Wednesday, April 18, 2007

post-paris post: part1

tardy again, i know. life keeps geting hijacked by unexpected but well-paying work so every time i almost catch up, something else falls in my lap. and i can't really complain about that.
so. paris...
allow me to preface this adventure by explaining that i went to paris with a pulled groin because of my last shakespeare performance before our trip. it shoulda been cool because it was @ the secondary schools shakespeare festival on the performance day for the youths i directed, so their surprise was seeing me perform too. and we'd planned to do our very cool scene from richard3 (richard woos anne over the corpse of her father-in-law who he killed after killing her husband; she knows) which my youths woulda loved. but @ the last minute, already onstage, our boss decided we should do kung-fu macbeth instead. now, if this means nothing to you, it's like rehearsing dangerous liasons then unexpectedly performing charlie's angels. without a proper warmup. plus, i had to admit to the gremlin in person shortly thereafter, that i pulled my groin doing kung-fu macbeth...i mean, we know the scene from doing it last season, but we haven't rehearsed it since, and haven't needed to be that limber in a year. so i pulled my groin doing some ralph macchio shit.
then, i got to play the victim in a racial discrimination scene @ dulles on the way out, reminding me of 1 of the reasons i hate usa and will prob'ly never return once i get the fuck out. then nico was lame and didn't lime+smoke by zed with us on our night in london; i was already writing the interview in my mind but he denied the power of decades of friendship with some weak claim of being under the weather. i was thrilled to see zed+chad on our night in london, but overall, the trip didn't get off to a stellar start for me.
but we did excellently cool shit in paris. in no particular order:
weird moment in london, boarding the eurostar for paris- going through security, the woman @ the luggage x-ray asks, "how old are you?" now, the question's not ridiculous, it's just that there was no preface and it's a somewhat intrusive questions to be so abruptly asked by someone who's never spoken a word to you before. so i asked "why?"- turns out you can't travel alone on eurostar unless you're over 18, and she was in doubt about my legality and didn't think grims was fatherly enough. is it like that on other trains? can a minor not travel alone on amtrak from ny to d.c.? because you can get on an airplane and fly from trinbago to barbados, jamaica, usa, europe, wherever, alone.
we visited montmartre to see sacre coeur which is also near that artists' square with all the red umbrellas you see in movies. sacre coeur was, of course, beautiful- i was let down by the view of paris from sacre coeur after climbing all those fucking steps with a pulled groin but it was a slightly cloudy and smoggy day, and still, the stained glass alone was worth the trip. and in the alley next to the church, somebody was being a purple-turbaned still-life deity, which was a pretty fun backup view. we ate an ok-ish but ridiculously overpriced (55euros!) light lunch in the square and went to the dali museum. i adore salvador dali's work, and grims is similarly enamoured, so we were in our element.
the dali collection was as good as i hoped, as were pieces by other artists bigging-up dali, except for loris azzaro's hideous woman in flames, and "queen of knitwear" sonia rykiel demanding a rose be named after her when her dali dress was so awful (i know nothing of her other work; i guess i'm not of the knitwear court). otherwise, the art was good. what drove me crazy were the myriad typos, motion-sensor light on pieces that decided for itself when there was nobody watching anymore and shut itself off, text about pieces partially tucked behind display cases and thus unreadable, art displayed without information about itself or its artist, and a piece hung so that a large part of it extolled in the typo-filled details was completely invisible. i mean, for fuck's sake, people, you're presenting great art and its background to the world- get that shit right! and neither the dali nor the erotic museum had a good grasp on optimal painting height, or light reflection off glass. and as for said erotic museum...speaking of lack of information and typos, they mostly knew where stuff was from but little else until they got into very recent history, then when they decided they knew something, text was posted willy-nilly with no sense of continuity or context. holy shit, they make trying to educate yourself hard. but with all that, the erotic museum was cool too. 4-foot penis, 5floors of sex-related art and objects, open until 2am (i think) in pigalle, on the same strip as moulin rouge.
i had wonderful provencal-style stuffed mussels @ au pied de cochon and grims had "the temptation of st.anthony" (patron saint of sausage-stuffing) which included pig's ear, foot, snout and tail, and it was all so good. and so nice to have that quality meal after midnight; the 24hour places i can ordinarily eat @ are diners. grims says they also make a wicked french onion soup; he vouches for the claim that it's the best in paris (i hate onions; stick with chives). plus, their favours are the cutest little pink piggy soupees (meringues).
the 1st serious meal we had was @ chez pauline, traditional french cuisine. i don't remember the name of my meal, but it was pork that was wonderful with the sauce served with it, and completely bland without. i understand that sometimes a dish isn't intended to be deconstructed, but no bite of a meal should be bland. but with the sauce, it was yummy. and grims' beef bourgogne was lovely.
for real though, for all their claims of being a grand cultured civilisation, french service is shit. @ almost every place we ate i was either asked (literally) immediately what i wanted before even opening a menu, then repeatedly, then harassed while i was obviously still parsing it, or i'd close my menu, choice made, and wait 15minutes before anybody came to ask what we wanted. sometimes we'd wait forever just for a waiter and menu, as if they were unsure what we'd come into a restaurant for. at pinxo, she opted to repeatedly harass me while i was still reading my menu, including one occasion where i was obviously hunched over in the process of trying to fit a bulky object into a tightly-packed backpack. i would have beat her, but the fresh radishes they serve with pepper @ every table were interesting enough to save her. and my veal sweetbreads with chickpeas and whatever grims had were very good.
one of few waiters who didn't almost ruin my appetite was emmanuel neveu @ angelina's- their petit dejeuner is why breakfast was created and their smoked salmon sandwich and signature hot cocoa are amazingly delicious too. i would eat there every day, and i'm sure their bakery makes fabulous confections to take home.
we also liked la verre luisant @ 64 rue de la verrerie in the 4e- found it en route to pompidou and liked it so much we went back after- fresh caramel popcorn @ the tables, decorated with books and show posters and suchlike, brazilian flag and strong caipirinhas, good wine, grims had a cassoulet so good he was inspired to come home and make it because we needed more, which i'm thrilled with, and i had wonderful noix de petoncles en cassolette. it's definitely my favourite paris bar. and we had a hot waiter.
a petit pont was the other real bar we checked out (latin quarter) and was pretty ordinary, except for a waiter named eyuhl who looked remarkably like a healthy version of an ex of mine (diabetic skinnywhiteboy, so any other version of him could only be healthier) who delighted us with his personality and the knowledge that we could get our bottle of muscadet to go. oh, and the lounge singer and pianist in darkers covering everything from stevie wonder to somewhere over the rainbow to my way (the last in french with unrequested segue to english during the 1st chorus)- which reminds me that we heard the best one-man rendition of proud mary ever on drum-kit, trumpet+accordion as we came off the bridge across the seine to dip down and cross under the rue de rivoli to get back to the jardin des tuileries.
our neighbourhood was right by the louvre and felt like it was near a chinatown- very interesting mix. knowing that european hotel standards are lower than american, we'd looked @ photos online and chose the prince albert louvre for location, affordability and amenities, then just hoped for the best. on arrival, i was happy to find the room and bathroom bigger than expected, until night fell and we learned that the prince albert louvre's heat (which they only turn on @ night with no in-room control) was broken. as an asthmatic, cold, dry air is harder for me to breathe and spring is always difficult with pollen and shit, plus i hate nothing more in the world than cold+hunger. i coudn't breathe well enough to get a good night's rest. it was saturday, and they said nobody'd come on a sunday, so the 1st night we'd possibly have heat was monday. i was miserable.
on monday, they said somebody came and fixed it, which we believed, since the deafening noise of dudes literally drilling into the hotel wall outside our window woke us by 8am with no warning from hotel staff, but we checked all monday night since our room remained freezing, and heat never came on- a 3rd miserable night, after a miserable morning.
when i complained again on tuesday, i found out that part of monday's fixing required the dude to go into each room and manually drain the radiators, and since we'd asked housekeeping to stay out of our room because we didn't need fresh towels and soap every single day, they didn't go in and drain ours; so the hotel had heat on monday night, just not our room. after finally having heat for the 1st time on tuesday night, i woke up wednesday morning and found there was no hot water. i went down to query and was told it just stopped and they'd called the dude to fix it but he hadn't arrived yet. i had an icy cold shower. i was pissed. with my pulled groin...
in spite of which, since we were there, we went to notre dame and stood in a lame line for 45minutes and climbed the 422 steps to the top. with a pulled groin. actually, with that pulled groin and almost-constant low-grade asthma attack we also walked from the jardin des tuileries via place de la concorde up the champs elysees to the arc de triomphe, and through the catacombs, and the louvre and several other museums- i'll get to all that- for now, i'm pausing here- i need a break, and this is prob'ly way too much text in the interest of readability anyway, so post-paris post: part2 sooncome.
walk good.


Blogger angel said...

paris sounds fantabulous trini! i really want to go there one day...
and i love the pics of you on your hubby's page!

8:07 am  
Blogger crazyfool said...

i'ma little surprised you didn't smack the shit outta someone, be it waiter or hotel employee. the food and art sound incredible. an amazing experience i'm sure.

11:22 am  

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