The best piece of advice I ever got was the following : when you meet or are about to meet someone who is imposing, or important to you, and this makes you nervous, or unsettles you in any way, never forget that how big and mighty, how powerful and awe-inspiring that person may be, at one time or another in their life, that person was on his or her hands and knees with explosive diarrhea, praying to their God for a hasty end to aforementioned rear-pipe decompression. Visualising the subject of your idolation in a state of agonising flatulence will pretty much level the playing field you and that person. Gone is the anxiety.
Last weekend I quickly popped over to Paris for a blitzkrieg-visit in light of family-related celebrations that were to take place there. The subtle blend of recent terrorist attacks and generally unfavorable climatic conditions have turned Paris into a bona fide filming set for Will Smiths’s 2007 post-apocalyptic disaster movie, I am Legend, as it was virtually empty. Abandoned public squares, void of any buses filled to the brim with triggerhappy Chinese tourists selfying (is that even a verb?) their faces in front of any building vaguely reminiscent of the mid-XIX century’s Haussmanian-style, an overabundant amount of empty chairs surrounding the bassin octagonal in the Jardin des Tuileries and more empty rooms in the hotels than at new year’s in Pyongyang’s Ryugyong hotel.
It was so empty in fact, that as I wandered in front of the iconic glass pyramid at the beginning of the Jardin des Tuileries I wasn’t sure if the Louvre had closed or if it was open. Indeed, the usual endless line of weary, confused tourists that normally snakes its way in from the Place du Carrousel into the Pyramide du Louvre’s entrance – like a snake’s head caught in the mouth of a lion – was nowhere to be spotted. There were no drowsy tourists sitting on their luggage waiting for the security guard to motion them over into the bowels of the beast, no kids running criss-cross up, down and through the waiting lines despite their parents’ relentless yelling imploring them to stop, no North-African goodie-salesmen sporting the latest fashion-trends in ‘head-umbrellas’ and knockoff designer Gucci waist-bags. Nobody except for the occasional Saturday morning jogger.
I walked up towards the entrance like a lost postman looking for a shrouded mailbox. Once I got into the security booth at the entrance and realized the Louvre was in fact open, it dawned on me that it had in fact been years since I last set foot inside, and that my grandmother would probably consider that such an attendance rate would constitute a proper form of heresy given my 50% French bloodline.
In an effort to comfort my grandmother and reconcile with my ancestry, I decided to venture in and take a look at what had changed, since the weather outside wasn’t really improving in any way.
What followed next was nothing short of an epiphany. The Louvre can be agreeable. It really can. When all the works of art hung at eye- level are not being obstructed by hordes of tourists taking selfies in front of them, and you can actually see the art it’s pretty nice.
There’s a thing I’ve noticed as of late, and that’s that we humans of the 21st century roughly face the same problems our ancestors faced. Be it 50, 500 or 5000 years ago. We all strive for comfort, food, shelter, love, compassion, power, and what not. Times change but people don’t. Man is marvelously fickle at best, but mankind really isn’t. We are all still motivated by the same incentives, scared by the same pitfalls and prone to anxiety . That’s why I couldn’t help but think that these masterpieces could easily be reinterpreted in vastly different contexts. All these artists have had the same hangovers we have, the same streaks of dad-humor, the same silly streams of consciousness. The class-clown also existed 2000 years ago.
So, without further ado, a modernist reinterpretation of age-old classics, with a twist :
Your face when the weird guy with the stuffy mustache and closed trench-coat asks for a picture of you and your baby.
“Bitch put that hand down, I’ll tell you when I had enough”
“Guess who farted? That’s why you looking green and shit”
When everyone’s been farting in the car and the driver finally opens the window
“Enough with the goddamn selfie-sticks already, give em here”
Hitting it and quitting it before the Tinder-date wakes up in the morning
Dropping off that one friend who passed out early
That apologetic look you make when everyone is checking their Instagram at the dinner table and the waitress is ready to take your order.
Negotiating with the bouncer to let your wasted friends into the club
Breaking up a fight between your drunk ass friend and another dude from the bar
My parting gift to you, is this last chef d’oeuvre. It’s basically the equivalent of the scruffy, beanie-wearing, over sized glasses-toting, hipster sitting in his local Starbucks typing away on his vintage Underwood typewriter.
I quickly made a stop atop the butte de Montmartre, and since the weather was not being it’s typical mid-February rendition of 50 shades of grey it was actually enjoyable, despite the cold wind stabbing your skin like a multitude of needles. I guess this is the way Woody Allen sees Paris every day if you take a look at his films. He does seem to overlook the hobo’s quite often though…
Altough the visit was of a lightning nature, still managed to grab lunch at le Mini-Palais, my unequivocal preferred spot for a lunch in Paris. Their fried tennisball is beyond amazing, and the wine’s pretty good too usually.