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Ballad of Rico

photo, matthew rose, vespa scooter, louvre by night Champion scooter jockey, Matt Rose.

No Wind In My Hair

by Ric Erickson

Saturday night:– Outside Grace's Matt suggested we take a café in one of the cafés. The sun was gone and the sky seemed purple overhead and the air was like sea at Collioure. We wouldn't be able to hear the waves lapping the golden sands but it still seemed like a good idea.

We gave up on the first big café terrace after five minutes and moved back across the street to a smaller café and a couple of guys adjusted themselves to free an outside table for us. It was pretty good sitting there and people came and went, and interesting people passed, and when we paid up the waitress relaxed a bit, no doubt seeing the end of a long day approaching.

But by then I had let Matt talk me into riding back to Montparnasse: on his Vespa. I don't know. It is supposed to be romantic riding around Paris with the top down and with the wind streaming through your hair.

photo, rico road warrior I want air in my hair.

Matt's scooter is fairly new but it is like one in La Dolce Vita, all round and black, with one little round headlight. And there I was, with two cameras, so he talked me into it. We got to the scooter and he lifted the beige seat and hauled out a helmet. It looked like a ball left over from a Mongol polo game. What sort of hair grease was already inside it?

I don't know when you were last on a scooter, shortsleeved riding around Paris on a Saturday night in the dark, but for me it was never. The only time was in a cratered parking lot on Ibiza and it scared me so much – the drop–dead clutch! – that after one trial tour I gave up and turned it back in.

There were little handles. They were fine for my hands but my feet lacked purchase. Going over cobbles some piece of metal stabbed my back. Going around corners, we leaned. Though Pigalle, down Amsterdam and along Auber and past the Opéra too fast to photograph – top speed 45 kph Matt said – and down to the Louvre where we stopped in the place du Carrousel so I could recompose my feet.

photo, paris by night from scooter Snap shot from scooter.

So that was a good couple of shots there. We got going again and bumped across the bridge and then Matt said we should see Orsay so we went west to do that and then turned into Solférino to get to the boulevard Saint–Germain. Then we went all the way down the Boulevard Raspail to downtown Montparnasse, past Le Dôme and some of the other places that the Montmartre artists used to carouse in.

That, I think, was the high point of my summer's excitement. Thanks, Matt!

On Sunday I rode the métro out to La Villette to hear some music. The bandstand has been moved from the wonderful place it used to be by the canals. But there were a lot of folks there, not for the view, so I suppose it was fine. If not, there were a number of groups under the trees hammering away at all sorts of drums. They never heard that "drums keep pounding in the brain" I think. Just some more free stuff in Paris in the summer.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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