What the heck is a flâneur, you ask? Three words: My. Dream. Job. And it has nothing to do with making flan.

The straight translation of the French word flâneur is "stroller," but legend has it that it was Charles Baudelaire, the 19th century French poet, critic, and translator, who gave the term its richer meaning. (That's Baudelaire in the photo below—he looks like a real cheery guy. He reminds me of me.)



Baudelaire's flâneur was a "gentleman stroller of city streets," or more specifically, "a person who walks the city in order to experience it, " or perhaps even, "a botanist of the sidewalk." Nice work if you can get it.

As they wander the city, flâneurs flirt with the boundaries between participating and observing.  Some credit the flâneurs with being "the first to express the notion that a complete lack of utilitarian value could be a social statement"—the original culture jammers.

Flâneurs understand the value of slow, that it takes patience to discover the city's hidden layers, as in the photo below. And in an expression of that desire for a slower place, a mid-1800s-era flâneur might be found sauntering through a fashionable Parisian arcade decked out like a dandy with a turtle on a leash—contributing to the spectacle while observing it.



The recent repopularization of the term flâneur in Seattle's rampant pseudo intellectual urbanist circles can be traced to the whimsical use of the term by urban designer and landscape architect Paul Chasan as an alternate title for his Program Coordinator position with the local green urbanist nonprofit Great City. In recent weeks the Seattle flâneur craze has hit fever pitch, and this Thursday evening flâneur wannabes from far and wide will descend on what is sure to be the flâneuriest event the Pacific Northwest has ever seen: Fête du Flâneur.

Fête du Flâneur is a fundraiser for Great City. But don't let that scare you off, because this particular fundraiser will feature a aerial acrobat, a clown trained in France, and a burlesque dancer, along with delectable food and drink provided by local gourmets. The guest list includes noted flâneur enthusiasts Mike McGinn, Tim Burgess, Mike O'Brien, and Darryl Smith.

Most importantly, there will be a sensational "mustache-off" between two local non-profit directors, who shall remain nameless because firearms may or may not be involved.

Tickets cost $45—a mere pittance when you consider that it covers food, drink, and entertainment, not to mention that it's going toward a good cause. Everything you need to know about the event is here.

Voulez-vous coucher avec un flâneur? Be there.