Tuesday, September 21, 2010

#39 - Gargoyles and Street Performers in Paris

I love Gargoyles.  The real ones.  On cathedrals.  So there are really only three words needed for this.

Paris.  Notre Dame.

I like gargoyles so much I wrote a gargoyle song.

A true gargoyle (which name comes from the French word for gurgling) is a strange creature carved of stone and used as a water spout for rain to run off on a building.  This is why they were called "gargoyles."  Today we generically use the term to refer to other carved monsters, called "grotesques" found on cathedrals and other Gothic public buildings.

Of course, there are other locations than the cathedral at Notre Dame in Paris for viewing gargoyles, but Notre Dame is a magnificently fun place.  A grand wonder of architecture with a courtyard filled with street performers, and good places to eat within viewing distance.  There are also budget hotels in Paris city centre to be found.

So, when you are in planning a trip to Paris, don't forget to make Notre Dame a good long stop, because there is a lot to see.  My trip to Notre Dame was a clear, warm summer day with a cool breeze blowing through the trees.  A flamenco guitarist was playing in the square in front of the cathedral.  There were circus performers juggling and balancing in the square, and art was openly exhibited.  There was a skateboarding exhibition happening on the wide walkway coming up to the Cathedral.

Between the fun on the way up to the cathedral, and the awesome wonder of the cathedral it should be on your bucket list.  It made my list.  I have been there done that, and can check it off my list of 1,000 things to do before I die.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Burning Man update - #7 completed!

Yes, Burning Man is a crazy experiment in radical self-reliance, and radical self-expression - sometimes too much so, but an absolute blast to be sure.  I joined a theme camp, and because we were setting up to serve expresso, and do dream interpretation during the days, we arrived a day before the opening of the gates to set up our "Spirit Dream Interpretation Camp."

I helped pull a 12 foot tall shopping cart mutant vehicle (built by Scott Veatch) from Ohio to Nevada, and back again.  Consequently my adventure was extended to two full weeks.

If you have always been wanting to go to Burning Man, all I can say is - oh yeah, do it if you can.  Yes, it is true that newbies to the event (called "virgins") are asked to roll in the fine playa dust at entrance to the gate, and (unlike some of my friends) I did not shirk my dust eating duty and initiation into the Burner world.  Hopefully I will be able to link to the video of the initiation soon. :-)

Here are a few highlights for me:  The temple and all the emotion being poured out as people wrote their dreams, fears, sorrows, and joys on the temple walls.  The Burning of the Man on Saturday night - even though there was a dust storm hindering the full experience of the burn, it was a great show of fireworks, fire spinners, and the biggest bonfire you've ever seen.  Reciting limericks in a pub which gave a free pint of Guinness to everyone who recited a limerick (our team came with 14 of them, and we turned the place upside down - as chief limerick writer I had my hand on most of those limericks actually).  Interpreting dreams and encouraging people with words of wisdom, and watching them fall apart (in a good way) in openness to the working of the Spirit.  Traveling around in the shopping cart by night, and meeting the same people we served in the Dream Camp.

Burning Man may be miles away from nowhere near Gerlach, NV in the Black Rock desert, but it seems right in the heart of our culture, and it is no wonder that has become a type of church for the 50,000 people who attend each year.

2011?  Return to Burning Man?  Maybe, I would certainly love to, but as for now I can scratch it off my list of things to do.