Cool Haunting: The Museum of Everything

If you haven’t yet been to The Museum of Everything, make sure you check it out before it moves on to the next city in February! This exhibition of art brut, aka outsider art, is housed in an old convent on the stuffy boulevard Raspail. You can’t possibly miss the museum because the signage stands out like a loopy smile in a phalanx of aloof, sand-colored buildings.

Part of what makes the show so affecting is the way it rambles from room to room, from Henry Darger to Guo Fengyi, up and down narrow steps from one floor to the next. It feels as though you are inside one of the artists’ minds, moving from wide spaces to shadowy corners, stumbling and feeling your way toward understanding. Even if the wall text weren’t there to explain each artist’s disability or troubled background, you would still feel their pain and the weight of their struggle in the art. The art is obsessive, sometimes beautiful, sometimes troubling. The Museum of Everything really made me question art -- how we define it, how we choose to validate then display it -- and made me wonder, too, about art’s therapeutic, prophylactic and redemptive power.

I was quite moved by the art, but also very grateful for the café and gift shop’s cheery respite!

Free Yoga in Paris

Over the weekend, I had a chance to check out a couple of Paris’ free yoga events: a Portes Ouvertes, and one of Lolë’s classes at Wanderlust Paris (held at Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design.) Thanks to the sustaining energy of La Rentrée, there are still a few opportunities left to explore new teachers, studios and styles of yoga, take advantage of “Back to School” class pass prices, as well as unroll your yoga mat in surprising environments. This coming weekend is a perfect example: there are not only three free classes sponsored by Lolë, but three separate open houses at Studio Keller (11e), Sivananda (10e), and Red Earth Centre (10e).
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Juilletiste or Aoûtien?

There are two kinds of people in France: Juilletistes and Aoûtiens. Juilletistes are people who take their big summer vacation in July (juillet,) and Aoûtiens are those who go away during August (août.) My friend Frédéric was the first person to ask me which party I belonged to, and when I couldn’t answer, he laughed. “You freelancers! You’re either always on vacation, or always at work… Centrist!”

Declaring your tribal affiliation is not as insignificant as it might at first seem, for Juilletistes and Aoûtiens have completely different values, and preconceptions about both groups run deep. Juilletistes are thought to be idlers because they take off when many of their colleagues are still at work, returning when offices are empty and expectations of productivity are low. (Juilletistes, naturally, think they are smarter for vacationing when everything is cheaper and less crowded.) Aoûtiens are considered unoriginal; they go on holiday when everyone else does, get stuck in traffic and then spend most of their vacation in a competitive land grab for a small parcel of beach. (Aoûtiens are quick to point out, however, that they are still tan when La Rentrée comes around.)

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La Fête de la Musique!

Bertrand Burgalat - Double Peine from Parfum de films on Vimeo.

Thursday is la Fête de la Musique, a celebration that occurs every year on the Summer solstice (21 June.) This year, the festival celebrates the birth of pop music fifty years ago when The Beatles released Love Me Do, forever changing the landscape of popular music. Every corner of Paris will positively hum during the Fête -- the streets, parks, squares, courtyards and palaces -- with amateur and professional musicians of all stripes bursting and singing their hearts out. It’s fun.

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Groovy French Musique

As you can imagine, it drives me crazy when people disparage French music. While I admit that there are some very triste chapters in the history of Francophone warbling -- ugh! hilarious! -- which country has not birthed questionable pop music, I ask you? Nations in glass houses should not throw stones. And anyway, as stated before, your Yums are very likely someone else's Yucks.

With that, here are some recent Gallic faves that have been making their way into my yoga playlists.

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Sans regret, sans mélo

Right now at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs there is a fabulous show called Goudemalion about Jean-Paul Goude, the mastermind behind so many indelible French images. From Grace Jones’ razor-sharp angles, to balletic and operatic advertising campaigns for Prada and Chanel, to costumes for the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, there is really nothing this singular designer hasn’t touched that hasn’t had striking visual and visceral impact.

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