horz line

No Street Dogs

photo, cafe, resto le progress

Far from Montparnasse, a Montmartre hangout.

Songs Are In the Air

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 10. January 2005:– The weather has been doing its usual thing. One day is dry and sunny and another day is damp and cloudy, day in and day out, and the temperature is higher than normal 'for the time of year,' so we are all in lousy moods because it is the time for hibernation but who can resist going out?

But our problems are not yours, so here's the forecast. Tomorrow there will be 70 kph winds scooting up the Channel and clots of rain hanging over the tip of Brittany. Inland there will be a weird belt of crummy weather, sagging below Paris, which might leave a space here for dry skies, or at least, not totally cloudy up in the air. Hats and gloves will not be strictly necessary because the high is supposed to be 12 degrees.

On Wednesday the 70 kph Channel wind is supposed to hang a right and blow towards us from the west, and this will knock the temperature down to a high of 9 degrees. It might be day of veiled sunshine, with the dreck along the Channel and in a southwest band across the country – but with Paris high and dry.

Thursday's outlook, according to tonight's TV–weather news, is a bit like sense–fiction. We are supposed to believe that it might be sunny pretty much all over, pretty much all day. No winds are forecast and there's not much temperature either. The high is supposed to be a mere 6 degrees, which I think may be exactly 'normal for the time of year' and whatever songs are in the air.

Café Life

Fiasco of the Week

After last week's fiasco of doing a tour and then falling asleep while writing it, I decided to avoid the problem this week by not doing anything. But it was bright and sunny so I couldn't help myself from going out.

Instead of having a goal, I was just out. My sidewalk is not Paris' most scenic or lively so I went across thephoto, door, moulin street and into the cemetery, which is scenic but hardly lively except when the guardians are blowing their whistles to clear the fans out. I think I heard them doing this the other night about midnight, but it may have been Roller Rando going past.

The 'Door of the Week.'

I looked at the old moulin. It is pretty sturdy, exactly the right kind of building a cemetery needs. But what is it for? It used to be for parties, Sunday picnics, but not these days. While looking at it I got the idea that I shouldn't look at, or look for, anything fancy, like the moulin in the cemetery for starters.

If I was going to see anything, I thought, it should be completely normal, stock, stink, banal. I should shift my senses into 'ordinary' mode, and see what turned up. The first thing to do was get out of the cemetery because it's full of strange, too interesting, stuff.

At Edgar Quinet I tried to decide the way of the most boring possibilities. I started one way, stopped, and took another way past a big apartment complex, that would look like a slum if it were in the Bronx. Well, a would–be slum in Montparnasse then – a sort of failure. But what a lot of bricks!

The Rue Delambre is good for nothing when it is closed and there's nobody in it. The trouble with the Rue Delambre is that you can almost remember a lot that went on here, and probably still does. But when its shades are down the street dogs are king. But there are no street dogs.

Vavin is bad because its so historic. Every time I pass I look at the coupole across the intersection that's in the photos taken by Jean Cocteau of Picasso and friends one Sunday when they were fooling around posing for Cocteau. As near as I can make out, the boulevard was narrower back then, when was it, 1912?

Now it looks like a small airfield. You could probably park a 747 in the middle and its wings wouldn't even touch the Dôme. Maybe the buildings are shrinking back from the roadway. The roadway itself has shrunk from being one wide boulevard into being two skinny ones with a two–way bus lane in the centre, with barricades designed for Parnassians to trip over.

In the tabac the barman from the Select is giving directions to an American visitor. He's wearing a motorcycle helmet and leathers, and I'm pretty sure it's him, so I hail him a 'Bonne Année.' He doesn't look as if he recognizes me either. If I still drank all night long my memory might be better.

The east end of the boulevardphoto, metro entry, vavin is pretty boring and I don't see much on it that's surprising, which is fine. It takes longer than I think it should to get to where I will turn left, which might be about where the Jockey was. Modi cadged meals around here.

The 'Hole in the Ground of the Week.'

He would starve to death these days. None of the bars and cafés are open, just one little grocery store. Of course it's full of tinned goods and booze, but cash only I bet. Great if you live upstairs and need a sudden tomato or some escargots.

The street, which has the sun blazing straight down on it, is far too interesting for my slender purposes. There's the sign that says Atget lived here, and further along the Hotel Istria and then Man Ray's place, with all of its shiny tiles. There's the view into the passage to hell too. At Raspail one of Picasso's places is across the street.

But Raspail itself, mostly in shadow, has next to no features. The sun hits it from a street across the way and lights up the entry to the Cartier glass cube, showing a big colored flower pot with a huge cedar extending out of it, goin up five stories. Far too interesting!

Continued on page 2...
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