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Report from Paris: The Pigeon-Thrower George R. Clay Here in "my" Paris park, the Place des Vosges, on a sunny September afternoon, a pretty Uttle girl, perhaps five, goes about the serious business of covering her right leg with sand. Such concentration! Older kids on bikes skid around the sandboxes and fountains (there are four of each) playing FoUow-the-Leader. Others try, not very successfuUy, to play soccer with a beach baU. On the grass sits, lounges, Ues a good scattering of nappers, munchers, readers, people-watchers (Uke me), gossipers, lovers, sun-bathers. From the park's arcade comes the sound of an opera duet (slightly flat). An elderly couple starts dancing in the spray of a fountain. ... So much in this city is tinged with joy, I hate to admit that it isn't aU that way. A few days ago, one bench away from me on the busy Blvd. St. Germain, an angry old street bum reached down, coaxing a pigeon to his hand with bits of bread, then picked the bird up, snapped one ofits legs (just one), heaved it into the middle ofthe wide street, then leered gleefuUy watching as it hop-dragged itself toward the far sidewalk where, just missed by the oncoming traffic, it coUapsed, waiting to die. Why do I describe this? What do I feel about it? At first, horrified. Later, phüosophicaUy: teUing myselfthat reciprocal opposites (like Ufe-death, sunshadow , tears-laughter, gentleness-brutaUty, ecstasy-despair) are symbiotic— neither would exist without the other, since each gives rise to the other. In a sense, then, the pigeon-thrower is what makes aU the good things seem so good; just as, were he not surrounded by so many good things that seem to mock him, the pigeon-thrower might not have done what he did. Sure, sure. But I stiU want to lame the bastard and shove him into traffic. L 55 ...


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