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Friday, April 04, 2003

Musée du Louvre

I woke up super early, got dressed, and headed out to look for an internet café in the neighborhood. After a good walk I decided to simply get on the metro and head for the Easyeverything Café on Rue Sebastopol which I frequented on a previous visit. I like how I already know my way around fairly well and I feel like any of the other commuters on the morning trains. The flip side is how much I hate not knowing my way around or not knowing how to do something.

This may seem like an ironic statement considering that I love to travel to places where I don’t know much of anything from customs to having as firm of grasp on the language as I’d like. I think it is all about the joy of accomplishment you feel when you do learn something new. This is what the piano if for me: Lots of frustration and work for moments of pure bliss when I play through something and it sounds tolerable.

My French is tolerable. I have yet to speak English to anyone French. I just arranged to switch rooms at my hotel explaining my reasons and being explained the logistics of such a move by the concierge. A rather complicated conversation all handled in my less than perfect French. Like the piano: Lots of frustration for moments of satisfaction. Like last night when I got to talk to our super-duper sexy (although not at all beautiful—a typically French female attitude that I love) waitress about what we should order for dinner, as I hate looking at menus in any language and always prefer to simply ask for the server’s suggestion. Thanks super-sexy French waitress, our meal was fabulous.

What I like about France is that generally people take me for a Frenchman. My Spanish is much, much better than my French yet I am never taken for a Mexican when I am in that country. There are plenty of Mexicans that look as European as I yet people will always assume that I am a foreigner. I guess that my desire to blend in is a totally natural human response: No one really wants to stick out from the crowd.

I have said this before and I’ll say it one more time: The Louvre is the most amazing collection of art ever assembled and the most amazing building that houses art that I have ever visited. That statement seems such an understatement that it embarrasses me to write it down on paper. It is like me stating confidently that the earth is the third planet from the sun or that two plus two equals four. It sounds obvious and stupid but I still have to say it because it’s true.

I love the huge foyer that houses all the French sculpture. It is an enormous covered atrium in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre and because it doesn’t have a Mona Lisa or a Venus de Milo it doesn’t attract the stupid crowds of the other areas of the museum. We began in reverse chronological order which is good because anything pre-Renaissance doesn’t really do much for me--enough with the religious themes all of you folks from the medieval world.

I think that all nationalities have their strengths and weaknesses if you are out to generalize—always a dangerous undertaking but we all do it. We Americans may say that the French are arrogant, they would say we are crass and vulgar, the Italians are loud and obnoxious, the Germans cold and humorless, British are uptight, and on and on. People of all nations are probably guilty of playing this game and to a certain degree stereotypes are valid. I am much too worldly and sophisticated myself to engage in this sort of nonsense that demeans the individual and is a concept born out of ignorance.

With that said can I just say that the Japanese are the dorkiest people on earth? I mean, enough with the fucking cameras and the fucking picture taking of you next to this painting or you next to this monument. There was a Japanese couple in the sculpture atrium taking pictures of each other next to every goddamned statue. Some art student kid was sketching one statue and the couple actually asked him to move so they could get their pictures taken. Granted, the kid doesn’t have any rights to the statue just because he is drawing but do these people really need another picture? With that said can I just say that this Sony computer made in Japan rocks ass and is one of the greatest machines I have ever held in my hand?

Maybe we were a little punch-drunk from lack of sleep but we laughed out loud a lot while running through the galleries. I found one large piece of sculpture to be hilarious. I don’t know the historical reference behind Pierre Lepautre’s (1648-1716) Enée et Anchise which depicts a Roman/Greek warrior carrying off another large man. The motif reminded me vaguely of Zeus carrying off his prize of Ganymede to be debauched at the location of Zeus’ choice. I re-titled Lepautre’s work The Great Homo Auction of 105a.d..

After almost two hours with the sculptures we needed a break and headed for the cafeteria. Even if you took all of the art out of the museum, and had a huge bonfire of the vanities with the paintings, the building itself would still be magnificent and worth a visit. The glass pyramids and entrance are fairly spectacular and you have just walked in the front door. It is fitting that the cafeteria should be worthy of such an awesome structure. The food is great—probably the best cafeteria food in the world. We had a decent split of Bordeaux, a raspberry tart, and a roll with blue cheese for 12E.

The entrance price to the Louvre is only 7.5E. You have to pay ten bucks to get into some half-assed exhibit at Seattle’s half-assed art museum. The Louvre seems to be a huge point of pride for the French. It is if they are saying to the rest of the world, “This is what we think an art museum should be. This is what we are as a people. Walk through these galleries and marvel at our greatness.” Like the pillar of the Muslim faith to make the Hajj to Mecca all people who treasure beauty and art should visit this great place at least once in their lifetime.

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