Monday, June 22, 2009

Fête de la Musique

Every June 21st, France has the good sense to celebrate the art of song with a day dedicated to music. This year, the 21st happened to fall on a balmy Sunday, so the streets were thronged with revelers.

The general idea is that various music acts perform at random locations throughout the city. There are large displays in the major gathering spaces and small ensembles dotting the streets. One is at leisure to wander as one may, enjoying different performances and then moving on at will.

As all of my friends were either out of town or holed up in preparation for the most important exam of their lives, I was on my own for this year's fête. I decided to start off with the 4:30pm acrobatic performance (accompanied by a wailing ensemble of various orchestra instruments) at the Hôtel de Ville. I got a seat at a sidewalk café and settled in for some people watching--and the people did not disappoint. I saw a woman in the most ballooning pair of parachute pants I ever care to witness, as well as stilt-walkers and an 80 year old lady who looked as if she were dressed up as Marilyn Monroe for Halloween but was clearly just in her normal attire (curly blond wig included). Heavens.

Eventually, the performance started and was more or less over in the same breath. After much preparation of microphones and tightropes and the French version of "testing, testing, 1,2,3", the entire show consisted of one man doing some tightrope walking. It was interesting, and certainly admirable, but not astounding. Many people, including yours truly, were videotaping the 10 minute experience on their various pieces of electronica...and I couldn't help but think that we were all imagining how much cooler it would be if we managed to be shooting at the exact moment his foot made an unfortunate slip. sigh Better luck next year, I guess.

After all that excitement, I decided to walk around a bit in the general direction of my apartment. I was happy witness to a grunge band, a jazz ensemble tooting out "When the Saints Go Marching In", and an emo singer wailing mournfully, with Notre Dame la Grande as his backdrop. The larger shows weren't going to be starting for a couple hours, and I hadn't eaten dinner, so I hightailed it home at that point. Pausing to be a shameless tourist with my camera as I went, happy to have an excuse to get last minute pictures of this city I have come to truly love.

I got home and made some dinner (packaged mushroom ravioli and a salad). Unfortunately, I got sick almost immediately afterward (damned food poisoning) and ended up staying home the rest of the night. I could hear reveling in the distance, so I really regret not being able to go to the concert by the cathedral that I had planned to attend. Perhaps next lifetime...

Also accomplished today--the submission of my signed contract to the school in Poland. Plus, I've been doing more research on Gliwice, and everyone seems to have great things to say about it. And I found out that they have both a TESCO and a Géant, so I should be able to get most of the "foreign" ingredients I require...a major factor in my day-to-day cooking happiness.

Things are looking up!

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