Where I am today. And so should you be, too!
Everyone should come to Paris. For some time—the longer the better. For Paris is . . . so many things. Wonderful things. Dreamy things. Undreamable things. Lyrical things. Things never before seen—or smelled or thought (or done!). Everything. At once.
Of course, there certainly must be dark things, uncomfortable things, things to grouse about and things one would wish to improve. But, that is (generally) not to think about today. Not in this space. For us, the peripatetic touristes who are simply busy thinking and viewing and talking about Paris in a positive light. And even as we encounter one or more things less light along the way, well—that can be revealing in a way not altogether so awful (since revelation is good!)
Everyone has some sense of what Paris is. We have all heard a song or watched a movie during our lifetime.
“I love Paris / in the summer / when it sizzles . . . “
“We’ll always have Paris . . . “
“Paris is for Lovers”
Is Paris Burning?
“It never rains in Californ—” (no, wait, that’s not right. I guess there are other cities and states and countries with their own mythologies. . .
But, still, you get the idea.)
Paris has mystique (it even has its own word for it in English!). And image aside, a lot is said about it. But . . . what is Paris? Actually? (That sounds like a good movie title; “Paris, Actually”—or, at the very least, a good photography book). Anyway, what Paris is actually is . . . easy! Paris! is:
- Men in business suits, biking down mid-evening streets at high speed.
- A father striding casually, pridefully, with his seven year-old daughter, across the boulevard, hand resting on her flaxen head
- A store that declares: “the night is a color”.
- A Renault whose engine won’t turn over until the fifth time. After the fourth, the driver retires to a cafe to drain a Pernod before returning to key the engine one more time.
A city where the art is incomparable, the number of museums incalculable and, incomprehensibly, they stay open as late as ten p.m.
A place where policeman only grugingly approach the open window of a cab, and respond to a cabby asking for directions, after a long hesitation. Is it because the guy in uniform perceives himself as possessing a higher status? Is it because police cannot be troubled offering directions? Or is it possibly because the cabbie is a person of color?
A place where you can hear “Can’t Buy Me Love” on the radio.
A place where you still have to watch your feet when you walk. Too many dogs and, despite being the home of fraternite, not enough diligent, community-oriented owners.
Where young men in their early twenties still wear “Jordan 23” jerseys.
Where, contrary to popular mythology, people you ask directions of in the streets will try hard to assist you to find the metro station you are seeking. And if they can’t help you they might even struggle to locate a passerby who can.
Where an ensemble of musicians play Andes music and sell their CDs at one of the transfer points inside the metro.
Where a couple of twenty year-old guys sit on a park bench in the mid-evening quietly conversing, pulling on green Heineken talls.
Where a couple of mid-fifty year-old bums sit on the ground with their earthly possessions in a few tattered bags outside the metro sharing a bottle of red.
Where teenage couples shout after one another and giggle hystericaly as they rollerblade along the parkline under the amber light.
Where two little girls, no more than age 5, dressed in white maids-in-waiting gowns dance along the curb, to celebratory Arabic music coming from an inner courtyard. Above them a large Lebanese flag sways in the breeze.
Paris! is . . . all this . . . and, of course more. And like all (good) things in life Paris eludes perfect description, proper categorization, simple codification. So rather than try, perhaps it will simply be better to leave the task for further, other, words, pictures, impressions. Postcards of Paris which might somehow help convey what this incomparable place is . . .