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Paris freres

I had to earn my keep while here in Paris...with pleasure...B practically gave us his apartment! I was very happy to help out with pics for his curriculum vitae.

Then I took my "official" American in Paris portrait. I certainly can't give B a run for the money, but they tell me that beards are very trendy...what do you think?

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Paris 6

Pont Neuf

Built by beloved King Henri IV from 1578-1607, this bridge was christened "The New Bridge". As everything else got built or torn down, the name became more and more ironic; Pont Neuf was really the oldest bridge across the Seine. Now, it's been rebuilt and Pont Neuf is "neuf", again.

New, old, new again.

The Pantheon was caught up in a similiar cycle. Construction was started in 1744 by Louis XV as a church, then it was taken over during the revolution, then given back to the church by Napolean, then returned to the state.

Consacrated, deconsacrated, reconsacrated, unreconsacrated.
Returned to the Louvre one last time to do a study of the building/stairwells. I find them fascinating; the guts of the building unchanged by the requirements for displaying art (except maybe the stairwell in the pyramid).

Atala au Tombeau - After a bit of a search, I found this painting in the big hall of french painters; we have a smaller copy in the High Museum that was commissioned of the artist by Josephine Napolean (or so I'm told).

Leonidas aux Thermopyles - Who doesn't love Jacques-Louis David? After seeing the graphic novel-based movie "300", it was nice to see the 1813 version of the same story. Another of David's paintings, "Radeau de Medusa", shows several men stranded in stormy seas on a sinking raft, many of whom are downright nekkid! Mom was right; in case you get caught unawares in an accident - always put on clean underwear!
FETE DE LA VIE - Just in case there wasn't enough "fete-ing" going on, a carnival has taken over the Tuileries. It's a fundraiser for an organ donor organization and it's all set up for just one night. Take a look at the poster and tell me if I was wrong to think it was part of Gay Pride (the parade is tomorrow). link
My Pariscope, marked-up up for Fete du Cinema
Me guessed it...Pont des Arts

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Paris 5

Le Louvre, details...Columns

The first column is Place de Bastille, so you'd think, maybe, it'd have something to do with Bastille Day and the 14th of July. Well, no. It commemorates some uprising and is called the "Colonne de Juillet, 1830", which roughly translates to the "column of yet another damn 19th century insurrection which we french can't take the time to explain to you so we will keep putting up these columns until you stop asking about them."

The second statue is in Place de la Republique. Maybe that has something to do with the 1789 revolution? Nope, it's dated 1893, so it's too late for the 1870 uprising (I told you the 19th century was a mess). Maybe it's for the 100th anniversary of the end of the 4 years of guillotining that happened following the revolution?

The third is easy; Napolean had it put up to commemorate his favorite thing - himself.
(I told you they like pointy things.)
Parc de la Villette (for Alan)...Cour Carree...Tuileries
Pompidou, details...Street corners from Promenade Plantee
Cafe Francais

There are a few "nevers" for anyone coming to visit Paris soon:

- Never get leftover food to go (but it's okay to take the wine).
- Never wear white (at least on the metro).
- Never say "sacrebleu" (but "oo-la-la" is okay).
- Never drink wine from the bottle at a picnic (unless it's really good wine.)
- Never carry a backpack (buy something from a very trendy shop, keep the bag, and use that to carry your Pariscope, metro map, and collapsible umbrella, so you can know when the museums open, can find them, and can get there dry.)

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Paris 4

"Great," my reader is thinking, "Jeff thinks we want to see photos of french garbage."

Well, not exactly. This is the remnants of an advertising poster scraped off the side of the metro station - an "affiche". To warn people that work is underway, they add "age" to get "affichage" - the word for the process of putting up an "affiche" - stick it on a plastic arm, and block the area around the poster. The entire process seems to be:

1) Arrive via metro with bucket of glue, broom, & new poster.
2) Put up the "Attention Affichage" signs
3) Tear down the old poster
4) Go off and have a coffee, a beer, or a nap
5) Come back sometime before Bastille Day and put up the new poster (like wallpaper).
6) Take down the "Attention Affichage" signs and head to the next station.

One interesting thing about the poster itself: all posters for food (including Coke) must include one of several different warnings:

1) "Eat least 5 fruits and vegetables every day"
2) "Exercise should be incorported into every day's activities."
3) "Reduce the amount of fat, salt, and sugar you eat every day."

That's it for food warnings; the cigarette warnings are more blunt: "Fumer tue" - Smoking kills.
Le Louvre on a sunny morning.
Jardin des Tuileries on a rainy day.

FETE DU CINEMA - Juin 24, 25, 26 was "Fete du Cinema" - you pay full price for the first movie, then "only" 2 euros for any other movie you see during those three days. (The only Coke Zero I bought cost 3.20 euros).

I totally wimped out - I only saw one french film. I rationalized that I was not going to have the time to see any movies once I get home.

I saw "Pirates des Caraibes" (some pretty art direction, but in general, pretty vacuous), "Oceans 13" (Loved it!), "Boulevard de la Mort" (Tarantino's "Death Proof" - LOVED IT!), plus the British film "London to Brighton" (12 year-old runaway skips town with a hooker when her first trick goes very, very wrong) and the french film "Chasons d'Amour" (sweet film about the stages of love told with the actors singing french songs throughout).

The Odeon area of St. Germain was terrific for movies; something like 8 different theaters with 4 (ish) screens each. In each, there is a problem with managing crowds; there isn't enough room to wait before the theater is ready, so you queue up outside. And it's difficult to prevent people from leaving one screening room for the restroom and going to the next session of another film; one theater solved that by having toilettes in each individual screening room. The door by which we entered was blocked by an employee and you exit by a different door directly into the street.

The movies had an advertised starting time, with the note that the movie actually started 20 minutes later. You were supposed to go on time, and then watch 20 minutes of previews and advertisements.

The big theaters had snack guy roaming the aisles with a tray of goodies for sale.

One ad was for the theater "Comedie Francaise - chaque soir depuis 1680". Performances every evening since 1680. Wow.

I saw the American and British films in version originale - original sound with subtitles. Some of the french translations were amusingly...efficient. In "London to Brighton", the bad guy shut someone up by saying something like "shut your fat, slobbering gob you twat". The subtitle was "Arrete"...stop.

LEARNING FRENCH - I've had a hard time with my french - I get about 75% of everything, which is usually enough with movies, but not with text messages. I met the friend of a friend who gave me his mobile number so we could meet for coffee to practice french.

I sent him a text on Sunday and his response was basically "I woke up this morning with a guy in my bed, so that's what I'll be doing today. Happy Sunday." I responded with a salution that I thought began with "Ah, the Parisian life", but apparently I used the wrong number of e's and said something like "Ah, the life of a little girl in Paris". He responded that he was not a "bitch" and to try french with someone else.

Ah, the Parisian life.

OVERHEARD - A group of youngish Americans walking down the street with a bottle of wine. "What year is that shit?"

SEEN - Knowing that L would take exception to my saying so, I told him about seeing a group of 4 14 year-olds in a park, handing around a bottle of wine. "So? Did something about that offend you?" he asks, thinking that I'm objecting to underage drinking. "YES! It was bad wine..."

SOMETHING IN COMMON - The french word "dechirer" - to tear up - can also be used to describe the state of intoxication. I went to a house-cooling** party last Saturday where they served only champagne ... I got a little bit "dechirer".

**The term for house-warming is "pendaison de crémaillère", literally "to hang the cooking pot hook in the fireplace". House-cooling is the opposite - "dependaison de crémaillère."

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Paris 3

Cafe Marly
Le Metro
(K & B brought their young'un to visit this past weekend; it was great! Parisians love kids and having one around was handy - went to Cafe Marly and were told we would have to wait for a table...then they saw J and said "oh, we have a nice table inside, by the window, we'll open the window for fresh air and he can have a nap on the banquette." At Musee d'Orsay, there were maybe 100 people waiting outside to get through security. Pull out the kid and Voila! There is a special line for people with kids...)

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Paris - Pont des Arts

One of my favorite places in Paris...either being on or looking at Pont des Arts. It's a beautiful, pedestrian-only bridge (and it doesn't hurt that it connects the Louvre and St. Germain.)

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Paris 2

Favorite cafes and the mass of people you see on Pont des Arts
The Pantheon...where they keep famous dead frenchmen...and one woman (Madame Curie)
From the umbrellas of Cafe Richelieu in the Louvre...looking down.

PAINTING - This hottie was painting in the Rubens room of the Louvre. I wanted to tell him that I wasn't like all the other tourists that were taking his photo - I wanted to tell him that he was really bringing the painting to life for me - the smell of the paint, his motions as he moved in for a brushstroke, his pensive decisions for mixing colors, his intensity when studying the subject. I wanted to tell him all that, but instead, I just snapped the photo - like all the other tourists.
STATUES IN THE LOUVRE - I love "Victoire de Samotrace", but it was always surrounded by people swooping in to take one photo of their wife standing in front of it and then fleeing up the stairs to shoot the next masterpiece (the Mona Lisa); I tried to take a pic that showed that motion.

All the statues in one room were wrapped up in anticipation of moving "in case of a flood".

Best butt.
PERE LACHAISE - A collection of the doors on sepulchres from another place where they store dead french people (I played treasure hunt and found Edith Piaf, Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Chopin, Oscar Wilde but missed many more in the jumble of tombs and tiny cross streets. Why can't the french have the decency to die in alphabetical order?)


MOVIE REVIEW - "Jesus Camp" was described as being about evangelical christians, "like George Bush".

POP CULTURE - Watching Shrek on VO w/ Larry: they totally missed the queen, voiced by Julie Andrews, getting hit on the head and singing a few lines of "These are a few of my favorite things..." They didn't really know who the actress was or that she had something to do with "Sound of Music".

AC - The heat can be terrible, especially in the metro; everyone complains about it. But, at the same time, everyone also still thinks that A/C is bad for you (sudden changes in temperature). I could only get B to admit that a little "climatisation" would be good in the metro, if only to bring the temperature down to the same level as above ground "with a light breeze". Larry tells me that it's the law that some buildings can only be 5 deg C cooler than the outside temperature (9 deg F).

ID - Bruno thinks it is insupportable that Americans MUST carry ID at all times (i.e. to get a cocktail and prove your age). Of course, on the train, we all had to get up and show our metro tickets with photo IDs attached for the surprise inspection.

PURITANS - One of my biggest problems is not being able to be funny** - with sarcasm or in reference to American pop culture. I was with a group of Bruno's friends and one of the women showed us her new denim jacket with the pocket cover on the chest that you could flip up and show the different fabric on the backside. I immediately thought "Janet Jackson". Of course, no one knew what I was talking about at all. 1) They would never watch the superbowl and 2) if they did, and saw Janet's "malfunction", they would think nothing of seeing a woman's breast.

I've gotten very good at saying - in french - "No, really, I can be very funny, but only in english. I prefer to listen and learn french."

WASHING CLOTHES - You load the machines and pay at one central kisk connected to all the machines - by the kilo as measured by the washer. More weight = more water = more money.

FETE DE LA MUSIQUE - On the longest day of the year, everyone goes out in the street to make music. I saw official concerts in the courtyard of the Senate building (children's choir) and in the Tuileries (the band of the Prefecture de Police de Paris), but in the Beaubourg and St. Germain areas, there was literally a band on every corner. As you moved through the neighborhoods, your soundtrack changed from rock to heavy metal to Tijuana to folk. One street was blocked off with a rave. Another had folks handing out music for a traditional french sing-a-long. Loved it.

DISNEY - I know, I know, what am I doing going to Disneyland Paris while in the middle of all this art and culture? Well, it's only 35 minutes away by RER and I'm here for 3 weeks and I'm not going to take a week of vacation to down to Florida anytime soon to the Disneyworld and I like Disney. It was cute - smaller and multilingual with kids yelling out to the characters in their native languages (like spanish kids screaming out "Alicia" and french girls swooning over "Cendrillon").

B and I went on the Buzz Lightyear ride where you are pulled through a shooting arcade, wracking up points with your "laser pistol". B bought our photo taken 1/2-way through the ride - it shows the two of us, me with the 2-handed, arcade-goober deathgrip on the pistol and B looking like frickin Han Solo. The worst part is the photo shows our scores - 4,000 for me and 34,000 for him. He couldn't resist talking about it with the guy in the photo booth who remarked something like "imagine; an American who can't shoot a gun."

**Some would assert that that is my problem in any language...I'll address that later.

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