Marseilles Musings

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Hello from the “Bring Me My Coffee” shop at the Vieux Port in Marseilles. I have spent the entire week in the south of France, and having never been here, have some fresh impressions to share.

These aren’t in any particular order, and in order to preserve the bullet points, I’m putting a few images beneath this list. So voila:

  • Midgets are still funny: I was under the impression that France was left-wing, progressive, politically correct, and all that, but I have plenty of evidence to the contrary. Setting aside the fact that the women love to show off their legs, I noticed on the television that midgets are still used for comic relief (or I guess the term is ‘little people’). This was popular in the U.S. in the early 1980s (witness any Oingo Boingo music video for proof), but it’s been so long, it was a little shocking to see them treated as ornamental freaks.
  • Dog balls: the male dogs here are not ‘fixed’, on the whole. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.
  • Graffiti: In Marseilles, graffiti is everywhere, and I mean everywhere. And it is huge. I have no idea how the “artists” managed to spray paint this stuff, since it is often twenty feet high and painted on extremely treacherous surfaces, but there it is. It’s a little shocking. If Yosemite’s Half Dome were located in the south of France, I suspect it would be completely ruined by stupid graffiti.
  • Terrorist tips: It’s kind of sad, but they have posters on what to do during a terrorist attack, such as how to run low to reduce the chance of getting shot, and how to barricade your entrance. I put a picture below showing a man illustrating how to show you are unarmed.
  • Slums a’plenty: As beautiful as some of the buildings are here, there are many buildings that are decrepit and, shockingly, still populated. It honestly looks like slums in Rio (not that I’ve been there either), even though Provence is utterly romanticized.
  • Chinaman: Back to the political incorrectness, the imagery related to Asians is straight out of the 1930s. Take a look at the Chinese restaurant image shown below.
  • Absolutely no right angles: I absolutely cannot fathom giving directions from point A to point B in the days before GPS. Even if, as the bird flies, you are going 50 feet, it might take you 15 minutes to get there, because the entire area is full of one-way streets and hairpin turns. Here is a snapshot I took, and it is far from the most extreme:
Typical driving directions
I surrender!

Anyway, I had a pleasant enough time here, but as always, I’m looking forward to heading back to my beloved Palo Alto, complete with my dogs, my big-ass computer screens, and most of all, my incredibly fast Internet connection. Welcome to December!