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The Mailbox of Notre Dame- An American in Paris 3

August 17th, 2009 · 19 Comments

For those of you who are following my French adventure, and trying to learn from my mistakes, let me give you tip. France is far. If you don’t live in California, it’s probably not quite as far, but for me, it’s far. Like far enough that I completely left Friday and most of Saturday in the sky somewhere, and even after spending much of Sunday looking at statues and buying stinky cheese, the lying was only just getting started on Meet the Press and  ABC’s What Kind of Tree Do You Want to BE with George Stephanopoulos.

The back of Notre Dame, morning 8/17/09

The back of Notre Dame, morning 8/17/09

So, I walked around Notre Dame  Saturday evening, and there was a huge crowd there, and priests with flags and incense and whatnot because it was the Assumption, which I guess is a huge deal if you’re Catholic, but I’m not, so I’m not sure what it is. I assume it’s about Jesus and Mary, and for all I know, that’s how the holiday got it’s name…

“Pope Petey, we need another three day weekend in August, what should we do a holiday for?”

“Well, I assume about Mary or Jesus, like most of our other holidays.”

And Cardinal Mookie was all, “Hey, that’s a pretty good assumption.”

And the Pope was like: Dominus Omis Arabica Palmolive Cadabra (Which is Latin for: “Make it so, Number One.”) So there you go.

Anyway, there are a lot of  people at Notre Dame on holidays. Fucking ghost town Sunday morning, but Saturday night, it’s like Blow-Job Day at the ball park. (Which is to say, popular.) One of the books I’m reading, one on architecture, says the best time to look at Notre Dame is on Sunday, during mass, because no one is around. (Like the day after Blowjob Day at the ballpark, when fans realize that the baseball wasn’t really the best part of the day.)

But any other time, there’s a metric buttload of people outside of Notre Dame, milling around and looking at the stories on the walls, which were kind of the summer blockbusters of the Middle Ages, since most of the churchgoers were illiterate, so they could only enjoy James Patterson books, and even he was only writing three or four a year back then, and film hadn’t been invented yet.

Heres a Medieval Blockbuster Movie from the frieze at Notre Dame.

Here's a Medieval Blockbuster Movie from the frieze at Notre Dame.

Saint Matilde -- Patron Saint of People Who Dont Know Their Hat Size

Saint Matilde -- Patron Saint of People Who Don't Know Their Hat Size

So, I’m in Paris, living in an apartment that’s about a hundred yards from the Notre Dame, in the very same building as the hunchback. I’m not kidding. I haven’t heard him going up and down the steps, but here’s a picture of the mail boxes.

The Address of the Hunchback

The Address of the Hunchback

Uh huh. Uh huh.  That’s what I’m saying. And Esmeralda lives in a totally different apartment, so apparently that didn’t work out.

Esmerelda in New Digs after Kicking Quasi to the Curb

Esmerelda in New Digs after Kicking Quasi to the Curb

She got a little sanctuary and kicked a hunchback to the curb, so Quasimodo is back to riding the titillating tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells. (And if you haven’t seen Charles Lawton giving the dong to the ding to the dong, in the 1939 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, it’s worth your time.)

Having an awful time embedding the video. Just play and jump in about 7 minutes to watch Quasi get freaky with the bells, bells, bells.

So, anyway, I’m living in this apartment in this building that seems pretty old, although not as old as the Isle de Cite, where it’s located. This island in the middle of the Seine river is where the city of Paris began around 250 BC when some guys looked at the island and said, “This would be an awesome place from which to defend our stinky cheese.” Now it’s the center of the city as well as the geographic center of France. (There’s a plaque and everything). At one point the royal palaise where the King lived was on the island along with the Notre Dame, so it was the spiritual as well as the governmental center of France. Since then, the Kings have moved their palaces down the river bank, further and further away, as it occurred to them that being in the center of a giant city with no sewer system wasn’t as swell as they thought, (The Louvre was originally built as a royal residence) until finally, in 1692, King Louis VIII moved everything out to Versailles, ten miles west of the city.

But today, you can’t throw a stick in Paris withouthitting a palaise. Something you should know, if it’s called a palaise, it’s not necessarily a palace, and if it’s called a hotel, it’s probably not a hotel. Many of the giant houses that were built by the wealthy in the Marais (the Right bank of the Seine – I ‘splain later)are called “hotels” and while they are now museums or apartment buildings, they’re still called hotels.

Here’s a sign directing you to Hotel Dieu, or HOTEL OF GOD – go ahead, steal the towels, see that picture above, with the guys being led by demons? They stole the towels. Also, directions to the Place Parvis, which means, the park where your dog can get parvo virus. I’m pretty sure

Go ahead, make my deus, steal the towels...

Go ahead, make my deus, steal the towels...

This is a picture of the Hotel De Ville, or Hotel of the Town. It’s more or less, Paris City Hall, and you definitely can’t get a room here.

The Hotel Deville - Not a hotel at all.

The Hotel Deville - Not a hotel at all.

So this post is taking ridiculously long to finish, so I’ll save some stuff for next time,when we’ll explore crusty French bread, stinky cheese, a visit to the mannaquin store, and the secret smiles of rodents, but let me leave you with a statue which sits in the gardens outside the Louvre.

Venus Touching a Puppets Junk

Venus Touching a Puppet's Junk

Until next time, Adieu!

Tags: Travel · Uncategorized

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 susano // Aug 17, 2009 at 6:49 am

    Thanks for sharing your Paris experience!

  • 2 Mark A. Rayner // Aug 17, 2009 at 6:53 am

    I hate to be a historical picker of nits, but I’m pretty sure the stinky cheese was the first line of defense for the ancient Parisians. Of course, as the city grew, and they developed the Metro, other scents took precedence.

    Loved the post, especially the final cutline!

  • 3 Marayna Dickinson // Aug 17, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Congrats on finally arriving. Now keep your eyes open for a redhead sporting binoculars – that’s me.

    No, for real. Have a blast!

  • 4 Sara Leigh // Aug 17, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Excellent guide to Paris. I’m going to use your Paris blog as a reference when I finally get over there not as soon as I’d like, thanks to my new AC system.

    St. Matilde and Venus: LOL, fortunately wasn’t drinking anything.

  • 5 Hal Freeman // Aug 17, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I’m like really offended cause you’re like making fun of God and stuff and like that’s not supposed to be cool or anything but there’s some like really neat demons and gargoyles and Venus looks like somebody cut off her fingers for playing with the Puppet’s junk.

  • 6 Melanie // Aug 17, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I just started a new job at my university, which is great. What is probably not so great (well, to the people in the hallway, at least) is the raucous laughter coming out of my office every few days. We’re talking about a cackle reverberating off the cinder block walls (as much as sound can reverberate off cinder block, that is. It’s a nice office, though, even if there are no windows).

    I’d stop reading your blogs at work, but there’s something amusing about explaining, “I was laughing at a picture of Venus Touching a Puppet’s Junk.” I’m in a Humanities department, too. You’d think they would appreciate this stuff.

  • 7 Denise // Aug 17, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Only you… ‘Arabica & Palmolive’ ? LOL!
    Brilliant as usual Christopher! Keep writing, I’ll keep reading. 🙂

  • 8 Lindsay // Aug 17, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Haven’t made it to Paris yet, but it is definitely on my list, and your post just kicked it up a notch or two.

    Now I wanna see the ghost town version of Notre Dame, the naughty Venus and of course make an attempt to book a room in the Hotel that isn’t really a Hotel at all — (how stupid do they think American are…no wait…don’t answer that.)

    Also looking forward to being snubbed by grade school dropouts for the quality of my French, feeling inferior to every woman in Paris who will be both thinner and better dressed than I, and of course, pretending to like the bad wine and spoiled cheese they serve Americans just because they know we’re too intimidated come out and to say it’s bad or spoiled lest we appear unsophisticated.

    Waiting with baited breath for your next post on your Paris adventure!

  • 9 Glenn // Aug 17, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    You forgot to mention what a pleasant derriere Venus happens to have. Mui Bueno (oh, that’s not French, is it?). Ayway, great blog.
    Keep us abreast of your travels abroad, please (no puns intended).

  • 10 Joannajax // Aug 17, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    I lawled.

  • 11 Bill // Aug 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Go down to the Louvre, find the secret passage to the crypt under that inverted pyramid where they have hidden all the ancient goddesses, look inside Cache 22, and you will find the chocolate-covered cotton ball fondling Venus de Milo Minderbinder, who lost her arms to a wrestling crocodile known as The-Nile-Ate-Her before dying of a horrifying skin condition known as the Heartbreak of Osiris, and whose sister Isis was apparently a madame since she is reputed to have kept a house of Horus.

  • 12 Sue // Aug 17, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Don’t be scared of the puppet. He’s really armless. OK, well at least handless, which explains why Venus had to jump in and assist.

    As for the Blockbuster release, not due until Julie & Julia goes to DVD, you see the clear depiction of Julia Child (with wings) weighing the fate of the other french chefs and sending them back to cooking school cause they couldn’t properly de-bone a duck.

    The snake skin headband turned out to be a fashion disaster with lasted for centuries, darn fangs, until Britney’s snake skin boa righted the wrong.

  • 13 Sue // Aug 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing Paris and the arts with us. It takes a keen eye and great emotional depth to understand what the artist was saying. For instance : “Don’t be scared of the puppet. He’s really armless.” OK, well at least handless, which explains why Venus had to jump in and assist.

    As for the Blockbuster release, not due out until Julie & Julia goes to DVD, you see the clear depiction of Julia Child (with wings) weighing the de-boned ducks. Sadly the other french chefs had to be escorted back to cooking school. C’est la vie.

    The french designers snake skin headband turned out to be a fashion disaster which lasted for centuries, darn fangs, until Britney’s snake skin boa righted the wrong. I think her statue is located in front of Circus Maximus, or at least should be!

    Sadly, Quasimodo is still being held in the Bastille on mail tampering charges for breaking the lock of R. Le Buanec’s mail box. He still contends he was trying to recover a letter he wrote to Esmeralda in a fit of rage telling her he had humped better and was done ringing her bells. When he reconsidered his actions and wanted to take it back he picked the wrong lock. Cursed lazy eye!

    And I see the street signs have the same neckless, handless, footless man we have in America. Little known fact, he was sent over to us along with the Statue of Liberty. Don’t you think it’s funny that the men have no hands but the women do? Are all men puppets?

    Sacré bleu.


  • 14 Sue // Aug 17, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Edits and re-writes! Is a writers work ever done?!


  • 15 Adriana Rangel // Aug 18, 2009 at 4:45 am

    Not only enjoyed your post immensely, as usual, but got gobsmacked by the sheer display of wit in the comments.
    All together, it made me realize Americans (Northern ones minus Canadians, not Southern ones like cool Brazilians such as myself) could actually be very intelligent, which finally explains all the Nobel prizes, as well as your responsibility on the rising of technological contemporary civilization, and the almost absolute overpowering of the rest of the world, that is, until China decides to become the king of the playground.
    It all makes sense now – except for W. I’ll never make sense of him.
    Way to go folks! I’m finally proud to belong to the same continent as you.

  • 16 Amy // Aug 18, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Does it ever get tiring? Being so damn funny all the time?

    I hope not…thank you for being you, Christopher Moore

  • 17 chuck // Aug 19, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    It’s Louis XIV that moved to Versailles. It had to be the jet lag.

  • 18 Katrina // Aug 23, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Can’t wait to read the book that will be inspired by all the stinky cheese, patron saints of giant clothing, orgasmic bread, and voyeuristic statues. Rock on, Chris!

  • 19 A. // Aug 24, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Super funny! I LOVE your blog!

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