One of the only real parks in Paris is Le Jardin du Luxembourg, located in the 6th arrondissement, about 5 minutes from Saint Germain des Prés.
The name though, is usually shortened by locals to “Luco”.
“Going to the Luco” was a key element of my studying years in Paris, since the park was less than a minute away from my school and part of my commute. During the three months of decent weather that Paris gets each year (somewhere between May and September), many a days was spent chilling and taking the sun with friends in the park, all the while supposedly preparing our finals.
The Luxembourg is the exact antithesis of Anglo-saxon parks such as Hyde Park or Central Park: here, you won’t find large lawns and semi-virgin bits of forrest inside the city. It’s all about symmetry, order and absolute control over every single element of nature. Archetype of Jardin à la Française (the technical gardening term for Control Freak Wet Dream), the Luxembourg features an appallingly low amount of grass for a “park”, and most of it is strictly off limits to pedestrians (numerous signs and whistle wielding security agents are all there to remind you that grass is too rare a commodity to be left for people to lay down on it: watch, but don’t touch). As a result, a sizable share of the park is made up of huge bare alleys planted with armies of meticulously aligned trees. Yea, it is about as exciting as it sounds.
Of course, there is some greenery too, though I challenge you to find one randomly placed item in this picture… There’s probably a guy responsible for measuring flower spacing and ensuring it never goes out of a predetermined variation margin. By the way, keep in mind that every single chair in that picture is strictly disposed outside of the grass area.
Depending on mood, weather and other factors, ideal spots can be: seated around the main basin, where one can check out at leisure cute tourists and young Parisian MILFs strolling their offsprings around, or in some corner of the park where that unforgivable law-breaching act of placing your derriere on a patch of grass will not catch the eye of park security…
Have you noticed how even the crappiest pictures taken with a substandard cheap piece of digital camera turn out nearly ok once you slather them with color filters?
Sometimes, standing in the middle of the park and looking around reminds you of a geometry class.
On one side of the park, is the French Senate.
Apparently, they set up an outdoor opera in front of it during the Summer (la Boheme was playing this week).
And outside the park (the side that runs along Bd St Michel), the fence periodically hosts coffee-table style picture exhibits (this one dedicated to D-Day commemorations). When I came last year, stills from Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s awesome book Earth from Above were on display.
Of course, the park closes every evening (you wouldn’t want people roaming around in a park without close supervision, now would you?). I am told some particularly stupid people in their youth once hid inside and spent the night reenacting Giligan Island in the middle of Paris, but I’m sure you would never think of doing something that immature.
Beside it’s incredibly hard lighting up a small bonfire without getting busted right away by park security patrols (yea, they do patrol the inside of the park at night, no, they do not shoot at sight, as far as I know).

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No, I’m not talking about ladyfriends, you sickos… beside, do not believe the wild rumours: every woman I ever met in Europe (save maybe for the most desperately rural areas where sheep and cattle outnumber humans) does attend to her feminine shaving routine at least as much as their non-European counterparts. Maybe even more, if you account for the unfair advantage held naturally by the feminine gent in other parts of the globe.
Ahem, anyway.
Let’s try not to taint such an innocent little entry, adorned by cute-to-puke pictures of softy kitties, with unnecessary reflections on the relation between culture and shaving habits of the modern woman.

I’ve been back and catching up with the last few falling sakura flowers for a few days now. But anyway, here are a few of the pics I managed to take during my chaotic stay in the US…

Though I’ve not caught nearly as many people on camera as I’d wanted to, I have at least sampled a bit of everything, since both family life, lesbian wedding reception and restaurant night out with friends are all covered. Can’t get more versatile than that.

Not much need for legend here, except to state that the fact two of the friends I used to go party with (Suraj and David) are now proud fathers of daughters aged respectively 1 year (Riya) and 1 month (Saskia), does not make me feel any younger… What is it with that trend to have kids these days? How irresponsible, when you could be just as happy getting shitfaced drunk and abusing pharmaceutical drugs on a daily basis…

Don’t you realize what a fucked up world it is they’ll be living in?

Anyway, they are both awfully cute and if they inherit all the qualities exhibited by their parents, they’ll probably have to fight for the presidency over what will be left of the US, 30 years from now…

On a different note, it’s refreshing to see Oliver still wears his difference high and proud. Though his boyfriend was allegedly less than happy when he decided to purchase this awesome Pink Carebear Backpack… And you better believe he’s wearing it everywhere (including in the trendiest bar and restaurants of the city: only him could ever get away with this).

The cat (probably the most über-zen cat in the world) and the snake live in the same house and are part of the typical california-family yearly round of exotic pets that gets replaced when the kids get tired with them, or, as the case might rather be here, when they get to become a 6-foot long constrictor snake and you feel a bit uneasy letting him share the bed with your kid.

No: the cat doesn’t get replaced every year, he’s part of the furniture… works pretty well as a living trophy-rug.

The dogs just happened to be sitting outside some grocery store and they looked cool like that.

Posting pictures of clubs and parties would get old really quick. So I probably won’t be putting any, save maybe for a few highlights at the end.

Instead, here is a bunch of miscellaneous pictures, arbitrarily sorted by categories rather than chronological order.

This first batch seems to illustrate the fact that all my friends suddenly decided to move into places with breathtaking views: it’s really hard to tell who’s got the most amazing shot of the City, but here are a few serious contenders.

On the pics, respectively:

  • sunrise at Will’s place
  • some house on 17th (not even the nicest Victorian, but it had gotten a brand new paint job and was just too flashy to miss)
  • view from Matthieu’s Castle in Noe Valley (can I hear anybody say two-level decks…), just behind the park
  • Dolores Park
  • the Mission
  • Bernard and Karen’s place in Woodside
  • Valencia St. (or is it Dolores?)
  • the Embarcadero, in a strikingly Sunset Blvd.-like shot, save for the hordes of stretch-neon-clad joggers.
  • the view from Berni’s new house in Woodside, surrounded by redwood trees (they might not look like it, but these things are actually vertiginously high, probably over a hundred feet).
  • Spent the afternoon with Sarah in Harajuku, then took her to Roppong Hills, in order to get a glimpse of the city from up-above.

    We were not particularly planning on going for the museum, but, as chance would have it, one of the temporary exhibition featured my favorite Japanese artist.

    I first got a glimpse at Kusama Yayoi’s obsessive and beautiful patterns in New York, a few years ago and saw more in Tokyo (the Hara-san Museum had a few great pieces). This new exhibition, though quite in the same vein as all her previous work, was definitely an amazing experience.

    Unlike a lot of other contemporary artists who, at best, cannot manage to rouse any more than a certain kind of intellectual curiosity toward their art, Kusama Yayoi’s structures are just pure emotions put into shape: they do not require subtitles or lengthy comments to be appreciated, visual stimulation and subconscious imagery are immediate with most of her pieces. And if putting them into the perspective of her complicated life and long history of mental illness certainly brings another dimension, one just need to walk through her arrangements of mirrors, lights and dots in endless patterns to get an idea of what mind vertigo can be, for better or for worse.

    So, if you’ve not done it yet, go check out her exhibit at the Mori Art Museum in Roppogi Hills. The other temporary exhibit (People’s Artist) is also very much worth your time…

    PS: for those of you not familiar with Tokyo’s skyline, this building that looks like a cross between the Eiffel Tower and a christmas tree is “Tokyo Tower”… and no, to the best of my knowledge, Gustave Eiffel’s estate has not considered suing for copyright infringement yet… though I do suspect the “parody” argument might be protecting the Japanese version.