Monday, August 20, 2007

Omyword! Am I in Paris?

I've been honored by an invitation to join the Bonez Crew and write some little ditties for your pleasure and illumination. The problem is, I may not be able to adhere to the little part. Ditties I can do. Little ones, je n'sais pas.

Currently I find myself in Paris, with my boyfriend and a female communist operative named Mao. We are staying in a 4th-floor apartment somewhere between the sex shops and peep shows of Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge, the tourist mecca of Montmartre, the church at Sacré-Coeur and the Little Africa of Château Rouge. The church was built as a symbol of the defeat of the Anarchist revolutionary Comunards. I haven't told Chairwoman Mao about this. She would hiss and spit and no one would win.

Our building is unstable, as is our life, and is sinking slowly down the hill, moving away from the Church (a process I also started at age 12) and bringing us to an inevitable collision with a huge bank building. I hope, in a Jungian sort of way, that this is symbolic. Not the downhill slide, but the falling-into-a-bank bit. Meanwhile, my ability to climb or slide from one room to the other is directly related to how much cheap French wine or pastis I have consumed. At regular intervals, we must push the bed back up the hill as it interferes with our frequent trips to the toilet.

I love this neighborhood. It's rich and vibrant and full of color. Statuesque as well as broad-beamed Senegalese women traverse the streets, wearing the most amazing outfits: long skirts that flare out at the bottom and bell-sleeved tops with a matching high-rise chignon. Their babies are tied to their backs with another long piece of contrasting fabric. All is fashioned from the Tissues Africains that I had never seen before I came here. There are no ready-made outfits to be found, but plenty of Tissues stores with their windows and walls stacked floor to ceiling with fabric. Nearby, there are couturiers who will sew for you. Tiny little holes in the wall with one sewing machine and fabric detritus all over the floor. I want one of those outfits. Badly. But I am too afraid of looking like these white girls.

On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, we walk over to the outdoor market full of fruits, vegetables, fish and Halal meats. It smells like blood and melons (with a little urine on the side). The crowds are thick and noisy, with illegal hawkers of sunglasses, handbags, and belts with temporary cardboard-box shops on the sidewalks, ready to swoop everything up and disappear at a moment's notice. There are African restaurants with strolling musicians in long robes playing the Kora. After shopping we sit outside at Bar L'Omadis (translation of the painting on the outside wall: Live together with our differences) and drink the local rocket fuel and aphrodisiac cocktail called Rhum Gingembre - Caribbean rum and fresh ginger juice, with a wedge of lime. We usually end up at our favorite Algerian place for couscous and chicken tajine with lemon and green olives.

My boyfriend is an encyclopedia of music, and so we've found the underground music scene here, from local sensation and hot-chick rocker Mademoiselle K (website, MySpace) to the humorous banter and contemporary French chansons of Sepia, the jazz piano of Philippe Baden Powell, son of famous Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, and the hidden bar L'Attirail, a college hangout with live music every night - Berber, Manouche Gypsy and traditional French music - with students and musicians all crammed into a tiny, smoky corner.

So, along with a few links to take you on a little ride with me in Paris, I leave you a video of the gazelle-like Mademoiselle K as she sings my favorite song: Ça Me Vexe, which can be loosely translated as, That Pisses Me Off, a feeling she and I often share.


E said...

Welcome to Bonez! It's always nice to have another point of view around here. Hope to see more from you! :)

Marloes said...

Omyword, I live so much closer to Paris and you have allready seen more of it then I have. Great piece on thsi magic city.
Your debut at Bonez makes me go ohlala!

Bonez said...

Great post, Omyword! and a big splash for your Bonez Crew debut. The video rocks and I am going to look for more Mademoiselle K to download. Thanks for sharing and giving us a little insight into the Parisian scene.

Invisible Woman said...

Hi Omyword...glad to see your spicy humor :-)

Lisa Wines said...

Hey Marloes - I'm waving at you from over here!

Thanks Tony - I'll post some more music discoveries as we find them.

And Invisible Woman - Have a nice vacation in North Carolina. Thanks for your nice welcome.

Both of you girls have inspired me to add some things to my Blogger profile. Mine is sorely lacking.

Heather said...

you know i want a sliding house now. built on a hill. visions of an indoor slip and slide tickle my fancy....