Although no “Hemingway sat here” plaques adorn the grand-stands of the eight Paris racetracks, the American writer was a regular horseplayer when he lived here from 1921 to 1926. Since the French racing establishment has done little or nothing to attract tourism – not even one brochure at tourist information centers – racing is one of Paris’ best kept entertainment secrets.
In 1969, when many of us were watching the flag-waving Archie Bunker chew out the Meathead, his lazy, pinko, long-haired son-in-law, the United States government was secretly putting in place a small but innovative network of four computers that would share information and be impermeable to Soviet attack.
In a business all about reaching out and grabbing the eye, fashion photographer Sarah Moon is an exception. She lures it. Her pictures are so mysterious, so private, so dramatically loaded, they’re like a world through a keyhole, and viewers can’t resist looking closer.
Robert Altman has Paris fashion in an uproar. Feeling used, abused and terribly misrepresented, industry professionals are screaming “foul play” over the film “Prêt-à-Porter.” “We are portrayed as a class of sex-crazed, dishonest, bubble brained idiots,” designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac told Paris Match.
Doris Lessing likens memory to a shut door – the one that Alice desperately seeks to open though she is too small reach the doorknob. The access she has to her own past is unsure, arbitrary, selective. She describes as “creepy” the phenomenon that, “what I was told and what I remember were not the same.” She seemed to debate with herself, in the presence of a rapt audience at the British Council, the very nature of autobiography.
Spouse trailing is the curse of the expatriate wife, but Catherine Gilson turned it into a blessing by transforming her volunteer experience in Paris into The Culture Club, her own tour group. She is a textbook example of how women square the sometimes vicious circle of moving, setting up a household and trying to establish themselves before moving on again – the subject of a career-development seminar last month organized by WICE and the American University of Paris.
John Calder and Paris mix like Scottish malt whiskey and mountain spring water. Since the 1950s Calder, a veritable landmark to literary publishing, has focused on Paris as his literary plaque tournante. In fact, there is probably no single literary bookman still in the business that has done more to bring French authors into the English language. If it hadn’t been for Calder few anglophones in Europe would have been able to read the ground-breaking writers of the French nouveau roman. And his stable of writers is wildly impressive; he’s published over 4000 titles in forty years including the works of some 20 Nobel Prize winners, a fact he cringes at from modesty when it’s repeated in public. Artaud, Ionescu, Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grille, Nathalie Saurraute, Claude Simon, Robert Pinget, many of the Surrealists…the list goes on. Continue reading “Conversation with Publisher John Calder”
“If someday you have a few months to spare, come to Barbary…you will feel the precious and exceptional influence of the sun, which gives everything a piercing life.” Just over 160 years ago, Eugène Delacroix left a wan Paris winter for a six-month adventure in North Africa. While few of us can jump up and follow his footsteps, following his brush strokes is an excellent alternative. Delacroix in Morocco – a gathering of his painted mementos – is on exhibit until January 15 at the Institut du Monde Arabe.
“Turn Paris into a pile of ruins. Defend it to the last man,” were Hilter’s orders to the German Commander of Greater Paris in mid-August 1944. Adolf Hitler was smelling imminent defeat, and he intended taking the city of Paris and its people down with him. Continue reading “The Liberation of Paris Revisited”
As one of the earliest professional portrait photographers (and to this day one of the best), Felix Tournachon, known as Nadar, endowed his generation with perpetual faces, enabling us to look into the eyes of history. History currently looks back from the walls of the Musée d’Orsay, where nearly 100 Nadar portraits make up a picture gallery of the Second Empire.
“The true artists are those who take their epoch at exactly the point to which it has been carried by the preceding ages. To retreat is to do nothing, is to work without result, is to have neither understood nor profited from the lessons of the past.”