Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Like a European

Posted By on Tue, Oct 2, 2007 at 3:55 PM

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In his 19th century essay, The Painter of Modern Life, French poet, novelist and critic Charles Baudelaire exalted the life of the flaneur— the idle dawdler, the peripatetic ‘man of the crowd,’ for whom immersion in daily city life provided the utmost pleasure. For the flaneur, he said, a “passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite.”

Now whether or not the population of New Orleans qualifies as a ‘multitude’ at the moment is debatable, but there certainly is an

infinite ebb and flow to daily life here in the city — especially in the French Quarter. The Vieux Carre is evocative of 19th century Europe in more ways than one, from the architecture and the cobbled walkways, to authentic gas lamps and the carriages that still stroll down the street.

So as our weather patterns slowly shift into fall, consider taking a Baudelairean approach to appreciating some of the finer things to be found around town; adopt your own ambulant style and take the time to walk like a European and visit the new Decatur Street Newsstand, which has just about every periodical your heart could desire; or stop by one of two Royal Street flower shops on your way home this evening for a fresh bouqet.

Do as the flaneur does and “marvel at the eternal beauty and the amazing harmony of life in the capital cit[y], a harmony so providentially maintained amid the turmoil of human freedom … and gaze upon the landscapes of the great city— landscapes of stone, caressed by the mist or buffeted by the sun.”

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Decatur Street Newsstand, 1133 Decatur St., 566-3000

Flora Savage Flowers, 1301 Royal St., 581-4728

Tommy's Flowers, 933 Royal St., 522-6563

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