April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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France has always seemed like a nice place to visit, because a lot of important French history happened there, such as… I don’t know, the French Revolution, I guess. Okay, so we don’t know a lot about French history. But we do know that a lot of people over the ages have stopped through France on the way to other historical events, because they heard it was a nice place to visit.

So should you go to France? I don’t know. Now’s definitely not a good time. The city seems to be in the middle of a huge crime wave, particularly around the tourist spots.

Our first story today comes from the Paris Museum of Natural History. The Paris Museum of Natural History isn’t something you go all the way to Paris for. It’s kind of the thing that people in France do on Chol Hamoed trips.

Most people think of a natural history museum as a relatively safe place. But in March, someone snuck in and stole the tusk off an elephant skeleton. And not just any elephant. This was a special elephant, as it belonged to one of the kings of France—King Louis the Something, and was a gift from the king of Portugal. It’s the kind of gift you can only get a king. If someone got you an elephant, your first reaction would be, “I have no idea where to put this in my apartment.”

So anyway, the elephant died, and rather than doing what most of us would do—namely, attempt to flush it down the toilet—the museum took it. And now this guy came in and stole one of its tusks.

Of course, you can’t just take the tusk off an elephant. So he brought a chainsaw.

He was caught, of course, because you can’t quietly cut the tusk off an elephant with a chainsaw at 3 in the morning. The neighbors alerted security, who caught up to him a block later, because it’s not very easy to run while holding a tusk.

There was also a theft at a bridge—the Pont Alexandre III. The Pont Alexandre III is the most ornate bridge in Paris, and has long been the site of people stopping and saying, “Hey, we’re on that bridge!” The bridge was built in 1896 by… Well, it’s hard to say. The plaque was stolen.

I’m not sure why someone would steal a plaque. My guess is it’s some guy who thought it would be funny to hang it in his room, because his name is also Alexandre, or possibly Alexander. I would start by checking the phone book.

But authorities are treating this as a serious issue. You might think, “How important is the sign on a bridge anyway? It’s a bridge. Get over it.”

But authorities are saying that the plaque itself has great historic value, with a long and storied history, probably printed on a little plaque near the first one.

And that is not the entire extent of crime in Paris. Our next crime involves the Eiffel Tower.

No, no one stole the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is a very famous structure, also built in the late 1800s, and is very big and metallic. It kind of looks like a frame that will someday become a yeshiva, once they get more funding. It was built by Gustave Eiffel, who was famous for building big, awkward structures, such as the Statue of Liberty, which France gave the United States as a present (“How am I going to fit this in my apartment? It’s New York City! This is worse than an elephant.”) and that we only accepted because we thought it was a fully functioning robot.

So anyway, last April, French police swooped down on a souvenir business and seized 13 tons of tiny Eiffel Towers. (For reference, 13 tons is about 2 elephants.)

The business had been selling them at the Louvre and at the actual Eiffel Tower without a permit.

“Care for a tiny Eiffel Tower?”

“Um, no thanks. There’s a big one right there.”

Thirteen tons. Apparently, miniature replicas of the Eiffel Tower are a huge business, because it turns out that visiting landmarks isn’t really fun. Once you get there, you realize that there’s not much else to do but go up and look down, and it’s very high, so you spend most of the time down on the ground, taking pictures where you pretend that you’re taller than the tower. So the main point of visiting a landmark like this is so you can tell people afterward that you did it. And it helps to have a little replica, in case they don’t believe you. You bring it home to your loved ones, and say, “See this? I stood next to a bigger one.” I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with it after that, but I do know that your kids are going to leave it on the floor in the middle of the night.

I personally had no idea it was even illegal to make Eiffel Towers in France. But authorities are very upset, because when you build a big one, it gives you exclusive rights to build little ones. So yes, the souvenir business could have could have called theirs by a different name, but that wouldn’t work for the tourist who gets home, and his loves ones are like, “Wait. You got me a Shmeiffel Tower?”

And then they leave it on his dining room chair.

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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