Monday, November 30, 2009

How Bizarre

I saw a French woman vacuuming the sidewalk path outside of her house today. It couldn't fathom why one would feel the need to suck up the dirt from the outside, from where it should be. At times like that it's hard for me to tell if I'm missing out on some sort of cultural difference, or if she was just an odd duck. I suppose that there are bizarre members of all nationalities.

In fact, I'm sure I must seem pretty bizarre myself sometimes, by French standards at least. In a city of high-fashion skirts, tights, boots and blouses in grey-scale tones, I often feel like the lone slapstick technicolor character in a black and white movie. I also get looks when a really great song comes up on my iPod shuffle as I'm riding the Metro or speed-walking around town and I can't help but tap a foot, bob my head, or walk in time to the beat. This is much more than my dignified fellow commuters would deign to do, but it's pretty tame compared to what I would be doing if I were home and safe within the soundproof bubble of my car.

Speaking of iPods, it occurred to me today that mp3 players could be hurting the age-old Parisian entrepreneurship of metro accordion-playing. With more and more commuters plugged into their own tunes, I bet fewer of them appreciate, pay or even notice the "musicians". Having a pair of earbuds in eliminates the guilt of not contributing to the collection in the plastic cup when they are done with their one-stop serenade, and it even entitles some grosbourge (uppity folks) to deliver a "how dare you interrupt my music and then ask me to pay you" glare. Maybe this explains the growing trend of stringing up a curtain between two metro poles for a sock puppet show--if you want the pocket change, you've got to be innovative.

In keeping with the theme of weird Parisian things, here's a video of a French...well...I guess you'd call him a comedian. It demonstrates a strange sense of humor and does a good job of covering some familiar Parisian spaces:
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