On the Bus, Beograd, Serbia, 29-May-2007

Mirrors and Reflections – #Frifotos

This was taken more than six years ago in Belgrade. I love the woman’s melancholy gaze breaking through the reflection of the clouds. It’s one of my all-time favorite shots, captured spontaneously while waiting for a red light to turn green.

Mirrors –and the reflections associated with them– is this week’s #frifotos theme on twitter. Here are a dozen from those snapped over the past six years culled from my flickr stream, which I’m now starting to use again more regularly.

You got a favorite?

Billboard. Zurich, 07-Sep-2007

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Oscar Wilde mural in Portland, Oregon

Happy Birthday, Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde would have been 159 today. Some are taken from us much too soon.

The photo above was snapped in Portland, Oregon, in August. And below, enjoy a slide show featuring photos of Wilde’s tomb at the Père Lachaise cemetery from a visit in March 2011 before it was cleaned up and covered.

Gates of Hell, Zurich

Quickie at The Gates of Hell

When a google doodle reminded me this morning that Rodin would have been 172 today, I finally found a use for this rainy day snippet of a bronze of The Gates of Hell that rests in front of the Kunsthaus Zurich. Aren’t you glad? I am – another 30 MB put to good use and now banished from my hard drive.

To celebrate further, below are a few more shots of Rodin’s works taken either at the Rodin Garden and Museum in Paris or at the Kunsthaus Zurich. Unfortunately I don’t have a scan handy of my first Rodin, his Thinker that sits in front of the Cleveland Museum of Art, which has always been among my favorite spots in my old northeast Ohio stomping grounds.

Jardin Rodin

Rodin's Gates of Hell, Zurich

There’s a Rodin baker’s dozen on my Flickr stream here.

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My First Miss.Tic!

No, of course I’m not admitting to my first mistake. When I do finally make one however, you’ll be the first to know. Promise.

I’ve read a lot about French street artist Miss.Tic over the years, seen photos of many of her creations and thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit of her work that I stumbled upon in Berlin last fall. But it wasn’t until last month that I finally saw an original by this Parisian on her home turf. It even features a bike! And I love her hair. :)  Enjoy.

For more here’s a great site in French and an interview with English subtitles.

Orozco’s Citroen and a Creative Commons Update

I’ve never been much of a car guy. I have one but the last time I put gas in the tank was in April. Of 2011. I didn’t have my first set of wheels until I was 23, an enormous town car that I drove into the ground on the dirt back roads of southeast Ohio. I later drove a Yugo around those same Appalachian foothills for five years. That remains the only new car I ever bought. And this remains the only car I even remotely covet.

It’s Voiture Citroen DS 19 which sculptor Gabriel Orozco famously trisected and reassembled in 1970. An old friend used to say that I was one of the select few who could actually look good driving a Yugo. She’d no doubt be weak in the knees if she saw me driving around in this.

This was shot at the Airs de Paris exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in the summer of 2007, one of just under 1,600 photos on my flickr stream that I’ve made available under a Creative Commons license. I only ask that credit is given exactly as specified with each photo. Strictly non-commercial, please. Follow the links if you’re not sure.

There are now just over 3,000 photos on my flickr stream, and they are for the most part grouped in sets geographically, with 20+ countries and nearly 40 bigger cities currently listed. That’s one place to start looking. I’m also fairly anal about tagging, so if your mind works in a way remotely similar to mine (my heartfelt sympathies go out to you), you can also hunt around on the tags page.

For previous updates, check the creative commons tag here on Piran Café.

Anyone have any CC experiences they’d like to share? Good or bad? I’d love to hear ‘em!

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(Mostly) Latin Quarter Bookstore Stroll

Independent bookshop subsidies? Oh yeah, I’ll drink to that.

During a stroll past bookshops and between wine bars stops in the Latin Quarter a few years ago, a colleague, a crusty reporter for a daily paper, told me that independent bookstores in that area of the French capital were subsidized by the local and national governments. I wondered how such an idea would go over in a place like Cleveland.

Some of the subsidies, he said, took the form of low interest loans. There were also tax breaks and incentives available, as well as cheap below-market rate rents in otherwise very pricey areas. Like the Left Bank’s Latin Quarter, still considered the city’s intellectual lifeline, where the goal of an independent government agency was to preserve book-related commerce and fend off the high end designer apparel shops that were encroaching the area. One thing Paris didn’t need, the argument apparently went, was more clothing boutiques in a neighborhood that witnessed nearly half of its independent bookstores disappear between 2000 and 2010. No not very Sorbonne-like.

I don’t know if austerity measures and Sarkozy era budget cuts have affected these subsidies in the time since –I hope not. But if another casual stroll through the same area last month is an indication, it appears they haven’t.

Stand along the Seine

There were dozens of shops, small and slightly less-small, tucked in and around the zigzag streets, with window displays showcasing titles as varied as the shapes of the worn cobblestones underfoot. That was the best part: discovering obscure books and little-known writers whose only appearance in a shop window –ever– will most certainly be somewhere in this corner of Paris.

I have some doubts that this model will ‘save’ the independents from other book buying and selling trends –online sales made up around 7% of book sales in France in recent years– but it’s certainly saved the parts of the Left Bank that are home to the shops from looking like other parts of the world that are starting to look far too much alike.

Most of the shots here were taken in the Latin Quarter. The few taken in the stands along the banks of the Seine are the lone exceptions.

Good indy bookstore karma near the Sorbonne.

With Lenin on the Seine. In this case, the right bank.

Slovenia’s hero Zizek is everywhere.

Shop windows – political passions welcome

Anyone read The End of Work?

What the mood of the day? Dada or Groucho?

Marilyn infatuation knows no boundaries

I bet you didn’t know that Dumas wrote a dictionary of cuisine.


These snaps are this week’s somewhat late contribution for Travel Photo Thursday (#TPThursday on twitter) hosted by Nancie on her website, Budget Travelers Sandbox. When you have few minutes to browse, check out Nancie’s photos and those of others who take part. You’ll see some great photos and visit some wonderful places. The direct link this week is here.

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Seven Super Shots? You decide.

There’s been a Seven Super Shots meme/challenge making the rounds on travel blogs over the past several days, started by the Hostelbookers.com blog. The rules are simple: bloggers are asked to select their own ‘Seven Super Shots’, one for each of the categories below. It’s certainly a good enough excuse to go through some old photos and share (some of them again). It was also interesting to see how how some of my personal favorites have changed over the years.

1. A photo that…takes my breath away

18-Jul-2009, Paris – It isn’t quite Man on Wire, but I liked this backdrop nonetheless. This guy was terrific, performing atop a 3ft X 3ft (1meter square) stone pedestal at the base of the Sacre Coeur steps. Certainly deserved a euro or two.

2. A photo that…makes me laugh or smile

13-Jun-2008, Vienna. More specifically, at the Wien Südbahnhof station. This is hanging in my bathroom and makes me smile everyday.

3. A photo that…makes me dream

29-May-2007, Belgrade. We were stuck in very heavy mid-afternoon traffic when I noticed this woman’s tired dreamy eyes. They can certainly provoke daydreaming. Probably my favorite shot from 2007.

4. A photo that…makes me think

17-Sep-2007, Berlin. The Holocaust Memorial.

5. A photo that…makes my mouth water

22-Aug-2011, Daegu, S. Korea. There’s nothing particularly good about the photo, but the meal was outstanding. And this wasn’t even everything.

6. A photo that…tells a story

April 1999, Psoltega, Nicaragua. A makeshift refugee camp about five or six months after the collapse of the Casitas Volcano (in background) in the wake of Hurricane Mitch. There’s a little more info and a few more images on my blog here.

7. A photo that…I am most proud of

08-Sep-2007, Zurich. A very hard call. For the time being I’m going with this shot, mainly because it was something that I clearly wasn’t expecting. I was simply hoping to get a quick snap of the woman on a cigarette break, and then remember being a bit upset when the car drove by. I couldn’t have planned the positioning if I tried.


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The rules include nominating five other bloggers/photographers to hopefully join in. And I hope they do (if they haven’t already).

Fox Nomad
Old World Wanderings
Speck Treks
The Art of Slow Travel
The View From Fez

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3quarksdaily: The Accidental Parisian: A Conversation with David Downie

3quarksdaily: The Accidental Parisian: A Conversation with David Downie

Great wide-ranging interview with the author of Paris, Paris: A Journey Into the City of Light. What most sparked my interest was his profound desire to walk, wherever he may be. That’s always been my preference when traveling, in places new, or those seemingly familiar.

Your feet seem to merge with the soil at times. Sometimes you think you can’t move. Sometimes you feel like you’re flying. But you’re always aware of your physical presence as a human — an animal — and as an element in the landscape.


Until I’ve paced out a walk, until I’ve gotten into the landscape or cityscape, I can’t know it. After 25 years in France, I still have to hoof it around to get what’s going on. This must be some extremely primitive reaction to the external world, something that wells up in my caveman soul.

3quarksdaily: The Accidental Parisian: A Conversation with David Downie.