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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Man Ray - Kiki

Man Ray, Kiki
Come, meet me in some dead cafe --
A puff of cognac or a sip of smoke
Will grant a more prolific light,
Say there is nothing to revoke.

Lawrence Durrell, AVIGNON

DuPont Circle - the finest Washingtonian cafe-bar is in this place, between Connecticut Avenue and 19th Street. I think it is the only cafe in DC with a Parisian physiognomy. I was there today, I ordered a cup of black coffee and I took place at a table on the terrace. Usually I am reading the newspapers while sipping the coffee - today I was only watching the street scenery. A statue used to be in the center of the Circle, representing the admiral DuPont, a hero of the Civil War. The statue was moved in the 20s or 30s to Wilmington, in Delaware, as the admiral was born in that city. They put instead a huge fountain, and so DuPont is the only Washingtonian Circle not having a statue.

I was there looking for a book, The Next Deal, written by a very young political thinker, Andrei Cherny. There is a shift of generations in America, and it comes with a shift of paradigms. The political field will look soon very different.

Only finding this book proved to be impossible in all DC. I had tried in several bookstores and now I wanted to ask in the Kramer Books, situated on the Connecticut Avenue, following the cafe.

I finished my coffee and I was about to leave the place, to go to the Kramer Books. In that moment I saw Le Vieux Monsieur. A very old gentleman, definitely beyond his eighties. It was a very hot day, so everybody was very lightly dressed. Le Vieux Monsieur was wearing a thick black suit, a black tie, and a heavy black hat.

In any other place I would have said Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes, but here was a corner of Paris, and the old gentleman was simply this, Le Vieux Monsieur.

He was sitting at a table and was reading some newspapers - I was wandering whether these were not Parisian papers, even some old papers, no more in print, L'Aurore or even Le Temps, the ancestor of today's Monde (À la recherche du Temps perdu, on trouve le Monde où l'on s'ennuie). Because the only Washingtonian place where one can meet such a Parisian looking Vieux Monsieur is precisely this cafe, near Dupont Circle.

I didn't find the book at Kramer, either.

(Dupont Circle)



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