Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Victimless Crime of the Very Best Kind

(Above: The Paris Pantheon, inside and out.)

I had absolutely nothing to do with the story that follows, though I really wish I did.

One of the most beloved landmarks in Paris, the Pantheon is a former church that's sat in the heart of the Latin Quarter for more than two hundred years. But the French government hasn't alway done such a wonderful job of keeping monuments like the Pantheon in good repair. Sometime in the 1960s the building's famous clock stopped ticking, and since then, it's been allowed to slowly rust away.

About a year ago, an group of "cultural guerillas" finally decided to take matters into their own hands. Known as the Untergunther (or les UX), the organization's members have been described as "connaisseurs of the Parisian underworld." Previously, they'd dedicated themselves to restoring Paris's underground crypts and holding forbidden gatherings in the catacombs deep beneath the city. (Among their 150 recruits are the mysterious individuals known as the Perforating Mexicans.) But over time, the Untergunther began to focus their activities on restoring France's neglected historic buildings.

Under the leadership of a master clockmaker with first-class lock-picking skills, members of the Untergunther broke into the Pantheon one night in 2006 and "set up a secret workshop and lounge in a cavity under the building's famous dome." For over a year, they managed to avoid security guards and building employees as they repaired the ancient clock day and night.

When the work was finally finished, they revealed their good deed to the authorities. And what did the authorities do? They pressed charges. The clockmaker and his cronies faced a year in jail and $20,000 fines. Fortunately, the judge took only twenty minutes to rule in favor of the Untergunther.

The group is currently working on another secret project somewhere in Paris. Good for them. Stupid laws are meant to be broken.

Read the original article in the Guardian here. Those who read French can visit the Untergunther's website here.

Many, many thanks to TheMog for bringing this story to my attention.


Blogger TheMog said...

You are welcome, but how could I resist? I know you have a soft spot for people who do things like that.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Nellie said...

Hey Ananka, I write good quotes on my school books, and I'm going to put the 'stupid laws are meant to be broken.' one. Long live the stuff in Paris!

7:18 AM  
Anonymous infamous said...

OOOh "Stupid laws are meant be broken." Sounds good!

3:33 PM  
Anonymous theatre said...

so I know what I'm going to do when I grow up! that is so cool that they would do that

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with theatre! I know my calling!!!


5:36 PM  
Anonymous Patsee said...

That is an awesome story.

And what "theatre" said. Now I have to learn how to pick locks and fix things so I can join. I've always wanted to be able to do those things anyways.

5:37 PM  
Blogger International Mastermind said...

"Stupid laws are meant to be broken"

I am SO stealing that to put on my blog. I will put a little squiggly thingy and then Ananka, of course.
Stupid laws ARE meant to be broken, after all.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Hazel said...

What is the law against it?

7:38 PM  
Anonymous ananka said...

Well, they weren't supposed to have a secret workshop in a public building. (Or break in, I suppose.) But the people in charge of the building were just embarrassed that they'd been shown up. They should have fixed the clock themselves.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous ginnywealey007 said...

ha ha ha that is so awsome! on a completely unrelated note, check out the nudibranch, a sea slug that truly looks like an alien !!

8:23 PM  
Blogger Carry No Seal said...

"Stupid laws are meant to be broken"

Wow....I escape here from my english homework and I hear more and more of Thoreau's beliefs!
But I agree as well. As in V is for Vendetta... what was it?
"People shouldn't fear the government, government should fear the people."

10:12 PM  
Blogger Carry No Seal said...

wOW! The nudibranch does look quite alienistic. If I found that in my bathtub I think I'd want to keep it as a pet! So squishy and cute. Hmmm...I hope my dog'd get along with it!

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Hazel said...

I would LOVE a nudibranch for a pet! So cute! But I don't think I could take good care of a saltwater aquarium. *sighs*

3:58 PM  
Anonymous muffins4 said...

MAybe they shouldn't have told everyone it was them. People would still have appreiciated it. :)

1:48 PM  

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