The Anti-“Midnight in Paris” Paris, Courtesy of Philip Aronson in FENCE Magazine (Not for the Faint of Heart)

There’s so much Paris-love in Woody Allen’s new flick, it’s almost to the point of satiety (Self still loves the movie, though).

So, here’s the perfect antidote:  a writer named Philip Aronson has a story in Fence, Winter 2011, and every line features some scene of gruesome violation, one unspeakable humiliation after another, and all set in Paris  — just the ticket for those who are in need of the antivirus (to the Woody Allen Paris Love Fest).

Self doesn’t know if this marks her as sick or what, but she was hugely entertained (maybe because she’s reading Mark Twain and recognizes that exaggeration and hyperbole are perfect vehicles for satire):

NOTE TO DEAR BLOG READERS:  This is an extremely dark, scatological piece.  If you are an ardent dog lover, you may want to skip Item # 2 of the list below.  And if you are extremely sensitive, also skip Item # 3.  The *** means self is skipping parts of the story.  After the first ***, the piece becomes less dark.  She finished reading with regret.

I got socked in the jaw by a stranger, Place de la République, at twilight.

On the corner of Rue des Martyrs and Boulevard de Rochechouart, I saw a pit bull shake a shrieking Lhasa apso to death.

I walked from Odéon to Saint-Michel to buy cigarettes with my friend William, who was wearing a brown fedora , corduroy pants and shiny brown shoes, and all the people whose paths we crossed pretended not to see the plastic turds William had affixed to the shoulders of his tan raincoat.

*          *          *

I danced in the streets all night long after France won the (soccer) World Cup.  I saw kids running down Rue Saint-Antoine with the French and Algerian flags intertwined, and was among those who believed that this historic victory by a French team which was an authentic salad of racial genes (French, black African, West Indian, Kanak, Algerian), might bring ethnic harmony to France.

*          *          *

I had dinner in Paris with Shelby Foote.  We talked about Mahler and Mozart, and Foote said that no matter how good the latest translation of Proust was said to be, he was sticking with the Moncrieff.

*          *          *

I published poems and translations in a French literary magazine which gave raucous, massively attended launch parties in a Tunisian café in the fifth arrondissement, during which I and others got up on chairs and tables and read pieces from the latest issue.

*          *          *

I threw away the hospital gown from Bordeaux.  That was the end of the nineties.

Many thanks, Monsieur Aronson, for amazing self to such a degree, on a Thursday evening, the second week in June 2011.

(Two of Philip Aronson’s favorite recent books are Terry Castle’s The Professor and Other Writings, and Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule)

Stay tuned.


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