je viens de new york, je viens de BKLYN.

Admittedly, I am a little afraid of the plane ride, though international flights always show the best movies, in more languages than one. Mid-air, though, what can you do about flight anxiety, except grip the tray table at the moment of turbulence, try to pre-cog the scenario, so if/when the pilot finally announces over the intercom “we’re going down, we’re going down,” you’ve already experienced it in you mind. (it’s all about control. my control.)
I’m not afraid enough to sweat, though. With these kinds of personal-apocalypse scenarios, I aim for objectivity–calmly divining the issue at hand with enough distance to slightly chill–just gotta see it through seven-or-eight hours. Read the paper. (INternational Herald Tribune.) Absorb a couple records. (Rollin in the Ruins, Get Hustle; Ma’at Mama, Ursula Rucker [song 14 “poon tang clan”!].) Finish a book. (Our Time, Susan Brownmiller.) Also, on a recent long plane ride, a close friend of mine met, and eventually frenched, a newly divorced 42-year-old oil magnate from Texas who began romancing her the second she chided him for harbinging evil and, quote, “driving an Audi,” end-quote. Nora Ephron, are you listening? Instead of imagining the plane drilling deep into the Atlantic Ocean in a blaze and whir, I will rest my head on the acrylic pillow, watch Le Double Vie de Veronique on the passenger tele, and dream of serendipitous mid-flight love-encounters.
The last time I visited Paris, serendipity reigned.
It’s Bastille Day, 2003. Jessica and I are re-routed from Berlin into Paris en route to Barcelona because Love Parade has just ended and a million neon-chaps-donning ravers have to Eurail their ecstatic asses out of Germany, stat. Rerouted into Paris on fucking Bastille Day! we exclaim, like 87 times, in English, to the German ticket agent. Ha! Ha! What luck!
We share a traincar with two Austrian 18-year-olds who have not washed the sweat of trance in three full days. One seat is empty. Just before departure, in walks a tall, dashing fellow with a fancy pointy haircut, who is wearing a black sweatshirt with asymmetrical designs on it. Our initial exchange is as follows:
Dashing Fellow: “Are you American? You look familiar.”
Me: “Yes, I’m from Portland.”
Dashing Fellow: “Did you go see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs play in Portland last year?”
Me: “Yes, I did.”
DF: “My name is Patrick. I am the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ documentarian. I recognize your face, from editing hours and hours and hours of footage of you, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, dancing vigorously in the front row of that show.”
So began France: a chance encounter with a stranger we should have already known. The train ran all night. I spent most of it laid up, motion-sick, back in the traincar. Jessica and Patrick gabbed in the hall, compared notes on all the American friends we had in common, and chainsmoked (fumee) “Phillip Morris” cigarettes and/or the last of the Gauloises Blondes, while I chugged Mineralwasser and tried not to barf.
(I was successful in not-barfing.)
IN Paris, Patrick let us crash at his flat for three hours, before we snuck out to explore; The Eiffel Tour was the only place open nearby, it being “fucking” Bastille Day and all, so we ate oranges in the gutter, found a tourist enclave where I procured the French version of Dramamine for six Euro (then, eight dollars, now something more like twelve**), hit an internet cafe, and became Friendsters with Patrick’s Friendsters***, both real and fake. Took to our sleeping car in the new train six hours later, woke up to the sun making the Andorras gleam like copper.
What I’m saying is, photos of Paris “today” (and hopefully mp3s) to follow.
**addendum: a paranoic’s exchange rate, maybe something more like… eight [$1 = .84 Euro]
***(That was the summer Friendster jumped off; with new-addicts’ saliva, we spent roughly 1/5 of our vacation in internet cafes updating our fake Friendster profiles with epic Euro missives. My Friendster persona met so many low-rider-bike-riding Barcelonan honeys–honeys who liked dancing, honeys who liked bass–that she temporarily forgot her angelic husband, Chad Todd Wiltermann…
Chad, at that point, had already been jailed for engaging in premarital intercourse with my Friendster persona–imprisoned thanks to her hyper-litigious Evangelical Christian parents–but he had not yet been stabbed in the kidney with a shank over a pack of Camel Wides.)

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4 Responses to je viens de new york, je viens de BKLYN.

  1. ritchey says:

    WOW. W-O-W.

  2. jb says:

    go to the rue de mouffetard in the quartier latin right about where it intersects with rue de l’arbalete (i forgot the metro stop) and walk uphill and you will see an amazing ice creamery that scoops your ice cream in the shape of a beautiful flower that explodes with flavor. its so good and this is coming from someone who despises dairy. great shopping and great hookah bar on mouffetard as well. bon voyage.

  3. Julie says:

    I am the least religious person one could hope to become. When I took a place across the country for the first time since Disney World in the fifth grade, I spent the plane ride trying to remember my minimal Catholic upbringing. I was able to nail down the Our Father and otherwise rapidly repeat “oh god oh god oh god please don’t let me die, my room is really messy and i will be forever remembered as the bad daughter who forgot about silverware and glasses of milk she brought upstairs…”

  4. Aunt Josie says:

    This was so funny! We cracked up when we read of you bumping into Dashing Fellow on the train from Berlin to Paris, and the fact that he remembered you (a year later and half a world away). Bob said, I would remember her too, because when you’re editing you have to watch so many hours of tape over and over that someone as beautiful as Julie really stands out.
    Picked up an issue of Spin (Dec 05)at the auto repair shop while waiting for the car, thought I’d leaf through and look for you, and there you were. Today I got the Feb Spin and there you are again – 6 pages!

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