March 2 - March 3
Our plans have changed
We are no longer
staying in the 11th,
but we have taken a place in the fifth on Cardinal Lemoine for the
month of March. We got here this morning with many things going
well and a few things not so much. After a few immigration
officials sent us
from one line to another with very suspect explanations, I got to
Passport Control handed him my passport and he said "Non", just
"Non". He might have even folded his arms.
If you have been reading our travelogues over the years, you have
noticed how much we love the French. We sing their praises
constantly. So this was a big change. I burst into English trying to
explain that we had been sent here by the women in their suits and ID
tags but he seemed to be adamant. The solution was simple but
odd. He was one of two guys sharing a booth with exactly the same
signage over their heads. He was doing EU passports only and the guy
next to him was doing tout passeports (all passports), so I just
slipped myself into the other line and sailed through. Mostly, you just
have to smile.
We outsmarted ourselves by moving a few heavy things to our roller bags
to make our backpacks a little lighter, but forgetting that we would
have to lift these same bags up and down stairs making the transfer
from the RER to the metro and then getting out of the Metro at
On the train, I thought we would be able to send a message to
the guy who was going to let us into the apartment, but no. I may
figure this out, but for now we can communicate when we are in the
apartment through wifi. Dawn spoke to the woman in the bike shop next
door and she allowed Dawn to use her phone and make the call and Pascal
came down and let us in and gave us a quick tour of the place.
Small, but we knew that. Dawn thinks a little
dusty but that may be a
function of being in central Paris or the construction in the air shaft
of the building. It is actually next door. They have scaffolding
up and are probably doing a total rehab of that building.
Construction? Did I mention construction? Our window from the
bedroom and toilet open onto the air shaft of the building . Kind of
noisy, but not always. We can also see the workers' reflections
the windows across the street when they are on the roof. They
come at 9 AM and leave at 5 PM and take an hour for lunch. In the
morning the sun projects their shadows on the same building wall across
Within a one minute walk from our front door:
Our friends, Isabelle et Jean
Aforementioned bike rental place.
several bread stores
Le Petit Cardinal, a cafe, bar and restaurant
(See the photo taken from our window overlooking Cardinal Lemoine).
This is our favorite bar, perhaps because of the purple awnings, Dawn's
Le Carrefour, a small version of a very good chain supermarket
Cardinal Lemoine metro stop
Bus stop for the 89
Place Contrescarpe (maybe 2 or 3 minutes on foot), a high-priced area
with cafes and restaurants,
another good boulangerie, and rue Mouffetard, a medieval street
well-known to tourists for its markets...but charming, nonetheless
the Sorbonne and a host of other schools
the Pantheon (well, maybe five minutes on foot)
the Seine (maybe five minutes also)
Being in such a
familiar quartier is a bit like coming home. On our
first full day here, we took a long walk through the
Arenes Lutece, the
Jardin des Plantes, over to the river. It is a little bittersweet
as we walked in so many of these places with our friend, Malek. We are
thinking about creating some kind of video here as an homage to
him. Veronique sent us the last poem that he ever wrote, and it
is beautiful. I believe he became Buddhist, and the poem was
heartbreakingly prescient. He wrote of us becoming the sky, becoming
the sunrise, becoming a whispering stream, and being conduits for all
things natural and luminous. It will be a challenge to make a
piece that does justice to the poem.
Lunch with Isabelle and Jean
The day before we made a date with Isabelle to have lunch with
them at a
Vietnamese Restaurant up on Contrascarpe. It is really
interesting. They are a wonderful couple and have maintained
their sense of humor about each other that is wonderful. We
learned more about the exhibition that he (really they) is mounting
down at the Henri Martin Musée in Cahors, near their house in
Çezac. It will really be a history of his life with his art and
poems, photographs of him with his friends and colleagues, and many
taken by his children. We need to go down there to the opening
and will make plans in the week to come.
The proprietor in the Vietnamese restaurant knows just about everyone
in the place. It is small and
he snakes his way around directing newcomers to their tables delivering
food and picking up empty plates. Isabelle is late so Jean orders
for her and has his regular dish. We have one of each of the Menus.
Chicken for Dawn and pork for me. I manage to get the check
although it might be bad manners.
After lunch, Isabelle and I go to Picards which is a store that sells
only frozen food, maybe 200 different items. She says many of
them are very good. I don't buy anything but do watch her and find out
what the really good items are. We have a very small kitchen, and
we may not want to always make things from scratch.
For Isabelle to say that a pre-made
is good is a big deal; she is an excellent soup-maker herself and only
recently has treated herself to a little help from products like
I love being here in Paris. Mexico and San Francisco were
wonderful in their way, but Paris opens its arms to me in a way that no
other place in the world does. I don't speak French, only well
to get a drink or buy a baguette but not enough to be really friendly
the way Dawn is.
Another beautiful day, we went leisurely
through the Jardin du
Luxumbourg, a classic Parisian park, with the kids sailing the little
sailboats in the pond and spring flowers actually beginning to bloom!
Yes, crocus in bloom, and Sunday, March 8, daffodils were starting to
bloom! I hope you Boston folks will get steady slow melting enough to
enjoy some spring flowers in April!
Before we went to the garden we
stopped by a couple of gyms looking for
some classes for Dawn. We are in a swanky neighborhood so the
prices seemed really high. On the way back we wandered up a small
street toward Mouffetard and then cut across Place du Pantheon, looking
for some monastery that Dawn saw in the travel book. We didn't
quite find it. We did find the City of Paris local gym and swimming
pool. I hung around in the lobby while Dawn took a tour.
On the way back, we probably stopped in at the Petit Cardinal for a
glass of something. We usually sit at the bar and have a glass of
wine or espresso or beer. If it wasn't this day, it was the next.
We do it a lot.
The photo is from my favorite seat at the Petit Cardinal.
We are going to
stop organizing by date and start by topic. We will now be writing
about things as we think about
them even though we will be outside of time. If we hate it, we'll
Paris Secret and Unusual
In our little apartment, I found a book called Paris, Secret et
(secret and unusual) it lists unusual places off the
list, neighborhood by neighborhood. If you have never been to Paris
before or if you have only a week, it would be a book to ignore.
However, having had the pleasure of visiting Paris many times before
and enjoying most of the "must-see" sites, it seemed like a good idea
to discover parts of the city that we do not know at all. So we have
been getting out of the "bubble" as our new friend Catharine calls the
center of Paris.
In the 19th arrondissement we walked over to the Canal St. Martin and
found a neighborhood filled with all kinds of people, much more diverse
than the center, more colorful, more different languages, clothes,
etc.. The "secret" was an old Prussian church, now Russian Orthodox. It
has a wooden porch with cutout designs and beautiful paintings of
saints. The whole place had the air of being Japanese, although it was
kind of rundown. We were not able to get in, although a gentleman doing
research at the adjacent library said the priest should be there in 15
minutes for vespers. Since we were not there for the religion but or
the art, we decided not to wait.
We walked over to the park, Butte-Chaumont which was a total surprise.
Maxwell Parish on steroids. We
will have to go back on a sunny day to get the blue sky and probably should hire some Isadora Duncan dancers
to complete the picture. It was an old quarry and the butte is
what they left after finished taking the gypsum. Two bridges connect
the butte to the surrounding city
and it is topped by a Roman Portico. The whole thing is
We headed for another Paris,
suggestion, a neighborhood a small houses built for the quarry workers.
Everything is relative and now they are large, for Paris, houses for
upscale Parisians. They have beautiful gardens in front and each pair
rows face a cobblestone drive just wide enough for one car. Some are
divided into two or three flats but most remain single family homes.
Another day we went over to the 15th, practically at the perepherique (beltway), around the city.
We were looking for the Parc Andre Citröen that Catharine had mentioned
but discovered “La Petite Ceinture du 15me”, a walking path that was
made by transforming train tracks that used to carry people and also
goods to factories around the edge of the city. They are trying to make
it an "Eco" place, although at this time of year, there is not a whole
lot growing. Nevertheless lots of folks of all ages walk or run there.
They even have an elevator for wheelchairs which is not the case
throughout the city.
But now I have to talk about something not at all secret or insolite,
our visit to the Marmatton Museum. Well, maybe it is a bit secret and
unusual because it is not in the city center where most of the museums
and monuments are, but it is still "an art museum." It is in a very
elegant, right bank arrondissement, the 16th. It started out as a
hunting lodge and was later turned into a townhouse. before the family
donated as a museum. What got us there
were the posters all over town of the back of a standing nude woman at
The title of the exposition was
"La Toilette, la
naissance de l'intime." It was one of those themed shows that I thought
actually worked. (As against the "Gorgeous" show at the Asian Art
Museum in San Francisco which felt so contrived to me.) It was a
history of women's bathing, toilet, and cosmetic practices through art
over several centuries, including a couple of racy paintings by
Boucher, 18th c. There was some beautiful work there including Manet
However, what really got me was the huge collection of Monet paintings
donated by his son, around 1970. The Marmatton was formerly a sumptuous
private home. As you walk in the building, the dining room sports a few
Renoirs, Caillebottes, a Corot and a Chagall. A special place was
designed downstairs for the amazing collection donated by Michel Monet.
Now I know that Monet was cutting edge over a hundred years ago, but I
was still brought to tears when surrounded by his paintings...maybe
because my mother loved his work so much, and as a painter wished that
her work could be as "free or loose" as his. While there were many
familiar subjects, especially the water lilies that he could paint
hundreds of times and they would always differ, there were some that I
had never seen reproductions of...les glycines, the (wisteria), for
example, almost totally abstract, just color, shape and light. The man
was incredibly prolific. Maybe I became so emotional being in the
presence of such daily discipline, with such beautiful results, an
artist painting what he saw, the shimmer of light, how colors changed
with time of day, regardless of whether his art was "accepted" at the
April Will Be in the 11th
Today we stood in an apartment on Rue Auguste Barbier with the owner
and made a deal to rent it for the month of April. No pens, no paper.
Julie gave me the the name and password of the wifi and I pulled out
the laptop and signed into Airbnb and clicked on a bunch of buttons,
sent my rental request out in the internet where it came back to her
and she accepted my offer and we had a deal. Scant minutes before
someone else was in line to grab it.
It is not the apartment that Dawn
wanted, but it was the one that was
ours if we said so. I feel they are going fast now and I wanted this
search to be behind us. The other one is many dollars more but bigger
and with views of most of the sacred cows of Paris: Eiffel Tower, Sacre
Coeur, Notre Dame, etc. Maybe that will be for May. (Dawn is thinking
that we should we should head out in May to Provence or Norway or Padua
or Italy). I am thinking we will just hitting our stride.
The apartment is near the Canal
St. Martin. It goes from the
Seine up to the Bastille and then goes underground up past the Blvd du
Republic where it comes out again. But there is more to it. There are
locks at both ends of the tunnel because they have to send
the boats down to get through the tunnel and then lift them up again to
get out. I have never been in the tunnel but I grabbed a photo in
order to see.
March seems to be the month for sprucing up Paris. Perhaps they are
getting ready for the deluge of tourists to come in spring and summer.
This morning we have a jackhammer tearing up the sidewalk beneath our
window. They are replacing some underground pipes throughout the
neighborhood. This sound, in addition to the daily workers' sounds in
the air shaft right outside the bedroom window, makes for an
atmosphere for meditation! Sometimes I move from focus on the
breath to a little John Cage focus on the "symphony of sound" around
me. It seems to turn something inherently annoying into something
They are also rebuilding the
shelters for many of the bus stops so there is green fencing around
many, making us question where we should
actually wait for the bus. Last week a crane came to the stop across
the street and lifted a new roof onto the shelter. Oh, and did I
mention that the dome of the Pantheon is covered in a huge tarp because
of the Travaux they are doing there? At least the tarp is printed with
large photos of peoples faces, quite interesting really.
(At right, a photo
shows the scaffolding going up. It and the crane are supported by four
towers and nothing touches the dome itself. JSB)
I should also say that during our walks and bus rides through town, we
have noticed how many great monuments have been cleaned since we were
last here. For example, the impressive Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame
is no longer gray; it is a beautiful blonde sandstone kind of color.
Oddly enough, we also live across the street from the firehouse,
reminding us of the firehouse not far from our home on Cummins Highway.
The sirens here are completely different, reminiscent of those sirens
that one hears in all those gruesome films about WWII. The interesting
part, though, is watching the pompiers practice their skills. They have
apparently rented an apartment a couple of floors up in the same
building that houses their engines. Every so often, they get out there
in full regalia and practice getting the ladder up, getting the hoses
going, etc. I haven't seen a practice rescue yet, but maybe that's next.
A week or so ago, we were walking on Île de la Cité, behind Notre Dame
and noticed some glittering colors all along the railings of the
bridge, the Pont l'Archevêque. I thought it was an art installation. As
we started crossing the bridge, we saw that there were thousands, yes
thousands, of metal padlocks attached to the grillwork of the railings.
Upon closer inspection, we saw names, initials, hearts, declarations of
everlasting love, etc. I wondered if an artist started a collective
project. I took some pictures because it was such an arresting sight.
When we got back to the apartment, Stephen did a little research
and found out that since the year 2,000, padlocks have been showing up
like this in cities around the world. Apparently it is a revival of a
tradition started in the early 20th century in which lovers lock a
padlock to a public place, usually a bridge, then throw the key in the
river. Although to my eye, it is mostly beautiful, it is apparently a
and safety hazard. The metal locks weigh a lot and have brought down
sections of railings. Using a metal saw to remove them also potentially
damages the bridges. It is really too bad because now the city
government is putting up different kinds of railings to which people
cannot attach locks. Problem is, those railings are mostly kind of
ugly....combinations of concrete and plexiglass.
It seems such an irony that the City of Light, known as a haven for
lovers, is experiencing slow destruction of one aspect of its beauty by
people who come here to leave a tangible memento of their love.
You know you are old when you
have to think about how you feel about the "Love Locks". As a young man
in love, the rest of the universe disappears. You crave the intensity
of your own emotions. The closing of the lock is the perfect metaphor,
it is the height of grasping, of possession, of desire. It is Paris,
you are young and your love will never die. Anything to remove the
uncertainty is to be desired.
We should have more sympathy for the pain of this uncertainty and their
desperate attempt to stave off the future. Now, we know love dies. The
single rose given to your love is perhaps a more elegant symbol than a
lock with no key. Its complexity of shape and color, its death or
preservation as a dried flower foretells the difficulty of the
relationship for anyone who cares to notice. But you can give another
rose, write another poem. If your love doesn't die, it changes. But we
didn't know that. We didn't know anything then.
Maybe we could start another
tradition. The same guys that sell the locks and do the engraving could
rent bolt cutters with four foot handles. I am sure that they would
easily go through 90% of the locks. Then the people that believe in
love with a lighter touch or believe that most of the lovers have moved
on, or just that they are ugly could cut away at their hearts' content.
I have created two sides here but they don't exist. I can believe that
the locks are wonderful and terrible at the same time. I was hoping a
Möbius strip would be the apt metaphor for this situation, but it is
going to fall short. Even though it creates one side out of two, it
goes in a circle that seems dizzying. Maybe I can save it by making it
infinitely long and wide, and put everything on it so although it looks
like there are two sides to everything, actually there is only one.
One More Comment
from Lily Cockerill
It's a new habit that's taken off on the Brooklyn Bridge in NY. We saw
the padlocks when we were there. It's a lovely idea...although the
padlocks with combination locks seem to have missed the point!
David Bowie Exposition
We went to the David Bowie Exposition. To get the difficulties out of
the way first: We bought our tickets online and signed up for the first
admission slot at noon. They said we could pick our tickets up one hour
before Exhibit opened. That wasn't true and it wasn't true that they
had any velvet ropes up or anyone one there who know what was happening
before many people arrived and we all just milled around. It was
true that they sold a lot of tickets and it was crowded.
But after we got in and picked up our Sennheiser audio devices the day
the Sennheiser Website:
Sound at the heart of the exhibition
The exhibition is designed to be an immersive audio experience. Sound
quality is therefore one of the most critical elements, and the
organizers have drawn on the expertise and technology of audio
specialist Sennheiser to craft the exhibition’s rich soundscape.
Fittingly for a tribute to an artist that has embraced technology
throughout his career, the exhibition uses leading edge tools to blend
sound and vision. Audio guides, powered by Sennheiser’s guidePORT
system, automatically provide the music and soundtrack when visitors
approach the exhibits and screens, and seamlessly integrate all sound
material into the tour. The exhibition will use 550 body packs with
Sennheiser stereo headphones, offering a simple solution that lets the
visitor explore Bowie’s music, art, and style with all their senses.
While two audio events are directly stored on the visitors’ body pack
receivers – a welcome text when entering the exhibition and an “extro”
when leaving – all other music and video sound is transmitted as
real-time, lip-sync stereo audio from eleven twin cell transmitters.
These rack-mount units are located in two control rooms that also
accommodate the control PC for the guidePORT system. The visitors’
receivers automatically download the audio when they pass by the
corresponding guidePORT antenna units, and “know” which track to play
when they approach so-called identifiers, small trigger units placed
near the exhibits – just like an indoor GPS.
This is a fully automated yet entirely personal tour, as the
exhibition can be explored in whatever order and at any pace
whatsoever. The audio is always played at the right time for each
visitor,” explains Norbert Hilbich, Sennheiser Application Engineering,
who assisted in the set-up of the guidePORT system. Tours with a
tour-guide are possible too. For this, the museum uses a convenient
body pack transmitter with a headset microphone, enabling the guides to
both make tailor-made commentary for their guests and trigger any of
the pre-recorded exhibition material as they like.
One of the sweetest moments in the exhibition was the five minute video. It must be from
the year he took off from pop music to study and tour with his theater
and mime mentor, Lindsay Kemp. You can find some interesting videos of
both Lindsay's dance company and his video work by searching online.
The video is the classic mask story, of someone who finds a mask and
realizing that when he puts it on he becomes liked , popular and then
famous. Of course, toward the end he can't remove it. I won't spoil the
ending. He performs it honestly and straightforwardly and in the
context of this mega pop star show it is at least awkward. It speaks of
his balls that he put it into the show.
The photo is not from the mime video, but it seemed to me to be the
most "David" we are ever going to see.
This was indeed a totally
immersive, multimedia experience. The sound quality was fabulous, and
so important. Normally we don't get audio guides to exhibits, but this
was different. It wasn't about "explaining" what we were seeing. Half
the show was the sound. We could hear Bowie speaking in various video
interviews or slide shows, and his music was synced with every
music-video presented...and there were many over his long career. Plus
the spaces were beautifully designed to allow the visitor to enter into
the experience as against just witnessing it.
From a MassArt point of view, Bowie was a SIM kinda guy. Yes, very much
in the pop/rock roster of greats, but also a performance artist at
heart, transforming himself into so many different personas. Ziggy
Stardust was probably the main catapult into fame. AND he knew how to
collaborate, how to gather visual artists, designers, film-video and
sound people to support and expand his visions. Oh, and the guy could
paint too. During his Berlin years, post LA and de-toxing from who
knows what drugs, he gave himself time and permission to do whatever.
His paintings, mostly large portraits, were reminiscent of Edvard Munch
with "Scream"-like intensity.
After a couple of hours of
perusing all the amazing costumes, videos, sketches, writings,
recordings, we "exited" (next to a photo of Bowie at a stage-door exit)
and turned in our headsets. Then we entered yet another large,
high-ceilinged space called something like "Bowie Live...in
Performance." Now the sound was all around us, yes loud, but perfectly
balanced and not irritating. Large video projections of various live
performances played on different walls behind which life-size
mannequins in Bowie costumes would shift in and out of sight. People
could lounge on deep, cushioned benches in the center of the space. Oh,
I wanted to DANCE! Couldn't believe no one was dancing. There were
plenty of young folks there too, not just old retirees like us. Well, I
did my little unobtrusive grooving but would've loved to move big!
It all started in Mexico City, at the Red Tree House. We were having
breakfast and the couple across the table, upon hearing that we were
going to Paris, mentioned that their son had played in a bar named
Coulée Douzieme or something like that. Now we can't remember quite who
that was but we think it was the Canadian couple from north of Toronto.
The place turned out to be the Coulée Douce, a little wordplay (sweet
twelve, the arrondissement that the bar was in. It also sold bio
spices, wines and meat. The website said they were closed all day
Saturday and opened on Sunday around 4 PM for the 5 PM concert. For the
last ten years or so, on Thursdays they have the occasional
mathematics lecture. One guy ran it. I assume he was the owner.
Manu is the guy on the left in the poster.
This place belonged in Dawn's book, Secret
and Insolite de Paris.
It is out in the middle of nowhere. It
opened when we arrived and being cold we headed out to get a coffee to
warm up. Must have been five blocks. I mean, this is Paris!
We got back to find it open with
a couple at the bar.We joined them and had a glass of wine
at the bar as people began to trickle in. The place is not very
Manu himself came in shortly and began to set up his microphone. The
picture was taken from the back of the room. The owner set up
some more chairs and turned on the light behind the mirror that you can
see in the picture. The volume seemed kind of loud so I made a decision
to sit at a table at the back of the room. We put our coats on two of
the chairs. Before we sat down a handsome guy sat down on the
other. I kind of assumed that the owner would bring more chairs and
that everyone would be seated.
Wrong. On the right you can see
the results. Could not see a thing but the music sounded great, so we
just sat and listened.
I could see the patron and was able refresh my beer (I had switched) by
just a wave. People kept coming in. There was a one drink cover,
about 3 Euros, but I am not sure that the last people could cross the
ten feet to reach the bar.
Like the Bazaar cafe show in San Francisco with Mike Simpson and Judi
Jaeger and Simon Kanzler CD release party in Berlin, I think we were
the only people in the room that didn't know the performers. This is
the other Cafe Society of Paris, where hearing music is supporting
it. We left after two sets, throwing some Euros into the hat that
was passed. Actually, I decided that we had not contributed enough and
went to the stage area and asked Manu for the hat. None was there
so I just handed him the money.
So when Manu came in from his pre-show glass of wine and cigarette, he proceeded to greet everyone
with the French double kiss on the cheeks, including the man sitting
next to us who said, "Tout le monde ici le connait." Every one
here knows him, to which I said "sauf nous!" (except us.) So the man
whose name was David, and I had an interesting conversation on breaks
between the music. Turns out he had been an aspiring actor but
gave it up about fifteen years ago in order to feed his family,
basically. He admires Manu for knowing that he wanted to sing since he
was five and that he still does it, even though he has a day job as
well. Sound familiar? David said that while France still has an active
cultural life (like duh...), government support is always decreasing.
This, in a country where dance companies are installed in all the
provinces with paid artists and staff, studios and performance spaces.
However, I guess it's all relative, and David said that if you want to
commit to being a musician, actor, or dancer, you have to be ready to
eat a lot of pasta.
The detail-minded reader will notice that I said that Manu had a
cigarette before singing...so did David Bowie in all those interview
clips. It is sad to see that there is still such a culture of smoking
here in Paris, and especially that so many young people are doing it. I
certainly did enjoy smoking at certain times in my life, but the idea
that even singers who depend on their voices....and of course the
smokers are driven outside because there are laws against smoking
inside now, so the streets are littered with butts, which really bugs
our friend Isabelle who says that in other European cities, there are
unobtrusive standing ashtrays on the sidewalks. I think that was a
run-on sentence. Time to quit for the evening!
After getting back from a long walk in the fourteenth, Dawn started her
yoga so I grabbed the laptop and headed to the Petit Cardinal to
get in some writing. I gave myself an hour and a half and said I would
be back around six. I did get some in, the new part about the mime video
at the David Bowie exhibition. But then
Pascal came in and sat down, ordered a glass of wine and we talked for
a while until Tristan came in and then he and I talked for a while. I
emailed Dawn but then my phone ran out of power and I didn't get any
more of her messages. By the time I got home, it was eight
thirty. Not so good.
I did arrange for us to go to a showing of Pascal and Tristan's friend
next Wednesday in his studio in the building next to ours. A kind
of "bring a bottle of wine and talk about
and look at art" kind of event. Also, the five of us (including
will get together for a drink in the near future. Although
Pascal works at hotels, he is in fact an historian and writing a book
about Jean-Andoche Junot who was Napoleon's first secretary and later
commanded some of his armies.
Pascal works one day a week at the Hotel des Grandes Ecoles of which
he had a couple of crazy stories which we can add to our
collection. Last Sunday, Veronique told us some stories about
staying their when it was more of a youth hostel and then another about
when she first met Malek. We can add some from our own experience
there. They range from semi-scandalous to weird so we will just leave
them be. Tristan has been traveling as part of his work as a
journalist. He sang the praises of Romania especially the part
called Transylvania. I thought tourism would be undeveloped in this
part of the world, but he said no, there are a lot of tourists.
Well one story led to another and one beer always seemed to generate
another (It was a two toilette trip evening) and between Pascal and
Tristan I am not sure I got in to pay for a round. Next time.
Stephen found a studio/performance place on the Internet, so we went to
a performance at "Le Regard du Cygne" Thursday afternoon,.
heard someone say she was from Boston, et voilà, it was Amy that
college with our good friend, Micki. She has done an amazing job with
little dance center in the 20th arrondisement...since 1982! She is now
pass the torch. She was very generous with offers to help out with
whatever, and for us to stay at her place in Normandy, if we want.
The space is yet another renovated écurie (stable), and somehow Amy got
the city of Paris to help subsidize renovations. It reminded us of Dock
11 in Berlin. They both are small, but attractive and have the
obligatory bar for European venues with coffee, soft drinks, and wine
available. The program was four solos, nothing embarrassing, all
and well performed, but nothing that blew your sox off! However, at 5
Euros a pop for tickets, we will go back and see some other
we went to Theatre de la Ville Wednesday night and saw a wonderfully
surprising, refreshing piece "organized" by Robyn Orlin, a white South
African choreographer, and performed by a fabulous group of Senegalese
men. I wouldn't be surprised if Maure brings it to Boston. Full of
surprises, and a modern, often humorous take on traditional African
dance and contemporary street dance, with some "audience participation"
to boot....some politics involved too. The thematic percussion
instruments of the evening were flip-flops, whether worn on the feet or
used in the hands. Because we were the fortunate recipients of tickets
from our friend Jean who is the president of the board of the theater,
we were sitting third row center. So when the flip-flop, sunglass
wearing dancers climbed into the audience and balanced on the arms of
the seats, we were definitely "up close and personal." The piece was
based on a traditional lion ceremony in which young men express their
bravery and fierceness. In this case, it was virtuosic dance bravado,
but also tongue-in-cheek. They had a great sense of humor about
Our Review of Tristan's Place for airbnb
Tristan's place in the fifth is in a fabulous location, especially if
you have never been to Paris before. If you have a sense of adventure,
you will really like this place. It evokes the Paris of the writer,
artist and composer. It is in the center of old Paris, within a walk
from so many of the icons. Place Contrescarpe and Rue Mouffetard are
nearby with their countless cafes and restaurants. L’Estrapade and
L’écurie are two that we enjoyed. Our favorite place for a coffee or a
drink is nearby Le Petit Cardinal.
We were there for the month of March. The apartment itself has a lot of
personality. It reminds me of my hippy days, with lots of color, lots
of cushions, a couch and a covered army cot in the living room and a
mattress on the floor in a dark, walk-through bedroom. The front
windows have an extra pane for sound insulation. There are lots of
books about Paris and a few art books. The bathroom is very nice with
the traditionally French separate toilet room. The kitchen is tiny and
has room for only one person, which was a small problem for us because
we usually cook and clean up together. The microwave is versatile; you
can broil or make toast in it, but there is no oven.
We were there when there was construction work in both the building
adjacent to ours and on the sidewalk under the front window. So the
main problem for us was noise and dust. We think the work in the street
is ending, but it might be a good idea to ask Tristan how the
renovation work next door is going. They work only during business
hours so most of time, you would probably be out while they are making
noise. Being there for a month we did not feel compelled to get out
every morning at 9:00 hence the noise may have been more of a problem
for us than for most folks who may stay a week.
One of the things we most enjoy about travel is meeting people. Tristan
was out of town when we arrived so his friend Pascal greeted us and
took care of us and anything that came up. He is a charming,
interesting young man as is Tristan who returned to Paris during the
last week of our stay. We had drinks with both of them and a studio
visit with Bruno, an artist friend of Pascal's.
Dawn writing in the 11th
We recommend the apartment especially for a young single or
Some folks in our age group (late sixties & upwards) might find
getting in and out of the floor level bed a bit cumbersome. It depends
on how good your knees are and how much you enjoy rolling over your
partner to get out! If you don't want to climb any stairs, be
aware that the apartment is two floors up.
Having visited about five gyms and rejecting them as too expensive or
unappealing, I have started dancing again at the Centre de Danse du
Marais with Maggie Boogart's improv class and Régine Petit's Nia class
(Zumba for hippies, as Stephen calls it.)
The courtyard of the Dance School with the roof of the Pompidou in the back, a view from the dressing room
They are both lovely and very
appreciative of whatever it is I bring to the group. Maggie and I have
some dear friends in common and have quickly made a nice friendship. In
fact, she seems interested in having us do a little presentation about
our lives in dance and art and to show some of our videos. On verra
(We'll see). Hope so.
Those of you who dance will appreciate this one! The first improv class
I went to was all contact with much weight sharing, etc. the students
are all in their 20's...and me. Yesterday, the class was more about
exploring space, body parts, movement qualities and various
relationships to music. She asked the students to watch me
several times because as some of you know, I have a particular way of
moving and take the rules of the score seriously. When discussing the
space improv in the group, I mentioned that restrictions inspire
invention, hence the usefulness of "rules" in any given improv
structure. I hope that was useful to the class.
Maggie had gone to my website and appreciated my work and the Martha
Graham heritage we have in common so introduced me yesterday as a
"grande chorégraphe américaine!" She asked me to talk about my time at
the Graham school and how that influenced me, etc...all of which I
managed to pull off in (imperfect) French! The students are very sweet,
and several thanked me after the class for "inspiring" them. Guess I am
not dead yet! (But I am sore :-).
Quick Trip to Cahors
Last Friday we took what I call
the "train à moins vitesse" - a little
wordplay on the high speed TGV (train à grande vitesse) to Cahors. It
was a five and a half hour ride in a compartment with three-person
benches on each side. It was an old train and clearly a couchette car
for overnight sleeping that was being used for a day trip.
The middle two beds swing down to
form the back of the seats. No armrests (to fight over) or lumbar
support.We got to
the Hotel Terminus about 3:20 and immediately called Isabelle to see
how they were doing with the installation of Jean's exhibition. She
said, in English, "we are still working like Hell! Please come
over as soon as you can."
Although they had gone down there for several days weeks ago to
the materials to the Henri Martin museum and begin the installation, it
turned out that both the director and electrician were ill and unable
to work. So there was a lot of last minute hanging, cleaning, and
labeling. Stephen did a little refocusing of the lights (first time in
9 months). It was actually done at 5:15, and the opening started at
6:00. Meanwhile they had a twenty-minute drive each way to their house
in Cézac because they needed to change clothes. Both in their
mid-eighties, they are amazing.
There was a huge crowd for the opening, including three of their
daughters and one of their partners and a niece and one of the artists
he included in the show. We all had a very late dinner afterwards in a
local bistro. I think Jean was very happy with how things turned out
and expressed appreciation to all his family and to us. It is an
unusual show because it was really autobiographical, including many
photos he has taken of family and artist friends, many press photos of
him with French luminaries from the political and artistic worlds, his
writing, sketches and watercolors as well as paintings and sculptures
that he has collected.
We wanted to see our friends who own the vineyard where we made our
videos during my sabbatical in fall, 2012, but it just didn't work out
for various reasons. So we had a full day to spend in Cahors.
Unfortunately it was just as cold there as it has been in Paris, but we
bundled up and found a little cafe for morning coffee that allowed us
to buy our pain au chocolat next door and bring it in. Then we went to
the Saturday morning outdoor market that we have visited and loved so
many times. It was just as beautiful, but we couldn't buy much because
we were heading back to Paris late that afternoon. Still, we had to get
some Cabecou, the wonderful, small round goat cheeses they make in that
region and one bottle of a nice Cahors Réserve from our friends at the
Domaine de la Garde. Well, they are not really our friends, but when we
were staying in Cézac, we either walked or biked over to their Domaine
a couple of times and got to know Madame. She is memorable for having
asked us where we were from and saying she had never heard of Boston!
She also had a classic southern accent that made me think she said
viande (meat) when she actually had said avion (airplane.) Now her son
is in charge, and upon inquiry, it sounds like his mother may not be
doing so well. Yes, everything changes.
After the market, we walked back to the hotel, packed up and checked
out. They kept our bags behind the desk so we could walk around
unencumbered for the afternoon. Although we have been to Cahors many a
time, we found a warren of small medieval streets to explore that we
had never walked before. It is really a lovely town. We found a small
place to have a chocolat chaud à l'ancienne. This was like a meal
of hot chocolate, the dark thick chocolate having been churning and
warming all day. Stephen had a little Kirsch in his.
We stopped into the Cathedral and
found much changed, especially the lighting. Also, The windows were
completely modern and new since we were last there.
The train back to Paris was
modern, and we had side-by-side seats in a
coach that was very comfortable. There was even a gentleman with a cart
that came through the aisle, like on an airplane, so we could buy a
little wine and beer to go with our "meal" of cheese, nuts, prunes, and
clementines from the morning market. The train arrived about 11:15 PM
the Gare d'Austerlitz. Two Métro trains and we were home well before
midnight. It was a whirlwind trip, but luckily I had a good book that I
borrowed from our apartment to read on the train, and we were really
glad that we were there for this important episode in our friends'
On moving day I asked the trip
planner to take us by bus route with
the least amount of walking. Its solution wasn't the fast way but it
didn't include any Metro steps, so all we had to do was get down the
apartment steps, then on and off two buses and then up the three
flights at Julie's. There was some walking, but when you have rolling
suitcases, they are meant to be rolled, not carried. Julie's husband
Charles met us downstairs and took care of Dawn's worry of the day by
carrying her suitcase up to the apartment. He offered to carry mine,
but that seemed over the top.
He had been busy in the apartment cleaning the shower stall which
developed a layer of mold during a few months long stay of the previous
tenant. It was bad enough that he had to recaulk the seams around the
door. We took the opportunity to drop our stuff and head out to
lunch at the local on the corner. It is the Caravane, a hippy bar that
uses LP's (long playing Vinyl Discs for the youngsters out there) to
play their music. The food was good and inexpensive. They stay open
from 11 AM to 2 AM the next day and they have WiFi.
During coffee, we got a Whatsapp that Charles was done fixing the shower, so we returned.
The apartment is kind of bauhaus. We have a shower with a door
the modern appliances: induction burners, digitally controlled oven and
a large refrigerator in a kitchen where we can both cook
simultaneously, if carefully. The apartment is white including floor,
walls and ceiling with a lot of windows and light so we can see our
stuff. Pretty much the opposite of Tristan's.
The 11th arrondissement is more racially and culturally diverse than
the fifth and exists on a different schedule. On Easter, we left
a quiet more upscale neighborhood where we heard a concert, and when we
came up the stairs at the
Belleville stop we found a teeming crowd packing the street. People
were buying clothes, food, filling the brasseries. There were a
lot of street stalls selling all kinds of things. The place had a
nearly Mexican energy.
Watching Young People Create
I set up the coffee in our electric Moka the night before and did not
return to bed when the alarm went off at seven so that we could go down
to the Danse Center in the Marais and watch Maggie Boogart's advanced
Graham techniques class at 9:30 this morning. The subway was packed and
we couldn't even get on the first train that came in. We managed
to get on the second train by separating (Gasp) and slipping past
separate closing doors, each hoping the other got on. We got there in
plenty of time and took our shoes off and entered the Offenbach studio.
This spring could it be forty-five years since I last entered the
Martha Graham studio? And now it is thirty five years since I have
entered any kind of studio with my tights on. I guess that is moving on
and looking back it was the right decision. But now we are faced
with four young Graham dancers who are going to show us what it means
to dance in the Graham technique some eighty five years after she
Okay, well I haven't been in the Graham studio since 1963! I can't even
count the years since I was a scholarship student there when in high
school, with memories of Martha herself entering the studio and
inspiring/scaring the daylights out of us!
It was fascinating to watch Maggie's class. She herself is a tall, lean
and lovely mover with tons of power. The students (two French, one
Dutch, one Argentinian) worked very hard in that class, doing lots of
combinations that they had built over the week. It was interesting to
note the similarities and differences from what I remember doing back
in the day. Maggie's class tended to have faster tempos and more
accented rhythms than I remember. However, the heart of the technique
(contraction/release, spiral, breath) remains the same. It was easy to
see why I was so attracted to Graham's technique. It is so organic,
with all movements of the limbs emanating from deep in the core. I am
reminded of a romantic poem that I wrote for my high school literary
magazine which started, " As the molten core in the center of the earth
causes the ground to tremble, an impulse from the heart of man impels
his limbs to dance!" (Those were the days when "man" meant "human
The same evening. we were invited to join our new friend
Catherine at a
small, informal jazz performance in the fifth at the Auberge Espagnole.
She said the keyboard player was Justin, a nineteen year-old friend of
her daughter's. She called around 6:00 to say that something had come
up with her family so she was unable to attend, but she encouraged us
to check it out anyway...which we did. We arrived about 8:30 and were
ushered downstairs to a small "cave" where the three guys were set up:
keyboard, alto sax and standing bass. We were the only audience there!!
I mentioned that Catherine had "sent" us but was unable to attend
herself. Justin did not recognize her name, and since I didn't know her
daughter's name, I couldn't give him that connection.
However, they were pleased to have an audience of two and launched into
some wonderful jazz standards by folks like Thelonius Monk and Charlie
Parker. They were really quite good. Eventually, a young woman, who did
not know them, showed up as audience, and later some of their friends
came...but not many. A lovely tall young woman showed up with her own
mic and sang very well, with sophisticated performance technique. Her
spoken French with the guys was so natural, but her English
pronunciation of the lyrics (like "Love for Sale") was so American,
j'ai demandé, "est-ce que vous êtes française ou américaine?" to
which she responded "allemande!" (I asked if she was French or
American. She replied that she was German!) Stephen and I enjoyed a
little dance, in a small space, to the last piece they played. Stephen
asked for a card from the alto sax player as he is thinking he might
add something to our, still imaginary, video that we may make here in
So we seem to be surrounded by young people making music and dance. It
seems fitting that as I write, today is the annual benefit for the
, Micki's iteration at BU of the outreach program that
Mart and I started so many years ago with Dance Collective. It
continues to be a wonderful intergenerational program that serves
thousands of city kids with performances and workshops each summer.
We went to see Boston Camerata celebrate their 60th anniversary with a
performance at the Theatre de la Ville. Five of them made the
trip including Anne and they worked with eleven singers who were
studying at an atelier in the 11th. It was a wonderful show. They
did Carmina Burana
with the Carl Orff music that is so well know but with Medieval Music.
Boston Camerata always does a lot of dramatizing when they sing and it
was fun to see the choreography for this larger group.
Anne is French so was comfortable introducing the group and the
music. The first time I saw Boston Camerata was a snowy night
around Christmas a number of years ago up on Cape Ann with Linda and
Sage in a small New England church. The whole thing was in
French! Surprised me. I understood just a little but it gave the
concert of Christmas music the feeling that we had traveled far in both
distance and time to some magical place to hear this wonderful music.
Since then, we have seen many more concerts and I have done a little
lighting for them. We had a little reunion with Anne after the
show, short as she was signing programs and CD's for the very
appreciative Parisian audience. The couple seated next to us had
bought tickets thinking that they were going to hear the Orff version,
but loved these settings to the poems.
We can get to the Theatre de la Ville, at the heart of Paris, without
crossing a street. Our street winds out to Parmentier and we catch the
11 Metro up at the corner which brings us to the side of theatre on the
same side of the street. Today we head for the Bois de Vincennes and we
can do the same thing by catching the 46 Bus next to the Metro stop and
it ends at the chateau in the park.
Checking out the French Medical System
Dawn was getting over a cold and we decided to go to the Parc Floral in
the Bois de Vincennes take a blanket and take turn lying in the sun and
admiring the flowers. They have amazing flower beds and that is
what we were looking at when Dawn tripped on a broken step and fell
awkwardly on her shoulder. On of those falls with a sharp joint pain as
the arm is not in a normal position when the shoulder hit the ground.
This put an end to our flower tour. Some body went for help and Dawn
lay on the ground because if the moved it hurt and sitting up or
especially standing hurt.
Various people came by and took information and finally we heard that familiar sound of the Pompiers
Sapeurs come through the Park to take Dawn to the hospital.
So we have ridden in one of those sapeur pompiers vehicles. Although it
made that wailing sound as it was coming, thankfully it was silent as we
made our way to the hospital. The people at the park who helped us were
very nice as we worked up what language we would all speak and at what
speed. They wore patches that can be translated as "Welcome and
Surveillance." I guess that is life in France.
Because of her nausea and wooziness Dawn came into the Emergency room
on a gurney and I was sent to the admissions window to take care of
Dawn's paperwork, in French. I was churning along when I heard
Dawn's cheery voice as
she came around the corner in a wheelchair to take over the job.
We found Dawn's Blue Cross Blue Shield card and handed that over along
with her driver's license .
So now we are in the waiting room after two exams and an x-ray. I
have found out where we are by walking over to the main entrance and
finding a poster. All the construction around probably explains
why there wasn't a sign on the building. We are at a Military Teaching
Hospital which explains all the people in Camos. We are not in Paris
anymore but in Saint Mandé, a suburb of Paris.
They don't call these waiting rooms for nothing. We are hanging out for
a diagnosis that we think will be a damaged rotator cuff.
I am wrong a lot. The doctor came out and said that Dawn broke the top
of her humerus, so now we are waiting for a surgeon. After a while,
someone came out and told us we could go home. She had papers for
us. Two were prescriptions, one for a sling and one for a pain
reliever. the other papers were for a physeotheraptists which we should
find on our own through the internet. The fall was around 2:30 in the
afternoon and now it is about six.
We had one more question, where do we
pay? What we found out was that they were going to bill the
insurance company and we shouldn't worry about anything. That was
interesting. We have always thought that we would have to pay first and
then be reimbursed. I think that BCBS is going to be very
surprised when they get a lot of invoices in French. I have no idea
about the emergency workers that came to us and took us to the hospital.
We walked through the grounds and left by a gate that had guards with
automatic weapons and looked right to see the pharmacy and the Metro
sign that would take us home.
The woman in the pharmacy again was wonderful. She answered all
the questions we had about what was going on and told Dawn the details
of each of the drugs on the prescription. Dawn opted for the
milder. We payed the bill and thanked her and headed for the subway.
We are talking 5-6 weeks of recovery. Dawn should wear the sling for
three weeks and not move her arm. Therapy starts tomorrow and continues
in unknown ways that we will find out. Dawn put some calls out to
friends in Paris to find a good therapist. This will change our
plans a little. Whatever dance video we do will be one
armed. This will probably bring to an end to dance classes in
Paris for Dawn. But who knows. This might open all kinds of things that
we don't know about.
We stopped at the Caravane for a spritzer and a beer just to get our
emotional breath. Everything changes.
I think Medicine here is pretty good. We were treated with respect and
courtesy every step of the way. The paperwork was simple and hope the
diagnosis accurate. We shall see.
Well, instead of a cast, they sent me to a pharmacy, and the pharmacist put on a two-part sling
device to immobilize my arm and gave me some pain meds. It looks like I
have to wear this thing, day and night, for three weeks, and maybe for
five. Am supposed to see a PT 3x/week for massage and "reeducation" of
the shoulder. I am quickly learning to be more adept with my left hand,
When I fell, I felt pain in the arm and the right hip. Because I had
some nausea when upright, they put me on a stretcher to get to the
hospital and in a wheelchair there. My hip didn't hurt then so we
didn't x-ray it. However, once I started walking again, I started
having pain in the right hip. It is probably not fractured, but to be
sure, we have contacted Isabelle's eldest son who is a doctor. He said
to get the hip x-rayed today and bring both hip and shoulder films to
see him tomorrow....which means an extra trip back to the military
hospital for Stephen to get the films from the emergency room because
no on gave
them to us yesterday.
Well, this wasn't exactly what we had in mind for April in Paris, but
it is what we have. The saddest part for me is that I had just started
I guess we are really "living" here now, as the original concept of
being in a place for three months was to not feel like tourists, but to
BE here. Right now, I would take "tourist" over "handicapped resident."
The trip back to the hospital went well to get the X-rays. I had to open my bag for the soldier with
the automatic weapon and show ID. That was a first. He seemed pleased that I was
American, not sure why. When people talk too fast for me I tell
them that I am American because it is easier to say than that I don't
speak French. Goes along with the concept that I only eat food
that I can pronounce.
We took the bus to go down to the radiologist and stopped for some sun
at a delightful park near the doctor's office. It had everything:
benches, a garden with explanations about the trees and plants, a
playground, a lawn and new for us, a small wetlands with goldfish and
lily pads. We soaked in the sun and headed for the lab.
We sat in four different waiting rooms: to be x-rayed, after the x-rays
and after the reading, after the payment to get the film. People were
friendly and efficient and the whole thing wasn't too expensive. We
celebrated with beer and a Cote du Rhone at the local.
We washed and dried Dawn's hair today in a collaborative effort, got
new clothes on her, (she looks great) and we are off to see Emmanuel
with our x-rays and make sure we are doing the best treatment.
Although we didn't know the door code or see a doorbell to ring for
Emmanuel's office, we got into the building when a couple of
motorcyclists went in the door. His waiting room bespeaks of his
family, with art on the walls and a bookcase full of interesting things
The verdict is that I have tendon damage as well as a partial fracture
in the humerus. He recommends keeping the arm as quiet as possible in
the sling for three weeks, with no physical therapy or massage until
after the bone has healed. About the hip, the good news is that I have
no fracture but also tendon damage which definitely hurt when he
pressed here and there. He says to walk and use my lower body as much
as feels okay. The bad news is that he does see moderate cartilage
degeneration in the left hip in the x-rays...no big surprise, given my
age and occupation. Get more x-rays of the shoulder in three weeks,
then see him again. Voilà!
I remain upbeat as an optimistic outlook is the key to healing.
Moreover, I have been noticing more street people here than ever and
realize how lucky I am. Knowing that the coins I give sometimes are a
tiny drop in the bucket, I wonder how the City of Paris is
handling the situation...something to investigate.
Another Dance Concert
We went back to Regard du Cygne
to see two Italian soloists. Actually a solo and a duet with a dancer
and a musician. All these dancers we have seen can really move but this
duet was very nice and for a change the lighting was very well done,
hooked up to the sound in a way that transported the room. The sound
had a lot of dynamics and sometimes seemed loud without actually being
loud. He really had control over his frequencies and there was
never any distortion or abuse of the speakers. The piece was long but
always had a forward push and came to a satisfying end after perhaps
one false ending. Look here again for Dawn's take on this concert.
Amy Swanson, from New England, and who runs the place invited us and
gave us comps and we responded by buying a membership. After a wine
social before the event, Amy took us to the head of the line so that we
could enter keeping Dawn's arm safe.
The photo is the alleyway and the studio. The large
studio/theater is behind the camera at the end of the alley. This is
intermission. This is another of the thousand of hidden places in Paris.
Yes, the artists were Laura Simi and Damiano Foé, originally from
Florence, but working now in Caen, Normandy. Called, "Shut Up!", in
English, it was a piece that questions the dominance or authority of
sound that surrounds us daily. It was a wonderful sound/movement
dialogs, using familiar technology to record and layer the sound live
from about six or seven mics on stage, but using the technology
completely at the service of the concept. Jean-Noel Francoise created
and performed most of the sound, while Laura did most of the amazing
movement, but she also sounded...and he also moved. It made me think of
the piece i did with David Moss, back in '85, in terms of the
eccentricity of both sound and movement, but it was like that piece on
steroids! She also explores some of the movement qualities that have
interested me for decades like shaking, brittle, off-balance, flinging.
Sitting there in my sling, as i watched her flinging her arms wildly
and falling to the floor, i wondered if my body will ever be up to that
Friends Come to Town
Our friends who own Sophia's
Grotto in Roslindale were in Paris for the
last five days with their children, ages 12 and 14.
It was wonderful to spend some time with them and feel their enthusiasm
for the city. It was the first time their children had been to Europe
which reminded me that I was 14 the first time I came to Europe with my
family, and my daughter was 14 the first time she came to Europe with
me. How odd!
They had five days of perfect weather. Flowers are
blooming everywhere, including wisteria and huge tree peonies, (on the
right) and the
leaves on the trees are almost all green now. We walked through central
the Louvre courtyard with the Pyramide, past the Arc du Carousel,
through the Tuileries where a goat was grazing as an experimental
lawnmower, through Place de la Concorde, to the Grand Palais. We walked
through the outdoor market that starts in Place de la Bastille, and
later met them for a picnic in les Jardins du Luxembourg. Joe brought
a very nice Sancerre. The rest of the time, they
combined a hop on/hop off L'Open bus with the Batobus which is a boat
that goes up and down the Seine, which they loved
them to all those must-see places.
The big news that we got when
they came to Paris is that they are opening another restaurant which
will be in Hyde Park in Boston called "Antonio's Bacaro". When you get
there you can ask Joe about the name. They are hoping for end of June
or beginning of July. We will send out the info to the Boston area
people inviting you to the opening. It will be a pure Northern Italian
restaurant and I am certainly looking forward to it.
A Stroll to Dinner
We returned to the restaurant, Les Zygomates (the smile muscles) at which we celebrated Dawn's 60th
birthday some years ago. It is in the 12th, on Rue de Capri. There is a
restaurant of the same name in Boston because the two chefs were
friends and had graduated together from cooking school and
although they went their separate ways, they gave their restaurants
the same name. As we found out, the restaurant has a new owner
now, a woman. The decor is a little lighter and the place a
little less formal, in that I remember last time that the waiter wore
the classic French waiter uniform. The food seemed about the same, good without being crazy good.
We have been reading about the Coulée Verte for a while and had been on
it for a moment or two on the cold day that we went to see Manu Lods,
which was not very far from where the restaurant is, so we decided to
take the metro to Bastille and then walk from there.
It was about two
miles so we just sauntered our way along. We could stop for
a drink on the way.
There were flowers everywhere. Everything is early by Boston standards.
At this point we are at the junction of two parks. We walked around, but they built a bridge so that the people on the Coulée Verte can walk
over the other park.
We did stop for a drink, but the first stop was at a public water fountain where they had two faucets, one for plain water and one for mineral fizzy water. I think the sign said that it was unique in France. They weren't drinking faucets but fountains to fill up your water bottles.
|The Coulée Verte is an old
railway right of way somewhat like the Hi-Line in NYC which I have
never been on. But there are times when it comes off the Viaduct to go
under boulevards through long tunnels. To the right is one. The
rocks on the side are art and in the middle there are two
waterfalls on the sides. The green you see in the distance is the
beginning of a ravine that continues to wander through Paris. The
bicycles are separated from the pedestrians and you are transported
into some magical forest. There are platforms to climb up on,
perhaps to bird watch.
This may not be something to do on your first trip to Paris, but
definitely on your second if the sun is out and it is during the
We did find a brasserie, Au Tramway on Boulevard Daumesnil to sit and
relax. I had a couple of beers and Dawn had a kir and snuck in a glass
of rosé from Provence. This arrondissement is not particularly near
the center of Paris. The L'Open Tour Bus does not come here. They are
not any attractions which may make it very nice for the people who
live here. It is pretty upscale, but you can walk down the sidewalk
without doing battle.
We were there during the its changeover from a drinks place to an
eating place. Place mats go onto the tables and a group that wanted to
have some drinks inside were gently but firmly shown to the table
Stephen, Redeemed at the Voyageur
A couple of days ago, I let Dawn go back to the apartment and
dropped into a bar near the apartment for a Guinness. I have enjoyed the beers
I have been drinking but missed my Guinness. In France, the accent is on
the second syllable. I managed to make myself understood. There was a
paper on the bar so I worked through a couple of articles, paid my tab,
checking with the patron that 3 Euros 40 was the right amount. It was
bottled Guinness and was okay but now as good as a draft.
Today we ran out of coffee and it was necessary to go out. Le Voyageur
may be the name of this place, it is what is on the mirror. I knew it
had stools at the counter so we stopped in and ordered deux café
crèmes. he was very solicitous about Dawn's arm and breaking the sugar
tube and pouring it into Dawn cup. He was on his way to putting a
second in when I stopped him and he gave me the opened tube. I had to
put my own sugar in.
"Did you want a croissant"? he asked.
"Pain au chocolat"? we responded.
And he said he would be right
back and went to the corner to pick them
up where we usually buy our baguettes. He mentioned that he was
providing this service because of Dawn's injury. Elsewhere, you get
sent out to get your own when a place doesn't have them or has run out.
So I think he has now recognized me from the previous evening and so he
goes over to the place where I was sitting and acts out my, to his eye,
my surly and unresponsive body language as he was trying to joke with
me. Dawn finally told him that I speak French better when I am with her
and he finally understood that I don't speak French and that I am not
really a curmudgeon. We went on to talk about the ways that different
coffee preparations are described in different languages. In the
end we paid, 8 Euros 40, and left.
On the right, the owner is explaining something next to the stand up
table in front of his bar. In front of him is a container for cigarette
I would not be having as great a time in Paris without Dawn. As most of
you know, she lights up a room and is generous and outgoing and
interested in the people that she meets. Things are more social when
she is around.
I spoke the fews words that I uttered well enough that I made the owner
think that I could speak French.
Two and a half things, I should probably be thinking about
communicating more than pronouncing them as a Frenchman. I might have
more fun. He spoke a little English and maybe we could have had a short
We have abandoned the Caravane as our official watering hole and
moved here to Le Voyageur. We think it has a more age appropriate group
for us and is more engaging. Mohammed showed Dawn how to shake hands
when your right arm is not functioning - you touch left elbows. In
countries with little water, one's left hand is not used socially.
Yesterday I sent a beer back or rather I walked with it to the bar and
asked him to taste it. I think the tubes from the keg or
something had not
been flushed properly. He agreed because what what followed was a great
of chairs and a table and then opening of a trap door and descending a
steep ladder to the cellar. A pause. Then returning to the taps to
exhaust the one and then two beers for Dawn and I to test. It was
amazing the difference. Heineken is a good light beer. I don't drink it
very ofter but when I do I want that freshness that it brings.
Le voyager is a bar/café. During lunch and dinner hours they will make
crêpes on a cart on the sidewalk, otherwise drinks and peanuts and the
other day a friend of Mohammed did some amazing sleight of hand with
cards and some coins both in French and for us, English. We are having
fun there and doing some writing and emails there also.
Place Dauphine/Square du
When we are finished with our
trip, we will make a list of the small
places in Paris to visit. Again, maybe not during the first trip, but
second. Good candidates are the Place Dauphine and the Square du
Vert-Galant, a park named in honor of Henry IV, nicknamed the "Green
Gallant". They are right next to each other and count as one.
Place Dauphine is reached from the Pont Neuf as it crosses the Île de
la Cité. Take the small street between two apartment buildings and it
quickly opens up into a very quiet triangular plaza with trees and
benches and a couple of cafés and restaurants. It is surrounded on both
sides of the île by noisy boulevards, so it is a much needed haven if
you need one. Midday it should have a lot of sun, In April by late
afternoon it will be mostly in the shade. There is a place to get take
Across the street, behind the
state of Henri IV on his horse, down some stairs is
the park. It forms the western tip of the island and has a
small lawn surrounded by benches, flowers and trees. We had a blanket
with us and we just spread it out and took a rest. Every once in a
while a guy would walk by selling bottles water, wine and beer. As we
been saying, sometimes we are very lazy tourists.
I notice that little has changed from the expressionists' paintings
of these parks of Paris. Perhaps the clothes are different, but
the sense of the Parisian out for his or her stroll seems to me the
same. Paris today connects with its past not just with its buildings,
monuments and art, but with its people.
The day we were there it was full of people, but I didn't take a
The Weather is Good
We are reluctant to go inside because we are in a spate of really
||We compromised with a
trip to Delacroix's last
apartment,studio and garden museum in the middle of the 6th
arrondissement. It is hard to find but we managed with the help of a
map drawn by Jean and my Google map app. First you find Place
Furstenberg with a sign that looks like a poster that once the truck
moved we saw that it pointed to a door that led to a small courtyard in
which the museum had its true entrance. Six Euros apiece, free with a
paid ticket to the Louvre. They run it now, and restored the garden.
|La Musée de la Vie Romantique
George Sand, Frederick Chopin, a small pre-Haussmann cottage in the
middle of Paris, Courtyard with Café/Tea Garden. How could this not be
the Romantic Life? I like these small museums. Can you tell whether he
is a mime or a statue?
||We returned to Parc Buttes
des Chaumont on a warmer, prettier day. Just a spectacular place
a complete face lift by the city of Paris. After our walk we
found a place in the sun for 2 coffees. Two women snagged our
table and we spoke to them for some minutes. They were practicing their
and Dawn working on her French. The one women had a complaint about our
President, she couldn't understand him when he spoke.
Thoughts of Home and Family
We love traveling but we are sharing what draws our thoughts homeward.
During our trip through
Boston in February, I got a chance to be read to by Chloe. Winter is
gone now and that hat is put away, but the warmth of this picture
remains for me.
Happy Birthday Lily!
She opened our gift when it came a few days early. There is also a
photo of Lily at the Nutcracker and a cute one of her and Dawn together.
Missing or Appreciating?
Paris has always made me think about my mom.
Many of you have heard
this story several times, but for those who don't know the connection,
My mother was born in Paris in 1909 to a Norwegian mother studying
music at the Paris Conservatory and an absent American father, Walter
Wellman, who was a journalist and Polar explorer. Apparently, my
grandfather was twenty-four years older than my grandmother whom he met
in Spitsbergen when preparing for one of his dirigible attempts at the
Since he was off on his explorations for long periods, my grandmother
preferred to be in the cultural center of Paris rather than in Norway.
She was an opera singer, and I have a handwritten letter from the
composer Jules Massenet, complimenting the young "blonde Norvégienne"
on her voice...which could become very fine if she continues to
study...or something to that effect.
My mother regaled me with stories of her beloved French "Nou Nou" who
helped take care of her and her older brother and actually moved to NYC
with them in 1914. Nou Nou wore sabots (wooden shoes) and said that
Camembert wasn't ripe until it ran over the windowsill. Camembert is
still one of my favorite cheeses, and I do like it ripe! My mom spoke
French before she spoke English. In fact, her Nou Nou refused to learn
that "ugly language" even when they lived in New York. Hence, I learned
the sound of beautiful, old Parisian French from my mother, although I
learned all the grammar, etc. in American schools. I guess that's why
most French people think I speak their language pretty well.
When we walk through the Jardin des Tuileries, I remember my mother
saying that her Nou Nou was such a good storyteller that all the kids
in the park would gather around to hear her tell a tale.
My mom also talked about those lovely little wooden sailboats that the kids could
rent along with sticks to push them out to catch the wind in the
Tuileries and Luxembourg ponds...and they still do. In fact, our young
American friend, Anthony, asked his dad to rent one for him after our
picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens.
So, yes, Paris reminds me that I miss my mom.
And as you already know, Paris reminds me of how much I miss my friend
Malek. Stephen and I both shared so many places and experiences with
him here. Even the nice patron (owner) of the bar today reminds us of
Malek, his body language, his sense of humor, his way of speaking
French. He is probably Algerian. We are, after all, living in the 11th
which has a sizable North African population.
Yet today I have a new feeling about all these memories. Maybe it's a
bit of a "Buddhish" trick I am playing on myself, but instead of
feeling the loss of them, I am feeling the fullness of their presence
in my life. What gifts they both brought to me! Although so
different from each other, both Malek and my mom gave me some deep
connection to France, it's language and culture. Both being artists,
mom a painter and Malek a writer, they also supported the artist in me.
When I experience time not as linear but as an ever-widening circle,
everyone I have ever loved is here. So why am I getting teary as I
write this? I guess it is simply part of the human condition to miss
the physical presence of those whom one has cared deeply for, even
amidst the fullness of their spiritual presence here and now.
More Americans in Paris
Our friends Jim and Lee were in town for a few days, between a
riverboat trip on the Seine through Normandy and a week in Provence.
They stayed in the Marais. We had drinks with them and met Jim's sister
and brother-in-law Monday evening, and then spent most of Wednesday
with them. Compared to last week it has been very chilly in Paris., so
we bundled up to go to Place Dauphine for lunch and to show them that
sweet little corner of Paris and the park at the bottom tip of Ile
We walked to the Left Bank as Lee wanted to see more of medieval Paris.
We wandered around streets near St. André des Arts and stopped for
coffee at Café de l'Odéon where we had an interesting and confusing
discussion about what kinds of coffee we wanted. It turns out that a
"café noisette" is an espresso with a dash of hot milk or cream in it.
Since a noisette is a hazelnut, I would have thought it was hazelnut
coffee, but it is named for the color of the nut that the coffee takes
on when just a bit of milk is in it!
We took a twenty-minute wander through all the grands écoles,
Sorbonne, etc., finally ending at Place Contrescarpe. We passed some
our favorite spots in the fifth, pointing out a couple of cafés and
restaurants like L'écurie and L'Estrapade, the Eglise St. Etienne, and
the Panthéon as well as where Jean and Isabelle live. After a drink in
the Place, we headed down Cardinal Lemoine to the subway and to show
them the building we lived in during March. Before we got there, Pascal
walked by, and we exchanged greetings and chatted a bit about upcoming
Bruno's art installation at the Petit Cardinal, etc.
After they bought more subway tickets, we got ourselves back to their
hotel by métro and hung out in the lobby while they went upstairs to
change. They invited us to join them and Jim's sister and
brother-in-law for a drink which we did, again at the corner spot "La
Favorite." I have been trying to drink a little less alcohol and a
little more milk to make sure I get calcium for bone healing, so I
ordered "Lait Aromatisé" that turned out to be frothy sweet hot milk
with vanilla in it. Delicious, especially on a cold day.
Again it was wonderful to feel friends' enthusiasm for Paris. Lee
wanted to know what every beautiful old building was, and no matter
that I have been here many a time, I could only identify about half the
ones she asked about. Paris is SO full of amazing architecture, art,
and a complex history.
Jim and Lee have
been enjoying guided tours during their travels in France and Jim was
able to correct some of the stories that I had told Antony about Paris.
Antony, The Obelisk was a gift to the people of Paris and it
wasn't stolen like I said it was. The Hotel I said was the George
Cinq was the Hotel Carillon. We thought about going to the George Cinq
bar for a drink but the 27 Euro price tag sort of slowed us down.
How To Open a Supermarket in Paris
When we first moved to Auguste Barbier from the fifth we had a
Huit à Huit (8 AM to 8 PM) on the corner. It was very convenient for
beer, wine, butter and other staples. the store was part of a chain.
Then suddenly it closed with a sign saying for construction and that it
would reopen on April 29th. They didn"t even say what they would reopen
We pass this corner at least once a day and we watched as everything
was removed and the place completely gutted. Slowly it was rebuilt and
we found out that it was becoming a Carrefour Express. If we went by at
lunchtime one of the workbenches would be cleared and the guys would be
having lunch at it. It is possible that Carrefour bought the Huit à
company and were now transforming all the stores.
On the 28th, coming home after having a drink with Jim and Lee we
passed the corner and saw an opening taking place in the store. It is
unmistakable. People standing around in a crowd drinking wine and
talking to one another. So we went in and were offered champagne
in plastic glasses and some savory and sweet pastries. They were
opening but weren't open as someone found out when she wasn't able to
buy lettuce. People came in and out, congratulating the new
managers who were serving the food and drink. Some were friends, there
by invitation, the rest of us just came in off the street.
The next day we stopped in for a few things for dinner, an entrecôte so
that we could drink the Cahor wine that we had brought back from our
trip to Jean's opening, and a salad to complete the meal. Also we
picked up some milk and grapefruit juice to feed Dawn's rapidly healing
arm bone and my burgeoning cold.
On the way out, Dawn thanked them for a lovely evening the night before
and he pointed to a vase full of single roses and said take one. So we
have our rose and our new store but today is our last day here so we
won't do much shopping there.
Another Moving Day(s)
Tomorrow, we get up early, have a coffee, pack our remaining stuff,
leave a bag for Charles to store and head out to the Hertz Rental
Agency at the Gar de L'Est to drive to Montigny-sur-Loing to spend the
long holiday weekend on the Loing River. We have learned to take the
bus so to avoid the stairs that come along with the Metro. So the 46
Bus will take us north on Parmentier before wending over
to the station and then on Monday after we drop the car we will get
back on the 46
to take us farther down Parmentier to our last Paris apartment. The
weekend place is another Airbnb place about an hour south of Paris near
Fontainebleau, it will be our home until Monday when we return to Paris
to take up residency on Neuve Popincourt near the Parmentier Metro
stop. We are taking this weekend both because Dawn wanted to wake up in
the country and because our new place, a Penthouse with a view
only becomes available on Monday. As this week has progressed, the
weather forecast has deteriorated so much that our new host called us
to see if we wanted to change the weekend. We had to tell her that if
we did so that we would be homeless for the weekend. Next Tuesday will
complicated as we try to schedule picking up the bag we left behind
getting a new X-ray of Dawn's arm and seeing her doctor again. When
is done, we will have officially moved.
Our Navigo Decouvertes have been charged up for May, my phone will need
a half a month recharge later, but we have a small feeling that we are
to fold our tents. Notices from Boston for events that we have
automatically deleting now need attention to see if they are for June.
Our June calendar is sprouting little bits of color signifying
appointments, birthdays and engagements, (I am green, Dawn is purple,
both of us are red, other is blue) . I even see a job in July. I
can't give up the Lowell Folk Festival because I see so many friends
May 1, A Day to Remember
Looking back down the lane toward the gate. Gringo is on guard.
The emotional and perhaps chronological
center of this day is when Thierry tells us that he has donated a
kidney to his wife. They had been looking for a donor for a while when
the doctor asked him why he hadn't been tested. Thierry's response was
that they were different blood types and assumed that this would
disqualify him. The doctor said no matter and when he was tested he was
found to be a close match, although she is Brazilian and he French. We
were all sitting in their living room in the old stone hunting lodge
where they lived drinking kirs before lunch. Outside it was
raining and now we were sitting in front of a fireplace.JSB
From the river, their house and our renovated stable.
Backtracking a bit, Carmen had called when she
got the email that
mentioned my broken arm. She asked if we needed anything, but we
decided she would help us find the local market when we arrived at
their place. However, when we got there and they installed us in this
lovely, newly renovated loft in the old stable, she said that she
forgot that it was May 1, a huge national holiday in France, like our
Labor Day, and everything was closed. So an hour later we were sitting
in front of their fireplace drinking Kirs, as Stephen mentioned, in
their classic house, dated about 1865. Thierry claims that the models
for two of Renoir's portraits of young girls lived in the house. All we
were able to contribute to this lovely meal was some nicely aging
"Entre Deux Cantal" cheese that we had brought with us. The dining room
was beautifully set, and Carmen had even made dessert to go with this
meal that she claimed was just snacking.
As mentioned above, the conversation became quite personal. They both
spoke French so clearly that Stephen and I had no problem
understanding, unless there was a word outside of our vocabulary that
he would explain to us. Because Carmen has to take cortisone for
anti-rejection, she has gained weight. She is determined to lose it, so
we went on their 6k daily walk with them, in the rain. There are so
many different greens here. First we went by the River Loing, which is
just below flood level, then past the Plaine de Sorques where some of
the Impressionists painted, then into Fontainebleau Forest
itself. Although my feet and jeans were soaked, it was worth
When we walked it was easier to walk in
pairs, so sometimes Thierry and I walked
together and sometimes I walked with Carmen. I made comments in French
and they spoke English. Just practising the language. The dog came
along, a yellow lab. Dawn has always had a fantasy about about living
somewhere where she can ski out the back door. Well this was the
Springtime equivalent. Across the lawn, past the rabbit hutch and the
chickens wandering around, through a port in their wall, then under the
road through a tunnel and the hike begins. JSB
We are trying to make some video here, even with my arm issue. My idea,
reflecting on Malek's poem, is to create "evanescent moments," short
episodes that have a kind of translucency about them. Stephen may have
another idea about making video here, but I am not exactly sure what it
is...so we stumble along and occasionally make an interesting minute or
We shot a section in the full moon in Montigny sur Loing.
It is a section of a work in progress.
It rained most of the weekend, but after getting back from dinner
Sunday night, the sky clear enough to see that gorgeous pleine lune so
we shot a little late video. During the night the Loing River
overflowed with the full moon and covered the part of the lawn where we
had shot. We also did a little bit of me moving around the old Chestnut
tree in the rain, but not sure the viewer can see that it's raining.
Malek's poem is called, Les Pluies du Miracle (The
Rains of the Miracle) so a little rain scene seemed appropriate.
So far, I think our best shot at "evanescent luminescence" (!) was made
in Charles and Julie's apartment, using the windows with gauze curtains
and the mirror.
See below for the nearly finished piece called Mémoire
Sunday we had planned to visit the Chateau de Fontainebleau, but when
we got in our rental car, it started but kept puttering out. The engine
just didn't sound right, and when something started smelling, we
stopped trying. Had there been a manual in the glove compartment,
Stephen might have looked under the hood. However, there was none, and
he didn't want to fool around with a rented
car. So we called the Hertz emergency number, twice, and waited....and
waited.A few hours
later, a local mechanic showed up, tried the car and heard the same
problem. Under the hood, a couple of wires were completely detached. He
re-connected them, tried the car again, and it still sounded
weird. Then he switched the way he had connected them,
and it worked fine. He said that there had been a bête (beast) in
the motor that had detached the spark plug wires. I thought he meant it
metaphorically, but he actually meant that he saw little rodent
footprints on the
motor. I guess a mouse could have crawled in there from below, seeking
warmth and shelter from the rain overnight. By that time it was too
late to visit the Chateau, but we had a lovely meal at Bistrot9 in the
town of Fontainebleau. DJK
I took a few pictures because although the top of the motor was dirty I didn't see any
pawprints. We are waiting to see whether Hertz whines a little. JSB
Our New Place on Neuve Popincourt
Some pictures to start us off:
It is on the sixth and top floor of the building. Piano needs a little tuning,
(with an elevator, perhaps the smallest that we have ever been
in). From out the window, most of the Paris icons are visible. We will
probably not use up the candles we bought because unless we eat very
late, it is not dark enough.
Music as Magic
We found a website that lists classical music concerts all over Paris.
Many are free and given by young musicians, some still working on their
degrees. There have been mixed results. A young cellist blew us
away with her subtlety and control while her colleagues, both sopranos,
Yesterday we heard three young women on the piano, two
Koreans and one Chinese. All amazing musicians, aged twenty or so. They
played Bach, Couperin, and Haydn.They were not only technically superb,
but they each had a particular expressive interpretation of the music.
We often hear Bach on the harpsichord or clavier, the original
keyboards he wrote for which are fairly "dry" in that there is no way
to sustain tones on those instruments.. So it took me awhile to
get over the pedaling and the romantic take on Bach, but I said to
myself, "If you are going to play Bach on a piano, you might as well
use all the expressive capabilities of that instrument." At one
point, all I could see were the arms and legs of the pianist, the black
dress, and the black piano; couldn't really see her fingers connecting
with the keyboard so it felt like the music was emanating directly from
her body. Maybe the fact that there was never a piece of sheet
music in sight contributed to the feeling that the music, musician, and
piano were one. For Stephen and me, it was music as magic, as I
tried to tell the girls afterwards. I managed to say my two words in
Korean to one of them, and she beamed. We always give a donation at the
end of these "free" concerts. Yesterday, it was bigger than usual.
I am the navigator. The sun better be shining when we get out of the
metro so I can tell which way is which. Today the church, Saint
Philippe de Roule appeared across the intersection. Of course, that
doesn't mean that it is easy to get to because it means that there are
at least three roads to cross with green and red pedestrian lights
going on and off at there own pleasure. The problem today was that the
church had a midday mass going on and no sign of a concert. We returned
outside and did a circle around the church and at the back end we found
a poster, then a small chapel and someone ready to hand us a program
and tell us where to go. We step into an unrennovated chapel with some
chairs set up and a black piano in front.
The space was raw. Its main purpose might be as a construction office
and storage for the renovation going on at the church. It was kind of
cold. With all their talent, their performance experience seemed
thin. Each of the succeeding performers entered before the applause for
the preceding pianist was finished and their sense of what a bow should
was still unformed. But oh, how they could play. The concert started
with a young girl sitting in the audience simply getting up, going to
piano, sitting down and starting to play. Wow.
We were thirty, the audience. I imagine in a few years an audience of
thousands roaring to their feet at the end of one of these women's
concerts and calling them back again and again. For now, it was just us
and their teacher, making a recording to drive them forward in their
Updates (Arm and Adam)
We are glad to hear that you who
are New Englanders are getting some
warm weather. The weather is improving here too. In fact yesterday, May
11, we had temps in the 80's! This heat will not last, though.
Maggie, the Graham-based teacher here who generously feels that
I am a "grand chorégraphe américan," has scheduled an evening at the
Centre de Danse du Marais for us to show video and yak about our lives
in dance and art, Now I just have to figure out what to show, what to
say...and in which language!
I am totally out of shape and not happy about it. I am trying to
more milk and yogurt for the calcium. As you can imagine, we already OD
on cheese here.:-)
Update on my arm fracture: The doc said the 3-week X-ray shows
that I am starting to heal, one more week in sling, some passive arm dangles,
wear the sling when out and about next week, but it will be six weeks for the bone to
really knit, and don't start PT until I am home which means June.
dam, my son, turned forty-five
on May 9. and is coming to Paris May 15-17 en route to Denmark and Vienna for business. He will stay with us
because we have lots of space and an extra bed here in our last apartment in
Paris. We can celebrate both our "big" spring birthdays together, even though mine was in March! This is a surprise, we just found out last weekend.
Dawn looks to my eyes to be in great shape, but who am I to say?
We had dinner at Maggie and Ghislain's apartment, with Isabelle and
Jean. It turns out that Ghislain is their nephew. They live near
their studio in the Marais, having moved there from the suburbs. They
say that the money they save in not commuting nearly compensates for
the increased rent. And the extra time in their lives is a bonus.
Adam is here now and we took him to lunch at the same restaurant at
which we celebrated Dawn's birthday in March. We got into the
Petit Palais during "Museum Night" here in Paris and are getting ready
to go down to the Bastille Sunday market to buy some oysters for our
brunch. This apartment is the first that has an oyster knife, which
will become important later on.
Frank Gehry in the Bois de Boulogne
We got out to the Bois de Boulogne to see the outside of the new Gehry
building, a museum for the Louis Vuitton Foundation. It took me a while
to get used to it. The outside of the building has glass sails that are
projected away from the building by massive curved wooden beams. They
didn't really seem to have a function but I decided in the end that
they served to add glass to a building that has no use for it. Sunlight
doesn't belong in a modern museum. Afterwards we staggered around on the paths in the
woods. We didn't really stagger, but it felt that way because I left both the guide
book and my smart phone at home so I had no way of knowing where I
was or where I was going. There are things to see out there but we
seemed to dodge them.
However, we did come across a sweet
little "café in the woods"- with plastic tables and chairs, umbrellas,
and a bunch of workers having drinks, smoking dope, and talking in
French and Arabic. I had a lemonade and Stephen a very nice rosé from
the Rhone. It reminded us a bit of Costa Rica or Mexico. Before
that, a pair of young women on horseback trotted past us as well as a
few joggers. It is a huge Bois, and we will have to return to explore
other parts of it and/or to see the contemporary art exhibit in that
is six minutes long and includes Dawn at the window and under the full
moon. Also, on a bridge over the canal St. Martin and at
the window in the Neuve Popincourt apartment. I threw in a couple of
of the moon and a
shot of the sun coming through a chesnut tree. It is our most
collaborative work. I don't think it is really about anything, but we
thought about some people while we made it. Perhaps at its core it is
about us, where we are, where we've been and where we are going. We
love the music that we are using, Memoir
by Evan Harlan.
We are dedicating the video to Malek,
because at least for me, it is
"about" a kind of human translucence, how we are the sky, the sun, the
glistening of colors of the moon, the sunrise. It is his last poem that
inspired my attitude towards making the video. - Dawn
When I was teaching dance, I sometimes told my students that if they
were having difficulty learning a style or a technique that perhaps
they should spend some time exaggerating it. this was particularly true
for the Graham technique as well as classical ballet. Some of these
things cannot be reached by the correct manipulations of one's body
parts, but must be grabbed as a whole. Humor allows you to go beyond
what you know, out into the unknown.
I have discovered that the same is true for me when I am learning to
speak French which I have done miserably during this trip to France. I
have many excuses but the best is that too many other things pushed
their way to the front. Recently, I have begun to make fun of myself
when I am speaking French in a restaurant. I turn pauses into dramatic
pauses. I speak slowly with much pronunciation (think of Saturday Night
Live), maybe even trying to entertain the waiter with my language. But
it is also more real, I do not try to fool anyone about the state of my
Next time, I will prepare better, hopefully not coming from a Spanish
speaking country, and take some classes when I am here. It would be
good to understand a little more, especially after sitting through
three hours of poetry and discussion and lobby chitchat at an event
honoring Malek at the Maison de la Poesie last night. I came home the
most exhausted I have been on the entire nine month trip. But, on the
other hand, it was great to see the number of people who were there.
Adam - Come and Gone
Adam has come and gone in a whirlwind. We went out and kind of bashed
around Paris. We did return to the L'Estrapade to treat him to a
birthday dinner. We did drop in on all our haunts, the Petit Cardinal,
Le Voyageur, Les Petits Indecises and lastly the Caravane. We
demonstrated to each other the various forms of Paris transportation,
we the Metro and buses, and Adam, Uber. For that "take me home
right now", it was no contest with Uber winning hands down. It was
especially true if we weren't too far away from home.
Also, Adam was employing his special "Calling all Ubers" dance, you can
see a picture of him at left standing on a post near the Hotel de
Ville in order to get closer to the Uber Gods .
For that "I need to travel from one end of Paris to the other" trip, I think the Metro won. It
comes every two minutes and it goes fast and under any traffic jams.
I led us on one disasterous trip to the Buttes-Chaumont. On Sunday, the
buses are crowded, especially on a beautiful day. The park itself was
crowded and had little of the charm that it demonstrated on previous
visits. We recovered to find a seat in the sun to have some beer, (I
had my first and last Desparado, a French beer that tastes like
soda-pop). We sat down at a food table and had one of smallest tapas
available. The waiter was not happy, but really, it was too early to be
putting out the napkins and knives and forks. Sometimes, it's a battle.
Later, we had a small meal at a Corsican Restaurant that turned out
well and the whole day was capped off with a visit to the Caravane.
Dawn and I usually stopped at the
Caravane in the afternoon to have a
beer or a kir. Once for a small bite at lunch that was amazingly good.
The picture at left shows the place at 4 in the afternoon when we had
the place to ourselves. They were preparing mint for the evening
cocktails and the whole place smelled wonderful.
But this time we arrived in an Uber black car to a bar overflowing with
young people, some with blinking headgear. Plates, now empty with
remnants of appetizers were scattered around the place. American music
came out of the speakers from LP's on a turntable. What had
looked simply unrenovated in the daylight now looked somehow stylish.
We got to the bar and got our drinks and turned down a table that the
staff (or maybe some regulars) offered to clear for us to just stand at
the end of the bar. The restaurant side of the place was packed as
well. The place had great energy and buzz. Was it hip? That is a
question that you can only answer for yourself. You will have to come
and try it.
I had hesitated to bring Adam to the
Caravane because he has been known to call us hippies on occasion, and
I think this place is the height of "hippiness," with its worn-out,
mismatched vinyl covered chairs, hand-lettered signs, and a mishmosh of
tables. In fact, what we thought was hippy, he thought was hip!
Reminded him of some cool places in Brooklyn. It certainly has more
personality than the scores of cafe-bars we passed walking near the
Beauborg and through the Marais. DJK
Saturday night, we went to the Petit Palais as part of "Museum Night" which is held once a year
throughout Europe. As we waited in line we watched five thousand young
people file into the Grand Palais to participate in the world's largest
fitness class in the most beautiful room.
Back at our museum, once we got in it took us a few minutes to find the
galleries because we were let into basement so they could divide the
crowd to check bags more quickly. It is a beautiful museum and in one
of the large galleries they mixed in contemporary work in amongst the
older work. These guys to the right are in a piece called the kiss.
Doesn't look like a kiss to me, and it might not be. There is a
confusion in the translation for the French verb for kiss. Over the
years its meaning has changed to something more intimate and forceful.
Adam pioneered ahead into the garden where the was a cafe. When we arrived there was a half bottle of
wine and three glasses. The people who designed these spaces really
knew what they were doing. We were transported to another land. We
stopped at another gallery where people were standing in line to dress
up in medieval clothing and be posed by a professional photgrapher with
a lighting person working on the lights. What they produced were there
amazing large digital photographs that looked like photos of actual
Sunday started out with a trip to the Bastille Market. We bought a few
things but the main goal was to go there and taste some oysters and
bring a couple of dozen back with us to have an oyster brunch.
complicated. There are many kinds and the price ranges from 5 to 24
Euros a dozen. Some are small, some large, some are saltier, some are
nutty. We ordered a tasting plate of nine and a couple of plastic
glasses of wine and paper towels were available as needed. They were
very good so we ordered two and a half more (the half being the large
ones which really were a dozen). I did the opening and Adam did the
cleanup and Dawn encouraged us. Her arm is really recovering but not to
the point of opening oysters. I uploaded a high resolution photo of our
friend below to show him or her in the glory that is deserved.
I think we have been sold a bill of goods. The woman said they were
wild asparagus. Images of Euell Gibbons rose in our minds. But they
didn't quite taste like asparagus and later they produced none of
classic smell of asparagus pee. Not sure what they are.
This evening we are going down to the Dance Center to present a one to
two hour presentation of our work. Dawn will talk in French and I in
English. We are starting off with Isadora (my software) showing random
selected clips starting at random times in the clip. Maybe fur seconds
each. We have been endlessly fascinated by it. We will see about the
audience. We have shown Memoire to two friends but this will be its
first public showing.
We have an hour to set up the projector and sound and cover the windows
with aluminum foil to make the space dark enough. 7:30 PM is now the
middle of the afternoon in Paris.
Above is a facsimile of Maggie introducing us. We went for an hour and
Dawn was great and we had a good time. Everything came down quickly and
we had time for a nice dinner and a glass or two of wine with Maggie
Here are the first two paragraphs of an email invitation that Maggie
sent out about our evening of presenting videos and discussing our
"Nous avons le grand plaisir de vous
inviter à une soirée spéciale le SAMEDI 23 MAI 2015, 19h30-21h30,
screen-dance/danse-video avec les artistes Dawn KRAMER &
Steve BUCK, à Paris Marais Dance School
Une chance rare de rencontrer deux artistes américains
(danseurs/chorégraphes/réalisateurs danse-video) qui sont à Paris
en ce moment et qui sont ouverts à partager leur expérience et leurs
meilleures œuvres avec nous. En bas du page l'information sur les
Stephen spent about twenty hours preparing the videos, making excerpts,
using Isadora software to show random bits of works as people entered,
creating titles, etc. I spent a fair amount of time figuring out what I
was going to say...to be interesting, not boring, and not to go on too
long...in French. It was challenging to decide what to show from over
forty years of making choreography and videos.
We had an hour to set up the small dance studio which meant covering
all the windows with aluminum foil to keep the light out, setting up
laptop, projector, sound connections, bringing in seating and tables,
refreshments, etc. The windows are very high so Maggie and Ghislain,
very tall, needed a ladder to reach the top. We were
ready at exactly 7:30!
It was a nice crowd of mostly their students of various ages and our
friend Amy who came from the Regard du Cygne studio. I started with a
short meditation because that is how I often start classes at Mass/Art,
and it also leads into some of the concepts that I am exploring in
recent work. Although I started the evening speaking French, apparently
most of the people there understood English, and Maggie preferred that
I speak my native tongue, so that is mostly what I did.
I think the evening went well. People had interesting questions and
comments, and several people commented on the evolving nature of
Stephen's and my collaboration over the years, sensing the equal
presence of us both in the recent work. Many of the students approached
us individually with questions about process and to thank us for being
"inspiring." Apparently one of the young men who is a diehard classical
dancer, and not a very good one according to Maggie and Ghislain, said
it wasn't his "style" and he was not at all inspired! Can't win 'em all!
After dinner, candles were lit and the lights went out except on the
reciter who stood by the bar. There is one rule: you can only recite
poetry, you can not read it. Otherwise it is a free for all in any
language, sometimes people helping from the audience when the next
remained elusive. There were guitars hanging around.
“I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!”
From: Emily Dickinson. “Poems.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/Hw3Kx.l
There was a woman there, Sophie, in her last year of her
doctoral thesis on Emily Dickinson at the Sorbonne. Three months in
Amherst and at Harvard doing the research and now writing. One thing we remember her saying was
that the poet frightens her a little bit. She read two short poems, and then translated them into French. One is above.
After the poetry and most people had left, around midnight, we showed Mémoire
to Marcelle and Blaise, her
son. We will have to go back with poems, but on our next trip. Dawn has some
or could recite some of Malek's. I am working very slowly on the writing in poetic form about a Buddhist life.
The club has been around for
about fifty years. It was started by Jean-Pierre Rosnay, a poet who had
joined the Resistance at the age of 15, survived injuries and capture,
and has supported poetry as a living, relevant art form "for the
people." His belief was that poetry should be "inevitable and
contagious." His wonderful wife, Marcelle, and his son Blaise have kept
the Club alive and active. We were invited because of a connection that
I have with an old high school friend who has translated some of
Rosnay's poems into English. This friend, Jim, first came to Paris
during high school or college, in the 60's which is when he met Jean
Pierre and Marcelle.
The place is tiny, with seating en famille style for informal,
well-cooked meals. It is in the 7th arrondisement which is filled with
big government buildings and upscale apartments. The Club des Poetes is
like a breath of fresh air in what otherwise feels like a somewhat
Besides Sophie, some of the others who spoke were a young man who
reminded me of a thin James Baldwin, and a beautiful young Asian man,
probably Vietnamese. At the end, Marcelle did a couple of her husband's
humorous poems, one turning some French orthographic markings into
personalities who had a conversation with each other, and the other a
modern-day Cinderella story.
L'ACCENT CIRCONFLEXE ET LA PETITE CéDILLE ç
Entre deux vers
D'un long poème
D'un poème fort ennuyeux
La cédille aux yeux de verveine
qui nattait ses jolis cheveux
rencontra l'accent circonflexe
Curieuse quoiqu'un peu perplexe
Sans moi vous l'eussiez deviné
Elle lui dit pour commencer
Quel bizarre chapeau que le vôtre
Seriez-vous par hasard gendarme ou polytechnicien
Et que faites-vous donc sur le front des apôtres
Est-ce vous la colombe ou la fumée du train
Je suis je suis gentille cédille
Le S escamoté des mots de l'autrefois
C'est à l'hostellerie qu'on emmenait les filles
Le S a disparu me voici sur le toit
Et toi que fais-tu cédille
A traîner derrière les garçons
Sont-ce là d'honnêtes façons
N'es-tu point de bonne famille
Accent bel accent circonflexe
Voilà toute ma vérité
Je t'aime et pour te le prouver
Je fais un S avec un C
We will translate this as soon as we figure it out. The cedille is in
love with the circomflex.
It was wonderful to see such a mixture of ages and nationalities
represented. Another one recited a poem in Turkish which he than
translated into French. Although Stephen and I certainly don't get all
the French, it was really sweet to feel so included.
Yesterday, we went to the Linguistics Museum. We spent two hours where
six would have been more appropriate. We didn't bring our glasses so we
went home at rush hour to get them and turned around to get to the
theater. Isabelle got us some great seats for which we paid artist rate
for Pina Bausch's Company at he Theatre de la Ville. An amazing
but very long show. It started at 8:30 and they let us out around 11:30.
We have been clothes shopping. I have been consulting for Dawn.
Also, birthday presents have been acquired.
We are about to attend a music performance of someone who came to see
our videos at the Centre du Danse, which will wrap up official duties
here. All that remains in to get to the airport tomorrow (with
Uber, the bags are too heavy with Dawn's arm situation) and fly home.
We are wrapping up the three months in Paris and nine months of living
elsewhere. I think it has been a success as a first attempt, but there
will be changes as we do it again next year. Maybe shorter. Maybe more
in the United States. Lots for us to think about.
Some adventure remains in getting my car off the blocks and the battery
connected and jumped and sneaking to my service station to get the car
inspected. It expired in March. and there is getting Dawn's arm to heal.
Thanks everyone one for reading our travelogue.
Dawn and Stephen