If you don’t mind a long read, then you must check out this Wired article about the UX in Paris — a group of people who, in another time, would star as comic book heroes. With a perfect knowledge of all of Paris’ underground passages (including not just the sewers but also the telecom, electricity and water tunnels, and every other means of moving beneath the city), members of UX creep about Paris to commit renegade acts of…repair and restoration.
Their most public restoration was of the great clock at the Pantheon, which they completed in 2006.
A cadre spent months infiltrating the Pantheon, the grand structure in Paris that houses the remains of France’s most cherished citizens. Eight restorers built their own secret workshop in a storeroom, which they wired for electricity and Internet access and outfitted with armchairs, tools, a fridge, and a hot plate. During the course of a year, they painstakingly restored the Pantheon’s 19th-century clock, which had not chimed since the 1960s. Those in the neighborhood must have been shocked to hear the clock sound for the first time in decades: the hour, the half hour, the quarter hour.
Then they called in the director of the Pantheon to tell them about the clock’s restoration, figuring that since they had done all the labor and paid for everything themselves, perhaps now the city would take over the maintenance.
The result of this meeting was not what they expected: first the director refused to believe them, then the administration attempted to sue them for their act of unauthorized civic concern, to the tune of a year of jail time and 48,300 euros in damages. Worst of all, the Pantheon administration — get ready — rebroke the clock. To this day it does not run.
Check out the whole story. It’s worth a cup of coffee and a good read.
Photo by UX.