April
9th 2008
Paris in Wonderland

Posted under: fluff

Inspired by Ortho at Baudrillard’s Bastard–both by his nicely illustrated report on his spring break and his recent analysis of graffiti in New York City–this post is about one of my favorite spring breaks ever.  March 2001 was a great month for me–I had signed a contract to start a new academic job, freeing me from the misery of my first job, and I was off to Paris with a beloved close family member.  It rained a lot that week–natch–after all it was Paris in March.  But it was memorable in every way, as it was my first trip to Paris.  (I wasn’t one of those rich college kids who hung out in Europe all summer long–I had to work to cover my expenses and top up my steeply increasing tuition bill.)

One of the most distinctive features of our visit was the appearance of a cat who went quite sensibly by the name “M. Chat” (Mr. Cat, en Anglais.)  I take it now that he’s famous all over the world, and the star of a movie that premiered at the Pompidou Center in 2004.  But, we knew M. Chat before he was cool, and it was a pleasure to see where we might find his grinning face (and nearby, occasionally, his purple mouse friend.)   There he was again, along the banks of the Seine, or next to the funicular that goes to Sacré Coeur, or on the side of a building in Montmartre. 

M. Chat au Centre Pompidou

He’s got a website now, not by his mysterious creator, but by a fan, where you can track his whereabouts worldwide, as well as the locations of other graffiti characters.  His creator’s identity was a closely guarded secret until March, 2007, when one Thoma Vuille from Orléans was caught mid-Chat by police.  

Have you any M. Chat sightings to report?  (Of course, many of us believe that we have seen him before, since he seems to be the bastard lovecat of  John Tenniel and Keith Haring.)  To paraphrase Alice:  What’s the use of a blog, without pictures or conversations?

6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Paris in Wonderland”

  1. ortho on 09 Apr 2008 at 10:19 am #

    Hi Historiann! I love your post and photos! M. Chat est adorable!

    I visited France for the first time last May. You might find some of my photos of French graffiti of interest: http://baudrillardsbastard.blogspot.com/2007/06/frances-outdoor-art.html

    Sadly, I did not see M. Chat.

  2. Indyanna on 09 Apr 2008 at 11:09 am #

    As cool as Barbie blogging, and very colorful on a gray day here in the East. Paris are a great place, Spring Break or no spring break! Keep the great pics coming.

  3. GayProf on 09 Apr 2008 at 11:34 am #

    Have you written about the misery of the first job in detail? I mean, I could search the archives, but that is a little too close to effort on my part.

  4. Historiann on 09 Apr 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    GayProf–I feel like that’s all I’ve written about lately! Maybe it’s stayed more in my mind than on the blog, because my experiences in the first job definitely inform my recent posts on tenure and bullying in academia. I talk about it a bit more explicitly in this post: http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/28/workplace-bullies-and-the-academy/

    and in the comments thread to this post: http://www.historiann.com/2008/01/24/resigning-women-or-should-you-tell-them-what-you-really-think/#comments

    and was instrumental in motivating my post on Nancy Hewitt’s recent paper at the AHA:
    http://www.historiann.com/2008/01/12/nancy-hewitt-dishes-on-the-leaky-pipeline/

    I considered writing about it in more detail, but I thought that it would be more interesting to more of you if I focused on airing these issues more generally and providing a forum for discussing bullying and the abuses of tenure. (Also, I thought it would give the impression that I’m a little obsessed about a job I had for only 4 years nearly 7 years ago now, which even if it’s true, I don’t necessarily want to give that impression! But, perhaps it’s inevitable that your first job, your first majory entree into the profession, makes a profound impression on you personally and psychologically. And, if it’s a bad experience, it will probably stay with you a lot longer.)

    I get the impression you’re a survivor of a bad job, too. Anyone who has ever had a bad job, or is currently in one, should run (not walk) to the library and read the essay by Jennifer L. Pierce in the book mentioned in this post:
    http://www.historiann.com/2008/01/14/feminist-waves-feminist-generations/

    I had some correspondance with Pierce last summer, and she asked if I’d be willing to write about my experiences one day. If she ever asks me to, I’ll put out a CFP for stories about bad academic jobs, as I think that just about everyone who reads this blog has some tales to tell.

  5. Historiann on 09 Apr 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    Ortho–thanks for sending along the other link! Very cool–too bad you missed M. Chat, though. And Indyanna–I’m still waiting for your Barbie flowerbox pix! Get one of your students to e-mail it to me…

  6. Indyanna on 09 Apr 2008 at 1:08 pm #

    Historiann,

    I got my third tutorial today at the Verizon.net shop in our ‘burgh. Second proposed method. Will keep on top of this project. Meanwhile, the Hillary blitz is up and running up here in PA, even if with but a measly million dollars on hand. Five cool spots: one by Mayor Nutter, one by Ed Rendell (as warm as marmalade on a muffin on a snowy winter morning), some childhood-in-the-’50s stuff, a Spanish spot, and one other. And kids on campus are handing out signs! The two minute drill, decompressed into two weeks! Will report as developments warrant.