Yesterday I was in Brussels with my lovely visitor, the DumbAss Yank. Please don't think this name as derogatory - it has been mutually agreed upon and is a term of affection. Honest. And he's a bit of a dumbass yank too. If I'm honest...he he.
Anyway, yesterday DAY and me went to Brussels on the Thalys for a day of sightseeing, beer and chips with mayo. And lovely it was too. DAY is a classy dude with a great sense of humour - as those of you who read his blog will know. I've been laughing pretty much non-stop since he arrived.
Arriving, as the trains from Paris do, at the poorly located Gare du Midi, we started to walk into town. Brussels was grey and wet - a real change from the hot and sunny Paris of the previous day. We'd adopted (or been adopted by?) a young American guy, who was also in Brussels for the day, but who seemed unsure as to why he was going there or what he was going to do when he arrived.
The three of us, on our hike into town, happened upon the Taschen store. Now, I'm guessing that most of you - being the classy folk that you are - know of Taschen. they're a high-end publisher of art/architecture/design/filth books. Their store in Brussels is new and very fancy. We went in to have a look.
As we perused their artistic volumes, steering clear of the deluxe 'Tom of Finland' so as to not scare the young American hanger-onner, we were approached by the shop assistant.
He asked if he could show us one of their books. It was a weighty tome, with its own pedestal and fancy presentation box.
The book was "The Book of Olga" - a curious collection of photo's of a Russian Oligarch's wife, taken by the marvellous Bettina Rheims.
The sales assistant started to leaf through the book, whilst the three of us looked at the photo's. As he told us the story of how the book came about, we marvelled at the images contained within.
Olga was largely naked. Largely having a great old time, being tied up, tied down, and getting funky with various 'models' (both real and plastic).
As he opened the pages to reveal a double page 'spread' (quite literally) featuring Olga's pierced pudenda in all its meaty glory, I had to stop myself shaking.
I had started to giggle on the inside and knew that I couldn't look at DAY, for fear that one little smirk from him would send me running into the street.
As we declined to buy a copy of the book - a snip at 600 euros - and left the shop, I realised that this was as European an experience that these two Americans would be likely to get.
I mean, it's not like you'd walk into a bookshop in Tulsa and be presented with a fey young man extolling the virtues of a pornographic book, telling you why the photograph with the legs akimbo was artisticallly relevant and saying how the picture of Olga with her legs in the air and her tits somewhere around her ears was 'a celebration of a man's love for his wife'.
I mean really.
Only in Europe.