“White, Light, Bright Night?”
It was like Mardi Gras on the streets of Paris Saturday night during “La Nuit Blanche,” without the costumes…although, there was one Drag Queen (more likely a transsexual) strutting down the streets of Le Marais (we saw him/her on a two occasions) proudly wearing his/her breasts popping out from a full-length black sequined wrap dress. (I’m sorry the trusty pocket Sony Cybershot wasn’t poised for action on either occasion.)
Up until France beat New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup by two points, all eyes were focused on the TV screens at cafés, bars and on the big screen in front of the Hôtel de Ville. France had not ever beaten New Zealand this century; New Zealand having won the last seven encounters, so you can imagine the roar that then ensued.
Screaming drunkenness hit the streets (which is as rowdy as the well-behaved French can bring themselves to get) and marching bands were playing in various spots, inciting my New Orleanian friend, Dale Gaber, to break into the “Mardi Gras strut” herself — a jerky way of walking to the beat of the drums as if marching in a Mardi Gras parade, immortalized in a song by Rhythm & Blues performer and New Orleans icon, Alvin Johnson, Sr.
Everyone was out…everyone. The riot police were armed with shields, but they were strolling along like the rest of us and didn’t seem to need to do much other than enjoy the scenery. One of the things that always impresses me on such public occasions is how well-behaved the French are. Even in the tightest of crowds, there is no reason to feel threatened.
Le Marais had more events, spectacles and exhibits than the other areas of the city as defined by the organizers…another reason living in the Marais and in the midst of historical and cultural heaven is such a plus. One never needs
to go far from home to have it all.
I don’t think I’ve ever visited so many churches in one evening, but many of the installations and events were happening in, on and around them. Projected onto the facade of Eglise Saint-Eustache, were photos of body builders, both men and women, flexing their huge toned muscles, but with aged, wrinkled faces. Were their bodies as old as their faces or was it simply clever Photoshop-style transformations?
Inside, four organists over the course of the evening played the Van den Heuvel organ with its five manual divisions of 61 notes and a pedal of 32 notes, altogether 101 ‘stops,’ 147 ranks and 8,000 pipes. There are more uncommon features about the massive organ to learn about, but if you want to hear it, visit http://www.saint-eustache.org for upcoming concert dates.
On the other side of Le Marais, at the Eglise Saint-Paul, Robert Stadler had installed a giant lit question mark suspended over the pews. Made of large orbs (paper?) hung at various lengths and straggled at varying positions, it was a magnificent sight, backdropped by the ornately decorated apse. The hand you see holding it up, as a magician might display his act of levitation, is that of none other than friend and “Gay Neighbor,” Al Stewart. The big ‘unknown’ was so appropriate to signify his current French-baked dilemma, as Al recently discovered that the mezzanine he purchased with his rue Vieille du Temple apartment six years ago was actually a closet belonging to his “French/Irish Neighbor” on the level below him, illegally converted by previous owners without her knowing!
Wait till you hear this story!…the outcome is already one big question mark!
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadians!!!
P.P.S. The ATTIC LUMIÈRE luxury rental apartment is offering a last minute special 150€ per night…available October 9 – 16, 2007! Visit /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/atticlumiere.html
P.P.P.S. And a few reminders…
1) Parler Paris Après Midi meets tomorrow from 3 to 5 p.m. — /parlerparis/apresmidi.html
2) This week is your last chance to register for the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference on Saturday, October 13th! — /frenchproperty/conference/LIF_Paris_Oct_2007/index.html
3) Be sure to see us at booth 92/93 next to the speaker’s stand at the “I’m Not a Tourist” Expatica.com Fair on Sunday, October 14th — http://www.expatica.com/welcometofrance/