When an internet friend passes away…

Dedicated to Ginger

Life goes on… It always does. No matter how close we were, life goes on…
I have never known Ginger… That is, I have never known her as a speaking, real life friend. Yet she was real life. I knew she was deaf, and yes, sometimes came over as a bit strange, but to me, in the first place she was a good photographer, and we emailed each other off list, to comment on each others work.
While I was in Paris, she died. Only this morning did I find out…
I am in shock, weird, as I never knew her for real. There was only that tiny bit of glass cable connection between us…
That is why I want to dedicate this entry to her. It will not make a difference in the big scheme of things, it will make no difference to her family and friends, but she made a little difference for me…
So Ginger, these photographs are for you. I think you would have liked them…
Our hotel in Paris was only 100 meters away from the Montmartre cemetary, and I wanted to go and shoot there… Not knowing what I was going to find.

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We had our coffee as each morning, looked at passers-by… This man reminded me of my dad. My dad could also have this look, when he thought that nobody was looking.. This man had the same glance on his face.

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The first thing we see when we enter the cemetary is that it is beneath a viaduct. I hear later on that it was built by the man who built the Eiffel Tower. Part of the burial grounds is beneath the grid of the road above it. A strange mix of ancient rest and peace, underneath the noises of modern Parisian traffic.

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I believe there are 39 divisions, this cemetary is an old one, in an old stone quarry. It lays beneath city level.

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A small spot with tranquility in a hectic symfony of street noises. The sound of traffic only comes in muted…

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Aaron came with me, and he sits down to read his paper while I cruise the toombs. He catches up with me later on while I am studying a grave, and startles me – can’t say to death – but I do jump… I had forgotten everything about me, and was so focussed on the dead that I forgot about the living.

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It is a bit a safer feeling to have him near me, cemetaries have a strange attraction to me, but it is kind of eary to be there. Souls by themselves are only that: souls floating in a big void… (As a kid I thought that the little gelly things in soup were souls…)

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Angels, urnes, vases, drapes, lots of different head stones, blending in with family graves with large head stones.
Some famous people rest here for ever. Emile Zola is one of them. Forbidden reading in my school days as he was a rebel, a socialist next to being a writer. The nuns considered his books as dangerous..

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There is a beauty in this little hidden spot under the bridge. Beauty in decay, if I may say so.

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Dust lives outside of time… (D. Balavoine)
He was right, dust does live outside of time!

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Makes me wonder if I want a toomb… I prefer not to think about things like that, but here, I have it right in my face.
After a certain time, when the family is gone, who takes care of the stones and flowers? They are not touched anymore, and become signs of our smallness. We are only a small grain in time.

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I appreciate the big family places. Can’t help wondering how much those things costed, as a simple block in a Belgian Cemetary costs a rib out of your body. It is not cheap to die…

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I don’t look at the name of this one, my eyes are drawn to the rest on his face. He is sleeping, forever…

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Some monuments (if I may call them that way) are pompous, build to last and to impress. Even in the after-life.

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A door hanger, metal on metal, a gold smith worked long on this one…

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An american, came to Paris to stay! Never left again…

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It looks like a little village, a shelter of some kind. Lots of kitties here in between the stones.

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They like it here, it is cool in summer and they probably find a bit of warmth in winter if needed…

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The most beautiful sculptures are here, waiting to be looked at… I almost forget to peek at the names, I hope that whoever is in there is happy with how it looks for the people walking around. I am very impressed by the “grandness” of some of the toombs.

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This is Artot, a musician, he has violins carved out. I try to find some information on him, but don’t find anything.
This morning though, I got an email from Steve Soper, a connoisseur of the cemetary that it is in fact a belgian, Alexandre Jospeh Montagney Artot (1815-1845) who gained some notoriety during his short life. Thanks Steve!

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He is looking now in silence, no music anymore… A bit of petals close to the eyes…

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You can put money in “Tronc pour les Pauvres”, the box for the poor. Maybe seeing all the headstones and monuments makes people a bit softer, so they do donate for the poor. A nice gesture!

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In my mind, I hear Berlioz his’ New World, flowing music, I had no idea he lived in died in the 1800’s…

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A jewish family, vanished in Treblinka. History gets a face.

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They have lots of stones on their grave, a custom that I approve off. I find it tender that you visit a family resting place and mark your presence with a little stone…

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A corner, and a girl patiently waiting in green, pointing to a place I can’t see.

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I have to go under the viaduct to cross to the other section, and am startled again when I see two shadows moving. I am jumpy on cemetaries…
The two shadows under the viaduct are two black cemetary workers having a cup of tea. They laugh so hard when they see me jump. I tell them that I thought something had come back to life. They laugh even harder. You have to be tough to work in an environment like this.

In the upper corner, the grave of Dalida. My aunt liked her a lot. She was a famous and starry french singer in the years 60 and 70. Everyone in Belgium knew Gigi L’amoroso… She killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills, and now lies beneath this tacky statue… Tacky in life and tacky in death…

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Amazing to see that after twenty years, there are so much fresh flowers on her stone. She must have touched some nerves…

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We enter a section with a lot of russian and polish names. Lots of Russians fled the revolution of 1917 and found a new life in exile in Paris.
Where they also died…

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Almost time to go. I could have spend two days on this cemetary, I am sure I missed some nice toomb stones, but life is here and present. My hubby and myself are on a holiday, and one can not spend a whole holiday on a cemetary. If I ever come back to Paris, I can do another part of this 100 are big resting place.

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In the little office at the exit, the books are there. In a very undead setting, they keep all the secrets and names of all who ly here…
I don’t think this is a good spot for those ancient books with fragile paper, but the keeper does not seem bothered by it. For them the books are working material…

We leave and head for the Paris Metro. Time to see the Sacre Coeur, I take my blue cape off my shoulders.

I will miss you Ginger…

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2 thoughts on “When an internet friend passes away…

  1. I’m sure that Ginger is delighted that across the ocean in Paris another photographer is dedicating her photos to her. That would mean a lot to her, I know. Her death has been a shock to all of us and we will miss her charm, kindness, exempliary work, and eccentric sense of humor. She was unique. Wonderful photos…cool place…I laughed hard at you jumping when stumbling upon the cemetary workers! :)

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