I arrived in Paris on December 30th, somewhat sleepy but also jubilant that my adventure was beginning after a few months of planning. Paris was exceptional, mainly due to the presence of Anna, Antoine and Niegel. Niegel had flown in from New York to treat himself to two weeks of vacation after a busy fall working Fela!. When I arrived with three bags and very sweaty armpits, he was hiding in the shower and surprised me. Anna and Antoine had been in Paris all Fall, living in the 10th arondissement and teaching at Paris8. They themselves chronicled their adventures on their video blog, Bonjour Y’all.
I am always a bit stupefied when I first arrive in another country, due to the abundance of new stimuli in the new place. My mind goes into overdrive as I try to process all the new visual information. I seem to read every advertisement. Every square of sidewalk attracts my attention. And every shopwindow seems to present some product that, while completely similar to those you find in New York, for some reason feels different. I can barely talk, it seems, for the first few days. In Paris, for example, this took the form of meal after meal in which I just listened and looked out the window and plied the pages of the menu. Call it jetlag, melancholia, nostalgia, or whatever, this stupefaction is something to which I’ve grown accustomed. I will quote Avital Ronell
Paris was pretty incredible but my narrative powers are failing me so how about I just itemize my sensations?
- French bread is seriously about 3 times better than bread you find in Italy. I’d say between Anna, Antoine and I we ate about a baguette each a day.
- Parisians are much more aggressive than New Yorkers. The tension is super palpable.
- Niegel, the self-proclaimed “Magical Negro of Paris,” should be on The View.
- I enjoy how all authorities (the police, bus and metro ticket controllers) band together in groups when they give out tickets in order to not get beaten up.
- Jardin des Plantes. No wonder Foucault wrote The Order of Things.
- I love how Antoine speaks English really loudly and obnoxiously so that everyone thinks he’s american.
- French people love to stare at you, and sneer at the bright colors you’re wearing. But if you stare back, they’ll cut you!
Here are a few selected photos from Paris. The whole album is located here.
On the Jardin des Plantes. Antoine, a great afficcionado of the animal kingdom, took me to the Mengerie where they have an assorted “collection” of cute furry animals that I guess dates back to the days of Enlightenment classification. You can watch this video to hear my semi-austitic laugh and see some wallabies jump around.
We had yet another encounter with the animal kingdom at the cafe attached to la Grande Mosquée de Paris. This time it was a fat bird that only wanted our baklava. Here you will also see my fine autistic facial expressions on display.
Antoine and Anna also conspired to sneak me into the National Library without a card, a beautiful modern building with an enchanted cedar forest inside!