Before leaving Paris I had to see the Eiffel tower in person and set out on Friday afternoon. After consulting my Timeout iphone app I took a direct but slightly out of the way route. After passing up and downhill through narrow streets lined by five story classic hotels. I passed boutiques and furniture shops as well as a Lamborghini dealership and numerous scooter sales/repair shops that all take up residence on the first level of many of these buildings. I came down a hill and through a park and saw the Eiffel tower through the trees from across the river. It’s really quite impressive to see in person. It ‘towers’ above the landscape. I took shots as I crossed the bridge in the warm afternoon sun and saw hundreds of tourists all taking photos at marveling at this amazing structure. There were little booths selling gellato, sandwiches, and various trinkets as well as beret topped, assault rifle armed, young French men in camouflage making sure everybody was…cool.
I walked under the tower and peered up into the immense iron work and was truly impressed. There were people traveling up and down it’s four legs in elevators, carts, and stairs like ants climbing up and down an immense iron ant-hill. The lines were too long for me so I milled around underneath and around the tower. I listened to some young musicians who were drawing a crowd then walked through the gardens enjoying the afternoon sun and taking the pictures of at least three people who wanted to be captured in front of the tower. I decided to head back to the hotel via the metro and grabbed some dinner before getting ready for the show.
On a side note I highly recommend the timeout guide (even though they slightly poo-pooed the club we played at because they tended to hire too many American musicians…) I sent it to all of the guys in the band who use iOS devices (which is most of them) and they all seemed to find it useful. It contains a great city map that works with your GPS and saves you on roaming and data fees big time. I used it to navigate around the city on the cheap. I could brandish my tech/navigational wand at will which gave me the confidence to navigate the streets assuredly as well as use the metro system effectively. And I speak/read/understand a bit of French so that helps a lot as well. Not like walking around in Russia and trying to decipher the Cyrillic alphabet, but that’s for another blog entry. Here’s a link it’s free in the app store http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paris-travel-guide-time-out/id403959017?mt=8
Friday’s show was decent but I don’t think we really achieved full lift off until Saturday night. The management had opened up the back wall of the club to allow for the additional seating needed to accommodate the full house that was seated before the stage. Johnnie was feeling a little under the weather and he let me know before we hit the stage. I told him the equivalent of “man let’s just have a good time and play some music” and we did. The crowd was giving us love and we were giving it back to them. The staff told us they enjoyed us and we were all talking about coming back soon. We hit the cafeteria to grab a few last items off of our meal cards before turning them in at the bar. I tried to lay down to get some sleep and was very tired. I flipped through the channels and found some swinging Ella Fitzgerald live in the 60’s. I relaxed and was ready to fall asleep so I turned off the TV because as tired as I was I couldn’t sleep when hearing such good music. I couldn’t fall out and turned the TV on. James Brown was on and the band was cooking. I think it was the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1981? I couldn’t sleep to that so I just made sure I had packed everything and got ready to come back home. We gathered in the lobby and loaded into the two vans which took us through the crowded freeways (On early Sunday morning!) to the airport. Shout out to John Rutherford for stepping in with Johnnie Bassett and the ticket agent with the AFM letter/agreement with the TSA granting musicians the ability to bring an instrument with them as carry on luggage. Be sure to keep your baggage under 40 lbs. to avoid gouging overweight fees. A Sony Playstation 3 was available in the waiting area and I was watching a guy play what appeared to be the latest version of the ‘Burnout’ car racing game series. I got to play a few games and was impressed by the graphics. It helped pass of the time I’d have to wait before I returned home.
The flight was long. It’s always longer coming back home for some reason. For one thing there’s daylight forever. And your less likely to fall asleep or doze off, especially when there are screaming babies on board. There were a few moments during the trans Atlantic flight that I thought I might go stir-crazy and had to remind myself it would be over soon. Being 6’5” and +/- 215lbs I’m not exactly comfortable in a coach seat. Bill Heid was really on to something when he coined it “the flying jail cell.” I did watch the latests installment of the Pirates of The Caribean franchise with Johnny Depp. I really enjoy these films, I think Depp does a great job. Simonon says Depp based his character on Keith Richards. (Which reminds me I want to check out his autobiography soon.)
We arrived in North Carolina and cleared customs without incident. It was clear at this point my ear was blocked. It was painful and I had a slight cold coming on. We got back to DTW, off the plane, picked up our luggage and went off in separate directions to return home. It became apparent that Detroit was a lot colder than Paris had been. When I walked in the door I noticed how cold the house felt and also how happy Freida was to see me. I unpacked slightly and decompressed by watching The Simpsons. I fell asleep about 9pm and woke up around 6am not being able to fall back asleep. I headed to the 9am Bikram Yoga Class to help stretch myself out after sitting for 14 plus hours. It felt good to stretch and sweat. It’s good and strange to be home. It always is.