6.21.13: Fête de la Musique (and Movies!)

Julie, Glen and Max have gone to Germany. Mom has gone to Galeries Lafayette. I’m going to the movies!

There are many famous cinemas in Paris and I book-end the day with movies at two of them: an early afternoon matinee of Michel Gondry’s latest  L’Ecume des jours at Studio 28 in Montmartre (known for the riot that broke out there after the 1930 premiere of Luis Buñuel’s controversial L’Age d’Or) and a late evening screening of the 1951 Julien Duvivier classique Sous Le Ciel de Paris at Cinéma Le Desperado in the Latin Quarter (home to the Paris art-house cinema scene since the late 1940s when Éric Rohmer started up a Cine-club and Gazette du cinéma in the company of François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Jacques Rivette.). The two make a rather nice swing-shift double bill: both are in French without subtitles, both feature an idealized version of Paris, both start out kind of bright and romantic and get increasingly dark, and in both the girl dies at the end! The cinemas themselves are also strangely similar: red decor, no ads and no trailers before the film, box office opens 1 minute prior to showtime, audiences comprised of a handful of elderly cinefiles who sit in absolute silence for the duration of the program and immediately file out afterwards, also in silence.

But out in the streets, there’s noise noise noise! June 21, the summer solstice, is also the date for all-night music par-tay Fete de la Musique, aka Weiner On The Shoe because somehow it’s inevitable that an errant saucisson will get stuck to the sole of a chaussure at some time during this event, causing you or someone you love to very nearly wipe out on a cobblestone street. But really it’s about the music: every genre, every style from Aimee Semple-style religious musicals in front of cathedrals to gaggles of young female year abroad types singing a cappella madrigals on street corners, to white dj boys with dreads playing reggae in front of wine bars, to Laotian hardcore rockers, to those kind of million-member mega groups (including an entire horn section) whose songs last 45 minutes each and consist of the phrase “Music makes me want to make music!” over and over again (in English with French accent) to Django Reinhardt wannabes to Doobie Brothers cover bands made up of old bald guys with funny hats. Don’t forget about the requisite “Who invited him?” dancer dude doing the skankin’ pickle in front of each and every act. There are also a lot of turntables, a lot of boas, a lot of booze, a lot of breaking glass, a lot of waving like you just don’t care, and a lot of men peeing/talking in the street holding their you-know-what in one hand and their cellphone in the other. It’s actually almost impossible to convey the experience in words but imagine a kind of Day of the Locust meets MTV’s Spring Break meets Sweatin’ To The Oldies meets The Warriors and you will have a pretty good idea of the Fête de la Musique vibe.

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Paolo Davanzo and Lisa Marr travel the world, sharing movies and music with the masses. At home in Los Angeles, they facilitate community screenings and workshops at the Echo Park Film Center, a non-profit media arts organization.

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