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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Breakfast and blogging in my garret

That's exactly what this is, a garret: The word just came to me. And good old wiki confirms it, complete with quotes from Dumas, Hugo, and Dickens:

"There was yet an upper staircase, of a steeper inclination and of contracted dimensions, to be ascended, before the garret story was reached.
A Tale Of Two Cities by Dickens, Charles"

There are also references to things like "poor starving artist in Paris" and though I am not really any of the above, I like the connotation!

Anyway, here I am drinking coffee and getting ready to have breakfast in my cute little garret. It reminds me of my little chambre de bonne, maid's room, some 40 years ago. That had a separate staircase and so was clearly created for citizens of another class, It had one toilet for the entire floor, and I remember a family that had two adjacent rooms, one a bedroom and the other a living/dining room with an electric burner.

My breakfast here is the same every morning. coffee and biscuits with butter and orange marmelade. It's what I always eat here, and never anywhere else, and dates back to my first trip to Europe, when I was 17 and lived with an elderly woman in Avignon for a month. I've found the biscottes at home, at Stop and Shop, no less, but when I've bought them there I never seem to eat them, and the marmelade sits in the fridge until it gets moldy and I throw it away. The coffee, by the way, must be in a bowl, not a cup or mug.

Yesterday, as I did the day before, I left my little garret with the intention of heading to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs. It doesn,t really matter to me if I get where I'm planning to go or not, it's just nice to have q destination. And the museum is just a couple of blocks from here. Yesterday; the first Sunday of the month, was free museum day. I had wanted to pick a museum that wasn't on the top of the tourist's list, so I wouldn't have too long a wait. But the museum wasnt on the list, which has me confused, because I thought it was part of the Louvre. So I went to the Orsay instead, just across the river. It's one of my favorite museums, housing a huge collection of pre and post and just plain impressionist works in what was once one of the city's train stations. The wait was almost a half hour, but the line moved quickly and I remember waiting almost as long once when it wasn't a free first Sunday.

I wound up spending most of the day there, then just came home about 8 pm and didn't go out last night at all, which was fine. Made myself supper, drank a good part of a bottle of a champagne like substance that one mustn't refer to as champagne, and finished my book and began one about a murder at the Eiffel Tower during the time of the 1889 fair for which it was built. I was literally reading it while looking at the actual tower out my window. The tower was doing some sparkling thing that I don't remember having seen before, although I assume it does so every night. At first I thought maybe it was because I wasn't wearing my glasses; so put them back on. Still sparkling, Then I wondered if I'd had too much of my sparkling wine. Nope. So I just kept watching until it stopped. And then kept looking at the tower, anyway, between paragraphs.

I can also see, reflected in a window across the way, the lights of the ferris wheel in the Tuileries, although I can't see the wheel itself. I probably would't even know what those lights were, if I hadn't seen them the other day from the street, reflected in a window; and tried to take a picture.

On Saturday, two days ago, I had also set off to eventually arrive at the Decorative Arts Museum, which of course didn't happen that day, either. My plan was to find the building Sarah Miller had lived in with her family during the war, and then go to my favorite Marche aux Puces, not far from there. Sarah is the Holocaust survivor with whom I've been paired, to preserve and tell her story, through the Legacy Project of the North Shore Holocaust center. The project has become particularly poignant (that must be a French word, don't you think?) since Sonia Weiss, the founder of the project, just died a few weeks ago. I was hoping that being in a place where Sarah had lived would help me feel more of a connection to her story. And I thought she might want to see some photos of the building and neighborhood. I qm sure the current inhabitants were puzzled as to why I was taking pictures.

Then onto St. Ouen, the flea market. I was devastated to not find my favorite destination, a place whose name I never remember, Lili and somebody, that sells buttons, lace, all kinds of similar stuff. It's where I bought all the original old bakelite and plastic buckles I've made into jewelry, as well as several pairs of glasses frames, old hair combs, etc:Finally realized they hadnt shut down, except for the august holiday, It was July 31st: Disappointed, but relieved, I wandered thru the market, buying only a Nutella and coconut crepe.

By that time, I decided, it was to late to visit the Decorative Arts, which closes at 6, so I went to the Pompidou, which stays open until 9pm, Having ample time to visit, I strolled first around the plaza around the museum, always an active place, with performers, street vendors, tourists, backpackers, local teens, etc.One thing I don't remember noticing in the past was a row of portrait artists, a la Montmartre.

I heard the haunting strains of middle eastern music and headed that way. It was a group of four French musicians, playing bass'; banjo, accordian and clarinet. it was basically klezmer with a French and comic twist; comic klezmer would be the best way I could describe it. They told stories, incorporated the audience; played the bass and banjo as percussion. One story involved a bird, with the clarinetist playing (both his instrument and himself) as the bird, in an extremely effeminate way that may or may not have been simulated; everyone from the local drunk to the American kids next to me seemed to love them.

Inside the museum was an exhibit, that only had one more week to go: called Dreamland. I hadn't known anything about it but the poster was compelling. It was basically about parks and attractions and cities of the future. The name derives from an actual area of Coney Island. The exhibit featured places like Las Vegas, Disneyland, as well as artistic conceptions of places. Particularly intriuging was Salvador Dali's concept of The Dream of Venus, designed ( and I believe, built), for the 1939 New York World's Fair. It was exotic, erotic, partly underwater (shades of Circque de Soleil) I have to investigate this further; I did buy the catalog, which was only 8 euros. And, amazingly, there were a number of Martin Parr photos, about whom I was just writing here a day or two ago. Talk about feeling erudite, The first ones were of Las Vegas; but there were others dispersed through the exgibit. The exhibit also features Walt Disney, on film talking about his original concept for Epcot, never realized; which was an entire community with housing, industry, public transportation via monorail, etc: The closest that ever was created was the Disney town of Celebration. The final part of the exhibit features modern day Dubai, with its artificial ski slopes, etc.

The exhibit also raised questions about images of reality and the concept of "facadism" a term I hadn't heard before, ie leaving the facades of buildings while rebuilding the rest, but also places like Venice, Paris itself, etc: where the image has become the reality.
All of this seems quite coincidental with my ponderings, the other day, about fairs and the Eiffel Tower and visions of reality and the future.

I have to stop here, although not quite caught up, have breakfast and decide where to start off the day. (It's Monday and the Decoratif and lots of museums are closed today.)

Peace out. ( I was running out of French expressions for see you later.)

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