Monday, January 1, 2018

Parkour: The Only Joie Left In the Vivre

Dear Friends,

As of January 2018, the minimum wage in Michigan is going up to $9.25/hour.  The splendid new Hard Taco song for this month, "By Time Your Hear the Buzzing, It's Too Late," is 3 minutes and 19 seconds long. If you cross-multiply and divide, I would now have to pay someone at least 51 cents to listen to this it, and I just don't have that kind of money. If I did, I would probably spend it on the one other thing that costs exactly 51 cents... a commemorative elongated coin (Classic HT Digest on that subject available here.)

We just returned from a glorious family trip to Paris. France is a delightful country that has become known for one thing and one thing only... parkour.  Also called French free-running, parkour is a discipline in which urbanites proceed from one place to another as quickly as possible, without using any assistive equipment. Imagine a lithe young person sprinting on all fours, scaling ancient stone walls, and vaulting over statues. Now picture 2.2 million people doing this at the same time. Do they all have great hair, skinny jeans and a scarf? If so, you are picturing Paris in 2018.

A plaque at the base of the Louvre pyramid. In English, "The practice of parkour is mind-blowingly
 awesome. As a public service, the museum will take complete responsibility for any injuries." 

For hundreds of years, tourists have flocked to The City of Lights to see the great monuments. Now they come to climb those monuments and jump off them, customarily in the most badass way possible.

Inscribed on the base of the statue: Saucer par-dessus le bras de Louis.
Please jump over the Louis XIV's arm. 
Naturally, our kids wanted to take parkour lessons from a real traceur. A traceur used to mean a person who practices parkour, but since that includes every able-bodied human in the whole country, it now just means "person." Our instructor's name was Guy de la Lufoquerie, and he allowed us to photograph the lessons.

Guy's Lesson 1: L'ouseau stupide salute our votre bras.
Guy de la Lufoquerie, left, says, "Even a pigeon can jump over someone's arm. Parkour is easy.
Yes, birds have wings, but they are stupid. Are you stupid? Do you have a small, bobbing head?
You don't need wings to jump over the arm of king Louis XIV."
Guy's Lesson 2: Sauter par-dessus un objet minuscule.
Guy says, "Americans have atrocious taste in food, in music, and in hair products.
You are a naturally clumsy people and your parents probably like White Zinfandel,
so don't expect to be good at this. Just leap over something short, like a bench.
Passersby will see me judging you with my face."

Guy's Lesson 3: Marcher sur une chose.

Guy says, "Put your boot on the short thing you just jumped over.
Make your body look big to show dominance."

Guy's Lesson 4: Avoir honte et se coucher.
Guy says, "If you fall on your back during Lesson 3,
don't just lie there, smiling like an idiot.
Look deeply ashamed, then get up and try again."

Guy's Lesson 5: Descendre tous les escaliers à la fois.
Guy says, "Jump down all 50 stairs at Versailles Garden in one leap.
Okay, that's pretty good, but you're wearing tights.
Marie Antoinette used to do that jump twice a day
in a bosom-enhancing bodice and a three-foot mountain of powdered hair.
She was a great traceur, but not good enough to evade capture and execution.
You need to parkour harder."
Guy's Lesson 6: Ne laisse rien débloqué 
Guy says, "You have much left to climb. Parkour is a state of mind, not a set of actions.
The traceur must overcome emotional obstacles, physical barriers, and 'No Trespassing' signs.
You are good at jumping, but you are held back by your atrocious
American taste in art, in scarves, and in mustaches."