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A Quick Trip to the Pompidou

September 6th, 2014 · No Comments · France, Paris, tourism, Travel

In journalism, we have a concept known as the “toe touch”.

In brief, it means a reporter/writer making an appearance at the city/country he or she is writing about. It almost literally can be a toe touch. Off a plane, through passport control and customs, and right back to a waiting lounge for the next flight out. Then, technically as well as legally you are considered to have been in that city/country. Might even get a passport stamp to prove it.

Why does this matter? Because to get a “dateline” at the top of your story (and reporters love datelines, especially exotic ones), as well as a byline (reporters love bylines even more), most newspapers require the reporter to have been IN that city/country during the reporting of that story.

In cases where stories can be reported without going to the city/country, well, you can get a byline but not a dateline. That’s the rule. Which leads to silly things like driving or flying to a locale, then turning right around and leaving.

Which is all preamble for this confession: I went to the Pompidou Centre this week, while in Paris … but it was the museum equivalent of a journalistic “toe touch”.

My Pompidou visit went like this:

–Crossing the street from the Marais to be on the grounds of the Pompidou.

–Slogging the 150 or so yards to walk around to the entrance of the Pompidou.

–Determing that, no, one does not have to buy a ticket to enter the ground floor! And entering the building. Going through light security — but no ticket takers.

–Wandering about the airy ground floor, which includes a very large gift shop, which I visited. I even picked up a thing or two to examine.

–Looking up at the cafe on the mezzanine level. Going up to the same level on the other side of the room, and looking through the windows to the library/research area. (Lots of busy people in there, on desktop computers.)

–Noting that to go any further would require buying a ticket. Which I was not going to do because I don’t like modern art, and the Pompidou isn’t exactly known as the best place to see it, anyway. It is best known as the “inside-out” building, where the pipes and tubes usually hidden in buildings are on the outside of the building, in vivid colors.

So, now I can say I have been to the Pompidou, the most important modern art museum in Paris.

And it was a lot more than a toe touch. The whole of me was inside the building, and walked about for at least 10 minutes, and took a pretty close look at the stuff in the gift shop — which really does tell a person a bit about what might have been inside.

But I know it was silly. And yet,  I did it. Perhaps in part because I am a journalist, and we have rules about things.

The only sillier thing than what I did would have been to leave Paris yet again with the knowledge that I still had never been inside such a distinctive and well-known building, especially when I stayed in an apartment no more than 50 yards from it.



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