Trying not to read too much into all this looking down.
Like everything else in the recent past, even the dregs of Snowpocalypse 2k17 seem impossibly remote.
So to start, here are some things I forgot to add from Albi. First, and most importantly, here I am flipping off Paul Gaugin’s works and, by extension, the “artist” himself.
Here’s a shot across the river there.
Here is a cool glass structure placed inexplicably atop an otherwise normal building.
On Friday we went award-winning winery Domaine Merchien. I took a picture of their wall of awards, but it came out fuzzy. Instead, here is the winery’s namesake leaning against my mother because it was 100 degrees out and, as you can see, he’s not really made for warm weather.
As part of our visit to the winery, the proprieters booked us into L’Auberge du Mas d’Aspech. We got lost and showed up 45 minutes late, but it didn’t seem to be a big deal. The food was wonderful. I’d say the highlight was this quiche which, as you know, is one of those things at which the French leave the rest of the world far behind.
Here I am feeling a bit smug after a wonderful meal.
So somebody has written a book that appears to address all of my interests. I hope it is translated into English soon.
I have arrived in Quercy. The travel day was made a bit more difficult by one of our party being delayed out of SF, which
created a rather dramatic knock-on effect that resulted in my hanging around the Toulouse area for about 9 hours. Nevertheless,
things are now totally wonderful.
While they aren’t quite as dramatic as the ones in Amsterdam, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val does have canals.
In addition to the canals, Saint Antonin is along L’Aveyron, which you can watch wander along at this truly amazing riverside
Here is an aquatic cairn to memorialize people who have been pecked to death by ducks.
Also, the bar’s deck has this charming water feature.
We visited a charming abbey, and saw an interesting example of this medieval insulation technique.
The abbey’s interior courtyard was about as idyllic as the law allows.
This is the vault under which the monks made waffles.
These swans hissed at me, but made no move to attck. I guess swans have gotten the memo about my being a martial artist.
The famous “House of Wolves” in Caylus.
You probably haven’t heard of this portal.
Cool map of regional churches.
Before we begin: Today in things that sound like movie plots.
It has rained, at least briefly, every day that I’ve been here. It has made for some dramatic skies.
There’s still an hour of daylight to go, but it does seem as if today will break the streak.
Cool vestibule tiles.
Not as cool as a grill-boat, but nothing to sneeze at.
In general, the Dutch speak perfect English, this has not prevented them from getting in on the lucrative t-shirts-with-dumb-English-text-on-them market. On the other hand, I suppose that’s true of Americans as well.
No lie, I saw a guy wearing that exact shirt a block later.
Here’s the tree and sky behind the apartment.
So apparently the neighborhood in which I’m staying is the Williamsburg ca. 1999 of Amsterdam. Consequently, on Thursday I started my day at a place called The Breakfast Club. Afterward, I kind of made a loop up to Centraal Station, and then back around to the apartment.
Important life goals: a boat that you go to for grilling.
While not as salient to my life as a boat with a grill on it, I found this pretty wonderful.
Brutalism is best.
Meter box (I think.)
Houses with loading hoooks.
I’m still sleeping pretty poorly, and I woke up feeling pretty groggy on Friday. I decided it would be comforting to have some staples, which did end up feeling pretty reassuring. Now I can just sort of lounge around all day if I’m so inclined and won’t have to go out for a kebab at 11 or something horrible like that.
On Friday evening I went here, which is apparently the ground zero of the area’s gentrification process. Being Friday evening, it was completely packed. For a while the only available table was on the top of a garbage can. Afterwards, we went to the trendy bar associated with this restaurant, which was pretty good, although substantially understaffed. Ladies in Amsterdam seem more into animal prints than ladies in other cities.
Currently my most pressing problem is that I forgot to pack any nail clippers. Signing off to wipe the blood from writing this post off my keyboard.
I set out on Bloomsday.
Despite feeling pleased with myself in the last entry, I didn’t do such a great job of leaving things in good order. Certainly acceptable, I think, but not exactly tidy. I guess I can still get away with calling it progress. Also, packing was pretty smooth and despite waiting a disconcertingly long time for The Max , I made the airport in good time. I ate at the Country Cat there, which was genuinely nice.
I got the very, very, very last seat on the plane. I was trying to figure out how to go about feeling good about staying another day, and dreading going though the checking and security-theater process for more waiting. Luckily, someone on the standby list didn’t show, and my name was called. It felt good. Already had a little adventure by the time we were taxiing.
I was sort of hoping there would be a power outlet so I could play TIS-100, which I’ve been enjoying a good deal. Sadly, something about the Unity payer burns super-hot, even though the graphics are basically non-existent. It runs through the battery in less than two hours. This meant I had to just zone out and watch things. In particular, I watched Jupiter Ascending, which was indeed terrible, although fine for whiling away a plane ride.
Schipol was, by some distance, the best immigration experience I have ever had. I didn’t wait in line for even a single second at passport control. Things sort of fell apart on transit, though, as the ATM in the airport only dispensed 50s, and the station at which I changed for the tram was remote enough that I had to walk around for a bit to find a shop that would let me pay for just a coffee with one of them. If Europeans are so reticent about breaking bills, why the fuck do they print them at all?
The apartment is fantastic. It has a hippie feel, which is not, as you know, my aesthetic, but the quality of it is very alluring, and it’s very comfortable and airy. Going to be very happy to do some languishing here, and I imagine it’ll be a nice space in which to get through my Euro-workdays.
So travel seems to be about the only sufficient inducement to get me to put anything in here. Luckily, I am headed to Amsterdam on Tuesday, where I will continue to work for a bit while ensconced in a seemingly charming apartment that’s more or less right outside the heart of things. Obviously, being 6 hours ahead of the home office is a bit more awkward than being 3 hours behind it, but my plan is to wake up, do some museums or other sightseeing, and then work into the night, which sort of suits me anyways.
For reasons that I think are coupled tightly with the fact that I’m an excellent traveler, I am terrible at preparing to travel. I’ve gotten through a shocking amount of cleaning today, but there’s still a lot to do, and I haven’t done anything that even resembles packing. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, so it has been surprising to me that I’ve been able to plow through as much of the cleaning as I have. When I went out to DC, I definitely left things in a pretty sorry state. Progress, I guess.
So I turned 38 on Monday. That’s pretty grim, of course, but the fact is I’m in pretty good shape these days. I could have better habits, but I’m lean and do a remarkably good job of breathing, under the circumstances. What I have noticed is that my night-vision has started to suffer substantially of late. Because I live in a city, I don’t really notice this at night. Instead, I notice it when I enter a building or get on a bus with my sunglasses on. Stuff that I’ve gotten used to being really obvious has started to be difficult to ascertain under this very specific circumstance.
Made my semi-annual reading of “Some Motifs in Baudelaire” recently, and was compelled to wonder if I miss crowds. While in Paris over the summer, I noted that it was much more crowded than Portland, and at the time my feelings about that were pretty clear. A little quiet time with Walter, however, has made me wonder.
Portland is very nice, in its way, but I’ve never found it very compelling. I don’t want to go out and explore it very much. Obviously, it suits a lot of people. Perhaps the difference is that I’m the type who finds it refreshing to parry his own blows, as it were. It is certainly the case that I find it very comforting to go out into the world and not recognize anyone. I have often thought of myself as a bit agoraphobic, but perhaps the problem that keeps me indoors is more akin to paranoia.
So perhaps the solution is brunch at The Screen Door? The problem is that many crowded places have lousy crowds. Portlanders, accustomed to a certain amount of leeway, are lousy gatherers. I think it’s also worth nothing that while crowds were smooth in NY when I lived there in 98 and 99, but the time I went back for Draper, the sort of New York flow had been irreparably disrupted by the idea that New York was somewhere that everyone should go, rather than being a place for people whose temperament it suited.
In “Motifs” Benjamin frequently returns to how unlike the crowds of Paris are from the crowds of other cities. In the context of a discussion of Baudelaire, this takes the form of suggesting that at the time no other continental cities were as urbanized (and while London is discussed earlier, it doesn’t get compared at this point.) At any rate, while I did feel penned in over the summer, it is worth noting that Parisian crowds still know how to move quickly, efficiently, and safely (definitely feel more at risk from drivers here than I did there.)