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in⋅vo⋅ca⋅tion: (n) the magic formula used to conjure up a spirit; incantation.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

la rentrée in the city of dimming lights

Technical note: I changed the layout of this blog. I am aware that it looks messy and that the header I put at the top isn't large enough and it just looks a bit awkward. The reason why I changed the previous really minimalistic and clean layout was because it only took maybe 20% of the display, with info about me and followers taking the other 20% and leaving 60% of the page blank. It was starting to make things look weird and driving me insane. It makes it impossible for pictures to be embedded in the text and for you to post actually long things. Enough about this. On the picture, it is Louise Brooks, an American silent film actress who actually pioneered the bob haircut. She was in a Pabst film I really liked, Pandora's Box (1929).

In other news, this week was awful. School has officially started again. Last semester I had classes in the afternoon and for some reason, I decided to give more 8 AM classes a try. Bad idea. Try listening to a philosophical conversation on what is sacred at 8:10 AM. I also got a pretty bad cold/flu that has developed into a nasty cough, as usual, so actually, try listening to a philosophical conversation of any kind at 8 AM with sinus pressure exploding, a headache, a runny nose, etc. Impossible.

I'm also working a couple of hours a week. I really hope I can actually handle working and studying full time. I wish there was a bus I could take directly from St Germain des Pres (where Sciences Po is) to Censier Daubenton, where I work.

Thursday night, we had drinks at Nastasja's. When I say drinks, I really just mean cheap wine. The night ended with a stop by St Michel to get some greasy food. You can get these huge cones of fries for 2 euros. It's horribly unhealthy and probably the worst thing you could eat, but I was really in the mood and hey, the product has a really good price to value ratio. On Friday night, I went out for drinks with KMH and her friend at Frog and the Rosbif, an apparently extremely popular pub by Etienne Marcel. I accompanied them to sushi and learned that my favorite sushi dish, salmon on top of rice, is called Chirashi. Then I was off to Pause Café in the Bastille-Charonne area. We got carded there. We got carded for the first time since I've been in Paris. I didn't even remember what it felt like. Nastasja and I were in utter shock. It was a really awkward moment for us. Do we look 16,17? When we reached in for our IDs - which I'm pretty sure I wasn't even carrying with me - the waiter was like "no, it's fine, if you have it, it's good." Excuse me? As in, excusez-moi?!?! After that, we headed to Le Motel to celebrate a friend's birthday which was really fun but it closed at like 1:40 am.

BlackBook (the french equivalent of Time Out) describes Le Motel as,
"at the moment the indie place to be in Paris. Packed nightly with super-cute, razor cut, local hoodie hipsters who come to hear their DJ friends and the occasional live band. But by the time you read this, the scene may have migrated somewhere, leaving you and a bunch of other confused Americans in its wake. Or maybe not..."

On whether it is a hipster hotspot, I guess it is? But the place is pretty gross-looking. It's very grunge-y, I guess, which is fine. The music is great though. I stole this picture from their myspace.

N & I felt really adventurous and economical so we waited for the night bus. It took like 15 minutes to come, but it was only a 10 minute ride to Chatelet. Chatelet is kind of like the center of public transport. Most lines pass by that metro station and it's known by its hoodness. You wouldn't want to be there by yourself at 12 AM. It's not too safe. We had a very surreal experience on the bus. This couple got on at one stop, then this guy who seemed to be a hobo. All of a sudden, they burst into song and dance. The woman produces a flute out of nowhere and she starts playing a song. I didn't know the song and I'm pretty sure they were all singing in arabic, including the hobo who started dancing. He was so drunk, I don't know how he managed to keep on going. Next thing you know, the whole back of the bus, including us, was clapping and chanting along. All of this at around 2:30 AM. I took a really dark and blurry picture of it with my blackberry.

You can see a blurry hand on the left, that's the hobo's hand. I'll call him sir, because I feel bad what if he's not a hobo? Right at the center is the woman with the flute. On the side, some guy who I think was playing some sort of makeshift musical instrument? So surreal and random. One of those paris memories I'll cherish.

The night ended with a dash through the rain up to Nastasja's where I decided to stay because I was too far from home.

Saturday was for grocery shopping and an attempt at cleaning and lots of America's Next Top Model. Saturday night got started a bit late, included drinks at N's with KHM and her friend, a brief cameo by Dave and his friend, and a night out on the Oberkampf/Parmentier area. We had all been wanting to go to this club/bar called Alimentation générale. We got there at around 1 am - late - and there was a huge line outside. We were told we would have to wait 30 minutes. We tried, UFO, another bar, and we were told we couldn't go in anymore. We tried Le P'tit Garage, we got in, got a table for four, and stood up to order drinks. We stood in line waiting to get some wine for almost 10 minutes and right when we make it up front, the bartender, who had previously winked at me, just screamed that "C'EST FINI" and turned off the music. Frustration. We walked to L'Orange Mécanique (which is A Clockwork Orange, a place that's nowhere as cool as the movie or as the Molokko bar that you'd think they'd try to imitate but they're not as inventive - take a look at the pictures comparison) and it was closed. We continued onto the next street, went into a random bar: closed. Walked into another place and it was still open. We got some wine, thought about the implications of ordering mojitos but ended up not doing so, and the bar was closed 2 minutes after.


The night was over at 2 AM. A Paris night out was done at 2 AM. What is wrong with this city? If you don't go to a club, you have to assume you'll be going home at 2 AM. The worst part is that the metro closes around 1:30 AM on weekends. You can take a night bus, but you'll probably have to wait up to an hour at 3 AM for it to pick you up - that is if you find one around you that will take you around where you live. You can also take a cab, but after the metro closes, all of them are taken. Your best bet is to call one, and pay extra because you're asking them to pick you up.

There was an article about this on the NYTimes recently, "Revelers See a Dimming in a Capital's Nightlife" and it explains why the city dies early: "densely packed, mixed-zoned neighborhoods; a lack of late-night transportation (the last metro leaves at 2 a.m. on the weekends, 1 a.m. during the week); and an unwieldy tangle of rules and regulations on bars and nightclubs, applied with uncommon zeal by a “repressive” police force."

Another reason why a Paris night is done at 2 AM, "The police have lately, for instance, begun enforcing a long-overlooked law requiring establishments to hold a “night authorization” permit in order to stay open past 2 a.m., an annual license that club owners say is difficult to obtain."

Paris night out fail.

So, instead of dancing/drinking the night away, my friends and I ate the night away outside a popular crepe and panini spot on Rue St Maur, 11th arrondissement. I got a cheese + mushrooms crepe that was amazing. I also ravaged part of a nutella + banana crepe. I never get sweet crepes, but it was amazing.

“Paris, it’s not the City of Lights anymore,” Mr. Dechambre said. “It goes to sleep at 11.”


  1. A+, all the way through. I lol'ed the whole time. Paris will be our bitch next time we go out, mark my words.. THE HAIR WILL BE STR8.

  2. Yr hair had no bearing on the failure that was Saturday night. If anything, your hair ~au naturel~ allowed us to eat the night away lol.