(via Missing Toof)
Operation act as a native day was a success, winding down at a cafe near Montmartre, drinking beer and reading. Saw parts of Paris not in the guidebook, plied the wares of the very excellent Au Vieux Campeur, stunned by the breadth of the climbing kit and books at their scattering of stores around the Sorbonne.
Had epic failure attemping to visit Fontainbleau, standing in no less than three wrong lines, late for two successive trains, and subjected to a raft of other bad information regarding the location of climbing gyms, availability of de billets on the train, and the location of non-machine purchasing of said billets. A day of detox was good, if extremely frustrating a few times.
Saw 20-odd Metro stops, manged on salami & pickles, cafe et bier. Had countless conversations in broken Franglais with gym employees, shopkeepers and Bureau de Poste guides. Saw probably the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life get off a train in Rive Gauche. Learned the intricacies of French retail. Saw the “real Paris” according to my new friend. Watched a 2-man brass band with a boombox backup stroll down a narrow street. Bummed my last French cigarette.
The lack of real climbing today strengthened my resolve for some Yosemite time this weekend. Friday will tell if I just crash for 2 days instead.
Yesterday’s events of breakfast, shopping, church-gazing and time with the newlyweds was worth it. We crammed a dozen people into a plaza cafe and watched artists sketch tourists in charcoal while drinking giant beers and eating frites et escargot. Tasty little fuckers, honestly.
I think I’ll find one of those cafes I saw brimming last night in my tipsy walk home from Sacre Couer, and wind down this trip with some wine and good food. Less than 12 hours until I fly home—which after a last-minute check of my calendar I am extremely relieved I didn’t fly to Barcelona this morning. Yay, San Francisco!
Edit: Just nerded out hard with the concierge over Feist; his ringtone, my mix.
Edit 2: The fucking brass band is following me.
Edit 3: According to the bride, I drop the F-bomb too much. C’est la vie.
While at the rehearsal dinner for my friend SaraJane’s wedding, I received an invitation to another friend’s wedding. This one being particularly special—due to recent changes in law, Erin’s marrying her girlfriend Kerri a year earlier than planned, and the venue’s been changed to California.
Erin and I share the same birthday in March; 3 months after moving to the city I got to share an amazing birthday party with my future good friend. It was at that party I met and became lifelong friends with SaraJane.
I couldn’t be more thrilled for the bride and bride(s) to be. YEAH!
In no particular order…
Saw my friends get married, which was amazing.
A few late nights, dancing, photographing, wandering. Missed an entire day—Friday—due to events on Thursday, and nearly missed Sunday as well. Saw Japanese urban treehouses, met French skaters and game designers. Hunted down Space Invader art all over Paris. Stumbled upon the epic Paris pride parade, each successive float louder and more over the top than the last.
Salsa danced and made serious karaoke. Got epically drunk. Laughed and danced in the streets of St. Germain. Saw a dozen identical cabaret dancers with their 24 identical nipples at the Crazy Horse. Took a commuter train from Invalides to St. Germain. Saw drunk and happy footie fans yelling in the streets. Lost my sunglasses but managed to hold onto my camera.
Speaking of which, 50mm f/1.4 is built for karaoke. Truth.
Saw impressionist paintings, met annoying Canadians. Gave advice to the 20 year old courted by persistent 18 year old French boys. Attempted to rent bicycles. Met French students on their way to SF and LA. Ate unbelievably good food. Smoked way too many French cigarettes. Polished off pints, Remy, and bottles of champagne. Felt the opposite of guilty noming on foie gras. Still impressed by the sheer unending beauty of this city and the people.
Going to brekkie in the Luxembourg gardens and afterward wander around the outdoor book vendors in the shadow of crazy church restorations. Tomorrow’s my last day in France, and I’m flipping a coin between Versailles, Chartres and Fontainebleau.
Yesterday, if captured in a few words: photography, churches and shopping. I had resolved to walk everywhere; and except for returning home in the evening, I had some success. My route resembled an epileptic Etch-a-Sketch drawing, partially due to Paris’ lack of a street grid, and partially to a futile quest to find a pair of jeans.
My walking tour of Paris started before the morning tourist rush, up narrow cobblestone residential streets to Sacre Coeur. There was an epic solidity to the structure, usually I prefer the more graceful lines of gothic cathedrals. Four Gothamesque winged angels flanked the base of the basilica at the transept, the only exception being their color—milky white—unlike the church’s soot-stained limestone exterior.
Went south through the Louvre to the Seine, cutting east along the south bank to Pont Neuf, snapped photos of tourists snapping photos of the cathedral and each other. I wanted to see the gargoyles from the towers in Notre Dame, but the line was impossibly long and my patience—and growling stomach argued otherwise. Notre Dame was no exception to the day’s themes of fetishistic camera pride and hokey assemblages of family portraiture. Inside, a pudgy American dude with his girlfriend—wife?—won the trophy for smallest penis. I kind of felt like pleading Canadian when asked. Or at least San Franciscan. “Where’s that?” “California.”
I was reminded then of the laissez-faire process of getting through customs. The men minding security past passport control hardly bothered to glance up as I passed through the gates into France, returning to their conversation and imaginary cigarettes. I imagine life must be difficult for them, smoking being banned in infinitely more places since the last time I visited.
From Notre Dame, I wandered into St. Germain for lunch—a 2 hour proposition—and then alternated between galleries and clothing shops, visiting Centre Pompidou, Des Halles, and ping-ponging back and forth in a vain search for the Acne Jeans store. Upside, I don’t need a map for parts of the city anymore. I found book and photography shops, architecture and comic stores, cobbled lanes and marvelled again at the vast flocks of scooters and the men & women who piloted them.
Everyone smoked, everywhere, all the time. Impossibly cute girls perched on the backs of motorcycles, puffing away with one hand wrapped around their boyfriend’s waist, dodging bicycles and lorries like pigeons.
Tired from walking all day, I headed back toward my hotel and ended up getting lost in the Metro during rush hour. An hour and a half-dozen train changes later, I emerged from the Lamarck-Caulaincourt station and immediately collapsed into a chair outside for Leffe and people watching. An hour later, via the pharmacie to buy a razor and a supermarché for dinner, I made it back, 12 hours after I’d left.
Hooray, my luggage was delivered. Secretly annoyed at the lost chance of a shopping spree in Paris on American Airlines’ dime—having purchased a raft of shirts, socks and underwear earlier—but the prospect of getting my Acnes back was grin-worthy.
I passed the fuck out.
When I woke up and checked the time, I didn’t know whether it was 8 AM or 8 PM—the light is the same. I nom-nom’ed on baguette + Nutella, bottled water and bacon crisps (WIN) and decided to kick it with Ableton for a while. I scratched the last 4 songs off the June mix I’d been working on, determined to stay focused on creating a purely danceable, fuck-you mix. Sorry folks—no Sufjan this time. Around 2 AM, Ableton decided that it’d had enough of my cracked copy and punted me out, just as I was dialing in the last song. Dwnloading my shiny new (legal) copy as I writes this.
Meeting up with some folks from OpenID Europe tonight, and ideally more of the wedding party. Thinking about finding some underground or macabre today, or maybe just sitting in the Luxembourg gardens listening to music. Can’t decide, and quite happy I don’t have to.
Despite best-laid plans to ran sans-map, sans-phrasebook and sans-plan, SaraJane foiled it with an excellent gift bag for all the wedding guests containing—among other prizes—an excellent map, a phrasebook and a hand-made foldout itinerary complete with maps.
We, along with the maid of honor, argued specifics of structure versus business, over carafes of wine, coffee and French cigarettes. Being able to hit the ground—er, walking—yesterday for shock-adjustment to Paris time was great. We caught up, ate meals, took photos, and made an epic supermarket run.
Mule’s T-shirts have proved inadvertently popular in the French capital. Having worn it for 36 hours straight, smoking and unshaven I feel like a native. American Airlines assures me that my misplaced luggage will be back in my possession later today. Been unable to find lactase nor soy lait and frankly I’m getting an urge to nibble chese.
Keeping my fingers crossed that there’s an extra room in a friend’s apartment in St. Germain. My hotel is serviceable, but a hike from the rest of the wedding guests. Enjoying being near Sacre Coeur.
Paris is fucking beautiful, an infinite tangle of new and old, lit up by melodic syllables, scooters and bicycles, warm and light out late. I’m going to go get lost again.