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Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 01:26 pm
The Rue Legendre

It's a beautiful -- but beautiful -- autumn day in Paris, and I'm walking across the city from the 17th arrondissement down to the Palais de Tokyo. Later I'll do a reading / signing on the Avenue Daumesnil ( full details in Sunday's entry). But for now I'm just going to walk through the city, compiling an entry I'll post when I can.

• First thought: I'd walk a lot more if I lived in Paris. The city's density (which, in some cases, can bring it to the brink of the hellish) packs a lot of interest into a short distance. The Rue Legendre, for instance, completely changes its nature depending on which side of the Avenue de Clichy you're on. I've just crossed from an African block to a bourgeois white block.

• The event-second: every city has its own characteristc events per street second. Here in Paris these will typically involve underpowered motorbikes revving aggressively and small cars beeping in narrow, highly echo-reflective streets.

• Have now crossed the railway tracks that lead to the Gare St Lazare -- a station which stinks of piss and homeless people's clothes. La misere is very visible in this city, and under Sarko-Crony it's getting worse; Gini-ends are slipping further apart. That doesn't stop me preferring, selfishly, the down-at-heel areas. The street signs are so much more interesting. Now on the Rue Legendre it's shabby again, there are Chinese shops and a fantastic droguerie-menages which I must photograph and insert here one day.



• A beautiful market on the Rue de Levis, and a yellow-leafed square with benches which could be in a kitschy hotel Paris painting anywhere in the world. Nearby there's a traiteur asiatique, one of the Vietnamese hot plate joints I often use in Paris, and call "Asian traitors". There's invariably an old man and his beautiful, dutiful young daughter, and I can't help wondering whether the daughter ever wants to be an Asian traitor herself, and refuse to work in the traiteur asiatique alongside her dad?

• Beyond the Boulevard Malsherbes the Rue Legendre gets bourgeois-fusty and dull, with gold-handled dentists' offices instead of shops. Eventually it peters out in the Parc Monceau, but before the street and my entry end, I have time to tell you that the orality of the Parisians has scattered ash in my face and over the screen of my iPod Touch. Parisians smoke and chatter and gesture on the street. They also have a different sense of personal space than residents of other cities. So this crash-helmet-carrying woman was just walking in front of me, explaining to her laughing friend how she'd smashed someone in the face (I didn't catch why), and her gesticulations, cigarette in hand, ensured that she was simultaneously ashing me in the face.

• I shall now bid you adieu as I step into the sunny-golden Parc Monceau.





19CommentReplyFlag


(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)

Having lived in Montréal you should know that you're supposed to write "street", "park", "station", and "boulevard", etc. always.

otherwise, racism.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)

I've lived in Paris for many years in the most densely populated arrondissement (the 11th) in the second most densely populated city in the developed world (after Tokyo). And I have to agree that density is both a blessing and a curse. It is truly great to have a city that's compact enough to walk around in, and to have so many amenities and great shopping on your doorstep - within five minutes' walk of my flat there are at least half a dozen boulangeries and boucheries and what have you. But increasingly as I get older the density becomes a burden. The metro at rush hour is insufferable (literally so in mid-summer, in those non-airconditioned carriages). There's a claustrophic feeling of everyone living on top of everyone, in those Haussmannian buildings that look so elegant from the outside, but inside there's virtually no noise insulation so you're constantly hearing people walking on your ceiling, their blaring TVs, phone calls and banging doors. Not a week passes in my street when someone doesn't throw a party making it impossible for me to sleep through the night.

It's a good town if you're in your 20s or early 30s, but if you're older you start to crave a little peace and quiet. Older people either seem to have enough money to buy a weekend cottage an hour outside Paris (still surprisingly cheap) or to move to a posher, quieter arrondissement. But more usually they just move to the suburbs, and I have to say Paris suburbs are pretty soul destroying places.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 03:48 pm (UTC)
50 going on 90

I think Nick's "selective perception" is on overdrive. No-one is allowed to smoke in bars (which most of the complainers don't even support with custom anyway) and there is still a problem with smoking OUTSIDE. Why MAKE LIFE LIFELESS? Why is it those who want to enforce relentless improvement look like they HAVEN'T SMILED SINCE 1995?


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
Re: People like Momus want everywhere to be as dull..

.. and moral as London. I am surpised he still lives in Berlin and hasn't been kicked out for tediium!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
Re: People like Momus want everywhere to be as dull..

Scotland is not known for its excitement. And Nick refuses to break Caledonian moulds. All unorthodoxy is purely cerebral. Nothing may enter real life. We are safe and secure in the abstraction of terms.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC)

そしたら、すぐに私に逢いに東京に来てくれるの?


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC)

you are insane! berlin is so much more walkable than paris. to me paris just felt like a mess of too wide streets, complicated street crossings and a garish monotony of ancient excess.

maybe i just don't "get" paris!


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skazat
skazat
Alex à Paris
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)

I don't have anything to add to your observations, as I'm still compiling my own, but I found it funny that I carry around two mini-U locks, whenever I'm traveling inside the city center, to lock up EVERYTHING to ANYTHING, but I when I road to the first town outside of Paris where you had your show - Boulogne Billancourt, other riders just free locked their bikes outside of the venue.

Nice to finally see you perform. Great performance, very bizarre (to me) venue. Fancy lights! A *smoke* machine! All very theatrical. Which, I guess makes sense, since it's a theatre.


ReplyThread
skazat
skazat
Alex à Paris
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC)

Oh - maybe I'll add this:

The flavor of, "rock and roll" that Parisians like is bizarre to me. Not naming names, but the last performers of the evening were really not my cup of tea - I just found them sort of... banal.

The Parisians at the show, *loved* them. I couldn't figure out why, except that "rock and roll" never really landed in France, until... the 70's? They sort of missed its maturity and its inevitable fall from being extremely innovative.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)

I can't comment on the other bands -- I left the building with Tomoko Miyata, who took me to see La Generale, the culture squat nearby.


ReplyThread Parent
skazat
skazat
Alex à Paris
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)

Oh, we saw you sneakin' out -

Wed, there's a vernissage at this atelier, 59 rue
de Rivoli:

http://www.59rivoli.org/

A pretty amazing place to have a squat (the Louvre is viewable from the roof),




ReplyThread Parent
alaplantine
alaplantine
alaplantine
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)

hello from la rue legendre.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC)

Oh, it's the "scandalous" Frenchwoman again! Have you fucked your younger brother lately?


ReplyThread Parent
alaplantine
alaplantine
alaplantine
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)

he's too old now. I prefere young boys (
and very old men)


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)

I prefer young boys (and very old men)

Very young boys like Pekka-Eric Auvinen, you mean? And very old men like Momus?


ReplyThread Parent
alaplantine
alaplantine
alaplantine
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)

very dead like pekka auvinen and very alive like momus


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)

your dumb


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 27th, 2009 06:14 pm (UTC)
ipodcast

this should have been a podcast



erik


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Wed, Oct. 28th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
les soixante huitards

let's have something on mai 68 and its effects on french culture...


ReplyThread