Summer of France 2

Day of Rest – Sunday, July 21, 2002

Sunday nothing in particular happened. Walt the piano player and Herve & Candi arrived. We had a rehearsal of sorts on Sunday at 5pm. I don’t remember what happened during the day. There was a mall across the street. I think we went over there and exchanged dollars for euros and did some window shopping.

Well, if I remember I’ll come back to this.

On the Town

Oh! I remember now. Moe and Jeanette also arrived on Sunday. We decided to go out to a jazz club. Moe was going to sit in (on trumpet) with the piano player playing in the lounge area of our hotel but the piano player was taking too long so we decided to go. Jeanette came also, which is good, because she’s good company, is pretty sharp and is good at getting around in foreign languages even though she doesn’t speak them. (She and Moe had just come from visiting Italy.) None of the singers were interested in the jazz club for whatever reasons.

So the three of us got a cab, with a dog sitting in the front passenger seat, to the Biblo-something or other. Two years ago Moe and a friend had gone to this place, sat in and had a grand ol’ time. This time . they had a Boogie-Woogie-Doo-Wop-Beatles jazz trio. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. Since it was Sunday night this was the only place open, though. Very red inside. It seemed like a cross between late 19th century and 1960’s décor all in red. Needless to say, it was a very warm atmosphere, visually speaking. Even though we were disappointed in the music we went in and Moe sat in anyway on some bluesy numbers. Moe has lots of cajones.

If you ever go to a club in Paris be forewarned that the cover charge is a part of your first drink in some places. So, the first coke is $21 euros. Each one after is, like, $6. Euros and the dollar are just about equivalent. Between the three of us we spent $100 euros on that little excursion.

Gigging – Monday-Friday, July 22-26, 2002

Paris. The entire week was a slow blur. Our gig was in the hotel’s jazz club from 10:30pm to 2am with a half hour set break. And the funny thing was that there was an audience every night pretty much until we stopped playing. There were more people as the week went on, of course. There are no laws against smoking indoors in France, probably Europe, so it was disgustingly smoky in that place. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke. I don’t know how the singers didn’t lose their voices putting up with that all week. And two of them smoke themselves. At least being in Europe seemed to bring out the smoker in them.

As the week went on, the intense gig schedule and tourism took its toll. Everyone was exhausted. Some of the singers would sleep most of the day while others were out and about. It was a struggle to maintain any kind of respectable schedule. The curtains in the hotel could make the room pitch black which probably didn’t contribute to adjusting because they made it very easy to sleep at any time of day.

Besides gigging

But anyway, what did I do that week? I went off on my own a few times, which is the most efficient way to do anything. Not as much fun but more efficient. Actually, it’s a different kind of fun. I hunted for an internet café all week, which I eventually found in Pigalle in the basement of a souvenir shop. Walt had scouted it out and pointed me back to it. By the way, there are plenty of internet cafes in the Les Halles area. You can’t toss a bagette without hitting an internet cafe on Rue des Lombards.

arc_rightarc_leftI went to the Arc de Triomphe. You get to the Arc by crossing under the thoroughfare via a tunnel. The tunnel goes to the far side of the intersection or you can go up the stairs in its middle and come out under the Arc itself. Or if you want to spend $7 euros you can walk up stairs to the top. At the entrance to the tunnel there are usually artists standing with their artwork of various Parisian landmarks on display.

I went to the Sacre Coeur and Montremarte with Roger, Pia, her father Finn, and Walt. Sacre Coeur is a cathedral, I think. I wasn’t really paying attention to the history of it while we were there. It was amazing, though, as huge, old churches are. And they had a souvenir shop inside, which seemed a little tacky to me but hey. Whatever’s clever. Montremarte is kind of a restaurant-filled Parisian artisan area. There are nice views of the city. You have to walk up a lot of steps to get to the Sacre Coeur. I don’t have many pictures but I do have one of me with the Eiffel Tower in the background taken by Finn, Pia’s father.

I also went to the Louvre with Finn, who is an artist. Saw the Mona Lisa and the French and Italian exhibits. Judging from the paintings, it was a very violent, bloody time full of religious rule. Also saw the Dutch painters which were much less political. The sculpture garden was my favorite part, though. They seemed alive. I wanted to sketch some but after three hours in a museum I feel like I’ve taken a full day of GRE’s again. Museums give me headache. It was great seeing the Louvre with an artist. I haven’t been pursuing my art-art for years but that inspired me, I think.

Thursday night after the gig (after 2am) I walked up to the Arc de Triomphe. Very nice when it’s lit up. Places stay open late in Paris but 2am seems to be the cutoff point.

Laundry

On Friday early evening, Moe took me to and showed me how to use the Laundromat around the corner, down the street, and around a few more corners from the hotel. I never would have figured out how to use it by myself. There’s a central coin box. You put your money, then press the button to get detergent from a machine. Then you put your money in and order softener. Then you put your money in for the wash. And after that’s done you put your money in for the big, industrial strength dryers. Two French woman came in and made the mistake of speaking French to me, which only serves to get my brain stuck trying to remember how to tell them that I don’t understand French. But one of them spoke a little English. I figured I’d try to be cool since I was a Californian jazz musician in Paris, playing a gig that night. So I asked, in English, if they liked jazz. “Not really”, was the answer. Oh well.

I was able to direct them to Pigalle, the neighborhoods with a lot of shops, where they could get a suitcase similar to mine. That was originally what the one tried to talk to me about.

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