Dimitri's First Car

photo: martin, painting, dimitri

Martin, Dimitri's first peddle-car and Dimitri,
somwhat older

Wet Sunday Café Life

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Sunday, 1. December 2002:- After all my cable work yesterday to get the old hifi pieces working again, I did not feel like sitting down and running through the maze of the 'Scene' events column. Even though it was dark and damp I felt like going outside.

There was more than just the 'cabling.' I had a horrible puzzle putting a three-wire cable together. One of the plugs had been engineered by people who would never have to hook little wires into it and it took about 90 minutes of intense concentration to get it right.

Then I had to move furniture around a bit to get enough room to wire the components together. In all, it probably took about three hours. The FM radio part still needs some sort of an antenna, but it does get a weak signal, so I know it works.

So then, having to 'go out,' I found myself on Daguerre and surprised at how early it was. I stopped for a minute in the second café and then decided to go all the way down to Boulard on the off chance somebody would be in the Bouquet.

Going past, I saw that some of the chairs were stacked up already. But I saw Dimitri sitting at a table, across from a guy who was waving his arms all over the place.

He took a camel's load of baggage off a chair so I could sit down. The introduction to one of Dimitri'sphoto: cafe in rain 3748 oldest friends was somewhat wild because, from what I could gather, Martin Vaughn-James had just landed from a flight from Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

This was Sunday in the 10th arrondissement.

I am supposed to be used to jetlagged people because I meet some nearly every week, but Martin had just come back from a painting peddling trip to have a one-day exhibition in Paris, before going on to another adventure, possibly in Belgium.

He had first met Dimitri shortly after Dimitri's mother had met Dimitri for the first time, so he was one of Dimitri's longer-standing acquaintances.

Martin, between asking me a lot of questions, rattled off a lot of autobiography, which included Canada, Toronto, Australia, a wife, Wales, Scotland, the United States, deportations, and Belgium, but not necessarily in this or any order.

The Bouquet was closing and we walked up Daguerre together. At Dimitri's corner Martin offered wine and whisky, but I declined. I was left with an invitation to this exhibition, and a tentative agreement with Dimitri to go to it.

This morning it is not raining much, but it is trying harder by the time I get back from having a café in the Rendez-Vous at Denfert. When Dimitri calls I decide to go. Outside it is raining harder, but he lives right around the corner, almost behind my building.

Dimitri lives in an antique shop without a cash register. This is another story, so when Fabienne arrives we more or less leave right away because she says she has another thing to do to later.

Walking down to Denfert it is rainingphoto: dimitri harder. It is very respectable rain, modelled on Seattle or Vancouver. When we get out of the métro it is raining even harder, pretty near the Paris maximum without it being a storm.

Dimitri, with the detail of his peddle-car just above his lid.

I want to go one way, but Fabienne wants to go the right way, to the Rue de Paradis. Where we're going turns out to be a high number so there is a lot of slosh. It is very gloomy going past all the fancy porcelain places, on a nearly dead street.

The building's door in big and old and before we can find the hidden buzzer some ladies exit and we find 'escalier A' and up half a landing, an elevator - modelled after the one in my building.

It rattles us up a bunch of floors to a dim landing with two doors. We hear cocktail noise, but have to ear-test both doors before trying one.

Inside, we have just advanced a century. White walls, white tiled floor, space and lights all over the place, and paintings on all the walls - some of which are sculptures in frames. There is a glass case full of fine books, another table piled up with hefty art catalogues, and some contrast-color comfortable-looking but fairly minimal furniture.

The people, and there's more than a few, are well-dressed. We three from the 14th, in contrast, resemble drowned rats. But the reception is warm somewhat like the room temperature.

What has gotten me to this place, specifically, has been Dimitri telling me he is 'in' one of Martin's paintings. In the Bouquet the evening before, I had a quick glance at a book full of Martin's work. Even if he speed-paints, he has to spend a lot of time at it. There's no scribbles.

The occasion of this exhibition, is for collective showing by four artists, named 'Groupe Memoires.' The floor of the apartment this is in, is the living area. Upstairs there is an atelier, but I don't see it.

The artists are Hastaire, Lydie Arickx, Alain Kleinmann and Martin. It is a big place, there are a lot of works on display, and all of them look like high-end collectibles. They all look as if a lot of work has been put in them.

The 'memories' part is apt. Most of the works look like memories of the past, somewhat aged andphoto: martin a bit blurred with some ragged edges - but this is all painted or sculpted. I don't remember all of it, and some of them weren't exactly in this vein.

The painting Dimitri is 'in' turns out to be Dimitri's original peddle-car. This is one tiny part of a whole painting of memories. The Dimitri part is a borrowed memory I guess. But it is real enough.

Martin has also owned a fleet of 2CVs.

In the kitchen Dimitri is dismayed to find no red wine - only two-litre bottles of whisky. There are little snacks too and they are very good.

Fabienne leaves to go to her next thing and I talk to Hastaire, who enjoys nonsense. Maybe it is because this exhibition started at 11:00 this morning and is supposed to continue until 22:00.

Unlike at a public exhibition, people do talk to each other. I meet a lady painter from the 14th who looks too upscale for where she says she lives.

Martin is still severely jetlagged, or maybe he is always like this - bopping all over the place, with a whisky in one fist. Maybe doing all the detail work makes one high when one is free of it. I must have been 'jetlagged' myself, for decades.

I don't think I meet Lydie. Martin gets together with Alain and Hastaire and I photograph them - the old buddies. The light is good but it is coming straight down so I ask them to put their heads back. Martin is too tall. It isn't a great photo.

It's fine. It's warm. There's food and there's drink. It seems cultivating and civilized. The last thing I wantphoto: sad fastfood to do is hit the street with the rain and the somber gloom, somewhere in the damp 10th arrondissement near the Gare de l'Est.

Leaving Dimitri behind, this is what I do. The rain is taking a break. On Sébasto I find the métro at Château d'Eau okay.

Snacks for regular folks at Faisal's Fast Food.

On the train two little kids sit opposite me. They have wands with tiger heads, with winking lights in them. They are riding the slightly scary métro, going home from some exciting place, like me.

At the café Rendez-Vous at Denfert the finals of the Davis Cup tennis match are on TV hung above the bar, and the French have a slight lead over the Russians. All the French bigwigs are out at Bercy, including Boris Yeltsin.

For the French, Le Parisien's headline on Monday will be, 'Raté!' I wish I remembered to ask Dimitri what Boris might have said.
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini