GRAFFITI ON MANSARD ROOFS
If you take the stairs up to the Croix Rousse area of Lyon, chances are you will happen upon a group of young punks who hang out at a cafe in a courtyard beside the Scientology centre. Moments ago, you were standing in front of a the Bartholdi fountain, carved by none other than the creator of the Statue of Liberty. Looking in the other direction, you are struck by the Museé des Beaux Arts, and the Hôtel de Ville. In other words, the square with the fountain is an epicenter of history and culture. But venture up a little and you are surrounded by new age enthusiasts, and modern art boutiques.
This city is full of such contrasts - of old and young. The old refuse to learn English, in fear of tainting their own language. The young of Lyon yearn for the glamour of a perceived New York, chatting about American movies as they gather in Macdonalds. The old buildings and apartments of the Croix Rousse are decked with graffiti.
Some people would see this and begin a conversation about the loss of culture, of language, of morals and values. But what I saw, instead, was a symptom of every generation: the continual changes of the world creating a film of nostalgia over the monuments of the past, a 'Golden Age,' while the young look to the future. They say the grass is always greener on the other side. Which other side? Who's other side? Those romantics that look at the stone buildings and see greener pastures simply have a different 'side' than those that look to New York and the contemporary.
But here in the present moment, with the old walls and the graffiti and the fountains and the punks with the large green mohawks, this is a wonderful moment. This is the moment where all other moments have converged.