Saturday, April 29, 2006

Friday, April 21, 2006

miss edith

(click on pics)
i am, and have been, hugely a fan of miss edith piaf (madame lamboukas). her music not only inspires me, if i can be so cliche, but also makes me the happiest girl on the train when i pipe her voice into my ears during my commute. it's like eating soft white cheese with honey (my new favorite treat)...and when in paris, i had to find her.
my visit to pere lachaise cemetary was a surreal one...but i didn't expect it to be anything but surreal. firstly, it's amazingly huge. i had no idea...but should have, what with all of the amazing minds and voices buried on those sacred grounds. i thought that i would have no problem finding her grave. So, as soon as i came up from the train station, i went to the nearest florist, bought a pink rose and started aimlessly walking into the great cemetary. after about a half hour of wandering around the beautifully creepy crypts, i gave up, and went to the little man at the gate to buy a map. i found, with the map, that i was no less than a mile away from her. in my boots (which are such a bad idea on cobble stone...poor ankles), i walked and climbed for another hour, wandering in and out of the artistic crypts, which seemed more like walking through a quiet, lovely neighborhood, than a graveyard. trees lines the cobblestone streets between the crypts, most were the size of large closets, complete with locked iron worked doors and incredible stained glass windows.
walking into the newer graves, i wondered what hers would look like, how beautiful would hers be...the little bird of paris that moved the world with her voice? of course, it didn't come as much of a suprise that when i did find her grave, it was rather plain, by pere lachaise standards. i wasn't the only one looking for her, there were at least three other people roaming around the same area when i finally came across her. so, i waited, i let them have their time...and then i went up and lay down my rose, sat down and said a small prayer in french, with the few words that i know (because maybe thats what she would have wanted), and walked away.
i couldn't leave the cemetary without, of course, paying some respect to others that were buried i went off to find oscar wilde and marcel proust. the oscar wilde grave/monument was so odd, being covered tip to top in lipstick. yes, lipstick. mostly kisses, but also handwritten notes in lipstick. i wonder who started this trend. of course, the penis was missing from the statue..i wonder how much that's selling for on ebay.
proust grave was very average, i'm sure he would have wanted nothing grand.

the wonderful thing to see, was not the graves of the famed, but the graves of others. i came across many graves that were statues of the actual people, laying on top of the grave, just as they were in the coffin itself. this was my favorite, since they found it fit to bury him with his cane, tophat and spats....notice, if you will, where the bronze has been worn down on the picture...crotch, shoes, mouth. bizarre.
my visit was time well spent, and more beautiful than any of the museums i went to (except for maybe the rodin museum, but that's another day). the cemetary was definitely an amazingly beautiful and ceremonial waste of space, comfort for the living, not the dead.

after my search among the dead, i went to visit her birthplace...apparently on the steps of the rue de belleville in belleville (which is today, kind of like the parisian chinatown). it's not really marked, except for a plaque commemorating the fact that she was born here on the steps, in abject poverty, and there are no signs (i was told there is a small museum in her honor a few streets away, but it's by appointment only, and i just didn't have the time). it's funny, how we search out these's not like you're going to find any great insight from visiting a persons birthplace, or their grave for that matter...but, there's something that feels good about taking the time and giving some respect to a life that means so much to you now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

carousel at sacre coeur Posted by Picasa

carousel in montmartre, bottom of the hill at the sacre coeur (the one from amelie...:-) Posted by Picasa

carousel la belle epoque Posted by Picasa

many of the carousels were kept up supremely, but i found a few that were very old and quite falling this one was, all beautiful and handpainted, filled with irritated looking pigs and cows as well as the usual horse and carriage. i was unable to get more pictures, as they had just closed the gate when i arrived.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


other than the usual lovely things about paris, (sitting alone in cafe's drinking kir and slirping up fromage blanc avec miel, looking straight up the middle of the eiffel tower, eating a camembert baguette and drinking white wine in the rodin sculpture garden, kindly dropping a euro or two to any street accordianiste...etc., etc..), there also happen to be quite a few carousels, which, of course make the city even more photogenic than it already is. when i first arrived in paris, my first thought was to search out all of the carousels in paris, and start a photographic tour of them...but i simply didn't have time (and was often distracted by the 'wine drinking cafe sitting' part of me).
here are the few that i found...and a few that i rode. (thank you mr.doeg for indulging me in my little infatuation).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

saturday, saturday, saturday!!

a quick break in the paris pics...there are three great shows this saturday, the 15th, that i would like to recommend highly. first, gogol bordello is playing at the roxy, an early show (6pm)...anyone who has seen them knows that this isn't one to miss. after that, at around 9pm, there is an AMAZING show taking place at tt the bears...the beat circus, humanwine, guignol and alec k redfearn and the eyesores...please please come out and support these truly incredible and talented won't be disappointed, and if you are, please come see me, and i will rightly take my shoe off and smack it upside your head.
the last show is one that i will miss, unfortunately, i can't be several places at once (goddamn MIT, get to work on that one!)...the edith piaf performance band, Ziaf, will be playing a show at the lizard lounge. if you're in the mood for french chanson, this will be a good one.

my money will be on the beat circus, and i suggest everyone join in.


Monday, April 10, 2006

our last night in paris...

(click on pics for larger versions)
our last night in paris was probably one of the best..but isn't that always the way. (believe me, i almost 'lost' my passport so as to stay a bit longer).
on this night, our last night, we went for fondue, then rambled about the streets for a bar with live music. i had noticed in my guide book that there was a cave like bar where bands played called 'le caveau des oubliettes' ('dungeon cave') we went, we could not miss this.
we found the bar, and wound our way down the tiny stone staircase into a series of tiny cellars connected by small rounded doorways. the larger of the rooms, was overflowing with people, and we could hear what sounded like gypsy jazz coming out of the room...the next smaller room was a bar, and a television broadcasting the band that was playing in the room we couldn't get into. we sat down, ordered some drinks, and watched the monitor. suddenly, we realized that the guy on stage playing his gypsy guitar must have been the re incarnation of django reinhardt. seriously, he was amazing, and his protege who played next to him, was also unbelievable. try as we may, we could not fit in the room with the band amongst all of the french hipsters, so we still sat and waited for a break in the crowd. after a while, the band took a break and came to the bar to get drinks. we asked if there would another set, and they said to wait a half hour. ernie made his way into the room (cellar) with the stage and we took our spots. the cave was full of smoke, as there was no ventilation and the nearly everyone in france smokes. i noticed that there were chains and neck braces hanging from the ceiling...i'm assuming that these were originally in the 'dungeon' and the owners thought it might be kitchy to leave them there. only, the thought that people probably at some point in history, were left hanging down in this hole to die, was not a settling one.
finally the band came back to take the stage (two classical guitars and upright bass) they started into the next song, i thought ernie's head might actually explode, the guitarist was incredible!!! it's a bit dramatic to say that his fingers were actually smoking, but they were...(mostly due to the fact that even as fast as he played, his cigarette stayed perfectly between his fingers, ashes flying).
at the end of the evening (early morning, as it was going on 2am) a lady came up to sing some gypsy songs with the band in french (of course) and the room erupted in dancing and singing.
note of warning: the metro stops running at 1230am and catching a taxi in paris at 2am on a saturday night is impossible. we were on the left bank, and our hotel was on the right bank, way up on the hill in montmartre...the thought of walking the entire way made us queasy. finally, we were able to beg a cabbie that was offshift to take us home. merci beaucoup, monsiuer, you saved our night (and maybe our marriage, since our tempers were beginning to get heated).
at the hotel in our beds, my head filled with french words and django guitar, i mostly stayed awake until we got up to catch our flight. i'm completely taken with that if i could only learn to roll my 'r's properly, i would be a peach.

post script: the name of the band we were watching was "moreno & marina".

J'ai deux amours

the month of april in my blog, will now be filled with pictures from my recent trip to france and sweden. i am sufficiently over my jet lag (with a nice, long 20 hour nap last night and part of this morning.)
there was no time to blog in paris, it didn't seem to be important to me at the time. so, here are the highlights.
more to come...