Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The works

I fully intended to get up early this morning for another visit to the police prefecture. Alas, as I suspected, I was up rather late last night and slightly worse for wine, so it didn't happen. Maybe this afternoon? Else, tomorrow morning it is.

So, how was Bastille Day? Great! It didn't start out perfectly. I found my way to the Champ de Mars ok, but it took three cell phone calls to the people I was meeting to actually find them. I hate this rendezvous-ing via phone, but sometimes there's no better option. What I hadn't realized is that in addition to the fireworks, there would be a big corny concert. We were sitting in prime-concert watching territory. Ugh!

The acts didn't start until eight and I met my companions around 4:30. Happily, it was a convivial group. Some of the folks I'd met and liked at the prior meetin event I'd attended were there, plus some new, likeable people. Americans even! Actually, I hope I'll get to hang out again with those new Americans I liked. I can see some friendly potential there. (I actually demanded that the guy give me his number and I know how to get in touch with the gal. The only question is, how soon can I call?)

As predicted, the concert was terrible. Syrupy, banal pop. About four or five acts worth! Most of the performers were French, but James Blunt was featured somewhere in the middle. I was laughing a lot but definitely got in the spirit of things as the concert continued. Eventually, we were all standing and swaying to the music. The lyrics for the songs were scrolled above the stage on a big screen so we translated on the fly and sang along a little.

It was nearly 11pm when the fireworks started. We all turned around to face the Eiffel Tower when the show started. It would have been good to be closer but I can't complain. The show was specifically designed to surround the tower and it was spectacular. I love fireworks! The most annoying aspect was trying to position oneself to get a decent view--everyone stood and there was quite a bit of shifting about. Also, an insane number of people were making little movies with their cell phones and cameras--holding them above their heads for almost the entire display. Thus, I felt like I was watching some of the show through tiny screens instead of directly.

It's hard to understand why people would make videos instead of fully experiencing the moment. It diminishes the visceral experience and, really, is it going to be that much better on a tiny little screen? Or via a crappy phone camera? This is the problem with photography in general--instead of really seeing things, you save them to examine later. I'm not anti all photography, I do like to have pictures of my friends and family, and there are shots of things so unusual that it's worth it. But photos of fireworks behind the Eiffel Tower? Um, I can get you a dozen postcards with better images of the exact same scene. That's why it's my practice to buy postcards of monuments and such--and to save my picture snapping for the things that don't make it on to postcards.

(Not to say that my group didn't have cameras, many did. One of my new American friends even took a pic of me with the Eiffel Tower in the background, though it was NOT at my request. He said, "This way your friends will really believe you were here." I admit to being a total sucker for the Eiffel Tower, so I didn't put up much of a struggle. Now, if he ever does send me a copy of that photo, I can show it to you for proof.)

Now since I'm being bad by skipping out on a visit to the police station, I'm going to be good and do my laundry. I have to give my clothes time to dry before I head off to London on Thursday! (I'm going for about five days to wander around and visit my friend Alicia. This will be the most time we've spent together in years, plus I get to meet her husband and kids for the first time. It's going to be great!)

Grateful for: fireworks.

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