Thursday, August 15, 2013

Layers and feral cats...

This seems to be the first year of this annual Parisian sojourn-à-la-Sorbonne that we have had a steady stream of visitors. Today it was a former employee of Gail's, from her years as a manager at a streetwear boutique in Washington D.C. in the early 90's, and her husband and two daughters. The husband -- radio personality and program director Dave Marsh (NOT the Springsteen/Sirius one) -- asked me: "so what would you do here in Paris, if it was just you?". An interesting question for me, who seems to be constantly and exclusively shepherding my children (the feral cats) from métro to glaces stand. .......So here's what I said in answer to his question: First thing I would do is the flea markets: the Puces, the brocante. French culture is constantly crumbling and constantly being repaired and rebuilt, and the chunks of it that fall away and are available for sale are fascinating to me, and of course I am a collector at heart and professionally across four decades now and I cannot resist the perfect object. And believe me, the French are a tribe that can create perfect objets d'art: everything, from their buildings to their street art, is made, seemingly, as if time and budget were unimportant. I once considered purchasing an embroidered frock coat from the French revolution, at Clingancourt. It was $1000 and didn't fit me, but just the idea that it was AVAILABLE was amazing ......Secondly, I would drift from cafe to cafe. I wouldn't get far, since there are several in any Parisian block, each a jewel: with its own particular furniture, gilding, signage, and woodwork, and each appearing to be at least 75 years old. For all I can tell, each has its own regulars and maybe even its own language. My taste for dark beer makes ordering drinks at any of these cares a bit dicey (not much of that available locally), but I can always fall back on Gail's stock côte de Provence rosé order if necessary. ....... Thirdly, I would wander the streets and métro stations looking at the cross-pollination of street art (grafitti, posters, stickers, etc) of the moment, with the stone and iron work of centuries past. I especially like it when these things begin to layer and degrade together, and the intended meanings become lost and confused........ Like me in Paris...herding cats. .......guest-written by Evan.

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