times of the french more than any other country i've seen. anyway, that winter, by the time i got into paris, i was broke and making a few crumbs a week teaching illustration and english. so i found filthy places to put my sleeping bag. the metro was a rat city full of screaming trains, and i didnt sleep to well, so i started looking for places that no one would ever think to live, and the eiffel tower was a weirdly convenient place to leave my stuff.
but today, the morning of the 9th of january, 2007, it is raining. this can cause problems if there's serious scaling to be done. happily, the route Up was almost entirely stairs.
the hats were out, on gun patrol, cursing the pissing rain, studying at their watches, trying to do their job. just out of sentiment i walked casually over to the west base but didn't see much of a method in. on the north side i saw a service entrance which i stood by. i smoked a cigarette and waiteduntil the door opened, and the man with the trash walked out to empty his stuff. i nudged a stick across the floor which jammed the door before it closed. i gave it a minute or so then slipped in, all bond, james bond.
it took me almost two hours to get to the top. this involved some several thousand steely stairs, cold rain, pushy winds and a bleary reluctance to recognise that no matter how much i tried to do my little game, i was ascending a building that had no roof.
i went up anyway, just to see, and saw:
when i got done, i found a little door and on the other side there were two guys there looking at a camera. they got into an elevator and went down. that seemed like a good idea to me since my fingers were numb. i figured they were tourists and that maybe the tower opened earlier than it used to. so i waited until they left and tried the door. it opened and then locked (the first door i think i've seen that only had locks on the inside). there were a couple of people cleaning so i decided to walk around like i was supposed to be there. maybe i was because i walked around and they all smiled at me. then, when i asked for someone to come get me in the elevator, they gave me a phone number. i called it from a phone mounted on the wall. a man came in the elevator and the door opened. i got in. we went down together. he didn't say a word until i got out of the elevator and he wished me a good day.
they all seemed to know what i was doing, and they all seemed happy to help me do it.
the eiffel tower will always be a kind of home of mine, it seems