Sunday in Paris

I’m afraid that I’m short on inspiration at the moment, so when that happens I re-post an older, favorite blog post that some of you may not have seen (below).

Actually I am inspired.  I’m following the U.S. presidential election campaign and my next post, if I have the time, will be on Bernie Sanders.  As a Canadian living in France who has never known what it’s like to not have universal health care,  who has never known what it’s like to not pay subsidized university tuition, who enjoys SIX paid vacation weeks a year, who has never seen a gun in her life nor lived in a society where gun control is even an issue, who pays higher taxes but sees, on a daily basis, the benefits of such taxes (e.g. here in Paris, garbage pickup by an electric garbage truck is 7 days a week), I’m befuddled as to why these topics should create such fear and loathing in the hearts of some Americans.

OK, back to a favorite blog post I’m re-posting – Exactly one year ago, I was in bed with the flu watching my favorite genre of film on my laptop – films noirs.  And that’s how I stumbled across Gilda.  Even though it later became a cult classic, I had never seen the film before.  It blew me away, especially the charms of Rita Hayworth.  Today, gray and damp, is a perfect day for staying indoors and watching films noirs, my favorite genre.  Oh, did I mention that already?

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Here are two posts from last year – Lovely Rita, silverscreen goddess and Film noir with a selection that I specially hand-picked for you to watch! 

https://julietinparis.net/2015/03/28/lovely-rita/

https://julietinparis.net/2015/01/27/film-noir/

Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

Are you familiar with Ina Garten?  I find myself going into a trance while watching her videos.  They’re so relaxing and….hedonistic.  And so unlike my own life.

While hunting for a coconut cake recipe last month, I stumbled across her cooking shows on YouTube.  She reminds me of a well-fed contented cat, a Cheshire cat serenely lapping cream from a bowl. And speaking of cream…..wow……she doesn’t skimp on butter, cream, full-fat cheeses or her signature coconut cake with cream cheese frosting.  Ina Garten is an unabashed epicurean and I say bravo!  

With her gorgeous house in The Hamptons,  loving husband (they met when she was 15), successful cooking shows and 9 cookbooks (all bestsellers), Ina lives the good life.  I wonder if her multitude of fans aren’t just a little jealous of the life she’s crafted for herself. (I know I am.)

Here she is in Paris –

coffee lover

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I love coffee. And anyone who knows me knows that I love coffee. The good news is that there are proven health benefits from drinking it. For once, something I love is actually good for me.

How do I drink my coffee? Black, strong and unsugared.

I have four different coffee-making devices at home. If one breaks down, I have back-up…

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For ground or whole coffee beans, I only buy illy.  Italian, of course.

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Ground Control to Major Tom

glam, glam, glam!!

GLAM!  GLAM!!  GLAM!!!

This morning, at precisely 8 a.m. while putting make-up on and listening to the radio, this is what I heard – David Bowie est mort.

QUOI ???  WHAT???

David Bowie est mort.  Dead.

Mais, ce n’est pas possible!!  He just released a new album!  He wasn’t old!  He was alive and well and living in New York with his beautiful wife, Iman, and their daughter! 

Dropping my mascara wand on the floor, I ran to the radio to turn up the volume.  I grabbed the TV remote and turned to the non-stop news channel.

And I learned that it is possible.  David Bowie is dead and I’m stricken with chagrin.

you're lovely, darlin!

you’re lovely, darlin!

When someone you admired and grew up with dies, a little bit of yourself dies too.  I loved Bowie because he was a true, undiluted rebel.  A trailblazer, an iconoclast, a genius oddball.  A supreme innovator.  A radical who refused to conform to society’s norms.  He threw away the blueprint then created and re-created, over and over, his own renditions.  He was the merchant prince of experimental.  You might not have liked his stuff, his multiple incarnations, but you had to admire his audacity…and his originality.  He once said “I think you have to be dysfunctional to be an artist.”  His messages were ‘Be yourself’, ‘Don’t follow the herd’, ‘Try something different’, ‘WHY ARE WE HERE?.’  Never static, he was constantly evolving.  Right up to the end, he was working his artistry.

In 2003 Bowie turned down an offer from the Queen to be knighted. “I seriously don’t know what it’s for,” he said.  “It’s not what I spent my life working for.”

The comments below, copied from The Guardian newspaper, are so touching and full of love that I wanted to share them with you –

We will never see the likes of David again.

Bowie was an aristocrat of rock, first and foremost an artist, with himself as his greatest project.  It is not the job of art to reflect life but rather to create it. The human project is to make ourselves up as a novelist writes a novel or an artist creates a painting. Only thus are we free, liberated from the dead weight of convention and destiny.

A celebrity artist and aspiring astronaut, Bowie wanted to rise weightless above the human herd. “I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human.  I thought, ‘Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.’”

I remember watching Bowie as Ziggy Stardust. Bowie blew my mind. Seeing him on his knees in front of Mick Ronson. He was outrageous, bold and beautiful. I’d never seen a man dare to bend gender like Bowie. Many nights I would get my feather boa out and pretend to be Bowie. I loved that combination of brains, talent, beauty and a great sense of humour. More recently when Bowie published his 100 favourite book list, I had to look up every one of them and read many – and good taste he had in literature too. I’m too shocked to say anymore.

I can’t believe it. He was my generation, my youth, my inspiration. Somehow he embodies all that was great about being young, vibrant and creative. I was there at his Goodbye Ziggy concert in Hammersmith in July 1973. He was utterly sublime, totally beautiful and mesmerising. I often saw him in his other incarnations throughout the years, but that night he was incandescent and that’s how I’ll remember him.

I thought he was immortal.

I’ll miss you Dave. And thanks for some of the best music I ever heard.

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Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
Ground Control to Major Tom (Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six)
Commencing countdown, engines on (Five, Four, Three)
Check ignition and may God’s love be with you (Two, One, Liftoff)

This is Ground Control to Major Tom
You’ve really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare
“This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in the most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
For here am I sitting in my tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do

Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear And I’m floating around my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do.

So long, David Bowie.  You’re in your spaceship now.  Floating among the beautiful stars.  You’ll always be our shining star.  Thanks for all that you gave us.  Thanks for being you.

 Juliet

2016 – age of cynicism

As an optimist, I don’t feel optimistic for this year, this decade, this century.  Sorry to sound so gloomy, but that’s how I view the state of the world today.  In some instances, it seems like we’re moving backward and not forward.  We’re not evolving, we’re devolving and this depresses me.  All of our efforts, our feminist and civil rights movements…all that marching and campaigning and vociferating….and then you see a woman in Europe or in North America wearing a burka.  In year 2016.  Is this the fruit of our labours?   Is this what all of our marching and protesting yielded?   The wearing of a sexless, shapeless black sac covering the entire face and body from head to toe?  It makes me want to weep.  The West is not Saudi Arabia.  To me, a burka-niqab woman is retrograde motion; it is the erasure, the undoing of all our efforts.  The end of enlightenment and the return to the Middle Ages.  That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

I was an idealistic child who grew up in the idealistic 1960s.  Nourished by the poetic songs of Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles and Cat Stevens, to name just a few, I drew Flower Power and Peace symbols onto my sneakers.  We will never know this kind of innocence again.  We’ve entered a new age, and it’s not the age of Aquarius.  More like the age of fragmentation and discontinuity.  Something has ended.  I feel lucky, no privileged, to have lived and loved the sounds and the scene of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

All that mattered back then were denim bell-bottoms, The Beatles and Paul Simon whose photo I would stare at on the Sounds of Silence album cover.  Endlessly.  Sitting cross-legged on the shag carpet in our downstairs rec room, I’d put the album on the hi-fi and sing along to The Sounds of Silence (Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again…..the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sounds of silence.) 

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Kids today are addicted to their telephones.  When I was last in Lille, I walked into one of the bedrooms on a Saturday night to find 7 adolescents sitting in total silence, each one fixated on his/her own private screen.  Ephemeral is the word that popped into my head as one of them showed me a Snapchat photo of a cat typing on a computer keyboard.  Nearly half a century on, I can remember the lyrics from the songs of S&G, Cat Stevens and The Beatles….what will they remember?

Just last week an office colleague, who must be around 27 or 28 and who is equally enslaved by her telephone and by Facebook, showed me all the different smiley icons that one can choose from.  “That’s really fascinating.” I said.  Did she detect my sarcasm or was she too busy searching for a grumpy  face…oh, sorry, that’s called an “emoticon”…to send to her boyfriend?

Having said all that, I am a fan of YouTube.  I watch a lot of interviews and documentaries that, for obvious reasons, you’ll never see on the mainstream media channels.  On YouTube you can also find all of your favourite songs from the past.

Sunday morning (winter) market

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Markets are the soul and substance of France.  All over the country, usually on a Sunday morning, French citizens flock to their local markets to barter, socialize, stroll and stock up on weekly provisions.  My market is a 20-minute walk from my apartment and takes place on Sunday and Wednesday mornings.  Here are some scenes.

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Plump scallops on the half shell, glistening sea bass, and scampi:

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This scene below cracked me up.  The customers, engaged in animated conversation with the vendor, are seemingly unaware (or unperturbed) by the fact that a dead piglet is hanging ignominiously on a hook in front of them (This little piggy went to market…)  It’s called a cochon de lait which means suckling pig, so we can correctly assume that it was snatched from it’s mother’s teat and then slaughtered.  Also below are skinned rabbits.

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Goose eggs, fresh oysters from the Atlantic Coast, sausage and sauerkraut, mangos from Africa, tulips and hyacinths from Holland.

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Some friendly gazes and some not so friendly.  It’s worth noting that this market is in a fairly well-heeled district as you can probably tell by the fur coats and supercilious air of some of the denizens. I’ll find another market next time.

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Laden with produce, I repaired to the nearest café for a tartine and espresso.  As you can see, a tartine is simply half a baguette spread with butter.  I wouldn’t have minded a dollop of raspberry jam on top, but they were all out.

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