New Year’s Eve blew even more tourist butt than usual this year. There was the requisite good-time-pressure implosion and resultant tears, of course. And the face-sucking of acquaintances, natch. Deflated expectations, girl-fighting, and the oldest anti-climax in the book, check. It got worse, however. We got invited to tag along to a party, the theme of which was, I shit you not at all, Paris in the ‘30s. (Note: not to be confused with dressing up like a projected Paris In Her Thirties.) At first glance, that might not seem so strange. Paris = debauchery and style and fun! Josephine Baker! The Lost Generation! Avant-Garde! Anais Nin! Henry Miller! Anal sex! Absinthe! Whatever! Wheeee! But, uh, all that revelry turned out to be something of a harbinger for — how you say — not the best of times for a… lot of people. From Jay Freedman’s review of The Twilight Years, William Wiser’s seminal account of the period: “Tragically, while Dali and Picasso painted, while existentialists debated in Left Bank cafes, while proponents of haute couture thrived, the social and political rot gnawing at the innards of the Third Republic accelerated.” Long story short, Paris in the thirties was “…a city whose brightest lights seemed oblivious to impending doom.” A regular "ship of fools". A terrible choice for a party ushering in 2007, one would hope like hell. Why not just go all the freaking way and make it Berlin in the thirties? It was a fucked up time everywhere. There was the Depression, the rise of Fascism, the Nuremberg Laws. Oh, and don’t forget Stalin's first round of purges! Chug-a-lug! Izzy felt that, since we were both wearing our pants tucked into our boots (neither Paris in the ‘30s nor Paris In Her Thirties), we should storm the party like resistance fighters. The jazz trio and champagne tower had too hypnotic an effect, however, and we found ourselves stuck in stunned, ambivalent silence. (Kind of like the French as the thirties drew to a close.) Admittedly, it’d be hard to find a historical party theme that doesn’t carry with it a bitter, bitter historical aftertaste for someone, somewhere. And our hosts seemed like fine, fine folk. Next time, though, maybe a good old fashioned Come-As-You-Are? Obviously I should’ve addressed all of this on the first of the year. But I was way, way too hung-over, self-indulgent, depressed, and apathetic to bother with much grappling. Kind of like France as the thirties drew to a close.
Whatevs. Peel me a grape.