Paris: The sites of the Terrorist AttacksJanuary 19, 2016
Le Carillon and Le Petit CambodgeJanuary 21, 2016
I spent much of today exploring the sites of the 13 November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris along and adjacent to the Boulevard Voltaire in the 11th district. I had planned my exploration from the Oberkampf exit from the Metro to the Place de Nation, a stretch of about 3 Km. with a side trip on the rue de Charrone as we shall see. I stepped out of the Metro to be greeted for the first time with a clearing sky and sunshine to brighten my mood when suddenly, so very quickly, right there in front of me, was the Bataclan at 50 Blvd. Voltaire.. The Bataclan is a Bar/Brasserie/ music venue that dates from the 19th century and was the site of the greatest carnage on 13 November last when 89 innocent people were killed and over 200 wounded in the largest part of a coordinated terrorist attack in Paris. Since the 1970s the Bataclan has been the site of performances by a veritable whose who of rock and other kinds of music. At first I could not figure out why they chose the Bataclan but on further research it turns out that the Bataclan was under Jewish ownership until September of 2015 and was the target of prior anti-Israeli activity as well as threats of violence as far back as 2008. Today, however, it stood in silent memory to those of many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who lost their lives on 13 November 2015. On the other side of Blvd. Voltaire from the Bataclan was a length of 150 feet of fence covered with tributes and memorials to the fallen and to the ideals of freedom to which Paris and France are dedicated. It was truly a surreal experience for me to stand beside those memorials and to look across the Street at the Bataclan and wonder:WHY?? There is unfortunately, no answer to that question and so the carnage around the world continues with word that the young photographer Leila Alaoui, wounded in the terrorist attack in Burkina Faso has died. I continued my walk down the Blvd. Voltaire to rue de Charrone, location of the former cafe La Belle Equipe (loosely translated as “the great team”), now only identifiable by the name above the former entrance but now completely boarded up and with no sign of any memorial offerings to the victims who met their deaths here. This was a very somber experience. In sober meditation I walked back up rue de Charrone , turned right and continued down Blvd. Voltaire towards number 253 the location of Comptoir Voltaire (Bar Voltaire) another site of violent death on 13 November, 2015. Unlike the other two venues, Comptoir Voltaire gave no hint whatever of the morbid and tragic events that had occurred there just over two months ago. I was again overcome with a deep sense of sorry for these many people whom I had never known but whose lives had been so violently and unexpecedly ended by such brutal and senseless violence. All the more reason to make the most of each hour and each day and to each work in our own way to bring happiness instead of grief to those we love.