In the Tuileries

photo: leaves, sitters, fountain, tuileries

Sitting and reading are big outside activities in Paris.

With the 'New Yorker'

Paris:- Friday, 16. June 2000:- About 10 days ago a question about proper attire for Paris arose when a reader thought he detected café La Corona waiters wearing less than full Paris-waiter garb. This was a photo-error of some sort, because the club's waiters are properly turned out.

For civilians, proper attire is 'anything goes,' even if some club members thought 'sprayed-on' pants worn by some Parisiennes are excessive. I didn't think the writing reader would fall into this category, but it occurred to me that is it possible to over-dress in Paris.

In a reply I suggested this - 'wear whatever seems suitable for cutting the grass' - rather than, 'parking guests' cars' - and the startling reply was that he would wear the clothes that he'd posed in for the 'New Yorker' magazine cover, for its Monday, 5. June edition.

Not having a copy available, the reader sent me a huge scanned image of the cover. If you have not seen it, it shows a couple standing on an arched bridge at Giverny, with Monsieur wearing red shorts and an orange t-shirt with "J' 'heart-symbol' Monet" on it.

Both he and - I assume it's his wife, so I'll call her 'Madame' - also have orange 'Monet' caps and an orange 'Monet' shopping bag.

Before anything could go wrong, I fired off a message to say that a lot of Monet is spending thephoto: ferris wheel, louvre summer in Paris at the Musée Marmottan. But of course Monet's famous gardens are staying where they are, and that's what they intend to visit.

City-centre carnival, right in the Tuileries where your kids may need it most.

Today's weather started out with good intentions on last night TV-weather news, but by this afternoon it was not coming on as strong as predicted. After two weeks of false alarms for 'beach' weather in Paris, I reckon I've 'not' done this subject at least once too often.

For reasons too boring to relate, I launched myself on the mission for today's story without any subject in mind. Mindlessness as a reason is a word that comes to mind; very akin to boring.

Everybody in Paris has their very own railroad and it is known far and wide as the métro. Being mindless, I let it transport me to the Opéra. I must have 'the beach starts here' burned into my brain, because it seems as if I started out near here to 'do the beach' last week, and the week before.

Before I surface, I am confronted by one of the old métro maps with the push-buttons. You find the destination on a keyboard below the map and push the metal button beside it, and the map is supposed to display lights all along your route - so you can figure out how to get there.

These electric wizards are pretty old and are not in all métro stations. This one at Opéra isn't showing all its lights either.

All the same, voyagers are staring at it in awe, and then at the maps in their fists. For one route that doesn't show the way to Barbés, I trace it with a finger for a couple that want to go there. Another lady wants somewhere else, and the lights work for it.

But the big failing of these wonderful devices is that they were not wired to show the métro's end-stations. It is vital to know these - more than line numbers - because all lines have two directions; to either of their end-stations. And it is these that are posted on the platforms, to tell you if you are on the wrong one and should be on the opposite one.

So the lights glow from Opéra, showing the way, and the explanation of the end-station names is about as far out as the stations themselves.

I show the lady the way to the RER and tell her it is down deep in the ground, but she only needs to change once so it is not as complicated as she seems to think it may be.

I do my third good deed of the day by photographing the Opéra itself. Our all new and glittery Opéra - calledphoto: pool, arch carrousel the Palais Garnier - has emerged from its building-site shrouds and is glowing much more brightly than anything around it, even in today's less than glorious sunshine.

Out from under the trees, the paths can be intensely bright.

The light reflecting off its extensive gilding is a reminder that gold glitters more than the grime we're used to. That's it too, getting used to big monuments in new colors - they look like replicas.

Down the Opéra's wide avenue, the far-off Louvre looks dingy, but it is partly because what I see is its shadowed side. It is down the avenue I go until I get to and turn right into the Rue Danielle Casanova. This was 'detached' from the Rue des Petits-Champs in 1944 and given the name of a resistance heroine and has nothing to do with the other Casanova.

This is also the place to find Brentano's backdoor magazine department. I haven't seen an issue of the 'New Yorker' in decades and it seems like something to get to get 'beach' off my mind.

A copy is dug out from an obscure corner. It is the two-week old issue of Monday, 5. June. It's the one with the Metropole reader on the cover in his red shorts.

At the cash station I try to haggle the price down from 40 francs. "It's a week out-of-date," I claim. Doing this would have a good chance in my neighborhood, but merchants in the Opéra area have their new gilding to remind then of their high rents.

Earlier today I bought 'Nova's' new summer special '(with feeling)' issue for 39 francs. It has 79 more and bigger pages than this old edition of the 'New Yorker.'

But the smaller magazine is lighter. I get even - my monthly budget for magazines has now used up half of July's allotment - by going through the Place Vendôme, partly to see if the sculpture is still bemusing local millionaires and rock stars. It is.

This is where I find the 'Mercedes 170 Cabrio of the Week,' which makes it a real one-of-a-kind shortcut, and must be the reason I came this way.

Going out along the arcades of the Rue de Castiglione is another moral-booster; an incentive to be a capitalist. Luckily, Sulka is changing its window displays and I read the tiles underfoot instead of wondering when their summer sales start.

Along the Rivoli side of the Tuileries, the summer's hurdy-gurdy is being set up with its shake-your-change-loose rides, ferris wheel and cotton-candy booths. Carney in the Tuileries, being guarded by guys in suits. These must be in surplus these days.

Even though the day is not overly bright, it amazes me how the Tuileries manages to change its disposition from its winter semi-bleakness to its summer slightly dusty look.

The grass is green, the leaves are still fresh, the fountains all seem to be turned on to full-pressure, and refugees from the city only metres away are lolling around. The dusty look comes from the wide, sandy paths.

One of the pools near one of the kiosks under the trees, looks like a swamp. I watch it forphoto: glaces et sorbets a while to see if there are any alligator eyes peeping out of it. Two mallards don't seem to mind pushing the green slime out of the way, and it occurs to me the pool would be a paradise for geese.

A little shade, a little sorbet, and a big jet of water.

I can only guess, but this must have gotten into my subconscious. Some memory of Giverny's frog pond maybe. A few steps further on I begin to look at the empty green metal chairs.

'Sit down' a voice I can't hear tells me. A couple of paces more and this voice says it again.

Another voice says, 'Why not?' While this conversation ping-pongs around in my head, my eyes are comparing chairs. They pick then reject one; pick another and accept it. Out of the garble of voices, one distinctly says 'sit down, take out the two-weeks-old 'New Yorker' and read it.

'What?' But I have to - walk further - to - to the beach. 'Naw!' one of the voices says.

Before it can say 'stupid!' I take the chair my eyes have picked and get it aligned for reading light and before I can stop myself I have put myself in it. After about 100 weeks I have stopped walking.

The chair is not near any of the attractions in the Tuileries; it is not near anything. It is like a chair in no place, outside somewhere, and I do take the 'New Yorker' out of the bag.

The article headlines like 'Down in the Delta' or 'Who Owns Philadelphia?' don't mean anything to me. On page eight 'Goings On About Town' starts. I get into this and within a few minutes I am in New York.

How sweet it is to read somebody's else's 'Scene' column instead of my own. 'How sweet is it!' as Jackie Gleason's Ralph Cramden used to triumphantly roar at Norton the sewer worker on TV.

This goes on up to page 28, where I read about 'The Virgin Suicides.' After this 'The Talk of the Town' starts and I read the whole commentary piece about 'Labor's China Syndrome.'

To be absolutely straight, I should admit that I've been in New York City twice. Once for a couple of hours between boat and train, and before that, for about four days before shipping out.

Like most people all I know about New York is from what I've seen in movies - mostly made in Hollywood - and early television - mostly made in New York TV studios, and this goes back to when TV was mostly 'live.'

The other, very occasional, source of New York life and times was the 'New Yorker' magazine. No matter when you read it, Bobby Short was always playing at the Rainbow Room or somewhere.

Maybe it is because I'm such an irregular reader, or maybe times have changed, but it seems to me that 'Labor's China Syndrome' is a new sort of New Yorker commentary - more Left Coast than New York.

It pleases me. Maybe we've all moved on. Maybe taking part in May Day parades in Paris is keeping up with the times in big towns.

But it's strange all the same. What am I doing? On my first actual sit-down in Paris, I spend it reading the 'New Yorker,' feeling a bit like I've never been away when I've almost never been there.

Does Paris do this to people too? I haven't been beyond the Perifreak! lately so it's hard for mephoto: roue giant, concorde to tell. People glued here all seem to want to be somewhere else; like I jumped at a possibility to go down to Montpellier for a couple of days to cover a Festival de Danse.

An hour later, clouds made a premature sundown effect near Concorde.

Anything to get out of town. When I thought it over for 30 minutes I reckoned I'm getting out of town pretty soon anyway, so I shouldn't make things complicated by suddenly learning everything I don't know about 'danse,' which is everything.

Getting out of town by sitting in the Tuileries and reading a bit of the 'New Yorker' for a while has been more than good enough.

It's certainly stopped me from writing any more fantasy stuff about 'Paris Plage.' If any of you think you are suffering from your town's version of cabin fever, I strongly suggest getting a copy of the 'New Yorker' and driving to some other part of town to read it.

Meanwhile in the Tuileries in Paris there is an interesting sky up towards Concorde and the fountains are still pushing out high-pressure water, and all of the light is sort of light purple - not mauve. It's short on red and long on invisible blue.

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