Read: Paris Journal

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“I can’t believe how beautiful this place is and I can’t believe how much it has changed,” a local friend said(In a good way). “Well, if I see another old church I’m going to throw up” I answered. “All this history has me down, and besides, I’m partial to Los Angeles.”. As the rest of the world rushed to see the highlights of Paris, or sword fight with selfie sticks through the history of the French Republic, I searched for almond milk. And let me say this, there is NOBODY on the planet who can murder this language like me on no sleep. I know exactly ONE line of French which magically is “The dog ate my cookies.” It’s a long story involving Morocco, a dog and well, my cookies.

Dropped off at seven in the morning with no ability to enter my rented apartment until two I began walking. It was sunrise. I looked up and there was Central Paris. Boom. I was a bit frantic thinking I had to make the all time image of Central Paris. I mean that’s what we do now right? “I’ve been here 30-seconds, where is my f%$%$#$ masterpiece?” The streets were deserted for all but a few who stood motionless allowing the rising sun to warm their whatever. I ducked and dodged using all my noncombat like poses which I’ve honed over years of practicing in the mirror. I was grimy from air travel and my stomach rumbled for something gluten free in a country who doubles down on all things gluten, lactose and all things FROMAGED beyond recognition.
Being here brought back massive memories. Ten years, almost to the day, since I walked these same streets. This time no frigid temps. Instead we get heat, almost. Muggy like a New York summer. Efficient, clean Metro. Tourists and school kids! SCHOOL KIDS. It’s November. How does this work? My school field trip experience was to our neighborhood bowling ally where locals ate 96-ounce pitchers of suds at 8AM, and to the local zoo which had a limping zebra I think. These Euro kids have it made.

Paris is a REAL city. Holy schnikies. You look right and two beautiful locals in scarves are just standing there being French and you want to BE THEM. You want to buy cigs and wine and a scarf and just loiter talking existentialism. Women wear no makeup, or maybe they do, but it does’t matter. Men smoke like a tire factory, but they don’t get all the disgusting shit the warnings are about. A cyclist trains on a stationary bike on a balcony six floors up and you KNOW he will win the Tour de France. Maybe today he will win. Or maybe tomorrow.
I close my eyes and have visions of the war. Which one? Doesn’t matter. That war. Of liberation, the downing of aggression with aggression and the good people winning. I know my place in the world here and that place is homeless. Not worthy. So I record. All of it. My shoes, dog turds, and then people stepping in that same dog turd four hours later as I realize I’ve been walking in circles looking for the perfect coffee bar to ask if they have almond milk. It happens. It happens here but all you say is “Oui.”

Comments 8

  1. One of the only blogs I read that feel truly personal. This feels like looking over somebodies shoulder whilst they are writing in their notepad. There feels like no agenda to this journals other than to get your thoughts down. Not sure what I am saying here, other than thank you for sharing these.

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      I think the size of my readership is evidence I have no agenda. Unless keeping it small is an agenda. Just like doing it. I do it everyday in my paper journal. Thanks for reading and for commenting. Hope you are having fun in school.

  2. Warning, disconnected thoughts follow.

    I woke up yesterday and read and enjoyed this post.
    I was in Paris around this time last year and the photos took me back.
    Good photos, ones I kick myself for missing or not seeing.
    I read Mick’s comments and thought how good they were. I thought that I should reply as well but then daily life kicked in and distracted me.
    So I tuned in again today and read Dan’s reply to Mick and I was left wondering where we/photography/art are today? It seems photos of pretty girls in bikinis are good, talking about gear is better but anything away from this mainstream disappears, unnoticed, into the ether.
    Keep it up Daniel, because if you go I’ll just be left with the gear porn.

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      We can’t have that. Focus on the organic stuff like light and timing and composition. The rest is lifeless.

  3. Hi Daniel
    chanced upon your blog via Flipboard/Kage Collective/Patrick Laroque.
    This post of your just had me floored, you hit the nail on the head, or the nail into the head as Paris can be both awesomely fascinatingly intoxicating and loathsomely rudely annoying, depending which way you look at it and especially (I gather from friends and sundry contacts) being an American in Paris (all caps due to the music piece and all the clichés).
    I am an Italian in Paris, less of a cultural shock but a shock nonetheless. Some days I love it (them), some days I hate it (them), I wish I had not missed dating French girls when I could (how come I ended up falling in love with my future and present wife in Paris, and she was from my hometown by chance?). I wear scarves too, but not the way French guys do. Being a French Guy is as complicated as hell, I won’t even try. Nor I probably really would care, as dating French ladies must be a hell of a job (apart from moving from date to bed, which would appear to be a short trip, the lore would hold).
    But I digress.
    Photography in Paris is, well, New York is the only other place on Earth I visited that makes life easier on a photographer. Tokyo perhaps as well, but I can’t say out of direct experience. Except in Tokyo you need not worry about dogshit as you shoot, unless of course your subject is dogshit itself, which in Tokyo must be more difficult to photograph than a unicorn.
    So there you go, I’m glad I found you and I hope you did end up finding some almond milk in some vegetarian joint in Paris, they do exist. Worse case you could have bought a carton at your local Naturalia bio store (sorry, organic, in LA-speak). Best almond milk in Paris is actually Italian.
    Hope you did not try pizza in Paris. For that, holler ahead when you are in Europe heading south next time, I’ll keep you company for a bit of street shooting there.
    Take care

    PS: you are doing good with this website, I must get my act together on this front, Flickr is nice but hey, not a serious expression tool.

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      I can’t eat bread or cheese so pizza isn’t on my radar. I love it but it’s not in the cards anymore. Talk to Coffee and Magic about a site. They will make it right and you will be all smiles. Photographically this city doesn’t even seem fair. Compared to LA or NYC, but yet here it is.

  4. Red light. Leaves. Remembers me of my own grainy 400 negs I shot when trying to capture this strange city of lights. After januari 2015 Paris has changed in my visual memory. Images of thousands and thousands gathered. Thoughts of this still make me shiver.
    A pencil. It’s all you need.

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