samedi, septembre 13, 2008

Kebabs (yes, again) and Salmek/Selmek

Well, if it’s any indication of the sort of fun I was having last night, I woke up at 15h00 today. Hooray, weekends! You see, I am a morning person—I just like to go to sleep afterwards.

Anyway, I had place on a guestlist for the Daniel Bell / DBX night at Batofar, which was good until 1h00, but I also had a pile of work I needed to take care of, not least of all blogging for the past couple of days. I sat myself in front of my laptop, killed the internet connection, and got to work, churning out posts for Wednesday and Thursday before finally realizing that it was nearly dinnertime. Not wanting to break my flow by cooking dinner (and realizing that I had no food in the apartment to cook with), I headed out for some food to-go. I discovered last week that the street just next to me, rue St. Denis, has a number of grocers and bakers and so on that stay open on Sundays, so off I went to see if I could get me a kebab.

I sauntered into a restaurant/sandwich shop across the way and ordered my sandwich in Turkish from the surprisingly cute guy working there. As he began to cut the meat for my sandwich, he asked me a question that I couldn’t understand. When I said that I didn’t follow him, he switched into French and asked, “Do you know Salmek?” (I think that’s the right spelling.) The French verb “connaître” means “to be acquainted with” and can refer to, people, places or things, so I wasn’t sure if he was talking about a particular person or a kind of food or a bar or his pet dog. I shrugged, and he started singing a song in Turkish that had “salmek” as the refrain. He looked at me as he carved meat off of the Magic Mediterranean Meat Stick (I really wish he would keep his eye on that blade and his hands) with an expectant expression on his face, as if I would soon recognize the song and enter into his intimate sphere of allusion and citation.

No dice. I shrugged and smiled sheepishly while he finished my kebab, and then off I went. He was cute, about my age, very friendly (especially for a kebab-stand-guy) and kept on addressing me in the familiar, so I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t decipher what he was trying to say with his reference to Selmek. Hm.

I went straight home and started looking up the word online, but I couldn’t find anything in any of the Turkish dictionaries that I could find. What I did find, was a “teach yourself Turkish!” webpage with a hilarious sample dialog (no, really, click on this and read it) and a Paris-based blog that considers itself the “Guide of Kebabs.” He also reviews junk food and fast food, but if you click on this link, you can see his blog filtered for just kebab joints. His reviews are based on a 5-point scale of Appearance In-Hand, Meat, Fries, Taste and Stuffing (in the sense of portion-size and how long you stay full after eating it). Oh, and he rates the kebab joints with his oignons d’or (golden onions), from 1 to 5. I considered checking out the places that he’s checked out, but a quick scan of his blog posts revealed that we have different ideals for a good kebab: he wants something super-greasy and messy—like a sloppy joe—with fries stuffed on top, while I want something fresh, stuffed with crisp vegetables and no fries, thank you.

Anyway, that was about all the excitement for today. I went back to writing up my blog post for last night, read a bunch of stuff online (including parts of the transcript for the hilarious / depressing interview between Sarah Palin and Charlie Gibson) and then got to bed around 6h00.

vendredi, septembre 12, 2008

Poitiers and Happy People Only

Goodness gracious! This has been a long, 24-hour day. I started at 6h00 this morning, and I ended around 7h00 the next morning, so there ya go. It was also pretty exhausting, seeing as I spent 12 hours of the day walking around Poitiers and the last 6 hours of the night dancing like crazy.

So, to begin with: Poitiers. The UofC students currently at the Centre were going on a day-trip to Poitiers and the Centre offered to let me tag along. Unlike previous trips I had done in the past, I wasn’t actually responsible for shepherding the kids around town and keeping them in line, so all I had to do was show up. Of course, my instincts eventually kicked in and I found myself helping the other responsables count heads and collect stragglers, but it was nonetheless a lot less stressful when I wasn’t responsible for them.

The city of Poitiers, located in a hilly ridge that connects the Paris Basin from the Aquitaine Basin, covers a large promontory that is surrounded on three sides by the river Clain. The old city covers the hillsides as well as the wide plateau at the top of the hill, where all of the main city buildings are located (city hall, prefecture hall, dozens of churches and the diocese cathedral, etc.).

Anyway, although this wasn’t technically “work,” this involves folks from work, so I’m not blogging about it in any detail. The only highlight I would want to point out is that Michel Foucault’s childhood house is located in Poitiers, and the house has been converted into a the Bureau for the Protection of Young People or something like like that. One of the teachers in the group suggested bringing a copy of Foucault’s Discipline and punish and getting your picture taken between the plaque that says “Foucault lived here” and the plaque that declares the house’s current political uses. Deliciously ironic.

Anyway, the day at Poitiers was fun and not too far (1:45 by TGV), but it involved a LOT of walking around the city. By the time I got back to Paris at 19h00, I was loathe to plunge into the métro to make the trek from Gare Montparnasse to my place.

I considered taking a nap before going out tonight (since I had failed to get some decent sleep on the train), but by the time I had gotten home and done a couple loads of laundry, it was already getting late. So I fired up my recently-acquired MacOSX port of Diablo II and killed a couple of hours before going out.

Happy People Only @ La Scène Bastille

0h00-1h30: Roman Noriega

I was on the guestlist (yay! Thanks, Fantô), but I wasn’t sure if there was a time-limit on the guestlist, so I headed down rather early.

However, I’m really glad that I did, as Roman Noriega’s set was really good. He was in the unenviable position of spinning the warm-up set, which means that—by convention, at least—he’s not supposed to show up the headliners or exhaust the crowd with an overly-intense set. He nonetheless managed to strike a good balance, mixing in really good minimal techno and house tracks. I think why it worked as well as it did was that his track-selection was as on-point as any headliner set, but at the same time he avoided extremes of intensity in his mix. There were still moments of tension, anticipation, climax and arrival, but they were scaled back to maintain the right ambience.

Although this wasn’t my first night of partying after my return to Paris, this nonetheless felt like the homecoming / family reunion party. Upon arriving in the club, I found my old party buddy Nathan H, who was to spin tonight. After some hugs (one of the few French people I know that gives hugs), some catching-up and some introductions to new friends, I was off to continue my round of the room. As the hour approached closer to 2h00 and the room filled up, I continued to run into people I hadn’t seen in more than a year. I’ll admit that it does the ego good to return to a place and discover that you weren’t, indeed, forgettable.

1h30-3h00: Nathan H (and GuiGui)

From what I could gather, Nathan is planning to form a duo with his friend Guillaume, so tonight he invited him (a.k.a. GuiGui) onto the stage with him. The two performed a set on what appeared to be a Traktor or Serato setup, although I didn’t see them working with vinyl, so I’m guessing it was Traktor.

The set started off quite well, showing that Nathan’s mixing technique and general polish had continued to improve since the last time I had seen him. The overall sound of the set was louder, heavier and faster than what I usually prefer to hear, which was not entirely surprising; as I recall from when Nathan H and Fantômette were performing together as Be My Chose, Nathan was always the “electroclash” to Fantômette’s “minimal.” At one point, I turned to a friend and remarked that this set would’ve benefited from a slower tempo to open up the tracks and let them swing a bit more.

As the track selected drifted into vocoder-vocals-and-synthesizer territory, I sort of fell out of the set. Don’t get me wrong, I have a special place in my heart for anything that sounds like digital artifice or technology, but these particular elements combined with the fast and very heavy beats pushed things into Trance territory, which is just not my cup of tea. Overall, great technique but the selection wasn’t consistently to my liking.

Watching Nathan and GuiGui work on stage, though, reminded me of something that I’ve always really appreciated in Nathan. He is definitely a kiffeur (taken from the Moroccan Arabic word, kif, for pleasure and the regional variety of marijuana), that is, he’s generally a very cheerful and outgoing that places an importance on enjoyment and fun. And so whenever I see him play out at a club, I’m always impressed with his ability to broadcast that energy to his audience. He is always very clearly having a good time, dancing on stage as he’s putting on tracks, interacting with his fellows on stage or those dancing nearby, and otherwise making it clear that he really loves his work. To the extent that DJs are performers, it always helps to give a good visual performance to go with the aural performance. Check out the picture and the following videos, which give a bit of an idea of what I'm talking about; Nathan is the one in the red t-shirt.

During this set, I got to know a young DJ who I had seen spinning more than a year ago, during my last stay in Paris. In my review of that night, I had apparently written a critique of his set, which he later found online, read and found to be “mean;” he used the English word here instead of the French one, so I think he meant something more like “stern” or “exacting” or “cutting.” I went back recently to read the blog post in question, and it wasn’t diplomatically worded and a balanced mixture of positive and negative things. Anyway, he said that he had been dégouté (literally “disgusted,” but also like a more intense version of “bummed out”), but later came to realize that the aspects of his set that I had taken issue with were precisely what he needed to work on.

I felt a bit awkward at this moment, not despite but because of his eventual agreement with my critique. When someone says to you, “You said something about me that hurts, but I’ve come to realize that you’re right,” you can’t exactly answer with “Great!” And “Thank you!” risks sounding like, “I told you so!” I eventually went with something closer to a French version of, “I appreciate you telling me that, and I’m really impressed with your ability to take critique without taking it personally.”

Actually, if I can generalize about French people (just watch me), it’s that they make disagreement and critique much less dramatic. Certainly, French people can have loud and memorable fights about things and say awful things to each other, but there’s an everyday tolerance for disagreement and distaste that you don’t find in North America. If a friend gets a new haircut and asks me what I think, I can say, “Meh, I don’t really like it,” without that turning into a friendship-ending crisis.

3h00-4h30: Eric Labbé

Apparently, this guy runs a record shop in town and hasn’t really emerged as a DJ quite yet, but Fantômette had told me that his track-selection was really excellent. In my opinion, she was certainly right; although there were a couple of really rough mixes in his set (mostly beatmatching problems, which tend to plague DJs at this venue), the tracks he laid down were consistently great. I might still complain, nonetheless, that he didn’t quite have a sense of pacing for the whole of the set; the tracks were all great, but I didn’t get a feeling that they were moving in some direction or becoming (in the Deleuzian sense of the term). The next thing for him to work on, I think, is creating some well-defined contours in his set.

4h30-6h00: Fantômette

After spending a summer partying with her, I’m probably a bit biased and our musical tastes have probably come into alignment. Nonetheless, I declare Fantô’s set the best of the night. Her mixing technique was pretty much rock-solid and smooth; she didn’t engage in any particularly complex or virtuosic manipulations, but neither were there any audible problems. Her track-selection was very much informed by our summer in Berlin, and definitely in line with my current tastes in minimal house / techno. The sound was firm and loud, but also fine-grained, crackling and delicate at the same time. It was very much the sort of stuff that I had really enjoyed at events in Berlin.

At some point around 5h30 or so, some guy comes up to me on the dancefloor and asks me a question. He was clearly drunk and possibly also high, so his speech was practically incomprehensible. After asking him to repeat himself a couple of times, I picked out the word “salle fumeur” (smoking room) and pointed him in the right direction. But he kept talking to me, and I honestly had no fucking clue what he was going on about.

To add to the confusion, he was being really, really tactile. As he talked to me, he pressed his cheek right against mine and spoke so close to my ears that I could feel his lips brush against my ears. His hands were alternately on my shoulder and on the small of my back, and when I put my arm around his shoulder to lean in and tell him my name (which he asked for at least three times), he slid his arm right around my midsection. As those of you who’ve read this blog for a while know, this kind of body contact in a French context usually means, “And later, we have sex.” But this guy was also pretty drunk, so this left me pretty confused as to his actual intentions.

I honestly didn’t understand 90% of what he was saying, and he kept on expecting me to answer him, so I only got so far with neutral affirmations before he realized that I wasn’t getting it and moved on to the smoking area. I swear that one of the things he said to me was that there were too many ladies in the house tonight, which made the possibility that this was a sloppy sexual advance all the more likely. Either way, he gamboled his way over to the smoke pit and I kept on dancing.

The music ended around 5h45 and things started wrapping up. There were a few of us who were waiting for Fantômette, but since she is one of the primary organizers of the Happy People Only series, we knew that it would take a while for her to pack up and say goodbye to everyone. So we headed outside and watched all the party casualties spill out of the club, stand around dazed, and smoke. Once Fantô got outside, she still had to play the hostess and say goodbye to everyone. Eventually, one of the girls in our group pretty much forcibly tore her from a conversation and we finally headed out. I think the plan was to hang out at Fantô’s place for a little while longer, but I was beat from more than 24 hours of being awake and upright, so I headed home and got me some sleep.

Oddly enough, in the most intensely Turkish area of the city, I couldn’t find a kebab place that was open.

jeudi, septembre 11, 2008

Dinner at Le Clos Bourguignon

After a relatively quiet day at work and a quick stopover at home, I headed out to meet a friend that I had been partying with back in Chicago last year, who was passing through town today. She used to live in Paris (that’s how I met her), so dinner involved a bunch of her other friends, who were all really lovely folks.

The restaurant we ate at was called the Le Clos Bourguignon, which was pretty good, well-priced and very “authentic” (your mileage may vary). The focus was on the Burgundy region of France, so there were lots of good red wines and lots of meat on the menu. We got a bit of foie gras, some saucisson de Lyon (a coarse-grind sausage, usually with bits of garlic or nuts inside), and some melon-jambon cru (think prosciutto) as appetizers, which we shared among the 5 of us (the 6th person showed up late and missed the first course). For the main dish, some of us had the hachis Parmentier, which is very similar to a Sheperd’s Pie, but with slightly different set of ingredients for the minced meat. I (and a few others) had the langue de chat de boeuf à la sauce Périgueux, which involved a rectangle-shaped cut of beef (I couldn’t figure out from what part of the animal, but it tasted like sirloin), some fries, and a lovely sauce that combines truffles and foie gras with a bit of cream (yes, not something you can eat every day). The beef was saignant, perfectly bloody in the middle but with a tasty, seared crust on the outside. My only complaint would be that they didn't let the meat rest very long before bringing it out, as my first cut into the meat released a ton of liquid, which then diluted the sauce.

For dessert, I had a clafoutis poire, which is a variation on the more common clafoutis made of cherries. It’s very similar to a spongy pound-cake with large chunks of fruit inside, although it’s baked in the shape of a tart or thin cake, rather than as a loaf. Either way, lovely. Also, I think those pears had been soaked in rum.

Anyway, I had been braced for a long night, since there were at least a few things going on in the techno scene (including the second-last Freak’n’Chic night at Batofar). I had to get up at 6h00 the next day for a “class trip” with the UofC students to Poitiers, but I was ready to pull an all-nighter to mark the one-night visit of my friend. Mercifully, she was also tired, too, so we just went our separate ways home. Hooray sleep! Nonetheless, my body clock is still used to my Berlin schedule of getting up at noon, so I wasn’t able to make my body sleep until about 1h00.

mercredi, septembre 10, 2008

Intimacy and Courtyards

Oops! I’ve been busy taking care of some other stuff these past couple of nights and totally forgot to blog about Wednesday. Well, absolutely nothing of interest happened today, so instead let me relate a late-night episode from earlier in the week.

If you haven’t lived in an 18th or 19th-century European apartment block, especially those of the Parisian Hausmann style, there are some special acoustic characteristics that need to be explained. You see, most of these apartment buildings are about six stories high and take some sort of square or triangular shape with a hole in the middle. The apartments run right along the street (usually with storefronts on the ground floor), then extend away from the street, then parallel to the street, and then return back to the street to make a square or some other closed shape. This creates a cour (courtyard) in the center of the structure, which is often just a paved parking lot / trash storage area, but can sometimes also be filled with gardens and benches and so on. In most downtown urban European centers, this is your only option when you want to be “outdoors” but also have some sense of privacy or being away from the city.

Nonetheless, this privacy is very partial, and some might say it’s entirely illusory. You see, a 6-storey courtyard is also an echo chamber, and it’s an echo chamber over which the windows of almost every apartment open. Most apartment windows here are double-glazed, which isolates sound as well as cold weather; but when you open your window onto the cour, almost any noise that you make in your apartment bounces around and into the apartments of anybody else with an open window. So this means that, during warmer months, you will hear a couple fighting, a baby crying, a couple of girls engaging in truly inane relationship-chatter, a couple of boys engage in truly repellent sexual-conquest-chatter, and an uncomfortable conversation about someone’s herpes test results.

So, it was only a matter of time until, one night, I hear the following noise:


Hmm. Well, there are a lot of pigeons that roost on one of the nearby windowsills, so maybe two of them are fighting or something.


Wow, that’s one distressed pigeon.


OK, there’s no way that a pigeon could make that sound. Is a human making that sound?

“Aie! Ngunh! Eeeah!”

Oh, I get it. Sex. Well, this woman certainly has a unique way of expressing her pleasure. As her cries and grunts became more and more regular and intense, I found it increasingly absurd and surreal. It’s as if she was making a concerted effort to produce the most comical noises possible. As if you had taken a porno flick and replaced the sound with 60’s era slapstick comedy sound effects: “boink!” “doinggg!” “wahwahwahWAHHHH” “zing”. I imagined that the whole scene looked something out of those campy Batman shows from the 1960s, with bubbles using “action text” fonts flashing on the screen: “Pow!” “Yoink!” “Slam!” “Shloop!” “Splat!” “Glorp!” “Brrrrah!” and so on. I was finding this frankly hilarious.

I was reminded of a truism I’ve heard several times that everyone else’s sex looks gross and/or silly to one’s eyes. I’m sure there are exceptions (voyeurs, amateur porn, etc) but still, there’s nothing like being an unwilling witness to other people’s sex to show just how bizarre and absurd our sexual activities can be when viewed (or heard) from outside the scene of action. I’m sure they were convinced that they were having a hot, sexy time.

Nonetheless, I was trying to concentrate on something, and it was still a bit too warm to close my windows, so my patience was going to wear thin pretty soon. Sure, I was glad that this woman was getting her box rattled, but I hope that this doesn’t last all ni—


Oh. Well, apparently this is a heterosexual couple and, also apparently, the guy just off. That was awfully quick. In fact, upon checking the time on my laptop, I realize that the whole episode took 3 minutes. Certainly they’re not done, yet. It’s only been 3 minutes and she audibly hadn’t gotten to her “final destination.” I brace myself for Round 2.


Wow. Really? That’s it? I mean, I’m glad to return to my work undisturbed, but…damn, girl, you need to push him out of bed and reach for the vibrator.

mardi, septembre 09, 2008

Mushroom season!

Although you can get many mushrooms all year round, fall is really the time in France where everything seems to be in season and you can get huge amounts of mushrooms for very little money. To celebrate this fact, of course, I went out and bought the most expensive mushrooms I could find. On the way home, I stopped in Monoprix to get a few things and found a huge special display full of mushrooms. They had morels, black trumpets, shiitake, cêpes (porcini) and blewits (pied bleu, or “blue foot”). I grabbed a generous portion of the cêpes and the pied bleus and made my way home.

I’d never had pied bleu mushrooms before, and looking them up on the web revealed that they can actually be poisonous when undercooked. So I decided that I would save them for tomorrow and make a mushroom sauce to go over pasta; I don’t want to poison myself in the interest of making a quick dish.

So for tonight, I decided to make a fricasée of mushrooms and sausages. I had two leftover saucisses de Montbéliard but I think any smoky sausage would do. Anyway, the results were fantastic, so here it is my recipe, in the place of a blog entry.

[Picture taken from noodlepie's Flickr set]

Fricasée aux cêpes et saucisses de Montbéliard


  • 250-500 g (about a pound) of cêpes / porcini mushrooms
  • 2 medium-sized sausages (bratwurst, kielbasa, chorizo, whatever; as long as it’s a bit smoky and has some fat to contribute to the mix)
  • 1 pat of butter (about ¼ cup) at room temperature
  • dry white wine or lemon juice (optional)


  1. Slice sausages into rounds that are about ¼-inch think (½-cm) and place in a dry pan over medium heat.
  2. Start cleaning and slicing the mushrooms. If the mushrooms look clean, give them a quick wipe with a damp cloth and get to work. If they’re covered in dirt (like most mushrooms here), wipe the caps with a damp cloth—taking care not to get any water in the gills on the underside of the cap—and take a peeler to the stems. Don’t peel away too much of the stems! They’re the best part.
  3. Pull off the cap and slice at about the same thickness as the sausages. Take the peeled stems, slice in half lengthwise, and then slice to a similar thickness.
  4. As you’re working on the mushrooms, keep an eye on the sausages. Eventually, they’ll render their fat and then start to brown onto the pan. When they’re beginning to stick, flip them over and let them start browning on the other side.
  5. When there’s a fair bit of fat in the bottom of the pan and the sausages are almost entirely cooked, toss in the mushrooms.
  6. Mix to coat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover.
  7. After a few minutes (5-8 mins) the mushrooms should’ve given up a lot of their liquid. Remove the cover, turn up the heat and reduce the liquid in the pan by about half. If you like, this would also be the moment to add a splash of sherry, dry white wine, or lemon juice.
  8. When the sauce can cover the back of a spoon, remove from heat and mix in the butter.
  9. Serve as a side dish in small portions or as a main dish as one large portion.

lundi, septembre 08, 2008

Hookers have to eat, too

On my way home from work today, I stopped at the Monoprix near the subway station to get a long list of groceries. Since I now knew that I would be staying where I was until Sep 22, it was time to get some more substantial supplies.

While passing by the cashiers on the way to find some bread, I did a double-take when a saw a small Chinese woman with heavy makeup, aggressively-permed hair, a tightly-fitted jacket covering a low-cut shirt, a micro-mini skirt that was almost shorter than her jacket, black lacy nylons and stiletto heels. In other words, one of the local hookers was standing in line, a bottle of milk in hand, a cell phone in the other. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised; nobody can live on a diet of jizz and cigarettes.

Seriously, though, it must be awkward to engage in everyday activities as a sex-trade worker. At least, it’s gotta be uncomfortable when you’re “dressed for work” and realize that you’re hungry or need some new nylons or something. The people of this neighborhood have obviously come to expect to see women like her hanging out in front of the KFC at the corner of Strasbourg and Grands Boulevards, or in the darkly-lit doorways further down rue St.-Denis. But not so much under fluorescent lighting in a mid-scale supermarket.

One other observation: I don’t know if it was just a certain phase of the moon or something, but everywhere I went along the aisles of Monoprix, there was at least one person on their cell phone, arguing with their interlocutor on the other end of the line. I was like a public, collective and yet long-distance family fight.

dimanche, septembre 07, 2008


After a resoundingly “meh” night out, I allowed myself again to sleep in Berlin-style (a.k.a., past noon) and then hauled myself out of bed. I had plans for doing laundry, which quickly evaporated under the intensity of my non-motivation. On the other hand, my lack of internet access was enough to force me into the shower and off into the city to find some solution. Priorities, eh?

The annoying thing is that my neighbors can get a free WiFi network called Ozone Paris if they put their laptops near a window, but I can’t. My laptop can detect it, but can’t do much about connecting to it. Alas, this has been one of the downsides of buying the a Mac in 2004, when the Powerbooks were all the Aluminum model. As shiny and durable and sleek as they looked, the aluminum casing acts as an ideal barrier for radio waves, i.e., the sort of waves you need for WiFi. My reception is nonetheless usually fine in most places, but wen a network signal is weak, I often have problems were people with other models don’t.

On the way out of my neighborhood, I stopped at a döner shop on rue St. Denis. The man at the counter was speaking Turkish, so I held some hope that I would finally get a döner that approximated the quality of what I found in Berlin. I greeted him in Turkish and put in my order (mostly) in Turkish, but the result was as underwhelming as my previous attempts: dry meat, wilted vegetables (with no shredded cabbage or cucumbers), and covered with soggy fries. Next time I order a döner in Paris, I need to explicitly say that I don’t want fries, because they’re always terrible and—quite frankly—a döner is a sufficient meal on it’s own. I don’t need another ½-pound of fried potatoes, thank you. Well, at least this doner was made from what appeared to be lamb.

Anyway, I headed off to rue Montgallet, the 200m-long street of Chinese-run computer shops that seem to exist in every large city. Thank goodness that most Chinese merchants don’t give a damn about observing Sunday as a day of rest. My plan was to get a range-extender of some sort for my laptop. Either an external antenna or a USB-key Wifi adapter that would have a better range. About half of the stores I visited didn’t sell the sorts of devices I was looking for, and the rest had stuff that was only compatible with PCs. After one merchant finally told me, “Look, with Macs, third-party WiFi is complicated,” I decided to call it a day and try again Monday morning at FNAC where they were more likely to have what I need.

I headed back over to the gardens above Les Halles to make use of the public internet. More so than last time, I had real trouble getting connected, but eventually I got my internet fix. I started the online application process for the Vélib bike rental program, but hit a barrier. The concept of online commerce hasn’t quite taken hold yet the way it has in North America, so often “online” transactions still require snail-mail or in-person steps to complete. A horrible, awful, evil example of this is the CampusFrance online application system for French student visas, which doesn’t do a good job of warning you that you need to send a money order to the French Embassy in Washington DC by mail, which will take two weeks from arrival to be processed, which will then allow you to make an appointment in the coming months at your consulate to get your visa. Before the advent of this system, you just made an appointment at the consulate and paid with a credit card (which you still do; you now pay once for the online system and again for the in-person appointment).

But I digress; the end of this story is that the Vélib “online” registration is really just a “pre-registration,” which means that I now need to print out an automatically-generated PDF document, photocopy various pieces of identity, include a relevé d’identité bancaire, and a personal check made out to them. Then, you wait for your member’s card to arrive in the mail. So, in other words, using Vélib is almost impossible for a tourist, especially one that doesn’t have a French bank account. Anyway, I’ll send out the application when my checks arrive at the bank, and we’ll see how long it takes for me to have actual use of the Vélib system.

After all of that, I sauntered home, made a bit of something to eat, and went to bed.