Ayun Halliday is the chief primatologist of East Village Inky, and the primary contributor to The Zinester’s Guide to NYC — an illustrated, anecdotal, wholly analog, highly participatory, low budget guidebook that’s cheaper than a movie. She is the author of the four self-mocking autobiographies, including No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late, and one extremely serious picture book for children entitled Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo. She lives on the top floor of a Brooklyn brownstone with the playwright Greg Kotis and their two children. Turn-ons include parades that anyone can march in, Balkan brass, mail that comes in envelopes, comics, summer camp, cowboy shirts, Chinatown, chipotle peppers, Facebook, and falling asleep with the lights on.
Bonjour! Plane tickets are expensive — magical armchairs are less so. So get comfy in your seat and join me for a 5-day whirlwind tour. Our first stop? Paris…
Paris has a certain je ne sais quoi that will make your sagging Spanks and worn out bra feel like a liability. Quick! Slip into the WC and change into a French Maid costume, and maybe throw on a feathered beret. But sadly, it’s not just underwear and hats. Even children and dogs in Paris are dressed better than you!
Clockwise from top left: Paris, Shakespeare & Co. by Jen Murray Photography; Maids’ Room, Paris, 2002 by milkntea; Walton 8mm Home Movie from theENDpeace; Cemetery Dirt from Montmarte Cemetery from Aldetha; Wee Gargoyle by GrammyKnitKritters; Tobacco No. 001 Eau de toilette from Portland General Store.
Enough of the couture, let’s drink in some sights! Sylvia Beach was (platonically) rocking the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce at Shakespeare & Co. long before Ethan Hawke noticed Julie Delpy loitering by the door in Before Sunset. Romance! The legendary bookstore also offers a free bed for penniless authors, provided they read one book a day. Are you a penniless author? You are? Parfait! While you’re at it, gather some dirt from the Montmarte Cemetary and find your own gargoyle — no need to chisel one off of Notre Dame. Pick up a bottle of tobacco eau de toilette because Pepe Le Pew is in the minority of Parisians who finds natural odors to be irresistible. When you get home, you’ll be able to invite the Drapers over to view your 8mm footage of the Pigale night clubs.
Clockwise from top left: Miniature Box of French Biscuits by Paris Miniatures; French Bread by CoopersFancies; French Cream-Filled Pastry Swans by Paris Miniatures; Orange Essence Sugar Cubes by fahrenheitgoods.
Let us savor Paris on our tongues! Grab some wine and cheese, and let us picnic on the Seine. Baguettes are the reason budget-conscious American backpackers prone to describing themselves as “starving” get fat and happy. The reason French women don’t gain weight is because all of their pastries are 1/12 scale, such as these little cream-filled swans or the miniature box of biscuits. Also, there is that disturbing American habit of devouring sugar cubes. Try explaining to the waiter that our sugar comes in packets!
Let’s rest our travel weary bones for now, for tomorrow we’ll be on the road again. À bientôt!
Enjoying your virtual world tour? Stay tuned tomorrow for the next edition of the Armchair Traveler series.