There were no ice flows in the Seine that February–we were there in February? Crazy to be in Paris in the winter. Who goes to Paris in the winter? Many, though, it seemed, at least from the observations made in our wanderings–the lines for the Eiffel Tower were long–but it was cold, very f*%&ing cold. No ice flows, though; the Seine was gray, nearly charcoal in the gray light from the gray sky off the gray buildings and the gray stones of the bridges. We walked the water’s edge and feared falling in–at least, she did, drowning, as she said she feared, holding my hand tightly, I hesitate to say vice-like. I recall the vice my Uncle Francis had at his workbench in his basement in his house near the top of the hill that was the street they lived on in Pittsfield. What this has to do with anything I am saying here about Paris in the winter.
She said something about imagining falling in the waters of the Seine a few days before dropping my camera in an outburst of anxiety I still do not understand, perhaps I have forgiven her–I guess I have–how could I not have forgiven her for dropping my camera to the marble floor of the Louvre, which gallery were we in? Yes, I have forgiven even if I have not forgotten. What means either for the way she condemned us to severely restricted photos–she dropped the only camera with a zoom lens. What any of this has to do with the Angel of Death or Joan of Arc or the latter’s statue by the Seine I cannot say? What this has to do with being in Paris in February is another thing not herein at the moment addressed. Questions have a habit of leading to other questions and yet others again, the times I’ve gone round myself in myself a merry-go-round with me, gira, gira, I remember having heard an old Italian man say back in Brooklyn–the world, I should have known, is always, always, gira, gira, the same. Nothing new under the moon? I did look for Catherine Deneuve outside of Saint Sulpice.
I thought I saw the angel of death sitting perched on the gutters along the top edge of the building behind our hotel–the backs of each facing the other. Yes, I imagined an angel sitting perched on the gutter of the roof directly opposite our hotel room. I think I saw the angel sitting as I had imagined angels would have to sit perched, them having wings and all. Angles and pigeons–pigeons are doves I remembered, will remember again after this as my mother lay dying in her room–it wasn’t as if anyone in the hospital had any hope that she was really alive–I just kept her on life support for me, not for anyone else, a pigeon landed three days before she died. Pigeons are doves, doves, symbols of the Holy Ghost. I wrote a poem about this dove, a pigeon as pigeons look in New York, as pigeons look the same in virtually every city I’ve ever been in. I think I recall a pigeon circling the dome of Saint Joseph in Montreal now how many years ago, three-quarters of one score years ago?
But how does Michael fight Satan with those wings? Where does he keep them? How does an angel’s anatomy work . . . I looked down to the gray waters of the Seine from one or another gray bridge, at times following the gray stones into the river, many times the time we were there I looked, a gray bridge dipping into gray water, the flow of the Seine not as fast as the Hudson, I thought, or is it, I do not know.
The word ‘flow’ and the French for river fleuve are cognomen. What this has to do with Paris or how gray Paris was or whether or not there were ice flows in the Seine or the life of Jeanne D’Arc, the Maid Of Orleans, Joan of Lorraine; her statue by the Seine. It was cold, cold the day we stumbled on her going from gauche to droit.
How cold it was the day I remember now first seeing the statue of her by the Seine that February we decided to go to Paris–Paris in February–cold, very cold. It was gray for days–I mean, all ten days until the last day, the morning of our departure, yes, gray everywhere in all directions from atop the Arc du Triomphe, gray, gray and more gray as far as the eye could see from atop Montmartre just below Sacre Coeur.
When we had come in, it was drizzling, it was misty, gray again gray. It did not rain any of the other days we were there, I don’t recall, but it was as gray as the buildings were gray, the stones gray, the bridges gray, the Seine, gray–who goes to Paris in February? I mean, how fucking cold it was atop the Eiffel Tower–I do not recall shivering as we were, the only time I recall ever not being able to hand hold a wide aperture slow shutter shot with my AE-1.
Most of the photos in Paris were uneventful, the light was really shit on too many days, and she, yes, she, she dropped my fucking zoom lensed automatic Canon in the Louvre, from about the height of her knee or was it the middle of her thigh, the idiot I said to myself she was; impatient witch, I added I cannot say how many times recollecting this story in mind; must have had her period, no one is going to tell me is not valid or viable–I don’t remember. Do not tell me that some women are not mostly whacky during their periods because some of them are; and I do not know if there is a biology or physiology to explain it, or if it is a culturally informed expectation some women choose to live up to?
She should be a picture entry in the dictionary next to werewolf, hers coming virtually on the full moon–but then, were-wolf means man-wolf, does it not? If this were a story, I would write something like I watch the phases as they turn during the cycle from New to Full and when it turns waxing gibbous, I run to the store for fresh garlic. I sleep with a bunch of cloves under my pillow, she should know–she has always been temperfuckingmental, yes fucking mental. But this is not a story and a story and story that creeps along showing rather than telling. I want to tell–this is the tell I have chosen for you. Of course, I have forgiven her–that is what love is. And I cannot continue to miss the photos I had not the opportunity to take because she broke my camera. How could I still now a decade later.
But I loved Paris–we loved Paris, although I thought the people in Madrid were better looking in a general way, if you can be generally better looking, than the people in Paris. But it was February in Paris and we were in Madrid in July–another insanity or idiocy on our part. You probably do not have any idea how hot it was in Madrid that July unless you live in Reno. But what was the most disturbing about Paris, besides how beautiful it was–and beauty can be disturbing–was how champagne was no cheaper there than in New York. The fucking EU can shove itself up its ass. I mean, I can ride a bicycle to Champagne from Paris. I can leave after breakfast and get there before lunch. If there was ever a reason for the guillotine, this is one: chop the fucking heads off of the greedy CEOs of the companies that make champagne. Maybe they just haven’t caught on and should be charging more in New York, but as much as New York in Paris for champagne is criminal (–no, really, some systematic murder is necessary here, you might conclude, could, if Les Jacobins were your inspiration for social change).
How the f*%$ do people put up with it? We are a lot stupider than our parents and especially our grandparents and their grandparents. I remember when the price of beef was raised I forget how much when I was kid–to some unreasonable amount, of course. Instead of saying that this was just the way things were and paying the price it was raised to, people everywhere just left beef on the shelves and bought chicken instead. I mean it, they just left it rotting in the meat section and sellers began to cry out. Soon enough the prices of beef came down–but today? Do we have this in us to do this? No we do not. But really fuck them–this they we know are whom. Now it is fuck us and we are the ones helping them fuck us. But we did drink wine in Paris–we have always drunk a lot of wine in the time we have been together . . . and I recall three times the wine being eventful and the rest being uneventful, but not bad. Paris was great but not as great as I had hoped–too much of what we saw incidentally was the way all cities are becoming the same everywhere, an archipelago of tasteless, culture-lessness islands around the world reflecting the emblems of western bourgeois capitalist totalitarianism.
We made it to La Coupole, and at first they gave us a lousy table, but then when I ordered the wine and then matched the food to the wine in French we were switched to another table, a better table–they understood that I understood something and that I did not come to La Coupole with my tongue stuck up my ass. The French are funny, but the worst people and the most condescending people in Paris were not the French but the fuckers who are not French, and it was only these pieces of shit who pretended not to understand me when I spoke to them in French when no French-Frenchman misunderstood anything I was saying or trying to say . . . so I did say under my breath fuck you to Les Maghrebins in Pigalle on our way down from Monmartre or Saint Denis
Real pains in the ass, the non-French Parisians were, but then the French most likely have given them a hard time about their fucked up French, so then the shoe was on the other foot, and they could give me what the French have given them, but really, fuck them. I am tired of people on the fringe who feel they are entitled to be assholes or abusive or resentful in situations that call for simple courtesy–but then I see it on the subway in New York City time in and time again daily . . . where I must become the embodiment of The Man, being in some imaginations, the same white power they are allegedly fighting, mostly in their delusions about what besets them socially, politically and economically. But a semi-literate historically unaware culture of resentment is going to misapply its gripes as it loses its intellectual grip
I did prefer the French to les Maghrebins as I imagined Arab-Muslim-Frenchmen preferred their own people to the French in Paris–but then who wouldn’t prefer people who understood what he was trying to say over people who had to pretend they did not understand what I was saying. What I said to the French got response; what I said to Arab North Africans got a hard time–a hard time I have yet to give any one of the North African Arabs in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. But then, fuck them–fuck anyone who has to get himself a leg up by being an asshole. I can say though that I had just as much problem from Sephardim Jews in the Marais–real bastards, virtually every one, always trying to pretend they were better than Americans because the French must never let them forget that their French is not French. But I am not so sure about that either–because he French were fine wit me, I mean it. Really charming. Every other mother f*&%er from somewhere else was an asshole; and that I am not kidding about. (Sometimes I am inclined to block the letters in the word ‘fuck,’ and other times I am not so inclined and I let the letters go–I do not have a rhetorical position on the word in an essay. Sometimes it is appropriate, and other times it is not.)