...Continued from page 1

As a housewarming gift I've brought a black telephone. Although I've carried it across town from Montparnasse it is not a portable phone. It is a phone you plug into the wall to make phone calls, and receive them too. Laurie plugs it in and ding–a–ling, it works. She phones her portable and it goes buzzt buzzt. Somebody says it costs a fortune to call portables. Laurie looks fondly at her new–used plastic black telephone. It's a '80s model I got for free from l'Obs for subscribing for three months.

Everybody is drinking Champagne because there's no corkscrew. I haven't been to a party like this since the late '70s. It hardly occurs to us carry corkscrews everywhere we go, especially since giving up the booze. If in France you should remember to carry a corkscrew if you are visiting Americans. They think all bottles come with open service. Here they don't. Pushing in the cork is a sign of dementia.

I talk to a lady blogger named Tanya who used to call Atlanta home. She has just started blogging and is eager to meet another blogger. I think she says she didn't know what she did was blogging. I try to tell her about the room full of monkeys with typewriters – no, sorry, this was a French Tanya. She has never heard of the writing monkeys. The IVY lady Suzanne tells me we met before, in the Rue Daguerre. She's right. It was with Matt Rose. She was with Matt Rose, or he was with her. IVY does art stuff in Paris and other places. So does Matt – that's the connection. IVY is cool.

             matt rose, bloggerMatt missing the 2nd 'Group Photo.'

In fact, where is Matt? It was he who turned me on to 'In Paris Now' and Laurie Pike, and now this housewarming. Laurie has a house in Los Angeles and now here on Montmartre, she has the foot fixed in another house, lavish but modest. Well, proportionally, the bathroom is as big as a château. Usually they are smaller than toilets, and the toilets are tiny. Fact is, bath rooms are rare. Why not live in one if you're lucky enough to have one?

Being with a crowd of people is making me nervous. I might drink too much orange juice. I decide it is 'Group Photo of the Week' time. I already did this on Thursday but I like challenges. As in small room, poor light, about a dozen people who have never heard of the 'Group Photo of the Week' and left their dress–up heads at home. But there's an unused chandelier so I ask Laurie if I can turn it on and she says, "Oh no, it's far too bright. Everybody will hate it!"

So on it goes and she's right. It's like the gangbusters of modern Parisian chandeliers, totally movie–grade and a dozen pairs of hands fly up to shield weak eyeballs from the cut–diamond crystal blaze. Well, none of us have see the sun recently, have we? But I'm not drinking so I can bully the others into a pose. I wave my arms, order loudly, plead, cajole, hector, grimace, and prod the subjects into place. Jesus they look wooden, lined up like aslant bowling pins. Hell, this isn't about a photo, this is about control. A second 'Group Photo of the Week,' dammit.

Their attention – they are standing at attention – starts to turn to pudding after the fifth shot, and then the girls turn to the window. Something is happening out there. Matt's arriving on his new Vespa scooter. He looks like a spaceman with 44 kilos of anchor chain, as he ties up his fleety wheels. And he's carrying some cornucopia. Man, we already have grapes, peanuts, sausage, those Mexican things, and jeroboams of Champagne.

             springtime for stalin, by matt roseStalin in yellow by Rose.

Matt kisses everybody. This is Paris after all. It's why he moved here. I'm proud of Matt, introduce Tanya to him and vice versa. I wasn't making him up. Of course the glow goes off when it turns out that Matt doesn't actually blog. Um, actually Matt's life is a blog but he's so busy living it he doesn't have time to jot it down. I guess this is what all bloggers did before they started blogging. Like me, in reverse, I write too much to be a blogger.

Now there must be 20 people in the room. Frankly there is no separate kitchen to hang out in and there's too many coats in the bathtub. Yet there seems to be room to sit and when somebody gets up somebody else sits down, so there is a sort of equilibrium – like in a passenger cabin on the Queen Mary just before sailing time. Matt shows up looking for a corkscrew. I quit carrying one in 1991. They are pushing the corks into bottles.

             LA at pompidouLos Angeles at Pompidou.

It's too wicked for me and I find my coat and get the hell out. But first waves of new people coming in force me back into the room. Here's the neighbor with wife and daughter. The daughter looks like a blogger, looks like she has adventures in Paris. I'd stay, but then I would have to take my coat off and brave the bathroom full of coats. Outside the window I wave at all my new friends, but nobody in that little room full of smoke, bloggers, jeroboams of Champagne, grapes, ashtrays, Matt's motorcycle helmet, can see the geek who shot the 2nd 'Group Photo of the Week.'

Just in case there's no photo, I jump the Métro at Vavin and shoot the big poster for the LA expo at Pompidou. I did it the other day at Gaîté too but it was on the same platform. I almost had my head on the rails for that one.

Otherwise, at Laurie's collective blog In Paris Now, there we all were.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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