Saturday, March 24, 2007

MDA called from I-5 last night to laugh about seeing the waiter exchange in print. She claims she's going to post the observers' version of that same exchange. I didn't EVEN get into the 'oh I don't eat lamb' and 'the halibut is just flying out of here tonight' part.

I don't care what THEY are eating. What you think as you serve it all, see it all, and eat your choice is what I want to hear. And if I want to be sold, I'll go buy a TV. And if you will get real with me as I sort out the menu, quite likely when it comes tip time, you'll be looking at 3 bones, as The Chows like to say.


Having said all that, it makes me quite nervous to have my personal faves put in a prominent position. And the Paris/Rome contrast is a perfect case in point. I like to do different things in different cities. The fishing culture which was the origination of Paris is really, really interesting to me. I don't get too far from that river and watch it all day long on an ideal day. Commerce and pleasure co-exist splendidly on the Seine and I love to watch it. It's my pagan soul stirring but I feel those Parisii; their industry and ambition inspires and soothes me. The chugchugchug of the barges carrying tourists and cargo reassures me that we all can live together. We just have to think about it. And find beauty and purpose in each day.

The other part about Paris besides the Parisii that fascinates me is the Revolution. So I like to go to all these places to learn more about the Power of the People. That's my Marxist spirit that ebbs and flows as I wander the streets in search of evidence of the manifesto. Those Parisians, then as now, are quite in touch with their inner selves and their emotions do not lie deep. It's all right there, easy access. I love them. It doesn't help that I have read all the books and biographies and I know about them as I march their streets. I know what Victor Hugo's thoughts were. I love the French and the Parisians: then, now and then. That's past, present and future. French parents are raising delicious children, who hold hands with each other and their parents, and are decidedly non-vocal, but visually absorb every aspect of their radii. My ransom for a French child to dress up and walk to school!

Rome on the other hand, for me, is a completely different deal. I love Roman history, too. all right, all right, all right. Enough. I love all history. All ancients. All texts. Anything. I like it. I admit it. I should be boring 18 year olds in a university somewhere. I don't have a sweater, though. Or a pair of Birkenstocks. So I travel instead. And in Rome, I just love to literally roam around. The city truly is eternal, with Greek and Roman pagan temples and Catholics churches being one in the same thing. Huge cranes soar over the walls of Vaticano, 12 feet thick walls built in medieval times, putting the latest incarnation on the Vatican Museum. Which is spitting distance from Circus Maximus where many a Roman was martyred , well before Peter and his friends came to town. I belligerently stride the Jewish ghetto. Did you know that no Pope ever crossed the river into the Jewish Quarter until JP2? True. After all, it was the JEWS who murdered Christ! Never mind he himself was a Jew, our Lord was, and the last supper was a Seder. Just keep moving. I do, back and forth and in and around the Jewish Ghetto.

The Romans had a completely different relationship with their river, not at all wholesome, and the River Tiber holds nothing for me. I bet it's the only river in the world that I can stand on and say 'nothing. I got nothing'. In Rome, it's the architecture and the business of being Rome that really interests me. The rebuilding, the international outreach, the absence of celebration. It's quite different from other Roman cities and the Italians that are there are different, too. The men are still wear beautiful silk suits and have perfect hair cuts but they hurry about worried. They don't ride bikes. And they enjoy the pleasure of women much less than in Milano or Firenze or Napoli. And you see fewer professional Italian women in Rome than anywhere. You do see many, many grandparents enjoying each other's company, sometimes in the company of their grandchildren.

So, when my friends' children and cousins' co-workers want info on where to go and what to do, I can only think that they could find much better information from anyone anywhere, starting with the Barnes Noble travel section. From me they are going to get a decided slant in favor of a personal experience. If I knew particular people were much more interested in ancient history, I would completely recommend skipping Vaticano when in Rome, if it's the season. It is soooo crowded and Rome, The Eternal City, is chock full of antiquities. Vaticano is really special, but crowded, and you can't really see past that frenzy unless you are Catholic so why put yourself through this travel trauma when you could be strolling the piazzas, the Pantheon and the Forum?

So I know why I like any given place. It feeds my quirky set of curiosities, which are greedy. Whether the needs of those curiosities sate others' appetites is another question. And the thing publishing houses are built upon: what really appeals to most people?

The 'Kan EWA


The Fool said...

Wonderful, JBelle! This post has appeal on so many levels. So many people travel, and then seek the amenities of home, others see each city through the same lens (cuisine, architecture, art), and many are simply clueless. I find your adaptabilitiy of sensitivities which creates a new frame with each city quite refreshing.

"We just have to think about it. And find beauty and purpose in each day." (Nice true).

A bit of a Marxist, eh? (you're not supposed to say the *M*-word in America. Well, the map's never the teritory, but if push comes to shove we'll be standing in the same ranks. Birks and sweaters won't be a requirement).
I've never seen the Tiber, but your description made me smile. It would have to be distinctly lifeless for a river to have no effect on me. Terrific.

The imagery " suits...Napoli" was well wrought. To note the disitinction on their appreciation for women was a nice slant. Kudos.

And as for "most people"...well, most people need a teacher. Your appreciation is in a class of its own. It should be shared. Thanks for the travelogue from a bit different perspective. It's a nice view.

JBelle said...

I'm afraid you really are Foolish. thanks for the feedback, which is distinctly generous. :)

MarmiteToasty said...

Jebus ((JBelle)) I wish I could write like you........ you whisk me away to so many places........sigh..... oye maybe we could do the 'balloon' ride over Alaska lol....... do they ave em there? - we could fly over the penguin colonies :) and go polar bear spotting and if we crashed we could ave them hunkie mountain rescue blokies come save us LOL...... ok ok it was just a thought ;) xxxxxxx

Wondering said...

You echo my sentiments beautifully. I love to walk through a city, domestic or foreign, and just savor the moment. My imagination runs rampant in Europe, as I walk streets that are replete with history. I can hear the long gone voices and the echo of their footfalls. Sometimes this isn't a good memory. My first visit to Paris, the taxi driver told me to look right at the next intersection. And there was the breath taking Arc de Triomphe. With a sharp intake of breath I suddenly saw the WWII German Army marching through the Arc and down that glorious boulevard. But only for a moment. I didn't lose my head in the Place de Concorde...but someone did try to relieve me of my purse! The lights of Paris at night are unsurpassed. A city of light, history and poodles partaking of the pastry trolley.

JBelle said...

Melsie, They have balloons over Alaska, you bet! And we'll ride the balloon wherever you decide; it was your idea. Damned good one, too.

Wondering, you made a four point connection with me for the second time today. Everytime I stroll the Champs, and I could do it Eight Days a Week, I think about tanks and Nazi armies parading weekly. I think about the incredible city of Light being obliterated by Dark. No matter the temperature, I shudder and shiver and evitably, have to stop for chocolate. At these moments, I am sad and proud. Proud to be an American, proud to know that there was a time when we had determined courage and knew what the right thing to do was and just how to do it. It was real tyranny and real oppression and we stood firm and it took a long, long time. But we did it.

When I'm in Italy and I come across a completely renewed and renovated area of a city, or a complete village that doesn't mix with the medieval and renaissance towns around, I realize that I am looking at reconstruction after WWII. And that the entire area/city was leveled and that my country did it. I get the same sadness with a rueful aftertaste.

I have not read, to date, a really good book about Nazi occupation that really helps me understand such as Victor Hugo does or Antonia Fraser does. Thanks for your notes; I loved hearing from you. Know that you evoked several feelings and thoughts that I revisit periodically and, wait for it, Wonder about.

I'm honored and delighted you can help me with the dollhouse. I will see MDA soon and will find out how much she wants to be involved. This will be a very emotional project for me but probably, I'm guessing, will help me lay my mother to rest one and for all.

Wondering said...

I will look forward to helping with the doll house. How meaningful to be involved in something with family and emotional history. I think you will find it a happy experience full of looking back at your family and adding to the history. And when finished, it will be forever. If you like, when you are ready, give Dave your email and he will send it along to me.

Carla said...

Too funny about that restaurant bit. I have had so many similar experiences. And you are absolutely right about wanting to do different things in different cities.