October 31, 2005
Yesterday I joined Simone and David at Century 21. I wasn't planning on buying anything; I was just being social. I left with a pair of shoes, two shirts, and two ties. One of the shirts is too small. I decided to check my size and had someone take my measurements. She said I was a 14 1/2 neck. I'm not.
I had met them on Spring Street at a store called Just Shades. They had bought a lamp, but didn't like the shade. Unfortunately, the store was closed. We decided to get sandwiches from Cafe Habana while we were in the area. Simone suggested the chicken and mole. It was fantastic.
We walked to Century 21. The day was beautiful and much warmer than I had expected. I draped my coat over my bag. After shopping, we went to Chinatown for congee. I said I probably wouldn't get the congee; it was too warm for it. We sat down, and I looked at the menu. We all ordered sliced fish congee. I ordered snow pea leaves. I said I should learn how to make them. I said I wanted to buy a wok. The food was delicious.
Saturday afternoon found me at the Four Faced Liar, a bar on Bleecker Street. Reb had told me she was coming up from Virginia to give her first New York reading there. I hadn't seen her in years.
She looked the same. She was sitting at the bar. I pulled up a stool and sat beside her. We caught up with each other's lives, her baby, her plans to start a print-on-demand poetry press, my job, my trip to Morocco. At three, the bartender started the reading. He said that in an hour, the bar would be host to 40 Texans in town for a wedding. Reb read first.
After her set, she walked slowly back to her seat. And then she collapsed. A woman caught her as her body sunk to the floor. Seconds later she came to. "Did I finish my reading?" she asked. "Did I disrupt the reading?" We assured her that she finished. She said she hadn't fainted in a long time, though we had talked about iron deficiency earlier. She said she was fine. She said she remembered reaching the bar, thinking she wanted a sip of her juice; the next minute she was looking at the ceiling.
Just as the reading ended, the Texans began to enter the bar. Reb looked around and noted that most everyone else had left. She said she was going to linger. I gave her my number in case she was free later in the day and left to run errands and have a snack.
Eric called me to tell me he was having lunch with Sonjia at Hiroko's and asked if I wanted to join. I told him I'd be right over. When I arrived they were reading magazines. I asked if he came for the food or the magazines. Sonjia said it was for the magazines.
I had a pumpkin pie and flipped through the magazines. We talked about films and dissertations. Sonjia said she was in a dissertation group with Hua. I mentioned chocolates, and we went to Kee's after lunch. Sonjia had never seen my apartment so I invited them up.
After they left I watched a movie. Mimi called and asked me to dinner. We decided on Ivo and Lulu and agreed to meet at 8:30.
Sebastian was on the phone with his mother when I arrived. He said it was going to be a quiet night and invited us to linger. I asked him why, and he guessed that people were at Halloween parties. Mimi arrived shortly thereafter. We ordered the avocado and spinach appetizer. She had the magret du canard, I had the confit. We shared the apple souffle for dessert. The confit was amazing.
I hadn't seen Mimi in a while and we spent a long time lingering over our meal, talking of this and that. My the time we left the restaurant, my throat was sore, and I was exhausted. Mimi got into a cab. I debated going to Laurent's housewarming, but sleep got the better of me and I went home to bed.
October 28, 2005
Outstanding alumni at the French Culinary
Last week, Kee told me she was to be the recipient of an outstanding alumni award from FCI. She asked if I would come to the ceremony. I immediately said yes.
I arrived at the French Culinary just past six. Chefs were still finishing the hors d'ouevres, and no one was in attendance. I asked the coordinator if the ceremony didn't start at six? He said six thirty. He invited me to stay, or said I could take a walk around the block. I opted for the latter, ended up at Banana Republic, and bought a shirt.
By the time I returned, the room had begun to fill. I found Kee and we chatted briefly before I left for the bar and a glass of champagne. I fell into conversation with the owner of the Tompkins Square bakery, and a woman who works for Paris Gourmet, a supplier to both Kee and the French Culinary. She said she was half-Thai and we talked about the country and the food. When a plate of foie gras appeared, she thought it might be one of their products, mixed with something else and blended smooth. She asked me what I thought of the coconut shrimp. I said it would be better if it were spicier.
As the ceremony began, the founder of the school spoke of their expansion and their new Italian cooking program. They have partnered with a school in Parma, and she said that two thirds of their new program would be taught in Italy. She then introduced the co-vice presidents of the Societe Culinaire Philanthropique, who offered a few words about their organization. Then the awards were announced.
Dan Silverman, the head chef of Lever House, won the award for culinary. He had Dorothy Hamilton gave him his award, pointing out that all the plaques were illustrated by Jacques Pepin. Kee won the award for pastry. Her speech was short and to the point. Dorothy mentioned Kee's 29 Zagats rating, the highest for any chocolate shop in the city, and also her quick rise, having graduated in 2000 and only owned her shop for three years. Finally, Marc Vetri won under bread. He recently won a James Beard award, and his restaurant is considered by some to be the best in the mid-Atlantic States, if not in the entire country.
Dorothy told a story of driving back to New York from Washington D.C. She was with the food critic Alan Richardson, and when he realized they were to pass through Philadelphia, he said they had to stop for Vetri's food. Vetri's is a small 35 seat room, however, and Dorothy didn't think they'd get a table; it was a Saturday night. He called ahead. The didn't get in. "I'm Alan Richardson, do you know who I am?" she heard him say.
Alain Sailhac told another story. He had met Jacques Pepin in Philadelphia, and Pepin said they should try Vetri's, opened by a former student. Sailhac noted that Pepin is notoriously critical. They sat down to the first course, and Pepin said nothing as they ate. The second course came, and Pepin remained silent, until he started speaking softly, "But this food is incredible," he said. "Who is this Vetri?"
When Vetri accepted his award, he said that Sailhac must be exaggerating. Sailhac denied it. Vetri said a few heartfelt words of thanks to the French Culinary and then everyone posed for pictures.
After it was over, Kee offered to give us a tour. We walked past the walls of photos, and Kee pointed out herself in the various class photos. The kitchens were busy with students. As we walked back towards the kitchen theater, we passed a large photo of her that had been taken recently. A group of students watched her pass and then looked at the photo on the wall. "Is that . . . ?" I heard one student ask another. I turned around, smiled, and said yes.
October 27, 2005
Lynda im'd me to ask if we could reschedule dinner. She was suffering from a hangover. I said yes. Moments later Kee called. She asked if I'd be interested in seeing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. A friend had given her free tickets. I said yes.
The lobby of the theater was decorated like a high school hallway. Lockers lined the walls near the downstairs bathrooms. Signs marked the boys room and the girls room. The theater was decorated like a gymnasium. At one point one of the characters remarked on that fact. "Have you ever been in an underground gynmasium before?" To which another replied, "I've never been in a gynmasium before."
For the first 45 minutes, the show was incredibly enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny. But then, the placement of the jokes became expected, robbing them of their punch. As the evening wore on, the lack of a dramatic arc turned the show into an episodic series of events rather than a cohesive whole. By the time I was asked to invest emotionally in the characters, it was too late, and I lost interest even in who would win the bee.
The strange thing about the musical was that the songs were so unmemorable. And while the cast had energy, the overall feel of show was that it could have been written and performed by a college theater group. The show had begun as an off-Broadway production, and it seemed to retain that quality, even after its move uptown.
Afterwards, Kee and I went to Moondance Diner. She said she had a craving for a burger or meatloaf. I had already had dinner, but said i wanted pancakes or a waffle. The night before I had watched "The Secret Life of Waffles" followed by "The Secret Life of Pancakes" on the Food network. Kee switched to breakfast when we ordered, choosing bacon, eggs, and homefries. I chose the waffle. And then, with Kee's encouragement, I ordered a vanilla milkshake. I froze as I drank it, but it was well worth it.
October 26, 2005
La France Made in USA and Youssou N'dour
Last night French Tuesdays celebrated Guillemette's book with a party at Glo. I headed over to the Chelsea lounge around seven, running into Jason in the subway. He asked me where I lived since he never saw me in that station. He was headed home.
At the lounge, I was told I was on the VIP list and given a silver bracelet. I wandered in and saw Guillemette standing by a stack of books and hors d'oeuvres. Pia had already arrived and was snacking ravenously. "I'm so hungry," she said. I encouraged her to keep eating. The book cover was projected onto the walls behind the dance floor and displayed on plasma screens sprinkled around the room. Guillemette offered me champagne. We toasted and drank.
As more people arrived, Patrick urged me upstairs into the VIP lounge. He was looking for more champagne. At the bar, a few people asked the bartender to refill their glasses. "That'll be eight dollars, please." VIP meant free access to the VIP section, but not free drinks.
I left early. I had tickets to see Youssou N'Dour at the new Zankiel Hall, buried beneath Carnegie Hall. Arriving at the theater, a man asked me if I had an extra ticket. Another thrust money in my face. I said I had. The first man said he asked first and I sold it to him.
The concert was fantastic, if short. N'Dour's voice was crisp and pure and his band, the Super Etoile de Dakar, were incredibly tight. The room was small and sounded great. And when he sang his final song, people stood as he sang about Africa.
October 24, 2005
Sam the sham
I just bought pillows from National Wholesale liquidators.
At the dwell sample sale, I noticed that the duvet set came with shams. I asked Ryan what they were. He told me they were the decorative pillows with the edging on them. I said I hated them. He shrugged, then talked me into getting the matching boudoir pillow.
Later, Karen asked us what shams were. I said they were pillow peirogies. I purchased a duvet set and a sheet set and put them on my bed. I placed the boudoir pillow between the pillows. I lay the sham covers aside. Something was missing.
The next day I decided I wanted the shams. I told Ryan I was going to buy pillows for them. I said I loved them. He laughed.
October 21, 2005
4.48 Psychose at BAM
Catherine called at 5.30. She said she wasn't going to make it. She was on her way to the U.N. to cover the release of the report on the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister. She sounded none too pleased.
We had planned to meet at BAM for the evening's performance of 4.48 Psychose
with Isabella Huppert. I noticed that it was to be performed in French with abridged English surtitles. Originally, we were hoping to go with Guillemette. I said that that would be great. Afterwards they could discuss the play and I'd follow along with abridged English subtitles. Guillemette said that in the future she was going to walk around with abridged English subtitles. I said that would be great. It'd be like magnetic poetry.
Catherine told me she was trying to reach Guillemette so that she could take her seat, but Guillemette couldn't be reached. By the time I called her I was in Brooklyn and she was still in her office. I picked up a ticket and left one for Catherine. I texted her and she responded that they didn't do late seating for this performance.
As I entered the theater, an usher told me that there was no re-entry and that if I wanted to go to the bathroom I should do so now. I thanked her and took a program.
The lights went down and the play began. Huppert stood transfixed on stage. For two hours, she moved only her head and her fingers, occasionally. A man appeared and disappeared behind her, hidden by a screen. Huppert recited in an even voice on topics of death and longing. The man served now and again as a call to her response.
The evening was one of endurance, on the part of the actress and the audience. Whenever the lights went down, people rose to leave. Huppert weakened visibily as the evening wore on. Once I saw her wipe her brow during a fadeout. Years ago, I read how Carl Theodore Dreyer kept Maria Falconetti kneeling on cold stone floors for hours during the filming of La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc
. The camera famously captured her suffering. Claude Regy's direction of Huppert's performance had a note of that dedication and ruthlessness. The recital was fascinating.
After the final blackout, Huppert stood still for the curtain call. When she finally began to walk off-stage, it was with a noticeable limp. As the crowd rose to applaud, she allowed herself a brief smile. She came back for a second curtain call. Her leg twitched as she stood, joined by her co-star. He stood still with her, arms at his side. They left the stage together.
October 20, 2005
The name game
Dwell is having a sample sale on Greene Street. I went over with some people from work this afternoon to check it out and ended up with a completely new bedding set. While I was shopping I ran into Gabi. I had seen her last week at Snack and had forgotten her name. The time before that I had also forgotten her name. This time I said "Hi Gabi" immediately. She was shocked. She told her friend I can never remember her name. Her friend remarked that this time I was quick with the name. Gabi nodded. "You're witness to that," she said.
October 18, 2005
Last night, on the way home from dinner with my uncle, I ran into Gigi and Maki and their friend Masayo. I hadn't seen them in months; during the summer we were all busy or travelling, and then I was gone the month of September. I had just emerged from the Spring Street 6 station when I heard a voice asking if I were Eugene. I looked across the street and there they were.
We went to Epistrophy, a bar on Mott just off of Spring. The playlist was sprinkled with Thelonious Monk tunes. As the wee hours of the night approached, the music gave over to Monk completely. Maki had wanted to come to visit a friend who was working the bar. A book party had taken over the front of the room, and he seated us on a stage in the back.
He brought us wine to taste, and we made our way through wines from various regions of Spain before heading north to France. Maki decided on a wine from Scicily, and he brought us a bottle, bouncing back and forth between our table and his duties at the bar. His art hung on the walls, and Gigi was excited to finally see his work.
We drank and caught up with each other's lives. Gigi mentioned a party at Teru's this weekend, and Maki asked our opinion on a shoot she was doing this weekend. At some point, we started drawing each other on a stained napkin. Masayo said her face was easy. Just an egg with shh shh for eyes. And a big forehead. Maki drew a character and then gave her a flower growing out of the top of her head. Masayo said she was referring to a Japanese cartoon character, Ramenman. Masayo drew the best portraits, but made Maki look evil in retaliation.
As the book party came to an end, the owners started placing chairs on the tables. We gathered our things together and began to leave. Paco said we had to finish the wine, but we had all had enough or too much. We said goodbyes to the bar and wandered into the street.
On the corner we parted ways with promises to see each other soon. I went west down Spring towards home, and Masayo went north. Gigi and Maki thought about continuing their conversation at another bar. For just another hour.
October 17, 2005
Dinner, dinner, dinner, and a movie
It's been raining since I returned from Morocco. This weekend, it finally cleared, and I began to leave my apartment.
Friday I met up with David. I took him to St. Marks and we wandered from packed Japanese restaurant to packed Japanese restaurant looking for a place to eat. He was surprised there were so many Asian restaurants in the area. After walking around the block, we ended up at Angel Share, where the wait was only 15 minutes. I had talked him into seeing Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and so we were on a set schedule. He had wanted to see Domino.
We ate at the bar, and watched as the chefs battered and deep fried shrimp, tofu, and vegetables. People came and went, brushing past us on their way in and out of the restaurant. We huddled over our food: boiled spinach, grilled squid and liver, broiled Japanese mackerel. We ate and thought about ordering more. David was impressed, and said he'd be back.
The movie was somewhat too long. The characters are brilliant in short form, but there wasn't quite enough material to warrant a feature film. If the film had been 40 minutes it could have been great.
Saturday, I went to the Hasted Hunt gallery for the VII exhibition. I called Mimi to see if she wanted to brunch in the area. She was on a bus headed towards Boston. I called Li-Ting. She was already having lunch in Nolita. I gave up and just looked at the photographs, which were very good. Unfortunately, the gallery exhibited a few photographs from each photographer, and the show lacked the cohesion of the Congo show at Engine 73. As photojournalists and documentary photographers, the work of the members of VII gains strength as they are allowed to tell stories. Seeing excerpts of their stories ended up frustrating me as I wanted to see more.
On the way home, I stopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy a hanging trash can for the kitchen. Once home, I realized it was too big to fit on the kitchen cabinet.
I called Eric to chat and he said he was at NYU. I asked if he wanted to meet later, and he said he'd call around 6:30. He was offlining his film to send out to festivals.
As I settled down to read, Todd called. He said he was back in town, and that he was hanging out in the playground around the corner from my house. I asked him if he had the baby with him, and he said yes. I told him I'd be down in five minutes.
Colette was adorable. Todd looked paternal. We caught up, and he told me he had moved into an apartment on Spring and Lafayette. We're practically neighbors. I told him I was excited to see him and excited he was back in the city. He said we should hang more often. I told him it was nice to know people in the neighborhood, especially for babysitting purposes.
The skies became suddenly overcast. It looked like rain and so we packed up and began walking home.
At 6:30, Eric called to say he was running late. I was at National Wholesale Liquidators buying cake pans. We arranged to meet at 7:45, and I continued shopping. At 7:45, I met him at NYU. He said he had five more minutes to go. I went up to the editing room and watched his film unspool. He had color corrected the video and it looked fantastic.
He wanted to take me to a Vietnamese sandwich shop he had recently discovered. He said it was cheap, though small, with only two tables. En route, we stopped by Kim's Music Video where Eric finally convinced me to buy a new DVD player.
When we walked into the restaurant, the woman behind the counter told us they had only six sandwiches left. We quickly ordered and grabbed one of the tables. A couple came in, and she warned that they had only one sandwich left. They said they'd share. Shortly thereafter, she stuck a cardboard sign on the counter announcing that they were out of sandwiches.
The sandwiches were great. I asked her where they bought their bread and she said she didn't know. Her father bought them and brought them in. I asked how long they had been in their current location. It had been a little over a year and a half. Originally, they had a shop in Brooklyn, but decided to move for a change of scene. She was much happer in the East Village and said that business was good. She wiped down the counter and put things away. She said goodbye as she left, leaving others to close up the shop.
We ate our sandwiches and drank our mango juice. People walked in and groaned when they saw the sign. Eric mentioned we should probably leave so they could lock up. He offered to buy me a milkshake.
We walked from St. Marks down to Prince Street sipping our shakes. By the time I was done, I began to feel tired. We parted ways at the N/R station on Broadway and I went home to set up my new DVD player.
Sunday, my uncle called. He said they was in New York and asked if I wanted to do dinner. I said yes, and arranged to meet them at their hotel at 6:45. In the afternoon, I cleaned. I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to return the trash can. The cashier asked me if there was anything wrong with it, and I said no. It was perfect, but too big for my cabinets. "You have small cabinets," he said. I resisted telling him I lived in New York.
For dinner, we ate in Koreatown. My cousin had just come in from Boston, and the four of us ate right next door to the hotel. I told him that since returning from Morocco, all I've been eating is Asian food. I hadn't realized I missed it so much.
October 15, 2005
The Hasted Hunt gallery opens today with an exhibit of VII photography. Today, in an echo of last Saturday, I plan on going.
October 10, 2005
A rainy Saturday
On Saturday I met Ed at Engine 73 for the VII show on the Congo. In the past six years, 3 to 4.7 million people have died in the war. In 2005, Doctors without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers invited the photographers of the agency to document their work in the region. The photographs were exhibited in a converted firehouse. A video by Ron Haviv played in a corner, the audio supplying a voice to accompany the photographs. As we left, I noticed one of the attendants was reading King Leopold's Ghost
, a novel about the Belgian king's treatment of the country. I expressed my admiration at the book; she said she was reading it for class.
We ate lunch in Chinatown, a quick dim sum at Ping's before heading to the Rubin Museum. Rain peppered us off and on as we walked. The museum was free, participating in Open House New York. We toured the basement gallery of Mathieu Ricard's photographs of Tibet, and then climbed to the 5th floor for the Wulsin photographs of Tibet, China, and Mongolia, 1921-1925. The photographs were scans of hand-painted lantern slides. The color added a new dimension and look to the photographs, and it was amazing how closely the painter had captured the colors of the area, having never seen the areas. Afterwards, Ed mentioned that although he had just come from central Asia, seeing the photographs made him want to turn around and go right back.
We caught an evening show of 2046
before dinner. It was beautiful and better on second viewing. When we left the theater, the rain was falling in earnest. We were both hungry and I asked Ed what he felt like. A Turkish place was around the corner; the recently opened Congee Bowery had opened a few blocks away. Ed said he was trying to avoid Middle Eastern food. We waited for the rain to let up. When it didn't we made a break for it.
By the time we made it to the restaurant, we were soaked. We were sat at a small table and given menus. We ordered the seafood with bean curd, the five spiced duck, and the beef chow fun. After we placed the order, the waitress moved us to a larger table. Ed said I'd probably have to bring stuff home. She offered us winter mellon soup and spooned it out into our bowls. The food came and we fell silent. The food was good and we finished it all. Ed said you really remember good meals when you're in Iraq.
After dinner, the waitress brought us red bean soup. The meal was complete. Since coming back from Morocco, I've been eating mostly Asian food. I hadn't realized I missed it so much.
It was cold when we left. A hard rain continued to fall. We parted ways on Broadway. Ed was taking the N back to his corporate apartment, and I continued walking west on Spring. I thought about stopping into a deli to warm up, but soldiered on. My shoes were still wet the next afternoon.
Links: Democractic Republic of Congo: Forgotten War
Links: rubin museum of tibetan art
David tells me he only drinks Orangina when he's in Europe. He never drinks it in New York. I have similar food proclivities. In Southeast Asia, I tend to drink orange Fanta. In the Middle East, I eat olives and honey. In Paris, I can't help but drink Orangina as well.
This morning, as I was throwing out the trash, I noticed the glass recylcing was full of glass bottles of Orangina. It was as if they had sponsored a party in someone's apartment. And seeing all those blue and orange labels, I began to develop a thirst.
October 4, 2005
Last days in Paris
I've been up for 24 hours; the dust of Paris and Morocco lingers on my shoes. Last night I met up with Ed, recently returned from Iraq by way of a five week vacation in Mongolia, Guillemette, fresh from book parties in Paris, and Lin. We met at Paris Commune for dinner to share stories and catch up. I brought maccaroons from Laduree for dessert.
On Sunday I stayed in bed. Having overdone it on Saturday (being woefully unprepared for the cold rainy weather) I managed to catch a cold and also to upset my stomach with one too many noisettes. I slept and got up and ate and slept again. Feeling brave, I ventured out to the Louvre to look at their collection of Arts of Islam, only to discover that it was on loan from the Met.
I didn't stay long. I bought some stamps, mailied some postcards, and went back to the hotel.
On Monday I was feeling much better. In the morning I went to Laudree on the rue Royal for boxes of maccaroons, and then up the steps of the nearby Ste Madeline. A man on the top step held out a pair of paper sunglasses and pointed towards the sun. I donned them and saw a small disc cut out of the bottom of the orb. It was a partial solar eclipse. He offered them to another man, who exclaimed, "C'est incroyable."
I ate a quiche along the rue St. Honore, stopping in to a design store because it looked hopping. I was out of place in my orange Old Navy windbreaker. A couple looked at a 500 &euro phone that was a new design. "Would you like one?" the seller asked. "No, no," they said. "Just looking."
I went to St. Chappelle to look at the stained glass windows. Entering the upper chamber, I was amazed at how bright it was, and then I remembered that I had last come during the winter. It was cool outside, but the sun shone brightly through the windows, and I was thrilled. I sat for an hour and looked at the panes.
Afterwards, I walked along the Seine towards Notre Dame. There was no line to enter, but I didn't feel like seeing anything after St. Chappelle and so I sat before it and watched the pigeons as they gathered around whomever was feeding them. The afternoon drew on, and then I realized I needed to drop off the maccaroons back at the hotel before my evening's plans. And so I gathered my things and walked off in search of the Metro, the sun low behind me.
October 1, 2005
Casablanca a Paris
My last night in Casablanca I was sad to leave. I had become accustomed to Morocco, its pace and its cities and I lingered over my last meal. Afterwards, I wandered the pedestrian areas of the center before slowly making my way to the hotel. I slept with the windows open and checked the time. I waited to hear the call of the meuzzin, but Casablanca is large, and we were near no mosques. I went to bed with my heart heavy, my ears silent.
I arrived in Paris under a light but steady rain. I took the bus into town, and then transferred through three metro lines to get to my stop. When I emerged, it was onto a cute street in the 17th Arrondissement. Kebab stands competed with Chinese restaurants rapide for hungry diners. I walked the two blocks to my hotel and checked in. The attendant asked for the money in advance. Showers are 2.50 Euros a piece. I paid, showered, and went to bed.
This morning a light drizzle continued to fall, but the thought of being in Paris lifted my spirits. I had awoken early, and took a train to the Beaubourg to find that it wouldn't open for another hour and a half. I bought this week's Pariscope and bought a noisette at a cafe overlooking the museum. I had seen posters for Keren Ann and discovered she was playing at the Olympia on Monday. I checked the time, and walked over to the theater. I have wanted to see a performance at the Olympia ever since Edith Piaf's recording there caught my imagination.
There were seats available, and I quickly bought a place in the mezzanine. I passed the Opera Garnier on the way back and, on a whim, checked to see what events were being staged that night. I walked out with a ticket to that evening's ballet.
The views from the Beaubourg over Paris were fantastic, and I took photos as the skies were clearing. Seeing the partial blue skies made me want to walk, and I quickly made my way through the galleries. From the museum I walked south, headed towards the rue Mouffetard and its pedestrian mall. I ate lunch at a creperie, complete with cider and sorbets. I was in heaven. At the end of the street, I paused to take some pictures, and a passing Frenchman stopped me to admire my camera. "I have some of my own," he said, smiling appreciatively.
As I made my way back towards the Ile St Louis, I passed the Mosquee de Paris. I had remembered an Arab tea salon in the area, and walked around the mosque until I found it tucked away in its southwest corner. I found an empty table under the trees and listened to the birds chirping wildy as I sipped my (inferior) mint tea.
Tomorrow all the museums are free, and so I've decided to visit some of them and go to my favorite rooms--the water lilies at the Orangerie, the pastel room at the Musee d'Orsay--and see if I can't discover some new ones (a quick look at the Louvre).
The ballet was a mix of the traditional and the modern; it didn't really pick up until the third act. I sat in a booth off to the side, an attendant had to unlock it to let me enter. I sat next to a woman I thought was a Frenchwoman, but when it was over, she said something to me in English. "Are you American?" I asked. "Yes," she said with a Russian accent. "From Philadelphia." I asked if it was her first time at the Opera Garnier. She said it was, but she wasn't so into the dance. She had done ballet herself in the past. She was from the Russian school. I told her I was from New York and she said, "Eifmann. He comes once a year to the City Center. You're from New York. Go see. And see what I mean."