Tag: Paris

Baseball in Paris

After 25 years of jonesing for a game of pick-up baseball, I got my fix in Paris.  For three Sundays I played ball at Bois de Vincennes.  In the first two games, I reached base eleven times in a row!  Let it be known that I have a big bat.

We played in front of where Napoleon used to tie up his horses when he went hunting.  This picture is terrible.  I would get so into the games that I wouldn’t remember to snap a pic until the game was over…

On my final Sunday, things went south.  While Zach and I were walking to the park, we noticed hundreds of people lining the streets.

And so, just like two years ago, we once again accidentally saw those Tour de France kooks peddling by.

Having got caught up in the bikey hoopla, by the time we got to Napoleon’s hut, we were an hour late.  And what strange things were afoot at the hut…

Amidst a cloud of smoke, men in robes were waving flags, beating drums, and singing/chanting.  The robed men had kicked my teammates off the field, insisting that 500 fellow Rastafarians would be joining the party (more like 20), and that they specifically needed the hut so that their backs would be facing the White House.  So there’s that.

I don’t know if it was the contact high, the bicycle chaos, or the slight change in venue, but I fared poorly both at the plate and on the field.  Somehow I even managed to let some Italian character wearing a Yankees uniform strike me out.  So there’s that too.

Buskers and FOBwear

Paris had some fab buskers.  Check out this ethnic action in the subway.  And Mongolian throat singing? Almost worth a trip to Mongolia for more…

Music seemed to be everywhere…from a punk band playing in the local square for a midnight Bastille celebration to a dude playing a grand piano in the middle of a giant park:

Just as I prefer low end music/art to the $$$ stuff, my fashion palate delights in misguided FOBwear.  In my lifetime, I don’t think I will see anything that beats this number:

Oh wow.  WESTSIDE Gay Johnsons.  Simple legendary.  Why I didn’t pick up this masterpiece remains a mystery to me.  It was only a couple of Euros.  For very little effort, Ebay would have rewarded me with many dollars.

No safety net on the ring of death

Here are my kids jumping on trampolines next to the Seine River.  What would stop them from having a misstep and plunging 20 feet below into the river?  Nothing.  Let it be known that Paris is no place for American helicopter moms and their sheltered children.

One day I witnessed the spectacular, cringe-worthy, sometimes bloody wipe-outs of neighborhood child-gladiators risking their lives on “the ring of death”.  The circular apparatus tilts 20 degrees and spins on several hundred ball bearings.  Here are my kids enjoying the gizmo:

Ten kids jump on.  Zach and Asia jump off.  Zach continues to monitor the situation at a safe distance.

And down they go.  Meanwhile Zach continues to monitor the situation.

While traveling I saw a lot of traveling art

We spent most of July in Paris.  It was ok.  I suppose it would have been better if I spoke the language and actually liked French food.  About half of our meals ended up being Korean.  The rest was Chinese (real stuff, not that repulsive Frenchized Chinese food), Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Turkish, and yes, a couple of expensive, lousy French meals.  With access to such fresh, fantastic ingredients, the French really aught to figure out how to cook.

If you weren’t aware, they do things real different over there.  Artistically, trucks are a popular canvas:

Miss/Not miss.

I’m back in America.  31 days in Paris was enough.  Here’s what I will miss/not miss:

Miss:  Seeing people riding bikes.  Bikes were a major mode of transportation.  Helping things along was a fleet of 20,600 rental fixies spread throughout the city, a bargain at $1.43/hour.

Not miss:  Looking at those stupid bikes for a whole month, knowing I couldn’t ride them.  The automated system accepts European “smart” cards, not our dumb American credit cards.  Fail!

Miss:  1 liter bottles of 6-7 varieties of fresh cider: Yellow delicious, Macintosh, Gala, etc.

Not miss:  Paying $22/gallon for this juice.

Miss:  The parks.  Small neighborhood parks on a weekday afternoon hosted 100-200 kids and adults.  Children from a rainbow of races harmoniously exploited 10-30 foot slides, zip lines, and a refreshingly dangerous giant pyramid.  Ignoring all of this were gabbing parents and nannies, sitting in the cool breeze under shade trees while teens/tweens played soccer and ping pong.  Too cool for this mundane action, old men played petanque (bocce) in the far corner of the park.  A modern Leave it to Beaver scene.  Who would have guessed?

Not miss:  Staring at the built-in foosball tables.  No one in Paris seems to know where to buy a foosball.

Miss:  The pastries.  They lived up to their hype.

Not miss:  The rest of the food.  I’m serious!  As a foodie of sorts, it is my opinion that “classic” Parisian cooking is a hoax.  Virtually every restaurant served the same eight nasty dishes.  Beef tartare?  That’s raw hamburger!  Andouillette?  That’s chitlins!  Tartine?  An open faced grilled cheese sandwich.  Oh, and don’t forget the endless parade of leathery steaks.  Over the course of the month, I had ONE satisfying meal!  Seriously Paris, wtf?

Branson, Missouri?

Today I was forced out of the house.  Sure we’re in Paris, but my laziness knows no borders.  So where did we spend my wife’s hard earned money today?  A carnival!  Here are some pics for you to endure:

Maybe in my next life…

Today the family hiked to a neighboring district.  It’s too bad I’m not a black woman, because every store was either a nail salon, a wig/weave store, or a hair salon specializing in black hair.  And let me tell you, there were some sweetazz hairdos being offered.  Our real reason for being in the 10th, however, was to eat in an alley.  Not any alley, a covered alley, full of Indian restaurants and shops:

So there’s that.

Oh, here’s something great.  Yesterday Asia got really mad.  So what did she do?  She stomped into the kitchen and washed the dishes.  Yeah, beat that.

Shush kids.

The other night I told Asia, “Stick your head out the window.  See all those lights?  There are 50,000 people down there.  Listen close.  Can you hear them?”  She listened intently for a minute, before shaking her head.  “Exactly”, I said, “But they all hear you.  Quit being so loud.”

Paris is like a giant library.  Regardless of how crowded a bus, train, restaurant, bar, or park may be, it’s always shushy quiet.  And no matter how hushed our tones, we’re the loudest!  Luckily the Parisians are too quiet to tell us to hush.  Instead they look mildly huffed, sort of like a cat twitching her ear out of annoyance.  So there’s that.

Yesterday the kids and I jumped on a random bus to see where it would take us.  The highlight?  Zach had to pee crazybad, so he got to use one of these:

These public toilets are everywhere.  They self clean after every use, scrubbing and drying the seat, walls and floor.  Quite awesome.  And free.

12 years later…

One side benefit to this trip is no TV.  TV makes you crazydumb.  So do computer games.  A word of advice to would-be parents:  If you let your six year old daughter watch all twelve seasons of America’s Next Top Model, and let your eight year old son play nerdy on-line games like Adventure/Mech Quest, then every picture you try to take of them will end up looking like this:

Yesterday we went on a real life Adventure Quest.  We tried to find this street:

Thanks to a few friendly shopkeepers, and big brother Google, we found the street.  Check us out, twelve years later:

Deux petits chiens adorables.

Yesterday I dragged the kids to the science museum.  Oh man I hate museums.  The high light?  The sink in the men’s room:

The dirty water just slides down into the wall and disappears.  I should mention that I didn’t take the pic, and that I don’t know who did.  But I doubt they want that photo credit.  What kind of a perv takes photos in the bathroom anyways?

The bathroom experience was further heightened by being the 1st clean public restroom I’ve used in Paris.  Totally worth the price of peeing while being watched by a cleaning lady.  Although that’s nothing new here.  Every time the line for the women’s restrooms gets long, the ladies just hop on over!  Luckily Paris has no Wrigley Field style pee troughs.

Well, that museum was a bust.  It was SUPPOSED to be free with my Carnegie Museum card, but it’s hard to present much of an argument when the only thing I know how to say is “2 adorable little dogs”, a phrase I use every chance I get.  Not that paying was such a big deal.  It’s not like I’m cheap, I mean geez, we’re in Paris for four and a half weeks.  It’s just that in Paris, when things cost, they COST.

Speaking of being cheap, last night Mrs. Neill had to work late, so I made hamburgers for dinner.  I probably saved at least $100!  Sure they tasted like crap, but think of all the Speedos I can buy with the savings!