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Багатство і престиж 15/11/2011

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Leçons Culturelles.
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What the Hell is Wrong with You?

Come see The Montmartre of Kyiv! Whichever enterprising copywriter conceived that golden gem must have a monument raised in their honor. What else but brilliant advertising could convince the touring masses of the world to slip and stumble along cracked cobblestones down a street of dust and unsavory characters?

Politicians responded with a funicular to spare the overfed any exercise climbing Andriyivskyy Descent. Public works of yesterday which civilized this sharp slope with a winding road cannot keep up with the growing monied masses, and Kyiv would like more monied masses please. Buildings which have been sagging since the neighborhood began in the 17th century are swaddled in scaffolding. Plans have been made to install glistening concrete sidewalks. Soon the small cafes will expand and add neon to their windows, the boutiques will hire English-speaking students and death squads will cart dog carcasses to the incinerators. (more…)

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Tuer le Temps 05/06/2010

Posted by brendan in La Vie en Paris.
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Periode de Transition

Before I was an illegal tenant I was an early illegal tenant. Robin’s collection of boxes served as desks by sitting close enough to the window I could use the civic wifi with borrowed accounts. Bibia and Julien were extraordinarily kind about letting me move in, leaving me a strand of Christmas lights and digging out a plate from the trash so I could not eat off old magazines. (more…)

La Première Neige 20/12/2009

Posted by brendan in La Vie en Paris.
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Ma Première Ville Neigeuse

People said it would snow, but they were my roommates who have no experience in the matter. Repeat denials of the possibility may have been proven wrong but it did allow me a morning surprise when I opened the storm shutters and saw the neighboring rooftops. Instead of the dread which had greeted each glance at a weather report, I was filled with a childlike glee watching flakes fall and collect.

Fortunately the wind was still, not blowing over the top of Montmartre and creeping between the edge of your hat and the edge of your collar. People walked along, avoiding patches of packed ice that consumed the sidewalks. Heading up the hill I slipped and shuffled past little old ladies defiantly wearing little old lady dresses, fighting gravity’s pull as they carefully descended. The young at heart had decorated parked cars with profane messages. Inexpertly crafted snowballs sailed and laughter rang through the frozen air. (more…)

Obtention Perdu 01/12/2009

Posted by brendan in La Vie en Paris.
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On Top of the World

Recovering from a cold I found myself slumped against the window on the 4. Aaron had forwarded me a link to the Criterion website announcing a retrospective on Guy Maddin at Centre Pompidou. That was exciting, but through the magic of links I discovered that tonight was the one night only special screening of Brand Upon the Brain! complete with live orchestra, a castrato and narration by Isabella Rossellini.

This unbelievable event was taking place at Théâtre l’Odéon. When exiting the station I expected to find myself cowering beneath some monumental structure but instead was standing on a multi-laned boulevard lit from one end to the other with cafes and bars and restaurants. There were two multiplexes squaring off from one another but neither promised the majesty anticipated. I walked past both peering at signs written in foreign begging for a familiar name. After a couple blocks in various directions I found a map fixed to the side of a broken public toilet and discovered that the apparent namesake for the district was several blocks removed from its Metro stop.

Physically locating the building took several attempts, wrong turns, narrow streets curving so as to obstruct my view of the next block, and passing the same places two or three times. I stopped in a Tabac and gave someone a light on a corner but I was too timid to ask where I was trying to go. They probably would have directed me to the Metro. After my second or third consultation with a toilet map I did find the Théâtre. It was not the sort of place where you can walk up and buy a ticket. (more…)

Le Marché Noir 13/11/2009

Posted by brendan in La Vie en Paris.
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Cafe d'Albert

Cafe d’Albert is down the street on the corner of Ordener. Hours after landing I walked in, had difficulty getting the barrista to understand I wanted an espresso, and then drank two. The staff has since warmed up to my persistent presence with some members greeting me, “ça va” and one even agreeing to have a drink with me– all except the stuck up guy won’t acknowledge my existence because I’m not a blonde girl.

Prima-donnas aside, d’Albert would never be confused with your stereotypical Parisian cafe, all stiff shirts and linens. It’s down home, has its resident lost causes, and always has a sports game playing on the flatscreen. It’s comfortable, even if only one person there knows my name. (more…)

Du Côté Nord de la Ville 09/11/2009

Posted by brendan in Leçons Culturelles.
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Plus Errant

We’re living on the northern border of Paris, around the corner from Jules Joffrin in the greater Montmartre area. My previous experience had found me in the southern outskirts with the impression that everything closes by dusk, and everything is a pain to get to. Thankfully the differences between the southlands and here couldn’t be more extreme. (more…)