I don't know why I never published this:
I'm finally getting that "real" big city experience that I'd been so idealistically pining for all these years. No, New York didn't count. New York is too nice these days. But the moment I step out of my apartment in Marseille, I get the real deal - the trash, the stink, the drooling drunks and the hollering insane people. Walking down the street can be a chore. "Non! Je ne veux PA-PA-PA-PA-PAAAS!" screamed a woman in my face a propos of nothing. I ducked away to be accosted by two gypsy girls who grabbed my arm and demanded coin.
A stroll through town is actually a dance around sleeping hobos, panhandlers, illegally parked cars, slowly waddling wide-assed old ladies, and dog shit. Slick-haired 20 year-olds obstruct the sidewalk like Algerian James Deans. Your presence cannot break their far away gazes. Crossing the street is not for the inattentive. Expect the unexpected from the diesel death-machines since they've just been stuck in a traffic jam for an hour, so when they find open road, they go for it with gusto. After an hour outside, my nerves are jangled, my eyes burn, and my nose and lungs are insulted.