Friday, 23 September 2005, 17:31
Since I don't have all my paperwork together, I skipped dealing with the Prefecture for today and instead ordered DSL (will have it in 8 days! w00t! 512K, though. I wonder if it will be fast enough for VOIP) and then rode my bike to the Arc de Triomphe. On the way, we passed the Joan of Arc Statue behind the Louvre. I stopped and took a few pictures. I've been wanting to see that statue for years, except now I can't remember why. La Pen places flowers there every May 1st, thus doing a right-wing hijack of both Jean d'Arc AND International Workers Day. There's something else important about the statue. I should have brought my Joan of Arc books with me.
The Champs-Elysées is a wide, broad, scary, traffic-filled street, filled with insane car drivers heading as fast as possible for a gigantic, lawless traffic circle of doom. I got behind a perfectly insane bicyclist who was cutting in and out of traffic. Every time he cut in front of a car, I did too. And every time I cut in front of a car, it almost hit Cola. So brilliant. Or not at all, really. And no helmets.
We walked around the base of the arc, but did not ascend. The tomb of the unknown soldier from WWI is there. And there was gigantically huge flag of France hanging down from the center, billowing in the wind. It sort of made me feel patriotic, but uh . . I'm not French. Confusing.
We biked over to the Princess Di monument and had lunch nearby. The princess Di monument is actually a scale model of the Statue of Liberty torch (remember the statue was gift from France) which happens to be almost directly over the spot where she died. I've been there once before, 4 years ago. There were more flowers and whatnot then. Maybe people are beginning to forget Di. But we must never forget!
Then we went over to the Eiffel Tower. The Rough Guide informed me that at 300 meters tall, the tour was the tallest building in the world when it was constructed for a World Fair in the late 19th century. It was supposed to be temporary but became useful as a telecom antenna tower. No really. It's covered with cell antennas at the top now.
We bought ice cream and sat on the grass below it, in the shade. The weather has been really lovely and warm the entire time I've been here. The chestnut trees are dropping chestnut on the ground and loosing their leaves, but they just turn brown and fall off. It's not like the east coast of the US. Autumn in New York. Springtime in Paris.
I have a picture of my mom, my grandma and my grandma's three cousins standing in the same park in the 1960s with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Everyone in that picture is dead now.
We decided to bike over to the city museum of Modern Art, which is free. The Avenue de New York is even scarier than the Champs-Elysées. I thought for sure I was on a freeway or someplace where bikes were not allowed. The tunnel where Di met her end in a high-speed crash is on this same Avenue, not far down from where I was riding. We were passing the museum on the other side and I became very alarmed and stopped to get off the street and onto the sidewalk. I stopped too suddenly. Cola was hit by another bike and nearly hit by a car. There was a 3 bike accident behind me, which I caused. Nobody was hurt.
The museum is closed until the 10th of October. The museum next to it, which has 1€ admission for art students is closed until the 7th of october. So we biked home.
Biking in Paris is actually pretty scary. Some places they have helpfully separated bike and bus lanes which are protect from the rest of traffic. Except 72193647839264 taxicabs which seem to also be allowed to use it and motor scooters who go wherever they want anywhere including sidewalks, etc. And the busses. The bike cost the same as 100 metro rides. 96 more bike rides to go.
I have a cold. Stayed indoors all day yesterday and watched TV. The plots of cop shows are generally easier to follow than other programs. Dubbed American cop shows are even easier to follow because the French vocal talent is miced very closely and clearly and also the cultural conventions are ones that I'm used to. If you watch a stupid american cop show, it makes you dumber. But if you watch it in French, it makes you smarter, or at least theoretically makes your French better. I also watched French cop shows. All cop shows all day. Channel 2 is the cop channel. Anyway, now I'm scared to go outside. One of the shows was trying it's derndest to make Paris look gritty. The relied a lot on greenish lighting. Cola is now frightened of the Paris police. Apparently, they shoot people with little cause and detain people for no reason and beat them in jail, you know, on TV . . ..
Today, I thought I'd set up a bit of computer music at my desk. Oh my god the wiring it sketchy. The three prong plug (lies!) has a very thin lamp extension cord as it's sole source of electricity. No grounding. The little Ikea lamp plugged into the outlet actually has a thicker cord. So . . . I need to run an extension cord from the other room (heh, where the wiring might be just as sketch), or just risk overloading the itty bitty wire and causing a fire. Have I mentioned that there are no smoke detectors in my apartment? No fire extinguisher. None of the bicyclists wear helmets. France is a dangerous country.