Sunday, June 12, 2011

Culture Vulture

As my time here winds down, I've been trying to get out and about, to take advantage of the various cultural options Paris has to offer. One can't spend all one's spare time hunched over one's laptop, after all. This weekend the weather hasn't been great (overcast, relatively chilly, with occasional showers), so I picked some indoor activities.

Yesterday evening, for instance, I attended a piano recital in the church of Saint Ephrem, an old (18th century?) church just down the street from the Pantheon, in the 5th arrondissement. Naturally, I was hoping to bag a few photos of some new Space Invaders along the way, but had no luck at all in that department. Nary a one. Fortunately, the concert was pretty good - a young pianist, Arthur Ancelle, a graduate (Premier Prix) of the Paris Conservatory, who played a mixed program of works by Beethoven, Liszt, and Chopin. The Liszt was a bit too flashy for my taste, but the Beethoven sonata that he played ("The Tempest") is one of my favorites, and the Chopin was sublime, ideal for the small space.

Earlier this afternoon I attended a performance of Shakespeare fragments, sonnets, and songs, with music by Edward Dowland. It was called "Fous dans la Foret" (crazies in the forest) and played at the Maison de la Poesie, just a few blocks from here. I wish I could find something positive to say about the performance, let's see. Oh, right, it was mercifully short. We were in and out within an hour. The (mainly French) audience appeared to love it. I thought it was rubbish from start to finish, though there was a certain perverse pleasure, even a certain academic interest, to be derived from observing the different ways native French speakers butcher the English language. It's mainly a question of vowels. The "staging" was entirely bizarre - the most noteworthy aspect was the unrolling, halfway through the performance of an enormous canvas backdrop on which was painted what was evidently meant to be a stag, though it could have been any number of other animals, and was extremely cross-eyed. An entirely forgettable afternoon.

So, one hit and one miss. But this afternoon wasn't a total loss. Opposite the theater was one of the most bizarre shops I have ever come across.

What does the notice say? It's basically an exhortation to parents to come in and and have a lovely 3-dimensional souvenir made of their precious little brats. For instance, this:

Or this:

I don't know what you think of this, but I find it decidedly creepy.

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