Overheard in Paris, Bears, Baguettes, Locks and Gawks

It’s a rainy night here. Rain’s pinging on the roof. Presumably the pigeons are roosting under cover. It’s mid-afternoon Ottawa time, during John Lavery’s CD launch in Gatineau.

quiet evening
It’s a rosy evening.

Who could resist a blue rose, even knowing it is dye in the water?

In subways and streets, it’s as common to see under the arm as a baguette. Business people or commoners, adult or child, everyday there are kids trundling bouquets of flowers nearly their size. There are pairs of young boys walking home alone carrying a singe rose or small bundle of blossoms. There’s something endearing about people embracing flowers so literally. There are flower beds in backdoor gardens everywhere.

Partly I’d like to think that is a love for beauty, for nature. Partly it’s also probably that Paris’ nickname could be le pissoir. Sewer smells are pretty common – and dog or humans urinating randomly, or at necessity of intervals of options for the homeless – and slightly more common than florists.

Our plans didn’t go all the intended direction. But new plans rose.

yiddish breads
We got these.

challas in the window
A family business for 150 years, La Boutique Jaune de Sacha Finkelsztajn, fell across our path just as the synogogue let out. There were long lineups out each restaurant door in the neighbourhood.

Ron in the park with a baguette
We met Ron by happenstance of our wandering. We had lunch together in the park. Ron thinks he’s a Rhino. He has a special attachment to them, much as Dali did.

He’s was adopted from L’Ours du Marais where there’s thousands of bears from part of an inch long to a couple feet, of all moods and types and prices.

L'Ours de Marais
I’d set them all free from behind glass if I could get them all homes.

While in the Metro a young woman and her beau seemed to be showing her parents her town. They spoke Manderin and I could catch some of it. The father was a senior and found his wife a place to sit while they waited. They seemed tired and disoriented. When the subway train came, it was packed. When we all crammed in as well, the father perked up and remarked cheerfully, this is just like Zhengzhou.

the bridge of locks
Pont des Artes where there are thousands of locks clicked to the chain link sides to commemorate a person’s visit, an anniversary, a couple’s declaration of intent to marry in the future or to love forever. Some are using permanent marker, some scratched into the metal, some formally engraved.

A group of Spanish youth sat on the bridge in a circle with guitars singing So Long Marianne. Other knots of conversational groups were here and there over the arc near sunset.

the photo that got away
This is the photo that got away.

It looks like it’s there, doesn’t it? But I saw another photo coming. I had to change lenses and didn’t get in time the shot as an old man with canes was approaching from the back of the scene. I expected he would either look a the statue or look away, but either way it would be a nice contrast of young and old male with a statue of female between. (he looked) but I was too slow.

This was taken in the Petit Palais, which contrary to what the American on cell phone was telling his daughter – that it was built hundreds and hundreds of years ago and lived in by many kings and queens – it was built for the world exhibition in 1900.

At the building, for the last day tomorrow is a show on Charlotte Perriand – what an incredibly impressive person. She worked with Corbusier in the 30s and moved onto Japan, and various nations and projects as a professional free spirited designer into her 90s.

thanking everyone
It’s almost a week ago already that we saw Cécile Besnard, Soprano, in that phenomenal dress with Orchestre Les Violons de France.

After the concert a pre-teen who kept skipping circles around the adult conversation then begun tugging and whining for money for a prayer candle. She got her 2 euros and got a long tapered one which she didn’t light. She took it out into the night with her swashing it about like sword and babbling a spell and pointing it like Harry Potter. It was a strange mix of sacrilege and innocent cute. The mom was looking too tired to protest anything else that night.

The concert was held in Eglise de la Madeleine, the church that nearly never was a few times. It got foundations razed at least 3 times as redesigns or changing times wrestled over the site. It was considered for a tribute to Napoleon, or a train station.

It must be hard to live in such layered recorded history. Everyone’s timelines on top of someone’s so that you can’t build without impinging on something and yet it keeps building, erasing, building.


Over the next 6 to 8 weeks, I have a lot on the go. (Maybe I can sleep in the second half of November) I expect to be challenging myself to remember not to fret it. It’s all small stuff. Adapting and taking breaks and non-equivocal walk-aways when I need a break will be the order of the day more than normal.

Perhaps I’m mad to try to do 5 poetry readings in 2 weeks. But if I didn’t enjoy it, why bother. I think I’m going to have to re-embrace the guiding principles of healthy hedonism.

You can vote up my poetry blog here or explore others from that link.

Quote: “It’s easier to find a new audience than to write a new speech.” ~ Dan Kennedy at QB

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