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January 29, 2006 - Now Playing

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Our Man in Paris is Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis. His weekly columns appear here and often in a slightly different version the next day on his site from Paris, with photographs. Right now MetropoleParis has paused publication for maintenance, so posts there, and here, will be somewhat occasional, as Ric is rather busy.

This week, Saturday night in Paris, wishing he were here in Los Angeles, while chatting with one of our city planners in Paris right now, and with Tomoko, just back from Japan...

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PARIS, Saturday, January 28, 2006 - The plan is to meet at a gallery in the Rue de Seine, and I make it despite the cold - about zero - but where is Gary? Well the gallery has the same number as a furniture shop two doors away, but the gallery has big paintings of New York. They look like someone used photos for models and then had a sketchy brush, but yeah, they look like New York, not Los Angeles, with schools of Yellow Cabs and tenements with deep shadows. In some there might not be enough flags hanging on masts over the streets, but otherwise they are the City.


Tomoko comes banging in. Her news of Japan is not detailed. Yes, yes, there was snow and maybe ten people died, and it was two or three meters deep in places, but these weren't in Kyoto. Tomoko's big worry is the mouse in her kitchen. She says she's not cooking there until it leaves - and where's Gary? We go out and look in the furniture store and then go back. They are probably wondering what we are doing in the place, discussing Tomoko's speech class for actors.


But soon there are other customers to keep them busy. Tomoko decides to go wait in La Palette and I tell her to hold out until seven. The others leave to look elsewhere and the patron invites me to have some grapes. They are cold and green, wet and good, like wine. He offers the last chair too but I want to keep my cap on, even if I am acting like I'm in the warm at a bus stop.


At a couple to seven I do thanks for the grapes and run into Gary on my way out the door. He decides to stay a bit while I go up to the café and rescue Tomoko. The place is packed, the bar and through into the billiard room. I don't see her in the crowd. Back to the bar and wait to order an espresso and she waves to me through the porte to the other room. I go in there and I can't see her at first by then I do and I wedge through the mob and slot myself into a chair. It's like the old days. Winter in the Palette's back room with 78 thirsty wine drinkers and cigarette smokers. Cozy and very loud.

Paris, sipping soup, January 2006

In the crush a hand reaches out and I shake it. It's attached to Jean-Pierre and there's a ça va and in a wink I get my hot thimble.  Then Tomoko and I shout at each other about the mouse and other pressing news. After a long while Gary shows up, plowing through the mob, and we negotiate a chair for him at an adjoining table and then we all shout at each other, but it only works in stereo. Tomoko can hear him but I can't hear her, then Gary can hear me but Tomoko can't hear either of us. We have to leave.


Gary has overshot the Palette getting to it so he's been up the Rue de Seine and says there's a café there. But it doesn't look inviting and I remember the Cosi across the street, and we go there. Soup's on and they order it and I ask for a 'Tom Dooley' and we go upstairs to a plain room, warm enough and well-lit, and I think of Tomoko's mouse. Gary finishes his soup and then wraps up the sandwich to take away; Tomoko finishes her soup and decides to return home to study for a speech test she has on Monday.


Gary slaves away 50 weeks a year helping the City of LA function and most years he spends a couple of weeks in Paris about this time fixing himself up so he can continue functioning. This year he's brought a side-job, which is trying to get some exhibit shows staged, to coincide with a big exhibit that will be at the Pompidou all spring. It features LA artists, '50 to '80 about, and Gary wants to show off LA's other artists. The ones who do the wild stuff about freeways, and other gaudy visions of the future which is LA today. He has big folders full of A4 color prints, bios, and a catalogue of Cheech Marin's collection. It is great-looking stuff. I want to get on the jet tonight. Let Gary keep this General Winter stuff.


Over at Buci Gary wants to know where to find the Action Christine cinema. He says he's never been to a movie in Paris. The Christine is good if he wants to see something like Key Largo, the Maltese Falcon or Treasure of the Sierra Madre, all playing in English. Then I point out we are standing outside Taschen - it's still open - and he adds it to his list. It's too cold for the usual extra 30 minutes of small talk, kicking the ball around, so he drifts off down Dauphine - towards the Action Christine - and I go the other way, past the Procope to the métro at Odéon.


Traffic on the boulevard Saint-Germain is in its Saturday night frenzy of bumper cars with the anxious suburbanites trying to be cool, which is what everybody should be and mostly are, except for the nervous suburbanites. There are big lines at the Danton cinema and masses pouring out of the métro exit, with people standing around waiting for their dates, under the blazing lights. It's so cold it's hard to imagine all the activity, but I guess most have been holed up all day, like I've been all week. Los Angeles must be fine now. What did Gary say? Seventy degrees. They should plug in Paris Plage and turn it on full blast.

UGC Danton, Paris, January 2006


Text and Photos Copyright © 2006 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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