Catacombses, my precious

From the Guardian: In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema
In my third year of university here, my pal T came back from a two year journey all over the world, most recently Paris, with a crazy gypsy girlfriend in tow. She had red hair and crooked teeth, and although I never caught her doing it, I swear she had a little bag of bones she would occasionally toss into the ashes with which to determine the alignment of Jupiter or tomorrow’s chance of rain, or some such crap. Actually, she was pretty cool to hang out with because she made T act like a man sometimes, which is more than I can say for his sad, sorry, married ass now (sorry T, I call ’em as I see ’em). She eventually went back to France when her Japanese tourist visa expired, and I tagged along when Taro went to visit.
Imagine my surprise when I found out she was the most normal person in her entire group of friends (let me put it this way, I was even more surprised than T was when she came to met us at the airport with a totally new hairstyle – short hair now dyed black, with shoulder-length cornrow extensions she had done at an “African barbershop”). Her friends were essentially street kids. The night we got there, we rented a car and drove into the dark heart of the city to look for them on unmarked sidestreets. We found them in squatting at some funky construction site, accessible only by climbing under a chain link fence marked with the French equivalent of “No Trespassing.” It was a reunion with old friends for T, and I got to know everybody quickly. It was a true ghetto party, complete with trash can fires and sticky balls of black sin smuggled fresh from Nepal. At some point the whiskey ran out and bottles of wine were produced, only to reveal that nobody had a corkscrew, So someone brought out a hammer and the rest of the night was spent eating cold merguez sandwiches and gingerly sipping from bottles with broken necks (when I said ghetto, I meant it).
The reason any of this pertains to the link above is that I recall a conversation regarding the catacombs beneath the city. You see, T’s friends had this squatting stuff down to a science. Apparently, after buildings are condemned in certain disticts of Paris, they are essentially fair game for a whole year. They aren’t torn down, and the police don’t kick out squatters. So these kids were moving to freshly condemned buildings from year to year, although if picking got slim, they could always sleep “below the city.” At the time, I thought they were joking, but I guess the spooky catacombs are only a part of a huge tunnel network they have there… Dim lighting and gloomy rooms painted with religious symbols, eh? All I can think is, that sounds awfully like the Mines of Moria. My inner geek is urging me to find out what T’s ex is doing these days – that would be an awfully cool trip.
So what say you, T? There’s nothing like calling up an old flame out of the blue on behalf of a good friend’s inner geek, is there?
I’ll bring the corkscrew this time.

2 thoughts on “Catacombses, my precious”

  1. Cometbus-caliber!
    I miss my French friends from college. And the “sticky balls of black sin.” They could always roll like motherfuckers! One of my friends would use citrus peel, tobacco & the “black sin,” then roll it with a filter.

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