Wednesday, December 31, 2008


It has been a very long time since my last post, but I am sure regular readers have been busy, with far too little time to read about my exploits. Yes, it is the holiday season and with Christmas' passing about a week and tomorrow being New Year's day, I wanted to take a little break to wish everyone a Happy New Year. No poem this time, sorry. I am in Dallas at the moment visiting with family and friends and putting an end to one incredible year. 2008 was the beginning of so many wonderful chapters and I hope it's end will close so many horrible ones. Everyone seems to be going through the motions while anticipating a brighter future. I feel this way. Spending time with my family over the past week has opened my eyes to gratefulness, mortality, love and reconciliation. I look forward to the possibilities of the coming year, even though nothing is certain. I hope to improve and progress. I hope to continue the life I have created for myself in Paris. I hope to enjoy more and simply relax. I hope to be a better friend, son, partner and example to everyone close to me. I hope to be a better artist, writer and thinker. I hope to be a better student and teacher. I hope to be brave and courageous. I hope to be more patient, understanding and considerate. All this hoping, I hope, amounts to something in the end. As the year goes on, I will practice and rely on these hopes. These are not simple resolutions but goals for the rest of my life. They are perpetual resolutions, I guess, and each year they start again. 2008 has been an incredible year and I truly look forward to 2009. Soon I will be back in Paris with a renewed sense of priority, gratitude and focus. Cheers to all and I will see you soon in the City of Light.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Paris is Tripping the Lights at Christmas

Paris is Blue
and the lights are too
see what I mean as I show them to you.
A big wheel rolls
like a star that is bold
The lovliest site in Paris, I'm told.
Bright lights hang above
floating in air like peaceful doves,
but I can imagine they must weigh a ton!
Is that Ol' Nap up there
with lights in his hair?
Or is it Cesar? No one probably cares.
Yes, Paris is blue
and the lights are too
Happy Holidays to all and especially to you!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Music Selection Vol.I

The Apple i-pod* has taken over Paris to an enormous degree. I never thought the French would be so into the new technology (You still find people who love faxing), but it really makes sense. Most French people like to streamline things, it is the biggest part of contemporary French design right now. Clothes are slimmer for sure and nothing works better under a slim fitting coat or jacket, or in the pocket of tight jeans than a small, compact, slim, i-pod* or nano.* Everyone has one, even more than I seem to notice in... say NYC. I thought of this when I was thinking of traveling recently. I travel with music all the time. I can not board a plane without being able to listen to music. Every major trip I have ever taken has been accompanied by music and this is especially so when traveling alone. More and more people travel alone, as well they should. You get a totally different perspective on the city you visit when you do it alone. I find myself more open minded to try things when alone, I guess it is because you don't have the luxury to fall back on someone else to do things for you. You are responsible for getting your taxi, your food, your museum tickets and making a new friend if you choose so. In traveling alone, you can create your own soundtrack with music. Select some music, put on the earphones and go. There are some songs I have associated with Paris over the years and some cds that for some reason or other symbolize my times in Paris. Not all have been french, actually most of the selections are not, but the moods and atmospheres have reminded me of different areas of the city, cafés and parks, even the Seine. I have stayed clear of the usual Edith Piaf cliché, sorry, but since moving here I find myself less interest in her "La Vie En Rose" and more interested in Grace Jones'. Here is the list:
Etienne Daho-Corps & Armes: The entire album is Paris from a singer who symbolizes modern French Cool.
Malcolm McLaren-Paris: The album is named Paris, so this was an easy choice. McLaren does a lot of name dropping of some of Paris's greatest icons, past and present. "Jazz is Paris" is the epitome of chic.
Benjamin Biolay-A L'Origine: 'See Etienne Daho above'
Bryan Ferry-Mamouna "Your Painted Smile": This album reminds me of night, so this song reminds me of a night in Paris, along some lonely street, coming home from a party or returning to your hotel, alone, but with much on your mind.
Cocteau Twins-Stars and Topsoil: Even with slightly incoherent lyrics, this was an album I bought in Paris and the mood has stayed with me all these years. The song "Pandora" is Paris at dusk.
Dusty Springfield- "Windmills of Your Mind": The song may be a bit corny, but the style is gorgeous and it reminds me of arriving in Paris. Landing at the airport...A taxi whizzing by the Eiffel Tower. It is all such a heady mix of lush orchestration and Dusty's smoky voice, a lot like Paris itself.
Bill Evans-Explorations: You gotta have jazz when talking about Paris and this one is of the quiet kind. This is Sunday afternoon Paris.
Michel Legrand- Legrand Jazz: The previous suggestion was Sunday afternoon and this is Friday night. This is getting ready for a fun night. This is Paris active.
Kenny Burrel-Midnight Blue: Paris very late at night. You are back at your place, this time not alone.
Il y a- "Belissimo, Mon Amour": This is cinematic Paris, like some Goddard film in black and white. It is rich, romantic and somewhat fatalistic at the same time.
This Mortal Coil- Filigree and Shadows: Gorgeously dark album. It reminds me of the history of Paris...the Gothic elements of Paris. It is lush and warm and listening to the song "My Father" while actually sitting along the Seine can be surprisingly moving.
The Psychedelic Furs- "Love My Way": Besides being a favorite song, it makes me think of Paris in the 80's, or at least what I imagine and what Paris is now when you are young. It is strong and passionate.
Chet Baker- Grey December: A bit like my Dusty Springfield suggestion but with a trumpet.
Sebastien Tellier- Fantino: I love this song. It is surprising and slightly mysterious. For me it captures the sweetness of the Paris air and the awe that many sites invoke.
Ben Webster- "Chelsea Bridge": Even if the song is "Chelsea Bridge", it could be the Pont Neuf.
Grace Jones- Nightclubbing: If you only listen to "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango), you get Paris at night.
Nick Drake- Way to Blue: Much of the music was used in the last film by director Christophe Honoré. It completely fits Paris in winter.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

When Friends Visit

Sometimes it is nice and refreshing to have friends visit me, I am not sure if it is the fact that it happens so infrequently, but more that I tend to gain a new perspective on Paris when showing them around. A friend from England stayed with me a few days recently and as we walked around, he mentioned how pretty Paris is. Okay, everyone seems to know this, but do people actually notice it? I am not saying Paris is without blemishes, but on the whole, Paris is quite a pretty city that is also unique. My friend expressed his opinions about London, a city that he knows very well, having been brought up there. He noticed that London is quite closed compared to Paris. Paris has it's grand boulevards and large spaces between grand buildings. Upon walking in front of the Grand Palais, he said "You just don't get such large buildings like this in London." and the fact that the sites try to outdo one another is also something unique to Paris. Lately much has been said about London being the leader of the financial world over New York, then BOOOOMMM, the financial world collapsed. Paris could be the leader in fashion, but I have never heard a french person make such a declaration. There will never be a french version of "Cool Britannia" and I think that is a good thing. My friend revealed to me that he had not been in Paris in about 30 years. This shocks me because I had been to Paris probably a couple of times while still living thousands of miles away in the US. England is right next door, yet countless times Brits have told me that never or hardly ever visit Paris. I know the French and English have a prickly relationship at best, but why the snub. It seems like a snub to me. The French go to London constantly and tend to love it there. I have been to London a few times and I can never get the hang of it. I never know where I am. Am I in London proper, or some odd suburb? Everything is closely located and so I miss quite a lot. Everything is in English and yet London feels especially foreign to me. I have a very clear, neutral American accent, or so I am told, and yet people in London seemed to not understand a word I was saying. At times I had to adopt a Madonna-esque accent and make clichéd British references. It usually worked. During his stay, my friend really enjoyed Paris' village-like areas. He liked the feeling of open spaces met with grandeur. He also seemed to like the respect for history here which is a controversial subject in London right now. In the end, Paris seems to have won him over. He expressed a desire to return very soon and perhaps with friends. The days have been so grey lately and as I currently look out onto one of the few sunny days we have had in weeks, thoughts of showing my friend around Paris feels so fresh. When I first came to Paris it was a dream come true, but upon the first day I was met with a missed flight, late arrival, pouring rain and jet-lag. The next day I was met with brilliant sunshine and a beautiful city waiting for me to discover it. To borrow from the English, Paris is a "lovely" city.