Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Pompidou and a Broken Heart

So the French have this crazy law that prohibits shops from being open on Sunday.

And by crazy I mean I love this law.  I love that they observe the Sunday as a day of rest ideal.  I love that Sundays are meant for family and rest and relaxation and recreation.  I love that people slow down for the day, get outside, go to the park, or for a walk or out of town.

A typical scene - it's Sunday, the shops are closed and the family is out for a stroll
And by crazy I mean the laws are incredibly complex because not every shop is closed on Sunday, obviously museums and tourist attractions are still open and public transportation is still operating and a lot of restaurants are open and some shops will be open because there are exceptions to the law in certain metropolitan areas, like Paris.  And there are the 500 or so cities that are declared as tourist areas and so there are additional exceptions that allow shops to be open.

Another typical scene - A Sunday afternoon and the shops are jammed!
And by crazy I mean, what? are they nuts?  missing out on all that revenue?  Which leads me right back to my first point - I love this law.  Some things are more important than making a few extra dollars, and obviously the French have figured out how to survive just fine without being able to go to the hardware store or the supermarket (after 1:00 pm that is, in some cases where the store is open - which leads me right back to complex!).

And so you just never know.

Chris and Jeff wanted to do some shopping, or at least some window shopping in some of the very cool Parisian department stores - Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. And because you just never know, we headed over to the 2nd Arrondissement in the hopes that the department stores in a very touristy part of town would be open.  But alas they were not.  We were near the Opera and we heard music, so we followed our ears:

Voila!  A band was making music on a Sunday morning!
A rather goofy, raucous and perhaps a bit inebriated band was making music on a Sunday morning.
I've got my eye on you and I have a feeling we will meet again...
C&J in front of Opera Garnier - they aren't too disappointed the shops are closed.
So...what does the average tourist who had their heart set on shopping do instead?  They go to the Pompidou, of course!

That crazy, inside-out modern art museum!
Modern art must be BIG 'cause that's a BIG building.
And it helps if you're not afraid of heights or escalators
Not all of the utilities are on the outside of the building, but putting most of them outside frees up the inside space
Preparing for the ascent - this reminds me a lot of the Monsanto ride at Disneyland :)
Up and up and up and ...
What we didn't know is that there is an art installation IN the escalator tubes.  As you ascend the multiple levels, the tubes are filled with the sacred chants of the Gyuto Monks Tantric Choir.  My camera doesn't have video, so I found a wonderful example of what the art installation sounded like on youtube:

There were multiple ascending escalators with platforms linking them.  As you ascended, the view of Paris got better and better:

One of my favorite views - quintessential Parisian architecture and Sacre Coeur on Butte Montmartre in the background!
By now you might be wondering what the heartache part of this post is all about.  I can assure you it wasn't because Galleries Lafayette and Printemps were closed and I can also assure you it has nothing to do with the Pompidou or chanting monks.  It almost could be the latter, though.  Up to this point in our day there was absolutely nothing heartbreaking.  I was happily ascending the escalators and looking forward to an interesting experience at the Pompidou and madly photographing the lovely views from the chanting escalators.  And then this happened:

Wha...???  What on earth is that?  Huh.  Let me try another.
Why is there a dagger down the middle of my photo?  What IS that?
Everyone knows that if you turn your camera back to horizontal, that fixes everything, right?  Well I'll be.  It's still there.
At this point, I think I started hyperventilating and I may have been babbling or perhaps I was saying things I don't normally say and there was definitely a tightness in my chest and it was hard to swallow and my heart surely did break.  Because my camera broke.  Heavy sigh.  And even though there's a white dagger running right through it, I like the above photograph.  I think Jeff is wondering what's wrong with me!  Even though I had never seen it before, I was fairly certain this was a shutter problem and I spent the next 20 minutes trying different things, but it was definitely broken.

No amount of wishing would make it not so
Normally, a broken camera wouldn't be such a big deal because I have 3 of them.  But we went to Paris and then we went home and then we went back to Paris and in all that flying back and forth, we somehow decided that we needed only one camera body.  What were we thinking?  We ALWAYS have a spare for things such as this.  

The trauma lasted for only about 30 minutes and then I calmed down and got rational again.  Chris and Jeff said they would FedEx another body to me when they got home.  Problem solved.  In the meantime, Chris and Jeff kept putting their camera in my hands, so the Pompidou was duly recorded!  Yay.

First we saw an exhibit of interesting lights and such.  At first, I didn't quite appreciate the neon lights as spaghetti.  But then I noticed the reflections on the floor and my opinion changed.  It's kind of pretty.
The reflections totally made this one
I won't even pretend to understand or like this as art
nor this - I mean really, Post-Tits?  Gah.
This, however; was kind of cool.  There are 10 1/2 mes and we're all different!  This artist also designed the metro entrance at Palais Royale. 
I really like this photo - but I'm not entirely sure I took it.  I think I did, but if I didn't, kudos to whoever did.
Wandering around the Pompidou was interesting.  We all ended up sort of going our own way and doing our own thing.  I spent a lot of time in the photography exhibit and that got me to thinking...

What can I do with a broken camera?

Take photos where the dagger is right at home!  I love this - if you had bionic eyes you could see me and the entire room behind me in the silver sphere
Take photos with very slow shutter speeds!  Sometimes they come out really cool.
Sit down on a bench and use your knees as a tripod - who cares how slow the shutter is now????
Or all of the above!  White background, sit on a bench, knees as a tripod, super slow shutter speed, subject is still.  No worries, no problem.
After seeing what the Pompidou has to offer, I think another reasonable option is to not care and call it art.  The White Dagger series.  Coming soon to a gallery near you!
We headed home after our Pompidou visit and I have to say, if nothing else, the Pompidou gets you talking and thinking about art.  We talked about it all the way home even though I was still trying to figure out what to do with a broken camera!

The White Dagger Series - Chatelet


  1. Fabulous post -- what a day. I love the photograph of Jeff too, especially having presence of mind that it was Sunday and a day of rest. There's something heavenly about the shot. And the "post-tits" are hysterical -- my devilish side got a good laugh at that one. Take care!

  2. Thanks Kris! And although the idea of post-tits seems so junior high, I admit it got a groan-laugh out of me too!

  3. All the art in the pomp-ass do sucks, after visiting we went to the Ducati and Ferrari dealers and looked at some good modern art!