Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Meet Enjolras Bebe!

Enjolras Bebe is the nickname I have given my blond-haired, blue-eyed 2-year-old host brother, as he has displayed socialist tendencies well above his age-level, much like Victor Hugo's golden-haired, blue-eyed student rebel/incarnation of the logic of the French Revolution in Les Miserables. Though I don't think Enjolras Bebe will be building a barricade and leading a failed Saint-Simonist/Neo-Jacobin/Democratic-Bonapartist student uprising against an abusive, autocratic constitutional monarchy, he has proven his social awareness multiple times:


Me: So we will play with the cars?
Enjolras Bebe: No, no, the trains. Play with the trains.
Me: Why not the cars?
Enjolras Bebe: No, no, it's bourgeois! *sends toy car flying across the room*


Enjolras Bebe: *playing with the toy car my parents got him for Christmas* Bourgeois, bourgeois, bourgeois....
Housekeeper: Enjolras Bebe! Move the car, it's time for dinner. *puts down salad bowl*
Enjolras Bebe: Ah, that is good! *throws away car, begins eating cucumbers from the salad bowl*
Housekeeper:Enjolras Bebe! That is not for you!
Enjolras Bebe: No?
Housekeeper: No.
Enjolras Bebe: *after a moment of intense thought* It is for all of us. *dumps a handful of masticated cucumber onto my plate*


Me: Enjolras Bebe, where did you get that mop?
Enjolras Bebe: The closet. *pushes mop around the floor of my room* It's dirty. *raises up mop* The light is dirty.
Me: No, the light is clean.
Friend: *having heard the bourgeois story from me* Are you being a proletariat?
Enjolras Bebe: *blank look*
Me: Are you bourgeois?
Enjolras Bebe: No, I have to work. *mops the mirror*


Me: Enjolras Bebe, what are you doing?
Enjolras Bebe: *unrolling a roll of paper towels across the floor* Making a train.
Me: Out of napkins?
Enjolras Bebe: Yes.
Me: You cannot make a train out of napkins.
Enjolras Bebe: *indignant* Can! Napkins are bourgeois! Trains are for everyone!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

why I like the rue Michelet...

often, I find myself on the rue Michelet, despite the fact that I take no classes there. it is, however, one of my favorite streets in paris for many a reason. these are a few of them:

1. the christmas tree graveyard-- in the corner of one of the jardins de l'observatoires is, piled about the same height as me, old christmas trees. their pine needles are practically across the street, and I'm always seeing people jumping in the pile. something beyond my comprehension, but whatever.

2. the hordes of angsty french youngsters. all sporting their shades of black and smoking in between classes.

3. the fact that, at night, you can see groups of teens sneak into the gardens and wreak havoc...

4. and finally, my favorite person in paris. the clapping lady as I have now just named her. there is a little old woman, who at night, goes around the entire gardens. but she doesn't do this in any old normal fashion, she does it backwards and all whilst clapping. she claps twice, takes two steps back, repeat. and not once does she look behind her. she is, in a word, my hero.

Monday, January 11, 2010

oh, to be an american in paris, and watch an american in paris

an american in paris
is not the best of movie musicals. it is weighed down by:
  1. really, really cheesy stereotypes of frenchness. and strange little dough pucks being passed off as croissants.
  2. equally cheesy painter tropes. jerry mulligan, the main character, played by gene kelly, is an artist and he lives in a garret, borrows money from his friends, and sells his paintings on a montmartre corner. were i to catalogue said paintings, i would have to mention a shocking number of pictures of the opera garnier and the seine.
  3. people forever saying things like "ah! paris..." or "paris has ways of making you forget" or, in response to an expressed need for wine and women, "that shouldn't be hard--we are in paris after all."
  4. tiny humorous moments of 50s studio blindness, like a love scene by the seine in which the lovers voices sound almost exactly as if they were on a metro-goldwyn-mayer set...
but in spite of all this, one american girl in paris with long-standing crushes on both gene kelly and leslie caron found seeing an american in paris in an actual cinema (la filmothèque du quartier latin, highly recommended, which has two rooms, one decorated in blue with a picture of audrey hepburn, the other in red with a picture of marilyn monroe, which is certainly one way to sum up movies, women, and life) to be quite the pleasantest way possible to spend a grey afternoon.

for further, more eloquent, explanation of this feeling, readers are referred to david sedaris's essay "the city of light in the dark" in his me talk pretty one day. do not seek elucidation in a summary of the essay, however. anyone who has ever read david sedaris will understand why this little abstract, here...

Going to cinemas in Paris, France, can be as culturally enriching as visiting Parisian landmarks such as Notre Dame or the Picasso Museum. A discussion of the wide variety and good quality of films is presented. Some 250 pictures per week are shown, a third of which are in English.


...entirely misses the mark.

but i must fly--i'm off to see brigadoon!

*it should be noted that an american in paris won a best picture oscar. i suppose the enjoyability bit won them over, but there's no accounting for standards.