Ways in which Paris is superior to New York: All others.
That, as you might imagine, is a tough thing for a dyed-in-the-wool New York-phile such as myself to admit, but it's true. Paris just got every single thing right, dudes.
In particular, I am a fan of drinking wine at heated sidewalk cafes at midnight. Of course, that's something I knew I would like before coming. Ditto the bread and cheese. Here's what I didn't expect: better yogurt. French yogurt makes the American-made stuff taste chemical and cloying. France has ruined Yoplait for me forever. Really, France? You have to scoop us on everything? Bastards. I suppose now we are even for your help with the Revolution. (Thanks for that.)
Things that are basically the same: the crowdedness, the energy, the pretentiousness.
Oh, and the hallway in our building is a circular staircase with doors on all sides, sort of at random, sort of like a hobbit hole. Old, worn wooden stairs. It was particularly like a hobbit hole for the first day and a half, before we discovered that there was a light switch. I cannot properly convey how dark and weird it was without light, other than to say "completely dark" and "very weird."
Basically, what you are looking at is an omelet. It's not called an omelet, it's called something else, but it is an omelet. MADE FROM UNICORNS. I ate all of it. Everything in this picture went inside me and I do not have any regrets. (Yes, the bread basket too. I am not about to let a little wicker slow me down.)
I wish the Internet would let me upload food. I hesitate to inform you that this crêpe citron was, like the omelet, made from unicorns, but it was. I'm not saying I'd punch a baby for another one of these, but I'm not saying I wouldn't.
So Paris has, you know, a lot of buildings, and by and large the buildings have doors. On the first full day in town, we walked all over with two of Lindsay's friends, native Parisians, and I started taking pictures of the many different doors, no two of which were alike.
Obviously, the city is an architecture nerd's wet dream. Lindsay's friend Greg knows a lot about architecture, and when I was taking this picture, he was explaining to me why most buildings have balconies on the 2nd and 5th floors only. It would have been terrific, wouldn't it, if I had been paying attention and could now relay that information to you? However, I was probably still obsessing about the goddamned doors. (Doors are like snowflakes!)
BACK TO THE FOOD PORN THING AND IN FACT TAKING IT A LITTLE TOO FAR BUT WHATEVER
I totally saw a dude my own age walking down the street just gnawing away on the end of a baguette while talking on the phone. It was so weird and adorable. And actually, not pornographic in the slightest. He just looked like a) he was in a hurry and b) he really, really liked bread. The baguettes are good enough to eat like a lollipop? I'm on board.
I GUESS I WAS EXPECTING WE WOULD ALL COMMUNICATE THROUGH HAND SIGNALS ONLY
I for some reason did not anticipate how the inability to talk to people was going to affect the way I interact with the world. Today at the Paris Modern I found myself standing behind a guy who was in my way, and I wanted him to move, but I could not make the words "excusez-moi" come out of my mouth. I felt ridiculous, since this is something that would 100% never happen on my home continent. On the metro, in cafes, in museums, I find myself maintaining this absurd silence so people will assume I am not too dense to communicate with them. Which of course is out the window the second anyone tries to say anything to me. Cowed, yielding silence is a completely unheard of mode of being for me, and it's an interesting, not altogether bad experience. It is anything but comfortable, though. Largely, what it does is make me realize how incessantly I must be running my bagel-hole while on American soil.
AND SPEAKING OF BAGEL-HOLES
So we're at a sidewalk cafe, any sidewalk cafe, drinking wine, and it's late, and three well-dressed (what a non-adjective that's become in the last three days by the way) people stumble past and one of them stops in front of our table already in the process of addressing a monologue at me. I stare at him and say, with some actual regret, because he is charming in an intelligently drunk sort of way, "Je ne comprends pas," and then he totally laughs at me and asks where I am from. Then he starts railing in English about how much New York City sucks. Enchante, monsieur.
I try to tell him that I agree his city wins, but he is teetering on the drunk side of the intelligent/drunk seesaw, and getting more and more wine-loud, and his friends are pulling at him and saying things in embarrassed tones and our carafe is empty anyway, so I stand up and say something about how my feet are all wet, which is true, and how we have to be getting back, which isn't.
I really must learn French so I can come back someday and find out what all the drunk French people are saying.
New Favorite French Word: Tuileries. It's a metro stop on our line, and there is something about the way the announcer robot says it that I find soothing. "Tweel-ree." I could just be happy riding the metro and listening to her say that word over and over. See how I am hitting all the really important attractions! Have not been to the Tour Eiffel yet, or Notre Dame, or the Louvre, but have really been enjoying the metro's announcer robot immensely.
Greg stopped a random passerby and asked her to take this photo for us. Initially, she looked put out about the situation, but Greg explained this was just MetroFace, since by the end of the encounter she was smiling. MetroFace is widely practiced by city-dwellers, and has tons of applications, like when you want to sidestep the "Hey do you guys like comedy?" dudes in Times Square.
They are doing MetroFaces, they do not all hate me.
The apartment we're renting is adorable and very tastefully decorated, although it is a bit like living in an Ikea display. On the plus side (very plus), floor-to-ceiling white curtains and side-opening windows with no screens. Swoon.
Pulpissimo is the new awesome. Tell your friends.
BATHROOM-RELATED THINGS IN PARIS WHICH HAVE NOT IMPRESSED ME
1. No bidets encountered so far. Nary a one.
2. Public sinks operated by floor pedal. It's a good idea, insofar as not having to touch the faucet, but when I go to turn on the water and I am tipsy, I never think to look for the knob on the floor. Unless I am very tipsy in which case I have bigger problems than germs.
3. I'm sure we're all pretty particular about showering, right? And water temperature? Here's something you do not know about me unless you are one of my last two boyfriends: I like shower water to be slightly hotter than I can actually stand. I don't know why. Something pathological, probably. I have trained myself to enjoy being almost scalded every day. Anyway, the water situation in our apartment here is deeply problematic. It gets hot enough, but it only stays that way for about ten minutes. During my first shower in the apartment, I was standing around with a head full of conditioner when the water temperature went sub-Arctic with no warning. If you happened to have been standing right outside the bathroom door at the time, you were likely entertained by the noises I made.
REQUISITE PHOTOS OF ART, JEEEEEEZE
I liked the Paris Modern, but I think MoMA edges them out, if only slightly. They're due for a building redesign, for one thing. I also spent an inordinate amount of time, given my age of 32, looking at the word "oeuvre" on little describey plaques and pretending to myself that the curators were talking about eggs and laughing.
My favorite paintings and installations at modern art museums tend to be ones like this and this. I wish I could pretend that I see some deeper meaning in canvasses that are all one color and high contrast geometric paintings that, as blunderers in art museums like to claim, "anyone could make." But I don't, really. The truth is, I just like them and I don't know why. The less sense it makes, the less meaning that can be found in it, the happier I feel when I look at it.
What is more pretench than taking pictures inside an art museum? I guess only posting them on your blog with snarky captions.
Skateboarders at the Modern. The building exterior is all marble in its serious-art-museum way, yet they have not bothered to remove the skateboarders (or graffiti) from this courtyard. Dig it.
I can't tell whether this artist saw the Chrysler Building before making this couch or not.
I loved this piece the most, because I love imagining that the artist was upset about having received a commission and decided to tell the curators, through art, that they could go fuck themselves.
THAT DUDE IS NOT CHARLIE. WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO KID, YOU PRETENTIOUS BASTARDS. I'm surprised they didn't rename it "What The Dickens, Alphonse Seems To Have Run Off Again!" As you can probably tell (and perhaps endorse), I was both very mad about this and very close to buying it.