“What about that woman you wanted to punch in the face?”
This is a question a friend asked me, facetiously, not long ago, in reference to an episode in which a woman made me so mad, I wanted to punch her in the face. Yes, even yogis have these feelings! This woman (who was dating a friend of mine) and I were standing on a New York City subway platform, and somehow the conversation turned to the subway. When she declared the NYC system to be the greatest in the world, my ears pricked up.
“New York City’s subway system may be good, but it’s not the best. Paris’ métro system trounces New York’s in terms of modernity, cleanliness, and efficiency. I’ve seen people texting and emailing on their mobiles while underground in a métro tunnel, and I’ve never seen that in New York. It’s so wired.”
Her response? “Well, that’s not surprising since Paris’ tunnels are not as deep as New York’s.”
(See why I wanted to punch her in the face?)
Back when I lived on rue Madame, my living room windows were directly across from those of a luthier (string instrument maker,) and I would spy on him throughout the day. I admired how clean his workroom was, how straight he stood when receiving clients. What I loved especially was how haunting the music sounded when he was building or repairing an instrument. He would work for a bit, play for a bit, work for a bit, and so on, until his work was complete. Those little snippets of music would drift into my apartment daily, and I would try to guess if the instrument it was coming from was a violin or a viola or a cello (I never figured it out.) Rue Madame, for some reason, was always filled with music. It was there, for example, that I once heard a beautiful song outside, only to run to the window to discover a man strumming a guitar and singing while riding his bicycle down the street. Amazing.
This summer has been hot and sticky and busy, and powering me through each day has been a Frenchified playlist. Some of these songs are new, some old, but for whatever reason, they’ve been the backbeat of my drive and effort over the last few months. Some of these have even made in onto a few of my yoga playlists!
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.
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.
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.