Monday, September 26, 2011

waking up in Paris

Noises from the restaurant at the bottom of the courtyard came. The comforting sound of china being stacked. Pigeon sounds, the scratching of their claws on the rain gutters. Getting up would make the floor creak, and risk waking her. She was steaming under the heavy comforter, hair sprayed across her shoulders and twisted at her neck. Admiring, I pull hair from her forehead and stroke her ear.
I work first one leg then the other from under the blanket, heavy as sod. Standing and going to the window, eyed by pigeons that do not scare easily. Dressing in my only shorts I gingerly open the bedroom door, its latch loud as rockets in the stillness of the stone wall room’s dawn. I let myself out of the apartment thinking, “There is only this key, I must not be gone too long.”
I descend the spiral red patterned carpeted staircase that has an ancient creak I have come to really love.
The air is sticky with late summer; light traffic collects like leaves running down the curb at the first sign of rain. I cross, hearing the soft whir of the rolling billboard. A chandelier comes on in the window above me suffusing yellow light on the opulently adorned ceiling.
There are lovers sleeping among empty green bottles and twisted blankets. The vendors move wearily with giant rings of multicolored trinkets that pierce the morning with an oddly incongruous jingling. There are joggers silently moving under the trees. I cross carefully through them and looming there is the tower. I walk under her, unable to not look up. I cross the river under the watchful eyes of statues. The Trocadero resembles a ship made of stone. The fountain here is mute at this hour. Security guards in bright green jackets smoke and talk to street sweepers, radios crackling at their hips. I start to run, up the steps, down the steps. Last night there were a thousand people here. I drop and begin to do push-ups. Last night I saw a man rollerblade backwards down this very staircase. Amazed.
I am alone save the workers, who don’t seem to notice me. I’m unbelievably happy.


Synagogue in Marais

Graffiti is a part of city life. There are some who find graffiti to be a malignant and unattractive element, or one that connotes some unseen danger leaking up from under the fabric of the population.  Its true Graffiti often is a reaction to social or political pressures in a society,  and there is of course tagging which in its own way can become art.
There are those seeking to have voices about political injustice heard, and those looking to change minds, or get people to notice the beauty around them.
Then there are artists who seek to find an audience in a place where most are looking only back in time. 

Bernar Venet sculptures on display throughout Versailles
I have noticed that Paris tries to include new artist's work along side the historic works. At Versailles there are several new sculptures. The Pyramids at the Louvre are by I.M. Pei, a celebrated Modernist architect. There are many who find the contrast to be jarring or unsettling, but that I think is the point.
Imagine if the city never introduced new artists. Paris

There are artists here, creating work now. They are not buried in Pere Lachaise. And the best of that work is sometimes right there in plain site, in the form of graffiti.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Holy Shit no wonder! Or: How fucking Decadent was the Aristocracy of France?

Today we went to the original MTV Cribs house...on steroids. The Palace of Versailles defies explanation and clearly the king had a little trouble explaining himself and his place to the people of France, who dropped in on the king and queen in 1789 and evicted them. And can you blame them? Look at this...
Hall of Mirrors Palace of Versailles Photo Marissa Quimby

Dear P. Diddy,
Thanks so much for the invite to your party. Unfortunately I got invited to the absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.
Maybe next time,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Signs of Paris...

Occasionally you see a sign that makes you smile. Or that maybe doesn't make sense. Sometimes you wish people would obey a sign more often, like this one in Belltown posted here:
No carrying bi-fold doors.
apparently there's a lot of this going on, people carrying large white things
I like a good creatively modified sign like this one I've seen in several places this week.

But sometimes a sign makes no sense.
Or really makes sense, depending
on how you look at it.
What the hell does this one mean?
Don't have kids? Don't walk around with kids?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Old art

I like art. I go to the SAM all the time, especially when there are drinks, or models (OK, one in particular) there. So today we went to some museums. Its late here, so I will make this short
Rodin Sculpture Garden Photos: Chris Eager

Here are a few thousand words.
They forbid photos at the Museum D'Orsay
so you know Marissa only took one or two there.
The Thinker. Rodin Museum Gardens

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dinner in Paris

My three euro Bordeaux of the day...

The apartment has a small kitchen. A galley really. Dinner begins in the street. I stop for wine in tiny groceries, mom has found some beautiful avocados and butter lettuce while shopping in Les Puces. There are of course bagettes. Just around the corner is an artisan butcher and the pates are incredible (and the variety of them is piling up in the fridge) Oh, and fantastic many cheeses. We choose our wines by price, staying under 5 euros. I drizzle oil and balsamic on the lettuce and slice apples. Corks come out. We talk about all we have seen today, then watch a show of Marissa's talented shots of the day.
Left to right: Au Poivre, Chicken Orang' and Jambon Pistachio

Friday, September 2, 2011

An Evening of Awe and wonder

There is a humming. For most of the short walk we have been looking up. Tourists look up and we are tourists. Marissa reminds me to slow my walk and I do. Glimpses through windows reveal ceilings of moldings, some elegantly filigreed with chipping paint. Chandeliers. The Eiffel Tower gives off a tallow candle light, dominating and hiding in equal measure.
The humming grows and as we turn the corner there are people: reclining and walking, standing, kissing. Sprawled out on the grass in the cool night, drinking from bottles of wine, passing cameras and food to one another. Laughing at the moment the tower begins to sparkle, a mirthful cheer rising in the charged air.

It is our first night in Paris.  
The Eiffel Tower, 3:36pm Seattle Time...12:36am Paris
Photo: Marissa Quimby

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Belltowner afield: New Amsterdam aka NYC

Sometimes the best way to get to know your own space is to get out of it. I've been in New York for the past few days and what I have seen and experienced here puts a whole new frame around Belltown for me. How is New York somehow quieter than Belltown? What this place needs is a Tia Lou's. But then again I keep seeing signs stating that it is illegal to honk. Really. There's a big fine. I'm sure mayor McGinn would agree that keeping people from honking is a clear violation of civil rights. I don't know about you but I don't know if I want to live under such oppression and cruel suppression of my liberties: Imagine living in a place where you can't honk in neighborhoods where people live and sleep? Seattle: have you heard that many of the coffee shops here ban laptop use? How is one supposed to sit and crank out thousands of pages of emo blog text if he can't look up once in a while and see others also pouring their souls out like so much silt from a french press? Unheard of. And a blatant disregard for the rules, far as I am concerned. I would go to a coffee shop to write one thousand words on the subject, but alas! And subways. How come no one wants my money here. In three days I have been asked for money in -count 'em- ONE time. People here must make a lot of money, bums included because I can't walk to Bedlam without someone wanting a dollar back in Belltown. What's with bags and bags of garbage on the sidewalks here? And the quiet organized way in which that garbage gets collected. Weird and a little smelly. Don't you have any alleys? No wonder there's no crackheads, where would they stand and rant? Great food this trip, had an incredible spread of dim sum yesterday for $16 dollars, just about half the price of a rolex. Seattle has a fairly decent skyline, I have to say. The other afternoon we walked down to the water to see the skyline and it was stunning. Our 520 bridge is a little underwhelming when compared to--well just about anything, but this place has some great bridges. Lets get on that. Anyway, The skyline here is broad and dense, but Seattle has the hills, and it makes our buildings look enormously tall. Sort of like being the only guy in class doing downward dog. Awesome. Ok, I'm going to Paris now.

Seattle Center desktop 1

Seattle Center desktop 1
Seattle Center 1