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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Every time I took out my pad and pencil, it seemed to start drizzling. If you happen to wonder how I choose my subjects, my method is really simple. I look for a convenient place to pant my butt.

I walked down to the Seine hoping to find a location with where I could get a bit of perspective. It the tip of the Ile de la Cité has a small park where I was able to sit down. A weeping willow tree framed the pont neuf in a way that was decidedly picturesque.

pont-neuf-2

However, it started to rain before I could get very far on my sketch. So I got up an walked along the river. The rain stopped as I was passing by a bench. I started to draw the bridge from the other side.

pont-neuf-1

Then, of course, it started to rain again. So I packed up my pad and pencils and headed for a cafe.

There was a very pretty young woman at another table and when she wasn’t looking I tried to sketch her. When she looked back my way, I put the pencil down, not noticing a slight slope to the table. The pencil rolled off and I lunged to get it, knocking over my coffee. The waiter was kind enough to bring me another.

I’m afraid my sketch doesn’t do her justice. She was exceedingly pretty.

woman-in-cafe

After finishing my meal and my coffee, I headed home.

In part because I am keeping a blog this year, I’ve been photographing far more obsessively than on previous trips. However, it makes a person look at things differently, often less intensely. Your experience is mediated by the camera even when you are not looking through it. I realized that this evening when, shortly after sundown, I was crossing the pont Louis-Phillippe. It had stopped raining and the sky was just starting to clear. The sky was a blue-gray and the river was a blue-gray, reflecting the sky in the distance, blending into a brown or greenish gray in the foreground. The buildings appeared pale, gray, yet almost pink. The towers of Notre Dame loomed to my left and, in the distance, the slate gray roofs of the turrets of the Conciergerie poked into the sky. Over them, spots of pink and orange dotted the sky where the clouds had moved away revealing the day’s last bit of sun. In the meantime, the street lamps were illuminated with their odd orange light and reflected as inverted exclamation points in the Seine.

Taken by the harmony of the colors, I thought momentarily if I only had my camera, then I realized it was better that I didn’t because I could enjoy the evening as an evening rather than as an image of an evening.

The original title was going to be the “puzzle” of female sexuality, but I couldn’t resist a little double sense after recalling a story a friend once told me about how her boyfriend didn’t like to touch her “down there.” When she asked why, he said because it was wet and slippery. No, that relationship didn’t last long.

Noel put up a post which got me thinking, always a dangerous idea, about some of the more problematic aspects of female sexuality. Now, this has very little to do with his actual post and is more of a tangent.

Like many women, I have a veritable library of masturbatory fantasies inside my head that I keep on file for necessary occasions, like an inability to fall asleep or bad menstrual cramps. As it happens, and it happens often I’m afraid, the sight of a stranger passing by on the street brought a particular fantasy to mind.

Now, my fantasies can be described as falling broadly into two rough categories: those I would try in a heartbeat and those I wouldn’t really ever want to do. Now those that I would try in a heartbeat remain in the fantasy realm for no better reason than the opportunity has failed to present itself, for instance, sex with two bisexual men who are also into each other. That fantasy is liable to remain unfulfilled because it requires finding the right two people, everyone being mutually interested in one another and none of us having feelings or relationships that would complicate the situation. At the other extreme… well, let’s not go to the true extreme, there are a few thing’s I’ll keep private… but let’s say being tied up, blind folded and fondled and penetrated by dozens of people. “Dozens” is usually a pretty clear indication that I’ve entered the world of “things I don’t actually want to happen in reality.” In a fantasy, a person is never tired, never sore, needs no inconvenient bathroom breaks. So this second fantasy would be next to impossible to do in a safe, sane way, and, even if I could figure out a way, it probably wouldn’t actually be that much fun – better left in the imagination.

Now, like a lot of things that could be put into categories, there are items that don’t quite fit, and that’s the sort of fantasy I’d like to address today, the fantasy I had yesterday, the one that was prompted by a stranger passing by on the street. Let’s say that this man was of the ugly-sexy sort, if you understand what I mean. He’s not going to make it to the cover of GQ, but still I got a bit of a twinge down there looking at him. Well, that was as far as the reality went. The fantasy, I warn you, is terribly banal. It starts with some comment, usually a pleasantry of some sort, which escalates with improbable speed to sexual innuendo, then fairly unmistakable hint. Now, I don’t know about your fantasy world, but mine is just awash in conveniently located dark alleys, roomy supply closets and single stall public toilets. This particular one involves being up against a wall in an alley. Normally, it’s a brick wall, but being in Paris at the moment the wall was made of that yellowish limestone. I guess that’s the kind of detail people mean when they say that we ladies have a greater need for context in our fantasies.

Now, I must ask you, why would this fantasy fall in the second, “I would never do it,” category rather than the first, “looking for an opportunity,” category. I can’t find a good answer to that and it’s my fantasy. I’m pretty sure in reality it would be quite a thrill and has as good a shot as being pleasurable as anything else, so it doesn’t have to do with a lack of pleasure. It has a lot to do with inhibition – that weird sense that I shouldn’t fuck “just anyone.” But why not? Add a few more words, a cup of coffee and suddenly we’ve gone into a totally different realm rapidly approaching acceptable behavior.

I’m not going to pretend to have an answer for this, because I don’t.

Right now, I’m having a great time in Paris, and I wouldn’t be able to stay here for as long as I’m staying if it weren’t for the internet and my ability to bring my laptop with me. On the other hand, one part of life bleeds into another thanks to the internet. In the past, if one went on vacation, a person left all work obligations and most other things behind. Now, that is not the case for both good and ill.

So I want to put up a post about some of the things I’ve seen recently, but I can’t concentrate because somebody owes me an email, and now I’ve written several times and I’m feeling clingy and neurotic. At what point to you go have yourself a good cry and write somebody off. Well, twenty years ago it would have happened before or after a trip, not in the middle.

So, right now, I’m going though one of those awkward periods when you ask yourself how many days of silence means someone doesn’t want to be your friend anymore. It was basically a good day until I came back to my apartment and checked my email and started thinking about this.

In the meanwhile…

Today I decided to go out with my whole photo kit so I could use different lenses. Here are some macros I took today.

The conflict in the United States Congress ended with a dramatic and bizarre outburst on the part of the House stenographer. Dianne Reidy mounted the dias and began to talk into the microphone. Since the microphone was off, not everything she said was understood. However, this much was recorded (from Salon):

Just moments after the deal was struck, Reidy serenely walked into the middle of the room, stepped up to the podium and started yelling. “Do not be deceived,” she said. “God shall not be mocked. A House divided cannot stand.” As the Sergeant-at-Arms moved to eject her, she continued to shout, “He will not be mocked, He will not be mocked, (don’t touch me). He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. Had it been, it would not have been … No. It would not have been. The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons … and go against God. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ.”

So yesterday I headed over to the Musee de Francmaconnerie, or the Freemason Museum, to see if there was anything interesting to write about.

Reidy, however, is perhaps less crazy than the people who read fanciful histories by people like the Christian Educator David Barton. Many of the founders of the U.S. and influential patriots were indeed Masons. Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Lafayette and Pulaski, George Washington, John Hancock, Paul Revere, Elbridge Gerry, Josiah Bartlett, and George Clinton. Others were believed to be Masons. A painting of George Washington laying the cornerstone for the capitol building shows him wearing a Masonic apron.

While most of my skeptical friends will be aware of the Christian Nationalist or Dominionist story that is sometimes passed off as the history of the founding of the United States, a quick search on the internet will reveal that conspiracy theories linking Freemasonry to the founding of the U.S. abound. (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4) Of course skeptics, ie. those of us who don’t believe in the supernatural, will find their sleep little disturbed by the possibility that some form of occultism lies at the foundation of the Unites States since we don’t believe that such occult rituals would have any tangible effect. Furthermore, exactly what sort of occult beliefs, if any, Freemasons maintain is in itself debatable.

French Freemasonry differs from Freemasonry in the U.S. and U.K. in several important respects. In France, both women and atheists are permitted to be Freemasons. In the U.S., a man can be of any religion, but he cannot be an atheist or an agnostic.

Sorry, folks, about the anti-climax.

It was such a lovely evening tonight, I decided to just walk around a bit. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure where to go, but then I remembered seeing Michael’s eTravelog. He’s traveling around Europe and he takes some great pictures. In a post about Paris, he had some photos of the Louvre at night, so I thought I might head over there. Do check out Michael’s blog.

After last week’s post, I’m sure you knew this was coming….

It was late afternoon, after school, and the boy who lived not quite next door was sitting at our dining room table talking to my mother.

“So my mother says,” he tells her, “‘They only bother you because they’re jealous of you.’

“‘Right,’ I say to her. Just what every kid wants, to get beaten up on the way home from school everyday. I mean, what on earth would they have to be jealous of?’

“‘They’re jealous because they wish they were as smart as you.’

“Really. How out of touch with a teenager’s reality can an adult be. Sure, I get good grades, but I have no real friends and not even the prospect of a girlfriend.”

At that point I was wondering how I could subtly drop the hint that I had a crush on him. He was cute in an awkward, smart kid, sort of way. I’m not sure what I said. I know I said something, but he didn’t seem to get the hint.

I can’t trace the rest of the conversation, but next thing I know, the boy next door and I were hatching a plan. There was a footpath that went through a tunnel that allowed kids in the neighborhood to get to school without crossing a street. Somehow, the idea of, let’s say, decorating the walls of the tunnel was raised. Weirdly, it didn’t exactly enter my mind that it was graffiti. In my mind, I was an artist, not a vandal.

A couple of nights later, the boy next door, my sister and I met late at night. I had my box of oil paints and some spray paint and a series of large stencils I had cut. The boy next door had some permanent markers. We set out. Using the stencils and the spray paint, I painted a big image of a prowling panther. I looked over my shoulder and on the opposite wall the boy next door was hard at work. He wouldn’t let me see, but my sister went over and held the flashlight for him. After my panther was completed, I took out my oils. I painted a unicorn in a swirl of colors.

A figure appeared along the path. My sister turned off the flashlight and we blended into some nearby bushes.

“Hey, guys. Are you there?” My mother’s voice was unmistakable. “It was getting cold, so I brought you all some sweaters.”

Finally, I was able to see the boy’s work. He had drawn on the wall a large comic strip. It satirized some popular t.v. shows, then veered off into some sort of barely comprehensible delirium. “That boy next door has quite the imagination,” my mother would say later.

A year or two later, when they repainted the tunnel, they would carefully paint around my unicorn.

As the small number of you from New Jersey may recall, long-time New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg died a few months ago. There is a special election today.

Earlier this week, the people who brought you much of the birther madness have started spreading lies about Booker. Booker is far more centrist than my own political beliefs, but I hope he wipes the floor up with Lonegan for those lies. Oh, yeah, he likes my paintings. No, I’m not biased.

I went out with my laptop/tablet today hoping to do a little digital sketching. It was more or less impossible because of the glare on the screen.

A digital sketch of the cité

A digital sketch of the Cité Metro station,

Finally, I just got frustrated and whipped out the notebook I brought with me for writing. Not the choicest paper or pencil, but it was far easier than the tablet.

view_from_cafe

window

man_looking_at_phone

pont_neuf

fontaine_des_innocentes

It’s only 2013, so I don’t yet have anyone I’m supporting for the Democratic nomination, so, Hillary fans, don’t take this too seriously, but…

Now with the mess going on in Congress, people are saying that it’s all but inevitable that Chris Christie will be the Republican nominee. Now, consider that Cory Booker’s name is one of the names that comes up when discussing the Democratic nomination. Oh, the fucking joy! A Jersey/Jersey match up. The f-bombs will fly. The rest of the country will have no fucking clue what they’re saying. Debates will take about twenty minutes because people from New Jersey talk quickly.

Sigh. It’ll never happen.

After over four decades of being told that I’m not a “real” American, unlike those Southerners who fly the treason flag, or those salt of the earth heartlanders, or cowboys out west, I would love to see the rest of the country experience nine solid months of Jerseyana.

(Not to worry. This isn’t my real post. I’m going to go out sketching.)