Welcome Back Home?!

This time only expats are welcome here. So, if you’re a tourist, even a groovy one, désolé, bug off; go order a cappuccino in some overpriced sidewalk café and write kitschy postcards to jealous co-workers and doubting lovers. I want to talk to my people, the Great Anglo-Masochistic Zealot Cult (GAMZC) that keeps coming back for more perennial abuse and cultural belittling. Continue reading “Welcome Back Home?!”

Pardon my French

After a number of years in France there are a few odd things that you end up only knowing how to do only in French.  For example,  I can change the embrayage of my car with my eyes shut, but I cringe at the idea of touching the clutch. As a publisher, I know the ins and outs of brochage, but bookbinding totally befuddles me. I can poser une moquette or handle carrelage, but I’m lost when it comes to laying carpet or dealing with  bathroom tiles. In fact, on the whole I’m not too bad as bricoleurs go, but if it’s one thing I’m not it’s handy! Continue reading “Pardon my French”

Remembering Paris in 1947

Fifty years ago this month, Paris was swarming with the task of recovery – material and psychic. The spring of 1947 brought with it a huge wave of displaced Europeans, and Paris emerged as a “plaque tournante” for  a battered  continent finding its bearings. In the crowded streets around the Gare Saint-Lazare one heard Polish, Hungarian, Serbo-Croatian. The little hotels were stuffed with people with tattered suitcases, unpronounceable names, and small wads of US dollars and perhaps a few pieces of gold sewn into threadbare overcoats. Many handed over everything they owned for a visa to a far-off country, Cuba or Venezuela, Canada or the United States, the promise of a new start. Many stayed, dug in, opened little shops and became part of France’s merchant class. Others battled to gain passage on a Salvation Army charter boat that left from Le Havre and pulled into the Hudson River two weeks later. Continue reading “Remembering Paris in 1947”

“Bonne Fin d’année, Monsieur.”

Chers readers – yes, you – as we converse, I look out into the near future, and see you there sitting pretty somewhere in the heart of a gleeful Paris December, the holiday season unfolding around you with its annual engorgement of foie gras, saumon fumé, huîtres d’Oléron, Veuve Cliquot and Christmas lights. But many of us time-warped journalists are still hovering over our monthly deadlines back here in ol’ forgotten November, the most joyless month in Paris. “It’s a Wonderful Life” flashes in the background of the imagination as this last column of the year falls into place. Continue reading ““Bonne Fin d’année, Monsieur.””