Friday, November 30, 2007

Art, art everywhere (except in some of the museums)

One of the things I loved most about being in the non-touristy, funky 10th arondissement, was that there was street art all over the place. Some of it sanctioned, most of it not, but all of it wonderful. I think street art is, like folk art, a pure expression of the desire to communicate your vision, simply for it's own sake and without concern for status or gain. (Hey! kind of like blogs!) Here are some of the images I saw around town.

I love this because he's so normal, with his tennis shoes, shopping bag, and nylon jacket, and yet so very French - with his too-cool-for-school glance and his deadpan face.

What an odd, interesting thing to celebrate in guerilla street art - this end-of-the-work-day business man, with his very French face.

Amen (You don't want to get me started on the state of arts funding in our country.)

The gates to Damascus in an out-of-the-way Paris neighborhood. I love these ancient looking pillars with their terra cotta background, giving the quiet street the air of an ancient ruin.

All of which somewhat made up for the fact that, because of the transport strike, many of the museums had the art we really wanted to see, closed off. The Musee D'Orsay - with the best impressionist and post impressionist collection in France - was showing only its academic art. The top two floors - with all the impressionist & post work - were closed. Yet all of the museum's eateries, on all the floors, were open and fully staffed! Which expresses something about the priorities of the French. Food vs. Art? (or anything else for that matter) No contest. When i asked a museum staffer about the gallery closings, and when they might be open for visitors from far, far away to view, she said, "vous voulez trop." You want too much! Zut alors!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Paris, je veux retourner!

In spite of a nation-wide transport strike the entire time we were there, we had a lovely time in Paris. Here's a quick overview of the trip, with more to come after I de-jetlag.

The 82 year old mother was a COMPLETE champ, and many miles, or I should say, kilometers were walked because of the strike. When we got footsore, we jammed ourselves into the few-and-far-between Metro trains. I spent one entire ride being spooned by a Frenchman (as I said, an excellent trip!).

Art! art! art!!! Went to many museums, but I had a near religious experience in the Orangerie, where Monet's water lillies are installed. I had only seen individual panels of the Water Lillies before, so to be in the rooms and surrounded, as if swimming in his world, by his vision, of water and sky, shifting surfaces. I was overwhelmed. When I walked in the first room, I literally stood with my mouth open, dumbfounded, for several minutes. Monet! An artist I thought I had already comprehended in his fullness.

Wine & food. Even with the dollar in the toilet compared to the Euro, the wine was affordable and excellent. The Beaujolais Nouveau had just been released, so that was fun. We shopped in the local markets(indoor and outdoor), and ate in alot to save money. Let me say that France has the most gorgeous produce I've ever seen. I bought an exquisite looking bunch of radishes (see below)- and I don't even like radishes - because they were so lovely. I saw bunches of grapes and thought, those are the grapes that Chardin and Fantin Latour painted. Suffice it to say, we ate and drank well.

Language - My accent, if I do say so myself, is fabulous. And since I'm small with dark hair and eyes, I can pass for French if I don't get into in-depth conversations that require any, well, intelligent vocabulary. Sigh. I used to read Camus and Sartre in the original. Now I don't think I could read Tin Tin in the original. Oh well.

Finally, It was lovely to have our own flat to return to at the end of walking, seeing art, eating, drinking, (and spooning!).

Here are a few more pix. More soon!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oooh La La, I'm Leaving

On Friday morning this lovely building, in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, will be my home for a week. It's in a quiet neighborhood, near a still-working canal, (below) and about a mile or so from most of the museums I want to go to.

The distance between the apartment and our intended destinations is, suddenly, critical because, as of midnight tonight, there's going to be a transport workers strike, so there will be no metro or trains service at all. We'll be doing LOTS of walking and some taxi taking. Luckily I lived in New York for a while, so I can fight off the most determined cab stealer, French or otherwise. This is the bedroom where I'll rest my aching feet at the end of the day. Oh, c'est jolie!

The last time I went to Paris was on my honeymoon, 23 years ago. The new husband and I stayed in a lovely little hotel on the left bank. It was January and as we wandered the streets, it snowed. We ate cassoulet at a neighborhood brasserie, and visited my husband's French relatives, one of whom was a famous surrealist painter. It was all impossibly romantic.

This time I'm going with my 81 year-old mother, so romantic it will not be. But we are going to have a blast. We've been going to museums together, talking about art, making each other crazy, and laughing at (and with) each other since I was tiny. So we'll do that in Paris too and it will be wonderful fun.

I've packed my walking shoes, and I'm brushing up on my French - "Je sais que les travailleurs n'aime pas M. Sarkosy!" I've been humming the Marsailles all day and doing the can can (only in spirit, because You don't want to see me throwing up my skirts in real life). Wish me a bon voyage or wish you were coming with me! Either way, Hurrah! I'm going to PARIS!!!!!!

Flight of the Conchords 'Foux Da Fa Fa'

While I'm gone, enjoy the fab "Flight of the Conchord" singing their French fantasy, "Foux da Fa fa." My French is about this good.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My baby

I have been suffering from Artus Interuptus for sometime now, because I hadn't seen the grouted end-result of a window I was commissioned to make. I make my windows by gluing salvaged stained glass (I go to the dump of a stained glass factory and take their rejects) to old salvaged (a fancy word for trash picked) windows. I had glued the glass on to the window, but had to leave town, so a friend grouted it for me and I never saw it completed. So finally, here it is, in all its pulled-together grouted beauty. It's an image of Mt. Chimborazo (a mountain in Ecquador) in the distance, behind a Star of Panama (aka Poinsettia) tree. This was the view the people I made it for saw out the window of their home in Ecquador. They emigrated long ago and live in the US now, but this view, from this place will always be the home of their hearts. There's a lot of me in it: the vivid, tropical colors of my childhood; the longing for it in this cold, gray place. It's a joy when the image I'm making for someone else speaks so much of me as well. I'm really happy with it.

The amazing, the gorgeous, Rufus

I'm so pumped! I got third-row seats to see him! He's the total package; he sings like a drunken angel, he's as attractive as an earthl-bound devil, and he's gay. I'm in hag heaven.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Hey all, I can't believe I'm doing this, but I started another blog (see link on the right) called Ridiculon. It's where I make fun of idiotic things, you laugh with (or at) me, and we all feel better. Please feel free to send me any news of stupidity, nitwittery, or utter ridiculousness you see in the world. (Sadly, it's all to easy to find these days,)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Last roses

Last week we were having global warming. As a citizen of the world, I knew I should be worried. But as a tropical flower and reluctant transplant from the West coast, I was in bliss. It was the beginning of November, and the temperatures were in the 70s. I was picking tomatoes and roses.

Yesterday, clouds snuck down from the North (curse you, Canada, with your cold, cold winds!) and by afternoon we had the first smattering of snowflakes. It would freeze overnight. So I went out and cut all the end-of-summer roses off my ancient, thorny, no-varietal-name, granny rose bush and brought them in for one last breathe of Summer. I've been smelling their scent of apples, honey, and sunshine, all day and trying to store it up to last me through winter.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Oh, sad, sad...

I got a call this weekend from the mother of this month's girl-bully victim. She read me a text message that one of my teens, Thing 1, had accidentally misdirected when she hit send, and which got around to her. It started "LMFAO," (Laugh My Fucking Ass Off) and went on to talk about how great it was that she had gotten this girl in trouble by reporting to me that the girl smoked pot (which I reported to the mom, because we're good friends). So my good friend is reading me a mean-girl message that my child has written about her child - someone we've known for years. What sadness all around. My friend is worried that her child might hurt herself and I'm sick at heart because my child piled on with the abusers rather than defending the abused.

Appropriate measures have been taken: cellphone is gone, daughter is grounded, computer is off-limits, apology has been made to the victim, and I have talked, and talked, and talked, about it all. But I've especially talked about how we are all only responsible for our own behavior, how there is no excuse - not rumors of something someone might have done or said about you, not nothin' - for wrong behavior, for inflicting pain on others. She seems to have heard me (she'd better, if she knows what's good for her).

As for me, I'm trying to educate myself about this problem better (so maybe I can educate the school). I'm reading a book called, "The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander," which approaches the issue both on the macro/societal level and on the micro/practical level. So we're all working on it here. And I'll leave you with this awful nugget I learned from the book. There is now a word, Bullycide, for suicide caused by bullying.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

help for hapless parents

My parents pretty much dropped the supervision ball with me (last kid, they were pooped) when I turned 14. I had no curfews, no chores, no limits, no consequenses, and did a LOT of dumb things. So it shouldn't have surprised me that, when my teens turned 14, I suddenly lost my moorings and felt I had no idea how to be a good, effective mom to them. After floundering for a while, I found a child and family therapist, and once a week I go and ask him really nuts-and-bolts questions: How much academic supervision does a 9th grader need? How much allowance should they get? What chores should they be doing? It's been really helpful to have someone to go to and cover all the lame-brain basics that no one covered with me.

But last week I finally got around to talking about the big stuff - sex, drugs. And the bummer is that, when it comes to the tough stuff, even an expert can't, finally, be expert for me. I have to figure it out myself. Shit! I hate that! Because the risks are so dire now: Drugs offenses are prosecuted more seriously; unprotected sex can be deadly.... And we can say (as the therapist essentially reccommended I do) NO, NO, NO!! Don't ever do drugs, don't have sex till you're in a committed, monogamous relationship with someone who has tested clean for everything. But to me that doesn't seem like a very nuanced, realistic answer to the very tough questions and challenges ahead of them. Which means I have to delve into my heart and figure out what I really believe and cross my fingers and hope i do OK for them. Scary. So this graffitti made me laugh. And really, it's not a bad anti-drug argument!