Friday, May 9, 2008

Here's what's been happening with us since Marti & I returned from the Dominican Republic.

Marti began teaching a five-part series of Introduction to Sewing workshops. Her student is Sandra, the daughter of a former BT colleague. Sandra is interested in a career as a fashion designer but until now has never handled a needle & thread.

April 27 was Greek Orthodox Easter. Marti & I went to the Holy Saturday midnight Resurrection service, which spilled out into the crowded street in front of Saint Stephen's.

Afterward we joined other celebrants at the Apollon restaurant for a traditional post-service Easter meal.

On Greek Easter Sunday we went to the Fondation Cartier in Montparnasse. We love this building, which was designed by 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Jean Nouvel.

On exhibit were special installations of visual works by & related to Patti Smith.

In the early 1970s Patti began taking polaroids to use in collages. Since the 1990s she's shot with a vintage Land 100, more recently a vintage Land 250, for which this exhibition is named.

Patti's instant snaps.

Patti's pics are personal, many document her travels. Also in the exhibition are her drawings, mementos, films & artifacts. Patti even merchandised the gift shop for this show! Above is her Tour Eiffel, which has been reproduced on a teeshirt. Naturally, my Tower-obsessed bride bought one.

What to serve for Easter dinner if you've already enjoyed the whole nine yards (Easter bread, Easter eggs, margeritsa soup, roast lamb & galaktoboureko dessert) the night before? I opted for a big mezzedakia spread: various dips, olives, cheeses, meatballs, salads. We had leftovers for days the following week.

On Tuesday evening, April 29 I went to a showcase of the wonderfully talented Esperanza Spalding, a jazz vocalist-double bassist who was the youngest person ever to teach at Berklee. We chatted before & after her mini-concert. When I mentioned that I had a friend from Berklee who drums with the power-pop band Apollo Sunshine, Esperanza said, "Omigod. They're great. We used to go hear them all the time!"

Our pal Perry Leopard hosted a benefit for Les Ogresses, a small independent theater-concert space-resto in the 20th arrondissement. Marti & I dined there, schmoozed with musician friends, enjoyed most the opening act: Tristan & Ahmed.

The Romantic Black Shirts. (Or, Guys Who Went Shopping Together.) Songs by Neil Young, Stephen Stills & Bob Dylan with a French accent. The novelty of this sort of thing faded for me a decade ago.

Perry, Matthieu & a usurper on drums tackle "Incident On 57th Street." Who knew that Perry, an Alabaman, worked the north side of the Mason-Dixon Line?

On the evening of May 1 Marti & I ventured out to the far eastern border of Paris, to the Dockside Cafe, located in the bowels of a gigantic youth hostel.

Our pals in the trio Moonray (Chris Kenna, Henri Le Boursicaud & Rémi Jeannin) have a regular biweekly gig at this venue. On one of the breaks I badgered Chris mercilessly about not playing any cover songs written after 1975. The crowd here, if you exempt Chris' geezer fans like Marti & me, are twentysomethings. Why not learn a White Stripes song, I hounded him.

Chris' response in the last set was to introduce a song as being by the White Stripes or Madonna, then to launch into a blistering version of some old blues tune by Blind Lemon Pledge or whomever. Moonray absolutely killed.

Nice, I told him afterward. We should have these little talks more often.

Last Friday was a "bridge day" extending one of the countless May holidays into a four-day weekend. Marti & I took in the Goya Engraver exhibition.

The scene was the beautiful, recently-renovated Petit Palais, a fabulous architectural masterpiece built for the 1900 Universal Exposition.

Like the Tour Eiffel, this building was orginally intended to be just a temporary structure.

We got to see a marvelous array of Goya's engravings -- including a number of copper plates & a delightful depiction of the printing process. Missing from this show was Goya's "Contra El Bien General," from The Disasters Of War series. Hey, we would have lent them ours. Marti bought it in 1972.

We did see an engraving of "Moda de Volar," which is also in our little collection of original art. Upon learning of Marti's passion for Goya, an advertising colleague of mine gave it to her in the late 1980s.

After leaving the Goya show, we walked north past the Elysée Palace, deeper into a pretty much deserted 8th arrondissement. We settled on one of Paris' ubiquitous Asian traiteurs for a quick late lunch.

Then we simply wandered aimlessly, always a favorite feature of what we call "Paris Days." After a while I found a bus that was destined for the Trocadero. At least that was sort of in the right direction. And it would take us close to a certain Tower with which one of us is hopelessy in love.

A couple of nights ago Marti & I returned to the Fondation Cartier for one of the Soirées Nomades associated with the Patti show.

This concert, held in the exhibition space, brought together the esteemed electronic music pioneer Pauline Oliveros with fellow contemporary accordionist Pascal Contet & guitarist-percussionist Jean-Marc Montera. Their completely improvised performance (it was a first time for this particular three-way) consisted of two segments, approximately 45 minutes & 15 minutes in duration. They took us on a fascinating, meandering, explorative sonic expedition. We got to say hello & thank them afterwards.

Yesterday was a French holiday (Victory in Europe, 1945) but our housekeeper Arminda chose to keep her regularly scheduled Thursday morning visit, so my bride & I went to Breakfast In America, an actual diner in Paris.

This place, which now boasts two locations, was started by a guy who grew up in Enfield, Connecticut, right down the road from my hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Once in a while ya just gotta forego the crème-croissant combo for something a bit more substantial.

It was a gorgeous morning. Marti & I strolled through the Latin Quarter to the Place Saint-Michel, where we boarded the 96 bus to Montparnasse to do a little grocery shopping.

Tomorrow morning we'll be boarding a Malev Airlines flight to Budapest, where we'll rendezvous with Marti's parents for a five-day visit.

Nan & John will be disembarking in the Hungarian capital after a nine-day Danube cruise aboard the S.S. Minnow. We can't wait to see them. (Along with Gilligan, the Skipper, Mr. & Mrs. Howell, the Professor & of course, Ginger & Mary Ann.)

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