* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we often believe that the French are -- how do you say? -- full of it. Alena Dillon seems to agree. Please eat a Freedom Fry in her honor. Also, look for her collection this fall, I Thought We Agreed To Pee In The Ocean, from Martlet & Mare Books. And check out her web site at the link below or in our Blogroll at the right-hand side of this page.

Le Tour Defraud

By: Alena Dillon

Bonjour, et bienvenue. For those hailing from outside the civilized world: learn French, you unnecessarily hygienic ignoramuses.

Before we commence today’s tour through the creations of one of France’s most treasured sons — and unopposed holder of Wikipedia’s “Bearded Beret” title — we wish to pretend to regret to inform you that half of the Rodin Museum is closed for renovation, but we are pleased to announce that you will still be visiting the partial museum at full price.

Although the great masterpieces are not available for viewing, please take comfort in learning they remain somewhere on the premises, so you can go home and tell your family and friends that, in a way, you were in the presence of genius.

We acknowledge that you paid full admission price under the pretense that you would admire his famous works. This is not a surprise to us, as we are strategically making this renovation statement after your nonrefundable transaction. It may help to remember that art is priceless. Except, of course, for the mandatory fee at which we’ve valued it.

Allow me to offer some further advice — don’t dwell on our faux pas. It would be a waste of your precious time. You are in Paris, for God’s sake! Home of the Eiffel Tower, the crusty baguette and the sophisticated pout. There are plenty of other attractions out there just waiting for their chance to dupe you.

To buoy your disappointment, we here at Chateau Rodin have made a Continental effort to fill the gaps created by missing gems with some extra crap we found on the museum grounds.

On your right is the first objet d’art, for which we use the words objet and art rather loosely. It may appear to be only a scrap of plaster, but curators have been paid to believe that this is a scrap of plaster the artist might have touched. Word to the wise, and to the Canadians: there isn’t much to see in this museum, so to get your money’s worth we recommend lingering as much as you can stand. Don’t just glance at the junk. Like a fine Bordeaux, give its insignificance time to mature. Look closer. See the corner? Inside that crevice? Some say if the lighting is just right and you’ve had enough to drink, you can see the Virgin Mary’s face there. On the other hand, some say you can’t.

You may be familiar with Rodin’s statue The Age of Bronze, a life-size nude male cast in 1876. In lieu of displaying this particular piece, we have a doorknob. We chose this item to represent the statue because many doorknobs are also made of bronze. This one, however, is not. It is of glass. It sounded like a good idea five minutes ago, when I tossed it on that rattletrap of a TV table, but the stand-in seems silly now. I would be embarrassed, except I am French and unfamiliar with that particular sentiment.

This is a tissue used by Rodin — not the artist, the museum security guard we nicknamed Rodin (or “Rody” for short), coined for the Thinker pose he assumes on the toilet without ever locking the bathroom stall. It may interest you to know that some of my more vulgar colleagues call this pose “The Stinker.”

And now for the pièce de résistance: an exit sign. Rodin met the original sculptor (became cadaverous, went to his narrow bed, fell to room temperature, bought a pine condo) sometime in the early 1900s, before the rise of exit signs (although don’t quote me on that — I don’t claim to be an expert.) Because Rodin was around before exit signs became so popular, it can be argued that the whole concept of exit signs can be attributed to the innovations of his lifetime. It would be an argument based on zero evidence, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be argued. Don’t think on it too hard. It’s art — just let it do what it’s supposed to do. Inspire.