mercredi, juillet 26, 2006

Heat Wave

Thanks to - well, global warming - Paris is experiencing another heat wave. Back in 2003, the big one, people were taken a bit by surprise. In other words, most people were away on vacation and the old people left in Paris who didn't have family, or whose families couldn't be bothered to interrupt their vacation, died from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Thousands of them.

The people blamed the government for not having a 'heat wave plan.'

"I don't need the government to tell me it's fucking hot outside," griped one of my French friends, "I think I can turn on the fan and open the window all by myself."

But he's weird anyway.

So this year, the government isn't taking any chances. Instead of, oh I don't know, spending money to equip new buses and trains and other such public places with air conditioning, or for that matter, windows that actually open, the government has written a nice little script to post on information signs, the highways, and even to be read aloud to you in the metro. You know, in case reading it yourself would make you hot:

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is hot outside, so please remember to limit your exposure to direct sun, make sure to close your shutters and curtains to block the sun during the hottest hours of the day, and most of all, remember to drink plenty of water even if you are not thirsty."

Now that's real sweet and all, but honestly, talking about being hot? On the crowded metro? Hmm. Makes me hotter.

See? Still the government's fault.

Seriously, though, being from Hotlanta, it doesn't bother me too much, cause jeez, at least the 95° temperatures are not accompanied by stifling humidity. But it's true, people here aren't used to it, especially when it is still very hot at night. I do remember that was something I really liked about Europe as a teenager, that it could be hot during the day, but always nice and cool in the early morning and evening.

That has changed. But people will have to adjust. Like buying fans, for example. Just an idea.

Here at work, everyone's talking about the heat. If you ask, "How are you?" a large majority of people will respond, "Hot." Which doesn't sound so weird in English, but dust off your high school French and try this one out:

"Comment ça va?" This is said in earnest, but mostly because, hell, you have to ask even if you don't care what the answer is.

The inevitable reply is, "Chaudement," accompanied by either slumping or sighing or a slight disapproving pout, as if to say, "Really, they ought to do something about it!" All this despite the fact that the building we work in is already nicely air conditioned.

I had an exchange recently with a co-worker who complained she had trouble sleeping at night because of the heat.

"Well, do you have a fan?" I asked.

"No," she replied.

Well that might help. Just sayin'.

That is, until the government decides to finally announce the arrival of autumn.

vendredi, juillet 07, 2006

A Million Little Feces*

If I were a heroin addict, I imagine the torture of cold turkey - the nausea, the groaning, the pain, the feeling it will never end - would be much like the highly excruciating experience of reading fake addict / author James Frey's fake memoir / novel 'A Million Little Pieces.'

Full of odd Teutonic capitalizations and little or no punctuation, endless repetition of extremely annoying phrases and scenes (must we use the exact same words '[vomited] chunks of my stomach' ad nauseum? Pardon the pun.) But the most tiresome part of trying to read this book is the utter ridiculousness of the portrait he has painted. We are presented with a twenty-three year old (imaginary we all know now) version of himself as the baddest of badasses who is (most unbelievably) addicted to every narcotic substance known to man, but who is laughably sentimental about a lost college love and the crack addict prostitute he falls for in rehab. He who rejects the saccharine preachings of AA while simultaneously hugging almost every person he encounters, regurgitating tripe (sorry again) he is fed by a fellow rehab patient : 'Just Hold On', and (the ultimate thing that set off my bullshit detector) his immediate and total comprehension of, appreciation for and proselytizing of 'The Teachings of Tao'. And that's all in addition to the root canal surgery without anesthesia.

Oh barf. (Sorry, I can't seem to help it).

I am a little appalled this shit ever got past the first editor, and therefore might be suffering from a wee bit of jealousy, admittedly. And I am not done reading the thing, either. But I swear if the guy hugs one more person, I'm gonna throw (get ready for it) the book across the room.

He should have subtitled the thing 'Hugging your Way to Sobriety.'

Don't bother buying it. Because as a service to humanity - and truly talented writers everywhere - I have composed a little parody for you.

So, enjoy, kids. And get the barf bag ready.

(Real excerpt from 'A Million Little Pieces' page 171:)

"I am twenty-three years old and I've been an Alcoholic for a decade and a drug Addict and Criminal for almost as long and I'm wanted in three states and I'm in a Hospital in the middle of Minnesota and I want to drink and I want to do some drugs and I can't control myself. I'm twenty-three.

I breathe and I shake and I can feel it coming and rage and need and confusion regret horror shame and hatred fuse into a perfect Fury a great and beautiul and terrible and perfect Fury the Fury and I can't stop the Fury or conrol the Fury I can only let the Fury come come come come come. Let it motherfucking come. The Fury has come."

(from page 260:)

"At the end of the Session, Sophie asks everyone to join hands. An intimacy has developed and we do so eagerly. She has us recite a poem that she calls the Serenity Prayer. She says a line and we follow. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. She smiles and we smile everyone smiles. When we finish saying the prayer, she has us do it again. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. She has us do it again and again.

When she stands, everyone else stands. She tells us we're finished and everyone starts hugging each other. There are hugs sealing the bonds hugs healing the wounds hugs in appreciation of knowledge and insight shared hugs of understanding and hugs of compassion extended. After the hugs, Sophie opens the door and we file out smiling and laughing and in better shape than when we entered. Everyone says good-bye thank you good-bye thank you."


My turn!

"I feel the Fury come fast and swift and up from my Feet all the way into my Head until it becomes a burning white light burning white light light white burning the Fury it is burning white motherfucking burning white Fury.

I think of the Girl in College with her perfect Teeth and sweet Breath and tiny fragile Waist and I am ashamed of Everything I did to make her hate me. I am a Criminal wanted in three States and a drug Addict and an Alcoholic and I don't deserve Anyone.

I smoked my first Joint at eight and soon moved on to Acid and Ecstasy. By the time I was twelve, I had shot Heroin, smoked Crack, sniffed Cocaine, eaten Mushrooms and made it to an Opium den by the time I was fifteen and at seventeen I lost my Virginity to a Prostitute.

The Black man who shares my room in Rehab just happens to play jazz Clarinet and fuck is he good and he plays slow and soft and melancholy while I let the words of the Tao soothe my tortured Soul. Suddenly, he puts the Clarinet down and begins to cry and he cries and cries and Tears run down his face and drop on the Floor next to his Clarinet Case and I go over to him and say hey man it's going to be Alright you just have to Hold on Hold on all you have to do is just Hold on. I put my Arms around him and he is crying and I am crying and we are hugging each other in this Room in Rehab in the middle of Minnesota and it feels Good and I just hold him and cry and let him cry and we are hugging and crying."

Christ Almighty, this book sucks Ass.

*Plagiarized from my friend Kitty, who is a badass with dirty rhymes.

jeudi, juillet 06, 2006

On est en final! On est en final!


France : 1 Portugal : 0

After the game, my friend and I went out on the streets to mingle in the crowds. We got so caught up in the mood, in the movement, in the euphoria, that we walked all the way from Republique to Concorde.

That's a hike, folks.

I've never seen anything like that scene. Everyone - black, white, Middle Eastern, citizens, tourists and clandestines - everyone was waving flags, hanging out of and on top of cars, swarming the streets and sidewalks, kissing, hugging and high-fiving everyone they passed. Roller skaters grabbed onto car bumpers for a ride, people climbed atop statues, mailboxes, bus stops - even the monument at the Place de la Bastille - waving the bleu blanc rouge and singing,

"We're going to the finals... to the finals we're going...."

I tried to capture some images with my cell phone, but they didn't turn out.

So Sunday? France against Italy for the championship? I am so going out to a bar to watch it.

This time, though, I'm bringing the fucking camera.

mercredi, juillet 05, 2006

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog

For a brief message :

Tonight at 9PM, France battles Portugal to play in the finals of the World Cup.


I'm wearing my blue, white and red babydoll T-shirt to watch the match tonight.

Here's hoping I don't run into my Portuguese concierge.