Thursday, May 5, 2016


Missing my 'hood. I shot this footage a few years ago on one of the May holidays. Locations in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, including Square Adolphe Cherioux, Place de la Mairie du XV, Rue Peclet and Square Saint-Lambert. All within a block or two of our apartment building.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Chris Kenna - vocals, guitar
Melissa Cox - violin, vocals

May 30, 2014
Rota Bar, Paris France

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Mr Phil Mixtape: MOROCCO 1967
Alan Lomax Field Recordings (Excerpts)

"In September 1967, Alan Lomax visited Morocco to make field recordings for use in his comparative research on world folk song style. Assisted by Joan Halifax, he documented the traditional music of both urban and rural Morocco, recording in the historic metropolises of Fes and Marrakech as well as in remote rural villages in the Atlas Mountains. The approximately eight hours of material includes Arabo-Andalusian classical and Sufi music recorded at the Moulay Idriss Festival in Fes, courtship dances from the famous Imilchil Marriage Festival, wedding music from both the Arab and Amazigh traditions, the epic songs of itinerant High Atlas bards, patriotic hymns in praise of King Hassan II, and work songs by shepherds, camel drivers, farmers and silversmiths. In addition, the collection comprises a number of speech samples recorded in the medina of Fes and other locations for use in Lomax’s Parlametrics research. These samples, from Qur’anic recitations to bargaining with shopkeepers and fortune-telling, include speech in Tamazight, Tachelhit, English, Dutch, French, and Arabic."
-- Archive of Folk Culture collection at the Library of Congress

01 A Beautiful Woman, a Pot of Tea, and Two Glasses - Fes IV 9/67
02 'Aish al-Malik (Long Live the King) - Erfoud I 9/67
03 King Hassan Comes to the Beautiful Gardens - Aguelmouss I 9/67
04 Shepherd's pipe tune (I) - Rif Mountains 9/67
05 Scattering the Flock - Dades Valley 9/67
06 Arala Bouyya (Oh Father) - Fes IV 9/67
07 The Food of God - Tazzarine 9/67
08 Winnowing song (I) - Tazzarine 9/67
09 Love song (II) - Al Hoceima 9/67
10 Wujma's song - Ourika Valley 9/67
11 Lullaby - Al Hoceima 9/67
12 Rasul-allah (The Messenger of God) - Marrakech I 9/67

From the Alan Lomax Tapes, Archive of Folk Culture collection at the Library of Congress.
These excerpts compiled by Phil Demetrion, April 21, 2016 – Paris.

For the next 14 days you can download an mp3 file set of this mixtape HERE (Click me).


Monday, May 2, 2016

Ed Darney (June 30, 1944 - April 27, 2016).

I lost a beautiful friend last week. Ed had been a singular force in the small circle of high school pals I hung out with in the early 1960s. He wasn't from our town of East Longmeadow, Mass. and he was ahead of the crowd in so many ways. While we all were fumbling around in the girlfriend department (at least I was) and trying to figure out which college to attend, Ed had hooked up with Jean -- his steady squeeze from our krew -- had decided to enlist in the Navy after high school, and was the first of us to marry and start breeding. Already a man with a plan.

A lifelong romance.

I hadn't seen the dude in ages. En route from our home in Paris to the East Longmeadow High School 50th Class Reunion a couple of years ago, I told Marti about our gang in those days. Of those 1960s pals, Marti and I had only seen a handful since. Mostly at my parents' and brother's funerals. I said that our little crowd of running buddies had been tight as tight could be. Other students kinda envied our clique.

We crowbarred in a rollicking lunch last year with Jean and Ed at The Student Prince, an old haunt in Springfield. They were so easy to hang out with. There was no way to catch up 40 or so years, but it didn't matter. It seemed like we'd just seen them all along.

At the reunion in 2012 I had been surprised to see how easily we all picked up after not seeing each other for decades! Ed will be so missed. Even though I was aware of his battle with cancer I was in tears when Marti gave me the news. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ed and all of his family and friends. He was a great big funny guy! Check out the pic of the four of us at the hip table at the reunion. Ed and me, Marti and Jean seated in front of us. Can you tell we were having a marvelous time?

God bless his laughing warm soul!

Ed's Obit

Sunday, May 1, 2016

E A S T E R . . . 2 0 1 6

Last night Marti and our bud Nate wheeled me down rue Georges Bizet to attend the street version of the Easter Resurrection ceremony at my church, Saint Stephen Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

We found a good spot on the sidewalk, then Marti went to buy us candles.

At 11 p.m. the darkened church was slowly illuminated, as worshippers passed a single light that appeared from the altar. Soon after the bishop and entourage brought the light to the street in a procession.

Nate and me. I promised to not dime him out to his rabbi.

This afternoon Marti and Nate brought Easter dinner to my room at the clinic.

Roast lamb, potatoes and horta (greens) (at my request). Deelish. We started with the traditional red egg cracking competition and concluded with cookies, which Marti had acquired in an Easter basket from the ladies at my church.

I had been spoiled by last night's bust-out, however, so we commandeered a wheelchair and went off a few blocks on an expedition. I chose the destination: the swanky Four Seasons George V. If it had been good enough for Audrey Hepburn and The Beatles, it would work for us.

My bride. In La Galerie Lounge. A showcase of "beautiful Flemish tapestries, 19th-century paintings and furniture, as well as many exquisite objets d'art. The atmosphere is of elegance and genuine peace, highlighted by the pianist, who plays every day from 3:00 pm." She played Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight," but I knew somehow we wouldn't be getting "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap."

Nate. My driver.

In a chair but happy for a break in the routine.

High Tea. Or as the waitperson described it, "Eye Tea." (And there's me thinking it had something to do with computer systems!)

Marti said she was so happy to be out in the world with me again. Me too!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Χριστός Ανέστη!

Our friend Father Grigorios Nanakoudis (at center) has been busy today at Agios Nicolaos on the Greek island of Spetses. There were morning services, then preparations for tonight's Resurrection ceremony at midnight (in Greece).

Marti and I met Father Grigorios on Spetses a few years ago. It was after a Sunday service. At the coffee hour he identified us as visitors and invited my bride and me into the parish hall, where the elderly bishop was holding court with a few friends in what can only be called the VIP area. Since then, Grigorios has kept in touch via Facebook. (Later, our Greek deli friends back in Paris howled with laughter when we told them about a Greek priest on Facebook!) Hey, it's the 21st century!

He is a young Greek Orthodox priest who has been studying Russian in Saint Petersburg. In fact, he was due to fly back to that city the next day when we invited him to my 70th birthday dinner on Spetses last year. I was so honored that he found time to spend the evening with us. He told priest jokes (in English!) and gave me a beautiful icon, which my Russian language student-computer tech Morgan confirmed as being from a particularly exquisite school of Russian Orthodox religious painting.

Today Father Grigorios posted this lovely Agios Nicolaos Good Friday photo by Antonios Giannopolous.

On Good Friday they sing my favorite Greek Orthodox hymn, Αι Γενεαί Πασαι - Ω Γλυκύ μου έαρ - εγκώμια της Παναγίας. This footage is from Athens a couple of years ago.

Tonight at 11 p.m. (to be in sync with midnight in Greece, I guess), the bishop at my church, the Cathedral of Saint Stephen, will emerge from behind the iconostasis, the wall of icons that separates the nave from the sanctuary in an Orthodox church, bearing a single candle symbolizing the Resurrection. Slowly the darkened cathedral wil brighten as the light is passed from parishioner to parishioner. Marti, our friend Nate and I will be outside with a couple of hundred others in front of the jam-packed church, awaiting light for our candles and watching the procession of the bishop, priests and attendants outdoors and then back into the cathedral. Everyone will be singing the following hymn (this version from a small Orthodox Church in Hersonissos port in Crete, Greece):

Χριστός Ανέστη! Christ is risen!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Καλό Πάσχα!

Today my fellow Orthodox Christians commemorate Good Friday, also known as “Great Friday.” Orthodox Easter dates often differ from the dates used by western churches; most Orthodox churches follow some version of the Julian calendar, which is older than the Gregorian calendar commonly used today. These kouvouklion (at left from my church, the Cathedral of Saint Stephen here in Paris; and, at right the one at Agios Nicolaos on the island of Spetses) are elaborately carved canopies that stand over the Epitaphios -- a large embroidered cloth icon used during the services of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The bier is decorated with spring flowers.

Here's this year's kouvouklion at Saint George, the church in Springfield, Mass. where I was baptised in 1945, served as an altar boy and was even married once. (In 1968.) (Marriage No. 1/ 3). My maternal grandfather was one of the founders!