Monday, December 07, 2015
I'm currently down & out in Paris: Right place, write time
To paraphrase that current Geico ad on TV, "If you are a writer, you write. It's what you do." And I certainly live in an age where there is a hecka lot of stuff to write about. In this day and age of lies, greed, bluster, neo-fascism, economic collapse, ecological disaster, radiation danger, war-mongers and brinksmanship, words can practically write themselves. For a writer, "It is the worst of times, it is the best of times."
I just may be lucky enough to be in a position to chronicle the end of the world.
But enough about me. Let's talk about Paris.
I'm here on a 24-hour layover between Berkeley and Beirut. But 24 hours in Paris is always far, far better than no hours in Paris at all. Paris in the winter is lovely. There's not a big flood of tourists and I only got lost on the Metro twice. But I had such great plans for my 24 hours here. Wanted to go to see Montmartre where so many Impressionist and Cubist painters lived and worked -- and to the Musee D'Orsey where their masterpieces are on display.
Wanted to go to the Paris conference on climate change and to the Batachan concert hall where one of the most recent mass shootings took place.
Wanted to eat in a fancy French restaurant.
Wanted to follow the Lonely Planet's advice and take a literary stroll past the garrets of Orwell, Hemingway, Stein, Miller, Nin, Joyce, etc. Wanted to visit Shakespeare & Company and 27 rue de Fleurus.
But the the sad remnants of a particularly virulent stomach flu kept me from wanting to eat anything, jet lag kept my brain on hold and the obvious time limitations held me down. But still and all, Paris really is a movable feast and I did arrive at the COP21 climate change conference just in time to barely miss California governor Jerry Brown give a talk on "Big ideas to connect landscapes, climate and development". Brown certainly knows all about development! I didn't need to go all the way to Paris to learn that. I could have just toured West Oakland.
But mostly I just walked around the Arc de Triumph neighborhood, soaked in the ambiance, ate croissants and listened to people speak French (and also a whole lot of other languages too as a result of the insane brutality of the then-and-now French empires having shaken so many residents of the world loose from their homes).
There is certainly a lot to write about in Paris. I am so glad that I'm here.