Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paris, cemeteries, Morrison v. Chopin.

I didn't make it to the Louvre. I love art museums, but the Louvre just seems completely overwhelming. I did go to Pere Lachaise cemetery on All Saints' Day -- a most holy national holiday -- and visited graves and mausoleums all dressed up in a sea of fresh chrysanthemums and tourists. It was beautiful, but I actually really like visiting cemeteries, especially in places where the tombs are so old and dramatic.

We did the obligatory visit to Jim Morrison's grave, which I found more amusing than moving. It wasn't hard to find -- just follow the group of high 19-year-old backpackers through those cobblestone pathways and vĂ´ila! Don't follow the old women with brightly hennaed hair, or you'll end up watching them cry at the tomb of Edith Piaf.

I liked The Doors when I was 11, and I spent plenty of time transcribing and playing Ray Manzerek's keyboard parts. To this day I can play the keyboard solos in "Light my Fire" and "Riders on the Storm" from muscle memory. But honestly, I never thought much of J-Mo's lyrics (and much less of his poetry), and his grave wasn't exactly a pilgrimage for me.

More important to me was a tomb a few graves over, where, much to my surprise and gratitude, there was a much larger crowd. Frederic Chopin -- or F-Cho, as you might know him -- is probably my favorite composer, despite never having written a gem like "Peace Frog." His nocturnes make me swoon to this day.

Oddly enough, I discovered Chopin right around the same time as I discovered The Doors -- during middle school. J-Mo I first listened to because that Oliver Stone movie came out while I was in the 7th grade. F-Cho I first heard because of a terrible V.C. Andrews novel I read that same year. The heartthrob character Troy (the Heaven series) played Chopin nocturnes in his little cottage beyond the hedge maze, and I remember buying a book of Chopin nocturnes just so I could soundtrack my pleasure reading. Thankfully, I think the better of the two musicians stuck with me, and I was very happy to see many more mourners and hundreds of candles lit at Chopin's grave than at the security-laden grave of Morrison.

Sorry I didn't write more from Scotland or Paris. I was kind of busy gallovanting in cathedrals and graveyards and eating stinky unpasteurized camembert. Mmmmmmmm.

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