I See a Rhinocerus

Paris, Île-de-France, France
September 05, 2016

There is, as your savvy Parisian tourist will tell you, a rhino on the steps of the d’Orsay. Not the rhino –at least I don’t think it’s the rhino–to which Adrian Brody’s Salvador Dali refers in Midnight in Paris, when he says, “I see a rhinocéros”– I love that line. No, there is a statute of a rhinocéros.

I’ll come back to the rhino.

Yesterday was a challenging day. Despite all my careful planning, there were several unfortunate
developments that I should have anticipated.

In order of magnitude:

First, the wi fi . . .or as we say in Paris . . . “wee—fee”.. . is AWOL at the airbnb to which I moved yesterday morning. This requires that I walk three blocks, plant myself on the cold steps of the Musee d’Orsay, next to the rhino, and try to avert the DTs that come with no internet connection. Last night at about 10:30,  I hung with some pretty sketchy characters . . . yes there are sketchy types in this chic city.

Second, and speaking of sketchy, I have been told by Thierry at the bike shop, that under no circumstances, am I to leave my bike for even a moment.   Apparently, along with the pick pockets who,were Rick Steeves to be believed, would have every American tourist in Paris reaching inside his pants to access a money belt, the place is crawling with bike thieves. I unwittingly sent Thierry and his staff at the bike shop into spasms of thinly suppressed laughter when, quite proudly, I pulled from myhandy back pack, the cable lock I hauled all the way from California.

“Oh, non, non, non Raub. This is, how do you say, . . . . Child’s play.”


Child’s Play



I suppose I should have noticed, as I milled around the store waiting for my pedals to be installed, that there was not a single bike lock sold in the store. The only thing more locked up in this town than fine bikes is apparently my legendary Sherlock Holmes-like powers of observation.

Note to you neophyte Parisian travelers. If you look around Paris, on damn near every beautiful wrought iron fence . . . you know the kind   . . . black, pointy, imposing, but élégant . . . you will find the remnants of bike locks where a bike once was thought safe and secure.

Most Parisians have simply given up.

Let’s see. What else?

Oh, yeah. The airbnb to which I moved, while enjoying the singular advantage of only one flight of strait stairs, as compared to the six flights of circular stairs in my old haunt (try packing a bike up those), is about the size of a closet, and only slightly less ventilated. Pardon the toes in this shot, but I wanted to give some scale and, from the corner of my futon where I took the photo there was nowhere to put them that wasn’t in the field of view. ?

Spacieux, n’est pas

As you can see, I have a window. It looks out into an interior light shaft, maybe 8 by 8, which channels light not nearly as efficiently as it channels the sound of my neighbor’s TV. From what I can make out, over the rattling of my nifty desktop oscillating fan, his “phoot-ball” team is trailing, but not without his frequent and enthusiastic encouragement. I was able to make out “Quelle idiots”

I have to say, charming as they are, your circular Parisien stairway is an exercise in terror. First, they date back a few years and the leading edge of the treads are all rounded and polished so as to make slipping not a question of if, but when. This is not only true at the Arc de Triumph and Sainte-Chapelle, but at most of your airBNB’s. Second, should you have to schlep a bike up or down them, given that the length of the bike will only fit if carried on the outside of the stairwell, your feet are left to negotiate the inside of the double helix where no one, except a doofus schlepping a bike, would dare to step.


I Can Do This

Oh well, remember your Emerson, which I would, if I only had access to my Pinterest page on the internet. Something about, “the day is over;you have done what you could . . . “ Shit, I can’t remember the rest.

Think I’ll head over to the rhino.

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