Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Assignment: Big Pretty

















Describe British/ French beauty.
Describe British/ French good-looking people.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Following the hammereing footsteps.



I take the line twelve each day in Paris. I like the line twelve as it connects the 20th century artist and intellectual scene. No other metro line could possibly so elegantly trace the footsteps of artists as they moved down the hill from Montmartre to find refuge in the then cheap Montparnasse. The debut of the 20th century saw Montmartre as the center of the then sprouting avant-garde. Toulouse Lautrec sketched dancers and prostitutes serving the men attending the piano concerts of Claude Debussy and Erik Satie. The metro ran its first train in that first year of the new century but Erik Satie would never take the metro. He was known to walk home hours from piano concerts wearing his signature grey suit, carrying a hammer to avoid any unpleasantries. He walked home to the suburbs though, and with good reason, because as artists become more and more known, and as the artistic underworld became a fascination of the mainstream overworld, rent prices on the hill went up quickly. Dadaist found that although sound poems were revolutionary, they did not pay. They made there way down the hill, passing the intellectual torch across the exact same streets that the line twelve now runs, all the way down to Montparnasse. It was Hemingway first, criticizing the clientele at La Rotonde, full of posing amateurs, and praising those at Le Select, that first brought Montparnasse into the press, and then it was sightings of Sartre and Beauvoir, known for being social writers, quietly writing away into the desuetude in quiet corners of Montparnasse’s caf├ęs. These were what is now New York’s Brooklyn, Chicago’s Pilsen. This is where the artists could afford to live, and there they congregated. Now, seeping through the concrete and into the tunnels, the intellectual steam has all but evaporated. One is left now with a slower line, an out of date line, tracing history’s footsteps from beneath its very souls.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The London Underground
















I ride an awful long way on the Underground. I board the train at Stanmore, at the end of the Jubilee line. Transfer to the Bakerloo at Baker street, where I ride until Charing Cross. It's about an hour's trip. During that hour, it's almost impossible to read. Often I try and imagine what would happen if somehow, the individual carriage became stranded and eventually drifted into some sort of isolated Water World manic dystopia. I look at the businessmen around me and imagine them in that post-apocalyptic leather wear from the movies. I wonder who would mate with whom to enable procreation in our abandoned Jubilee line fringe society. Tonight I thought that the Pakisatani lady accountant would make with the Jonas brothers lookalike in the corner. The big burly Asian man with caterpillar eyebrows would probably rise to the ranks of village chief. Me? I would probably elect to serve as the historian and documentarian for our vanguard society.

The Underground used to be more fun. There used to be a Cadbury's chocolate vending machine on every platform. Hour-long rides were sugar-fueled mad fantasy camps. But all the candy machines have been removed since my last visit. What are we to do now? Imagine the lucid daydreams London Transit is depriving us of? While imagining the post-apocalyptic society in my train carriage, I can't help but think that I would have much more interesting daydreams should they be aided by Dairy Milk bars and chocolate Flakes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I love my metro.

What's the story behind your subway? What's its history? What's it like now? Is your underground best as a night owl or as a morning trooper, stuffed in, doing the sudoku? Did people always do sudoku on the EL? What did people do to occupy themselves when its red carpet was first unfurled or was the mere thing itself enough to fascinate?

Love your public transportation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"I'm Having Words" in England















In England, rather than say "we're in talks" or "we're discussing the topic" they say "i'm having words." It's so literal, isn't it?

There are a few things which have stood out as being particularly foreign to me here in London.

On TV the other night there was a sex education show. Standing next to the program's presenter there stood a naked woman who must have been 9 months pregnant. The presenter kept poking her in different places to show what happens if you poke a pregnant woman.

In the mornings, they actually play the song "London Calling" on the radio. The British are even literal musically.

And, if you're lucky, you can hear in-depth discussions on call-in shows of listeners' lucid dreams. The radio stations are public, nationally funded entities-- so at the end of the day, tax money pays for talk of dreams.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In France, they peel things.

In France, everyone peels apples, pears, potatoes, peaches, cucumbers, and anything else that one can peel. Now, I do not necessarily report this as a bizarre act. Perhaps one could have an aversion to the fuzziness of a peach or the juxtaposition of texture between the interior of the cucumber and its exterior lair. Perhaps. The perplexing part to me is this: why does no one in the States peel an apple and everyone in France does? I have never seen a French person eat a non-peeled apple just as I have never seen an American eat a peeled apple. Yes for pie or cobbler or any other delicious baked apple treat, Americans peel apples, but not for a simple snack.
So I asked a French woman why she peels apples.
“Did you know that no one in America peels apples?”
“No. We do here in France. Or at least, my mother did, so I do.”
“Why do you peel your apples? Just because of your mother?”
“No. I suppose they are too crunchy if you don’t peel them, too.”
“Too crunchy?”
“Yes.”
“In America, one of an apple’s merits is its level of crunchiness.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Assignment: First Impressions














Tim is now in Paris, and I am finally in London. We both have seen and heard some very strange things. Assignment: Report your initial findings of strange behavior in public, on the radio, inside the television box.

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