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Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Drawing through the ages

Paris-Update-Matisse-les-pommes
"Apples" (1944), by Henri Matisse. Eric Coatalem Gallery.

> Salon du Dessin: 39 galleries showing works on paper, from Old Masters to contemporary. Palais Brogniart, Paris, March 22-27.

Contemporary drawing fair
> Drawing Now: 73 galleries, Carreau du Temple, Paris, March 23-26.

More contemporary drawings
>Ddessin: 20 galleries. Atelier Richelieu, Paris, March 24-26.

Art and design fair
> PAD (Paris Art + Design),
67 galleries, Tuileries Garden, Paris, March 22-26.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, March 23-May 28.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Audrey Dana's Si j'Étais un Homme, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, Feb. 24.

Documentary film festival
> Cinéma du Réel showcases documentaries from around the world. Various venues, Paris, March 24-April 2.

Suburban blues
> The Banlieues Bleues festival brings major French and international jazz acts to the Paris suburbs. Various venues, through March 31.

Before and after ecological disaster
> The Chic Planète festival presents two types of films, those celebrating the bounty of the earth and science-fiction views of what will happen after an ecopalypse. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 13.

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Eavesdropping

Paris cafe

In a crowd, you're just one of the overheard.

Walking down Rue des Martyrs the other day I crossed paths with a young father and his three-or-so-year-old son. A police car was racing up the street in the opposite direction, siren ...

Paris cafe

In a crowd, you're just one of the overheard.

Walking down Rue des Martyrs the other day I crossed paths with a young father and his three-or-so-year-old son. A police car was racing up the street in the opposite direction, siren blaring and lights flashing. When I passed the guy, I heard him saying to the kid, in a patient pedagogical tone of voice, “No, it's not a taxidermist. It’s the police.”

I love absurd julienne slices of life like that. To put it another way, I am an incorrigible snoop. For me, one of the advantages of living in a big city is having lots of opportunities to eavesdrop on strangers.

Here's another of my favorites: I was standing at the bar in one of those alleged “Irish pubs” that Paris seems to have on every block when I overheard the following exchange (in English):

Young guy (to bartender): I'll have a Guinness please.

Guy next to him: Hi! Are you Irish?

Young guy: No, American.

Guy next to him (shouting): I should f--ing kill you!

He didnt.

I should also admit that my unsavory curiosity extends beyond the audible. During last summers heat wave I went to my favorite butcher's shop on Rue Lepic to get a chicken. Since this was France, where butchers keep poultry carcasses whole until purchased, the bird had to be beheaded and befeeted and begutted and so forth, which takes a while, and since I was also very thirsty I decided to do my waiting at the café across the street in the company of a glass of something cold.

Once inside I immediately noticed two things:

1) I was in the now-famous Café des 2 Moulins, as seen in the hit movie Amélie – which I realized not so much from recognizing it as from ruling out any other explanation for the high density of Japanese tourists and wall-sized Amélie posters.

2) A fair number of the other patrons were would-be writers from out of town.

How could I tell? They were young, seated alone in a famous café with a notebook and pencil in front of them, staring thoughtfully and distractedly into the distance. Its the look, also quite common around Saint Germain, that says, “Heres me: writer. In Paris!”

I happened to be sitting just behind a young woman in the sidewalk (smoking) section who looked to be about the right age for Creative Writing 102. Her table held a ruled tablet open to the first page with two and a half lines scribbled on it, a brimming full ashtray and three empty coffee cups. She was nursing her fourth and, to complete the tableau, wearing a beret.
Being me, I was aching to see what she had written. To my delight she got up to go to the WC, giving me a clear look at her novel in progress. Here
s what she had so far (quoted in its entirety and translated verbatim from the French):

The telephone rang in the big apartment. Michelle, groggy after yet another long night of lovemaking,...

I guess she was drinking decaf, because that was it. And she didnt make any more progress by the time I drank up, paid up and went back across the street to pick up my dinner, so I never did find out who was calling Michelle and why. I like to think it was a taxidermist, phoning to say, “I should f--ing kill you!” If she could write her way out of that opening, she'd have a future in fiction.

David Jaggard

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