From Pizza To Chicken

photo, fireworks at the tour eiffel, 14 july 2007 Fireworks behind the Tour Eiffel.

And Back To Cheeseburgers

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 16. July:–  Today's news isn't really news because Max is visiting from Ireland, just coincidentally at the same time as the Fête Nationale, accompanied by coincidental fine – nay – brilliant weather. Who could have foreseen it? It was cold and raining and dreary and it was in a rut, doing it several times a day, and what do you know? Here's this 15 year–old, growing huge, still growing, taller than his brother, normally living in the eternally green hell of Ireland with soggy Leprechauns. He gets off the jet and we get sunbeams.

Max Likes Pizza

Wednesday:– I took the RER out to Roissy, going to the ancient Terminal 1 where Aer Lingus arrives. I saw that they have made some changes in the last 15 years or so, adding a little train that runs between the terminals – including the new one which is called Terminal 3. The automatic train took me to the terminal and then the arrival area was reached via a elevator. It was pretty simple and the toilets were just as carefully hidden as in the olden days.

The jet finally landed and Max appeared, about two feet taller than the last time. I hadn't noticed that little train dead–ends at Terminal 1 so we waited for a while for a train that takes no passengers. Finally we tried the other train that was running every 4 minutes, and a dude in a suit told me it was illegal to photograph the graphic showing who was entitled to sit down. He also claimed that Terminal 3 had been open for years.

photo, eiffel tower, before the fireworksOn the Champ de Mars.

After the stress of riding the RER – our tickets had not passed through the ticket gizmo – we got out alive at Denfert where Max needed an immediate portion of stodge from the McDo there. Max went to school in France but that was a long time ago – too long to remember that a Big Mac is a Royale with cheese. He had the chicken nuggets instead which are called chicken nuggets and I had orange juice.

A few hours later it was time to eat again so we went to the Italian place on the other side of avenue du Maine, and it was nearly full of happy pizza fans. Anyway, that's what we had. Max complained that they weren't stiff enough to pick up – not like a toasted Frisbee – well, nothing much is perfect in France, is it?

Max Tests McDo's Again

Thursday:– After we got back from the club meeting I treated the group photos until it was news time. While I watched the TV–news for 70 minutes to see the 2–minute weather forecast, Max went off to the McDo to feed himself as he saw fit. When he got back he didn't say anything about it, and I didn't ask. He watched a bit of television while I composed a club report that was as true as most but obviously lacking exciting Stuff of the Week. Max fell asleep quite naturally once he lay down.

I should mention that our lives are not exactly parallel. Max wakes up earlier than me – who doesn't? – but it's cool because he can check out his animations on uTube and work on handpainting his shirt. This he does with a very small paintbrush and some black acrylic. He is going a freehand freeform design, and looks like a jeweler while he's doing it.

Max Has a Real Cheeseburger

Friday:– It's always a great day because I have to sleep in until noon. It's a major sacrifice I make on account of the club report. But there I was, bouncing out of bed at 11:15, because it was so bright and sunny. Waitaminute. Bright and sunny?

photo, concert stage, champ de mars Away, far away, the concert.

Yup. The old TV–weather news came through with a 100% forecast. The sky was full of innocent white fluffy clouds floating lazily around in a sky of guaranteed blue. I threw open the bathroom window wide and took a kilo of bananas, oranges and grapefruit and chopped them up in big bowls and poured some white yogi all over. A central American breakfast of champions.

Then of course, somebody phoned. So we had to wait around while the sunbeams were gaily dancing in the streets then then of course, there was another phone call that blew off the rendez–vous, so all that was left was going out and shopping for more bananas, oranges and grapefruit. But life was sweet.

The plan, for we had a plan, was to hit the Bastille at 21:00. But first we needed food, so we walked a whole two blocks to the Quinze and Max had a cheeseburger. Unlike Nigel, he had his with cheese. With that little chore taken care of, we scooted up to the Champs–Elysées to ride the big number one east to Bastille.

It was crowded but that is how the métro is on the eve of the Fête Nationale when the city puts on a free show, a concert of all the best musical acts Africa can offer in Paris on Friday, 13. July. But the Bastille, as big a place as it is, was not full. There was only about 10,000 folks there.

photo, 14 july, 600,000 folks at the champ de mars A quarter million too many.

Which was a few too many to be able to get a place to stand right in front of the stage. But. But they had two big screens up on either side of the stage so we could see who it was, and it seemed as if most of the crowd knew, but we didn't. "Let's hear it for Bamako!" they shouted and everybody cheered, and for Mali and Sénégal and all those great west African places.

They had costumes and odd instruments like, I think, an oude and a whole shebang of drums, you know the industrial glitter ones and the homemade ones you see in museums, and these were the guys – maybe dolls too! – that knew how to POUND those things. Then, just so you wouldn't think anything was primitive, they had some dudes with brass horns – like, maybe, Cubans, but I'm sure, louder. It was the loudest, stompiest, more rocking thing in town, out east, there in Bastille.

One act after another, more cheers for Africa, and maybe the crowd doubled and the smoke drifted out from the stage while the TV cameras on booms swivelled around like a robot gallows. Standing on the cobbles, hopping in place. Yeah, Africa!

Yeah, so much of that is enough. We left, passing the police in the dark, down to the Pont de Sully and seeing the winkle lights along the inky Seine ad went along the left bank to the west, passing great crowds around Notre Dame, lacking good African sounds, perhaps waiting for Sunday. Who knows?

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