Why The Internet Is Great (Example No. 5,428)

Some time ago I wrote about Richard’s and my chance encounter with an unusual musical ensemble during a visit to the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris on a fine Sunday morning.  A fellow citizen of the internet, artisanuk, happened to be at the Luxembourg Gardens to hear the ensemble that morning.  artisanuk later found my blog posting on the performance and asked whether I knew the name of the group.  Alas, I did not.

Now artisanuk, whose internet sleuthing ability obviously far exceeds mine, has discovered that the name of the group is FAZ and also has located their myspace page, which includes video clips and recordings of FAZ performances.  To make it even better, one of the FAZ performances is of a song the group played when we saw them at Luxembourg Gardens.  If you are interested in hearing music that is a little offbeat, I encourage you to follow the link above and give one of their songs a listen.

Thanks, artisanuk!  Courtesy of your hard work, I not only know the name of the ensemble, I also now know that what I was calling the Austin Powers theme song is really named Soul Bossa and was written by Quincy Jones.

So, through the power of the internet, interested onlookers satisfy their curiosity and the music of an obscure ensemble may reach a slightly wider audience of people half a world away.  That kind of collective linking is what the internet is all about.

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A City Of Fountains

The kings, cardinals, emperors, and Presidents of France who have lived in and loved Paris have had centuries to make Paris into a beautiful city.

The fountain next to St. Sulpice

They’ve razed entire sections of the medieval town, built sweeping boulevards, turned palaces and royal gardens into public buildings and green spaces for the common man, and erected monumental structures, triumphal arches, and engineering marvels.  And, equally important from my perspective, they’ve built fountains — lots and lots of fountains.

Paris has some of the greatest fountains in the world.  It seems like whenever you turn a corner in an unknown neighborhood you find another fountain of striking beauty.  Some feature mythological figures, some feature animals, and some feature bishops and snarling lions.  But all are beautiful, and all seem to be surrounded by people whenever you walk past.

The fountain at the edge of the Luxembourg Gardens

Why are people so attracted to fountains?  I think it is because the Parisian fountains are, without exception, beautiful and interesting to examine.  There is a certain pleasing whimsical quality to fountains, whether it is open-mouthed turtles shooting heavy jets of water at four women representing different continents holding up a globe or angry lions seeming to dare passersby to come one step closer to the gushing water.  And there is something about being near tumbling water that is both soothing and cooling.  Who wouldn’t want to sit next to a fabulous fountain and read a book during a lunch hour break?

The fountain at the foot of Boulevard St. Michel

I’m sure that fountains are incredibly expensive to build, maintain, and operate.  But if the city fathers and urban planners in Columbus are looking for a way to draw people to a particular area — say, to the newly constructed Columbus Commons space, for example — they could do a lot worse that build an attractive, more traditional fountain in that area.  Forget about just putting a few chairs and tables on a plaza, and start thinking about rushing water, and minotaurs and griffins, and maybe Christopher Columbus and other explorers on boats.  I’m convinced that when you are talking about fountains, if you build it, they will come.

Un Petit Dejeuner A Jardin Du Luxembourg

Today Richard and I planned to eat every meal outdoors.  However, our plans were complicated by the fact that today is Sunday, as well as May Day.  Many businesses were closed, which threw a bit of a wrench into our plans.

The view from our park bench

After waking up we walked over to the Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg), which are very close by our apartment.  Across the street we found a fine patisserie and bought the makings of our breakfast.  Richard chose a few apple tarts, and I decided on a croissant.  Then we went in search of coffee, which was a challenge.  The only place with carry-out coffee that we could find was McDonald’s.  We were a bit sheepish about going to a McDonald’s in Paris, but we really wanted coffee and we had no other options.  So, under the golden arches, we ordered two cafe au laits, grande.

Then we walked over to the Jardin du Luxembourg, dodging the many joggers and flower sellers who were circling the periphery of the park.  We found a place to sit that was just perfect, on a shaded bench next to a fine piece of statuary surrounded by flowers, and dug in to our repast.  The cafe au laits from Mickey D’s were surprisingly good, and the croissant was great — rich, flaky, and buttery.  Richard’s apple tarts were equally good, with a spicy apple compote tucked inside a slightly heavier, glazed pastry.  Say what you will about the French, but can we all agree that these guys know their baking?

The band at the Jardin du Luxembourg

After we sat, sighing with satisfaction at enjoying such a fine petit dejeuner in such a beautiful location, we noticed a band setting up at an adjacent bandstand and decided to stay and have a listen.  It was a 12-piece band with an odd assortment of instruments that included a xylophone, a piccolo, and a tuba.  They played an eclectic form of music that sounded like a jazzy version of oom-pah-pah Alsatian favorites, with the Austin Powers theme song thrown in for good measure.  As the band played a crowd gathered.  It made for a very memorable breakfast.

The Jardin du Luxembourg proves the value of urban parks as a place for memorable gatherings and communal activities.  It is a fabulous place.