text five from Paris

005.

October 4, 2014 1:30 pm, Paris, France.

Tonight is the big White Night festival – Nuit Blanche. There will be street performances and installations at several locations around the city, supposedly lasting all night. It is also advertised that from 2:15 until 5:30 (am, after midnight and before dawn) two metro lines (subway) will be running, every five minutes, for free.

Feels a little weird, however, after I finally got my sleeping hours straightened back around (recovered from jetlag) that I actually want to stay up all night again. Oh well. Go figure. I figure, meanwhile, that I will just play it by ear. Start out the evening and see how long I can go. Today, meanwhile, I am just taking it easy, working on the video I shot yesterday in the Louvre, and writing a bit.

Here.


As I say, I went to the Louvre yesterday, my third day visiting. I actually went twice, yesterday, first in the early morning at opening, when I slipped into the old elevator and went straight up to see the Mona Lisa – I was the first tourist there, and alone. Then I looked at Italian paintings and had breakfast bread and coffee at the Cafe Mollien (in the Denon wing). Came home around noon or one. Let myself have a little nap, then ate some bread and cheese and fruit and went back over to the Louvre around seven for the late hours of Friday evening. Stayed until closing at 9:45. Shot a bunch of video I edited together today into a short film (26 minutes) I am calling it: something old, something new at the Louvre.

It is monstrous. Yutub tells me they want to take three hundred and some minutes to upload it, even after I dumbed it down to low definition. Damn.
Well, I got you a piece of a taste of a bit of it anyway.

Here’s another bit.


Came home, called Mom, ate the rest of my bread and cheese. Time to go to the market. Maybe this afternoon or early evening before I go out to the all night adventure. I finally bought some envelopes from the postal service, good for mailing documents up to 20 grams weight/mass to anywhere in the world. It took a while to get across what exactly I was looking for, I mean I was not sure how to say it in French, and none of them spoke any more English than I speak Russian, it seems. Я не говорю по-русски.

Text number four from Paris

004.

October 3, 2014     7:30 A.M., Paris, France.

So I begin to write at Oh-Seven-Thirty. That is not to say what hour it will be when I finish and finally file the final file, or version, of this little diary entry, number four in a continuing series of texts from Paris. No. Can’t tell you that, not yet. But I begin this Friday morning, my third full day in Paris, from my having arrived in the early afternoon of Tuesday. Three days ago. How time is flying.

I finally slept most of a real night, last night, and am, I hope, more or less adjusted to the new day and night schedule here, nine hours ahead of my own long lost California. The famous, or notorious, “jet-lag” is now caught up. I hope. Trust. Believe. I cannot quite believe it is only ten-thirty last night, back home in the golden state where I was born and raised a puppy and an old dog. A very old dog. A very fat old dog. I sip on my coffee and hope to lose some of that weight while I am here, by eating sensible and lightly, and getting a bit of exercise walking around.

I actually woke up around four or five to the sound of what I thought at first were gunshots blasting away, but no sirens ever came, so it must have been some car or truck shattering the last vestiges of night, awakening the great city. Through my delicious window I can hear the first whispers of morning traffic. Our street – Richelieu – is a rather busy one, as these tiny old streets go, but my window does not face the street. Rather, I look out upon the inner courtyard of two or three neighboring buildings, and the whisper and rush of traffic noise floats over the rooftops and settles down into my open window.

Where was I, oh yes, I woke up today around four or five and thought I heard gunshots but no. Went back to sleep and slept until about half an hour ago, then lay in bed, thinking about getting up until just a few minutes ago, when I actually arose, folded up my little sofa/bed, and made myself some coffee. I have a home, now, here, and it is quite wonderful, with towels and sheets and dishes and pots and pans and glasses and coffee cups and even some food left over (I check all the dates carefully, and find them still fresh) from previous vacation renters.

Plus the few supplies I bought my first evening here at the m.prix market over on the avenue Opera. That’s the nearest big street, one that was blasted through the old medieval neighborhood in the 1870s or 1880s, sometime, I should go online and google it yes there it is: “created from 1864 to 1879 as part of Haussmann’s renovation of Paris.” Okay. Now you know.

http://www.remling.net/recitation/images/Cities/paris_map2.jpg

Here. This is what the streets were like before the big one came and smashed it all to modern hell excuse me I mean modern utopia. Modern industrial utopia. I am staying over near the Theatre Francais, halfway down the Rue de Richelieu, almost where the word “de” sits on this little map. The building (where I rent my room on the fifth floor) is quite old. There is a plaque on the wall on the street that says “Le peintre Pierre Mignard, né à Troyes en 1612, est mort dans cette maison le 30 mai 1695.”

That is, the painter Pierre Mignard, born at Troyes in 1612, died in this house on the 30th of May, 1695. I am certain he did not have my modern kitchenette or toilet. Those features, along with big boulevards, only came with the modern industrial utopia.

Nevertheless, in his day, and for a hundred, nay two hundred years afterwards, this street was quite a fashionable address. Sedan chairs and carriages were always bumping into each other.

Yesterday was quite mellow. I finally got out the front door sometime after twelve, I think, having stayed up most of the night and only sleeping from five to ten or so. Thank goodness that pattern is mostly disolved, now, having refused to take a nap yesterday – well, except for some brief dozing moments while I sat outside the louvre where all the people sit near the fountain. I moved over to the cement benches that are built into the palace wall and after noting there was no pigeon shit, allowed myself to cat nap briefly while the sun sank and the museum moved toward closing hour.

I spent two or three hours inside and then bought a sandwich and chips and iced tea for fifteen dollars. Damn. Museum Cafe Prices. And that was the cheap place!

But it helped to eat and I did not want to go home, not yet.

I looked at French paintings. Gericault and Delacroix and Courbet and some Monet and Degas etc. Then that lovely much older one where one naked sister is pinching her other naked sister’s breast nipple, which is to say, she has milk and has the king’s baby, too.

This one, I mean:

I had to eat after that. You understand.

Then go outside and sit in the sun.

A lovely day.

Now let’s see what today may promise. More of the Louvre, I hope.

third text from Paris

003.

October 2, 2014     11:30 A.M., Paris, France

I finally went to bed last night around five a.m., and slept until nine or so. I am already forgetting when, exactly, I woke up but it was already daylight a couple hours ago both ways then and now.

Last night I wrote my second text – about getting into town at last and finding my apartment – my little room I have rented for a month. I left you just as I was about to go off to the supermarket, which I knew from previous study on the internet (this marvelous tool we now have) is only three blocks away, over on the big avenue of the opera. The store is called monoprix, and I hope you will forgive me if I mention their name. They are basically a kind of department store with groceries attached, and I suppose I should have been some kind of purist and gone to the little markets to get bread here and fruit there and supplies over around the corner (if there is such a place around the corner) but I wanted to do everything at once and just get it done, have some food in the house to eat for a day or two and some dishwashing soap.

The food at that particular m.prix is all downstairs, in what is actually a deep basement. I wandered around with a cart, picking out this and that. Milk, cheese, bread, plums, tomatoes, grapes, cheap wine, expensive whiskey, a bag of oranges, dish soap, a scrubber, instant coffee (yeah, instant, so sue me). What I did forget to buy was a toothbrush and now I must get that today. Two days now without brushing my teeth yuck.

I got to the store right before they closed and was lucky for that. Unfortunately, I was too late to visit the tourism office next door, where I had my museum passes on hold (I bought them on the internet several weeks ago), but not to worry I would go back yesterday morning.

It is quite excellent living right here in the center of town and even better being so close to the big museum.

Anyway, night before last, my first night in Paris, I went home with my two big bags of supplies and after manipulating the front door code successfully, was very grateful to take the tiny elevator up five floors to my room.

My landlord called and asked if he might drop by around ten. His mother had checked me in that afternoon, you may remember. Of course I said yes. It was good to see him and put a face to where I sent all the money for this lovely little studio. Good looking guy. Speaks excellent English, better than my French, maybe even better than my Spanish. The only time he stumbled was on the word “fan” for ventilator. Which meant we got to talk about ladies, a hundred, two hundred years ago, with their fans in their hand, flirting at the opera….

I am so sorry to talk about your leaving, already, he said, smiling, but when is your flight that day? It is in the morning. Oh, well, I will come by around six o’clock that morning and check you out, he said. That means he will give me back my deposit.

Oh my.

And then he was gone.

I had taken a nap that afternoon, before waking to go to the store. But now, after a couple hours looking at my airplane video and drinking whiskey, I lay down and slept long and hard.

Woke before dawn yesterday. Sat around looking at my videos from the airplane, again. Took a shower. Got dressed. Had coffee and bread and fruit. Felt very grateful I had gone to the store the evening before. Almost like I was at home. Well, I am.

Yesterday was my first full day in Paris. I knew the tourist office opens at nine, so around then I went out and headed over that way, stopping only at the corner up my street to make a video in front of the Moliere fountain. Later on, after seeing the vlog on VH, Morfeene would tell me he recognized the spot. Such a globe-trotter he is.

  1. B. Continued. 7:30 pm.

The tourist office was most pleasant, but then, I do speak a little French and the young lady who helped me seemed to speak very good English so we had a wonderful time. I showed her a copy of my email receipt from when I ordered – and paid credit-card for – my museum passes, which are good for regular admission to 60 different museums and monuments (but, alas, not for special temporary exhibitions like the Maya opening next week at the Branly). She nodded and quite politely asked me for my passport as identification, and then gave me my set of three passes I had ordered, each one good for six days. They had been sitting right there in the will-call box, waiting for me to arrive.

Then I walked down the street toward the Louvre and Tuileries. I no sooner entered the gardens when I was beset by lovely young women asking me if I speak English and would I please sign their petition. Having heard about this scam I said in French no I don’t speak English. Several of them continued to come up to me as I walked east toward the arch. One of them actually got into some video I was filming and after that they left me alone. Either I crossed some kind of boundary line, getting too close to the museum entrance, or they spread the word that I was filming and they did not want to be photographed – I believe the latter is true because one actually commanded me NO PHOTOGRAPH – the first time any of them broke their sweet whining attitude and showed the bitter iron that hides underneath their velvet young beauty.

In the museum itself I spent a couple hours looking at Italian and French painting, before heading over to the Mesopotamian section.

Still suffering from jetlag, I left around two o’clock and came back to my little room, where I ate some cheese and bread and worked a bit on my videos and writing, then settled down to a long, long nap – from four p.m. until ten p.m.

When I woke up I was utterly unable to go back to sleep, so I got up, washed my face, had a bit more to eat and drink (some of my delicious whiskey I bought the night before at the supermarket), and settled down to a long night’s work at the computer, first trying to write about my arrival the day before (text 002), and then reviewing all the video I had shot on the plane and in the museum, uploading some of it straight to yutub, but also editing together a little film about the Mona Lisa room – that room is a strange phenomenon of world fame which is both disturbing and exciting.

I have decided to upload all video to yutub and/or vimeo, in case I lose the camera or the computer; that way I will still have everything I shot, maybe, floating in the cloud, as it were. This, however, is a very time consuming process since most video I shoot is in high definition and takes quite a while to upload. Almost fifteen or twenty minutes computer time for every minute of video.

So while the video uploads in the background, I write, or study other shots, or, in the case of the Mona Lisa, spend several hours editing together a collection of shots into a short film, which, alas, yutub told me it wanted to take 300 minutes to upload.

Eventually, in the cold light of morning today, after I finally slept a few hours, I would dumb the film down to less high definition. So when I finally uploaded version two, it only took forty or fifty minutes to get it all up onto yutub. That’s the version I have embedded into this site for you to see, should you care to view it.

At last, around noon o’clock today, I headed out to visit the Louvre again. My second full day in Paris had begun well enough. I could only hope that tonight I might sleep at night, in the regular time, instead of staying up until five a.m.

No. Or rather, yes.

I don’t mind working at night, in fact I enjoy it. But three or four or five o’clock is just ridiculous. Rid-iculous.

Sigh.