For the next week (and the previous week) I’m spending time in Paris. This turned out to be largely a convenient set of circumstances, since I had an excellent experience when I was here two weeks ago, and I wished I could spend more time here.
I was fortunate enough to be here for two concerts I wanted to attend, namely Morcheeba and Parov Stelar. Both were at the excellent venue L’Olympia. The concert halls were different than I’m used to in the US, being much smaller, serving actual beer in pint sizes, and being a much more stream-lined affair in terms of coat checks, getting in, and getting out. The Morcheeba concert had excellent music (Ross Godfrey can play some mean guitar solos), however the overall experience had a certain quality missing that I cannot put into words.
The Parov Stelar concert certainly had that in abundance though. The audience drew a much bigger and younger crowd. The cheering and applause didn’t stop between songs, sometimes for an awkwardly long period of time. The music and improvisation was excellent though, and I would very much appreciate seeing another performance. If you have the chance to attend I would give it my highest recommendation.
My coworkers and friends in Paris have made sure that my time here was not badly spent. From simple (and extremely rewarding) experiences such as sitting at a cafe and sipping espresso while disconnecting and reading a book to heading out on the town and experiencing the best (and sometimes worst) that Paris has to offer in terms of comestibles, craft quaffables, sights, people watching, and even cinema.
Being a non-francophone is obviously a barrier, but having a rudimentary understanding of Latin and Spanish, and a few brief lessons on Duolingo give me enough knowledge for a superficial attempt at speaking French, if nothing else to gain a bit of respect and understanding when my conversation parter and I have to switch to English. Duolingo has been a great method for language learning though, and is a very powerful tool given one actually puts in the effort to retain the information learned in the lessons.
There are several things I want to fill my remaining week with. The Musée d’Orsay is something I simply must see before I leave. It’s something I missed last time I was here, and I’ve been regretting that ever since. It’s a fantastically large gallery with an unparalleled collection of impressionist artworks. Beyond this, the museum is actually built in a beautifully restored train station.
Additionally I want to check out what’s happening at some of Paris’ hackerspaces. There seem to be several active ones in Paris, and many are actually located in squats, which seems sort of novel to me. I associate hackerspaces as techno-artist and creative havens, and their efforts are always unique and interesting to discover. In particular I look forward to connecting with Le Loop and /tmp/lab.