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Living with Color in Paris 2009

When I looked up at the pharmacy sign at the corner of my street on new year’s day that changes every few seconds from the date to the temperature to the time, it was 1-1 for the date, 1 degree for the temperature and 11:11 for the time. When you add 2+0+0+9, you get 11. It was a sign.

“Numerologists believe that events linked to the time 11:11 appear more often than chance or coincidence. This belief is related to the concept of synchronicity. Other authors believe it is an auspicious sign and others that it signals a spirit presence.” ( )

Regardless of what you believe or don’t, there’s no question that 2009 is going to be an interesting year with all that we already know will take place and all that we don’t know will take place!

It’s already been an eventful four days since New Year’s Eve when with friends we saw Leonard Bernstein’s 1944 classic musical “On the Town” at the Théâtre du Châtelet — the first time it’s been performed in France, ending with last night’s performance.

It was a first time having seen a play at this theater, and coincidentally (or synchronistically) bumped into several friends who had the same bright idea for a fun New Year’s Eve. We were at inexpensive seats in the “nosebleed” section, but it didn’t matter — the theater is beautiful and the performance was top class.

New Year’s day was quietly spent at home hibernating from the cold and re-organizing affairs for today’s start back to work. Over the weekend, friends arrived on the scene and more festivities began. The weekend was the last hurrah for many before making today the first work day of the rest of the year.

Out of curiosity, we went on an adventure to see the new “Cité de la Mode et du Design” building on the Seine just near Gare d’Austerlitz. It’s been described as “the most architecturally radical building built in the center of Paris since I.M. Pei stuck a glass pyramid in the Louvre in the 1980s.”

Here we go again…welcoming contemporary architecture that is sure to be criticized, as is each new shocking change on the “greige” (taupe) Paris landscape. It’s green color is reminiscent of that famous frog, Kermit, who often lamented, “It’s not that easy bein’ green; Having to spend each day the color of the leaves. When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold-or something much more colorful like that.” What? Green isn’t colorful!?

Look what happened with the Centre Georges Pompidou. Despite the considerable controversy over its bold “exo-skeletal” and colorful statement on the surrounding “greige” landscape, it’s been hugely successful with more than 190 million visitors since its more than 30-year existence. The Igor Stravinsky fountain at its southern side was a frozen block of ice, but its whimsical moving sculptures were turning in spite of the cold. Sunday afternoon, the line to enter was the full length of the plaza — par for the course considering entrance for the permanent collection was free as it always is the first Sunday of the month.

The special treat to end the weekend of new year celebration was dinner at the Jules Verne restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower. The last time I had enjoyed a meal there was 1995, long before Alain Ducasse took it over in December 2007. In typical synchronistic style, we were seated at the exact same table as I had sat 12 years ago! It was a far superior dining experience than I had had then, when a loud gentleman who claimed to be the Mayor of Louisville Kentucky was drunkenly yelling past the row of tables and the food was not worth the price.

This time, it couldn’t have been more perfect. The ride up inside the steel structure, is exciting enough, and watching the tower sparkle from inside its walls has you wondering even more how could the lighting have been so brilliantly conceived and executed.

Today, the rest of 2009 begins to unfold, as we all head back to work to lay the tracks for the new directions we will take this year. Paris already looks different…as I write, snow is falling heavily and steadily turning the rooftops white…making for a little less Paris “greige.”

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Mark your calendars to come to next Tuesday’s Parler Paris Après Midi coffee gathering (January 13th) at La Pierre du Marais from 3 to 5 p.m. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more information.


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