Fleet Foxes – Mykonos
When I was at the Villa St. Anne a few weekends back, J. was so kind as to reach a narrow arm up to a top kitchen shelf and pull down for me a 1969 edition of a guidebook to Paris written by two jolly-looking French men, Christian Millau and Henri Gault. If you ever read an original copy of a Nancy Drew mystery, you know what it smells like when you open this book up – that smell like reading on a rainy day in the attic of your house.
Many of the spots listed in the book are still there – Parisian classics like Laduree and La Coupole – but just as many have disappeared and are that much more alluring as souvenirs of a Paris now existing only in fading hardbacks like this one. One place in particular, an extinct Beatnik bistro in the 5e, drew my attention, and I thought if you’re anything like me you’d enjoy equally the idea of such a place as the satisfying, dated way it is illustrated, each sentence as pleasant for its slow, meticulous description as it is to watch someone take their time rolling a perfect cigarette.
…Popoff’s happens to be closed at the time of this writing, for reasons we prefer to skip…Most Parisians have never heard of Chez Popoff. But whenever one of those wild-haired young vagabonds, squeezed into grayish T-shirts and faded jeans, who hitchhike here, there and everywhere with bouncing knapsack and flying beard, runs into a like specimen in San Francisco, Hamburg, Rotterdam or New Delhi and wants to get together in Paris, there’s just one place that comes to mind….
Tyrolian knapsacks and sailors’ duffel bags pile up in the back room while their owners are out looking for a room or lying in the sun on the banks of the Seine. Even though many of them consider grime the emblem of social protest, a few Vikings, still conditioned by their native Scandinavia, crowd around the washbasin (soap and towels are free).
These glorious youths, most of whom come from Northern Europe or the English-speaking countries, spend hours sprawled on the benches, waiting for heaven only knows what over a cup of coffee that has long been drained. When they’re hungry they buy a piece of bread from the baker across the street and salami or olives from the grocer next door, then come back for a picnic under the proprietor’s paternal eye.
For Monsieur Popoff is a broad-minded man and prides himself on his understanding and affection for footloose youngsters. “You’ve got to help the kids out,” he says in his gentle voice. And whenever a Finn with thick, curly locks wants to buy a cigarette from him, he takes his pack from his pocket and graciously offers him a Gauloise.”