Monday, June 9, 2014

JUNE 4, 2014 - PARIS

TUESDAY JUNE 3, 2014 – Today I Métro’d to the Gare du Nord to collect our pal Jerry Joseph and fellow Portland, Oregon singer-songwriter Michael Lewis. Following a long journey from Afghanistan, the guys had trained down from Amsterdam, where they had spent a brief overnight and made an early-morning radio appearance. Marti and I were so relieved to have them here safe and sound. Jerry and Michael would be playing a Rock School Kabul benefit concert here the next evening.

We piled their guitars and bags into a taxi and made for Marti’s and my digs on Rue Blomet in the 15th Arrondissement. Jerry would be staying with us for the next two nights; arrangements had been made for Michael to crash at our friend Nathalie’s apartment in the 11th.

After settling in, snacking and getting Jerry up on our WiFi, he and I hit the streets to shop for dinner. We live a block away from a rue marchand -- a traditional shopping thoroughfare -- Rue Lecourbe.

My bride and I love the fact that we can access almost everything we need for day-to-day living within two or three blocks of our building: meat and poultry butchers; fishmongers; fruit-vegetable stands; wine, cheese and foie gras shops; restaurants; delis; bars; hair salons; clothing boutiques; dry cleaners; picture framers; cobblers; tobacconists; hardware store; jewelers; florists; opticians; pharmacies; medical labs; doctors’ offices; parks. As Sonny Boy Williamson famously said, our ‘hood is “a little village . . . like a small town.”
Photo by Jerry Joseph using the Hipstamatic app.

It ain’t the motion, it’s the MEAT. Our first stop was the butcher. After looking over the grill-ready marinated quail and ruling out lamb after twelve nights in Kabul, Jerry and I decided on thick pork tenderloin chops. I figured I’d trick them up with a sauce of garlic and shrooms (a mix of white, girolle and oyster mushrooms). Jerry spied the rotisserie potatoes wallowing in fat drippings at the bottom of the constantly-revolving chicken machine, so we got some of those too. Plus marinated sliced museau du boeuf -- don’t ask – okay, it’s jellied cow snout. And Marti’s favorite: stuffed whole tomatoes. We already had too much food for four people and we hadn’t yet gotten to the veggie stand.

Next we visited the cheese shop for “something really smelly,” requested the roving troubadour. Got it. Livarot. From Normandy. Known to have successfully asphyxiated a mother-in-law in the back seat of one of those tiny French cars. Picked up salad stuff, a raspberry tarte with chocolate embellishments for dessert. Now it was time for a café and smoke break at the Roi du Café, corner of Rue Lecourbe and Rue des Volontaires.
Another hip Hipstamatic photo by Jerry. The dude is a veritable Annie Leibovitz in drag.

Our mission accomplished, we walked up Volontaires and hung a right back onto Rue Blomet. I pointed out our Fair Trade boutique (Portlandia has nothing on us) and this unassuming building currently under restoration.

Le Bal Colonial at 33 Rue Blomet was a renowned rendezvous for black Parisians in the mid-1920s. World War I veterans from the Antilles who had fought for France found the City of Light welcoming in the postwar period, and began gathering at this Bal Nègre (black dance hall) with North Africans, African Americans and blacks from the other French colonies.

George Carré Bal Nègre de la rue Blomet, 1930 (Detail).

Hipsters attracted to the jammin’ scene included the artists Picasso, Mirò and Foujita; the sculptor Alexander Calder; poets and writers Jacques Prévert and Jean Cocteau; photographers Pierre Verger and Man Ray; and, music-hall stars Maurice Chevalier, Mistinguett and Josephine Baker. Marti and I are eager to see this historic venue’s next incarnation.

Just a few steps farther up the street Jerry and I encountered a small park built on the site of the building that housed Joan Mirò’s studio. Mirò is at right; standing in the doorway is fellow Spanish artist-sculptor Pablo Gargallo, ca. 1912.

Le square de l'Oiseau lunaire (Moonbird Square). Named after the whimsical bronze sculpture that Joan Mirò gave to the city in 1974, to be exhibited here in memory of happy, productive years spent at 45 Rue Blomet.

Time to rattle them pots and pans. Marti and I whipped up a six-course meal for our guests. The aforementioned beef snout served as an amuse-bouche; green salad; stuffed tomatoes; boneless pork loin chops with sautéed mushrooms and roasted potatoes; cheese platter (Cantal, Camembert, Livarot); tarte aux framboises.
Photo by Hipstamatic Jerry.

Michael, Jerry, Marti and I capped off the evening by strolling over to Rue Petel to catch the hourly Tour Eiffel light show. Then we sent Michael off to the Vaugirard Métro for his trip across town to Nathalie’s.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 4, 2014 – Next morning we three regained consciousness, fortified ourselves with juice, coffee and patisseries. The big concert was tonight. Jerry, Marti and I hung out, traded stories, listened to music. At around 1 p.m. we were joined by our new friend Abby. We got ourselves together, I called the car service and we rode to the Boulevard Saint Germain for lunch at the gorgeous Atlas Moroccan restaurant.

Michael joined us at the restaurant. It was tajines all around. Michael’s: Lamb with apricots.

Jerry: Lamb with olives and preserved lemons.

Abby: Lamb with artichokes and peas.

Marti’s tajine: Monkfish with fennel.

I had quail with raisins.

After lunch we walked to the nearby Institut du Monde Arabe, one of our favorite museums. Here Jerry checks out the cars from the Orient Express, currently on exhibition. We also hit a toy store and record shop en route to catch the #70 bus back to our place for a little pre-gig R&R.

The gig. Through benefit concerts in the U.S. and an impressive crowdfunding effort, Jerry had raised $25K to bring himself and Michael and a haul of musical instruments to the students at the Rock School Kabul. Tonight would be a coda to that project.

Cruisin’ Kabul.

MAKE MUSIC. NOT WAR. Seven-year-old Afghan student learns to play.
Photo by Noorullah Shirzada AFP Getty Images.

Our Paris friend Michael Herrman (Buoy LaRue) has also worked extensively with the Rock School Kabul students. Michael would be performing at tonight’s concert as well.
Photo by Michael Lewis.

Jerry had a little lamb. With cellist Robin Ryczek, co-founder of Rock School Kabul.

Ten action-packed days of music workshops and performances. What an incredible experience.

Showtime! Chris Kenna & Melissa Cox kick off the evening with a great mini-set, joined by Gerard McFadden on bass. Gerard and Melissa then accompanied Buoy LaRue for a sweet middle set.

Michael Lewis remarked on the origins and work of Rock School Kabul, translated to French by MC Marti. Then she passed the hat for donations and the audience responded generously.

Radio cab / Pulling away / I don’t want you to go / I want you to stay. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Such a treat to hear my friend Jerry sing in this town again. It had been ten years since the two Stockholm Syndrome shows at La Scène, not far from tonight’s venue: l’Angora. We’re gonna try to make a Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormoms Paris gig happen on the fall Europe tour.

After show dinner at the Maldoror, hosted by our favorite Mom & Pop unreconstructed anarchists Françoise and Joël. Jerry, Michael Lewis, Michael Herrman, Abby, Nathalie, Marti and me. When poor Nathalie tried to pay with tickets restaurant (government-subsidized lunch coupons), Joël shouted, “FUCK les tickets restaurant!” Oh, okay. Gotta love this guy.

THURSDAY JUNE 5, 2014 – Off to the airport to rendezvous with his sidekick Michael and wing back to the Pacific Northwest. To say we’d had a rollicking good time together would be an understatement.

Many hours later. Arrival at PDX.
Photo by Jerry.

I asked you nicely to get your head off my left tit.

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