There is no way I am going to be able to describe to you the strangeness of the things I have just seen.
So, I live near Place de la Bastille, right? Now, I would say this is normally a bustling square. Full of restaurants and shops and a subway stop to boot. Let’s just say this is it on a normal day:
Okay so now you’ve seen it. This is what it looks like right now:
Additionally, there were french youth sitting in circles in the streets in various states of dress and undress.
And make no mistake, when I say in various states of dress and undress, that is what I mean: women sitting around without any sort of top on and men walking around in their best thongs. Well. It took me approximately 7.9 seconds flat to figure out what all this was about.
It is officially “Solidays” a weekend of concerts that function as a rally for “SIDA” or AIDS if you do not speak french. I should have known only gay men would wear such stylish thongs? Anyway, the french people party hard.
Other than that, this is pretty much what I did today:
By that, I mean I wandered through some churches, and sung some songs in disney fashion. I did not hang out with gypsies and sing a ballad about the plight of my people, just to be clear.
Some photoz. I warn you, they get artsy:
Essentially, I wandered Paris for eight hours or so. There’s this part of Paris, called Les Halles, which essentially means the markets. Historically this was a giant square where all the merchants would come and sell their wares, located just northeast of the place des grèves, where the ships used to unload. In its day, it was known as the heart of Paris. Sometime within the last fourty years, they raized the lot to build an underground shopping mall. Les Halles is now four underground stories of chain stores and eateries, complete with a movie theater and a swimming pool (supposedly). The above ground architecture is interesting, half garden, half glass domes. From a distance, it looks lovely; close up, it is half dilapidated and trashed. I think this picture is sort of representative:
Anyway, I wanted to see this swimming pool. So I went in, and found this?
I increasingly feel that this is representative of Paris. The beautiful, the grand, and the dazzling juxtaposed immediately with the dejected, the disregarded, and the delapidated. And everyone continues about their business as if they don’t see the grafitti or the empty pool full of stones or the shutters falling off that building. It seems to me that Paris struggles every day to reclaim space they can not reclaim; space that is forever owned by the ancient spirits of the bourgeoisie and the kings of France. You can’t destroy a castle or a church, but you can’t fill your living space with castles and churches. Parisians cling to their “espaces verts,” however tiny:
and they somehow find the empty spaces in their stifling history to just live
And isn’t that how its always been? The people trying to wrest the city from the hands of excessive kings and make it theirs. The aristocrats trying to wrest the city from the dirty plebians and fill it with luxe. And now the people trying to wrest the city from the hands of a history that keeps it tightly entwined in the expectations and dreams of half of the world.
On a different note, I like finding the ancient passages (passageways that cut through old buildings that are filled with shops). Today I found several and walked through several blocks jumping from passage to passage. Some pics:
Also of note today, I wandered into some random free photography exhibits, found an english bookstore and made friends with the owner, did some reading by the canal st. martin, found a starbucks with soymilk (and figured out how to order an iced latte with soy. got ’em), walked halfway across Paris and back, took a vélib for a spin, saw a movie, and had a tofu burger for dinner.
A few more pictures to end?
Beauty is everywhere, mes amants.