28 May 2007

Pentecost in Nice

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 11:32 am


Anne was assigned the crucial passage — Acts 2:1-11. She had practiced, had looked up the foreign pronunciations, was prepared. The moment arrives; reverentially, confidently she approaches the dais. When Pentecost Day came round, the apostles had all met in one room… Loudly and clearly she announces the mighty wind, the tongues of fire, the filling with the Spirit, the speaking in foreign tongues. ‘Surely,’ they said, ‘all these men speaking are Galileans?’ But somehow Galileans just will not take shape properly on the page, as if some of the letters are missing. Gali…. Galee… And now it’s as if the spirit of Babel has descended, confusing the speaker’s tongue. Parthians and Medes and Elamites, people from Mesopotamia and Judaea and Cappadocia — none would have recognized themselves in this proclamation. At last the passage comes to an end and the lector, having drunk her cup of public shame to the dregs, resumes her place in the congregation.

2 .

Kenzie and I took the noon train to Nice, meeting Anne at the church. For lunch we ate burgers et frites at the McDo on the beach, its second-floor dining area affording a superb view of the Promenade des Anglais and the magnificent Baie des Anges dotted with sailboats and yachts. Then it’s up the boardwalk to the Rialto for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, shown in V.O. (version originale, English with French subtitles). The title of this latest installment is At World’s EndAWE, as Kenzie pointed out. It’s a virtual theme park ride to resurrection, complete with the ferrying of dead souls across to the other side, a goddess with cool makeup and a nifty Jamaican accent, the uncanny doubling of a dead Johnny Depp, an inversion of surface and depth, and a sunset that turns into a sunrise. If you had to choose between the church’s representation of life after death and Disney’s, which would you find more compelling?


The movie over, we walk three blocks up the rue de France to our favorite kebab place. On the way we see a little boy about 3 years old crouching before a storefront window. He’s making moaning noises, grasping at the glass, trying to reach right through it to the rubber balls displayed on the other side. Here is pure desire, pure frustration. The glass separating the boy from the balls, desire from fulfillment, is the marketplace. Eventually the ball will move forward to become an image projected onto the glass, and the boy, older now, will desire the glassy image for its own sake, not for what it reveals behind itself.


We arrive at the station in plenty of time to catch the next train back to Antibes, but the place is packed, and guards are blocking the doors leading from the station to the platform. A train pulls in heading west, where we’re going, but even after disgorging its Nice-bound passengers it’s still nearly full. Part of the waiting crowd is packed into the cars, and the train pulls out. What the heck is going on? The guy in front of me in the crush hears me speaking English to Anne. “The race is ended,” he tells me. The course for the Monaco Grand Prix runs right through downtown Monte Carlo, making the roads inaccessible to ordinary traffic, so the savvy French spectators park along the coast and take the train in. Now they were all heading back. Two trains later we were on our way, and we even got seats.


The guy who gave me the scoop about the crowded trains was a Californian. He had been to the race (“a dream of a lifetime”), stopped off in Nice for a quick lookaround, and was heading to Cannes for the aftermath of the Film Festival, which ended at about the same time as the race. Note to Ron: the Romanians won the big prizes. And note to regular readers: on the second day of the Festival Anne and I managed to penetrate security and stroll through the bar, grounds and lobby of the fabulous Eden Roc hotel. But that perhaps is another story.



  1. Amazing that you could describe my humiliation with such accuracy when you weren’t there. Perhaps my gift of tongues returned in describing the tale to you? Or have you suffered drinking a similar cup so you know the experience well?

    O, the shame of it all.

    Meilleurs voeux!!


    Comment by bluevicar — 30 May 2007 @ 10:05 am

  2. I suffered vicariously through you, blueVicar. And yes, public humiliation is one of my gifts.


    Comment by ktismatics — 30 May 2007 @ 10:08 am

  3. Happy to oblige.

    And is public humiliation gift that you give or that you receive??

    Meilleurs voeux!!


    Comment by bluevicar — 30 May 2007 @ 10:14 am

  4. What a stupid question!


    Comment by ktismatics — 30 May 2007 @ 10:47 am

  5. “Amazing that you could describe my humiliation with such accuracy when you weren’t there.”

    HOLY CRAP I JUST NOW REALIZED THAT ALL THE INTELLIGENT SOUNDING COMMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN COMING FROM “bluevicar” WERE FROM THE DOYLOMANIA’S WIFE!! Not only that, but funnily, I thought that the Doyle had gone to church! He (you) had fooled me…till now!

    Further evidence of my new archeological finding: “Stupid question” is only something you can get away with saying to your wife.

    And, of course, whether or to whom public humiliation is a gift is a both/and question :)


    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 30 May 2007 @ 6:14 pm

  6. BTW this was generally a funny post, while I’m at the whole commenting thing.


    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 30 May 2007 @ 6:15 pm

  7. Le seul problème avec Nice, bien sûr, c’est la plage de galets! Si tu veux une belle plage de sable, il faudra visiter St-Raphaël ou Fréjus…
    Je viens tout juste de lire ton interprétation ‘litérale’ du premier chapître de la Genèse, et je dois dire que je l’ai beaucoup appréciée.


    Comment by Daniel — 30 May 2007 @ 10:33 pm

  8. Yes, Jason, you’ve discovered the truth of the matter.

    Daniel –

    Welcome, and nice accent marks. We live in Antibes, about 3 minutes’ walk from some sandy beaches which these days are getting quite crowded. They actually haul those beach rocks into Nice by the truckload. The rocks get washed out to sea — it’s a very steep dropoff from the beach in Nice, so the rocks just roll downhill. Underneath the rocks, believe it or not, is sand.

    Thanks for the kind words about Genesis 1.


    Comment by ktismatics — 31 May 2007 @ 4:40 am

  9. Jason,


    See, you never really know what goes on behind the reality of the blog, do you? Words and names; but what of their relationship? Another mystery…

    Meilleurs voeux!!


    Comment by blueVicar — 31 May 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  10. enchantée, madamme Doyle!



    Comment by Odile — 31 May 2007 @ 2:18 pm

  11. Merci, Odile!

    Meilleurs voeux!!


    Comment by bluevicar — 31 May 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  12. Quand j’habitais à Saint-Raphaël, ma famille et moi, on allait à Antibes une fois par an pour faire du shopping–c’est une très belle ville. And so I’m totally jealous you’re only 3 minutes from the beach. Though I don’t envy you having to put up with the tourists (especially the ones in socks and sandals!).
    I’ll be back.


    Comment by Daniel — 31 May 2007 @ 3:08 pm

  13. Saint-Raphael et tres jolie aussi. Somewhat ruefully we return to les Etats-Unies in 3 weeks, so au revoir les touristes. I don’t know how long ago you were here, but the Eurostyle Speedo swimsuit has been almost entirely displaced by the American-style baggy suit. Topless remains topless.


    Comment by ktismatics — 31 May 2007 @ 3:40 pm

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