We’re back from Paris, where I ate bread, offal, and macarons; indulged in hero worship (above); walked until it hurt every day; and improved my French accent to the point where people would at least reply to me in French out of politeness, if not out of ignorance of my obviously American state. (As the headline notes, there was also a brief sojourn in the source of my giant head and pasty complexion.)
We even took in a couple of concerts, which I’ll write up in due course, but the big cultural news in Paris was the opening of Vengeance, directed by the impossibly prolific Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To, and starring the ageless French rock-and-roll legend Johnny Hallyday. Celebrity images in Paris tend to be the usual international crowd—George Clooney had an advertising banner hanging in the Opéra Bastille, and Vengeance was swamped in its opening weekend by the Ben Stiller vehicle A Night at the Museum 2—but Johnny’s fame trumped all, his weathered visage gracing seemingly every press kiosk, tabac, and Métro station in town.
It’s slightly amazing how big a contrast there is between Hallyday’s fame in France and his obscurity everywhere else. My lovely wife had never even heard of him, so we indulged in a crash course via YouTube. Given my own preference for proto-punk 1950s rock—if I were the pope, I would canonize Eddie Cochran—it’s not surprising that I liked the early stuff best. Here he is in a mellow mood in 1962, singing to Catherine Deneuve. Bon travail, si vous pouvez l’obtenir.