Jeff Pearlman

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Mona

monalisa

One week ago at this very moment the wife and I were in Paris, living it up on snazzy little coffee drinks and chocolate-covered crepes and ice cream that oozed ungodly flavors of bliss.

It was a wonderful four-day trip. And yet, before we could leave, we were advised to make certain to go to the Louvre and see the one … the only … the amazing … the stunning … the breathtaking … the … the … the … the … THE Mona Lisa.

So that’s what we did. We entered the museum, scanned over about, oh, 30 different paintings of a bloodied and battered Jesus, then finally made our way to the da Vinci area, where everyone comes to see the most famous of paintings. Here, shown in the below two photos, is what we witnessed …

monamona2

To use one word: Stupid. That’s what it was. Really, really, really stupid.

I’m sure many experts would smack me across the mouth and explain why the Mona Lisa is to painting what Bobby Hebert is to USFL quarterbacks. But for me, 37-year-old idiot from New York, it was simply a frenzied room, with flashes exploding left and right in a futile effort to capture a picture of, eh, a picture.

It was very similar to a bunch of people spotting, say, Brat Pitt walking through the city. At first, you’d get really excited. You’d point and wave and call your friend on the cell. You’d keep looking and looking and looking until, finally, you’d come to the sad-yet-honest realization that it’s just Brad Pitt, and he’s just a guy, and guys—like girls, and dogs, and houses, and paintings—only offer so much in-the-flesh excitement.

That’s how I felt about seeing Mona. I stood, leaned, weaved, ducked, all in an effort to snag a good look.

Then I came home and Googled an image of the painting. Saw it much better from here.

** For the record, that’s my wife in the pink shirt in the photo on the right.

  • This is the first time I’ve agreed wholeheartedly with anything you’ve written that wasn’t about how great of a human being Brian Hickey is.
    So totally, totally over-rated. (The painting, not me.)

  • jweb271

    I think your problem is more with the crowd and the Louvre than with the painting, no? By putting it at the end of the hall, they cause that crazy pile-up. (And why do people need a picture, and why can’t they keep moving?) But then, the alternative is to put it in the middle of a hall and then no one would be able to get through. Anyway, I’m not quite buying the Mona Lisa is like Brad Pitt comparison, and there’s plenty of other amazing things to see at the Louvre besides. The Mona Lisa would be one of them if it were possible to see it. As it is though, there is other art worth the price of admission. Which, by the way, is nothing if you’re unemployed.

  • Kirk

    I found the Louvre and Mona Lisa to be very overrated when I was there- with all the build-up, it was, “Oh, there it is….ok, where do we go now?” While walking to it I saw a lot more famous pieces that were more impressive as well. I still say Musee d’Orsay is much more interesting and fun…

    (and when I was there, the ML WAS in the middle of the hall, but there were only a dozen or so people looking at it)

  • Perry

    Agree, the Musee d’Orsay is way better. That place, and the art it contains, is awesome in the true sense of the word.

  • Simon

    I recall my trip to see said painting and we went late one Wednesday evening long after the countless hordes had retreated and the place was scant. There were no more than a handful of peeps musing around the musee and we were free to muse all we liked.

    I tend to apply this rule to many pursuits not least when there are tourists involved. I have learned never to underestimate the skillfulness of the majority in turning places such as Le Louvre into an experience akin to entering the gates of hell!

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

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