Day #22: Crime and Punishment

Tuesday May 11
Nacim makes a French Press for breakfast of coffee that he calls strong, but I’ve definitely had stronger. I am happy to have something warm after being awake most of the night chilled like a good jello. I was happy when he got up because I knew that it meant I could after laying awake hoping that it was time to start the day. I did not stay long to say goodbye, because just as his English is bad in the morning so is mine. I was feeling cold and rusty and ready to get going.
I didn’t take a shower since it felt like I had taken one on the bike ride back home the night before. It wasn’t hard to look my worst and I was okay with that after the previous days happenings. I left my bags at his place for pickup later and said au revoir and headed for the metro. With my still very scotch taped camera I made it to the Musee D’orsay since I had promised myself I would make it there one more time. I walk in with no plan except to see Crime & Chatiment (Crime and Punishment). It is a series of artwork that works through the history of crime starting with Cain killing his brother Abel until present day murder and punishment. I am literally stunned by the beauty of Alexandre Falguiere’s “Cain portant le corps d’Abel,” which means Cain carrying the body of Abel – after he has killed him. In the painting you are struck by Cain’s guilt after he realizes what he has done, this is the first instance of peracide in history.
The installation goes over instances through history of infanticide, patricide, genocide, and more. A part of the installation is to bring the viewer to question whether the death penalty is lawful or not, ergo the punishment part. The viewer is given the crime and then given the punishment and left to decide whether or not it was justice. However, it is obvious at the beginning that whomever put this installation together clearly wanted to make known that he/she does not celebrate the act of “penal justice” and notes that Cain was not allowed to be killed as punishment for killing his brother by God’s creed. He was made to feel the guilt for his act.
The art they have chosen is almost better than any in the main gallery and in there are the works of Van Gogh and Degas so this is saying a lot. It takes me a full two hours with my guided audio tour to walk the course of the guillotine, Andy Warhol’s “Electric Chair,” The Assassination of Marat, and my two favorites the Phrenological studies and Anthropometriques – which is basically the beginnings of criminal investigation. I won’t go through this, but if you’re interested look up Alphonse Bertillon.
It’s difficult to leave the museum, but I am exhausted after last nights little sleep. I decide after my few hours walking to head back to Nacim’s and grab my stuff. I want to get my stuff on the metro before the rush hour crowds get on. The problem is when I get back to Nacim’s and attempt to use his door key, I unsuccessfully turn the key left and right, gauche et droite for a good five minutes before I get the door open. At one point and older man comes down the stairs leaving what I believe is his daughters apartment and I see that he is coming down so I pretend I am just walking up to the door so as to not look like a robber or an idiot. Luckily with patience the door opens and I am relieved.
It’s not long before I metro to my new abode St. Christophers Hostel. One is never sure what expect when moving to a new hostel and hopes for the best when an abundant amount of time has already been booked. I have booked three nights at this hostel. I am in love with the hostel as soon as I walk in. There is a bar to my left and I am told a club downstairs. I get the card key to my room on an all girl floor, walk in and there are six nicely made beds with towels and comforters on them and lockers underneath. This almost looks better than my college dorm room. “Thank God! It’s time for a nap!”
Two hours later I wake up to a girl roaming about the room looking a little antsy and another girl just dragging her load of stuff in.
“Hello,” says the girl with long blond tousled hair. She is about 5’8 and one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen. She looks a little German, but she has an American accent.
“Hello,” say me and the other girl. I realize I must look a mess and try to hide behind the curtain on my bed.
“Where are you two from?”
“Australia,” says the other girl. I laugh, because I feel like the question was pointless. Almost everyone I’ve met on this trip so far has been Australian. They come to Europe in droves.
“I’m from Seattle,” I say.
“Oh… okay, I’m from Vermont.”
“Oh where?”
“You wouldn’t know it. No one knows the small places. Anyhow, nice to meet you.”
We talk for a while about traveling because that’s what you talk to everyone about when you first meet them on a trip. It’s like there is nothing else in the world to talk about except for “where have you been?” and “where are you going?”
The first girl, the beautiful one is named Redmond and she has been to London. Instantly we bond on London, because “omg, it’s just amazing” and we both “can’t wait to go back!” This is the same way you bond with everyone else on the trip it seems. It obviously means that someone that likes the same places as you has the same awesome tastes as you and so therefore you should become close and amazing friends.
I look at the time and realize that it’s almost time to go meet Hector and some others in Montmartre and ask both of them if they’d like to go and that they can decide while I go try to make myself more presentable.
When I get back Redmond says she wants to go because she wants to doooo something. I can’t honestly guarantee if it will be any fun but I am glad another girl is coming along with me. We head out to Montmartre to meet Hector at the Pigalle station and when we get there he is alone.
“I’m sorry,” he says in his Spanish accent (because he is actually from Spain but living in France) “the other girls couldn’t make it.” I assume they couldn’t make it because the rain won’t let up and it just reminds me of a Seattle thing to do, but now I am really glad that Redmond came along so that it doersn’t feel like a date. We head up to inner Montmartre and walk the streets with Hector as our tour guide. It is nice hearing about Paris from someone that has been living here for a while. He brings us to a Pizzeria, though we are in France and I order Lasagna because there is meat inside while they order what end up looking like the most extravagant pizza’s I have ever seen in my life. Hector’s is topped with fresh proscuitto, tomatoes, and rucculo (no, I still don’t know exactly what ruccolo is). I eat my Lasagna because I am hungry and have barely eaten all day and Hector attempts to give me slices of his pizza.
“No, no, I am full.”
“But you must eat! You must eat more!” I feel bad not eating his pizza, but I leave it on the side and let the waiter take it away.
We walk to the Sacre-Couer and look over Paris at night. There is nothing more beautiful than Paris at night. We walk up and down steps because Paris is also full of stairs and Redmond begins to love Montmartre too. This is her third time in Paris, but she has never been here because she is only 18 and this is the seedy area next to the red light district. We decide that we need wine now that the night has turned even colder. We find a quaint bar called Rendevous avec mes amis, which is not really that clever, but the inside has so much character it doesn’t matter. It is filled with black and white photos of faces and Frenchmen in chapeaus. It reminds me of the Hideout and I am pleased and Redmond is quickly swooning from the wine. We all talk more of travel until it’s time to leave before the metro line ends its service for the night. Hector wants to see me tomorrow and I say, “we’ll see.” That is the end of that. There will be no more Hector.
We are not ready to sleep once we make it back to the hostel around 1am. Thankfully the club downstairs is still open and so we head down for more drinks and bad dancing. It is two guys to every girl down there, but we sit in the corner and watch the drunks dance their drinks off. We see a cute guy and are not sure if he could see us looking at him or if he could feel our vibes but he comes and sits down beside us and we talk of travel. He is from New Zealand, “oh… FOTC” that’s really all I can say. I’ve got nothing else besides, “ooooh… there are a lot of sheep.” He seems really quite boring once he is talking but we all talk until the end of the night and plan dinner for the next. Great.


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