Back from the Bastille

We’re back from Paris and Rouen. I left with a big basket of mixed feels. So sad to leave, but I also felt the first stirring of excitement about going home. I have much to do, as the days count down to departure. I’ve also finished my article on French stereotypes. It’s just under 4000 words and I can’t think of anyone who’d publish it now due to length. Any suggestions of top magazines who might appreciate this?

I decided to spend my last day in the cemeteries — Montparnasse and Père Lachaise. For those who don’t regularly visit my Flickr account, I’ve posted pictures of the escalating destruction of Oscar Wilde’s monument:

I can’t tell you how sad and infuriating this was. A lot of the new graffiti is in Spanish and some of it evidently done earlier this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if they put up a gate around the monument so that no one can come near it. Just for comparison, check out this photo from god knows how long ago when the monument was relatively unscathed.

I also visited the grave of Maupassant and took some photos.

There are other photos of Cimitière Montparnasse, including those of a bizarre new glass bird monument that actually is much more impressive in person. The pictures I took just kind of make it look weird and somehow rob it of its incredible originality. But I also got some photos of Baudelaire’s grave, which was nice:

Although I got some good work done on the TGV, I’m glad to be home so that the run to the finish line can start. I’ve had very little of The Googles this week, so I’m afraid I’m completely behind on correspondence of any kind. I hope everyone understands!

Sloppy Goth

Paris has a bad case of Sloppy Goth. It’s incredibly annoying to see young bats moping around in these shapeless tents of black ribbon and lace. And no makeup. What he hell is that about? The only thing I can think of is that it’s some kind of simultaneous FY to both gothdom and France that just looks thoughtless and depressed in the end.

Not so at Harajuku, a Gothic Lolita store I happened upon on Lagrange yesterday. The deliciously pretty gothling who helped me absolutely makes the Big Bat in the Sky proud, no doubt. As tempting as they were, I couldn’t convince myself to spend 200€ on one of the Lolita dresses. They also had some Japanese punk clothing but I passed on all of it for a frilly black sheer cardigan that looks like a 1950’s negligee for the damned. I can definitely wear it out and about in L.A. over a camisole or tee as part of my summer black collection (as dubbed by the Marquise).

I’m dithering about what to do today, my last day in Paris. Last night we had dinner and drinks with The Frenchman’s bourgeois friends. They were so kind, they even thanked me for coming to their home and being their guest. I was deeply touched. Yesterday afternoon, I wandered about Le Cité quite a while and saw a great many things I’d never seen before. I had no specific intentions of doing anything but observing Paris, and I was rewarded for my wanderings. One of the things I saw was a rare encounter between a yuppie young man and a beggar. While people often talk to beggars in the U.S. about why they don’t have work, here it’s completely unheard of. But yesterday, apparently emboldened by Sarkozy’s election, a young man absolutely ripped the beggar a new one. “You’ve got two hands, two feet. You can work!”

Mostly entrepreneurs, all of the Frenchman’s bourgeois friends are ecstatic about Sarkozy’s win. Everyone is sick of being held back economically. They want to let capitalism have a go.

Okay, I’m outta here. There’s a crepe with my name on it out there.

Case of the Missing Sense

I finished the first draft of the article and The Frenchman is reading it for accuracy. It’s about France and French stuff, and I’m well inclined to send it to The New Yorker, since Kathleen Spivack and my agent keep saying my style is perfect for that. I guess we’ll test that theory. Also, it’s around 3500 words, so it’s much too long for Slate’s sound bites and I have no desire to try it on Salon since it’s highly critical of something they published (but in the nicest possible way, of course).

We’re about to take off for Paris and Rouen tomorrow. It’s our final goodbye to family and friends before we head back home. I’m feeling mopey about it but at the same time thrilled to see The Frenchman’s brother-in-law play his cello in a classical concert. The cello is one of my favorite instruments. I don’t have any recordings, which is odd. If any of you have recommendations, please let me know.

In other news, I’ve been doing some broad research that accidentally included the case of a girl I knew in school who was murdered around the same time as two of her friends were also murdered, Summer 1984. Once I saw the PDF of the news article, I remembered reading it the day before my birthday, August 22, 1984. The only things found were bones and clothing in separate locations and times. They positively identified the remains but have no clue as to what actually happened to the three teenagers. In the meantime, the case itself is one of the most insane things I’ve read in many, many years. With the help of a fellow high school alumni, I’ve been able to get swarms of newspaper articles from the local paper. The upshot is that some guy has been sitting on Death Row for over 20 years in San Quentin due to the perjured testimony of two teenage girls who turned out to be chronic liars. There was zero physical evidence. In 2003, because of the loopy testimony recantations over the years and assertions of satanic rituals, a judge finally said he would grant writ of habeas corpus, but he was the dissenting judge. I cannot for my life figure out how they upheld the conviction this way. It chills me to my toenails.

The prosecuting attorney committed suicide in 1989. If these were the kinds of cases he was dealing with, I can totally see what pushed him over the brink. What I want to know is why these girls aren’t in prison for perjury, but I suppose various immunities were granted for whatever reason.

Satanic rituals my ass.

Back to the word mill.