Culture vulture

Hound’s tooth funds: a shaggy dog tale
The whole thing started a couple of years ago, when my beloved partner, I. Daphne St. Brie, was viciously attacked by a coworker’s dog in the parking lot of her former place of employment. Spouting blood from a punctured artery and clasping at the shredded flesh of her forearm, Daphne retained consciousness long enough to stagger back into the office and request a ride to Immediate Care, the facility from which Culture Vulture was eventually called to come retrieve her.

Not, perhaps, to our credit, the first thing to spring into Culture Vulture’s mind was the thought that we should obtain a personal-injury lawyer and sue the living daylights out of all concerned parties. Daphne’s cooler, gentler and more delicately ethical nature prevailed, however, and no suit was filed against the responsible miscreants. Doctor bills, physical-therapy fees and lost work time were compensated by the aptly named Workers’ Compensation system, and we went on about our business as usual, albeit never losing consciousness of Daphne’s painfully enfeebled arm and harboring a lasting resentment toward the imbecilic dog owner responsible for it.

Following the advice of a carpenter’s son we once knew, we let the dead past bury its dead and did our best to forget about the whole ugly incident. Ultimately, having accepted a meager settlement, we had to concede that not every consequence of this tragic event was totally negative. Daphne wisely decided that the best use of the money would be a therapeutic trip abroad and proceeded to purchase bargain tickets.

A vulture in Paris
According to usually reliable folk wisdom, you can’t take it with you, but anyone who saw the pile of luggage Culture Vulture lugged through baggage checks going to and from Paris in the last couple of weeks would laugh in the face of whichever fount of eternal wisdom came up with that one. We not only took it with us, we brought back more of it than we left with. And we are by no means unusual. We saw lots of people doing the same thing.

Paris in winter is a cold, rain-washed triumph of urban architecture with all its parts linked by plentiful mass-transit systems including the miraculous subterranean Metro. People can and do live out their entire lives in Paris without owning, or needing, a car. The same apparently cannot be said for cell phones; just as in every other metropolis we’ve ventured into in the past few years, Paris’s streets are seething with pedestrians striding along having audible conversations with people who aren’t there. Only now, unlike, say, Market Street in late-'70s San Francisco, they’re not just imagining the voices they converse with. Perhaps those crazed, garrulous wanderers of yesteryear were just caught in the psychic backwash of the cell phone generation, their synapses short-circuited by microwaves bounced from an incomprehensible future.

Be that as it may, Christmas day found us at the foot of the Eiffel Tower holding hands like a couple of kids and deciding to forgo the vertiginous view for a walk up the Champs Élysées and a close look at the deserted Louvre.

Next week: Amsterdam.