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On Wednesday I went to the newly-opened contemporary art show at the Palais de Tokyo, which I have enjoyed in prior years. I really liked acquaalta and Patrick Neu on the ground floor but was left cold by the zany or tepid stuff downstairs.

Fashion week is getting underway and there was a gaggle of models posing outside the museum. I appreciated their diversity but most of them were more ugly-hot than gee-whizz cute.

Ugly-hot models outside the Palais de Tokyo.

Ugly-hot models outside the Palais de Tokyo.

The Patrick Neu show was surprising and thrilling. Most of his work is characterized by obsessive attention to fine detail.

Shirt made of bee wings, by Patrick Neu at Palais de Tokyo.

Shirt made of bee wings, by Patrick Neu at Palais de Tokyo.

Battle scene etched in soot on the inside of a wine glass, by Patrick Neu at Palais de Tokyo.

Battle scene etched in soot on the inside of a wine glass, by Patrick Neu at Palais de Tokyo.

Patrick Neu paints one iris every spring, at Palais de Tokyo.

Patrick Neu paints one iris every spring, at Palais de Tokyo.

« acquaalta » by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot is really an experience. It’s in an enormous darkened room with strange music. You first realize that there are huge pools on either side, then you notice sinister black boats, then you see people rowing the boats through the shadowy lake (though with just one oar the rower normally stands like a gondolier in Venice). Then you’re invited to take one out yourself! I felt like Charon rowing two Italian girls across the River Styx into Hades!

acquaalta by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at the Palais de Tokyo.

acquaalta by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at the Palais de Tokyo.

This video clip only evokes a tiny sliver of the rich experience: Video Clip of acquaalta.

I thought the rest of the show was dreck — a hot mess and/or boring. Here’s a video clip of one of the exhibits that I didn’t like:
KORAKRIT ARUNANONDCHAI at the Palais de Tokyo

Scary métro station or trendy contemporary art museum? You decide...

Scary métro station or trendy contemporary art museum? You decide…

On Thursday evening my cousin B.J. hosted a soirée at the apartment she was staying at for a few days in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The original idea had been for me to host the evening at my place but I got anxious about having a bunch of people I didn’t know in an apartment I had to return in perfect condition a few days later. I needn’t have worried, since it was an absolutely delightful group.

Cousin B.J. and fellow fêtards at her soirée in the 6ème.

Cousin B.J. and fellow fêtards at her soirée in the 6ème.

After the party broke up Zhizhong and I had a light meal and a weighty conversation at a nearby restaurant.

On Friday I got together with Martin, a French law student who I had first met in Cambridge just before my trip. We had lunch at Nanashi, an old favorite, after which he introduced me to Café A, a delightful garden café hidden in a former convent adjacent to the Gare de l’Est.

Martin and Bob at Café A.

Martin and Bob at Café A.

I then met Elliot for an apéro in the 12ème, which turned into peripatetic tapas and drinks at the Heures Heureuses restaurants in the quarter. Elliot had noticed a sign for the program but didn’t know about it. As usual, the offerings varied in quality but by the end of the early evening we had had enough to eat and definitely enough to drink.

Bob and Elliot with frou-frou tapas and cocktail at Maguey in the 12ème.

Bob and Elliot with frou-frou tapas and cocktails at Maguey in the 12ème.

After dinner I went home and lay down for a disco nap that turned into a good night’s sleep.