The Paris Stories : Thirteen Black Pins

I'll just stay very quiet, not make a sound nor move and just watch the sun set over the Seine, and know with certainty I'll be needing a hangover cure of epic proportions, semi-prepared in advance by keeping the red wine cork from one of the bottles bought at the bottlerie near the City Hall, which I opened with my teeth and spat the cork into the left pocket of my coat, and already having half the ingredients for the traditional voodoo hangover cure, which is sticking thirteen blackheaded pins into the bottle top, cork, thing, of whatever it was that caused the damage in the first place. So, writing "j'ai besoin de trieze bornes noire" on my left palm with a black biro, unsure of what might happen, as my recollection of 'pins' being 'bornes' is hazy, and holding it upwards, like some destitute beggar. A few smirked and I began wondering what 'bornes' might actually be, and beginning to imagine it might be something else entirely until the first two blackheaded pins were pulled out from under the wimple of a grey nun. I thanked her, and perhaps I only imagined her faint halo, as my attention soon enough being utterly transfixed by how the last gasp of sunset appeared to be setting the Seine on fire. waiting, palm out.


Some tourists waiting for the bâteau mouche tours must have taken every blackheaded pin they had in their touristy medical kits, and handed them over, three. I thanked them in Greek, efcharistó, and they left, maybe puzzling over how the French social welfare system could allow someone to fall so low. Five, so far, and then I was asked if hatpins would be d'accord, "absolutement!" I excitedly whispered back, but thinking how the Pont des Arts looks when refracted through a quarter empty vin rouge bottle, and lordy bless all those hat pins, bless the fashionistas de Paris who've decided that hats are back this year, but I would like to thank them for deciding that the furred hats of Stein and Toklas and Fernandes Picasso are 'cool' again. Another four appeared in my palm. Nine, so far, and closing my palm, but being tempted to sit on the most western tip of the Vert-Galant, dangling my legs over the very end, and lying back while looking up, and think on night cloud shapes and stars and the likelihood that the ancient Egyptians were right, and each star is a soul.

With my feet being licked by the river and my eyes full of black sky, two gendarmes appear, and I'm assuming there's some kind of stern warning about to be given about the absolute interdit-ness of dangling ones feet in the Seine, yet they somehow mange to donate a black-headed pin each. They smile, nod, and walk on, and I have no idea why the gendarmerie should have black-headed pins either. Then, nothing. I only have eleven, and the second bottle's three quarters gone. So, on these cold stones, I'll just sit, and just be still. I can't remember much of any conversations that might have been happening between any other people who might be down here, or even if there were any, there doesn't need to be. But eventually leaving, walking to the park at other end of the Ile St Louis, to watch the sunrise. Passing the Concergerie, looking down, as is my tendency, I like to think it's my natural disposition towards things archaeological, and there's a black-headed pin, there, between the cobblestones, maybe one tossed from some prison window centuries ago as some unfortunate was prepared for execution. It's a large pin, with what looks like a black pearl head, on which an untold number of angels could dance.


Passing the Notre Dame and it's sleeping homeless, and over the bridge to the Ie St Louis, and down the one main street it has, passing the ice-creamery of choice (closed), and the hotel opposite, in which I once may have taken a room in. Eventually walking crossing Boulevard Henri IV and down to the park, Place Barye where there's more sleeping homeless, and yes, a few of the more disheveled have pins holding up cuffs, and black headed ones too, and effortlessly stealing as many as I need from them, only needing one. They do not notice. Down those steps to the cobblestoned edges, and along to the very tip, like the matching bookend to where I've walked from, and with my thirteen black-headed pins and the wine cork in my pocket, I will just watch the sun rise, finish the bottle, and keep absolutely still, eventually push the pins in, and wait.




line 4

Line 4 is the only metro line that crosses Paris from south to north (or from north to south if you prefer), and the one I become most fond of while completing the Sartre Project. But when it's raining relentlessly, and simultaneously holding both a camera and an umbrella proves difficult, then the side project of photographing each station on the line seemed like a good idea at the time.


Porte D'Orléans : rive gauche terminal

The end of Line 4, or the beginning, and as tempted as I might be to stay on the train and bounce back and forth the length of Line 4, there's work that needs to be done, considering that on page 317 of Jean-Paul Sartre's Reprieve, he writes:

Mathieu groped for the switch, and the light flashed on. He saw a dusty room, containing a box-bed, a water-jug, and a wash-basin on a dressing-table : a wheel-less bicycle was suspended from the ceiling.
'Is this your room?'
'No,' said Irène. 'It belongs to some friends.' He looked at her and laughed : 'Your stockings!'
They were white with dust and torn at the knees.
'It's from climbing through the window,' she explained nonchalantly.

The stocking-ripping window of 15 Rue du Parc de Montsouris, is quite near, although if there's some Irene in some cafe between here and there who demands her stockings be ripped then and there, then I'm her man, rrrrriiippp.



Alésia, and as Alésia is the closest station to the Villa Seurat, then the chances of Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin exiting the metro from here are pretty much 100%,and they probably took the Avenue de General Leclerc exit, and somewhere over on the other side of the intersection is Rue d'Alésia, which should be obvious enough, even in the cold. Passing Rue du Lunain on the right, on which the moon should always shine, then two more streets, before turning right into Rue de la Tombe Issoire, and the name of this rue quickens my heart a little, and wondering on who Issoire might have been, before passing Rue de l'Aude on the left, and the next is Villa Seurat, the one I'm after, and finding number dix-huit, and I'm thinking that perhaps I should knock on their door and invite myself in.
Apparently Salvador Dali lived here for a while as well, but I shall pay no attention to any soft watches.


Mouton-Duvernet, and as usual the collection of passengers provides grist for story-making. That tired looking boy with a bedroll attached to his backpack, those girls over there all wearing aqua-blue blouses, that older girl with 'ne temps, ne gender' handpainted on her white oversized t-shirt, I'm pleased there's fewer people on the train now, particularly that one businessman who had to stand, briefcase in hand, and it looks as though that couple over there have finally indulged their fantasies and bought the new Shakira CD, and they looked really pleased as they read the song titles. I'm wondering what might be in all the other white Virgin bags, although I shudder to think (sometimes I'd like to impose my musical tastes on the entire planet), but thinking of how Mouton-Duvernet must have frustrated Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin, who must have always been in such a hurry to be home, almost unable to wait until the next station, and wondering if Simone and Jean-Paul ever got this far.


Denfert Rochereau, the nightmare place where the tourists queue in forever lengthening lines to enter the catacombs, and I'm wondering on the proximity between the metro tunnel and the thousands and thousands of reburied bones, some from the Place des Innocents. Personally, I'd have no problems with bones, as when I was doing archaeology in Ireland I was cleaning those individuals taken from the cemetery adjacent to the Ardfert Cathedral in County Kerry, and making up stories about those bones all the time, particularly those who'd died with some kind of injury, you know, the spurned lovers and the ritually killed and all that. Most of the time, the work itself became infinitely boring, so making up stories kept one sane and sometimes you just got a feeling from the bones themselves.


Raspail, there seems to be fewer passengers in this carriage, and eventually arriving at Raspail, and wondering on all those times when all those writers and painters and dancers and poets must have drunkenly staggered down into this station from Boulevard Raspail, which is mentioned in the autobiography of Alice B Toklas, and Braque apparently had a studio along here, somewhere. On the corner there's the Hotel Lutetia, mentioned on page 560 of Sylvia Plath's journals, as the one she didn't like much as the leather seats 'made it impossible to sit up without shooting under the table', et oui, naturellement, the girl sitting opposite moi on this train has just unknowingly just become my boon companion in adventures of the Lutetia kind, despite her being obviously more interested in the book she'd reading, and we shall definitely be ordering un vin rouge ou deux, and should I slide off the slippery seats completely, which I am quite likely to do, and under the table, she would be more than welcome to join me, but only if it be her will.


Vavin, and I've just finished reading Andre Gide's 'The Counterfeiters', and every so often, Gide himself steps into the flow of the narrative, giving his assessment of the characters he's created. Hmm, he'll say, Bernard began well and full of anarchic fire, but I'm not sure he'd so quickly rebel against his own rebellion - or Edoaurd isn't turning out at all as a I wanted him to - or the object of Vincent's affection is far too dangerous, I think I won't mention her for a good long while - but isn't Vincent proving himself a most noble sort. And again, I understand exactly what Gide is doing here, probably. For the months or years it took Gide to write the novel, he began to live through them as though they were real, to get in inside their heads, to understand them, and maybe, if Gide could have taken his characters down to some café on Rue Vavin, and just talked to them, or watched them, then he'd have done it, and if Laura (the one who's pregnant with Vincent's child) had been there, then he'd undoubtedly have made her a quite forthright proposal, in the name of research, naturellement.


Montparnasse Bienvenüe, 'ne pas descendre sur la voie, danger de mort'

And wondering if the metro line was tunneled underneath the cemetery, and if the dead are rotting above us all, and if their bones rattled to what must have been the thunder of constant drilling beneath them, and forgivez-moi, but I'm imagining the skeletal dancing of Simone and Jean-Paul. But the train is impossibly crowded, and I loathe making correspondences at Montparnasse Bienvenüe with a passion, goddam people movers and the endless advertisements for eurodisney, and I may be being pickpocketed at this moment and I wouldn't know. But down the gleaming tunnels and correspondences to hopefully the right platform, and there are so many befuddled looking tourists waiting uncertainly, and the train glides in and there's too many people already, maybe some of those lining the platform will wait for the next one in the hopes it'll be less claustrophia-inducing. Yes, it is. But the window seat has suddenly become all mine, maybe I'll enjoy being able to rest my head on the glass, or perhaps catching reflections of myself either in the light of metro tiles or in the dark of the blackbricked tunnels, maybe just watching the lights of the carriage reflected in the windows somewhere between here and there, and wondering if that could possible be my own reflection. He looks different, vaguely ill, definitely pale, pathetically but romantically tuberculoic, and maybe I should be coughing up telltale blood onto a crisp white handkerchief.


Saint Placide, and here, Leonard Cohen is facing Britney Spears, and perhaps sometimes my wonderings will involve what happens down here between Lenny and Brit when the metro closes down after one in the morning. Maybe Len will be serenading the still dancing Britney, and perhaps contemplating including Oops I Did It Again in his repertoire, as no, he's not that innocent, although I have a harder time imagining Britney singing Bird On A Wire in hers, and perhaps she has actually tried in her way to be free, but anything is possible apart from when it's not.

Down the tiled tunnels, with posters this week for fashion week, models with photoshopped faces and impossibly long legs and I have no idea why the anatomically ludicrous is considered an attractive ideal, not to moi. I know what beauty is, and it has nothing to do with anything that pouts on magazine covers. And the tiny cinema down in Rue Saint Andre des Arts is screening 'Tideland' and making a mental note to see this, and think on the phrase 'mental note', and inserting the mauve metro ticket and thump through the cushioned gates. As usual, line 4, and following the signs, Porte de Clignancourt direction, it's Monday night, and the station's comparatively deserted, and I can take my choice of the blue plastic seats while waiting, and yes, the whoosh of burnt caramel. Damn, I could eat this aroma, another of my second favourite scents. I don't have to wait long, as trains on the metro are rarely more than four or five minutes apart. Other passengers are waiting, the art students carrying large black portfolios, some business people in suits that have become slightly dishevelled during the day and their ties slightly askew, the obligatory tourists one of whom is wearing a beret with the monogrammed Eiffel Tower, denoting him as a fucktard, and there's others just wanting to get home, and other people just wanting to be anywhere else but home, and others, but the train arrives, the door of the carriage nearest opens and a few stylishly dresses women alight, and in, finally, taking the fold down seats nearest the doors.

placide 3

And down the Saint Placide steps to the turnstile gate, again, and slipping the billet though the machine and thumpingly through, this time following the Porte de Clignancourt directions, I know this so well, eventually to the platform where I'll wait, and study Britney in her circus tightrope walker's costume, complete with red stockings, and wonder what the small of her back might feel like, thinking on the probable magnificence of Britney's spine as if indulging in the finery of her vertebrae, and the thinness of her dress is pleasing although perhaps slightly impractical with all these hooks and eyes, and the rubberwheeled train slides in, and I'm on, and for a Saturday night it's not that crowded so it must be getting close to le fin saison d'tourists as there's not a baseball cap anywhere. And yes, taking the window seat is mine, and wondering if Britney might enjoy the feel of Paris rain plastering her hair, but down here, she'll never know.



Saint Sulpice, the next train is a two minutes away, and waiting for the burnt caramel scent of the metro and I'm wondering if in any of the lolly shops in Paris (which probably have their own ~erie ending, confiterie maybe, or confiserie, I should check this) there might be one that sells metro caramel, so I could be anywhere on the planet, be missing Paris (maybe the travellin' has been down some too hard roads), and find some café, maybe a diner, or a bar, where the crumpled-armed waitress asks "what'll you be havin' love?", and I'll reply "black with none", before taking out a crumpled white lolly bag, carefully open it until my nose and mouth are covered and inhale deeply. Better than the finest grade of cocaine. Hmm, chopping a line of metro line and please miss, just wondering if you had a straw I could use, and while religion is a fine grade of opium, this is finer still, and soon enough I'll be enveloped in more than that finest grade. Moving, it's not crowded, must be because it's a Thursday,



Saint Germain des Pres. Jean-Paul and Simone must have exited here countless times, and after not finding Ivich at the student's hostel at 37 Rue Saint-Jacques nor in any of the page 245 cafes that Mathieu looked into along Boulevard Saint-Michel; the Biarritz, the Source, the Harcourt, the Biard, the Palais du Café and the Capoulades, but as I'm not looking for Ivich, who is about to leave Paris anyway. Perhaps his list of frantically searched cafes could be the basis for the definitive café grande drinker's guide to the Boulevarde Saint Michel, just above. Of course there's others, the Café de Flores, the Deux Magots, the Lipp Brasserie just to mention a few which will have to be included. This could be hard work, although should be good for me being absolutely wired for at least three days, et peut-etre the café pilgrimage could provide source material for some slender volume of verse (to be called A Slender Volume of Verse), and this will need some established objective criteria through which each of these cafes could be assessed, but nah, fuck it, my criteria will be first, if whatever's served up is drinkable, and as much as I adore Paris, the quality of it's coffee is not a safe assumption, as I suspect many cater mostly to American tourists inexplicably fond of bucketfuls of starbucked blandness, quantity over quality, and even Ivich found the coffee of the cafe Riche undrinkable, and perhaps points should be given for how many complimentary sugar sachets are provided for the pocketing, preferably raw, but with added points if there's complimentary chocolat as well, or the cutlery is worth stealing. Third, they'll definitely lose points if they permit little yappy dogs, even if their owners still appear to be still grieving for Edith Piaf, but earn bonus points if their waiters live up to the French stereotype for arrogance and surliness, more points if there's unsavoury shifty-types chewing toothpicks, or blackclad students with pocketfuls of stones darkly discussing Baudelaire and Rimbaud, or the necessity of destroying the past, or if their overheard conversations include the words Nicolas Sarkozy and 'con' in the same sentence. There will definitely be bonus points if there's some evidence for Paris' reputation as a romantic city, perhaps on some sliding scale ranging from a French Kiss as they understand it through to a French kiss as everybody else knows it, although maximum points for romance will naturally be for loud and emotionally exchanged words, naturally ending in tears, with at least one of the ex-couple theatrically storming out, leaving the other desolately staring into the remains of a long black wondering what the fuck just happened and what the fuck happens now, and there should be accordeoniste music, and preferably for real, although if Maurice Chevalier begins thanking heaven for little girls or if there's even the slightest suggestion of Offenbach's CanCan, then not only will all points be automatically zeroed, but the darkly clad students should have the right to storm management offices and violently use their secreted stones. And if a possible request along the lines of "je voudrais une absinthes, sil vous plait," should end with a green fairy in my hands, and with no mention of anything being interdit, then maximum points are awarded. They should be darkly lit, especially nearer the back. Bonus points for wildly gesticulating chefs, and there should be some neversmiling stalwarts, the usuals always there at the same tables and always with the same drink, whose lives have been created and recreated many, many times by those who also choose the darkened recesses to write from, and if there's a barmaid, then her worldwearied and cracklined face should have interesting stories to tell, perhaps of loves lost, perhaps of sad childhoods, perhaps telling of a number of her Matheiu's who'd similarly raised the necessary four thousand francs, perhaps wondering on how life might have been different if she'd turned left into Rue de Fleurus on that particular day back in 1973 rather than having continued on to Boulevard Saint Germain de Pres, pondering the implications of chance and fate, and points will be given according to how many times 'fuck' has been scrawled on the underside of my chosen table.


And into Odeon, and my favourite sculpture in the entirety of Paris is above, at the entrance to this station, the bronze drummer amongst a group of soldiers from some ancient battle, but I remember it so well as this was the station nearest to Rue Saint Andre des Arts, and I knew, with certainty, what that drummer was thinking (which is roughly, I wish my parents had bought me a real instrument), 'scuse me, I'm just checking the hands, the nails, of those who just boarded the train. Hmm, must be descendents of the surviving aristocracy attempting to display solidarity with their peasant brothers by not washing (the rest of their journey will be just as uneventful).

Odeon, and the seats are yellow, and are being cleaned of texta'd messages, and wondering if those for whom the messages were left have read them, and Terminator Renaissance is showing in cinemas which I shall ignore entirely, but the advertising image is of some terminator rampaging through what looks like Hell itself, leading me to wonder if the devil is among the passengers who just boarded the rain, waiting for his opportune moment, or even god, waiting for his. Maybe it's that one standing, there, the one in the suit in the too-tight shoes, and holding a black leather briefcase with it's shiny clasps, maybe it contains it's the paperwork involved in soul-taking, catalogues of names, ages, desires granted, deals made, and I imagine they're signed in blood (but probably not), or perhaps it's that other guy, the one that cannot stop staring at the woman opposite him, or maybe he's just vacantly staring at nothingness and she just happen to be within the range of his vacantlessness.


and into Saint-Michel now, maybe thinking on how that dragon above us was most uselessly slain. Thinking on the mythology of dragons as every culture seems to have them, and apart from the Asian ones, most get killed by those Saint Michel types on some quest that's none too clear, a tad ill-defined and unthinking, and recalling 'Thunderbirds', and how it seemed as though in every episode Virgil and his crew would receive some report about rebels threatening some government somewhere, and they'd fly out. Thunderbirds, are, Go!!, (my favourite was Thunderbird 4, being a cross between a submarine and a spaceship), and they'd unquestioningly crush the rebellion, even the watery ones, but never once did they query what cause the rebels might have been fighting for, or if the rebels perhaps had a just cause, and, yes, I had the hots for Lady Penelope too, and thinking on how Lady Penelope's wooden bits affected my generation's thinking so much, as her bits were the model for Barbie's later plastic bits, which became the physically impossible ideal for which countless women have since truly suffered, the fucking Thunderbirds are directly responsible for not only Western European militarism but for anorexia as well. Yes, I know, this theory needs some refining, and Astroboy has a lot to answer for as well.

Between Saint-Michel and the next, the metro tunnels under the Seine, and I'm thinking I can feel it's weight and for some reason travelling under water both delights and terrifies me, and have this instinctual need to hold my breath as I pass underneath.


Cité, but I have never managed to hold my breath for the entirety of the journey between Saint-Michel and here, even if short. Cité always seems dark, although grandiosely lit by trios of large bulbs, rather than neon, a greenish tinge to the tiles. Ubiquitiously, fewer people. And yes, those passengers who boarded at Cité, with the large plastic bags, have hit the Notre Dame souvenir shops hard, with detailed replicas of it's façade, and statuettes of Quasimodo, t-shirts of the beautifully screaming Esmerelda, along with Notre Dame notepads, pencils and ashtrays, although some of those postcards they're handing around don't seem too bad at all. Undoubtedly the tourist queue for the Notre Dame belltower lengthens along two sides of the cathedral itself, they don't know that I had to kill Quasimodo, it was easy, like Odysseus in the Night Raid, I killed him in his sleep, and he was dreaming when I cut his throat, I could tell. But knowing that the Cité metro is closest to the Vert-Galant and how much I adore that place, my back resting against warm stones on a summers evening, a bottle of cheap red wine and a sandwich grec from my favourite restaurant in the entirety of Rue Saint Andre des Arts, and listening to the drummers there, darrabukkas and djembe's and everything is perfect,


Chatelet, and it seems impossibly crowded, and I can feel people breathing but I don't recognize anyone. People could die in this crush, and listening to the rapid exchange of ideas between a knot of passengers but not understanding a word, perhaps they're discussing the injustice of whoever might have been evicted from the French version of Big Brother or maybe the absolute significance of Sylvia Plath's linebreaks. Wondering if French poets have made much of the pronunciation similarities between love and death. I'm imagining some nineteenth century symbolist poet (who for some reason wears green leggings, a tightly buttoned maroon vest, and has wrists begging to encircled with thumb and forefinger) writing le morte de l'amour merely to get the rhythm of the similarities.

les halles

Les Halles once being the iconic heart of Paris, it's central bucket of filth, it's rat-infested acreage, it's produce markets vast and legendary, but since torn down and rebuilt as an equally vast shopping centre, filled with tourists. And yes, all those hands clutching Les Halles showbags, designer labels every last one of them. Luckily I have an aisle seat, and with some nimble footwork about to cause a most unfortunate pile up. The downfall of the bourgeoisie right here between Les Halles and Etienne Marcel, and the pretty girl who was reading one of the Twilight series has left, her seat taken by a black woman who is magnificently dressed in a dark crimson shawl, and opposite me now is a girl who's dyed her hair bright red.


Then Etienne Marcel, and I still have absolutely non idée regardez who Etienne Marcel might have been, but I'll have you believe that he was Marcel Marceau's older brother. He was the chatty loud opinionated arrogant shouting one, the one who never allowed young Marcel to speak up, sibling rivalry at it's most chronic and with lifelong consequences. Or perhaps he was one of the more obscure Impressionist landscape painters, but criminally under-represented in the Musee d'Orsay collection. Or maybe he was a politician of the 1300's who, in some act of rebellion (the course of which takes typically French labyrinthine turns) supported a king known as Charles the Bad, and naturally wondering how he came by that epithet, wondering which epithets might be attached should I be called to lead some nominal return of the French monarchy, maybe Mark the Miserable When Shitfaced Bastard,


Through Reaumur Sebastopol, which I'm sure was a battlefield of sorts, and thinking on how this battle was probably either won or lost by the French in the now unthinkable way wars were fought then, and I'm imagining a line of bluecoated French, with bayoneted rifle powdered and ready and facing a similar line of the probably redcoated enemy, and advancing towards each other to the sound of the drummer's beat, and on the order, firing, and the line with the least fallen is the winner. Me, I'd have taken aim at the drummer. Reamur Sebastopol, where I'm suddenly convinced that some brown t-shirted girl will be waiting amongst the line of waiting faces, and will enter the carriage and sit next to me and ask what I'm writing, but there isn't and there wasn't and she didn't, more tunnels more graffiti and I'm wondering how they do it given the frequency of the trains.



Strasbourg Saint-Denis, and maybe the station's name should have prompted me to serenade my fellow passengers with Blondie's 'Denis', but it never did, and I never did, perhaps because the chorus is in French and my only Saint Denis story concerns his beheading, but how he headlessly walked from Montmartre to the place where he dropped it three kilometres distant, and where they eventually built his basilica. And of how the red third of the French flag represents Saint Denis' martyred blood and there's a charming illustration of this event just to the left of the Pantheon's entrance, leaving me wondering what the white and blue represent, but in the meantime:

denis denis, avec son yeux si leux
denis denis, je pense toujours a nous
denis denis, un baiser profond qui durer jamais
denis denis, je suis je fou au suject de vous
denis denis, veuillez m'embrasser ce soir
denis denis, un baiser profond qui durere toute la nuit


Château d'Eau, water castle, and I've been through here more than a few times on other adventures of other kinds, in a previous existence, but all of them literary, but thinking of water and perhaps it's no coincidence that I woke up this morning with Velasquez on my brain, just the word, and spelt that way even though it correctly has two z's, so I'll continue to spell it with an s. Velasquez,and the name writ large in some florid font above some other less-florid words that I'd written, one word sentence summaries of how some of his paintings made me feel, and Velasquez was the painter I'd woken from, but knowing he was just the most recent in my dream-trawl through other painters whose works I'd similarly reduced to one word summaries. Velasquez was one of the painters Dali considered better than himself, in terms of technique, Dali scored Velasquez a 20/20 with himself only 12/20, while Leonardo da Vinci scored 17/20, Ingres 15/20, Picasso 9/20, Raphael 19/20 with Vermeer as the only other 20/20). Pperhaps walking through the Louvre and the d'Orsay galleries in a single day has momentarily affected my thinking, wondering on how many fine details from all those paintings I'd missed in this wild mister toad ride through European art history and knowing that if you look closely enough at any of his work, peer intently at the originals enough to see the brushwork, and even closer yet to make out the lean layers beneath the fat surface, he made alterations as he worked, the lean layers slightly different, but better yet, using the canvas itself to wipe his brushes clean, which he later painted over, although try as I might to see through his Water Seller Of Seville, and knowing that the hand holding the glass and the horizontal streaks that exist beneath the surface can be seen, nothing is missing, it's still there. And then there's Jacques-Louis David's portrayal of Marat in his bath, and thinking that instead of killing him, perhaps if Charlotte Corday had joined Marat instead, slipping off her layers of clothing and sliding down into the other end of their claw-footed bath, their own private Chateau d'Eau, and perhaps they stayed there until the water was too cold, their twenty fingers resembled white prunes.


Gare de l'Est, and yet more people are filling this carriage, and feeling privileged to have a seat at all, even if it is the one by the door and etiquette demands that I should be standing up, but I'm assuming that my perceived status as ignorant tourist trumps local knowledge of the etiquette kind, so I will pretend ignorance and the Gare de l'Est sign has 'Verdun' underneath it, which I'm thinking was yet another battlefield of importance during the First World War, but it could easily be referring to some Monsieur Verdun, whoever he might have been. But it's getting crowded as we snake through the tunnel.

du nord

Gare du Nord, and as the announcements for the departure of the 12:05 to Moscow from le Gare du Nord were made, he held her, tightly, tighter, as though in some kind of futile attempt to impress the physical reality of her into his very being, to take her inside himself, to keep her in his heart. Meanwhile, the passenger next to me is eating a baguette.


Barbes Rochechouart, and I adore the sound of the name, particularly when it falls from a beautiful girl's lips, like a pearl. But a name I've never been able to pronounce without the French dissolving into paroxysms of bewilderment about what I might possibly mean.


Château-Rouge, which always makes me think of a Jimi Hendrix song called Red House, wait a minute something wrong here, my key won't unlock this door, but JimI's useless key leads me thinking of a chateau so completely and perfectly red those communist flags of the world droop themselves to half-mast in shame of their relative pinkness, and bottles of red would spontaneously relabel themselves rose, the red of the most brilliant clichéd sunset or the red of a matador's cape (merely for theatrical effect, as bulls are colour blind), or the red of old telephone boxes (and, with a knife, I knew how to make calls for free), the red of blood, obviously, and of Superman's cape (I'm imagining that any other colour would have sent him fatally plunging earthwards), the red of rubies hard-won by the toil of miners who forego daylight altogether, or of carmine made of cochineal blood, squished between expert fingernails, and why are red Indians red when they are almost every other shade apart from red, but indian red is something else entirely, a colour in a derwent box, and why is the British army famous for it's red coats, maybe for similar reasons explaining Spartan capes, and the shade of red called cinnabar, the existence of which is explained in mythological terms as a battle between an elephant and a dragon, and the intermingling of their split blood is cinnabar, and Roman women used it to redden their lips, caring not for the mercury it contained, which destroyed their lips first, then the entirety of their health, and why are scarlet women scarlet, and iodine scarlet, with which my mother tended my torn knees, but being another mercury friendly red, and the tattooist's red kept for hearts on sleeves and banners on biceps and telltale flushes on the embarrassed , the red of fire engines, of emergencies, of anger (seeing red, I see red, icy red), of warning signs, 'Greg, the stop sign!', the red of traffic lights, and of the deeply red roses of the Luxembourg, which I cannot resist picking, prickling thorning my thumb and forefinger as I snap the delicate stems, tempted hold it lengthways between my teeth, like some flamenco dancer, or some pirate's knife.


Marcadet Poissonieres, and I'm hoping to hear all those life stories of those prisoners liberated from the Bastille (I believe there were very few, and if some learned historian has not already written of them, then I will happily enough write them, although my interpretations of the given facts may border on the fanciful). One of the prisoners, Jean-Marcel Marcadet, who always protested his innocence, but who was in fact guilty as all hell (of what, no one is certain, but he had a moustache, and as someone who I've gladly forgotten entirely once said, never trust a man with a moustache), was accidentally killed by the masses in their frenzy to liberate the oppressed, burning torches not being known to mix all that well with long and unwashed hair, although long and unwashed hair was a fashion adopted by the highest echelons of the revolutionary committee, as even clean fingernails had overtones of the despised aristocracy would get your name written in Robespierre's little black book. Another prisoner, who also protested his innocence, Marcel Poissonieres, had indeed made untoward suggestions to young ladies along the lines of rattling their kidneys, for which the liberating mob thought only appropriate to be turned into an adored Serge Gainsbourg songline at some future date.

Marcadet Poissonieres, and somehow even down in the metro's tunnels, the scent of fishmarkets permeates and the spruiking of fishwives selling crabmeat at 6 euros a kilo.


Simplon, and I've nearly always pitied the good residents of Simplon, as someone from Simplon would be, a what, exactly. And that suited businessman with the disheveled tie is on his way home after his Tuesday rendezvous with his mistress, leaving her in tears and feeling murderous, and that woman facing away from us with all the oversized shopping bags bearing the names of the boutique stores at Les Halles has discovered, again, that retail therapy is transparent, soulless and self delusional, and that a three hundred euro pair of shoes will not make her happy. And that standing man with vacuous face staring at the blur is wondering where his dreams of becoming a fireman went to, and why he was so willing to jettison a life of untold excitements for one that was not, although he keeps a bic lighter in his pocket and thumbs the striking wheel when stressed, and that boy near the door that connects to the next carriage is wondering if the girl who's occasionally looking up from the novel she has to read for school has a boyfriend and if she'd ever contemplated having a tattoo and perhaps full length angel wings down her back and what brand of cigarettes might be in her pocket, but he will never find out, as she uses her metro ticket as a bookmark, and stands, as her station is next. The boy breathes a sigh of relief, but he will, years later, wonder how much life might have been different if he'd only spoken to her. The girl, as she stands, waiting for the train to slow to it's stop is thinking the businessman should straighten his tie.


Porte De Clignancourt : rive droite terminal, the end of the line, or the beginning, the Porte de Clignancourt of myth and legend. I'm in no small state of wondrousness about what lies above, whether the creaking hulls of black freighters dominate the landscape, with iron-rimmed wooden barrels of rough red wine to be loaded, with rats scurrying the lengths of impossibly thick mooring rope, and gulls circling, crying. But, erm, no, there's an epicerie which may have something seafoody. But I'm still hoping for a bar, with maybe some old salty sailor nursing his shots of rum and with tattoos of a blue hula dancer on his hairy forearm, although I'm already somehow thinking this might be a faint hope.


The Paris Stories : The Frenzied Cortinas

And it appears there's some kind of metro ticket shortage, hmm, no matter, as I thought to steal this discarded Tour de France bike that was uselessly lying around the west leg of the Eiffel Tower, because I could, it was, just, there, and turns out to have been an entirely practical solution, so, just trust me as I'm about to negotiate some legendary Parisien road nightmares. In fact, it might be a good idea to offer up a prayer or two to whoever the patron saint of travel might be (it used to be Saint Christopher, but I believe he's been de-sanctified, I'm not sure why, perhaps he's doing jail time for carjacking, or selling used metro tickets to unsuspecting tourists or something). But, for some reason I just don't want to take the metro tonight anyway, and there's a movie showing at the Cinema de Balzac, 'Le Jardin des Finzi-ContinI', which I haven't seen since first year uni, when I was studying Revolutions of the Twentieth Century and my tutor recommended it. I remember enjoying the movie, although I cannot recall anything whatsoever to do with the storyline except that it was beautiful to watch. But on the way home, afterwards, somehow the title morphed into The Garden of the Frenzied Cortinas, and imaginings of wreckers yards becoming vast fields of fucking cars indulging in every kind of crushed metal hedonism, and although the distance is almost walkable, the bike is, well, the bike is there ..


And from here, crossing the rue and pedalling up Rue Jean Bart vaguely Seine-wards (and yes, I cannot help but think of Les Simpsons), but thankfully only pedalling past other terraces that are all similar but different, and perhaps I could do something useful, like consult the map, and slowing across Rue de Vaugirard, and perhaps those personnes pretentiously not wearing black berets having their long blacks and cigarettes on the tables set up on the footpath will wave, although they might just be pointing at moi, being the only man in Paris to wear a beret, tragique!, and Jean Bart becomes Rue Cassette, and tragically, most of the hundreds and hundreds of cassette tapes I made in the eighties have now rusted into virtual uselessness, even all those Alan Stivell ones sound similar to side 3 of Lou Reed's 'Metal Machine Music' , which sounds the same as 1, 2 and 4 anyway. Continuing, crossing through the Rue de Mezieres, and I adore the way this sounds, meziere, being necessary to gently push one's tongue almost to the roof of your mouth, then pushing forward gently, held, then let fall with the final breath allowed to fall away to silence. I want to be Rue Mezieres, falling away to silence, until the end, and turning right at the most stylish and cursive t-intersection formed by Rue de Rennes, and maybe sometime I will visit Rennes, again, and thinking on it's history. Rennes used to be the Breton capital, but it's the nearest to Paris of all the large Breton cities and doesn't appear to despise France as much as the rest of Brittany does, and momentarily wondering where my bombarde might be, the one I bought in Quimper. I can play it though not very well, and wondering why bombarde players aren't all deaf with that incredibly loud and shrill sound, like a psychotic oboe crossed with a screaming tinnitus ..

But after only a block, turning left into Rue du Vieux Colombier until Place Robert Debre, and I can only assume that whoever Robert Debre was he can't have amounted to much as his place is called 'dismal' in all the guide books, nevertheless, steering across and then right and into Rue du Dragon, du dragon, and instantly, a library worth of mythological dragon lore falls into my head including the ancient Chinese having what they believed to be 'dragon bones', with thousands of them found, each with a question scratched into it, should I plant the wheat crops now or wait until next month? should I marry the girl from the next village?, and each bone had been held over a fire, probably by some kind of local priest, until fine cracks appeared in the bones, and the cracks were interpreted as 'yes' or 'no' or 'whatever'. Asian dragons helped humanity, while European ones only existed to be killed by those wishing to add 'hero' to their CV's, because they invariably not only ravished the land, but quite a few delectable maidens along the way as well, and if I was a dragon, I'd stop pedalling right about now at Rue Bernard Palissy, just to the right, there, and ravish whoever might be up for some dragon-type ravishment up against this honeycoloured sandstone brick wall ..


But I'm not a dragon, so I'll wait until I reach Boulevard Saint Germain instead, just a little further on and perhaps park the bike outside thelipp brasserie and order a café grande, and find the charmingly right words to use on some ravishingly beautiful black-haired and redlipped maiden with whom I'll maybe share a post-ravishment cigarette. But no, I've never been too successful at blowing smoke rings either, which I guess is maybe further proof of my genetic distance from dragon-ness, never quite saw the point. And whenever I decide to continue, it'll be up Rue Bonaparte, perhaps thinking on stories of Bonaparte himself, or perhaps of Josephine, and apparently, josephine was incapable of rejecting the charmingly right words either, a trait for which most historians suddenly start pressing their puritanical buttons and condemn her for, I have no idea why women left lonely are expected to play Penelope, and thinking on Penelope herself, curiously regarded as the epitome of faithfulness when she only stopped fucking the suitors when Odysseus turned up. I like her more for knowing she refused to be lonely. And once again I'll be thinking "That's where Sartre lived!" as I cycle past 42, and where Simone de Beauvoir's sensible white undies were often removed, and "That's where Henry Miller lived!" when passing 24, and where Anaïs Nin couldn't get out of her blue lacey ones fast enough. I adore this street, and the days spent thieving from it's myriad of tiny art galleries, and speaking of such, there's some new Magritte etchings just come onto the market and displayed in the Gallery de Beau Arts in Rue Christine, so keeping them in mind for later thievings.


And to the end, to where Quai Malaquai parallels the Seine, and turning left, and there's steps up to the Pont des Arts on the right, and along the quays, perhaps snatching glances at the bouquiniste stalls, stopping only if there be obscure photographs of Audrey Tatou, sans ses sous-vêtements rouges, but veering through the traffic and these tiny excuses for transport they call cars, meep, meep!, oh, go fuck yerself, yer dumb cunt! (my abuse of drivers is startling in it's originality, ne pas?, I'm guessing ils ne comprennent pas mon anglais, de toute façon). But, trying to avoid swerving directly into oncoming traffic, and I'm sure my words were completely blown away, windward, as I continue alongside the Louvre, fascinated by the cruelty of it's furiously spiked drainpipes, and I'm tempted by the Louvre's insides, but since making off with the Raft of the Medusa then perhaps not, not stopping and feigning some innocent nonchalance, perhaps even looking away, pretending to be admiring the Seine as it ripples seaward or something. And at the next bridge, Le Pont Royal, turning right into the Terrasse des Tuleries, and then left, and even though bicycletting is entirely interdit, going straight through le Jardin des Tuleries anyway.


My anarchist sympathies are offended by being told that anything is interdit, and sometimes I'm ashamed of how many times I'll meekly resign to, or just accept, what's considered interdit, like, waiting an eternity for the fucking red man to go green before I cross.


And, over there is where Sylvia Plath took a chair and began sketching before being rudely interrupted by somebody, some Tony tapping her on the shoulder. Continuing along, and the glare of the crushed marble walkways through here is killing, squinting. But, around the pond, and where the fuck are my sunnies and the l'Orangerie Gallery is just over there, and thinking that Monet's waterlilies would be a perfect next theft, and wondering where the green tunnel of foliage that Sartre mentioned in The Reprieve might have been. But straight ahead to the exit, and out into Place de la Concorde. There's a pedestrian crossing just to the right, but aiming straight ahead, at least as far as the needlepoint shade of the obelisk, and thinking Champollionesque thoughts and stories of the Rosetta Stone, and of his museum in Figeac. And yes, the Concorde, and the intangible presence of those guillotines that were set up here, working happily away as the crowds apparently roared as the blades fell, perhaps they didn't, I'm not sure why they roared, perhaps they were expected to, perhaps a decapitation is hugely entertaining, or perhaps I've watched The Scarlet Pimpernel too many times.

But from here, it's straight ahead, up the Champs-Elysee. It's probably safer on the footpaths on either side, but no, I'm going straight up the middle, like some long forgotten remnant of a Bastille Day celebration. And thinking that maybe an Oskar-style disruption of the display of military might is called for, or maybe become some Tour de France cyclist desperately struggling to the finish line, months after the others have been waved at by the adoring crowd, or maybe wondering at the sheer number of tourists who somehow manage to mistake this street for the entirety of Paris, although the looming Arc de Triomphe at the other end does look really fucking wonderful, Passing Avenue Dutuit on the left, and the small parc, and reminded of the second time in Paris, after having unsuccessfully trying to withdraw money from an ATM only to be told that we had no money, fuckfuckfuck, and imagining having to wash dishes and clean rooms for the rest of my life to pay off the hotel bill, passing Place Clemenceau, and approaching this six way intersection, it's large, and busy, but just keep going, I will show no fear, they'll attack if they get the scent of it.

Manoeuvring, yes, and continue, passing the designer fashion houses on the left, and the more populated footpaths on the right, passing Rue Marbeuf (and momentarily, I'm thinking of cows, black and white ones), passing the bright scarlet umbrellas of some fashion house's terrace café, then Rue Pierre Charron (and no, I have absolutely non idée who he might have been, but the black and white cows have all gone over to the land of the dead and are being ferried across the Styx, never to return), and on the right are the Gallerie des Arcades, which I have to admit makes for some quite riveting windowshopping, even if I'm not in the market for a 600 euro handbag although I may be back later to steal that 20,000 euro long black coat that's being displayed in the window of Pierre Cardin's, then the Galerie des Champs, where the 600 euro handbags begin to look something of a bargain, and passing that, quickly look up Rue de Berri, on the right, a glimpse of le Sacre Coeur, right, about, now, and more deep red umbrellas set up outside La Fouquet's on the left, on the corner of Avenue George V, and if I turned down here then I'd end up at Alma-Marceau, where Di and Dodi died, although I'd feel compelled to add to the grafitti that adorns it, but I don't have the appropriate felt-tipped pen, damn it. But for an anarchist I have some curiously strong attachments to the idea of monarchy, of kings and princesses, which I'd explain but right now being too busy concentrating on swerving into the oncoming traffic on the other side again, then passing Rue de Bassano, which I imagine would be deeply sung, yes love, love will tear us apart, again, in a voice mostly blown behind me but deep nevertheless, yes, just like that, perfect, and up onto the footpath, perfect, and I'll keep pedaling until the next corner, Rue Balzac, and dumping the bike here, against the trunk of the very corner elm, if someone steals it, then good luck to them, the theatre is just over there, at number 1, and somehow the foyer resembles some kind of art nouveau-ish luxurious ocean liner of the 1930's, and was intentionally designed to be that way, and in.

And yes, the bike's been taken, just as I hoped it would be, and hopefully it's gone to a worthy home, taken by someone who will love and cherish and oil it's chain and lovingly adjust those derailleur gears, or maybe it's been mangalated beyond recognition by some apprentice sculptor and already sold to the Pompidou Centre as some kind of definitive post-modernist statement on something which will inevitably escape me entirely. But, it doesn't matter, as the movie was fascinating and just as affecting as I remember it being the first time, and even though I'd been unable to recall a single detail just a few hours ago, the opening credits seemed to unlock something and every scene unfolded exactly as I knew it would, but there were no frenzied cortinas, just the telling of a decision to withdraw entirely from the world, to exist behind high walls in isolation from the reality of Mussolini and the anti-semitism of fascist italy, not exactly in denial of it, but in some kind of fatalistic acceptance. And although I'm bikeless on the Champs-Elysees, it matters not, as I'll find some café easily enough, and I have been known to sit for three hours over a single long black, unless a bar tempts first, and the Lido is on the opposite corner, but it's a bowdlerized version of what it once was, so perhaps I shall boycott it, in protest. And the movie's sense of fatalism has rubbed off, I'm thinking on how there's times when I could similarly take leave of the world entirely outside my door, after closing it and locking it and attempt to forget whatever's beyond it, and live within entirely, in a world of my own imaginings. A place where perhaps only the streetlighting is the only signifier of anything without, or maybe only blueing moonlight, shading everything the colours of the sacred and profane, and maybe think on the impossibility of distinguishing between the two anyway, for they are perhaps defined in the same terms, there may be silences and there may not, and it doesn't matter, then, there's other times when the streets sing their siren songs, perhaps just to walk to the Luxembourg to watch the old men play petanque and the young children sail their boats, or maybe pull up some green iron chair and be part of it all, momentarily and pretentiously imagining myself reading Sartre there, Being and Nothingness by the tennis courts ..

and further, perhaps to the Seine and think on Bob Dylan and just watch the river flow or thinking on Patti Smith instead and pissing in it, to spend nights in the Vert-Galant, to pique-nique on the Pont des Arts, to watch red sunsets from the Sacre Coeur, and sunrises from wherever tempted the most, to walk unknown streets never walked, to stumble upon music accidentally and intentionally, to visit other cinemas to watch other movies, to order vin rouge in any of the bars, or to light my cigarettes and watch the smoke curl and twine with the steam from the café grande, and add to the volume of words that have already been spilled in these places, or perhaps just to watch others here and create their lives, and if the waitress is pretty then the café will be my favourite, or maybe other sirens sing of further, even further, of place names that have a curious attraction and an exotic temperament, to Moscow and Madrid and Morocco, to sit by other rivers, or maybe other ports, to watch other ships come and go and wonder on their destinations, and to sit in their cafés and bars, to drink, to write in those places, to maintain diaries, to fill pages of notebooks with impressions and sketches and things collected along the way, to walk through their art galleries, browse it's bookshops, explore its backstreets, to listen to its music and its silences and its words and participate in its dances, to feel a part of the world, to experience and absorb it, as even when it's bad it's good, to have it all, like far too much almond bread, which I adore though it might kill me, and when the coffee is finished or has gone cold, I shall order another.


My Paris 'Zine, and the first and only printed edition of twenty or so of my one and only 'zine, took a few days to eventually sell out.
Bless the Sticky Institute.

For starters, kiss someone. It doesn't matter where.
  • Paris : An Alternative Itinerary.
  • 1. Liberate Degas’ Absinthe Drinker from the Musee d’Orsay, or if the coast isn't clear, utterly commit every detail to memory, and have photographs taken of yourself, in this pose, in some down and out bar off Rue Pigalle or the Rue St Denis, if not both. Incredibly, absinthe is still illegal in France.
  • 2. Yell advice to the skaters in the forecourt of the Notre Dame as they leap high bars in a single bound and snake through impossibly close polystyrene cups, even though they’re far better than you’ll ever be.
  • 3. Steal a book or two from the Sorbonne library. Perhaps from the 500’s, the anatomy section, and after reading them play compare and contrast between the illustrations and the anatomies offered up on the Boulevard de Clichy, tear out those graphics and pin them to your lounge room wall as a souvenir.
  • 4. Find a place in Le Deux Magots, or the Café de Flores, order the coffees, and pretend the spirits of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir are channelling themselves up your arse. Keep in mind that Jean-Paul’s nickname for Simone was "the beaver". Remember to utter the words being and nothingness at least once, although should your homage to Jean-Paul know no bounds, you might try scrabbling around the floor near closing time searching for used cigarette butts.
  • 5. Hire a bike, and ride up the Champs d’Elysee from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. And, if you want, imagine that victory in the Tour de France is all yours, and revel in all those undetected steroids coursing through your system. Hmm, yumm.
  • 6. Talk with the market stall holders setting up in the Clignancourt market. If it’s raining, then so much the better as all those mannequins featuring the best of cheap chinese imports get to wear cheap chinese bags.
  • 7. Spit into the Seine from Pont des Arts. Just hough it back, ghghh ghghhg, ppphht, and should anyone object, then fuck yer! is pretty much universally understood as an appropriate response.
  • 8. Drink beaucoups les vin rouges, like there’s definitely no tomorrow.
  • 9. You could carve obscenities about the French president into the anti-suicide perspex.Or, better yet, try photographing the incredible array of useless souvenir trinkets being sold. Or even better, try outwitting the gypsies.
  • 10. Pique-nique on the Vert-Galant, and later, on the way home, maybe piss on the stones underneath the Pont Neuf, perhaps while reciting Black Rook In Rainy Weather in some kind of homage to Sylvia Plath, as she once pissed there too, Exhausted; lifted skirt under bridge, behind truck, secure in noise of falling water and urinated on sidewalk. Sylvia Plath. The Unexpurgated Journals, p.272.
  • 11. Take the metro to Abbesses and walk up Rue Lepic to the carousel at the foot of Sacre Coeur. And yes, Le Deux Moulins cafe on your left was indeed where Amelie worked as a waitress. If you want, you could ride the carousel, and always remember to pack a spanner and keep the shifter handy should you compulsively need to souvenir one of the horsies.
  • 12. Dance on the Pont des Arts, while holding a bottle of red wine in one hand and a lit Gauloises in the other.
  • 13. Choose ice-cream flavours you’ve never tried before from one of the ice-creameries in Ile St Louis. With flavours that challenge pronunciation, that were, until now, unimagined.
  • 14. Wade through the pool in the Luxembourg Gardens, upsetting the flotilla of toy boats.
  • 15. Buy an apple in the Rue de Buci fruit market. Wander through to the small garden on the side of the Saint Germain church. Exclaim loudly that the statue here, by Picasso and called Apollinaire, is in fact of Dora Maar (Picasso's second wife).
  • 16. Cruise the Boulevard de Clichy. Find a cafe, and write a poem concerning the trajectories that led to the intersection between those who work this street, and those who cruise it.
  • 17. Visit the Montparnasse Cemetery, and search out Serge Gainsbourg, and perhaps develop a hypothesis explaining on why Serge gets all the attention while Samuel Beckett, so close nearby, gets none. My own, albeit untested hypothesis, is that most people would rather fuck than wait.
  • 18. Visit Shakespeare & Co. And maybe browse through the world’s largest collection of ink spilled on the beat poets before buying a copy of Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood.
  • 19. Order a coffee and sit at the outside tables of the Cafe de la Marie, near the Saint Sulpice cathedral, and perhaps smirk at the tourists imagining that they’re solving the Da Vinci Code, and or perhaps wonder which table was preferred by Djuna while she was writing Nightwood there.
  • 20. Visit the Tuleries Garden carnivale. You could ride the ghost train and the ferris wheel, shoot the ducks and win the prize, and eat the fairy floss. But the chair ride is the best, easily.
  • 21. Walk Rue Jacob, there’s a ghost,apparently, at number 11, and not only did Laurence Stern write Tristram Shandy at number 46, but I lived there for a short while too. A little further on, there’s the Hotel Lenox, where James Joyce and T.S. Eliot once lived. While on the corner with Rue Saints Peres is the Comptoir cafe, where F Scott Fitzgerald once flashed himself to Ernest Hemingway, hoping for a reassurance that size wasn’t important. Hemingway obliged, but he lied. Hemingway spends an entire chapter of A Moveable Feast relating the details.

The Paris Stories : In Search Of Anaïs Nin


And while the houseboat on the Seine was perhaps the most romantic of Anaïs Nin's addresses in Paris, there were others, and I could describe the walk to Villa Seurat, where she and Henry Miller had an apartment. Walking is fine, but the burnt caramel of the metro is a tempting and heady scent, so perhaps I'll be slipping moi billet into the ticket machine and following the tiled tunnels to the ticket machine, then following the tiled tunnels to the Porte d'Orleans direction platform, wondering at the posters for this week's attractions and pondering on why Lafayette needs to endlessly promote itself, and every other waiting passenger seems as rugged-up as I am, although it's warmer down here and already those thin beads of perspiration are forming on the parts of faces not hidden by mouth-covering scarves. The caramel rushes in with the train and I'm moving, it seems crowded, perhaps it's just the extra layers of clothing, but people seem bigger, and through Montparnasse Bienvenue, and wondering if the metro line was tunneled underneath the cemetery, and if the dead are rotting above me, if their bones rattled to what must have been the thunder of constant drilling beneath them, or if they still rattle to the tune of the trains themselves, et forgivez-moi, but I'm imagining the skeletal waltzing of Simone and Jean-Paul, unedeuxtrois unedeuxtrois, but then thinking that perhaps Beckett dances alone, and eventually gliding into the Vavin metro station, and I will close my eyes and just listen for faint music, on accordions or violins, and I'm thinking that I should get off this train, now, and take some images of the station and of the blue naming tiles in particular, then wait for the next train, seven minutes.

And there seems to be fewer passengers on this seven minutes later train, but eventually arriving at Raspail, and thinking on Raspail the biologist and his germ and cell theories and wonder if many thought him insane at the time, and wonder how he survived his jail time. But sometime I will have succeeded in capturing all of the placenames on this metro line, and soon enough I'll have collected them all. I guess one just has to be prepared to wait the seven minutes at each station, which probably has nothing at all to do with seven minutes being the time yer average fuck takes, or the average time it takes to fall asleep, or the number of holes in every human's head, something I learned when I was much younger, and perhaps even less to do with seven being the number of days of Biblical creation or the number of colours in the rainbow and how many days there are in a week, and lust is definitely my favourite of the seven deadly sins. Wondering on all those times when all those writers and painters and dancers and poets must have drunkenly staggered down into the Raspail station, with their objects of lust and hopefully affection held close, and waited for their train, wondering if Henry and Anaïs were amongst them, probably definitely, and somehow I've completely missed Denfert Rochereau, perhaps lost in those thoughtdreams of Henry and Anaïs. Mouton Duvernet, which as I understand it, was a particular cut of meat first devised by Duvernet the Butcher of Montparnasse, deadly accurate with his cleaver and best known for being the rarity of a butcher with all his fingers. But then finally slowing into Alesia, which is my destination, and Alesia was apparently one of the daughters of one of the many Louis', but I cannot remember which one, and following the Avenue de General Leclerc exit, and somewhere over on the other side of the intersection is Rue d'Alesia, which is obvious enough, even in the cold, and passing Rue du Lunain on the right, and the word lunain rolls around my mouth as I attempt a pronunciation and wonder if the word has associations with the moon, and then two more streets, before turning right into Rue de la Tombe Issoire, and for some reason the name of this rue quickened my heart, the Street of the Issoir's tomb, and given issoir's decapitation by William of Orange, I'm wondering where the giant's head might have been buried, according to the myth it's somewhere near here, and somehow I understand all those details of how the gigantic Issoire menaced with murderous intent all those pilgrims beginning their quest for Santiago de Compostela, and naturally leading to making a short list of those other pilgrims I should have menaced with murderous intent when I was on my own pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, back in '02. But soon enough passing Rue de l'Aude on the left, and the next is Villa Seurat itself, and wondering which windows might have belonged to Georges and if it's still possible to throw pebbles against it, as Van Gogh and Gauguin did during their absinthe fuelled evenings, although right now the streets are decidedly lacking in the ready availability of pebbles, and finding numero dix-huit, and I'm thinking that perhaps it's only appropriate to knock on their door, and thinking on who might answer, Henry or Anaïs or someone else entirely, but invite myself in and insist on a cup of tea if they've no coffee at all, earl grey, english breakfast, black russian, I don't really care. But remembering being told in the Unexpurgated Diaries that, the house at 2 bis Rue Montbuisson in the hamlet of Louveciennes was all that remained untouched by time of a circle of collaborating artists and writers to later epitomize a Paris past. The house is lovingly recalled throughout Nin's Journals, and could be considered the crucible of her formative years as an artist. It is above all Anaïs Nin's most important home in France. Hmm, Anaïs, unexpurgated, so excuse me just one moment while I check for my library card, yes, never leave home without it, while the soft-core possibilities that might unfold certainly has my attention, and briefly imagine that the copy of her Spy in the House of Love in my pocket is now wrapped in her blue lace undies, and I'll thank her very much, merci beaucoup, et feel, and promising that oui, I'll get to Louveciennes sometime, peut-être pas adjourd'hui, et peut-être pas demian, but sometime I'll take the RER line C until Saint Germain-en-Laye, then find the CGEA line 1 bus, which should take me to Saint Louis street, easily enough finding Rue Montbuisson from there ..


But, there's more immediate concerns, as according to something by Lawrence Durrell, To this day Anaïs to me is the friend who lived on a "barge" on the Seine on the other side of the Pont Neuf from where we lived, on the Quai de l'Horloge. And if by 'the other side of the Pont Neuf' Durrell means the Quai de Conti, then getting there means taking the metro to Saint Michel, while entirely ignoring any other passengers, but it doesn't matter as I won't be on this train for long and reading yet more from The Spy in the House of Love on the train, only becoming aware when the train slows into Saint Placide, as though dragged upwards through levels of consciousness and for the first time wondering why I've never noticed the blue seats, their blueness never seeming important enough, but here, the coming attraction of Leonard Cohen is facing the equally coming attraction of Britney Spears, and inevitably sometimes my wonderings will involve what might happen down here between the still singing Lenny and still dancing Britney when the metro closes down after one in the morning, leaving them 'til about five thirty the next morning to do what they will, perhaps Lenny will be talking about the idea of fame, of how celebrity works, and what it all means and maybe on how celebrity involves the anointing of goddess status on some anointed one, as it was on Britney, but the anointing sword of celebrity is necessarily double-edged,and will be used as the weapon for human sacrifice, for the greater good, just like iphigenia they held me high, over the pyre, the pitiless sword fell, but now the only weapon at the disposal of the great unwashed is humiliation, which they will use relentlessly and thoughtlessly, but after her death she will be remembered for her music, by which time Britney's contemplating including Bird on a Wire in her repertoire, thinking that from now she will try in her way to be free, and Lenny will perhaps dedicate Joan of Arc to all those women who have shaved their heads in times of stress, after which Britney can only serenade her Lenny across the tracks with a whispered version of If You Seek Amy, and anything is possible apart from when it's not, and up above them there's Saint Sulpice and the cathedral, where the boy Mozart played the organ for Marie-Antoinette and where the Marquis de Sade was baptized, and the printery nearby, where my fingers once were tattooed with imagined black ink, and where I have drunk red wine under the not-so-careful watch of the lions and the cardinals and definitely ridiculed the Da Vinci Code tourists, and wondered where the tiny brothel with four whores ranging in age from eighteen to thirty-eight might have been that Nabokov frequented, but not today, although the equivalent to the little throb that become his Lolita could probably be found somewhere among the crowds browsing the hundreds stalls of the antiquities market that's currently happening in the cathedral's forecourt, it could be anyone of them, although her red heart-shaped sunglasses have probably by now been replaced with reflecting aviators or ray-bans, although the heart sunnies were a Kubrick invention anyway, as Nabokov merely called them dark glasses, but keeping in mind that de Beauvoir wrote from the very first moment that he sets eyes on Lolita, Humbert Humbert is in hell, although, unlike Humbert, Simone never had any qualms about fucking the underaged, grooming them for Sartre, but today not even Lolita herself offering it up could tempt me to leave this train, despite being crowded, and I am the only person writing although many of the other passengers are reading, and I'm wondering where they are in their heads as the train slows into Saint Germain des Pres, and once again knowing that Jean-Paul and Simone must have exited here countless times, while opposite me a dark and beautiful girl drinks takeaway coffee, and thinking that among the passengers who were waiting, now standing and holding the silver pole, might actually be minotaurs, except I don't know which ones they might be, possibly that one there, the tall guy with the beard and the ponytail and MP3 player, maybe he's listening to Metallica fading to black, or maybe Dylan sheltering from the storm, or perhaps it's Miles Davis giving birth to the cool as the train arrives at Odeon, where the plastic seats are yellow, and are being cleaned of texta'd messages, and wondering if those for whom the messages were intended have read them, and above here is the statue that includes the drummer, and thinking on the conversations we could have had, of rolls and paradiddles and wondering if he kept playing when the bullets were flying, eventually reaching Saint Michel, heading for the door as this is my exit, and already this morning the dragon slayer will have been photographed a thousand times, and maybe the pool is filled with discarded things and in this best of all possible worlds then all those texta'd messages of love and hate will have been left on its stone rim, and it's crowded. And exiting, taking the Place Saint Michel exit, crossing, and down the stone steps carefully avoiding the ticket sellers for the river tours but knowing that the scent of piss down here is unavoidable, a scent that some might consider an essential ingredient in the perfume that is Paris itself, essence de Paris ..


And perhaps browsing the bouquenista stalls nearby and inevitably thinking on the possible intersecting trajectories between Anaïs, who browsed the books often enough here, and Jean Genet, who pickpocketed those who browsed the books, and, maybe, after the repeated intersected pickpocketings, was when Anaïs decided to tell him that "I am going to be pursued, fucked, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding", on which Jean may have felt obliged to return the fine mesh purse he'd just so brilliantly extracted from Anaïs' handbag, along with the small bottle of whisky she'd just bought (meant for Henry, but no matter) and deciding to share mouthfuls after walking down the stone steps to the quays below, crickcrack, and passing the bottle between themselves, oblivious to all others, back and forth, "Dreams are necessary to life," Anaïs probably slightly slurred after her third mouthful.
"True," Jean might have replied, after Anaïs passed him back the bottle, "A man must dream a long time in order to act with grandeur, and dreaming is nursed in darkness. "
And after a short while, Anaïs may have leaned in closely to Jean's pug ear and whispered "I want to live darkly and richly. "
And while Jean knew that whispering to be some kind of breathly caress, he contemplated the scratches on Anaïs's black painted fingernails and replied that "You must plunge into darkness, into shit and blood", and handing the whiskey back to Anaïs, who after another burning swallowing, replies that "I always feel like making love where there is a great deal of red, the same quick rising of the blood, the fullness, the fullness, I feel my own blood thundering inside of me, fears melt, my blood dances, my legs open".
But I'll be leaving Jean Genet thinking on the literary worth and possible metaphors offered up by the opened legs and thundering blood of Anaïs Nin, and following the flow of the Seine along Quai des Grands Augustins instead, and towards Pont Neuf, thinking that a mouthful of jack daniels right now would be a mighty fine thing, to where the black barges are moored, and that'll be where Anaïs moored her houseboat, La Belle Aurore, somewhere along here, although I'm not sure exactly where, so I'm leaving it entirely up to instinct, probably depending on which moorage post looks most like a four chambered heart, and I might stay here awhile and listen to the Seine as it flows towards the sea and think on the idea of living on a barge, but soon enough find myself wondering on the lifespan of a houseboat, and if Anaïs' boat was sold when she tired of it, and who she might have sold it to, and if it still exists, so maybe one of these barges along here was La Belle Aurore just restored and renamed as something else entirely, or maybe it was eventually broken up and sold off as scrap, or maybe it sunk, or maybe it was gutted and used to haul coal, or maybe it was captured by pirates as it floated down the Seine towards Rennes, those pirates with glinty knives held in their brightly coloured silk belts of crimson and chartreuse and lilac, and, peut-être, later in this Anaïs-type pilgrimage, buying a vin rouge at Le Viking, down in Rue Vavin, where Anaïs met Henry for the first and second times, even if Le Viking doesn't exist anymore, having been transformed into a tanning salon called Point Soliel, where perhaps I should pay my 15 euros for the premium 5 to 10 minute bronzage session, but only if the salon chick is prepared to listen to my reading an extract from The Spy In The House Of Love, perhaps the 'moon bathing' section aloud, or just randomly opening the book to any page and begin reading whatever paragraph first appears, let's see, page 60, as it turns out (penguin edition), at this moment she was aware of her evil, of an invisible crime equal to murder in life. It was her secret sickness, one she believed incurable, unnameable, although I doubt the prospect of moon bathing would tempt the bronzed salon chick, her being obviously more the sun-worshipping type, although maybe she'll be inexplicably and entirely charmed by Nin's words and we'll be taking a room at the Hotel Central, 401 would only be appropriate, first room to the left of the fourth floor and naturally overlooking the park, and like Nin, maybe she too will be breathing off the unbearable willing joy. But before leaving Le Viking I should order a mead cocktail, a particular weakness of Simone de Beauvoir's, and which she recommends on page 17 of The Prime of Life as one of the Viking's specialties, and if the salon chick has no idea, then I'm trying to remember enough schoolboy French to tell her the ingredients, erm, une splash ou deux de d'hydromel moelleux, et un splash gros de liqueur de cerises, et un beaucup gros splash ou trois de gin (and luckily, gin is gin, and bombay sapphire is best as the blue is of the Chartres-type perfection) et prochaine, jus de pamplemousse, et d'orange, avec glace. But in the search for Anaïs, there's so many other places that could be visited, seen, walked along, noted, photographed, drunk at, so, from the corner of Boulevard Saint Michel and Boulevard Saint Germain, I'll be walking west, and in the most perfect of worlds this should be towards the setting sun, and in a most flaneur-ish manner, before turning right up Rue Hautefeuille, and thinking on his internal combustion engine, and if Monsieur Hautefeuille survived long enough to have any idea of how his invention would utterly change the world, then left on Rue des Poitevins, and this Poitevin may have had nothing at all to do with the Poitevin the cartoonist who apparently contributed most often to Le Chat Noir journal, and in who's holy name legions of French devotees currently worship in those magasins dedicated to graphic novels and manga and comic books, where the clientele silently leaf through the adventures of the Sandman or Tintin, and excuse me just one moment while I check if there's a sequel to Wormwood : Gentleman Corpse. And, yes, although here, wormwood is the Gentleman Zombie, and with the zombie inside a paper bag inside l'sac noir, eventually reaching the Rue Danton, whom I'm sure was a musketeer, or should have been, but this is the street where Sartre's Daniel thought the windows were weeping, and I shall take photographs of them even if they are not tearful, but just on the left, at number 5, was Isadora Duncan's home, so perhaps after improvising something entirely imaginary but necessarily entirely original dance, and in my head I will dance as I do when I know that no-one is watching, eventually though, my improvisations will involve crossing Rue Danton and turning right, and go dancing up to the Place Saint André des Arts, which was absolutely deserted when Sartre's Daniel wandered through here, and he too perhaps wondered at the now icy killing there, in all shades of bronzed green, and if Saint Michel had right on his side or not when he slayed that dragon, and most times I think not, and the evil the dragon metaphorically represented not even being enough to seal his fate. But soon enough turning left into the Rue Saint André des Arts, perhaps my favourite street in all Paris, and buying a packet of gauloises from the tobacconist near the corner, and lighting one almost immediately. And soon enough there's the Rue Git-le-Coeur on the right, something of the heart street, and on the corner, and in the spirit of the act for which e.e. cummings was arrested here, taking a piss against whatever wall tempts most, and I'm thinking of the wall opposite the graphic novels store, or on the windows of the store itself, keeping in mind that the owner absolutely forbids photographs to be taken of his shopfront, who waggles a stern finger at those with cameras, so I promise him I'll be back later then, when the store's closed ..


And wondering where on this street, exactly, Etienne Marcel was murdered, his blood presumably seeping into the cobblestones back in 1358, and now Etienne is probably best remembered as a metro station on line 4, which is useful if one's destination be the whorish attractions of Rue Saint Denis. But just a little further there's the Hotel du Vieux Paris, at number 9, which is now something other than what is was when William Burroughs shot up his heroin daily here and where Patti Smith would have sat adoringly at his feet if not tightening the tourniquet around her own arm, if Patti Smith had been the darling of the Parisien literati back in the fifties, and the hotel has been described by Byron Gysin in his book 'The Beat Hotel, Paris' as a flea-bitten rooming house, but it's now only something only those five star tastes can afford and those I hope were entirely ruined in the global financial crisis, and I'm trying to imagine anything further from the beat ethic but failing, maybe it's guests imagine that they're somehow absorbing the spirit of the beats through some kind of osmosis, wondering how many of those guests would have volunteered to be part of the cocaine and speed-fuelled crew who typed up the manuscript of The Naked Lunch here, and wondering if I would have, yes, but only if my allotted portion included the page on which adolescent angels sing on shithouse walls of the world appears, and knowing if the attempt to channel Alan Ginsberg is successful, then the osmosis will be anally delivered, just relax, or if it's by Billy Burroughs then perhaps they should work up a vein first, and but for the moment, we'll be choosing neither as we're continuing on down towards the Seine, and on the corner there's number 1, where Dolly Wilde once lived, Oscar's niece, and yet another lover of Natalie Barney, and eager proponent of emergency seductions which resolved whatever inner emotional turmoils might plague one, which they do, relentlessly, and Dolly's biographer found herself once vetting receipts from her numerous drug and alcohol detoxifications and beguiling emotional histories from people who adroitly denied having experienced them; scanning private collections of black-market erotica and deciphering hand-lettered documents; thumbing through autopsy reports in the Westminster Coroner's Office and opening albums of ancient photographs in French sitting rooms, and pondering the drug overdose verdict of the report, and the sadness of her having died alone despite all those emergency seductions. Heading back to Saint Andre des Arts, and something pleasantly warming can be bought at Les Arts Gourmands boulangerie at number 26, particularly if Clementine is serving, while just next door at number 28, is where Jack Kerouac lived, when he wasn't being a dharma bum or out on the road nor burning burning burning burning like he should have been, but maybe where he was recuperating from all those burnings or witnessing some hot jazzman in some cellar bar sweat it all over his piano keys in some wild rhythm while the saxophone player melted and jack screamed yesyesyes! thinking he'd seen into the heart of everything, leaving me thinking of what Jack might have written if he'd ever heard Miles Davis play. Although in Jack's time, number 28 was called l'Gentilhomme, but it's now yet another irish-themed pub, and I'm wondering if the barchick would have the slightest clue of where Bride Street might be, or even Grafton Street in Dublin, or where, exactly, the gates of the National Museum might be, the ones that Leopold Bloom waited behind until Blazes Boylan had turned the corner into Nassau Street, rather than confront his wife's lover, although best remembered now for my stumbling out through these gates, in tears at the leaving and into Dublin's night after my final day of working there was done, and whiskey's and beers had been had, and everything was inexplicably bright, the colours of Dublin more intense, and thinking that if Blazes Boylan had crossed my path at that moment, I'd probably have neatly sidestepped him too, but I won't ask the barmaid anything at all, as I'll probably be having enough trouble ordering whatever a pint of Guinness might be in French, and l'Gentilhomme looks nothing at all like the Long Hall of South Great Georges street, or the Auld Dubliner in Temple Bar, being my favourites. But momentarily thinking on some kind of meeting of the minds between Nilly Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, which at the moment is running something like Billy arriving with Patti in tow, but she's leaving with Jack. And at 30 there's a plaster medallion telling of how this was where Baudelaire and his family lived, and somehow it's tempting to create scenarios that might explain what psychologists might now call his bipolar disorder, alternating as he did between rage and passionate loves, and I'm wondering if his stories of his fascination with bohemians and prostitutes and his rebellious schoolboy days impressed his cross-eyed Sarah so completely, she could only return the favour by giving him a birthday present of gonorrhea when he turned eighteen, here, darling, this is for you, take it, and thinking of the taste for opium and hash and absinthe that his muse Jeanne Duval later gave him, as well as a monumental dose of syphilis, spreading out before me the happy shores drunk on the fire of the monotonous sun, while contemplating the wondrous attractions Duval might offer, and which I'd willingly enough accept (and I believe that even muse-given syphilis is easily enough treatable these days), but only if tempered with cigarettes and red wine for the sake of nutritional balance, and thinking of his being overwrought with rainbow hues and sequined showers bring to a poet's mind the thought of a ballet of drunken flowers, and with a posy of imagined drunken flowers in my pocket, a headful of drunken daises, a bouquet of blacked out roses, and moving on, wondering if muses might actually exist, and concluding that they don't. But just a few paces, as at number 46 was where e.e. cummings lived, maybe endlessly contemplating the crack in his teacup, but I'll most likely be ignoring his laneway to the land of the dead, virtually opposite 46, which everybody else knows as Rue de l'Eperon, which is usually inhabited, if not actually guarded, by knots of blackclad students, holding notebooks, which no doubt inspired cummings to write: the boys I mean are not refined they go with girls who buck and bite they do not give a fuck for luck they hump them thirteen times a night, and how I envy them and maybe saving this laneway for later, should I choose to return, perhaps in the early hours of tomorrow morning, but in the meantime leaving it up to the poets to walk it instead, they being more deserving of it's destination anyway, but maybe e.e. himself occasionally walked a little further down Rue Saint Andre des Arts and asked for un verre du vin blanc at The Mazet, and maybe even discussed the football with the barman there, and maybe he even bought a sandwich grec as well, from the hole in the wall that's somewhere nearer the dragon end of the street, and which is definitely my favourite restaurant in the entirety of Paris, particularly avec une bottle de vin rouge down by the Seine, and hoping I remembered to pack le tire-bouchon in le sac noir ..


Oui, naturellement. But I digress, even though the rest of the world knows a sandwich grec as a souvlaki, even more so with the Viande extra, and maybe e.e. took his sandwich grec and bottle of red wine down to the Vert-Galant in the evenings of the summer months, sat with his back to the sun-warmed stone wall and just looked at the Seine, the barges, and I'm certain that the rhythm of the djembe drummers there would have inspired something lyrical within his soul. But turning right into Rue des Grands Augustins, and soon enough there's the Mariage Frere at 13 and the aromatic scent of teas from everywhere, and asking the desk attendant which his favourite tea might be ends up with black canister after black canister of tea being opened, all for one's olfactory pleasures, and I'm recommending the Bolero Tea, and after stuffing the bolero into the backpack, continuing, as at number 7 the plaque tells me that Picasso painted his Guernica here, but remaining silent on this is where he also painting Still Life With Blood Sausage after having been inspired by the menu at Le Catalan, a restaurant that once graced this street and had a similar reputation to the Lapin Agile up in Montmartre as the hang-out de preference of the young artists and intellectuals, even the utterly pretentious ones who had no artistic abilities or intellect at all, where Picasso first sent a bowl of cherries to the table where Francois Gilot and her friends sat, before inviting her up to see his paintings. But I'm trying to imagine walking in the footsteps of Francois on the day she finally moved in with Pablo and although she wrote that I had come to consider that place hallowed ground, and I'm wondering if she knew that her journey from goddess to doormat had just begun. And thinking on how Picasso himself would have been as infuriated at not allowed to sit in front of his own Guernica, to contemplate the brilliance that's now hanging in the Sofia Reine Gallery, as the two guards would undoubtedly also warn him off by making threatening gestures, to which I hope Pablo would respond by insisting Guernica be removed, physically taken from the wall, wrapped up and trucked back to 7 Rue des Grands Augustins where it would remain until the fascists of the Sofia Reine come to their fuckin' senses, and pew-like seats are installed in front of this painting that deserves to be worshipped, and if Pablo needs someone to drive the truck, then I'm his man, and apart from Guernica it's also where Balzac set Le Chef d'Oeuvre Inconnu, which I think translates into The Unfinished Masterpiece, but I haven't read it and perhaps should. But, for the moment, I'll have to retrace just a smidgeon, and momentarily turning right into Rue Christine.


Number 5 is where Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas lived, after they moved out of the salon in the Rue de Fleurus, although I'm not too clear on the reasons why they moved, but give me a moment and I'll be telling you why, exactly, maybe the lease was up, or maybe all the hash Alice was buying from the Chinese black market to bake into her cookies, intended for all the companions of all those writers and artists who came visiting brought them under suspicion of the local gendarmerie, or maybe Rue Christine was closer to her favourite dealers, or maybe Rue Christine was closer to Paul, their patisserie/boulongerie of choice, where Alice would walk every morning for their baguettes and croissants. Bonjour, j' voudrais une baguette et deux croissants sil vous plait, or maybe their landlord suddenly transformed himself into the semblance of a bastard, or maybe they just liked the idea of being closer to the Pont des Arts, on which they could pique-nique to their hearts content on those balmy summer evenings while the sunset appeared to set the Seine on fire, or maybe Gertrude lost the plot entirely when Sylvia Beach published Jimmy Joyce and not her, or maybe because Rue Christine was closer to Natalie Barney's salon and to all the other women it attracted, being a kind of a gay smorgasbord for the literati, or maybe they'd just had enough of the Rue de Fleurus and the life they lived there, but wondering if they wept a little at the leaving, closing those wrought-iron gates for the last time, perhaps buying the last croissants they'd ever buy from the Bread & Roses café a little down the street. But, actually, I do know the reason why Gertrude and Alice moved from Rue de Fleurus, their landlord had decided that his son should have their apartment instead. But at the end of the Rue Christine it kind of meets up with the Rue Dauphine, and although I'm wondering how the name survived the bloodletting of the revolution while looking for any of the stencils of Guy Debord that apparently appeared on the walls here after his death, unlikely, after all this time, so I'll cross it and step into the Passage Dauphine and its garden of sculpture, where I might stay for a while and think on those sculptures while wondering if it's possible to sculpt smoke, or mist, or clouds, or any transparent thing. But eventually leaving le jardin and turn right at the Rue Dauphine and walk up to the Carrefour Buci, probably thinking on chocolate kisses about now, and its market, peut-être acheter les chocolat et une pomme, et peut-être un croissant from Le Carton, ou deux if Clementine of the Wondrous Clavicles is serving, so many cafés here and so little time, perhaps buying a few oranges from the fruit market which is next to the Hôtel la Louisiane, at 60 Rue de Seine, and one of the addresses where Simone and Jean-Paul lived, her for five, he for three, and wondering if they might have also bought oranges there, ou peut-être mandarines, before returning with a sharpish left and heading back up Saint André des Arts, and if that t-shirt emblazoned with a studded crucifix is still on display in that window, then I'm buying it and fuck the expense, if only for the delicious irony in wearing it,


Before quickly turning right into the courtyard-like entrance to Cour du Commerce Saint André, where Doctor Guillotin lived at number 9 but which is now a bar and probably the only place in Paris where I can order a cocktail guillotine, and here I would ask for nothing else even though I have absolutely no idea what might be in it but couldn't care less. It's appropriately blood red, and hope that it might go some way towards doing my head in, and the studded crucifix under my shirt perhaps recognizes a soulmate in madame guillotine, and wonder on how the good doctor could imagine that his invention was somehow more humanitarian than the other means at their disposal. But perhaps it was, but I cannot imagine anything humanitarian about the crowds baying for more blood, although I can easily imagine myself baying just as loudly, throatily and with a delirious venom demand the elimination of the aristocracy, waiting for the roll of drums to finish and the blade to fall, cheers!, for a short while anyway, as I get bored far too easily, but at the back of the Café Procope and through the gate into the Cour de Rohan, most likely locked behind really large gates but no matter, there's a fifteenth century set of three cloistered courtyards of the hotel of the archbishops of Rouen, and momentarily thinking on Rouen and its cathedral seen through Monet's mists and of it's centre ville where Jeanne d'Arc herself was burned, and probably I'd have happily watched her burn as well as being opportunistic enough to souvenir her heart which apparently refused to be incinerated, as I'm sure it would have attracted a good price on the Parisien black market. But wondering where Jeanne d'Arc's fire-resistant heart might have actually ended up, where it might be now, and being disappointed that the French souvenir industry has not yet turned it's mind to producing Jeanne d'Arc ashtrays, or Jeanne d'Arc bic lighters (perhaps in red white and blue colours), or even Jeanne d'Arc firestarters for those chilly evenings, and perhaps in addition to gitane et gauloises cigarettes, one should be able to ask the tobacconist for a packet of Jeannes, sil vouz plait, to smoke on street corners late in the evening while contemplating her death, which was nothing but a tawdry political game being played by the French to appease the fuckin' English, and wondering why the Archbishop of Rouen himself bent over so willingly, or perhaps imagine the smokey and flaming deaths of those who now keep the Cour de Rohan locked. But should I just happen to climb over those locked gates then no doubt I'll be pretending to be oh so terribly interested in the mounting block for the ladies in the middle courtyard, but I'm really only just resting my feet on it, and contemplating watching those overdressed ladies with seriously articulate hairstyles mount the block to their perfumed horsies before sauntering off to trample a few peasants down on Rue Saint Andre des Arts, perhaps the peasant who's taking far too long to finish his morning espresso, or that one over there who obviously lacks any fashion sensibility at all. But then wondering if the Alesia of the metro station might be the bonneted and ringleted young lady, definitely cute but undoubtedly pox ridden, with her fire down below burnin' burnin' burnin', keeping in mind that if peasant-trampling becomes some kind of sport, then I'll probably end up paying the price of the admission as well, and thinking on Diane de Poitiers, the mistress to Henri II, who also lived here for while, and I will spare a few moments for her as she got a rough deal when the Chenonceau chateau changed hands, and I adore her weeping room, her black walls covered in painted silver tears, and I could have stayed in there for a good long time, pressing my thumbs against my closed eyes and wept alongside her. Before returning to the back of the Café Procope, with its mirrors and windows, and continue along the Cour du Commerce, perhaps wondering which of the balconies above was used as a setting by Collette in Gigi, and imagining Gigi herself standing there, looking down on the passing human traffic below, perhaps wondering how many cocktail guillotines it might take to stop being Audrey Hepburn entirely and become Charlotte Gainsbourg instead, and soon enough reaching the small connecting street on the right, and taking it, undoubtedly admiring the stencil art by someone too fond of red clown noses and into Rue de l'Ancien Comédie where I'll finally have a café grande or two at the Café Procope itself, being a self-appointed admirer of all things kitsch. But only if they allow me in, which is highly unlikely, given that momentarily I am thinking of a meeting here between Hemingway and Moliere, as they both frequented this café although centuries apart, although if I were writing the story of their meeting I'd begin by having them drinking scotch, perhaps having Hemingway suggest a few possibilities that might make moliere's the doctor a little more robust, and from a discussion to an argument, ending with Ernest pathetically challenging moliere to a fist fight, which was more to do with the robustness or otherwise of Ernest's ego than the legitimacy or otherwise of whatever moliere may have said in reply, and blood will be spilled for no good reason, and undoubtedly seep into the cobblestones outside the oldest café in Paris should I want this story to have a sense of pathos, or they shall promise to meet again the following evening if I do not. And according to it's website, the Procope was frequented by the hotheads of the revolution and the poets of the romantic period, and briefly imagining the hotheads and the poets quickly assessing each other in terms of availability, as they always do, and wondering on how many romantic poets to whom Robespierre might have been irresistibly attractive, wondering if Marat ever bought Charlotte Corday a drink in here, and wondering what her preferences might be, something with at least two inches of gin probably, and then thinking of Socrates as a hothead, even though Socrates never frequented the Procope it matters not, but in his role as a one-man revolutionary tribunal and demanding a single truth from any romantic poet, just one that was true in all possible instances, else their names be added to madame guillotine's dance card, and knowing it was a certainty that they'd all miserably fail, and he'd gleefully point out they only pretend to know the truth, so, it might be better walk on by the Procope, as apart from being fond of a few poets, and thus guilty by association, I know the temptation to scrawl fuck you into Voltaire's desk would prove too great, and, even though I'll walk the streets of Paris endlessly it's always to these streets I somehow return.

But before returning here, there's a patisserie at number 10 that's always open, so perhaps, oui, je voudrais une baguette sil vouz plait, and the patisserie chick is gorgeous, naturellement, and if I knew the French to ask what time her shift might finish, then I'd ask, but I don't know much beyond quelle temps, so, there's no point in trying, and heading back to Boulevard Saint Germain, and just over there to the left across the Boulevard at 14 Rue Monsieur le Prince was where Richard Wright wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, and giving the word the epithet since hung around the necks of blacks by those who have no idea of it's meaning, and who lived for 14 years in the ornate brick and stone building now empty with its windows broken, and somehow I always expect Uncle Tom himself to appear but he never does, the windows through which he could write that the domes of sacre-coeur look like pearl-onions floating in the mist. But if they've repaired these smashed windows since last time, then I'll break them all over again, for if the 1968 Paris riots proved nothing else, it's the ease with which these cobblestones can be ripped up and thrown. But there's a plaque for Wright, and I'm wondering if there's another plaque somewhere telling passers-by that here, near the corner of Boulevard Saint-Michel, was the shop from which Sartre's Boris obtained the clasp-knife which IIvich used later to slice her hand, from the ball of the thumb to the root of the little finger, downstairs in the Sumatra Nightclub, which never existed, but was modelled on Le Tabou, now the Hotel d'Aubusson near the corner of Rue Christine, at 33 Rue Dauphine, which we may visit later, but for now recalling that Boris Vian wrote, in his Manual of Saint Germain des Pres, that, the sinister tabou sinks into the entrails of the earth, and that around two in the morning is truly the mouth of hell, and where, on certain nights, the existentialists, throw themselves pell-mell to jitterbug and boogie-woogie like screaming banshees, but then again Vian also wrote I SpitOn Your Graves, which I've not read, but as the dust jacket promises rape and murder then perhaps I should browse the Abbey Bookshop for a copy, and in her Force of Circumstance de Beauvoir also mentions Anne-Marie Cazalis, as the young red-haired poet who, received the customers at le Tabou, and who wrote:
at that time, freedom lay beyond the wall
they broke down the wall and moved
through the ruins
freedom was still further off,

but the last I saw Anne-Marie she was one of the two bacchants in jean Cocteau's movie Orpheus. But if I were searching for Ivich then le Tabou is most likely where she'd be, as Sartre's Ivich was modelled on Olga Kosakiewicz, an eighteen year old student that both he and Simone were fucking, and I might have stolen a knife from le Tabou as impulsively as Sartre's Boris did on page 143 of The Age of Reason, 'a clasp-knife!' he murmured, and his hands trembled. It was a genuine clasp-knife, with a thin long blade, a cross guard, a black horn shaft, as elegant as a crescent moon : there were two spots of rust on the blade, which might as well have been blood. 'Oh!' groaned Boris, his heart constricted with desire. But I already have a pocketful of stolen cutlery from all those other café's visited so far, and maybe there should be a third plaque here as well, for the other Richard Wright, who was the keyboard player in Pink Floyd, but probably not as he undoubtedly never lived here. But eventually turning right onto the Boulevard Saint Germain, and if they catch you in the backseat trying to pick her lock, they're gonna send you back to mother in a cardboard box, you'd better run, walking a block before turning again into Rue Grégoire de Tours, and while wondering who Grégoire de Tours might have been, almost miss the discount clothing store, on the right, the Mouton à Cinq Pattes, it's warmish enough inside, and they have nice scarves, and right now I actually need one, and eventually emerging with a wondrous new navy blue and white striped scarf wrapped stylishly enough around my neck, I'll continue up Rue de Grégoire de Tours to Rue de Buci, and deciding that grégoire de tours was the author of an encyclopedic reference book of the lives of French saints, and wondering where he might have lived in Tours, presumably a monastery of some kind, although I'm sure that Grégoire would have smirked at the tourists who've actually paid to be carted through this town in one of those petite trains, while he sat back in the Place Plumereau after ordering just la verre d'eau, et pain blanc, sil vouz plait and feeling smugly superior while he watched the others, as the genetic inheritance of the French decree they must do, endlessly watch, and Grégoire's pondering may have led him to consider which of those being watched might be destined for sainthood, but not knowing which among them already are, and at the moment his vote is going to those three boys giving out free yellow flowers to commemorate something to do with mothers, although, on this occasion, he's wrong, it's actually the one over there near the corner of Rue du Grand Marche, the black crow haired girl in the laddered stockings lighting her gauloises with a silver lighter, and with torn stockings in mind, soon enough reaching de Buci.


Stopping for a while at le Conti Café, one of my favourites in the entirety of Paris, with the seemingly unique habit of presenting l'addition with a clothespeg, charmant ne pas?, et une café, sil vouz plait, aand I may be here for quite some time, and eventually leaving, au revoir, and leaving a sizable tip, walking a short block through the markets, stopping for a short while at whatever stalls attract my attention, maybe wondering what the saints themselves might make of this market and what might tempt them, wether buying apples and bowler hats is considered saintly, not that I give a fuck, as the crucifix beneath my shirt should give me temporary immunity. But buying l'eau et le pain, ou peut-être une pomme verte, before dog-legging left on Rue de Buci and right into Rue Bourbon le Chateau, which I've been told is the shortest street in all Paris, but all my attempts to long jump the length of it have always ended in bruised knees, perhaps just needing a little more bourbon prior to my run up, and here's where Chester Himes lived in a seventh floor walkup, and where wrote A Rage in Harlem, which was made into a movie called if he hollers let him go, but I've neither read the book nor seen the movie, and the only time I've been in Harlem itself no one hollered at me in rage at all, but apparently Malcolm X visited Himes here and they probably discussed the politics of race deep into the night. But I'll continue, tempted though I may be to contribute an anarchist leaning into their discussion, but perhaps I'll cross the Rue l'Echaude instead, perhaps pausing a moment and make a shopping-list type note of the ingredients necessary for the échaudé I may make make this evening, whipping some an egg white, with some flour, and some butter and some salt and plunging it all into some boiling water for a few minutes, and it must be okay as the recipe has been around for the last eight hundred years, but wondering how it could be that I can't buy an échaudé on Rue l'Echaude, so continuing instead, missing the street entirely, and turning into the Rue Cardinale, following it around to Place Furstenburg on the left, which to me looks as though it's a film set, perhaps being an assignation point for young lovers, perhaps the scene of the most dreadful murder, perhaps a place where a pitiful orphan might beg for food at the houses of the bourgeois before fainting away entirely from hunger, a place where the five lamp posts might be used in some choreographed dance routine, and Delacroix' studio is at number 6, now turned into some kind of museum to the artist, and in this best of all possible worlds the visitors should be greeted by women of heroic stature with their shirts conveniently torn open, nipples hardened and at the ready, and at some other number which faces six, Henry Miller wrote Des Belles Pages, and also that the four black trees, have the poetry of T.S. Eliot. They are intellectual trees, nourished by the stones, swaying with a cerebral rhythm, the lines punctuated by dots and dashes by asterisks and exclamation points, so, after scratching a love heart of sorts into the flesh of T.S. Eliot's poetry, then I'll be slumping against one, perhaps lighting another cigarette and ignore Miller entirely and think on the time I first saw Delacroix's Melancholia, and knowing that I felt like that too, exactly, and melancholic thoughts shall fly from my head as well and easily enough, and recall first seeing it as part of an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, remembering that the guards were half asleep, and it was small enough it could have easily been slipped into my coat pocket, but there was no need as the work was already within me. But on the left is the sixteenth century Palais Abbatial built by Cardinal Charles de Bourbon in the Rue de l'Abbaye, which may be worthy of a single glance of pretended appreciation of fine architecture if accompanied by a shot or two of bourbon, and perhaps even a third, but only if leaning against the walls of number 5, where Jean Anouilh lived for a time, and I'm thinking of graffiteeing the line from his 'Antigone' I want everything of life, I do; and I want it now! onto his door. Before continuing right and into Rue Jacob, and ignoring the warning published in the art student in Paris (1887) that the dark, narrow streets of the Latin Quarter, such as Rue Jacob, should be avoided in spite of their interesting surroundings, as they are damp and extremely unhealthy is pillow talk only adding to it's scented and mascara'd allure, and pausing briefly at number 7 where Racine lived, and presumably with whoever was his chosen actress of the moment, and who was later adored by Proust for the simplicity and elegance of his writing style, but thinking it a pity that the apartment where Proust remembered all things past has been utterly obliterated and replaced with something else they'd have you believe was the real thing, and somewhere along the Rue Jacob is where Robert Doisneau's photograph called La Concierge aux Lunettes was taken in 1945 which undoubtedly Proust would have included in his Remembrance Of All Things Past had he remembered bonjouring la concierge herself as he walked this street, when she was much younger and slimmer and didn't need her hornrimmed glasses and was probably quite beautiful. But perhaps he did, and the remembrance was just too painful to write of in all it's quite necessary detail if their story was to be told at all, and maybe they once shared a madeleine cake while talking about literature and art and other things, although it's doubtful that madeleine cakes would have been served at 10, once a cellar bar called Le Bar Vert, once managed by Bernard Lucas, who, apparently had rare books and a fabulous record collection, and according to Boris Vian, Sartre comes by from time to time, at about three in the afternoon, and maybe the music floated and splashed from some upstairs windows of 14, being where Richard Wagner composed most of his Flying Dutchman out on the clichéd stormy seas, leaving them humming his catchy riffs, and perhaps they walked hand-in-sweaty-hand by number 20, with Marcel commenting that this was Natalie Barney's literary salon, and Jimmy Joyce and Ezra Pounds' salon de preference, although Jimmy maybe because it was predominantly a circle of women cruising for other women and wondering if Jimmy and Ezra discussed racine's simple elegance at all, and maybe they arrived at the conclusion that the simple elegance admired by Marcel Proust is perhaps something not to be admired at all, or perhaps neither Racine nor Proust were discussed at all, and Marcel couldn't quite bring himself to ask Natalie what it might be that lesbians actually do, although he desperately wanted to. Although at some point Jimmy and Djuna Barnes discussed literature, with Jimmy maintaining that through literature the ordinary things of everyday life can be made extraordinary, while Djuna was attracted to the unusual, the strange, the filth, and ended with her fondness for alcohol, and her self appraisal amounting to I'm a fart in a gale of wind ..


And I'll pause here, for just a moment, and think on the possibility that I may be related to Djuna, given that her surname was also my mother's maiden name, and given my similar attraction to filth and a fondness for jack daniels and red wine, then perhaps it's my genetic inheritance, and maybe a reading of Nightwood might settle the matter once and for all, and there is not one of us who, given an eternal incognito, a thumbprint set nowhere near our souls, would not commit rape, murder and all abominations seems to confirm the thesis, and wondering on the hopelessly romantic poet Renée Vivien, Natalie's lover, and despite her adoration of Sappho and all things sapphic, obviously had some issues with the Greek ideal of all things in moderation, given her sprees with laudanum and chloral hydrate and alcohol and anorexia and who Natalie said that she could not be saved, her life was a long suicide, everything turned to dust and ashes in her hands, so perhaps I'll just spend as long as necessary sitting here in the cigarette-butt strewn gutter of Rue Jacob, and opening the bottle of red wine that I never leave home without and unpeeling a fresh pack of gauloises, remind Renée that she wrote in the soul-filled shadows I will adore you, and ask her about those shadows, those souls, the adored ones, and listen to her delicate, almost child-like voice as she talks to me of the demons that plagued her, I burn the whiteness of your fingers with kisses, your closed eyes freezing my soul out, drunken with painful defeat, sorrowful dreams I keep in my heart, I know the profound sadness, and perhaps we'll talk until the bottle is done, loving the wondrous sadnesses until it's time for her to leave and I'm hoping she's impressed with my rendition of now as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes for me it cries, just walk away Renee, you won't see me follow you back home, and which such thoughts in mind, lean against the windows of 27, now the offices of the publishing company, Editions de Seuil, apparently the first to publish a non-Chinese version Mao's little red book, but once where Ingres lived, and presumably where his models posed for the paintings that Baudelaire also found suffocating and which art critics eventually use the word voyeuristic to describe, and assume the moral highground as though watching is something intolerable, and think on Delacroix saying that Ingres paintings are merely clever and that satisfy nothing but idle curiosity, but cleverness is something I actually admire, in art, in literature, in thought, in everything a brilliance, a certain genius, and I'm not quite sure what idle curiousity might be and how it might be different from an engaged one, but my curiosity, idle or otherwise, is at the moment leaning towards his odalisque and her five extra lumbar vertebrae, and I'm sure is distantly related to the girl who works mornings in le carton, the pattiserie in Rue de Buci, and over there, on the other side is number 28, which was Colette's home and I'm assuming the wallpaper of mulitcoloured confetti disappeared long ago, and I think were she was virtually held prisoner until she completed the manuscript that became claudine at school, although if I've remembered the spray can, then leaving I would rather be miserable with you than without you, from her novel gigi, grafitteed on her wall. I'm imagining some kind of meeting between Anaïs and Collette that probably never happened, and if it did then most probably the meeting happened at Natalie's. But I'll continue to the end of the street where there's the le Pré Aux Clercs brasserie on the corner, Hemingway's first café in Paris, une café grande, sil vouz plait, to be taken slowly and probably not finished until it's quite cold, and perhaps pretentiously making a few notes, taking glances at the other patrons who may begin to suspect that I'm writing about them, which I probably am, but more likely writing of the menage a trois avec Anaïs et Collette et Ernest, and which they perhaps each wrote of in their as-yet-unpublished diaries, with Anaïs using the somewhat clumsy metaphor of the mouth organ to describe some particular moments which left her with the indentations of the floor imprinted on her knees, while Collette's imagery of spent moonblood and winesoaked kissfucks was the description I enjoyed most, as Ernest just wrote that a fuck is a fuck is a fuck unless it's me that's fucking you, before asking the waitress for l'addition, sil vouz plait and probably photographing the plaque on the wall commemorating Collette's apartment and where she spoke her final, imminent-death, words to attempt achievement is to come back to one's starting point, my natural inclination tends towards the curve, the sphere, the circle, and wondering if she spoke those words through lips thin and tense as wire but painted a really brazen hussy scarlet that Truman Capote described. Before turning right on the Rue Bonaparte and remembering that according to Sartre, this rue is where human lives melted into the shadows and wondering if mine might similarly melt and I hope it does even though I know it won't, and at 4 is where Manet was born, his father proudly intending a career as a naval officer for his son, and thinking of how my father's eyes were always disappointed or angry, although the building itself had replaced what was Queen Margot's palace, and everything I know about her I learned from the movie la reine margot, and while she liked nothing better than a good fuck she was only a pawn in the deadly games played by others. Before melting again into Rue Visconti where Balzac's printing shop was at number 17 and there's a plaque here as well which presumably commemorates the event, and I'm wondering if Balzac ever walked up the stairs to his apartment on the first floor early in the morning with printer's ink still blackening his hands, or perhaps gave himself unintended and shapeless blackink tattoos, and probably wondering if he'd make a better writer than a printer, and Delacroix lived on the second floor for about eight years, attempting to forge a career painting portraits, and maybe he wondered on the strange lives of George Sand and Frederic Chopin who sat here, as he created their likenesses. But maybe Delacroix was probably already thinking of the desperate mythologies he'd later create, and after Balzac moved, number 17 became type foundry to whom Stendhal entrusted the printing of The Red and The Black, and in my copy the line above all, never go into the cafes, they are filled with bad characters on page 174 is underlined, the page dogeared. But unfortunately there are no cafes quietly murmuring their siren songs along this street, not one, so I shall have to wait to take my preferred place nearer the back of whatever cafe first appears in Rue de Seine, just ahead, hopefully with some blackclad waitresses ready to misunderstand my asking for un cafe noir, silver plate, but in which I intend to order several vin rouges while smoking several gitanes while assessing the waitress herself in terms of availability, and maybe take notes on whatever bad characters this cafe is apparently filled with, and most likely include myself among them, along with Stendhal's rapacious, conscienceless and hypocritical liar whom I quite like, but who will inevitably face the guillotine, and while there, perhaps open my copy to page 517 and read he could no longer find pleasure in anything, either in real life or in the sphere of the imagination, and simply just know, with an absolute certainty that there will be a time when I will know this to be true, meanwhile, Racine died inside 24 Rue Visconti, after having lived there for seven years, and maybe he too wondered on the blood that was shed in this street during the Saint Bartholomews Day Massacre, back in 1572 when Rue Visconti was a Huguenot stronghold and beseiged by rampaging Catholics armed with reaphooks and sickles and on a scale that even horrified Ivan the Terrible, and something for which the protestant Huguenots and the Catholics have never quite entirely forgiven each other. But on the left is the Rue de Seine where George Sand lived at number 31, while over there on the right, the Café Palette where the Surrealist poet Ted Joans met Man Ray and where black writers gathered, and I cannot imagine a better place to order another long black coffee, and ponder the possible intersection of George Sand and Man Ray, and wondering if he took far too many photographs of her while they smoked their cigarettes and waited for their coffees to cool, and if she struck the pose for which she'd like to be remembered, and wondering if Man Ray considered superimposing violin f-holes into George's back as he did with Kiki de Montparnasse's, and turning her into some kind of human violin and remembering Anaïs nin writing that in Paris I was working at the violin, I remember. My room was on the level with the street and the windows were open; I was playing away, and suddenly, I don't know why, I looked at the bow and looked at it for a long while and I was taken with a violent desire to pass it between my legs, as if I were the violin, and I don't know why I did it, and I'll be staying at the Café Palette a good while, being the place where the artists from the nearby Academy, and their models, have always gone for a drink and to buy drugs and to argue with passion about where the cutting edge of art is sharpest, and I'll undoubtedly be wondering which of the clientele I'd buy a drink for, or do a drug deal with, or who might dispute my opening gambit that muses don't exist, and which of the models might make good violins and which tunes might be wrung from KikI's back and Anaïs' cunt, and thinking on which of VivaldI's four seasons could be played on the black dressed girl over there at the table near the door, winter methinks, and staying many gitanes worth and light the next from the previous and wondering if my notes take on a more surrealist tone while trying to understand the circumstances of George choosing to remain George even after she was outed, George being yet another writer of the time who knew that only male writers were taken seriously, or maybe wondering if Ted Joans objected to the 'Surrealist poet' tag, as association's with any -ism inevitably puts a use-by date on one's relevance, as surely as a librarian's date stamp, and wondering if Joans felt entirely comfortable submitting to the strict rules of Surrealism as handed down from on high by Andre Breton, as it always seemed that Surrealism should have no rules, but maybe he was equally comfortable with the 'Beat' label that Ginsberg later plastered to his forehead, although any poet who pretentiously writes that, if you should see a man walking down a crowded street talking aloud to himself don't run in the opposite direction but run toward him for he is a POET! You have NOTHING to fear from the poet but the TRUTH, should be taken out the back of the café and severely beaten until his ears bleed and perhaps including some short sharp shocks to the back of his head with whatever implement of destruction might be closest to hand, and an utterly appropriate fate for any poet given to yelling at me through capitalization, as we have everything to fear from those who pretend to know what the truth might actually be, and those peddling some so-called answer to whatever the question might have been are inevitably trying to sell me something that I don't really need, so yes, after a few well placed kicks to his kidneys that may leave some glorious bruising perhaps not entirely accidentally similar to violin f-holes, which with luck will have him pissing blood for a fortnight, if poets are going to talk to me, then I'd rather them tell me lies, the bigger the better, a lie so big it could guide my hand to where it's clitoris is, here, and turning left and walking a block past the Rue des Beaux Arts, or perhaps window-shopping the tiny art galleries along here, and entering the one with the magritte originals, unfortunately being just large enough to stubbornly refuse to fit neatly in my coat pockets, but which probably explains why a bowler hat and a granny smith apple are on my shopping list next time I'm visiting the Porte d'Clignancourt marche, and thinking on things surreal, and how the word itself was invented by Apollinaire somewhere near here, maybe somewhere along Rue Mazarine itself, and maybe recalling Apollinaire writing that under Cthulhu Mirabeau flows the Seine, why must I be reminded of our love? doesn't happiness issue from pain?, although my remembrances of love and pain are more likely to reprievingly flow underneath the Pont Neuf instead, or maybe the Pont des Arts, and at 19 Rue Mazarine was where Robert Desnos composed his poetry now usually found in the Surrealist shelves in bookshops that have such things, although I'm questioning whether his 'automatic writing' is intellectually valid given the complexities of neuron wiring connecting the brain the hand and the fingers poised over the typewriter keys, and if the seemingly effortless control connecting them perhaps only emphasizes a complexity that neurologists still do not fully understand, and thinking that Desnos' lovers' kisses and double suicides nakedness in the bedrooms strange beautiful women and their midnight dreams, voluptuous secrets caught in the act by the parquet floors. Far from me, if you only knew is probably as far from automatic writing as the Surrealists could possibly have imagined, and when the typhoid he contracted in the concentration camp killed him in 1944, I'm wondering if blackclad crowds gathered here, in mourning, outside his apartment, perhaps they left notes automatically written. So perhaps, in the leaving, I should write single lines on a sheet of notepad paper, rip it out and fold over what I've written, and leave them randomly scattered for someone else to add another line, and eventually call the poem finished when the street cleaners, in their uniforms of fleuro-green, sluice them down the gutters, and eventually there's the Rue Jacques-Callot on the left, where not even the squinting trick can turn this street into the Passage du Pont-Neuf, without the help of beaucoups de vin rouge and deep sunglasses, but Zola managed the trick somehow when he described it as damp, pungent, black with grime when setting the location for Therese Raquin, being perhaps the most overwrought novel of all time if Camille the watery ghost as the third person in the marriage bed of Therese and Laurent is to be taken seriously. But walking on until I reach the park where the Rue Mazarine ends, where maybe probably definitely I'll be finishing the vin rouge, well, it's opened anyway,


may as well sit here a while and think on nothing in particular, although on the left, just over there, at number 6, is Roger Viollet's Photo Agency, and as usual I will browse the images and inevitably find the ones that I must have, which inevitably will narrow down to the photograph by Gaston Paris of Kees van Dongen and his model, she is so beautiful, and wondering on the circumstances in which that photograph was taken, and promising that I'll seek out the paintings she posed naked for, and if they do her justice, and thinking on the lives presented in the other photographs that hang unnamed and anonymous. Before having to retrace my steps and back into the Rue des Beaux Arts, and at number 13 there's the Rue des Beaux Arts-l'Hôtel where Oscar Wilde died in 1900, in room 16, and wondering if they still have the wallpaper that killed him, while Jose Luis Borges stayed here but didn't die, and perhaps miraculously both Baudelaire and Thomas Wolfe managed to survive the wallpaper as well, with Wolfe describing the place in more favorable terms in his Time and The River, and I don't care but I'm asking for two shots of jacks at the nearest bar to this l'hôtel, thinking that in the eighteenth century this place was known as the Pavilion d'Amour, and this time I'm going first in this pavilion of love, taking a mouthful of jacks, brace yerself, and as the liquid fire burns I'll think on writing my own time and the river, or at least steal some of Wolfe's chapter headings, Orestes, Telemachus, Jason's Voyage, Faustus and Helen, and perhaps I shall also create lives for those he described as people sitting at the tables in a café or on the terrace, these men and women who had worked, fought, drunk, loved, whored, striven, lived and died, perhaps starting with the waitress herself, the dyed blonde one, whom I shall call Helen, and who shall be quite fond of making cocktails involving drugs and alcohol who, in the life I will eventually create for her, also modelled for Jean-Baptiste Corot who lived at number 11 for a while, even if it now has l'Etoile d'Ishtar inexplicably written large in gold above its blue door, and perhaps our Helen listened while old Corot told her about the delicious thrill of using the forbidden colours that the Impressionists around him had denied themselves, those blacks and browns, colours of which he was inordinately fond, thinking maybe corot was some kind of closet neo-emo,


but our Helen is soon enough asking 'where's the drinks?' while Corot was busily congratulating himself on staying lyrically sane at a time when other painters all began spouting the mantra of Impressionism, and because he used photographs as reference material which seems only logical, 'Monsieur,' our Helen might have asked, 'how do you want me to stand, ce soir?' and been told just to stand with her face to the wall over there, the elegance and beauty of the turned back and wondrous vertebrae against the delicately textured rose wallpaper, and our Helen will stand there for hours, with the occasional cigarette break and our Helen will roll her own while Corot smoked his pipe, and she would listen to his boring stories and our Helen would still be holding the bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin by it's neck when she returned to the wall, which could never be seen in any of the final paintings, then Jean-Baptiste making his careful preliminary study on canvas, some outlines, building the paints up according to their lightness or dark, until it was late, and he was tired, and 'See you next week then, monsieur Corot,' Helen might have said on her leaving, 'God willing,' Monsieur Corot might have replied, as he gave her just a little more than the promised fee of a hundred francs per sitting, as he always did, and wished her good night, and perhaps he listened to her footfalls as she walked down his stairs to the street, and perhaps being most pleased that it wasn't some Impressionist who painted her, making her yet another stupid idea regarding colour theory in some blind fucktard's head, and perhaps Monsieur Corot thanked his muses that his models were beautiful enough and that his landscapes weren't impressions of landscapes, his landscapes were what the landscapes actually fucking well looked like, that he could actually see, that impressionism and all that followed would have been different if they had actually known their vision and their way of seeing and their impressions of the world itself, could easily be fixed with a set of prescription lenses, 'And where, on this painting of the beautiful Helen's back,' he might have thought to himself, 'shall I place my red dot, yes, there, left hand lower corner, perfect', as he always did, and maybe knowing that his landscapes would later be described as having the poetic power of a dreamy twilight, the loveliness of foliage so harmonized with the air that it seemed a part of the very atmosphere, and at the end of the Rue des Beaux Arts there's the Ecole des Beaux Arts itself, and thinking of perhaps thinking of Thackeray's petulant 'the Ecole Royale des Beaux Arts, then, and all the good its students have done, as students, it is stark naught. When the men did anything, it was after they had left the Academy, and began thinking for themselves '. And if the notes I have been making in these cafés include a condemnation of the thesis-driven motivations of Modern Art, a concept that would have appalled Corot, those theses that deny the place of inspiration, the inexplicable touch of the Muses, the blinding light of creative passion and thinking that Van Gogh and Gauguin spent their entire lives in one, then, mindful of the absolute significance of the moment, and I shall tear these pages loose and drop them into l'Ecole's letter box, and they should be grateful it was not a petrol filled bottle with a burning wickrag instead. Before turning left into the Rue Bonaparte, and at number 15 is where Ralph Waldo Emerson spent the month of May 1848, probably with thoughts far less transcendent than usual, and maybe thinking instead of Fifi the dark-eyed waitress in the café nearby, with whom he may have maintained the wise silence, considered the universal beauty, and touched on the soul of the whole. But no doubt Fifi is long gone from that nameless café, so I'll be continuing back up to Hemingway's first café instead, le Pré aux Clercs, to undoubtedly write pages of notes and perhaps creating a life for Fifi, who I've decided was the daughter of the local chemist and fond of gin and laudanum and sad songs and dirty lovers and who thought Emerson a sad old man, which reminds me that I'll probably need a script made up, and pausing for a moment outside 24, and although there's no plaque commemorating the event, this is another apartment where Henry Miller rattled Anaïs' kidneys, and perhaps I should recite something from The Spy in the House of Love, out here on the narrow pavement, as if Anaïs had a house of love, then here it is, spread before us like her own knees, We got into an elevator and I began to kiss her. First floor. Second floor. I couldn't let go of her. Third floor, and when the elevator came to a standstill it was too late, I couldn't stop. I couldn't let go of her if all Paris had been watching us. She pressed the button wildly, and we went on kissing as the elevator came down. When we got to the bottom is was worse, so she pressed the button again, and we went up and down, up and down, while people kept trying to stop it and get on, and before leaving I shall quickly stuff a note into the drop box of 24, addressed to Anaïs, and maybe another addressed to Miller into the dropbox of 36, as this was yet another of their Parisien addresses, All the men she's been with and now you, just you, and the barges going by, masts and hulls, the whole damned current of life flowing through you, through her, through all the guys behind you and after you, the flowers and the birds and the sun streaming in and the fragrance of it choking you, annihilating you, and, feeling annihilated, turning back to the Rue Jacob again, heading west, pausing at number 44, the Hotel d'Angleterre, the place where Djuna Barnes and Ernest Hemingway, among a rollcall of others, have stayed, and wondering if they got to know each other, and wondering if Hemingway perhaps effused a scent of gunpowder, blood and seaspray, which Djuna might have found enormously attractive had the scent been from a woman, and knowing the Djuna would have felt far more comfortable in the 'La Femme' bookshop, virtually opposite d'Angleterre, where perhaps her scent of foundation, lipstick, spit and insomnia seems so right, so I may just have a browse, eventually buying something/anything, perhaps yet another copy of Fancois Gilot's My Life With Picasso, just to engage the woman working there in some kind of conversation as she's pretty enough but I adore the animated manner of her speech more, her hands moving like fluttering birds as she talks, and with a sincere a bientôt head back out to the Rue Jacob, and instantly considering the wording of the plaques that may be eventually placed near the entrance to number 46, telling all those coming and going that here was not only where Lawrence Sterne coughed up blood while suffering bouts of consumption and invented Tristram Shandy,


but also where the author of this guide lived during the summer of 2009, who wondered what became of all those blood clotted rags that Lawrence coughed into, and I'm thinking of using them creating some large-ish art work that maybe the Pompidou would place in permanent exhibition, but most likely neither plaque will appear anyway. And soon enough there's the optometrists next door, with the wooden case of glass eyeballs in the window, like undersized billiard balls and being tempted by the green one, thinking of what a fine paperweight it might make, and somehow imagine it positioned just to the right of the typewriter, forming a perfect symmetry with the ashtray on the left, even though I haven't used a typewriter since the 80's, as it somehow disappeared and I cannot now recall the manner of it's death. Somewhere along Rue Jacob was once the Hotel de Danemark, from which the Marquis de Sade was arrested, and who spent the rest of his days in institutions of various kinds, attempting to perfect an aesthetic of boredom so complete that even Andy Warhol would have been impressed, keeping in mind that Andy only went from A to B and back again, as the title of his autobiography tells us. But the Danemark is now long gone, transformed into something else, perhaps another antique store or some tiny art gallery or another hotel. But at the corner there's the 'Le Comptoir des Saints Peres' Café, and there's compulsory coffees to be had here, "Un grande café sil vouz plait," I'll ask the plaited and mascara'd and waitress, take my place at some table and open the Gilot book and begin reading about the first meeting between herself and Picasso, before asking for another long black et une carafe l'eau, sil-vouz-plait, and excuse me just another moment as it's an necessaire absolutement part of this grande tour to take a piss here, and I'll just read a little from Hemingway's Moveable Feast that explains why, it's F Scott Fitzgerald speaking first.

'You know I never slept with anyone except Zelda.'
'No, I didn't.'
'I thought I had told you.'
'No. You told me a lot of things but not that.'
'That is what I have to ask you about.'
'Good. Go on.'
'Zelda said that the way I was built I could never make any woman happy and that was what upset her originally. She said it was a matter of measurements. I have never felt the same since she said that and I have to know truly.'
'Come out to the office,' I said.
'Where is the office?'
'Le water,' I  said.
We came back into the room and sat down at the table. 'You're perfectly fine,' I said. 'You are OK. There's nothing wrong with you. You look at yourself from above and you look foreshortened. Go over to the Louvre and look at the people in the statues and then go home and look at yourself in the mirror in profile.'
'Those statues may not be accurate.'
'They are pretty good. most people would settle for them.'

As the lavatoire here is where the matter of measurements was settled.


But I'm reasonably sure the waitress here might not be as obligingly reassuring as Ernest, so excuse me just one moment and I'll ask her, excusez-moi, mademoiselle. And in the story that I will write as I sit in this café, I shall christen her Marie-Antoinette and she will eventually reassure me that ne pas, it doesn't, and that everything is fine and the tiles on the floor may even leave reddened indentations on her knees and it was good, but she has to get back to work now. And I'll be leaving her quite a sizable tip and a sincerely meant a bientôt et merci beaucoup, and eventually I'll reach Rue Saint Benoît on the left, recalling Vian writing it is completely impossible for me to speak of this street without being overcome by the sweetest of emotions, so, it might only be appropriate to work up a tear or two and maybe look up the windows of number 5 and wonder which of them belonged to Marguerite Duras, and decide it's that one, there, on the fourth floor, behind which so much was written, and labrynthine intrigues were played out and so many fuckings happened with so many men, and then he told her. Told her that it was as before, that he still loved her, he could never stop loving her, that he'd love her until death, and also decide that Hemingway would have given her Duras a fucking over that rendered her north china lover all but forgotten, but no doubt she'd be whispering into Fitzgerald's ear that not only did size not matter much, she's happy enough being a whining little cunt anyway. But before returning to Rue Jacob, there's the Impasse des Deux-Anges on the right, a cul-de-sac which used to be the Rue Deux-Anges, and it has always been guarded by two angels, no doubt bored out of the brains they've been here so long, but before she filled her pockets with rocks and walked into the sea, Virginia Woolf published a poem by Hope Mirrlees which includes the lines:

in the Parish of saint thomas d'aquin there is
an alley called l'impasse des deux anges.
houses with rows of impassive windows;
they are like blind dogs
the only thing they can see are ghosts.

And walking along here, I'm wondering if that redhaired girl there could be distantly related to Vicky Laura, who lived somewhere along here, she likes to go out walking at night because she hears the noise from the street coming through her window, she figures she might as well come down instead of lie around and sleep. So she goes and has a drink with her friends, or maybe dances when the spirit moves her, and so, heading back to Rue Jacob with whatever ghosts we might carry with us in our own heads, and briefly pause at number 56, where the plaque tells me that America's treaty with England was signed here. But for some reason, this doesn't impress me as much as reaching the end of Rue Jacob where there's the Brassérie l'Escorailles, and where Joyce and Hemingway and Fitzgerald had their evening meals, although they wouldn't have known the place by the name it's called now, and wondering what each of them might have ordered, thinking that Jimmy still probably had the taste for potatoes and a pint of guinness, and somehow knowing that Ernest usually ordered a dozen oysters and a half bottle of white wine, and after dithering over the menu, f scott would order the anaemic chicken soup, with lightly buttered toast cut into fingers, and who probably peeked into Jimmy's notebook in some pathetic attempt to discover exactly where Jimmy was taking twentieth century literature, but I'll be stealing his ideas for my own too, along with some of the fine cutlery (peut-être les fourchettes), and leaving, and soon enough be turning right and walking down to the rue pérronet and then the Rue Jour et l'Heure, which to me translates into the street of days and hours, which is perfect. but I cannot stay here. Before heading back up the Rue Saints Pères, taking photographs inside the Musée d'Anatomie Delmas-Orfila-Rouviere, upstairs in the René Descartes university, at number 45, the huge gray monolitihic block of a building, but I'm thinking of a series of photographs of the brains of children and criminals and various ethnicities on display there, as well as those casts of the heads of executed criminals and a collection of skulls from asylums for the mentally ill, and if I can manage to souvenir a clavicle or two, shoving them into the backpack, and later ce soir I shall be burying them under the grass of the Square de Vert-Galant while reciting over them whatever I can remember from goodbye blue sky, which might not be all that much, or even appropriate, did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter when the promise of a brave new world unfurled beneath a clear blue sky. But in the meantime turning left intoRue de l'Université, and at number 9 is the Hôtel Lénox, where James Joyce and T.S. Eliot have lived, but wondering on the possible conversations between Jimmy and Tommy, possibly had late at night, possibly concerning the black hole of the so-called cutting edge of literature before they went cruising the Boulevard de Clichy for whores, eventually drinking themselves into a state that had both stream of consciousness and imagism on their knees and vomiting it all up, the evening ending violently with Tommy shoving a large red firecracker up Jimmy's arse while screaming 'you are the stuffed, man', even though Tommy knew he'd probably regret it all in the morning, although the Lénox is something of a shrine, as Sylvia Beach presented Jimmy with the first ever published copy of Ulysses here, and from that moment the nature of fiction was irrevocably changed, and after the appropriate genuflections, libations and a quiet "feck you Jimmy." I shall continue on, perhaps wondering on Lucia, Jimmy's mad dancing daughter, as she undoubtedly walked these same streets with her head full of nothing but thoughts of Sam Beckett, and maybe he walked along the same streets with his head full of nothing at all, or hoping Jimmy never discovered he'd combined Lucia and Foutou in the same sentence, but soon enough reaching the rues Sebastian Bottin and Gallimard, and perhaps thinking on the suicide of Guy Debord here, whose single bullet to the heart was argued to express the perfect fulcrum of drinking himself into the most poetically perfect stupor, and his polemic that everywhere reality is consistently being replaced by images, these images then become reality, and his suicide has been written of as the expression of the situationist ethic that we are all victims of a con-trick which gave us the illusion of choice. The result of this process, they argued, was to "reduce life to a single choice: suicide or revolution", but images have always displaced reality ever since animals were painted onto the cave walls of early man, and shadows later danced on Plato's wall, and if John Lennon was right in telling me that nothing is real then I may as well take a photograph of it anyway, and I'm wondering if suicide is ever a political act but at the moment I'm thinking not, it's probably better understood in psychological terms, and any polemic is merely the bandage covering the wound, or the smiley face one might draw on the plaster cast of a broken arm, and the suicide or revolution choice was also the existentialist choice, until Michel Foucault gave us the third choice of human creativity and everything embodied within it, and wondering, as I listen to the sound of my feet walking this rue and photographing the words on the walls, if Sartre's choice, limiting the options to either this or that was learned from watching his teachers, or from watching others in his class fall for it, and who never thought that, perhaps there might be third option, or a fourth, and if there's a fourth, then logically there's probably a fifth as well, and so on, until the dualistic premise lies in tattered ruins on the wooden classroom floor, between the rows of orderly desks occupied by now laughing kiddies, happily realizing that the third option is one of the human spirit, and best expressed through telling les professeurs to fuck off, and leave us kids alone, and speaking of such my Debordish thoughts evaporate as I follow the street and think on Foucaultish things instead, perhaps only pondering a possible chain of connection between the pendulum that swings in the Pantheon and the current theories on madness, until reaching the closed Hotel Pont Royal, so perhaps I'll head straight on Rue du Bac, and decide which of the hotels along here was the one where Sylvia Plath discovered her precious Richard was fucking someone else, and in retaliation beginning her own little Parisien Messalina-esque fuckfest, beginning down near the bouquenista stalls, while thinking her murderous thoughts along the lines of black rooks in rainy weathers, but I'm thinking on joining the queue for the fuckfest, even though it's quite lengthy. But wondering if Richard's hotel was the same hotel, perhaps even the same room, where Sartre's Lola lay sprawled while Matheiu stole her money while mistakenly thinking she was dead, and which Sartre also described in a short story, an old lady crossed the street with mincing steps; three girls passed, laughing. Then men, strong, serious men carrying briefcases and talking among themselves, and if an old lady, some girls or serious men are there, then in the blessed name of Doisneau, I shall quickly photograph them, and soon afterwards crossing the Boulevard Saint Germain and a quick right into 3 Rue Paul-Louis courrier and the Café Concertea, and just to be different, I'll be ordering a pot of earl grey tea, as one needs such a brew in moments like now, something other than the usual, and while the pot is steaming, contemplate eventually taking the Rue du Bac again, which is now emptier than when Sartre described it, and where my notebooks are describing Sylvia giving Rchard the most righteous of all kickings, but perhaps Richard realized that while the poetry can be trusted, only a fool would ever trust the poet, which perhaps Ted Hughes' second wife should have known as well, and here, in this café, not really caring too much about how long this story might take, perhaps ordering a second pot of bolero tea, et peut-être the waitress will enter my story somehow, perhaps I suddenly know the French to fluently ask what time she might get off work, thinking that peut-être I will steal whatever money she has saved and has kept in a jar by the door, and back onto Rue de Bac, and heading for number 1, where d'Artagnan lived and along the way thinking on d'Artagnan's final words "Athos, Porthos, farewell 'til we meet again! Aramis, adieu for ever!", and wishing I was carrying a sword rather than this camera to illustrate the argument that d'Artagnan believes he is destined for heaven, Aramis for hell. But eventually heading back up towards the Seine and turning right into Rue Verneuil, where James Baldwin lived and maybe where he came up with Tell Me How Long The Train's Been Gone, which I'll probably always think of as the greatest title of any novel, ever, although one never really has to ask that question regarding the trains on the metro, as one just deducts the overhead 'mins departure' sign from two or three or maybe four. And maybe later I'll be visiting the Lipp brasserie where Baldwin and Wright monumentally argued, perhaps on the finer points of the chicken-shit goodwill of American liberals, for which Baldwin only apologized after Wright was safely dead, or maybe Baldwin maintained that it's okay to wait an hour before being served here, and Wright disagreed as he had a thirst on him something serious, then turning left into Rue Allent and then right into Rue de Lille, and maybe I'll continue on to Rue des Saints Pères, again, and at number 59, and with enough time to carve a message into Ezra Pound's door avec le tire-bouchon regarding the tragedy of collaborators being that their actions will always colour any objective evaluation of their words, leaving Ezra heart Mussolini scratched there, while number 64 probably heard the sound of Jimmy Whistler's heart breaking when fiery Jo went off with Courbet, his symphony in white becoming the origin of the world, crickcrack.


while back at 18 Rue Saints Peres is the Vagabond Art gallery, being one of my favourites in the entirety of Paris, with the upstairs gallery being the greatest piece of installation art ever devised, pure genius and total chaos, floor to ceiling of found objects, confetti, chairs, magazines, a mattress or two, readymades of all kinds and everything strewn everywhere, installation art of the highest order,


and walking just a little further, to 5, and despite it now being something else entirely is where Manet died, perhaps dreaming of another Dejeuner sur le Herbe with Victorine Meurent, perhaps wondering what the fuck happened to his left foot, or maybe on which little Brazilian slut in particular gave him this killing dose of syphilis, and close enough, at 4 just across the street, is perhaps still redolent of the hash and absinthe consumed by Modigliani, in quantities that would have killed Shane Macgowan long ago, and of a life dedicated to the proposition that art can only be achieved though doing one's head in completely, and, if I could remember it at all, then briefly pause to remember my own alcohol-induced blackout, which happened after using wine and raki and vodka as tools to mine the black seams, but once again failing to find the diamonds, although I'm told the pattern of my breathing changed, and tears were probably involved somewhere between that moment and eventually regaining consciousness, but I have no memory of falling down, which apparently happened many times, nor how the blood came to be on my forearms. But now backtracking, back to Rue Jacob, again, and passing Hemingway's café, yet again, and I'm not sure how much of his first café I can take anymore, and peut-être demain I should seek out his favourite Parisien café instead, the Closerie des Lilas down on Boulevard Montparnasse, which was apparently Simone de Beauvoir's favourite as well, and wondering what her metaphors might been in the description of whatever might have happened after she met Ernest for the first time, at the Ritz, off Place Vendome (and for rich bâtards only), in those paragraphs perhaps edited out of The Force of Circumstance which detailed the night she stayed until dawn with Ernest and his respectable quantity of scotch, and maybe he set about proving whatever truths there may have been in his declaration that 'Nobody knows more about fucking than I do! And nobody writes about fucking like I do! And any fucker who fucking well says I can't write about fucking is a fucking liar', perhaps already knowing that very few knew more about fucking than Simone. Before reaching Rue Bonaparte, again, and at number 36 is the Hotel Saint Germain, where both Jean Cocteau and Henry Miller stayed, and wondering if Jean's attempt to explain the whatever the algebra of verbal codes might have been, and if he even knew himself, and maybe leaving Henry wondering if this was yet another trope attempting to explain why the attempt to explain anything is a waste of time, and irrelevant anyway, and both attempting to drink themselves into a surreal stupor in Rue Saint Denis, during which came to understood that man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal. Drugs, alcohol, or lies, and soon enough vomiting it all up and later, Jean slurringly maintaining he was never a Surrealist anyway, just misunderstood, as the Surrealists were all just bourgeois rich white boys anyway and produced nothing that was truly revolutionary, only yet more variations on the themes of sex and violence, and explaining through the tears that the drugs and alcohol and lies seem inevitably to lead to the idea that the next time he's reinventing the Orpheus myth then he's gonna ask Eurydice if she actually wants to be rescued first, and give her a voice, just as Hilda Doolittle said he should have, while Miller was probably wondering why he was drinking with Cocteau at all, unless it was only in the hope of eventually seeing some of this poet's blood on the floor, and at number 42 was the apartment where Sartre lived, and to where he slouched home at three in the morning, after leaving Simone with Ernest in their mutual quest for knowledge, but which was blown up by those opposed to his thinking on Algeria, but he was apparently at his mother's place at that particular evening, little Jean-Paul was such a good boy.

Eventally arriving at the Square Laurent-Prache,tucked in behind the Église de Saint Germain des Prés, the little green square where there's Picasso's bust of Aollinaire at the tip of the park and I'll refrain from tying my handkerchief around his head to complete the image of Apollinaire that most people have in their heads, if they have one at all, but according to Francois Gilot it's not really Apollinaire, but a leftover bust of Dora Maar that was uselessly taking up space in Pablo's atelier, not that it really matters, as if the only line Apollinaire had ever written was Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew, then he can be anyone he wants to be, even Dora Marr, and ahead is the Eglise Saint Germain des Près, which Sartre's Mathieu ruefully admired when he sat at the café Deux Magots and imagined it being tragically ruined in the anticipated destruction of Paris after the nazI's marched in, and inevitably despoiling the tomb of Descartes there, and speaking of such, yes, it's the Deux Magots, durrr, kind of obvious really, and where Zelda Fitzgerald wrote that on Sundays we sat at the Deux Magots and watched the people, devout as an opera chorus, or else watched the French read newspapers while also perhaps wondering on the possibility that if her husband was incapable of rattling her kidneys then one of the other habituees of the Deux Magots just might, so, more coffees are ordered here, expensive though they are in the evening, but I can rest my feet and I will even enjoy the slight contempt of the waitress, and write more notes and intend staying here a good long time, and my notes will have created the life of the darkhaired wonder, and by the time I have finished writing, the waitress will be fucking a minotaur right here on the red and white checkered tablecloth while singing Laissez les bons temps rouler..


proving that both neither Ernest nor Simone knew everything about fucking, and I will have ordered at least a second long black coffee, and stolen more yet cutlery, and filled my pockets with yet more complimentary sugar sachets, and I will have had a conversation with Mathieu, out on the terrace, beginning "Excusez-moi, monsieur," and filling him in on a few pertinent details, telling him that the Eglise Saint Germain des Près will still be standing, in all its faded but intact glory, long after the Germans have lost the war and gone home, indeed most of Paris is still intact, but no, he wouldn't ever be seeing it again. Sad but true. And yes, after you run out of ammunition you will have fifteen minutes of freedom, and that's it. Finito, the end. And after bidding farewell to Mathieu, I'm thinking on dropping a knife point-first into the table, not deeply, and again and again. But here, I am only testing a hypothesis, and I should be taking notes regarding the plausibility of Dora Maar similarly letting fall a knife, here at this table inside this café, between the fingers of her black-gloved hand, occasionally missing, and snickerslicing her fingers, and each snick would quickly turn the glove's white embroidered roses red, the bloodspilling meant only to demand Picasso's attention, and here my hypothesis includes the variable that the table Picasso used is now occupied by the waitress and the minotaur, now lighting their gauloises, and Picasso watched, rivetted by Dora's performance, and he asked for the glove, as a keepsake, as a work of art. But I'm thinking it never actually happened, not that it alters the myth in any way, a story is a story and a myth is not a lie. But as I hold this knife by the handle, about to let the blade fall between my outsplayed and ungloved fingers. But even the ravished waitress knows what I intend, the waiters look appropriately horrified and moving towards me "monsieur!. " after which I have no idea of their words, but understanding the meaning that I must leave now, and so I will, the hypothesis being proven that they'd replace a damaged table only if the performance was for Picasso, and only Picasso, et ne pas pour moi, and crossing the Boulevard, smirking like a bastard, and probably thinking on the conjunction of Picasso and minotaurs and the spilled blood of others, like some kind of holy triumvirate, given that Pablo said Crete. That's where the minotaurs live, along the coast, They know they're monsters and they live like dandies and the kind of existence that reeks of decadence, They love being surrounded by pretty women. They get the local fishermen to go out and round up girls from the neighbouring islands, for parties, with music and dancing, and everyone gorges himself on mussels and champagne until, euphoria takes over, From there on it's a orgy, a minotaur can't be loved for himself, at least he doesn't think he can, somehow, and maybe he was thinking of the surly waitress when he drew his image of a minotaur looking over the body of a sleeping girl before adding 'He's studying her, trying to read her thoughts, trying to decide whether she loves him because he's a monster, it's hard to say whether he wants to wake her or kill her'. But even these minotaurish thoughts nearly disappear as I walk up the Boulevard Saint Germain to the Deux Magots and the Café de Flore's just a little further, and try to imagine Jean-Paul scrabbling around on hands and knees in these cafés desperately searching for cigarette butts in his neverending demand for a nicotine hit, and wondering if he shared the hit with Simone if the butt promised at least two drags. But the young things there no longer carry with them a copy of Being and Nothingness, and even Sartre would be seriously wondering why the waiters there now are such condescending shite, and certainly Simone wouldn't have tolerated them for a moment and packed their manuscripts and pens and laptops or whatever they might be using now and move out, and blessing some other café with their presence, and so shall I ..

And deciding that maybe the next vin rouge should be had at the Brasserie Lipp instead, even though it's usually a forty minute wait until the waiter notices the waiting, but it's where Albert Camus and Jean Genet drank, and perhaps Genet only drank here when Albert was buying the drinks, given that his natural preference must have been for the gay bars of the Marais, and wondering on Genet's reaction should I tell him that he'll be best remembered for being the Jean Genie, and should Camus smirk, then in turn letting him know that his l'Etranger was eventually edited down to a two and a half minute song and called Killing An Arab, drip drip drip drip drip. But walking on, maybe thinking Mersault-type thoughts, of who I would kill if I had to kill someone, and I'm almost spoiled for fuckin' choice, but Mersault's Arab died the kind of meaningless random death which gets seventeen year old girls moist and causes year nine boys to experiment with eyeliner in a sad and pathetic attempt to display existential angst, where my choices are determined by intent, they'd only die if they absolutely fucking deserved it, and just the opposite of meaningless, and nearly missing the next destination as my thoughts have been preoccupied with making my list, and checking it twice, but eventually reaching the block past the Rue du Dragon, and turning right and I'll maybe briefly stop at number 30 where Victor Hugo lived when he wasn't living in the Marais, and according to a 1908 tour guide to Paris [Hugo's] residence in the street dates back to 1821, when he was but nineteen years of age, and shared a garret of two compartments with a cousin, who was a law student. One of these rooms they made into a salon, whose chief attraction was a golden lily hung over the marble mantel, and despite being familiar with a somewhat expert gilder of lilies, perhaps I should knock on his door and ask if Quasimodo can come out to play, but more likely wondering on the weird extension over his top floor room. And just over there, at number 31, is the Academie Julian, for all the little fucktards too useless to gain the marks necessary for l'Ecole des Beaux Arts, but perhaps a place I'd have a natural preference for anyway, if only for the description that three nude girls were posing downstairs. The acrid smell of their bodies and the smell of the students mingled with that of turpentine and oil paint in the overheated, tobacco-laden air,


and recall reading somewhere that the French student and painter is often a wild, unkempt youth of rather formidable appearance. His manners are neither nice nor wise. His grand object in life is to escape being bored, perfect, and briefly imagining Quasimodo and myself each in front of our own easels, wearing comically oversized Basque berets and artists' aprons spattered with oil paint, reds and blacks and all possible shades of browns, with unfiltered cigarettes dangling from our lips, and painting our chosen favourite of the nude models, "you moved," Quasi might tell his subject, loudly, "pas possible, et fuck you connard," might be her most perfect sneering reply, and Quasi will probably enrol there, and according to the 1887 Art Student In Paris guide, it's 25 francs for a month of mornings, from 8 'til 12. And there's something about the mouth of his model that reminds Quasi of Esmerelda, and perhaps I should leave here now as there's undoubtedly another tragedy about to unfold here. While further along there's the Place Croix Rouge and it should be red, and this place, where victims of some plaugue went to die are somehow memorialized by a metal centaur, which minotaurs have been known to piss on (not to mention the tiny replica of this statue which decorates the scupltors grave, in the Cimitiere de Montparnasse, almost next to Serge Gainsbourg, but in front of Samuel Beckett). Before continuing east around the square and right into Rue du Four where Anaïs Nin's parents lived when they first arrived in Paris before eventually moving to Neuilly, where little Anaïs was born in 1903, and here I'll be reading something aloud, maybe I had never looked at a street as Henry does; every doorway, every lamp, every window, every courtyard, every shop, every object in the shop, every café, every hidden-away bookshop, hidden-away antique shop, every news vendor, every lottery-ticket vendor, every blind man, every beggar, every clock, every church, every whore house, every wineshop, every shop where they sell erotica and transparent underwear, the circus, the nightclub singer, the strip tease, the girlie shows, the penny movies in the arcade, the bal musettes, the artists' ball, the apache quarters, the flea market, the gypsy cart, the markets in the early morning, and with my head reeling with all possibilities Anaïs-ish and attempting to see everything Miller-ishly, continuing along the rue du four, crossing the Rue de Rennes and attempting to entirely ignore number 71, where Sartre's Pitteaux thought it's a dirty business but walked up to the third floor, and rang the bell anyway, and then crossing Rue Bonaparte, before finally turning right into Rue Princesse and after ridiculing the lack of authenticity of the Little Temple Bar, as the barman has trouble understanding anything spoken in anything other than the Parisien dialect, let alone Irish Gaelic, meaning I could call him a feckin' gobshite anglophile and he wouldn't have a single clue, and I've decided that neither Jimmy Joyce nor Sam Beckett would have ever ordered a pint in some place that failed so completely at attempting to bring to mind the Auld Dubliner or the Oliver Saint John Gogarty, or any other place along Dublin's Fleet Street where one can front the bar, although Anaïs might find the Frog and Princess useful for picking up the occasional one night stand, or maybe to write more of those variations of maturity and innocence, perversity and art that she described her Delta of Venus stories as being, where sex must be mixed with tears, laughter, words, promises, scenes, jealousy, envy, all the spices of fear, foreign travel, new faces, novels, stories, dreams, fantasies, music, dancing, opium, wine, something like a menu, and I'm thinking of ordering the sex with opium and a splash of wine, ou peut-être all the spices of fear with a side-dish of warm tears, and maybe stories as dessert, although the entire menu would inevitably be found on the shelves of the Village Voice bookshop, with all those American books and magazines, and knowing that something within is always demanding to be found, but never knowing quite what until it's found, maybe some slender volume of verse, maybe a novel by some unheard of novelist, maybe something on the art shelves has been waiting for me, patiently,

village voice

and entering, browsing the shelves, the new fiction, reading the jacket covers and perhaps reading a random paragraph or two, and maybe glancing at the poetry section only to be convinced, yet again, that the poets still only pretend to wisdom, and undoubtedly leafing through the magazines, maybe reading a few of the music reviews in Rolling Stone, and by now I'm beginning to convince myself that the woman behind the register over there is Anaïs herself, and wondering if she'd sign my copy of the Spy In The House Of Love, whether she's Anaïs or not. But suddenly in some panic as I'm not exactly sure of what the French might be for 'autograph', and thinking of how one might structure the sentence that asks what time she might finish work, and if she'd like a wine or two over at the Frog and Princess, if Henry doesn't mind, but I don't know how to perfectly ask the question, my thought processes resembling television static and incapable of structuring anything, and eventually leave, and I may find a metro station and take any line in any direction and exit at whatever station sings its siren call loudest and not care all that much, and maybe thinking on Kafka's note that 'the metro is a frail and hopeful stranger's best chance to think he has quickly and correctly, at the first attempt, penetrated the essence of Paris', but although Franz found the noise of the metro horrible, I somehow quite adore it, although knowing that I will never penetrate the essence of Paris anyway.

Maybe Kafka was on another metro line entirely, maybe Line 1 and on his way to the Louvre, to wait in the queue to see the Mona Lisa herself as he did on that Monday morning of that particular August 21st of 1911, which just happened to be the same day that Mona was kidnapped and the Louvre shut down and France's international borders closed. Possibly Franz felt cheated, or maybe amused, or maybe he'd be wondering which art work from here he'd have stolen, or perhaps he thought that this moment was possibly in some way Kafkesque. And maybe I'll visit the Louvre demain, with the vague hope that such a Kafkesque moment might repeat itself, perhaps the Winged Nike will have flown, or maybe Michelangelo's Slave will have freed itself, perhaps the Raft of the Medusa will be floating free somewhere along the Seine towards the sea, where Diane de Poitiers will be finally going down on her friend. But right now, I only want to find some grassy patch of some nearby parc for some serious moon bathing.


And the Luxembourg should do quite nicely, remembering that Thackeray wrote let us walk to the Luxembourg, where bonnes, students, grisettes, and old gentlemen with pigtails, love to wander in the melancholy, quaint old gardens. And perhaps I shall photograph the bonnes and students there, if there be any, and although the idea of grisettes is quite charming, and thinking for a moment of Hugo's Fantine from Les Miserables being some kind of grisette with the proverbial heart of gold, easy money lying on a bed, just as well they never see the hate that's in your head! But I will leave Fantine and any other grisettes that may be roaming the gardens to those old gentlemen with pigtails to negotiate a price, I will just attempt to appreciate the melancholy, to absorb it, et peut-être best achieved in the deepening shade of the Medici fountains, that the tourist guide books to Paris always describe as a favoured spot for lovers, at least those lacking a room. And doing whatever I can to pretend that Andre Gide's school-boy counterfeiters aren't there in the path that overlooks the Medici fountain, some of his schoolfellows were in the habit of meeting every Wednesday afternoon, between four and six. The talk was of art, philosophy, sport, politics and literature, and while school-boys prattle on with ill-informed views, particularly on literature, as on page 13 one of these pretentious bourgeois twats seems upset that somebody's narrative fails to specify the colour of the dress some woman wears, but okay, you stupid and utterly useless fucktard, it was neither red nor blue, it was black with white dots, and sometimes she wore red stockings. sometimes gray, with black shoes tied with ribbons rather than laces, there, happy now?, and on page 71 Gide himself, disguised as Edouard, pontificates on how pure the novel could be, by ridding it of everything entirely, and later on page 168 argues that what I want is to represent reality on one hand, and on the other that effort to stylize it into art, and if he doesn't stop this drivel of words then I'm sure the gendarmes would understand that it was a mercy killing on one hand, and on the other that he fuckin' deserved it, and that's about it for the Wednesday meetings in the Luxembourg for the rest of the Counterfeit novel anyway, apart from page 302 when Bernard encounters an angel who guides him from the gardens to the Church of the Sorbonne, and then, after buying some cigarettes, to a lecture of sorts, and finally, like some angelic ghost of Christmas past, to the poor quarters of town, among tall, sordid houses, inhabited by disease, shame, crime and hunger, which I may visit later, given the charms of such wondrous filth. Je t'adore les filth, and if some angel should choose to accompany me then at least I ask this winged thing if it might have a café of preference, and follow to wherever it might be. The questions I'd need to ask are already falling into place, and wondering if Bernard's angel be the same one that waved a bunch of lilacs at T.S. Eliot somewhere in the Luxembourg, although Eliot's angel had a name, Jean Verdenal, but he was yet another soldier killed fighting in the Dardanelles on a May day in 1915, and who became the drowned young man of Eliot's Waste Land, Here, said she, Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, (Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!), and to whom Eliot dedicated the entirety of Prufrock. But I'm not sure exactly where in these gardens those flowers were given, which green metal seat, which bench, or maybe Eliot waited at the gates near the guard's sentry box off Rue Auguste-Compte, or perhaps those that bleed into Rue de Fleurus, or those gates hard by the Senate, or perhaps he waited by some statue of choice, peut-être Chopin ou Verlaine, Stendhal or someone else entirely, or perhaps where Hugo's Marius fell desperately in love with Cosette, in my life she has burst like the music of angels, and much to the anger of Jean Valjean. But, for now, removing my shoes and socks, intending to get my feet wet and try thinking on the MedicI's, but not getting much further than attempting to untangle their story from that of the Borgia's, and drifting into wondering on Lucrezia Borgia and the thought bubble emerging from her head which reads I love being a slut, and the redheaded assassin of my dreams, and when that bubble is popped then thinking on the existence or otherwise of angels, and when that fails try thinking on the dying Andre Gide, no longer able to play the counterfeit game and expressing his regret not for having sinned, but for not having sinned more, for having let some opportunity for sinning slip by unused, and when yet another opportunity for sinning slips by in plaits and green ribbons and perhaps holding a rolled cigarette, try thinking on Anaïs instead, and when that fails try thinking on Sartre, perhaps of him sailing his childhood boats here instead, or the dream he described in Words, I was in the Luxembourg Gardens, near the pond, I had to protect, a little girl with fair hair, I still love her; I have sought her, lost her, found her again, held her in my arms and again lost her. And maybe sometime I should write the story of that fair haired girl, and her battles with whatever those demons might have been that rose up from within, the ones little Jean-Paul could only sense. But I shall stay here a good long time, until the plot has entirely revealed itself.



And what means this silence of yours, maybe you've taken up residence with Lenny Cohen in his Buddhist retreat and taken the vow of silence, or some other vows imposed by the nuns of the monastery who took you in after a legendary bender involving unthinkable quantities of Barcardi 151 and gin, in which everything was utterly forgotten, or maybe you've found yourself trapped in that room at the end of the stairwell in the Bailleau library but this time without your mobile phone, or maybe you discovered Socrates sipping lattes in the Animal Orchestra café and have been rigorously discussing the exact definitions of Truth and Beauty, while the definitions of Love and Honour are still on the agenda, or maybe you've been detained in the city watchhouse and without the fifty cents for the phone call after creating the disturbance in which Socrates was left bleeding on the footpath outside, or maybe you've eloped with some raggedy musician whose songs charm you even though you can write better ones yourself and you're collaborating on the arrangements and you're wondering why he insists on singing 'Ghost Song' in Dmajor when it's obviously in Eminor and you're already pondering the wisdom of the elopement, or maybe you've been dreaming the dreams of the hash-induced in some opium den off Little Bourke Street (the one near the 'Commit No Nuisance' sign), or maybe you have become the muse of some other and entirely finer musician, a violinist perhaps, or maybe you've joined Bob Dylan's band on his Neverending Tour, which I guess means it's end is finally nigh, or maybe you're in a righteous rage over missing out on the Queen's Birthday honours list, as you were expecting one for services to literature (it's okay, I'm still in a righteous rage as my father has one, but I don't, his was for services to the scouting movement, but I'm anticipating that mine will be for services to le cause anarchiste), or maybe you decided that, this time, you were going to read the entirety of Finnegan's Wake and so far you're up to page 152, as there are so many riddles to solve and puns to appreciate and at this rate no correspondence will be entered into at least until Christmas (it's okay, I never enjoyed Christmas as much as I'm supposed to either), or maybe you've been inspired enough to write your own Finnegan's Wake, and the research has been formidable, or maybe you've been having your stomach pumped after another acute alcohol poisoning episode, in which case if you could let me know which hospital you're in and when the visiting hours are so I can bring flowers and a bag of freddo frogs (the type with flavoured centres, peppermint and strawberry). Ou peut-être you've been sold into the white slave trade after being kidnapped from the women's restroom at Flinders Street Station, and are now being forced to wear the despised black burqua somewhere in the remote regions of Afghanistan, or maybe you discovered the art supply store in Degraves Street and were so inspired by all those blank canvasses and brushes and oil paints you've been on a creative bender and working continuously, liberating all that blankness, in a whitelight of inspired frenzy (apologies if you do not 'frenzy', but something else entirely). Or maybe hearing that bagpiper on the Saint Kilda Road bridge made it imperative that you leave immediately for Edinburgh, and accept that proposal made you by that man in the bar where proposals are made (although it might have been by Cassandra, one gets easily confused by all those kilts and all that Bushmills whisky, but it matters not), or maybe your essay on Death in Art has blown out to thesis proportions, and editing the fifty thousand words you've written down to the required two and a half thousand is killing, and given your thanatological bent and intellectual rigour, each of those fifty thousand is precious and vital and refuses to be edited. Or maybe you've challenged Persephone herself to a one-on-one and the winner-takes-all netball game (although I'm not sure that one-on-one netball is actually possible), which has turned violent, as expected, with elbows and fists and what you might lack in terms of fingernails you more than make up for with vicious sledging, those words which hurt more than bruises, yes, the stakes are high, the dread Queenship of Hades itself. Or maybe you've received an urgent sms from Bill Henson himself, and naturally you'd be glad to model for him. Or maybe your internet connection has utterly died, or maybe too many movies have been downloaded by others, in which case you have the entirety of the American Pie franchise to look forward to over the semester break and the exams are in the past tense, and somehow I'm imagining the possibility that nothing exists besides the need to study, being surrounded with so many opened and bookmarked tomes on Australian Literature and Foucault and others on Nineteenth Century Art, although given your interest in absolutely everything there's other books on anatomy and obscure aspects of Scottish history and Sylvia Plath's biographies and Schiele amongst the piles of others, and there's the possibility that your attempted heist of 'Death and the Maiden' from the art gallery in Vienna was not as successful as hoped and somehow the Austrian authorities have taken you into custody, but you are answering with lies so wondrous they transfix those interrogators with awe, and I'm thinking that maybe your silence is something else entirely, maybe absinthe-induced, or perhaps you've liberated GhibertI's Gates of Paradise during some trip to Florence which you intend to screw to your back fence, and have decided a similar fate is destined for Rodin's Gates of Hell, both, side by side, or perhaps facing each other like boxers ready to cause damage, or, given the time frame of silence, then I can only imagine you're somehow recreating the entirety of the Woodstock festival as one-person show, to an exclusive audience of only your mirror, and by now you're up to the Sunday night performance of Tommy by The Who (although they excluded the nine minute instrumental called 'Underture', which is a pity, as it's the best thing from it) and you won't be finished until tomorrow when you've finished singing Jimi Hendrix's guitar solo and the last words of 'Hey Joe' have been sung, maybe you've gone to intentionally walk on the wild side, just to prove that I cannot, or maybe open up to the bright side, or maybe you've decided to end the no pussy blues of the high-cheekboned waiter from the Deux Magots, maybe you've gone to challenge Louis to the first game of checkers he will ever lose, maybe you're just sitting on one of green wrought iron chairs in the Luxembourg, staring out on some expanse of yellowing grass (summer), and needing some alone time to think, maybe you've just gone aimless wanders, perhaps you're deep in conversation with Clementine down at the epicerie, maybe you're committing grand theft down at gibert jeune's, cleaning out the modern american poetry shelves this time, or maybe you're desperately drunk, again, and face down gutterwards somewhere along Boulevard de Clichy and thinking on the beauty of the reflected night sky there, something, or I'm thinking that you're utterly absorbed in the French translation of William Faulkner's Sound and the Fury, overwhelmed by his sentence structures, or perhaps leafing through today's Le Monde, scouring the cinema listings pour ce soir, maybe you've been kidnapped by Pierre the anarchist mime artist and he's pedalling furiously away from Paris and through the highrise apartments of the 19th arrondissement as fast as his oversized clown shoes will let him, maybe you're just riding the metro, absorbed and fascinated by the names of stations that aren't on your most travelled lines, perhaps just journeying to the end of the Porte d'Italie line only to bounce back again to the other end (technically known as yo-yo'ing and indulged in by some of the homeless at night), and constructing the lives of those silent homeless sleeping passengers who temporarily share your carriage space. Perhaps you're just in some meeting with your publisher, negotiating upwards on your contract based on the anticipated sales of your next few volumes of verse, which will be massive. Perhaps you're on some corner along Rue Ravignan, acting out your own version of Waiting for Godot (after having found, then kicked in Beckett's door). Perhaps you've been taken in for questioning by the local gendarmerie regarding the splintered door, or maybe you're 'helping them with their investigations' regarding the street lighting in Rue de Bourgnone that is regularly blacked out by well-aimed stones, or maybe you've decided to finally indulge in some tourist-type visitations of Parisien landmarks, waiting in the ever lengthening queue for the elevators up the Eiffel Tower, talking with the gypsy con-artistes while you wait, and stealing their beautiful earrings, or maybe you're sailing a rented toy boat in the Luxembourg pond, or you've found the glorious Sartrean treeroot extruding from the earth through which Jean-Paul found the true meaning of it all (as described in Nausea), maybe you're resting your own bare feet on it, maybe you're scratching "you got it wrong, fuckface" (or whatever that might be in French) with your fingernails into its wooden flesh, or maybe you're hacking it entirely out of the ground and intent on burning it, or maybe you're studying the relief carvings that adorn the Arc de Triumph, those scenes of ancient battles won by deafening cannon and cruel bayonet, perhaps you've been taking guitar lessons with Pierre Bensusan, who's been teaching you the fine art of the power chord and already planning a tour promising an evening of song and spoken word, in the concert halls of Brittany, Normandy and Provence, and culminating in the triumphant homecoming gig at le Bataclan, or maybe you're jostling with a busload or two of tall Norwegian tourists eager for a glimpse of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, or figuring the logistics of stealing Gericault's Raft of the Medusa, or perhaps you're taking that stroll down Champs d'Elysee, window shopping the designer name fashion houses (or better still, liberating a few outfits from those places, Versace, Dior, Cardin, Llaroche, perhaps you intend to wear the purloined goodies yourself, or nobly donate them to the gypsies in return for their earrings and simpatico understanding), then up again, on the other side of the Champs, or maybe you're delighting in antagonizing those hack artists that line Place d'Tertre up on Montmartre, telling them it's shameful they live in the same place haunted by the ghost of Picasso and they have learnt nothing, nothing!, perhaps you're out drinking in bars of some significance, the bar that underage Rimbaud drank at during his season in hell, maybe the one where Hemingway lined up his absinthes, or the one on the corner of Rue Jacob and Rue de Saints Peres where Scott Fitzgerald fretted about the smallness of his penis (and asked Hemingway for reassurance that size didn't matter), or the one that served Van Gogh his final glass before he pointed his gun into his own stomach (and still missed, took him three agonized days to die), or the one that inspired his visions of yellow, or perhaps you're out café crawling instead, and maybe your mission is to absolutely wire yourself awake on so many café grandes you'll be utterly awake and so totally adrenalized for the next three days straight, it's okay, I'm sure you'll use those seventy two hours in ways I cannot even imagine, perhaps so many words will fall perfectly formed through your fingers and caught through your rapidly clacking typewriter, and which I will read eventually, maybe you're down at the Seine, rhapsodying on the ripples, reflections and the silvery glints, the golden reflections of Paris itself bursting your heart with an unbearable lightness, and perhaps you've been chatting with those who moor their black barges along the Quays, or perhaps you're down at Bread & Roses, buying le croissants pour le petit dejeuner demain, and those patisserie-stacked loaves of bread, racked high, the shapes and colours and forms, have become art works worthy of intensive study in themselves, perhaps you're somewhere else, perhaps you're just eating a peach somewhere, marvelling at how an errant drip might fall, perhaps you've gone visiting the bones down in the ossuary, and if you're out walking somewhere on the wild side, then please stay as close to the kerb as possible, and keep your door key protruding between your first and second fingers while you keep your hands in your pocket (or more precisely, between your proximal phalanxes, as close as possible to the head of your second metacarpal bones), just in case, or maybe you've been travelling, across the Channel somehow, and maybe you've been on the bender of all time since arriving in England, and possibly you've developed a taste for beer served warm (unlikely, but one never knows), maybe you've discovered the Manuscript Collection in the British Museum and have been in such a flutter ever since seeing the handwritten lyrics to 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds', and if Eliot's 'Waste Land' was still on display then maybe you were nicked attempting to steal it, I learned 'nicked' from watching 'The Bill', 'You're nicked, Guv', or something along those lines prior to the villain being read their rights, maybe you've been taken into custody, maybe you left your passport elsewhere, maybe you've been unable to prove your identity, as the 'who are you' type questions do lead inevitably to all those deep philosophical probings necessarily deeper than the mere naming of a person, perhaps you engaged them in Socratic dialogue on what, exactly, is 'Identity', maybe you've been kept in a cell, somewhere beneath Scotland Yard, and only allowed one phone call, and you dialed some random collection of digits, and ended up calling some Indian fast food outlet up in Camden Town, and rather than 'fess up, you ordered a lahksa curry and lamb with extra spice and even more extra coriander for the entire Scotland Yard constabulary, which was delivered, and they appeared to enjoy it, even though it was not quite to your taste, naturally enough, as the English tendency is towards despising food, given that it's a nation which gave the world such culinary delights as 'Toad in the Hole' and 'Spotted Dick' and imagines that poptarts for breakfast is a good idea, nevertheless, I've no doubt you're planning an escape, and really a daring one, that will leave your cell mates ever-so-impressed, and perhaps you've tunnelled your way out, using only the receipt for the lahksa curry, which you have no intention of ever paying anyway, and perhaps your cell mates, Black Joanie and T.S. (no, I have no idea what T.S. might be, Thomas Stearns maybe, Theresa Suddenly, Technical Sergeant possibly, Terribly Sad definitely, Terribly Sexy, and all those other T.S. possibilities stolen from having read 'The World According to Garp' before it was a movie), will be transformed from their mundane lives by your words, by your poetry, and are taking turns digging furiously freedomwards, with T.S. only using her fingers and teeth (which is okay, as they weren't in great shape to begin with, as years worth of breakfasting on poptarts will do this), and maybe tomorrow you'll be breathing free again. Maybe it's something else entirely, or perhaps you will decide to dedicate your life to the guerilla wing of the Breton Liberation Front, maybe you've been trawling the galleries out near Hyde Park, and shown a few directors your photographs, and they are busy organizing exhibitions of your work, so many possibilities, maybe you're completely lost, I know I never got my head around the vastness of London, being endlessly confused by the fact that the London tube map in no way resembles the physical geography of the city, or maybe all the internet café's are on their annual two week holidays, and have all gone down to Brighton to hire deck chairs and have a jolly good knees-up playing the laughing clowns and dodgem' cars at the fun fairs (and no, I haven't any idea what a jolly good knees-up might be either). But I've utterly convinced myself that you've indeed been kidnapped by white slave traders, fetching a high price (naturellement) on the open market, or maybe you're laid up somewhere, in some other pale green hospital ward being tended to by the starched but efficient nurses, once again after having your stomach pumped (being the inevitable procedure appropriate to acute alcohol poisoning), even though you will probably still be semi-conscious, and dry retching from those scratchings the tubes that vacuumed the contents of your stomach have left (actually, they haven't left any, but you feel them, nevertheless), or maybe you've begun work on your first novel, after the most perfect opening sentence finally shuffled it's syllables into perfect alignment, and the remainder is effortlessly flowing through to your frenziedly typing fingers, and you just know, with an absolute devastating certainly, that the conduit cannot be broken until the final fullstop is placed, or, perhaps you've met the one who will eventually be your first husband, Jean-Pierre the Parisien taxidermist, who's not only blessed with high cheekbones, prominent clavicles, deep intellect, and the errant Algerian gene, but his apartment in Montmartre, in Rue de Vincent, was the clincher, an offer too good to refuse, and how could you not.
Or maybe it's something else entirely.


And if you're ready for the next exciting installment of The Age of Reason Tour de Paris, we'll be heading to the café that Jean-Paul describes as 'cheap', making it my exactly kind of café, on the corner of Rue Montogeuil, and I'm assuming he meant the corner with Rue Etienne Marcel, as he's just left Daniel's apartment, with nothing except an offer of 10,000 francs if he marries Marcelle, which he declines, as even though he's desperate for money, and it's far more than he needs to pay for the abortion, he does not love her, he loves Ivich (and they've just visited the Gauguin exhibition), and the apartment is at 22 Rue Montmarte, which intersects with Rue Etienne Marcel, and the corner of Montogeul that Jean-Paul mentions is within spitting distance of the Montmarte intersection, if that makes any sense. Just trust me on this one, I'll find it, and whatever happens we'll be having a long black in whatever café happens to be nearest the corner, and if it's cheap, then all to the better, but if not, then I'll be telling you about the renovations that have utterly changed the character of Rue Montorgeuil, and of how Jean-Paul himself would not recognize it. But if the metro's crowded, then all the better, and yes, line 4, and further, Porte de Clignancourt direction, and down the gleaming tunnels to the platform, and there are so many befuddled looking tourists waiting uncertainly, nevermind, and, the scent of metro caramel burns in the air, as the train glides in and we'll board, and soon enough slowing into Sainte Placide, then Saint Germain des Pres, and as your trusty tour guide probably telling you that I didn't find it at all interesting that Jean-Paul changed the names of the cafes he and Simone frequented on Boulevard Germain des Pres (learned professors usually say something's 'quite interesting' when they usually mean it's either intensely boring or they don't have a single fucking clue, as they haven't actually done any legitimate research since completing their own thesis back in the 70's), then slowing into Odeon, and I have non idée why Odeon was the name given to thousands of theatres and cinemas, but it's probably something to do with Odeon being the name that spartans gave to musical performances (they studied music, and gave the same name to a dance floor as they gave the battlefield, an' we can boogie over here an' we can boogie over there an', oh baby, we can boogie anywhere), and then into Saint Michel, and perhaps later, when I've done what I need to do in the cheap café, maybe we'll stop here, as it's the setting for yet another iron in the soul sequence, but not yet, through Cite, and Notre Dame is above us,

reading sartre

and then Chatelet, and in the spirit of ironing the soul, then it would only be appropriate to watch one's own reflection in the window glass darkly, and after Chatelet, there's Les Halles, and we leave the metro here, looking for the Rue Rambuteau exit, which should be obvious enough, and out into the glaring sunshine, turning pupils to pinpoints, and to the left is Saint Eustache, and diagonally crossing this intersection, and of the three rues that fan out to the right, and taking the central one, Rue Montorgeuil, and for things to make sense, and if I've remembered right then the next intersection, shortly, yes, this one, Rue Saint Etienne, and yes, those red canopies of deep red umbrellas, those scarlet shades like fallen Spartans on their dancefloors. Yes, a café, and if this is what Jean-Paul describes as a cheap café then I think it's perfect, darkish walls, with chipped mirrors et blue smoke rising from the lipsticked gauloises left barely smoked in overflowing ashtrays, and a mercifully brief quizzical sneer from most of the other patrons, wondering what business we might have being here in the first place. But we'll take a table nearer the back, as it's closest to the object that probably causes me a panic most fearsome, elsewhere, a telephone is just a telephone, in Paris, though, the telephone is the enemy, the beast who will cruelly expose my inadequacies only because it can and because it wants to, here, in this cheap café, Matheiu phoned Marcelle to inform her of the progress he'd made getting the 4,000 francs together, et oui, I don't think it's table service here, so I'll order from the bar, café? vin?, d'accord, j'voudrais café grandes pour les group ironing l'esprit, sil vous plait, and he promises to bring them over, if I've interpreted a grunt and quick nod in the group's direction correctly, which is okay, although I imagined him in a greasefat and sweatstained apron, if not a three day growth as well, and cards are being played at another table, and voices are raised and there may have even been the flash of a five inch blade being unsheathed underneath, then quietly slipped back into itself as the voices float and disappear into the curiously ornate art nouveau ceiling, and I have a desire to join in, five card stud. But I won't, not this time, not after having to pay a turkish gambling debt with the gold extracted from my teeth, and whiskey's are being served in unwashed shot glasses, "et whiskey's!" I've suddenly decided, unable to resist the added allure, "da rien!" replies the fat grunt, besides, I have to make a phone call, I really have to do this, I can no longer continue ignoring the telephone (and yes, I'll usually let it ring out rather than answer), and with shot glass in hand, and downed in one swallow, maybe it helps, the telephone is in my sights, I'm visualizing picking the receiver, holding it in my hands, feeling it's weight, at lining up the coins, and dropping them, clinkclink they fall, fuck, they're actually falling, I'm actually doing this now, and my fingers, looking like the smoked butts of fat cigars, are pressing random numbers, and in the Parisien way, have to press 10 metallic numbers, pushpushpush, and it's ringing, that single ring sound (unlike the double ring of other places not worth mentioning), ring.
"Allo," a voice answers.
I was expecting 'bonjour', then remembered French telephone etiquette demands an 'allo' instead, and for the moment, I'm dumbstruck, I have to reply, somehow, to say some thing, but I cannot think of anything at all to say.
"Allo?" the voice says, again, but this time quizzically.
It's a male voice.
I thought this would be easy.
"Au revoir," he says, and hangs up.
Feelings approximating great waves of stupidity wash over me, perhaps, if I have a few more whiskeys, et another café grande, et peut- etre le baguette de grenouille et escargot, I will have to try again, later though, I have to face the beast down before we leave here, perhaps we'll just sit here awhile, while I recover from Marcelle not answering the phone (as she should have, and maybe I'm developing some deep uncertainties about the man who should not have answered the phone, as he was not part of page 106), in this cheap café, although the next part of the age of reason pilgrimage through Paris is already planned, as we'll be moving from the page we're on to page 141 of the penguin edition of our guidebook, the one with a Picasso weeping woman on its cover. But we'll be intentionally missing the 'fair' that Daniel visited somewhere along Rue Sebastopol (as I have no real desire to watch sad pornography nor play pinball nor pound negroes to see if I can ring the bell, although, if any of you want to, then I'm sure I can feign some enthusiasm, and perhaps I should recite here, in this cheap cafe, bringing literature to the masses, and, standing on the checkered tablecloth, speaking loudly to the cheap cliente of this cheap cafe, and gesticulating wildly, excuses-moi!, oui, Sartre commands your cheap attentions,

"Il traversa le boulevard Raspail et s'engagea dans la rue Denfert-Rochereau avec un leger desplaisir. La rue Denfert-Rochereau l'ennuyait enormement, peut-être cause des marronniers; de toute facon, c'etait un endroit nul, a l'exception d'une teinturerie noire avec des rideaux rouge sang qui pendaient lamentablement comme deux chevelures scalpees".

Yes, those bloodred curtains, these rideaux rouge sang, will be the holy grail of this pilgrimage, the age of reason is a relentless task master, so many cafés before the grail is grasped, and so little time, and as we walk, I'll be explaining that after not finding Ivich at the student's hostel at 37 Rue Saint-Jacques nor at the hotel de pologne on rue de sommerard (room 21, third floor), or in any of the page 245 cafés he looked into along Boulevard Saint-Michel; the Biarritz, the Source, the Harcourt, the Biard, the Palais du Café and the Capoulades.But as we are not looking for Ivich (who is about to leave for Lyon but intends telling Matheiu she never loved him anyway). I'm suggesting that perhaps his list of frantically searched age of reason cafés could be the basis for the definitive café grande drinker's guide to the Boulevarde Saint Michel, of course there's others not mentioned by Sartre; the Café de Flores, the Deux Magots, the Lipp Brasserie to mention just a few which will have to be included, this could be hard work, although should be good for getting ourselves absolutely wired for at least three days, a café pilgrimage of sorts. Perhaps we should establish some objective criteria through which each of these cafés could be assessed, but subjective criteria is much better, so subjectively first, if whatever's served up is drinkable (and as much as I adore Paris, the quality of it's coffee is not a safe assumption, as I suspect most cater mostly to American tourists only familiar with bucketfuls of starbucked blandness, quantity over quality), and perhaps points should be given for how many complimentary sugar sachets are provided for the pocketing (preferably raw, but with added points if there's complimentary chocolat, or if the cutlery is worth stealing). Third, if the ambience inspires me to proposition the waitress, and bonus points if the waiters live up to the French stereotype for arrogance and surliness, et peut-être points if there's unsavoury shifty-types chewing the complimentary toothpicks, or blackclad students with pocketfuls of rocks darkly discussing Rimbaud and the necessity of destroying the past, or if their overheard conversations include the words 'Nicolas Sarkozy' and 'con' in the same sentence, and there'll be definite points if there's some evidence for Paris' reputation as a romantic city, perhaps on some sliding scale ranging from a soul kiss as they understand it (a French kiss as we do), although maximum points for romance will naturally be for loud and emotionally exchanged words between lovers, naturally ending in tears, with at least one of the now ex-couple theatrically storming out, leaving the other to desolately stare into the remains of a long black and wondering what the fuck just happened and what the fuck happens now, and there should be accordeoniste music (preferably not piped, but for real), although if Maurice Chevalier begins thanking heaven for little girls, or if there's even the slightest suggestion of Offenbach's cancan, then not only will all points be automatically zeroed, but the darkly clad students will have the right to storm management offices and violently use their pocketfuls of secreted stones, and points awarded for a possible request along the lines of "je voudrais un verre de absinthe, sil vous plait" ends with a green fairy in my hands, with no mention of anything being interdit, and they should be darkly lit, especially nearer the back, where there's some neversmiling stalwarts, the regulars always there at the same tables and always with the same drink, and playing cards, who all still appear to be still grieving for Edith Piaf, and trying to maintain the illusion that they have no regrets either, and whose lives have been created and recreated many, many times by writers who also choose the darkened recesses to observe, and the barmaid's worldwearied and cracklined face should have interesting stories to tell, perhaps of loves lost, perhaps of sad childhoods, possibly telling of a number of her own Matheiu's who'd similarly raised the necessary four thousand francs, and perhaps wondering on how life might have been different if she'd turned left into Rue Bonaparte on that particular day back in 1973 rather than having continued on to Boulevard Saint Germain de Pres, pondering the implications of chance and fate, et points will be given for just how quickly I can lose any sense of which café I might actually be in, if indeed I am any café at all. But here, somewhere on Rue Bonaparte between the Café Deux Magots from where we eventually leave Mathieu, who will not be alone for much longer, although he has no idea at the moment, but soon enough he will witness the beating of a young boy, a beating in the name of French patriotism, and Mathieu will feign being a gendarme to break up the fight, and he will meet Irene, and together they will take the beaten boy back to her apartment (the boy will leave, though, at some time during the night). But no matter how appealing the idea of watching a beating happen may be (perhaps getting a few kicks in myself), it happens just a few streets from here, perhaps we should just let Mathieu meet irene, let them spend their night together, we know already that he will leave in the following morning with promises to meet at La Dome at seven, but I'm left wondering how this must be for Irene, for Mathieu has not even told her his name, perhaps we could continue this pilgrimage by waiting at Le Dome for Monsieur Mathieu, then follow him on our quest for those bloodred curtains.
And the coffee trawl of every café on Boulevard Saint Germain has rendered us utterly wired for a lifetime of soul ironing. But if we go on, then understand that age of reason has passed entirely, and the reprieve will take us in, willingly enough, perhaps stepping straight into page 175, to Le Coupole on Boulevard Montparnasse, d'accord, and from the Deux Magots, we'll cross le Boulevard, and head straight south down Rue Bonaparte, perhaps thinking about silences and being and nothingness, and crossing the intersection of Rue de Vaugirard, where Bonaparte now becomes Guynemer, and le Jardin du Luxembourg au gauche et les Ecole Bossuet a la droit, where I can only imagine the deep sighs of those within who only wish to escape, and, I'm about to break into the chorus of another brick in the wall, and we don' need no educay-shun, we don' need no thought control, and, having once been a teacher be aware that I will always sing it louder than any kiddie possibly could, no dark sarcasm in the classroom, teachers!, leave them kids alone, even though I always regretted never being able to return the sarcasm used on me in the classroom, as it's too easy and too good a weapon, like shooting fish in a fuckin' barrel. But yes, thinking that I'd always let them have their pudding even if they didn't eat the meat that I may have carefully prepared, and marinated, to be eventually cooked with red and green capsicums and onions and celery with just a dash of tabasco sauce and a sprinkle of cracked pepper, and personally, I'm not convinced by pudding anyway, too heavy and too ridiculous a name (perhaps I was forced to sit through some patronizing adult reading Norman Lindsay's 'Magic Pudding' aloud, and me failing to mindlessly respond to the apparently spiffing idea of endlessly eating sweetie things, but I can't remember, or maybe I was frightened by some black pudding at an early age, or perhaps I ate too much one Christmas), and turning right into Rue de Fleurus, then again into Rue Raspail, then the first left into Rue Vaugirard, then at the Saint Placide intersection, continuing south along Rue de Rennes for a couple of blocks, then after the Place du 18 Juin 1940, following the flow of the roundabout traffic turning right, and le Coupole is there, where it's always been, and Sartre et Simone ate here every sunday (conveniently I suppose, as both are buried less then a block from here), et Giacometti, et Hemingway et Cocteau et autres, and in the spirit of hundred and seventy five, we should tear down any posters declaring allegiance to any particular -ism, to any cause, but in case there's none (and this is highly probable), then anything paper-ish stuck on anything wall-ish will do (it's a symbolic gesture to begin with, and in Paris, posters are not allowed to be glued, so they're stickytaped and easily ripped), and entering la Coupole, et I'm thinking of ordering huitres une douzaine, as the page number demands, and even though vin blanc is supposed to compliment seafood better than rouge, I'll be having a few merlot's anyway.
This may only be a slight reprieve, and shall leave here after having finished the oysters and the salmon and at least three merlots and I will probably have propositioned the surly waitress and perhaps scrawled the word 'fuck' underneath the table as a polemic, a discourse, a cause, a question, a demand, a manifesto of intent, a metaphoric j'accuse, et perhaps tomorrow's Le Monde's art columnists will have invented 'fuckism' and in it's paragraphs will outline how the movement is the almost unprecedented move forward, equivalent to an unravelling of Christo's wrappings, a bride laid bare, a moustache on the Mona Lisa, and wresting Paris' credentials as the leading edge of contemporary art back from New York, just as it should be, tomorrow, though, I shall maybe smirk over my morning croissant, for if fuckism is a movement, then I shall want no part of it, as I'd like to think that my mind will not be clipped or sliced or moulded to any arbitrary '-ism' defined by others, but maybe the scrawled table itself is, at this moment, being installed in the Centre Pompidou, and critics are calling it the next major step forward since Duchamp's readymades, but the more insightful critics simply know it to be an acknowledgment of the fact that Jackson Pollock's stature in the world of twentieth century art is merely a fortunate consequence, a recompense for Jack just haven given Peggy Guggenheim the best fuck she'd ever had, but although it's probably impossible to objectively evaluate Jack's work as his paintings are now merely investments made by those hoping to make vast amounts of money fairly quickly, and here, feel free to tune out about now, as I'm banging on about art and capitalism again, and the well-worn threads of argument are so many, and I'll probably end up arguing that art and capitalism have always been in bed with each other anyway, and explaining that art in the hands of capitalism is similar to when he's on top and capitalism in the hands of art is when she is ..
Moving on, continuing this age of reasoning tour, and passing the intersection which has Rue Husmans on the left and Rue de Montparnasse diagonally off to the right, while the Boulevards are classically beautiful, I prefer the narrower rues, passing epiceries with their deli aromas and pattiseries and boulongeries with the aromas I cannot resist, and probably buying a few croissants, eventually crossing Boulevard de Montparnasse, and continuing, passing the Hotel Renoir on our left and thinking on Renoir stories that inevitably end with wanting to destroy the pernicious influence of Impressionism, the strangle hold the movement has over the popular imagination of what 'art' actually is, as it always does, and perhaps the gallery attendants of the Musee d'Orsay know this to, as they always watch me uncomfortably closely, and they have every right to be afraid of what I might intend), and when we've reached the end of this street, turning left into Rue Delambre (following the walls of the Cimitiere de Montparnasse), and yes, just a short way up Delambre, the Dingo Bar is at number 10, one of the bars where Hemingway used to hang out, before he'd actually published anything, and writing most of 'The Sun Also Rises' here, and where he used to meet up with F Scott Fitzgerald, who had published, and they'd hold court, "Bonjour, monsieur," and rather than take a table near the back wall, I'm hoping my pronunciation of fenetre is correct enough for the maitre d' to indicate a table near the front window, "une café grande, sil vous plait," I ask, after already having sucked back on a complimentary sachet du sucre, and, over le rue at 16, was Man Ray's studio, where Gertrude and Pablo and Jimmy Joyce and Jean Cocteau and so many others sat for their portraits to be taken (I'm wondering if his photographic equipment is still there, ripe for the stealing), and upstairs is the probably fictional Sarah's apartment, from chapter three of the first volume of Jean-Paul's trilogy, and I'm wondering where Fitzgerald and Hemingway sat, or if Sartre brought whoever the model for the probably fictional Sarah may have been, and wondering if Mathieu brought Sarah here when chapter three was finished (he should have), and ordering a second, we could continue the age of reason tour, perhaps taking a taxi to visit the Galerie de Beaux-Arts up on Saint-Honore, and speak loudly there, wondering why people whisper in galleries, when Mathieu and Ivich visited, it was to see the Gauguin's, or perhaps, later knocking on the door of 22 Rue Montmartre, Daniel's apartment, just to answer the question of who might answer the knock, perhaps later, as right now, the only place I want to be is in this café, perhaps ordering a second, even a third maybe café grande, maybe even devising plans of considerable cunning and subterfuge to liberate Man Ray's photographic equipment, or perhaps drawing on the tablecloth what Jackson Pollock's grave should look like, something similar to his paint-splashed boots, and I'm wondering on Picasso's boots, and reasonably certain Frida Kahlo's would've been absolutely spotless, Lichtenstein's were probably quite cartoonish, and DalI's too tight. But the Cimitiere d'Montparnasse sings it's siren song loudest and eventually reckoning the bill, leaving the obligatory tip (but not before stuffing handfuls of the sugar saches into my pockets), and walking the back up Rue Delambre, to le Square Delambre (and I have non idée who Delambre is, but he was a rakethin violinist of extraordinary ability who performed for the crowned heads of France before they were all decapitated, thereafter having to eke out a pauper's pay by teaching the violin to the daughters of the revolutionary committee who were totally cloth-eared, and eventually going quite insane by their inane twitterings at the connotations of the word 'fingerings' and, I believe he is buried quite close, but I'm not sure), and eventually reaching the main gates of the cimitiere after crossing Boulevard Edgar Quinet, who, if he didn't play the soprano saxophone some jazz quintet, should have, and, yes, the flocks have gathered as usual around Jean-Paul and Simone, and yes, and stopping there too, although my instinct is to applaud and call out "author! author!" rather than maintain some kind of apparently dignified worshipful silence, and maybe taking out my notebook and write a note, to be left under a pebble on the marble slab, perhaps telling him of how tourists now sit in the Café de Flores and momentarily pretend they understand the entirety of Being and Nothingness, definitely suggesting that he could have treated Simone a little better, but wishing my words were as good as his, before continuing on and returning to Boulevard du Montparnasse, which is described as nearly empty, just as it should be if we intend to follow Mathieu, who has just listened to Hitler's speech and understands that war is no longer a distant rumour, and is about to enter page 294. Et peut-être we'll follow Mathieu from his hotel to la Dome brasserie later after walking along the western end of the Cimitiere Montparnasse. But you'll understand why I'm just a little apprehensive about 6 Rue aux Ours, and while I have absolutely no problem with the amount of vodka about to be consumed in the spirit of the age of reason, I am not about to put a knife through my hand as Lola did (but checking, and yes, I have Boris' age of reason Basque knife handy, in case my age of reasoning changes) preferring my hands unholy, but if there be some Lola then understand that I will be wilfully ignoring any photography interdit rules, perhaps giving 6 Rue aux Ours a miss entirely, and continue the pilgrimage by heading down to le Dome on page 212 instead, and evening is darkening, out there, and I'm not sure what will happen, Jean-Paul et Simone used to enjoy their Sunday petite dejeuners there, so I suspect it may be a haven for their latterday sycophants, and crossing Rue d'Assas, and the first on the right is Rue Vavin, and it's only a short street, although inevitably thinking of the meeting between Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller in 'Le Viking' bar, which was somewhere along here, and after three minutes he was desperately in love with her, but Anaïs left him with a note saying I will be the woman you will never have, although she was removing her blue undies for him the following day. Briefly turning left into Boulevard de Montparnasse until we reach the pedestrian crossing at place Pablo Picasso, and Le Dome is on the corner, over there, and entering, and somehow le maitre d' knows my seating de preference, down near the back, even though I've not been here previously at all, it all feels familiar."Merci," to le maitre d', who's has just taken le order pour le café grande et l'bouteille de absolut vodka, and yes, to eventually twistcrackopen, and holding a mouthful of vodka and feeling it burn liquid fire trickle, I will not be a miserable drunk tonight. Over there, there's three people in deep discussion, two men and a woman, with occasional outbursts, but no, they are not enjoying themselves at all. Bruno, having just been told that Lola is not, in fact, dead from some cocaine overdose, Ivich is saying "there are things you just can't grasp!" (and she's right, there are), and Mathieu, who simply desires to be free, but who by the end of the trilogy will come to understand that to be free means being a nothingness, and he will never have the freedom to choose what is right, and that revelation will come when he's a lone sniper on top of a church during the war, I'm wondering on telling them their endings, but it might take a little more vodka yet, and perhaps, ce soir, I will describe those streets, as we continue reprievingly onwards from la Dome.

In the meantime, I have a phone call to make.


And as I finally leave whatever gutter I have called home for the past two three or more days, perhaps someone held the back of my head and administered my drug de preference. The headache beginning as always like an ice-pick at the base of my skull, Trotsky-like, cleaving upwards cracking, and there's nothing to be done except swallow enough industrial strength painkillers and stay absolutely still, which is quite easy, and practiced, and there's a moment after just wakening after a night of having killed several million brain cells, and keeping still, not moving anything other than eyelids, and you find yourself in a congratulatory mode for having an absolutely clear head, oh yes, oh frabjous day, and the morning sun looks beautiful, and let the sunshine in, the sunshine in, and then, and then, then you move your head, and still thinking yes, good so far, then you feel the insides of your skull swashgloopthunkingly move, fractionally later and disturbingly not quite in sync, and the morning sun becomes instantly something nauseating. Still, the migraine only lasts about twenty four hours, but I have to move, eventually, move reprievingly onwards towards page 331, which, along with 332 appears to have come adrift from its glue binding, and perhaps they will stay behind in the gutter I've just have left, to maybe begin it's own navigations of the underground Parisien waterways, as I'm thinking on folding it into some paperish boat shape to help it along, should its journey get rough. But before Sartre's HMS Reprieve sails away, it says:

She hailed a taxi.
'12 rue Huyghens.'
'Go along Boulevard Saint-Michel, the rue Auguste-Comte, the rue Vavin, the rue Delambre, and then by the rue de la Gaite, and the avenue de Maine.'
'It's longer that way,' said the driver.
'Never mind.'
She got into the cab and shut the door.

And I'm wishing I knew the French for 'never mind', d'accord, possibly, but I don't, and the cab driver is quite right, it is a longer way, but he doesn't know that Ivich is convinced that it will be the last time she will see Paris in all it's beauty, and that it's only a matter of days before the Germans begin the saturation bombing, as was their wont, but the French surrendered too quickly for that to actually happen, but at this point, Ivich is not to know that. And neither will I travel her route de preference (perhaps later). But from here, and I'm not quite sure where I am, but my instincts are saying this way, following the direction the parked cars are all facing, and maybe this is rue Bonaparte. But if it's not then it may as well be, as it's seemingly familiar even though Paris reinvents itself every morning (or perhaps it doesn't, maybe it just seems that way). Soon enough I'll be able to walk into the Luxembourg, and down through the length of it, passing the bust of Beethoven, and perhaps thinking on Ludwig's own night in the gutter and of how the reflected stars he saw in there suggested the theme that ran through his Ninth Symphony which climaxed in the chorus of 'Song of Joy', and excuse me just one moment while I sing lah da da dada dum, de dada da de dah dedum, and Paul Verlaine is just over there, on the right, undoubtedly tired of all the hopelessly tuneless renderings of Beethoven's greatest hit, and perhaps thinking on Verlaine stories, some of which will undoubtedly be lies given the nature of poets, and over there is the smaller Statue of Liberty replica and perhaps, if I sat with my back to Liberty's cold plinth, I would know that if given the choice between being right here and now, or whatever dreams the gods might send, then the gods can go and fuck themselves. But after I extinguish the gauloises, eventually, perhaps tossing the butt towards Liberty's non-existent flame, I'll continue. There's le bust de Chopin, but not a single etude displaces the song of joy and turning towards the southwest gate, and briefly into Rue Guynemer before it reaches Rue d'Assas, and cross, and here, I'm wondering which of these buildings will some day grace a brass plaque alerting the passerby, that here, obedient to some poet's word, they, and I'm trying of think of a rhyme for 'by', fly sigh cry die mumbai why try defy lie lorelei satisfy, and even though I have a tonnage of adverbs to modify 'obedient' at my disposal, they're all inadequate, and wondering which of these buildings will become part of my personal mythology soon enough, which bars, which cafés, which blackhaired and rubylipped women whose glances tattoo my imagination, before turning into Rue Vavin, which is only walked once in Sartre's writings, a short block to Rue Notre Dame des Champs, then diverging to the left and walking the even shorter Rue Brea, before reaching Place Pablo Picasso, which I'm sure was named something else before Picasso could speak French, and I'm wondering how soon it will be before a monument to Marcel Marceau is created somewhere, maybe he'll be permanently locked into some 'crawling through an imaginary window' or 'headlong into the hurricane' mime, and I'm not sure if I've read the plaque on Balzac's monument, which is just over there, perhaps it tells of his boredom at having to sleep with Hugo and Zola every night in the tombs of the Pantheon (perhaps wondering if Marie Curie, in the next tomb, might be getting a little lonely all by herself), and after crossing Boulevard Raspail 'la Dome' brasserie tempts, but maybe later, and reprievingly referred to only disparagingly anyway, but taking my life into my hands and crossing Boulevard Montparnasse (and here, being reminded that the French for 'pedestrian' roughly translates into 'meat for tyres', and here the 'deux temps' warning is really cross with those that imagine they can cross once), and ignoring Rue Delambre, only for a short while though, as I'll be back here soon enough. The next on the right is Rue Huyghens, and 12 was where Mathieu Delarue had his apartment, and where Ivich needed to speak with him, unaware that he was already packing to leave Paris, and neither of them can be aware that Mathieu will never return. He tells her that his apartment is hers if she wants it, hands over the key, and on page three hundred and thirty six he mentions that there's oil, salt and pepper there, and salmon, sausage-meat and pickled cabbage in tins, and intends to inform the concierge on the leaving that the key now belongs to someone else, so, if I can discover where Mathieu might have kept le vin rouge, I have le tire-bouchon as I never leave home without it, so pour some wine, and I'll make something that might even be edible.


And so to exist my mind shifts sideways recalling a fairly recent reading of something that included a comparative analyses of translations, thinking on Ralph Mannheim, whom Gunter Grass thought a godsend, and of the various translations of The Iliad, and if Keats had first looked into Fagle's Homer instead of Chapman's then perhaps he'd have been moved to write something entirely finer. But this evening I'll continue the Sartre-led ironing of my soul, down and along the Seine, perhaps to the bridge where Daniel convinces Philippe, a young deserter, not to end it all. But there's matters of translation that are weighing heavily, perhaps Sartre didn't have as good a translator in Gerard Gopkins as Gunter Grass had in Ralph Mannheim, or as Homer has in Fagles, but on page one hundred and eighteen, there's this exchange:

"What's up with that bloke?" shouted Charlot.
"He'd dead – that's what's up."
"That's a f-ing bad show, that's what it is," said Charlot

No, I've not gone all coy, 'f-ing' with the dash is how this coy translation has it, but which in the original, reads as:

- Qu'est est-ce quI'il avait le gars? cria Charlot.
Mathieu se retourna : Charlot avait releve la tete et pose son livre a cote de lui, sur la marche.
- Il avait qu'il etait mort.
- C'est con, dit Charlot.

And then just a little later, on page one hundred and twenty of my soul ironing guidebook to Paris during wartime, there's another exchange between Mathieu and Charlot, which Hopkins coyly translated as this:

"There's a lot of f-ing talk going around," said Charlot in secretive tones.
"What sort of talk?" asked Mathieu.
Charlot showed embarrassment. "Just a lot of proper f-ing nonsense."

but which Sartre originally had as:

- Il y en a qui racontent des conneries grosses comme eux, dit Charlot a voix basse.
- Quelles conneries?
- Tu sais, dit Charlot gene, ce sont vraiment des conneries.

I'm wondering if Charlot's words feel better spoken or spat in English, or perhaps I could practice spitting 'c'est con' with as much satisfaction as the English gives, excuse me just one moment while I try, c'est con, c'est con, c'est con, and oui, I know I enjoyed getting my tongue around it, and yes, from here, walking the quaI's along the Seine from Saint Michel to the Solferino footbridge near the Musee d'Orsay, passing the closed for the night verte bouquiniste stalls, which are difficult to pass by during the day, attracted as I am to ancient maps, postcards of Audrey Hepburn and yellowing manuals for the 1963 Renault sedan, and the Seine ripples blackly silvery, the barges have settled in for the night, their mooring ropes creaking against the current. Sartre has ordained that this night be devoid of all other personnes, and thinking on page one hundred and thirty seven, if I should meet some Philippe readying himself to jump, already knowing that he won't, that he will eventually go back to Daniel's apartment. But knowing that I might not be as successful as Daniel in some attempt to reason with him, should I even try to convince him otherwise, perhaps I might even encourage Philippe to jump, but Daniel was already laying his well laid plans, from an entirely self-interested motivation, (yes, although Daniel is meant to be a totally despicable character, I find his despicableness strangely attractive), following the flow of the river on the right, and the Quai des Grande Augustines which changes into Quai de Conti soon enough, and everything seems right and continuing, under the night sky, the shading trees now leafblack, passing the Pont Neuf, Henri IV still riding victoriously on his now green bronze horsie, and taking the steps down to the flagstones of the quays themselves, where there are those personnes not mentioned by Sartre, maybe those who just want to be by themselves, the alcoholics and the lovers and the alone, and underneath the Pont des Arts, where le Conti changes to Quai Malaquai, which can be spat with as many wondrous variations as 'c'est con!' although I have no idea who Malaquai was, but I shall practice articulating malaquai, malaquai, malaquai, even though by now I'm well into Quai Voltaire, and walking his section of the Seine bank, thinking of him dimly illuminated in his crypt of the Pantheon, the Quai narrowing and totally treeshaded as it reaches Pont Royal, and thinking revolutionary thoughts and of how Pont Royal, during that revolution, was renamed Pont de Conneries but changed back soon afterwards, c'est con, c'est conneries. Further on, and over on the left the Musee d'Orsay, now closed, and again I'm wondering what all those portraits might be thinking now it's dark inside and the watchers and their guardians have all gone home, or how much all those Impressionist landscapes have changed since, if Gauguin's sitters fretted fearing abuse if they dared so much move to satisfy an itch, if Toulouse Lautrec's madame removes her feather boa, and briefly along the Voie sur Berge Rive Gauche before it becomes Place Henry Millon de Montherlant, who was a writer about whom much more would have been known had his connard of a father not destroyed his son's personal diaries, but whose writings include 'An Assassin Is My Master' and 'Chaos and The Night' although he wrote primarily for the theatre, and one of his plays was 'those which one takes in his arms', but poor Henry, on September 21st 1972, walked from his apartment, just over there, in Rue de Lille, on the further side of the d'Orsay, crossed the road to the bridge, and leapt. I could write of his reasons, but I won't, not tonight, as tonight Sartre is my tour guide, and yes, the next bridge is the Solferino, and almost crossing it here, perhaps wondering exactly where Philippe was standing, after having climbed the fence but still hanging on, maybe waiting for the moment to let go, perhaps feeling the air's night chill, perhaps the scents of Paris filled his senses, perhaps the sounds of the water beneath, perhaps thinking of worse things than the penalties for desertion, perhaps deciding that his reasons were not enough, even without a Daniel, but maybe perhaps all he needed was a Daniel to tell him what he needed to hear, so, and maybe it's just me, but looking over the edge, into the waters below where Henry jumped but Philippe did not, and although I just can't help but wonder, I won't. But after I've finished this cigarette, and watched the flicked embered butt arc into the water instead, I'll continue, to Mathieu's last destination, and it's everywhere and nowhere, page two hundred and twenty five of Sartre's reprieve can be wherever I want, as Mathieu's death is not in Paris, so tonight it may as well be right here and right now, for right here and right now is underneath the Pont de Alexander III, a good as any other here and now, and as it has to be in French as the translation is but a pale imitation of the real thing, it's Mathieu's final moments, and he's uselessly firing upon German soldiers from the belltower of some church, although each shot becomes recompense for some scruple, for the books he never wrote, for the journey's never made, for the people he loved and hated, things he'd done and regretted, things he'd not done and equally regretted, and understanding that to be free means being a nothingness, but he will never have the freedom to choose what is right, and that revelation knowing he has thirty seconds less than fifteen minutes to live:
La Beaute fit un plongeon obscene et Mathieu tira encore. Il tira : il etait tout-puissant, il etait libre.
Quinze minutes.
Fifteen minutes, to become a nothingness.
It's all I have, or all we have, as I'll need some Ivich from Rue St Denis for this, preferably some Ivich I can imagine easily enough as actually being Ivich, and my Ivich won't need time to get into the fifteen minute scenario, as we've already lost fifteen seconds, and my foreplay amounts to what's probably an entirely unnecessary forthright proposal, along the whispered lines of hmmmhmmmhmm, and I'll spend another worthwhile twenty seconds extracting the jack daniel's filled hipflask from my inside coat pocket and between us spending a few minutes sucking it completely empty, filling our mouths 'til it spills, and yes, it burns perfectly, and we are under this bridge, and she may forgivez-moi if this rough-hewn stone wall is indenting her back, not that I could care less, and yes, and my hands will touch her face in our now less than fifteen minutes, before discarding the niceties entirely and lift her black skirt and the fingernails of my red right hand will have torn a rrrrrip, a tear in her dark stockings and yes and every synaptic connection in my head is whitelight firing, and many of them carrying impulses of a kind of thankful deliverance for the circumstances creating the here and now in Mathieu's final minutes, and my fingers have created a tattered shredding as these ticking moments are all that will ever, telling my Ivich to do what she will and do what she has to and understand that there is no tomorrow, only now less than fifteen minutes, and pushing towards the annihilation of self entirely, and other whitelight connections regret not being able to rrrrrrripp from within me other, perhaps kinder words, some articulation of sounds she could suck back and taste the inexpressible truth of their meaning, and yes, rrrrippp, and the walls are sweating from our breathings, and the Seine lappingly flows rhythmically on, and some whitelight connecting entanglement tells of her willingness and acceptance of whatever violence I might describe, and yes, I could describe this in terms suggesting a violence, but no, I don't have the French but it is a violence mutually shared and borne of the same desperation, our fifteen minutes is nearly spent, and yes, although, if the afterwards should reveal a bruising, then, yes, I will photograph them all, and I will keep them with mine, and a final cigarette if there be time, if there be a later ..
And if there is a later, then I shall lining up with the tourists in the queue for the Louvre, and study David's Raft of the Medusa closely, each brush stroke, each element of composition, the exact names for the colours in his paintbox, leaving the analyses of possible meanings up to others less versed in colours, paints and surfaces up to others to analyze, yet again, Neoclassicism and David's role in the break between the Rococo and the Baroque, thinking instead of the carriage that knocked him down as he left the theatre one night, and how I would have been tempted to photograph his blood on the flagstones leaking as it did towards the gutters like those sluggish streams, et peut-être, while I'm here in the Louvre, bruised, I should find Michelangelo's dying slave down in that furthest chambre on the lowest etage, probably wondering on the logistics of how the fuck I'm going to manoeuvre this slave down my undies and smuggle him past the door bitch, et peut-être après les Louvre, avec le dying slave, but deviating through Sartre's nauseating tour, not to the garden where Roquentin discovers the key to existence is absurdity, and fills spends pages 185 to 193 on the consequences of this fucking obvious conclusion, but to the Hotel Espagne, where Roquentine meets Anney after years, whom he has apparently always loved ever since she gave him his first deepkiss, but who has changed in the meantime to something completely other from what he remembers, and it seems an age since travelling the metro, although fifteen minutes is an age, an eternity of spat clouds and moonblood, and the closest station to here is Royal Louvre (and I'm wondering how it maintained the royal in its title, perhaps it was reinstated afterwards), and it always seems darker than most stations, and needing line seven, which will soon enough narrow down to the La Courneuve 8 May 1945 direction, as the station's low lights protect the mesopotamian sculptures inside those display cases built into the tiled walls of the station itself, waiting, perhaps thinking on <Mesopotamian mythologies, of Gilgamesh and his long search for eternal life, which, when he eventually found it, rejected it as something utterly fucking terrifying (yep, he certainly got that one right), and the caramel burns, and the train slides in, and yes, most everybody else here is carrying Louvre showbags, probably containing all the Mona Lisa paraphernalia they could have possibly dreamed of, although what the fuck one is going to do with a mona Lsa teatowel, other than eventually wear out her face is utterly beyond me, let alone a Mona Lisa rubik's rube with her face on all six sides, and slowing into Pyramides, and my inevitable thinkings change to Egyptian mythologies instead, perhaps the epic three day muddy and bloody battle between Horus and Set, ending with Set eventually ripping one of Horus' eyes from it's socket, or maybe of Isis' search for all of Osiris' body parts after they were scattered all over Egypt by Set, and once completely gathered and laid out in approximate human form, she gave life given back to him via what must have been the mightiest blowjob of all time, yes, just as Tom Waits sang of Chesty Morgan, she's so good she made a dead man come, and by the time Osiris has just shuddered into regained consciousness, the train is slowing into Opera, pondering on the existence of otherwise of phantoms, not that it really matters, actually I'm quite fond of Notre Dame's Hunchback even though he's fictional, and I'll be changing at the next station, La Fayette, and changing to Line 9, finding it easily enough, following the signs in the Mairie de Mntreuil direction, perhaps reading the posters for this weeks coming attractions, none of which will be as mighty as Osiris's, and finding the right platform, perhaps leaving the dying slave here, on one of these orange plastic seats, and he may perhaps contemplate the comings and goings of those Parisien masses outside of the galleries who do not talk of his creator, until the aroma of more burnt caramel fills the station, and boarding, with a few other passengers, of a different type to the bag-toting crowd that had waited at the Louvre platforms, but I can't quite explain how I know this but somehow there's a certainty that simply every other personne I am temporarily sharing this trainspace with speaks fluent French, thinks in French, could describe a violence fluently, imagining they all maybe have copies of Le Monde somewhere, that they all have some uncle named Pierre or Jean-Paul, and that if I turned them upside and shook them, then three vintages of vin rouge, a corkscrew and seven varieties of cheeses would fall from their pockets, and who are born with the knowledge that the lui changes everything, it feels different, slowing into Richelieu Drouot, and I have no idea who Richelieu Drouot may have been, nor feel like telling elaborate lies, feeling like an imposter in this carriage anyway, as I dare not drivel on revealing my shameful monolinguism (yes, the best I will ever manage is to merely mouth the sounds of the words, and hope for the best), so I will stay quiet, perhaps listening to the conversation of others and pretend to understand them, the next station, slowing into Grands Boulevards, and getting off the train, needing the Boulevarde Poissonniere exit, perhaps following the scent of long-gone fish markets and the cries of the fishmongers all with greaseblooded canvas aprons tempting customers with grenadier bleu pour douze francs par kilo, and merge into the daylight, once again overwhelmed by Paris, and begin planning my next fifteen minutes.

last chance

After scrunching the now emptydead cigarette packet, and the paving stones of the Quays under my feet are strewn with matches, and the moon is now a perfect cliché reflected in the rippling Seine, just as it always does in the gutters of my vinrouged stumblings home, often enough screaming at it as it lay there as though discarded, challenging it to remain, to not move. Perhaps it's time to leave what has now become my place on the Promenade Arthur Rimbaud, this bench that has left flesh-reddening indents, my fingers have become quite numb. Yes, to walk on, but only as far as I want, still following the flow of the black Seine, up the stone edged steps that end the promenade, to the road above, but ignoring the metro sign at the Quai de la Gare, and walking on, soon passing the Pont de Bercy and continuing along the quais, at first Quai d'Austerlitz, and sometime I should find out why so much of Paris is named after Austerlitz, but I'm thinking he was maybe the chieftain of the celtic Parisii tribe who originally inhabited this much of France, and who led a noble but futile resistance against the Romans, but then again perhaps it was a battle victory of great significance to the French, but of which I know nothing. This quai continues for quite a few blocks and over there, on the left is the Hôpital de la Pitie-Salpetriere, and wondering on the possibilities that might foetally crouch in glass bottles pickling in formaldehyde in the basement laboratory that might tempt beyond endurance, and entertaining the idea of a little breaking and entering, some smashing and grabbing, and then running like helling. And already i'm imagining the yellow glow of morning sunlight shining gently on the closed dreaming eyes of whatever aborted foetus I decided to steal through the yellow of the piss coloured preserving fluid. But soon enough, passing the Gare d'Austerlitz, another of Paris' major train stations, and walking towards to le gare's terminus, for no apparent reason other than it'll undoubtedly provide the raw material for some images, some photographs, and entering. The noise of trains arriving, others readying to depart, announcements made, people kissing welcomes and goodbyes and not a few tears, but far more looking utterly bored. As I do not know what it's like to be bored, perhaps I should ask them, and take notes. Local RER and metro trains, intercity trains, to Marseilles, Nice, Lyon, Grenoble, and maybe thinking on adventures too, of travelling the trains, the possibilities of places I've never been. I've not ever been a performance artist in Lower Scandinavia, nor have I have ever taught the finer details of arson to Chinese revolutionaries, nor attended lectures on Picasso in Geurnica, I haven't ever registered into any hotel as Mr Smith, nor chosen a woman from the windows in Amsterdam, or bought cheap wine in any cellar-bar off the reeperbahn, I've never drunk ouzo in Athens, nor saki in Tokyo, and I have yet to order vodka in Moscow, so maybe I should collect a few timetables with those destinations before leaving, but not before having another café grande in the Terminus Bar amongst all these backpackers, maybe playing connect-the-dots with all these timetables as they suggest their possibilities. But for some reason I'm feeling compelled to turn the RER timetable to Chartres into a folded paper plane instead, while thinking of the brilliance of Chartres blue in the rose window of the Cathedral there. Eventually leaving, and by the time I've crossed Place Valhubert the name has changed to Quai Saint Bernard, and excusez-moi if my mind turns to huge lumbering and slobbering dogs carrying tiny wooden kegs of whisky on their collars, bringing sustenance to snow-buried skiers, kind of obvious really, although I'm wondering how some Pope saw fit to sanctify un chien. And speaking of sustenance, deciding to stop at the first bar along here, take my chances, no matter if it be grunge heaven heavily decorated with browning blood stains, and what might at first sight appear to be gristle, presumably from last night's billiard-cue wielding entertainment, or be it the Last Chance Cafe itself, or Mama's own crepe kitchen where the Mama's usually turn out to be resentful work experience students. But no, the establishment turns out to be one of those places that only tourists on nothing less than a five star budget would bother with, Le Hotel de Paris, c'est d'accord, maintenant, et oui, as Jean-Pierre (as the Maitre d's name tag declares him to be) artfully presents me with the menu, et ermm, whatever has the most escargot et les cuisses de grenouilles sil vous plait, avec une botteille de whatever goes best, probably a dry white, and telling Jean-Pierre that the chef can take as long as they please preparing it, as I will just sit here and write in my notebook, creating the lives of whoever else might be in here. That couple who may or may not be celebrating an anniversary of some bonne kind, some business suited captains of industry whom I shall ignore entirely, and over there, that small knot of what look like second year students from the Sorbonne still in the adolescent throes of the necessity to appear cool above all else, which today is best articulated through generic apathy, and maybe cursing the ill-fortune of their being born into monied and influential families, and on whom I could spill yet more cynical ink. And that other couple nervous of the silences between them, who I shall leave alone, or maybe that larger group of women, who may be the Muses themselves, Mnemosyne and her daughters and perhaps they're done with us all, and considering sending humanity reeling headlong into another forever Winter, an eternal bleakness until we are forgiven and some metaphoric blackclad Persephone is again brought up into the metaphoric light, when buds will crack open with new life, when colours carpet the earth, and perhaps the ten of them just pulled a few tables together in this bar, intent on feasting on potato crisps and salted peanuts washed down with glasses of whatever they might will into being, and tonight their will being mostly gin and tonics and in quantities that will send their beautiful faces numb when they need to achieve a temporary oblivion. But that girl at the bar, yes, I will think on that girl at the bar, pretty enough I suppose, and perhaps my thinkings as I recreate her life through my notebook lean towards inviting her to share my table, and i'm wondering why I can't remember my devastatingly effective pick-up line, as it must have been truly wondrous, which she must have accepted as not only is she sitting opposite with une verre de vin rouge in front of her and a lit Gitane between her fingers, but I now appear to be holding one of her blackstockinged feet, and I don't even know her name, although I may remember her later as Persephone, and yes, she's resting her foot on my knee underneath the table, and my fingers fumblingly massaging her toes, and to have this Persephone resting her stockinged foot in my lap is my own personal equivalent to the Storming Of The Bastille. And begin i'll begin on telling her my thoughts, and by the time I have finished maybe utterly convincing her of the Absolute Significance of the Moment, the meanings of Truth and Beauty and Art itself, and naturally using words that may convince her that I possess some kind of insight, some truth, even though my perfectly aligned words are all lies, as they're all spoken through the smoky filter of subjectivity. Perhaps I will construct a theory of subjectivity of such structural elegance and perfect reasoning that she will be convinced that whatever our obsessions might be, they are only our thoughts made flesh, and I'd apologize for having just worried a tiny ladder in toe of her stocking if I meant it, but I wanted to. Somehow she knows I would, and merely goes with the flow as though nothing is happening down below, obsessions, ideas, convictions, and I'll eventually convince her that although my ideas are worthy though not at all magnificent, and maybe she will tell me of hers. And by this time my fingers have unconsciously worked this stocking holing into a laddering reaching her knee, and probably as I'm warming up to the theme of images, for in the recreation of her life I have decided that this Persephone, in this world, is an art student, and soon her explanation of how she came to be here, with me, when she should be starving in some clichéd garret will utterly convince me, but not now as I don't care if she's lying, but maybe my meaning will become clearer as I talk. Images, we all return to some headkept images, like all artists will eventually return to the same waterholes from which they draw inspiration, and these waterholes, these images, these sources of truth and sustenance may be our Muses (although this thought is whispered, considering those ten women, over there, are skilled in causing serious bodily damage in delightfully imaginative ways). Telling her that I cannot pretend to know the landscape of her mind, nor the deepness of anybody else's metaphoric waterholes, but I will attempt to convince her that they are probably much deeper than anybody can imagine. I will tell her anything to keep her stockinged foot in my hands, and that I cannot pretend to have looked on the images that inform the way she might think, or the way anybody else at all might think. And they all do, for in the beginning was not the word, but the image, which the words then described. And by now, the laddering has been smallripped enough for me to feel around to the back of her legs. The rooves of Paris being an image which has so far provided endless sustenance, and rip, as my fingers trace a line from Hugo to Sartre, but the sound of laddering stocking is not rip, but more a kshshsh, the moon reflected in the gutters and the Seine (kshshsh). The aroma of manuscript paper and the sound of typewriters as they are made to talk (kshshshssshhhhhksh). The scent of coffees and cigarettes in countless cafés (kkshshshkshshhhhhk). Music unexpectedly heard from unseen places (kssshshsssshkshsh). The whitletiles of the metro stations (kshhhhsh). Unexpected conjunctions of two disparate elements (kshsshhshsshhhshssh). Nightwalks (kshkshkssshhh) along les rues et allees de Paris (kkshshshshshkshssshhhh). The shadows and light playing on those fourth floor apartment windows along rue d'assas (kshkkssshshshshhhh), and so much else, and my fingers by now have created a holy tattered shredding of obsessions, ideas, convictions, and aren't these just the means of holding your ground, the territory one claims as one's own. And, again, I have no idea what her ideological landscape might look like but undoubtedly i'll attempt to convince her that it's a far finer place, a place resonant with greater possibilities than those afforded to who shift residence with every fucking trendy breeze that blows them this way and that, like all those desperately uncool students over there, which is far different from being closed to influences, a theme I'd continue but my thought train has been derailed temporarily by a look that that undeniably says you can go as far as you want, and, and her right stocking is now laddered and holed and shredded beyond her knees, and I'm already thinking on the possibilities of an exhibition of the photographs of such shreddings. Perhaps I should take a more than reasonable number of photographs of these now holy ex-leggings in anticipation. Perhaps after I have ordered the dessert, although Jean-Pierre has decreed that the only dessert ce soir will be le chocolate éclair ..

"et comme monsieur pour voir?"
"non, merci, je dos quitter."

And I will leave, alone and museless, never having spoken to anybody, not at all, but with a botteile de vin rouge of a suitably cheap and nasty vintage clinking in moi backpack, perhaps tapping some kind of morse-code messages against Jaune the Dreaming Foetus' glass jar. Leaving, and not needing a map while the Seine flows towards the sea, passing the Jardin des Plantes, and excusez-moi if I indulge in some midnight gardening, picking some herbs that will be ever so useful when dried, marjoram, sage, rosemary and thyme and peut-être some jasmine scenting the backpack with recollections and memories of other times, then crossing Rue Cuvier and the Universitie de Paris' Faculte des Sciences, and wondering on the experiments that may have been conducted in it's laboratories, wondering if Pierre Curie glowed after subjecting himself to all those radium experiments, thinking of the afterglow Pierre and Marie may have shared ..
But over to the quais again, and attempt to blend in with the strolling lovers holding hands, the graffiti gangs, the alcoholics sucking on paper bags, the vaguely wary tourists taking their chances here, the voices of those on board the black barges quietly moored there for the evening. Further along these cobblestoned quais of the still blacker Seine, and passing under the Pont de Sully complet avec le aromas pungent de pissoir. Along the Porte de la Tournelle, under the orange glow of the quai street lighting, I may just sit here awhile as it's a good a place as any to attempt a conversation with the unborn Jaune. If any gendarmes appear, asking questions maybe regarding suspicious characters near the hospital earlier, then I will be Mr Smith, a Belgian tourist, and if my French is inadequate enough, I will give them to understand that Yes, I did see some personnes dangereaux running this way from the direction de la Hôpital, and they looked like Chinese arsonists, and they're easy to spot if you know what to look for, the fire in their eyes, and the torn wickrags flapping from their back pockets. Et oui, ils avaient des sac á dos, and they were running over the bridge towards Ile St Louis, and if les gendarmes are ne vite pas enough, then the best ice-cream parlour in the entirety of Paris could be in great peril. And I may just stay here awhile, open le vin rouge, yes, and watch the gendarmes chase those Chinese phantoms ..


The Parc Zoologique is now indefinitely closed for repairs since the mountain they made for the large cats, those leopards and panthers, collapsed. A ruined zoo, perhaps an attraction in it's own right, but not today. Nearby, though, is the small cimitiere containing the decapitated bodies of those guillotined, from when the guillotine bloodily worked overtime in Nation. Thinking on the thousands of metro passengers passing daily underneath where the guillotine must have stood, and imagining some individual from that nameless multitude, being led up the guillotine's steps, and of how the executioner's daily dance-card was full with 55 partners. And maybe I would have watched, transfixed, while he danced with each of them, perhaps I would have cheered as each dance ended. I know that I would have stayed to watch at least two, maybe three, but these dances would have soon bored me. And further, reaching the Seine and I care less that this is not the beautiful Paris of the photographed architecture, the 12th arrondissement is scarred with high-rise apartments and autoroutes and industrial complexes, this is not an area the travel guides would use 'charmante' or 'belle' to describe. I care not, as charming and beautiful is not a noun, but misunderstood adjectives. Crossing the bridge, over the Seine, having just walked by the Hospital Nationale de Maurice and then the Hospital Esquirol, turning right, and from here, I'm only using the force to guide me, the silver book of maps is useless, so just following the flow of the Seine as it will lead into the mapped Paris. But there is no hurry, no pressure, just following the rhythms as they suggest themselves. There are workingmen's café's along here, with their clientele of blue overalled card-players and horse-race watchers, et oui, une café grande sil-vous plait, and take my place nearest the back wall, as usual, and light a marlboro, and perhaps stay here a while, perhaps slipping a euro or two into the jukebox, which seems to have a vast selection of instrumental surfin' tunes from the sixties, Bombora, Telstar, Pipeline, Wipeout!, which, it may be crass to admit, affects my dancing rhythms entirely, and although I have never really surfed, somehow managing to refrain from demonstrating exactly what hanging five is, I could do it, right here, on the table, and how the key to it all is in the knees, and you'll just have to imagine me standing and flexing moi genou's on the plastic red and white checkered tablecloth here, and perhaps crashing the condiment container to the floor, and the workingmen would be undoubtedly wondering about the fucktard, or whatever the French might be for fucktard, who just walked in. Yes, I think I should leave, and soon, but only after pocketing some cutlery, with which I intend to carve some anarchist symbols into the brickwork along the Quai Panhard et Levassor, and scurrying cross the road, there's some steps down to the promenade, closer to the water of the Seine, where the barges are moored, and perhaps stay here awhile, on promenade Arthur Rimbaud, and thinking that maybe he and Paul lived nearby and strolled along here often. But it doesn't matter if they did or not, as I've decided not to leave here until this packet of Marlboro's is finished and the dead packet is scrumpled and I've swallowed the last of the vin rouge, both conducive to feeling like some aged emeritus Classics professor walking the halls of academia still thinking on the problem of Halicarnassus, while I'm only just taking the long way home. And crossing to the other side of Quai de Tournelle, with the scents of bitumen and diesel from the road and the patisserie vans making deliveries, the sounds of distant conversations carrying through the dark, from people unseen, and walking into the yellow streetlighting of Quai de Montebello, which I cannot resist whispering with some ridiculous italian accent. And despite the laundromat being closed, the aroma of ammonia and sadness lingers, and somehow I begin making connections, and turning away from the flow of the Seine, as these quais are so well walked, the sounds of footfalls and pretendings to laugh behind hand-hidden mouths, turning left at l'Hotel Colbert, the yellowing paths turning to a functional halogen, a white almost blue that makes one skin change from what might have been a mediterranean swarthy olive to the almost blue shade of the recently dead, yet, I'm describing these small alleys, the look the feel the texture of these walls, the colours and transparencies of these windows, the discarded things in pooling gutters, the interplays of shadows and light, the graffiti here, and yes 'the lui changes everything' has made itself known along here as well, written over the black walls of the hotel itself, the walls are high, as though they might close in on themselves eventually, closing out whatever starless sky there might be, but not for long, and there's music from the Neo Hellas café, in blue neon above a blue lit door, rembetika, the Greek blues, bouzoukI's and darabukka's, which I cannot resist, and ordering a Greek coffee that's intensely strong. And leaning my back against a wall, which might be pale blue, or maybe deep yellow, and soon enough thoughts of things Greek flow, thinking on all those lectures I gave in so many Classics classes on the development of Greek statuary, which are perhaps best described as poems in stone, although I never used that phrase, and how I would have liked to have had students write love letters to the shades of pericles and sappho, or notes of condolence to Athena in Mourning, and maybe erotica in praise of Aphrodite, thank you notes to Dionysius for all the red wine and what flows in consequence, and to Hades for those endless black seams of inspiration and to Apollo for the ability to think. But looking at the folds of linen stone-draped across the bodies of the Graces and the Muses and having to refrain from thinking aloud on how they affected me, but silently beginning my own loveletter to them anyway. And the woman on stage sings of her sorrows, of her losses, of yesterday's beautiful young men with black hair, of her love, of how each day seems interminably long without him and the nights even longer, and of her regret. Piaf singing that she had no regrets was a lie. And she begins on another song, more blues, same pace same tempo same rhythm, and she sings this time of pain that apparently only a woman could truly understand, but after the inevitable ouzo or two I'll eventually be leaving, perhaps humming her tune, although kinda glad ah ain't bleedin', and turning right into Rue Galande before left into Rue Dante, and thinking on his Inferno briefly (as I've not read it, my thinking is perhaps that I should), while whispering the blues of Big Mama Thornton you ain't a nuthin' but a houn' dog, a'cryin' all th'time and Janis Joplin, although whispering take another piece of my heart now baby is hard, but I'll give it my best shot anyway and maybe thinking of Robert Johnson's deal with the devil, then of Bessie Smith and whispering gimme a pigfoot and a bottle of beer so quietly no-one will ever hear, and my blues singing turns to thinking on blues themselves, the etymology of the blues, of colours, of blues so literally divine it is the colour of the most sacred of religious vestiges, to the Egyptians whose god-kings wore royal headdresses of blue and gold, of the lapis lazuli they ground into pigment to make a blue that was worshipped. Blue being the colour of the dress worn by every virgin mary ever prayed to in every catholic church. Blue the skin colour of Hindi gods, the blue of those burkas worn by Afghan women, the blue that is the colour of the daytime sky, the blue that is never the colour of the sea, and of Chartres blue, made by glaziers who destroyed their deepest, most intense blue secrets, their blue being the colour of transcendence itself, and wondering why there is no naturally blue food. Blue, blues, the Bombay Sapphire gin blues, just whispering aloud, and noticing that so much of Paris is blue, the colours of names of the metro stations writ in tiles, the background to it's street signs, and crossing into the Luxembourg. Blues, and yes, we all get the blues, and while we all become depressed occasionally and my cycles only last a couple of days, blue, and thinking on the first World maps drawn which had winds being blown from the mouths of Zeus-like beings, and how blue was once spelled blew. Blue, the colour of the sacred and the colour of the apparently profane, a blue joke, the colour of pornographic movies, the chinese brothels that have blue tiles on the outside, and thinking of those ladies within having the bluest of smiles. And now reaching Rue Madame, appropriately enough, the patissiere and the scent of tomorrow's croissants and baguettes and brioche tempts, Bonjour, Madame Marie, I will say. Blue, the most sacred and the most profane of colours.


And if you keep a hand in my pocket, I'll take you on yet another walk through Parisien streets, and I'll begin by walking the length of Rue Mouffetard, bonjouring les baguetterie chick and beginning the day with a vin blanc at Le Verre a Pied, as sometimes white wine is the perfect breakfast, providing all the nutritional requirements one needs for a mindless day, and I have no idea what might be found down along the Passage des Posts, perhaps undeliverable letters eventually find their way here, wondering on how many personnes might still be waiting for that promised letter which never arrived, that note that might have changed everything. Then continuing further, passing the entrance to the Place Monge metro, and maybe wondering on le fontaine on the left, and as usual, I'm sorely tempted to spit in it's brackening water, p'chew, before continuing past Rue St Medard, who was apparently the patron saint of good weather and I'll be thinking of the story of how an eagle became his personal parapluie during some rain storm of biblical proportions, and if Bob Dylan can offer up a quick prayer to Isis, then a quick one to Saint Medard can't hurt. To Place de la Contrescarpe, but I have no idea what a contrescarpe is, yet it matters not, of the four rues branching off from whatever a contrescarpre might be, I'm following Rue du Cardinal Lemoine about whom I have even less of an idea, although if we pass 74, then I'll be showing you the plaque telling us that this is where Ernest Hemingway lived for a while, and if 74 gives off some salty sea scent then I'll be telling you that here is where he wrote The Old Man and The Sea, although if the scent is of coppery blood then here is where he wrote Death in the Afternoon, or maybe if the scent is vaguely gunpowderish then undoubtedly A Farewell to Arms was written here. But I'm not walking the entire length of Cardinal Llemoine, taking the sharp left at Rue Thouin, which actually sounds more like the sound of spitting than p'chew does, thou'in, thou'in, while looking for the right turn into Rue Descartes, crossing over Rue Clovis and then left into Rue St Etienne du Mont, and maybe my thoughts on Descartes will be so utterly distracting that I may be completely oblivious to the church there, Descartes, and chuckling at his argument that the human soul was located with the pineal gland, on the grounds that this was the only part of the human brain not bilaterally duplicated, and of how his intention was to create some kind of mathematically-based certainty in our understanding of the mind/body relationship but in his ontological distinctions between mind and body only succeeded in creating utter fucking intellectual and philosophical chaos. There, have I managed to entirely miss the church? Did I even notice? It matters not, I would have only stolen enough of the five euro candles anyway, then at Place Genevieve, continuing along Rue Cujas, skirting one side of the Pantheon and crossing Rue St Jacques, and I've thought so often about him, on his journeys and his eventual decapitation, ordered by the grandson of Herod, although why he's known as Saint James to the English speaking world rather than Saint Jack I have no idea. And continuing along, passing the Sorbonne's façade, and I'll point out the tres charmant passage on the left that cuts through to Rue Champollion, and taking it, yes, the hieroglyphic translator who has a museum all his own down in Figeac, until reaching Rue des Ecoles, and forgivez-moi, if my thoughts turn towards schools although I'm trying to desperately forget that my so-called career in such places ever happened. Anticipating the schoolyard sounds of bullies demanding the lunch monies of those they have hammerlocked against the stone wall and the quiet weeping of the girl who always sits by herself. And finding une café after turning right from des ecoles into Boulevard Saint Michel, and ordering le vin rouge, sil vouz plait, finding my table de preference nearer the back, le deuxieme vin, je ne regrette rein and maybe I'll stay here a while and fill some pages of my notebook, which maybe amount to musings on the waitress here, until I have created her entire life. Eventually I shall leave, passing the Cluny la Sorbonne metro, and perhaps stopping by the tattoo parlour there and contemplate which tattoo design I intend having permanently inked, and perhaps watching others being tattooed, and thinking on the ease with which one's mind can transcend pain when it needs to, although I shall not be inked today, even if I do find the full back angel's wings overwhelmingly tempting. To Place Saint Michel, and it's slaughtered dragon, and perhaps browsing in Gibert Jeunes, perhaps buying a sandwich grec from that hole in the wall in Rue Saint Andre des Arts, being careful of the mayonnaise, as it tends to accumulate treacherously in the bottom of the paper wrap, then silently leak, recreating some kind of Jackson Pollock all over one's shirt, and, wearing my new Pollock, passing the antiquarian bookshop further down on the right, perhaps looking in it's windows at books I will never be able to read, and definitely another vin rouge at the Mazet, as Saint Medard has obviously discovered my athiesm and is sending appropriately punishing rain instead, although I will admit to adoring this kind of parapluie destroying rain, with no eagles to protect and chill winds blowing blackened leaves along overflowing gutters that appeal mightily. If necessary, then I'll be mugging the first homeless wino who might ask for spare change if they be wearing coats suggesting a fallen nobility, although perhaps I should just mug them first as some kind of pre-emptive strike, before they mumble anything at all, luckily, the rasta faux-gypsies with the really large dogs that tend to call ATM's home are all many coat sizes too large, keeping in mind that if it weren't for my fear and loathing of really large dogs, I could have made a good faux-gypsy, although, I might have trouble growing the seemingly obligatory dreadlocks, although the uniformity of such dreads have their roots in hair extensions anyway, but I could definitely strum basic chords on the bashed guitar and pretend my improvisations around the basic chord shape of D major are the high point of the eastern classical tradition, the raga if you will, and I'm sure I could remember all the words of Bob Marley's 'I Shot The Sheriff' (although it was me who actually shot the fuckin' deputy), although I'll have to work on my tan, as faux-gypsies tend to all have that shade of Moroccan summers, and already I'm making a few notes planning the Moroccan trip, driving through Spain, then taking the ferry, already involving a quite necessary sidetrip to Lisbon is, as I plan to read Pessoa aloud in every bar in the street he lived in, although getting the required tan could be easier said than done as I get bored so quickly just lying around in the sun which makes reading difficult, as the sun intensifies the white of the page to blindness and the black ink swims and the same line is reread over and over, and having to wear sunglasses, and even the oh-so-cool aviator reflective ones mean that anything under font size 10 may as well be wearing fur coats. But maybe, on the journey through the Basque region I'll be taken in by real gypsies, and I have no doubt that I'd be welcomed by them once I prove my knowledge of who Lajko Felix is, and donate my Lajko Felix CD to the community, in addition to my unequalled shoplifting gifts and penchant for acts of petty larceny and arson, but after spending the darkening hours inside the Mazet, I have no idea where I might be heading to next, perhaps randomly walk other streets all night, taking whichever rue appeals most at any given moment. Perhaps finding some unoccupied seat on the Vert-Galant and drink whatever might have been inside the brown paper bag that happened to be in the inside pocket of whoever I had to mug for the coat, although having avoid the Pantheon, where Descartes is pathetically spoiling for a fight. But perhaps just walking back to the nearest metro, and taking the D train to wherever it might terminate, walking back the length of Rue Saint Andre des Arts, now giving scant regard to the dragon and his slayer, but noticing how the garbage dumped in the fontaine congregates, and entering the Saint Michel metro, and there's something about these art nouveau entrances, something suggesting promise, as though they were gates to other worlds, and I'm thinking that perhaps I need to get out of Paris, just for a short while, maybe for just the remainder of the day, and perhaps overnight, and down the steps and correspondences, and following the directional signs to the RER line D, to Malesherbe, and the other thing I know is that Malesherbe is pronounced something like 'malzhair', and, as my black backpack already contains whatever I might need, toothbrush, undies, the collected works of ee cummings, manuscript, camera, pens, then waiting down here, for the D4 train, perhaps I will quietly sing the only thing that might be appropriate to the moment and the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the D train, we can hear the night watchman click his flashlight ask himself if it's him or them that's really insane, and I could go on, and the D train will eventually arrive, and eventually it does, the journey taking about ninety minutes and, in a while, passing through Vignieux sur Seine, which means having passed the point where the D2 and D4 lines split, and the landscape on the left is industrial but on the right some quaint villages, and le cimitiere in Corbeil-Essones is right in the middle of the town, and how perfectly placed it is, thinking that most places have their cimitieres on the outskirts, almost hidden away as though we are ashamed of the dead, as though death itself is some kind of huge obscenity (perhaps some manners of dying are the only true obscenities), and somehow I think the people of Corbeil-Essones got it right, that having some awareness, some reminder of mortality is along the lines of what Socrates called 'practising death', something he argued created the big picture through which our mortality can only be understood and measured against, with no understanding of death, we can have no understanding of life, or what 'meaning' there might be to it all, and to quote the character of Rube from Dead Like Me, cimitieres in the middle of towns are exactly where the reapers like 'em. And passing through Maisse, it just keeps getting better, and arriving in Malesherbe in about thirty minutes, reading ee cummings and once again pondering his lane to the land of the dead through the crack in his teacup, and perhaps getting a room at the wonderfully dilapidated Hotel de la Gare, being just across from the station, although it's a ten minute walk to the Centre Ville, and another oft-ignored rule from the travellers guide to France is "never pull out a map of the town in the middle of the town unless you want to attract the attention of the village idiot", who will, naturally, get insanely excited about the attractions of his town, speak no English, but wants to show you all these places, maybe the personalised guided tour of Malesherbe's crackdens, where the homeless unpack their bedrolls, where the best smack can be scored, and, there's not much to do in Malesherbe except be there, unless the crackdens tempt, but to sit in it's bars and it's cafés, in it's small public square near the pharmacie, to be out of Paris, which is sometimes killing in it's massiveness, just as all cities are eventually killing, sometimes it's just too fucking hard, and the need to get out, even if just for a short time, is overwhelming. And being able to fill the soul with something other than the resentments of what's been forced down your throat, sometimes it's all you can do, just get on the train, and get as far away as it will take you.


Et peut-être I've been walking the dark streets of Paris, parapluied and thickly layered and mindful of those puddles, even if treacherously inviting (i need to find a zapateria, although I have non idee what a French boot repairer might call himself), in the eyes of others, perhaps aimlessly wandering (but I could care not for the eyes of others), even if not searching for anything in particular, but for everything in general, or the specific which may define the all, perhaps I have been close enough to le Tour Eiffel to touch its cold steel legs and remembering climbing it, centuries ago, when I realized that I had no fear of heights, only the fear of the welling urge within me to freefall off the thing, perhaps I sat on the steps of Sacre Coeur, and imagined the steps filled with electric guitarists, hundreds of them, all playing Baba O'Rley, or filled with drummers, locked into a seven eight rhythm to which all of Paris will dance, onetwoonetwoonetwothree, and improvise at will, just don't break this rhythm, and dancing as our grandmothers danced in the mainstreets, and flung their sensible undies at passing soldier boys on hearing Monseiurs de Gaulle et Churchill announce the cease of hostilities with Germany who had surrendered, following these rainsoaked noir-ish streets walked by millions of others, imagining being the temporary subject of some Doisneau photograph, the rues walked by Apollinaire on his way to the registry office and his military uniform, perhaps crossing the Seine's bridges and those same Boulevards that sang to Rimbaud, that gave rhythm to Verlaine, those allees where Piaf and others before and after might have sung in return for anything at all, merci monsieur as five centimes are placed into an upturned beret, these passages and impasses that may have been almost seen through Jimmy Joyce's failing eyes (and maybe the Quais de la Seine became the quays of the Liffey), did Rue Bonaparte resonate when Sartre made his way from 42 to the café des flores, did the same street perceptibly alter, seem larger perhaps when Miller and Nin walked it, hand in hand, like lovers do, and maybe the bars and cafés where artists of all words and colours sought the company of others, maybe ordering yet another café grande in the salon where held court, maybe vin rouge, a merlot, although my measure of a good wine is how long it may take to forget anything other than the here and now, the right here and the right now (and if possible, those as well) but I will try not to slur my words too much by taking extraordinary care while articulating them, maybe in those other salons sought out by the Academy rejected artists of the nineteenth century, to find solace and some kind of comfort within the company of the like-minded, knowing their rejection was not in the quality of their art, but because the Academy clung viciously to notions of Greek-inspired classicism as the one and only worthy art, yet such rejection was eventually taken personally, perhaps listening to them, these rejected, and follow the line of dialectic dispensed by a Pissarro or a Monet, and wondering with who the truly brilliant, those plural of genius (and the double ii syllable ending the word always sounds, and looks, awkward), from where did they seek solace, of who did they ask questions, with whom did Picasso discuss his ideas, and yes, remembering something once said in some Classics class, that while the young men of Athens sought out Socrates with whom to discuss those knotty problems of morality and ethics, Socrates himself sought out the beautiful Aspasia when he needed to, and excuse me while I briefly travel down this Nestor-type road for a while, but somehow, no student ever asked who Aspasia, in turn, might have tested her ideas against, perhaps they just thought it, they just never asked, in the perfect world, I'm thinking that Aspasia would have naturally sought Diogenes, and Aspasia may have uselessly attempted to dilute his cynicism to scepticism, and perhaps tried to teach him to dance (perhaps finding him surprisingly graceful, and easier to teach that Socrates), perhaps Diogenes answered her questions with brilliant simplicity, letting her in on the joke that formed the basis of all Socratic argument while holding her in a manner appropriate to a waltz, allowing her to assume she led the dance, but was not. But such a waltz was never to be, it never happened, as Diogenes would have learned of Aspasia's death when he was in year seven, and probably far too interested in ripping the wings off flies to pay much notice anyway. But perhaps I'll continue searching for whatever it may be that I am meant to find, perhaps in some bookshop, in those randomly read paragraphs by Eastern European novelists, perhaps in some reflection from some milliner's shopfront, perhaps in some powerfully aromatic fromagerie off Rue de la Roquette selling the deepest of blue vein, maybe in watching what may as well be mime as the words are lost, perhaps, if continuing to Bastille, remembering those words used to describe the events of that night, when the prison was more than mere lines painted on bitumen, like the deathlines of some ancient memory, perhaps in the glance of the waitress in some café that will never become a favourite, but just happened to be there when I needed it to be, et je voudrais une café grande sil vous plait, perhaps thinking of the Pere Lachaisse and metro tickets left under pebbles there, and of the pebbles tossed at Seurat's monument, and whatever graffiti I may have added to the collection near Jim Morrison, graffiti telling of how it is unjust, perhaps even comic, that Morrison is regarded as a poet of stature merely because he mistakenly believed himself to be one, and wishing I could understand all the graffiti written in French, perhaps it will be in the lighting of a cigarette, maybe in how the smoke curls, or writing in these notebooks, perhaps I will take a charcoal pencil from le sac noir, and some fine grade paper, and fall into that moment between thousands of thoughts between here and there and the expression of those thoughts, like Alice falling, I guess, and just accept everything, the incredible and the fantastic (words unfortunately bastardized and devalued by idiot tongues), and accepting them as though the extraordinary were nothing particularly out of the ordinary, where being and nothingness are indistinguishable, and somehow this coffee cup is empty, although I have no memory of drinking it, and somehow I have this overwhelming need to hear Miles Davis play at the Hot Club de France, which might be kind of difficult as he's dead and the Hot Club, le premiere jazz venue de Paris is now a nightclub specializing in doof-doof and vastly overpriced mixed drinks, but I'd rather hear jazz in some smoky cellar, played by sweating musicians who are being inspired by something of the moment, some tenuous link to whatever, or whoever, their muses might be, perhaps their muse is the relationship between the notes of an Eminor7th chord, or maybe their muse is that dark-skinned beauty at the table near the wall at the back, perhaps, through the music, she's being told that he's never seen anything so beautiful, and being told through a combination of thirds and fifth, relative to the tonic, and his improvisation tells of his soul, not mysterious but at times quiet, calm, almost a clichéd soothing, and at others raging, tormented, and equally clichéd violent streak, all he has to do, he knows, is to play something so wonderful, so unique, so awe-inspiring, that the entire audience, including the dark-skinned object of his desire can do nothing but stare and be utterly gob-smacked, if she listens for just three seconds, he will have made the connection. But then the band vamps a little more, and the trumpet player has his moment in the improvisatory spotlight, and his tale in Bflat is so specific, and expressing something from within that can only be told through music, something, so true, that it's specificity becomes a general principle, a universal truth, yes, that's the kind of jazz I want to hear, and maybe there'll be a chanson singer, maybe Edith Piaf herself, singing something that I only catch the occasional word meaning of, bouche, touché, they're all I need to make it personal, she sings with a sense of conviction that it unmistakable, laying her own life bare, challenging anyone to feel love as intensely as she has, and felt loss no less intensely, and I will adore her song, and I will drink red wine from glasses (unlike most times, straight from the bottle), and as I pour a second glass, perhaps some wine spills onto the white tablecloth (my unsteady hand), adding burgundy coloured stains, like some clichéd drops of blood, adding to the gray stains from my ashflicked cigarette,


After visiting the Musee d’Orsay, finding the darkly glassed and clothstained attractions of the nearby Café de la Paix, and the pencil-thin mustachioed maitre d’ shows me to a table near the back of the café, and as usual I’ll order the café grande and peut-être et pain du chocolat, and perhaps think on Monet and his stolen lilies. Perhaps not, maybe think on Impressionism and art, and how Impressionism has idiotically become the art against which all else is judged, but then again, maybe not Definitely i shall think on Seurat, and perhaps begin documenting the strangely compelling minutiae of his painting of the La Grande Jatte, and i know what i must do, visit La Grande Jatte itself, not on some bland and sleepsodden Sunday afternoon, but now, right now, it’s not that far. L’billet, sil vous plait! To the Place de Clichy metro, only stopping long enough to steal the colour from the varnish of the busker’s violin, and to line 6, Grande Arche de la Defense direction, and prising the blue of the metro name tiles out of their letters with my fingernails, and the aroma of caramel becomes my shades of light brown, and slowing into Rome, then Villiers, and the green of the overhead handholds is distilled through my fingers, and from Monceau and Courcelles and Ternes, I’ll steal the white the yellow and purples, until the change is made at Charles de Gaulle Etoile, which seems overpoweringly gray, and taking only what’s needed for my darker shadows, changing to line one, eventually slowing into Argentine, which gives me my light blue, then Porte Maillot the whitenesses of it’s foaming shores, and from Les Sablons the black deepnesses of spitshined shoes, and finally from Pont de Neuilly the deep red of its brick exit, and emerging into the night shadows of office towers, and flying like a raggedy shadow down Avenue Charles de Gaulle towards the Seine, and down the steps to the Ile de la Grand Jatte itself, to its northern tip. F following the yellowing streetlighting, until everything begins to look familiar, although there are no too tall guardians walking too tiny girls, there are no lemurs on leashes held by bustled mistresses, there are no tugboats that oddly spew smoke blown by simultaneous east and west winds, there are no stilled butterflies as though chloroformed and pinned, there are no people simply gazing in wonder or blankness, and if there ever was a scarf wrapped cannonball then it was probably stolen years ago, every parasol has either rotted or been repaired, there are no lonesome buglers (although carousel music wafts from somewhere), no wandering generals discussing battle tactics from long ago, the ponytailed girl who once picked daisies here grew old long ago, no boat crews practice for the big race and no wind rustles french flags, Seurat’s strange crowd long gone, and the overwhelming sense is of silence, as it’s only me, and yes, this is where the painter sat while completing his sketches (the painting was not done en plein air, but painstakingly completed over two years in his studio, a technique considered not only reactionary, but an abomination in the eyes of the precious newthink manifesto of the Impressionists), if the sunlit patch of Seurat nearest the front now be the moonlit one of mine, and putting the backpack down, just there, where the pipe smoking man might have left elbows indented in the grass, the now black waters of the river, rippling with reflections of an office lighting skyline, and explain that I’m about to recreate myself, here with the colours of the paintbox collected along the way, i have no need of brushes, just my hands, i have no canvas of fine cotton twill, just my skin and my clothes, and I shall begin with my face, soon becoming another, I shall work the reds and blues and yellows into my skin, painting of joys and sadnesses, then shades of green and blacks, of music and of words, and my throat of white, of love and death, and my shoulders shall be blue, profane blues and sacred blues and they will both be the same shade, my clothes shall be as painted and those dark threads taking on the startling hues of the sounds of violins, of trains and of metro station names, of dead french presidents, of shoes and of the sea, of coffees and wine, of the shadows and light of dark night, and my hands work the colours, the oranges and reds and ochres and blacks, and then just wait, still, as the paint dries and know that eventually it will crack, and peel or be washed down the bath, but it doesn’t matter, and think on the stories of the improbable fates of those others who once spent a warm Sunday afternoon being painted, and maybe i could just stay here, on the Ile de la Grande Jatte until tomorrow, having enough wine and gauloises to see me through the night, but perhaps the possibility of seeing my painted self in the mirrored reflections is too great an attraction. It’s late, and the metro will have shut down for the night, but it doesn’t matter, and at the bridge, not retracing my footsteps, but continuing for a couple of blocks along Boulevard Bineau, and I could describe the interaction of moonlight and streetlight, but not in any way that could do it justice, and I could describe the chateau on the right, on the corner of the Boulevard du Chateau, and as i turn right down this tree-lined boulevard, I could describe the moonlight and street light and fairy-lit trees of blues and greens but I’ll continue between the trees until they stop at Avenue Saint Foy, about whom I could tell you much, about her much stolen image, as she is the patron saint of Conques, a French cathedral town passed though on the pilgrimage to Compostella, but I won’t, maybe later, for I have no wish to hear my own voice, not even for a moment, and though the trees have stopped, Rue du Chateau continues, as do i, walking to the left around the first roundabout, then right about the much larger second one and crossing Avenue Charles de Gaulle, straight on, I’m thinking that maybe it’s the paint, but I don’t articulate this thought loudly for fear it may change everything, maybe it’s something to do with wearing a mask of sorts, painted, it’s as though i were someone else (and someone said that we’re all in a continual process of becoming someone else, but at the moment I can’t recall who), and du Chateau becomes Avenue de Madrid, and stories of bullfights, and of Hemingway, and I’m thinking, yes, Madrid, and the Hotel Paris on the Puenta del Sol, passing Rue Pierret on our left, then Rue Salignac-Fenelon, and yes, over there, on the corner of de Madrid and de Maurice Barres is the north-west tip of the Bois de Bologna, it’s huge, like a botanical gardens with tennis courts and velodromes and children’s theme park within it (the Jardin d’Acclimatation), and ‘tis pity the ferris wheels and carousels have their closed canvasses on, the swings are gentle though, and eventually continue along the Route de la Muette a Neuilly, which is basically a leaf covered track through the forest part, and I’m thinking on forests, and I’m thinking on the night, and I’m thinking on things never said, and it’s darker here as there’s no lighting, and further along, the track gently turning, and around the next curve, Chemin de Ceinture du lac Inferiuer, the lake, to describe it as beautiful is clichéd, so I won’t, there’s a forested island in the middle, although I’d have to board the ferry to visit there, and, it too, has a final journey each day and today’s is long gone, but if i continue along here, not for much longer, there’s a raised bandstand, and the remaining merlot is singing it’s calling on song, corkscrew, and, naturellement I will greedily gulp the first few mouthfuls, and I’m yet to decide whether to stay here and watch the sunrise eventually (which I’ve never done, at least, not from here), or continue on, to the bus-stop just over there, at the Port de la Muette, and take the 63 night bus to the Saint Germain des Pres stop (which I have done, it’s the Parisien tourist extravaganza route without the tourists), whatever happens, happens, but i don’t remember drinking that first café grande, honestly, I don’t, nor even how I got here, not a single memory, although I can recall being shown the table near the window, and ordering, bonjour monsieur je voudrais une café grande et le croissant chocolat sil vous plait, and eventually the somewhat surly maitre d’ bringing the pot to the table, but I’m looking into the grounds of an empty mug, a tad astonished, wondering where the fuck it went, or maybe I’m just having a moment, perhaps i should order a second, pardonez-moi, monsieur!, and excuse me just one moment, but I’m craving sugar, and they have cubes in silver bowls here, and yes, it dissolves on my tongue, “ah ee oo orrr a aiii fuuh fweeeh,”, (“and if you would like a taste, feel free,” as spoken by a man with a mouthful of sugar), ohh yeah, that’s it, much better, the short term adrenalin rush will be peaking in about half an hour, and I’ll leave here eventually, and rather than taking Rue de Rennes but detouring a little up Rue Gozlin, as there’s a papeterie along here that’s truly wonderful, I adore stationary (another of my favourite scents) mountains of blank paper just waiting and breathing a heady scent of limitless potential, and I’ve found this a bound book of blank off-white paper, the pages folding zig-zag in upon themselves, and if I’ve spent all my money on wine and cigarettes then I may just have to steal it, as already I’m imagining it filled with photographs and drawings and words, so many possibilities, and slightly backtracking to Rue des Ciseaux, and down, where instinctively one keeps away from the edges while fighting back an almost irresistible urge to run the length of it, until getting to rue de four, then crossing over and down along Rue de Princesse, and yes, I’ll probably be thinking on stories of princesses from ancient mythologies soon enough, and thinking about Medea and why Euripides’ wrote the play and the history of Corinth, and the ‘real’ story being that Medea didn’t kill her kids, the people of Corinth did it revengefully as she killed their King and their Princess, and the story of Colchis, and what the Golden Fleece really was in terms of ‘history’ and in terms of metaphor but thoughts of which disappear soon enough after reaching Rue Guisarde, then left into Rue de Canettes, and I have non idea what a canette might be, and at the end of this rue is Place Saint Sulpice, with the stone lions blankly gazing from the Fontaine des Quarte Points Cardinaux, and maybe i could stay here a short while, under the trees, maybe taking my shoes off and soaking my feet in the fontaine, and wash my face clean of whatever remnants of paint might still be stubbornly clinging and perhaps invent the lives of those tourists whose faces will be unremembered, and all hoping for some revelation to do with the da Vinci code, and wondering what the cathedral does when American tourists aren’t again looking for those all-too-obvious clues and imagine they’ve unravelled the da Vinci code itself, even if there was no code to begin with, and I do know what the cathedral does when not an obligatory part of some tour, exactly what Gothic cathedrals do best, they get watched by me, but I have no objection to the da Vinci code as such, as I quite like the idea that Jesus got laid, and Mary Magdalene probably asking if the headjob she gave was good for him too, and verily it was good, although as a book the da Vinci code was so badly written I couldn’t finish it, but I’m wondering on the possibility of stealing Saint Sulpice’s altar wine, as usual, it’s kept in the gold box to the right of the altar, and perhaps taking the entire fuckin’ box if I have to, and I’m assuming the key can be replicated easily enough with a hair pin, but beginning with the comparatively easy theft of some prayer candles, and when I’m warmed up to the thieving tasks, after the candles and the wine, I’m up for stealing the annunciation image, the one in the first apse to the left of the altar, the illuminated set of photographic lightboxes, thinking, finally, the thin edge of installation art may eventually displace the tonnage of painted and mosiaced religious art found in every cathedral that’s based firmly on the Byzantine and Renaissance notions of story telling, given that the intended audience for those works couldn’t read, but why the church persists in assuming a non-literate audience is now an anachronism only they can answer for, et peut-être the idea of some fourteen year old girly being told by some winged thing “Spread thy knees again, honey, this time it’s God”, well, it just has a certain charmingness, ne pas?, although every other annunciation I’ve ever seen predictably represents Mary as older, probably as it’s a harder ask to paint God doing six months in some jail somewhere, paedophile wing ..


And thinking that if my killing of Leon Trotsky is to be understood in the context of being performance art, then it will need to be revolutionary, a pathetic verdict of ‘accidental drowning’ might lead, Therese Raquin-like, to him becoming some kind of ghostly presence haunting my every moment, totally cliched, thus hardly revolutionary, and imagining the printed words Marx wrote as I might shove Das Kapital down his throat, the words blackinkly poisoning his bloodstream from it’s opening sentence ‘The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails presents itself as an immense accumulation of commodities’, and imagining Leon’s neighbourhood valves shutting down completely and thickly oozing all that congealing ink a thousand pages later when Marx’s last line ‘Their fundamental condition the annihilation of self-earned private property; in other words, the expropriation of the laborer’ has been shoved between his rotting teeth, yessiree, and I’d like to thank Marx as I can’t think of much better word than annihilation for what needs happen here, but also thinking that perhaps something with teeth might be appropriate, or maybe gaffertaping headphones to his ears and playing Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree it’s been three long years do you still want me on repeat until the fucker can’t take it any more, comic certainly but not revolutionary, and, lemme see, perhaps a large red firecracker wedged firmly up his arse, or, thinking on a subatomic level, my hand maybe reaching through all those truth beauty and charms and peut-être ripping his fucking heart out, and watching the blacklyinking neighbourhood valves leak through my clenched fist like black glue, perhaps eventually creating some rather fetching patterns over the wooden flooring, which would be photographed and documented and perhaps forming the basis for an exhibition planned in one of those small-ish gallery in Rue de Beau Arts, although, as an art style, it would be understood as being based on the ancient Aztec culture of such heart-rippings, thus hardly revolutionary, merely a continuum of sorts, and, as such I guess gunshots are a tad passé aussi and done to death, and one does already tend to associate Leon with pickaxes (damn it), as are the incidents of accidentally tripping down flights of stairs (oops), or accidentally falling off buildings (oops), and I’m already imagining la premiere etage de la Tour Eiffel would do nicely, or accidentally being squished (oops) under the Pont d’Alma after his brake linings had been accidentally tampered with (oops), ou peut-être becoming an entirely accidental embellishment to some truck’s radiator grill (oops) as the authorities will only assume Leon forgot about having to cross Boulevard Raspail deux temps, as I just accidentally happened to be accidentally driving that way home and accidentally managed to be distracted by the slight ladder in some girl’s black stockings just over there by the newspaper kiosk (again, I’m certain the gendarmerie would totally understand), and I’m even thinking of such plagiaristic classics as him being accidentally tied to the railway tracks (oops) that he was so fond of (but the cliche means he’d be undoubtedly and melodramatically and unfortunately rescued at the last possible moment), perhaps I should just stop trying to turn his death into something revolutionary and just do it, just kick his fucking head in like I want to, and damn this need for Art, but I’m wondering if the Russian Revolution would’ve happened at all if it’s leaders had access to computers and gaming technology, if they’d directed their mental energies towards getting to the next level of Command Squadron, or maybe Half-Life, rather than on squandering all that precious intellectual energy articulating Marxist theory and dealing with all those troublesome, ungrateful and lumpy proletariats, and I’m wondering what Leon might have made of it all, if he’d put his thoughts into avoiding imaginary foes and collecting tokens that eventually opened all those unopenable doors enabling him to kill even more of whoever the enemy might be, rather than tiptoeing through the dialectic minefield of some imagined solidarity with the working classes, and on what he might have possibly made of the some incredibly realistic war games, with the continual sounds of AK-47’s rattling human carcasses, maybe such rattling is more Joe’s style than Leon’s, I’m thinking that definitely, Lenin would have settled his overworked brain cells in the evenings with a mug of hot chocolate and a single game of tetris, but, thinking on Leon, as in a moment today when I wasn’t doing something else, reading Hayden Herrera’s biography of Frida Kahlo, and being particularly taken with this description, from page 209:
“Around women, Trotsky became especially animated and witty, although his opportunities were few, his success seems to have been considerable. His was not a romantic or sentimental approach; it was direct and sometimes even crude. He would fondle a woman’s knee under the table, or make an unabashedly forthright proposal ..
While his mane of white hair and his even whiter beard made her nickname him “Piochitas” (little goatee) and refer to him as “el viecho” (the old man).”
and in Spanish, the 'ch' in ‘viecho’ is pronounced with phlegm-like rumble hacked up from the back of the throat, like ‘hugkkhh’, and quietly wondering if Frida removed her back brace after accepting each of Leon’s unabashed forthright proposals and speaking of such things, I’m trying to remember if I’ve actually visited Lenin’s mausoleum, I don’t have a single memory of his mummified body, maybe I did, maybe I didn’t, as I’m sure I’d remember wanting to souvenir some piece of him, and although it doesn’t quite accord with Karl’s concept of annihilation, utter annihilation, a concept with which Lenin must have wrestled, but which I guess also means that Trotsky would also have become a nothingness of utterly obliterated mortal remains if the dialectic holds true, I’m thinking of some process similar to Lenin’s mummification might be necessary, and I’m assuming the technique was not too different to how the ancient Egyptians mummified their dead, and, as I’ve read Herodotus Histories a few times, and he was the only European witness to a mummification who wrote down what he saw, I feel appropriately qualified to do this, and also having a copy, somewhere, of a rather wonderful book called ‘Conversations with Mummies’ which I was allowed to keep after reviewing it for some historical societies’ journal, and, erm (in a lowered and ashamed and quickly speaking-so-fast-the-reader-doesn’t-quite-catch-it type voice), watched both The  Mummy and The Mummy Returns movies, and secretly enjoyed them, so, perhaps I could set up the kitchen with the necessary equipment, using the table, and it wouldn’t be the first time blood has been spilt on it, and the kitchen cutlery should include something really useful for the nostril slitter and the abdomen slicer, and I’m thinking perhaps one of those wire coathangers will be perfect as a brain hook if I straighten it, and curve one end slightly, in fact, the spiralling end could even be an improvement, although it’s not quite a spiral, more a single helix, and a phillips head screwdriver would be absolutely perfect to smash through the ethmoid bone which keeps the nasal cavity separate from the brain, and it actually isn’t bone, it’s cartilage, and I’ll need linen, lots of linen, and salt, lots of salt, and a tonnage of resin, which has to be the good, dark, almost-black stuff and not the cheap honey-coloured rubbish, meaning I’ll probably need to find out who supplies the local luthiers with what they need, as a string player’s rosin, and resin, is the same stuff, and I won’t need the four canopic jars that were a prerequisite of an Egyptian mummification, as I’m sure fowler’s preserving jars will prove just dandy, although perhaps I should paint some godlike faces on them first, and, right now, I’m thinking that as the Egyptians threw the brain away, thinking it to be useless, they believed the heart was responsible for thought, and sometimes I think they were right, although when Leon propositioned Frida Kahlo with his unabashed forthright proposal of something presumably along the lines of ‘you want to fuck?’, then he was actually thinking with his dick, then it would only be appropriate if Leon’s brain was fed to the pigeons of the Paris, and yes, I’m already imagining it sliced and diced and ready to scatter from white paper bags around the obelisk in Place de la Concorde, tres appropriate, non?, and I’ll need sand that’s really dry, and probably a few wheelbarrow loads from the winter-covered kiddy sandpits of the Luxembourg gardens will do nicely, and if there’s any sand left over, perhaps I’ll spread it over the bathroom floor, squeeze in a couple of lazyboy-type deckchairs, fill the tub with water to soak my feet and then twistcrack open the tequila, arriba! chouette, non?, and play some surfin’ type instrumental music on the sound system, loudly, and be havin’ a beach party, wipeout!, and damn, where did I leave those reflecting aviator sunnies and the towel, they’re all I need, actually, I’ll need some industrial strength cotton as well, preferably black and the unbreakable type, and maybe a couple of largeish darning needles and maybe about twenty kilos of paper (everything I have no intention of ever reading again, like E.H. Carr’s seven volume history of the bolshevik revolution, and all those goddamn Rolling Stone magazines that have accumulated since the seventies that've probably breeding underneath the house, and anything written by Stephen King, read ‘em all until I could no longer stand the transparencies of his one plot structure endlessly repeated, but after his abdomen is slit and Leon’s internals are slopped into the godjars, then the cavities stuffed with the E.H. Carr, Stephen King and Rolling Stones (and I cannot even begin to tell of how liberated I feel to be finally free of all these things, even the Rolling Stone with John Lennon on their covers, like a carried weight suddenly becoming a nothing), and then sewing the bastard up, and out of sheer spite I’m not being too careful with the sewing, intentionally making an absolute hash of it, and being tempted to write something obscene in the stitchery (but at the moment, the only obscenity coming to mind is Saudek’s memory of the burning German boy soldier screaming for his mother in the minutes it took him to die, Mother!, the word ‘fuck’ seems quite charmingly beautiful and inconsequential in comparison), and the sand gets mixed with the salt, with which I get to smother Leon completely, and over a month or so utterly sucks out every ounce of his body fluid, which I’m guessing is mostly vodka anyway, next he’ll be soaked in the resin bath, which will turn him mumiya, the Arabic for black, then my favourite moment, the wrapping, begins with the torn linen, and, if I was following Herodotus’ instructions to the letter, would include a green scarab incised with the spell for making the heart speak truly in the Hall of Truths, but fuck that, I care not if Trotsky’s heart is eventually swallowed whole by Ammut the Devourer, condemning him to an eternal nothingness, as though he never was, which fortuitously lends itself to an interpretation closer to Karl’s annihilation concept than I could have ever hoped for, and which Trotsky himself would have no doubt applauded, but the one detail Herodotus apparently misunderstood was the seventy days business, it only takes forty two (which is not the answer, the real answer was only given in the first edition hardback of the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy, 42 was only fer those who cheapishly waited fer the  paperback), so, the only thing left to consider is planning his most unfortunate but entirely accidental death (oops) which leaves his body just as those he successfully propositioned might remember it being, albeit blacker and thinner, but recognizable nevertheless, at the moment, I’m thinking poison is the only available option, and I’ve been searching for my copy of ‘The Poisoners Handbook’, which I bought years ago from some bouquenista stall near Place Saint Michel, and from what I can remember, needing something colourless and flavourless, cyanide smells like almonds, and he’d bloat and turn blue anyway, arsenic too suspiciously sweet, which leaves only strychnine, to slip into his vodka, or something that might precipitate his totally unexpected heart attack (oops), which means having to call in at la Dome brasserie down on Boulevard Montparnasse, Trotsky’s favourite, where, as usual, he’ll be propping up the bar, nursing his vodka in his fringed-ragged coated hands, drinking his smirnoff neat and telling anybody who’ll listen about the injustice of it all and how only his interpretation of Marxist theory is the means through which the working class will loosen their chains and of how his ufp’s had nearly always worked a treat, and how he’ll probably make another one soon enough, and if I was not already preparing to kill him, then I certainly would be now, “yes, tell me more,” I’ll say, “tell me about Lenin’s last testament one more time,”, knowing how Lenin changed his mind about who should succeed him only at the last moment, nominating Stalin instead for some inexplicable but never properly explained reason, and the injustice of it all will set Leon off for the next half hour, and buying the next few rounds of vodka, letting him rant and rave as he curses and spits on the names of Vladimir and Joseph, while I’m nonchalantly waiting for the opportune moment to loosen the poison into his shotglass, but already thinking of the afterwards, when he’s wrapped, mummified and ready to go, perhaps installing him as a human statue somewhere, perhaps overlooking the steps of the Sacre Coeur, where the tourists might comment “he’s good” and young children will use him as something to hide behind in their games, or perhaps leaving him on the footpath outside the Musee d’Orsay with all the other human statues, facing the seine, ou peut-être somewhere on the Champs d’Elysee, or perhaps somewhere near the entrance to the Louvre’s Pyramide, where he’ll probably be mistaken for some kind of promotion for an exhibition that doesn’t exist, or maybe even cunningly installing him in the forecourt of the Notre Dame, and preferably near the seemingly neverending queue of obese Americans intent on climbing the north tower, all stupidly anticipating a glimpse of Quasimodo himself, although they haven’t even read the book, and only know Quasimodo as a grotesque hunchback, rather than the heart-torn tragic he actually was, and maybe place a busker’s upturned hat at his feet, so I could pocket his takings at the end of each day, keeping me in vin rouge and cigarettes and croissants and books, oh yes, it just keeps getting better and better, particularly as my violin needs restringing, which inevitably begins a ratsnest of thoughts to follow, and a random one begins by describing how Warren Ellis, on stage, is utterly riveting (to me anyway), whether as a Bad Seed or a Dirty One or a Grinderman, there may as well be no-one else on the stage at all, as his persona commands my attention, just as I imagine Niccolo Paganini held the audiences of his time in similar thrall, and, as the story goes, not only did Paganini sell his soul to the devil in exchange for unequalled abilities on the violin (a fair enough exchange), but the strings on his fiddle were willingly donated humangut (rather than the usual catgut, which was never cutgut anyway, usually being goat, pig or sheepgut), which was then dried, treated and stretched on the journey between being taken from her body (PaganinI’s willing victim is always assumed to be female, I also imagine her to be beautiful, darkhaired and pale, an aesthete, perhaps a tad goth, and prone to fits of melancholy), and she ending up being tuned to GDAorE after her treated intestines were knotted at one end, slotted into the tailpiece, crossed over the bridge and wound through the pegs just below the violin’s scroll, then tensioned, and apparently the sounds Niccolo could coax from his fiddle where all the possible sounds of human emotion, from ecstatic joy through to utter fucking despair, and they were all perfect, and yes, this, to me, is exactly what Warren Ellis can similarly do, but later, other violinists, believing the rumours regarding the source of Niccolo’s strings, also used human gut from unwilling victims, with a few young ladies being murdered, and I’m imagining them being entirely unaware, as some mercenary pock-marked and greasy thug slit their throats which surely must have happened in some appropriately dark alley, and their intestines eventually being treated and eventually tuned to GDAandE, but being unwilling donors, they could not be coaxed into making sounds other than discordant and violent screaming, and this is where mister Trotsky will prove as useful as he’s ever been, as during his mummification, his innards were appropriately slopped into the four fowler’s jars as, in accordance with the rules as set out in the Egyptian Book of the Dead (yes, I’ve read it) one jar was used for his lungs, another for the liver (and Leon’s was basically vodkafucked and shot), the third holding the stomach (and obviously Leon’s sympathy for the lumpy proletariat did not extend to eating the simple foods of sauerkraut and potatoes), and the fourth for his intestines, being the object of my attention and I cannot believe that Leon’s weren’t willingly donated if his last thought was somehow focussed on the recipient of some unabashedly forthright proposal, and I can’t see any reason why the violin should have to be restrung with the usual steel-wound (very few violinists today use catgut, most use steel-wound), and I’ll only need the outer casings of Leon’s intestines (they might not work, as it would have been better if the raw gut had it’s origins in warm and sunny climates, a pity Leon wasn’t Italian or Egyptian, but maybe the Mexican sun of his final days might have improved things, and I’m sure they’ve been nicely vodka’d up, maybe even given them that special feelin’ that only old bluesmen who’ve travelled the hard miles know, who have loved ‘em and left ‘em, an’ eventually travellin’ on with the hellhound on their tails and not a dime in their pockets, but I won’t know until they’re stretched and I’m playing hey there little red riding hood, but first I’ll need to clean ‘em in water and leave ‘em soaking for a few days, before scraping whatever might still be stubbornly clinging, the fat itself forensically telling of those vodka’d up memories of trains travelled and of those unabashed forthright proposals made, some rejected most accepted, and of the ungrateful and lumpy proletariat, and when this scraped clean membrane is ready, soaking them in lye for a short while, (same stuff as the caustic soda they should have in packets somewhere along the cleaning products aisle of any respectable supermarche), and then there’s the process which is a little like spinning wool, except it’s not spinning, working the intestinal lengths onto a spindle of sorts while maintaining various consistencies of stretch, for each of the GDAandE strings, I’ll begin with the G first (the thickest string), just to get the hang of it, and mister Trotsky might get some unabashed forthright thrill at becoming a G-string, so to speak, but by the time I’ve worked through to the E string, then undoubtedly I’ll be the foremost living authority on the creation of catgut in the entirety of wherever I might happen to be, but not yet, as it needs to be dried and cured with sulphur-smoke before being wound on and tensioned up, and this is going to have to be done using the chimney, and I’m not sure where the necessary sulphur came from, or how it came to be in the kitchen cupboards (perhaps I traded my soul for it, as I know I don’t have one, and sulphur apparently being the aroma of Hell itself, but wondering what I may have traded it for, certainly it can’t have been for unequalled abilities on the violin, unfortunately, as Paganini and Ellis must have been well ahead in the queue), and emptying the entire pack of this stuff into the fireplace, and lighting it with the red bic lighter, and please ‘scuse me for just one moment while I huff and puff and blow this house down until it’s nicely smoking, and my loungeroom becomes as aromatic as Hell itself, already having cunningly spooled Leon’s ex-gut down the chimney, and it’ll stay there until it’s quite, quite dry and string-like and ready to be cut into appropriate violin string lengths, which might take a while, but no matter, at some time they’ll be finally ready to be knotted into the tailpiece at one end and wound into the pegs on the other, then tuned up and ready to play, and here goes, and I don’t care if it’s my voice that’s out of tune here, but with a throat clearing ahem, and beginning with notes based around the chord of Eminor, it's hey there little red G chord riding hood, A chord you sure are looking good, C chord you’re everything a, B7 chord big bad wolf could, E chord want ..

hmm, maybe it’s my own crap voice, or maybe Leon’s being just a tad antsy this evening, but the poor chappy’s not sounding all that well ..


The Paris Stories : Café d'Assas

Tuesday nights are always open mic nights down at the Café d'Assas, and they always start late, and this is not mere chance, as this is something I have to do, if nothing else, my first tentative step on my newfound career path of being an old and insane Frenchman (the French always had a tendency to refer to me as either Marcus ou Marcel anyway, so tonight I can be anybody I want), and it's dark in here, and taking my usual place nearer the back wall, although the back wall is disturbingly close to the small raised stage, with it's single spotlight focused too harshly on the one stool and one microphone that waits for the voices of both the nervous and the experienced to fill the room, and I'm thinking that perhaps another dose of my poison of choice might help here, as I'm nervous as hell (given that hell itself is an entirely imaginary concept, existing only within the mind), everybody else here seems predictably dressed in black, although I'm the only one wearing a beret, perhaps they'll assume I'm over eighty and likely to launch into tales of The Resistance, and right now, while I have no idea if that's a good thing or not, it probably couldn't hurt, et oui, je voudrais une verre de pernod, sil vous plait, and I'm thinking that with pernod, then tales of the resistance involving the backstreets and alleys of Lyon and stories appropriated from Nancy Wake might spill forth anyway,

open mic

et fuck, the first poet is already up, squinting into the spotlight and I'm hoping she's merde, but I have no idea what she's saying, maybe her words are brilliant and effortlessly laying bare the uncreated conscience of her race, I'll listen as though I understand, but pleased when her 'mercI' signals the end and she's off, and there's only a light smattering of token applause from the front tables, perhaps she's one of those sensitive types who writes rhymes on how much she loves her pet cat, and cannot imagine anybody not loving her moggie as much as she does, and now some Pierre or other of an MC is asking us to give a grande main pour le poetess, feck, and I have to do this, and I have to do it now, and yes, my feet, are connected to my legs, and somehow somebody who is temporarily inhabiting those limbs is propelling me into that spotlight. This isn't the first time I've been on stage, nor is it the first time I've recited poetry either, it is, though, the first time in French, perhaps this is like losing one's virginity with a joyous sense of just getting it over with and good riddance to it,


"Bonsoir", (I'll begin, in a low chocolatey velvet voice, modelled on Lou Rawls, so far, so good I think, hoping I've just not just told them I'm leaving).
"Et merci, et pour ce soir, une poemme nouvelle,", (I'm on a roll, but just about exhausted my knowledge of conversational French),
"Ecrire adjourd'hui," (fuck! what's the past tense of to 'write'), "et inspiree par Tom Robbins, la betterave est la plus intense de legumes," (thinking that maybe any lurking skeletal drone remnants of the hippie era might sagely nod in approval, but also regretting not knowing the past tense of inspire).
"Ahem,", (tried to be coughed up in French, here goes).
"Pour le soupe de betterave", (wondering if what Tom began with might have eventuated into something entirely other if he'd written about betteraves, rather than beets).
"Il est necessaire", (his style of writing is to begin with a thought expressed in what he thinks is a perfect sentence, and doesn't move on until he's then edited the shit out of it, and being utterly convinced he's created the most perfect alignment of words that ever ended with a full stop, before moving on to the next, until eventually completing the most perfect paragraph, probably explains why it took him seven years to write fierce invalids, and god knows how long to complete skinny legs).
"Deux belles betteraves", (thinking on having to stay on track, keeping focussed, forget Tom, he probably never recited poetry in French anyway).
"Et une celeri et une oignon coupe en petits morceaux et", (trying to remember what I've been told about French accents, push my lips forward, Mick Jagger-like, thinking whatever is coming from my mouth is similarly dragged up and screaming),
"Quatre cent cinquante de champignons", (and almost remembering the rules about final syllables, when to say them and when not, shop assistants have been known to eyeball-roll in wonderment at what the fuck a fully-syllabled quatre might possibly be).
"La belle champignons et quatre cent cinquante", (almost convincing myself that rather than hearing four hundred and fifty they've heard something completely different, but what, exactly, j'avez non idée, maybe something along the lines of wanting to siphon their exposed cunts for comfort or something else just as memorable. And if it was, then it'll be the best thing they'll hear all night).
"De beurre", (and already I'm acutely aware that my line breaks are crap, and wondering on the differences between the written and spoken word and how line breaks fit into the scheme of the spoken).
"Et un", (fuck! I've forgotten the French for 'a tablespoon of salt', hoping the audience will read my silence this as a dramatic pause, and not a groping for remembrance, aware that if I wait too long, they'll laugh).
"Un petite de sel", (hoping that a 'little salt' will be enough, doesn't have quite the same feel to the line though).
"Et une gousse d'ail", (another pause, now speaking a tone lower)
"Quelques brins de persil frais", (and I still can't get used to persil meaning something other than a brand of washing powder).
"Dans une cocotte, faites fondre dans du beurre", (and I may prefer the French for melt, the word feels as though it's actually melting).
"Le oignons et le celery", (a bit anglo-heavy on the first syllable of oignon, methinks, 'cuil!', and feck, suddenly I've remembered the French for tablespoon, too late, too late, all useless now, and feck, just remembered that oignon is French slang for arsehole, et bejyasus! es oignons et le celery could be a concept well understood by gay French men, and there's gotta be more than a few in this audience).
"Ajoutez les betteraves entieres", (maybe I should have my darrabukka with me, although beats and beets might not be homonymically the same in French, a darrabukka being the most intense form of percussion).
"Ajoutez le sel et couvrez d'eau", (and the spotlight means I can't see beyond what the first row of tables might be drinking, vin rouge probablaire).
"Faites cuire jusqu'à ce que les betteraves", (I think I can just manage to make silhouettes of the back row out, oh fuck, don't leave, please don't leave!).
"Soient bien tenders", (no, they're still there, though some bastard pierre is distracting attention away from the stage, I think he's probably putting the French hard word on some entire table de femmes).
"Otez les betteraves du bouillon", (and when I have removed this beet broth I'm taking that Pierre outside for a good kicking).
"Pour les passer au pressoir", (thinking on pressoiring this Pierre bastard completely into a fucking brick wall),
"Puis! rajoutez! les à la soupe!", (forcefully delivered, getting almost theatrical, commanding attention, even pierre's is momentarily drawn back to the stage, and with a withering glace that could bring down the entire fuckin' French legal system, I've let him know, without any doubt, that I've killed more worthy men than him for less).
"Et melangez bien", (quietening now, enjoying the feeling of melangez in my mouth and rolling my tongue around it).
"Dans une poële", (wondering if the mention of stoves brings unworthy plath-type recollections to this poetry adoring crowd, which I could perhaps exploit it if I knew the French for gas oven, but I don't).
"Es champignons dans du beurre", (wondering if Sylvia ever wrote her thoughts on melting mushrooms with butter, and where she'd have put the line break if she did, and if her thoughts on melted mushrooms would be considered gastronomic heaven).
"Ajoutez en fin de caisson", (I'm nearing the end here, so I'll slow down the next few lines).
"l'ail ..
en ..
petits ..
" .. (okay, that was probably a mistake, being perhaps a little too slow).

"Et le persil cisele", (and already any previous washing powder associations are but a memory of something else that was not parsley).
"Ajoutez ces champignons sur les bols de soupe", (and yes, although pierre is listening, as well he might, considering the alternative).
"Servie ..(imagined line break here)
bien .. (and another here, a violently white spaced one).

and I've finished, "Merci".

And the limbs that are now mine again to control are leaving the stage, and I'm assuming this crowds artistic leaning towards North African objects d'art has extended to the understanding that complete silence after a performance that, in those cultures, is considered the highest praise, noise, such as applause, any kind of noise, means 'any noise I can make is better that what I've just unfortunately just been subjected to, even the uselessly slapping noise my instrument-less hands can make is better'.

Hmmm, maybe not, and I'm thinking perhaps I should leave about now.