Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Where Donna Summer goes to pray
Amynah and I have now been here for a year, meaning that we’re now experiencing things for the second time. For instance, each year the city sponsors a light show on the Cathedral, synchronized with classical music. It lasts about fifteen minutes and happens three times a night, every night, for the whole summer. Last year’s was all-Mozart, in honour of the 300th (I am not going to check that for accuracy) anniversary of his visit to this city.* Last year, before we had a lot of books or friends, it stood in as our t.v., playing plotless re-runs at top volume every night. This year it’s a mix of twangy modern stuff and bits of Beethoven’s Ninth.
They also have a nightly light show on the river – last year there were laser fountains and vomiting gargoyles. I regret not taking pictures, because this year there are strobe lights and bad French poetry. When my cousin Stephen was visiting we wandered the length of the island, looking for something even marginally entertaining, only to be accosted by a city volunteer who asked us what we thought. Being Canadian, I told her I thought it was great, and that we don’t have things like this in North America, when really I should have told her that I’ve had more entertainment with a flashlight and shadow puppets.
Before the crowds. View from our window
This weekend was the Braderie, which I understand is a French tradition. Effectively, it is a giant yard sale for retailers desperate to get rid of their summer stock, not to mention itinerant merchants hawking cheap sunglasses and skanky lingerie.** It makes the St Laurent street sale in Montreal look like a kid's lemonade stand. In any case, good deals are possible, if you can get to them. The entire island turned into a giant outdoor mall, and people from all over Alsace and the nearby bits of Germany packed into the streets, wandering like stunned cattle while being hectored by mega-phone wielding mop salesmen.
I ended up getting myself some new shoes, which I purchased and continue to love despite the fact they pinch my toes and will make to me walk like C3PO.
Your feet want to be my feet, admit it
* He stayed in a building down our street known today as La Mauresse or, in English “The Black Lady” named after one of the owner's more exotic servants in the 1500s. Strasbourg wasn't exactly the most cosmopolitan place back then: "Hey, you guys remember that black lady who used to work in the house where that Austrian fiddle player stayed? She sure was black, weren't she? Let's name the place after her!"
** Nothing against skanky lingerie, but who the heck buys from a sidewalk vendor in front of hundreds of bargain-hunting French grannies?