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PARIS SKETCHES • Michael Young at Ishmael Reed’s Konch Magazine


Michael Young
Paris Sketches •

© 2011 by Michael Young; excerpted with permission of Ishmael Reed’s Konch Magazine

It’s August in Paris, and the ancient rain is pouring down. I arrived yesterday to stay with Katia, my Parisian girlfriend who lives in the 20th District. On the flight over, a Frenchman reading Le Figaro wearily tells me: “I would much rather leev in San Francisco.” He pauses. “Maybe it’s a case of the greener grass always being the greenest on the other side. I just mees zee Old Paris.” The 20th district is a moveable feast of funkiness: a Nigerian guy on the street corner is playing a xylophone while crooning Billy Ocean’s “Get outta my dreeeams, get into my car!” with a sleepy dog plopped by his side collecting euros in a hat. He hollers “Obama!” in my direction with a mischievous gleam in his eye. Then he shouts: “Keep hope alive!” (I know it’s probably obvious that I’m a Halfrican in Paris, but how does this dude know I’m a Halfrican-American in Paris?) North African men in sleek suits are deeply absorbed in their chess games at outdoor cafĂ©s, and school kids are skipping in brightly colored hip-hop gear, looking like they just leaped off the set of an old Spike Lee Joint. A street artist wearing dark wraparound shades wildly beckons for us to sit for a portrait sketching. There’s a crackling, freewheelin’ electricity in the air …

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