23 October 2010

Ashes to ashes

I'd like to return to the regular scheduled programming, but Marseille is still in the grip of the strike and the uncollected garbage, and so is this blog. The strikes continues and they burn bigger barricades now. The one shown below generated so much smoke that a fire truck came; it took one look at the situation and drove off again.

Instead of just watching the garbage piles get higher and higher, people are now doing something about them: they set fire to them. This is not always a wise strategy. In addition to huge piles of garbage, we now have a foul smell and damaged trees, cars, walls, and entrances. The fire at the Marseille Rotary Club burned through a window, and the Virgin Megastore has hit on the strategy of covering up a huge pile of ashes with plastic tarps. Out of sight, out of mind.

This is on rue Saint-Ferréol, Marseille's largest shopping street, which connects the Préfecture with the bourse. Lots of fires here. Another street that got hit severely is little rue Curiol, perhaps better known for the numerous brothels and waiting ladies of negotiable affection in their loud high-heeled getups. The plastic garbage containers at the epicenter of each pile there have melted and dripped picturesque streams of plastic onto the street.

Overall I'd say that about half of all garbage piles were burned. Sometimes it's hard to see because the ashes get sedimented down by new garbage piled on top. It's going to be very difficult to clean up this mess of molten junk. The news say that they are now sending the gendarmes, who are exactly like the American National Guard except completely different.

I wonder if someone is going to decide at some point that the remaining value of Marseille is less than the cost of making it livable again, and starts working on nuke-from-orbit scenarios, just in case. There is something very wrong about the way the French go about solving their problems.

Here is what plastic name plates do when they feel too warm:

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