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rue-madame's Diaryland Diary

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Vitriol from everywhere

So, I’m back after a holiday in the south.

Biarritz was a cute little seaside city, easy to navigate on foot with good weather, cheap coffee and lots, lots of old people. I had no idea that the Atlantic ocean could be so warm—I always assume that every ocean will be as glacial as the Pacific in Northern California. I ate lots of fish and gateaux basques and it definitely felt like a vacation.

Spain was odd and a little disappointing. I had been to the south before, to Andalucia, and the north by comparison is ugly, dark and bleak. Bilbao is dreary but the Guggenheim is amazing. Frank Gehry is a genius. The insides of that building are incredible spaces for contemporary art, there is so much natural light and a feeling of expansiveness... I have been in many museums in my lifetime and none has ever made me so enthusiastic about art. There was a perceptual art show, with mazes that had long lines but that were worth the wait (eventhough an American guy coming out of one muttered, “Don’t waste your time, folks.” Whatever, Philistine. Then there was a whole show of Nam June Paik’s work, including tons of video, film, music, installation, laser and neon art. There was a piece that was making its premiere and it was one of the coolest things ever: a gigantic, inverted megaphone-shaped tent, suspended from the ceiling and hovering 4 feet off the ground, with laser designs projected on the outside skin. You climbed underneath the tent, plopped yourself on your back, and just tripped out to the designs. Some were swirly lines that came from the top of the tent to the bottom, making you feel like you were falling into a vortex, some lines were just random geometry, some designs shot from one side of the tent to the other, you get the picture. That was definitely one of the highlights.

Back in Biarritz, I had dinner with a friend of my parents’, an older guy named Jean who is actually pretty nice. We totally disagreed on Frank Gehry, but I dropped the subject when I realized that there was no point arguing with someone who a) has already made up their mind, and b) doesn’t know a thing about contemporary architecture. Oh well, his loss. It’s like when my parents were in Paris and were still complaining about the pyramids at the Louvre... I hope I don’t ever get so stubborn and narrow-minded in my old age that I can’t appreciate something startling and new.

Anyway, I was really happy to return to Paris, to my bed and my routine. And I am also looking forward to pitching my dog-eared copy of Le Guide du Routard for the Basque region. I’ve decided the Guide du Routard is total crap, written by proletariat-leaning slack/backpackers and that is SO NOT how I wish to travel. Furthermore, the historical and cultural copy is snotty, brainier-than-thou Frenchity Frenchness that I find offensive after three sentences. And today I had lunch with Fred, and he agreed that the entire Routard series is crap so I feel vindicated. I’m going to send Sandra Gustafson a letter, requesting her to write a Great Eats + Sleeps for the Basque region. She is the only travel book author I trust.

On to world events: why does every tragic world occurrence have to be a branded event? Complete with catchy slogan? Even the New York Times has stooped to levels of jingoism I never thought I’d see. It’s totally freaking me out that this is the country I will be returning to in one week. Of course, I have a roundtrip ticket (cheaper than one way) so if I can’t take it, I’ll come right back to Paris. I’m sure once the US starts military maneuvers in Afghanistan, there will be some inspirational, easy-to-digest synonym for WAR.

New York Times: “A Nation Challenged,” and “Attack on America”

CNN: “America’s New War”

ABC News: “A Nation United,” and “America Attacked”

CBS News: “America Fights Back,” and “Terror Hits Home”

NBC News: “America on Alert”

BBC News: “Attack on America”

8:55 p.m. - 2001-09-25

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