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Friday, September 30, 2011

NY Times: a Column by Siddhartha Deb

Once upon a time some place in India there was a guy who was riding daily his bicycle everywhere he needed to go. Sometimes he was carrying also his wife on the crossbar. Both of them were happy, life was good. As the wife was advancing in age, her tummy was taking proportions and one day she felt from the bicycle. Funny to watch the scene from some distance, but for him: the wife got furious and accused him to be good of nothing.

This was once upon a time, which in India means in the early nineties. Meanwhile the consumer society penetrated there as everywhere, together with cheap credit, malls and automobile culture.

In many ways, the marriage between the Indian middle class and the automobile culture has been disastrous: roads remain awful, drivers continue to be erratic, and traffic in cities like Delhi and Bangalore is worse than ever; and yet the car has become deeply enmeshed with upward mobility, while also complicating this mobility, says Siddhartha Deb (author of The Point of Return and The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India). And he continues, the distinction used to be between those who owned cars and those who didn't, while now distinctions are parsed in terms of the model one owns.
Here is his column in today's NY Times:

(A Life in Books)



Well, it's not exactly Post-Islamism, it's rather, to paraphrase a long-used expression, Islamism with a Secular Face. Okay, let aside inappropriate jokes, it's about Islamic political parties abiding to the secular norms of democratic societies. The model seems to be Indonesia, Malaya, and today's Turkey.

All this is controversial, of course. The main controversy seems to be not between secular and Islamic political forces: the struggle is mainly inside Islam, between moderates embracing modernity and traditionalists. Read more in today's NY Times:

(Zoon Politikon)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro

Tom Arvid brought this image to my attention, then I discovered the place. They have killer wines, also some beer (speaking about Oktoberfest). What about siting on the patio, having a fish stew, then some house mad chorizo (or some Maine clams, or grilled shrimp escabeche), or just sipping your wine and listening to Mike Higgins... Not bad at all!

(New England)


Speaking about Duchamp

(Credits: I ♥ STREET ART)


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ed Ruscha: Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas

Ed Ruscha - Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas
oil on canvas, 1963
(courtesy of the Hood Museum of Art)

Anytime I see the image of a work created by Ed Ruscha I am amazed by the elegance of this synthesis of Minimalistic restraint and Photorealistic precision. The painting in the image above will be seen at the Pacific Standard Time (announced in the last Artlog bulletin): an exhibition hosted by the J. Paul Getty Museum in L.A., October 1 through April 30.

(Contemporary Art)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paul Hitter: The Accordionist

(Paul Hitter and Balkan Expressionism)


Dom Hélder Câmara, the Bishop of Slums

Quando dou comida aos pobres chamam-me de santo. Quando pergunto por que eles são pobres chamam-me de comunista.

Marcia Bujold brought this to my attention. I used the image she posted on her Facebook site. Thank you Marcia!

(Marcia Bujold)


Paul Hitter's New Painting: Django Reinhardt, Minor Swing


Minor Swing, Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli
(video by DjangoReinhardtJazz)

(Paul Hitter and Balkan Expressionism)


Monday, September 26, 2011

Pat McMahon Photography: Dreamers

(America viewed by Americans)


Pat McMahon Photography: Profile Picture

The address of Pat McMahon Photography is 205 S. Union St., Alexandria, VA

(America viewed by Americans)


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mikhail Romm - Ordinary Fascism (the whole movie)

I was maybe thirteen or fourteen when I encountered the name of Mikhail Romm for the first time. I borrowed from the library a book that was definitely too difficult for my age: Sadoul's history of the cinematography (the exact title was Histoire du cinéma mondial, des origines à nos jours, in a Romanian translation). I read it entirely, I understood what I could understand at thirteen or fourteen. I remember that some place in the book Sadoul was mentioning a trio of Soviet directors, seemingly considered by him as the best of the 1930's: Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Romm. So that was my first encounter with Mikhail Romm.

Actually it wasn't my first encounter with him: as a kid I had watched his Admiral Ushakov, only I was too small to take care of such details as the name of the director.

I watched then during my life some of the masterpieces of Eisenstein. I haven't yet watched any of Pudovkin's movies, furtunately I will soon correct this lack in my cinematic culture: I have just bought a dvd with Storm over Asia!

With Romm I met second time in the 1970's when I watched his 9 дней одного года: two young scientists, close friends, are exploring new fields of nuclear physics, while both in love for the same woman; they are played by Batalov and Smoktunovski.

Two years ago I wrote about Mikhail Romm's Ordinary Fascism (Обыкновенный фашизм). I was saying, a movie that made the choice of accusing the Nazi regime by presenting its day-to-day normal life... a documentary made in 1965 using footage from the archives of the Third Reich... the images speak for themselves.

I found today on youTube the whole movie.

The movie was made in the Soviet Union in 1965, and I think it was a very courageous movie. And that because it used footage from the archives of the Third Reich. I don't think using this footage would have been allowed earlier than the 1960's. It is true that the director used this footage to make his point, to demonstrate the evil of Nazism, maybe also the banality of evil. And to make his point, Romm selected the footage and edited it carefully. Add to this the off-comment. However, it was original footage from the Nazi period, and so the public had somehow the possibility to judge for themselves, to get their own conclusions. Watching it now, what it strikes me is the similitude with images from the Communist regime, in the USSR or Romania or wherever. The same enthusiasm on the faces of people gathered in huge demonstrations, on huge stadiums, the same sparkle on the eyes of children, believing in the golden dream, the same sleep of reason. The same mix in small dozes of good faith, self-deception, cowardice, egotism, enthusiasm, despair. Together.

But now, in 2011, I know much more about the evil that I knew in 1965.

(Mikhail Romm)

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Marcia Bujold

Marcia Bujold is a specialist in motion graphics design, implied in some very interesting broadcast and documentary projects. I had the privilege to meet her and her husband many times, as they live in Staten Island, in a house next to the one I lived for a brief period of time. They have been the neighbors of Marjorie O'Brien Rapaport, the wonderful mother of my two half siblings, Jill and Pola. Marcia and her husband are extremely nice persons, I would say they are some of the nicest people I have met ever.



Marcia Bujold: It's Banned Books Week!

It's the Banned Books Week, September 27 - October 4. Marcia Bujold brought this to my attention. Here's a very selective list of books that have sometime been banned (or violently challenged):

(I took the info from the American Library Association site)

(A Life in Books)

(Marcia Bujold)


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Euterpe, the Muse of Music

from the Album Art by Greg D. Kelley

Euterpe, the Muse of Music, Acrylic, Pastel, Ink, Antique Watch Face with Hands from c.1884 (Eye), Sheet Music from c.1878, Embroidered Parts of a Victorian Dress from c.1855 (Neck & Waist), Piano Parts from c.1887, Skeleton Key from c.1882, Dried & Pressed Flowers, Butterflies, Paper Mache, on Canvas with Glossy Glaze, 24 x 36"

(Galerie Lareuse)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lin Yilin

Lin Yilin, Safely Maneuvering across Lin He Road, 1995
Performance, 90 min. Guangzhou, China
Credit: Creative Time

Lin Yilin (林一林) (b. 1964, Guangzhou, China) is an installation and performance artist. Lin grew up during the Cultural Revolution which has been one of the primary influences on his work. Through performances, large installations, sculptures, photographs, videos and oil painting, Lin explores how change and transition on a grand scale relates to individuals on a more personal scale. Lin currently lives and works in New York City and Guangzhou.

(Contemporary Art)


Connaught Bar in London: Martin Trolleys and White Gloves

After Manhattan, Frisco, and Tokyo, it's time to visit a bar in London. The choice would be the Connaught where guests are served from martini trolleys managed by white gloved attendants. How to call them, martini trolleys or gueridon trolleys? Well, matter of taste, or of habit.

Anyway, here's the description for such a trolley (according to One London One): the trolley features an engraved Japanese crystal mixing jar which has been cleverly engineered to conserve freezing temperatures; double frozen ice cubes from purified water ensure the martini is chilled to perfection; the stirring utensils are made of silver, while the martinis themselves are served in elegant engraved crystal glasses especially created for the Connaught by a leading French designer. Not bad!

Ago Perrone and Erik Lorincz are the mixologists at the Connaught, presiding over the extensive list of expensive cocktails.

(Bartenders and Mixologists)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Paul Hitter: Me and Frida Kahlo

(Paul Hitter and Balkan Expressionism)


High Five in Tokyo

Looking on the web for cocktail bars in Tokyo, I bumped on an unexpected sentence: Japan is the Galápagos Archipelago of bartending! Hidetsugu Ueno said that: he is the manager of Bar High Five.

What I knew so far was that Japanese cell phones were affected by the Galápagos syndrome: like the endemic species that Darwin encountered on the Galápagos Islands they are fantastically evolved and divergent from their mainland cousins (according to Takeshi Natsuno from Keio University). Well, it goes the same for Japanese bartenders: they developed their own ways of making classics (bartenders or mixologists, if you prefer the term).

Hidetsugu Ueno is obsessed with finding the perfect shape and perfect temperature for ice cubes: different drinks need ice cubes of different temperatures, and carved like diamond. If this is not Galápagos syndrome, then Darwin invented his giant tortoises.

Hidetsugu Ueno demonstrating a double twist at Bar Convent Berlin 2009
(video by alkoteka)

Ueno San has been the mixologist at Star Bar in Ginza before starting his own High Five.

(Bartenders and Mixologists)


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The History of Oofty Goofty

Back in the old times, when Barbary Coast in San Francisco was still known for gambling, prostitution and crime (and was not overlapped by Chinatown, North Beach, Jackson Square, and the Financial District), there was a guy who seemingly could pronounce only two words: Oofty Goofty. So the other people called him like that, Oofty Goofty. He was making a living by letting others to beat him with a bat for 25 cents. So it goes. Anyway 25 cents meant by those times really 25 cents.

Well, eventually someone hit him too hard and the guy died.

The name was taken over nowadays by a cocktail you can have at the Jardinière in Hayes Valley. After a couple of drinks you would feel like the old guy from Barbary Coast: fearless and eccentric (don't let others hit you, though).

The creator of the Oofty Gooty cocktail is Brian MacGregor, the mixologist at the Jardinière.

Here is the recipe (according to http://www.nirvino.com/blog/posts/Oofty-Goofty-Jardiniere?id=YrX1Nnd345dqdsI1lV):

And here are the directions (according to the same source):

  • Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
  • Strain into a cocktail glass.

Bon Appétit!

(Bartenders and Mixologists)


Bartenders and Mixologists

You can drink an Old Fashioned at the Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris, and a Lusitania at the Beckett's Kopf in Berlin. You can have a Moscow Mule at Rockpool in Sydney, or an Oofty Goofty at the Jardinière in San Francisco. Bottom line, you can find your drink and your place provided you are a free spirit. The only issue is to know what a bartender and what a mixologist are.

According to Colleen Graham, mixology is generally accepted as a slang term for a refined and in depth study of the art and craft of bartending. Well, it's not that simple: the same Colleen Graham comes back and asks herself, is a mixologist just a fancy, scientific-sounding name for a bartender? Technically, yes, but there is a generally accepted difference between the two job titles while the two are often used interchangeably. Still confused?

Now let me give you my two penny opinion: bartending can be an art, if you are obsessed with looking for the perfect mix of drinks. Therefore not all bartenders are also mixologists, while all mixologists are also bartenders. To say nothing about baristas (just kidding). I'll come back to this.

(A Life in Books)


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NY Times: Richard Dawkins, an Original Thinker Who Bashes Orthodoxy

Richard Dawkins, the Oxford don, a liberal atheist who is arguably the world's most influential evolutionary biologist, continues to turn the prevailing view of evolution and natural selection on its head. There is an article in today's NY Times on him:

(A Life in Books)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Paul Hitter: Portrait of a Gypsy Woman with Baby and Ciggy

DamenPorträt mit Baby and Zigarette
(@Paul Hitter, The Gypsy Chronicles)

There is a movie that comes to mind, it's Makhmalbaf's Gabbeh, and of course all those stories by Gorky, Макар Чудра and all that good stuff.

(Paul Hitter and Balkan Expressionism)


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paul Hitter: East Meets West

I dedicate this post to Pola Rapaport, who had once in mind to turn one of his movies into a dark comedy, East Meets West. Actually I haven't talked too much here on the blog about her movies. It's my mistake. She has some very challenging movies.

(Paul Hitter and Balkan Expressionism)

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Paul Hitter: Maria Tanase

Paul Hitter takes great inspiration from Roma culture and insists you call him a Gypsy not Roma even although he is neither of the two. That he has no Gypsy blood flowing through his veins does not diminish the strength of his vision. Hitter's Gypsyness is a transfusion of Gypsy spirit.

(Paul Hitter and Balkan Expressionism)


Paul Hitter: Taras Bulba

(Paul Hitter and Balkan Expressionism)


Paul Hitter and Balkan Expressionism

Paul Hitter (born 1982) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. His style is known as Balkan Expressionism: a mix of folk art- inspired by Gypsy culture, Jewish culture, Romanian culture, Slavic culture, and pure expressionism. Says Paul Hitter, because I am coming from Balkan ground, because Balkan is encapturing such a variety of cultures, because Balkan is a sort of modern Jerusalem.

You can see his amazing works by following his blog: One and Only Paul Hitter. A Paul Hitter exhibition is scheduled at the Balkanik Festival (Bucharest, September 23-24).

(Contemporary Art)


Friday, September 16, 2011

Arvids in Background

If you are invited at Arvid Wine Dinner tonight (it'll be at the Red Stag Grill in Asheville, NC), you'd better go light on lunch: Sunburst Mountain Trout Cavar with Perrier Jouët, NC Dayboat catch with Cakebread Chardonnay, Faisan Au Vin with Au Bon Climat Pinot, Carolina Bison Strip Steak with Far Niente Cab and good ole Henderson Cty Apples and Dumplings with Dow's Port.

(P&C Art)


Sunflower in Kameoka

I found this image on a web site featuring a place where Nippon beauty is at its peak: it's the image of an autumn walkaway through Kameoka. Compare it with a video that was made one month ago, at the peak of summer. Yoko made it in Kameoka. It is in this video a greatness of the image, calling in mind Kurosawa.

Kameoka abuts Kyoto to the east and is located to the north of Osaka. It used to be the farming area for Kyoto, providing ingredients used in the traditional Japanese cuisine.

(The Thousand faces of HANAFUBUKI)


Boris Groys: Marx after Duchamp, or the Artist's Two Bodies

At the turn of the twentieth century, art entered a new era of artistic mass production. Whereas the previous age was an era of artistic mass consumption, in our present time the situation has changed, and there are two primary developments that have led to this change. The first is the emergence of new technical means for producing and distributing images, and the second is a shift in our understanding of art, a change in the rules we use for identifying what is and what is not art.

Read the whole essay of Boris Groys at:

(Contemporary Art)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Toaca si Clopote

Toaca nu este o simpla scandura, taiata ca o uluca si pusa in biserica, ci ea este un lucru sfintit...

Dedicata lui Deb.

(Icon and Orthodoxy)

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Mobile Uploads of Andy Stinson

I like very much the images that Andy Stinson is posting on Facebook. Sometimes they are funny, as Andy is a wonderful person, fully enjoying life, always they are witty, and also, they have a certain grace, expressed in a subtle way. Maybe the light Andy is catching, maybe the way the persons or objects are grouped together? I don't know, but there is something there, difficult to explain in words.

(America viewed by Americans)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Art Stands from the Ashes

In the midst of destruction, chaos and economic strongholds, art stands as witness to the creative soul.

We come together, at a time of great frustration, in a defiant celebration of hope for all that is best in humanity. Creativity breeds hope for sanity in a time of insanity.

On September 11, 2011, artists sing our hope, dance for peace, and draw our dreams.

Sunday 9/11/11
Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center
107 Suffolk Street, NY
4pm through 11.30

(Eve Packer)


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Miez de Noapte in Paris

(click here for the English version)

Ar putea incepe in felul in care filmul lui Woody Allen ne-o povesteste, intr-o nostalgia store, o consignatie din acelea cautate de colectionarii pasionati de ce-i vechi si bun, cu discuri de vinilin si placi de ebonita, si caiete cu note muzicale un pic roase de vreme, cu afise de filme de acum saizeci de ani, cu carti tiparite la Paris pe la 1860, si cu toate lucrurile de soiul asta, care cer rabdare, sa fie rasfoite in liniste, in timp ce orele trec si se insereaza.

Este miez de noapte acum, aici in Paris si tocmai a inceput sa ploua. Esti inca acolo, in acea nostalgia store, acea consignatie? Sau esti afara, plimbandu-te in bataia ploii, fara sa-ti pese? Cine e fata aceea care-ti zambeste? Vrabiuta? Cum ar putea fi? Edith Piaf, chiar ea e? Cineva fredoneaza un cantec fara cuvinte, stii cantecul, numai ca nu poti sa iti amintesti titlul, dar il stii, si cateva lacrimi incep sa iti curga. Este nostalgie? Nu, e bucurie, doar ca nu poti sa crezi in asa un miracol.

Este Edith Piaf, sau mai degraba Marion Cotillard? Mai conteaza? Sau este Kiki, acea Kiki din Montparnasse, si tu te lupti pentru dragostea ei cu Man Ray?

Stai, cine-i fatuca, si unde esti acum? Este Zelda, si tu esti pe scarile din Montmartre? Acelasi cantec, fara cuvinte, il stii, inca nu iti aduci aminte de titlu.

Nu, nu este Zelda Fitzgerald, imaginea asta a scarilor din Montmartre vine din 1950. Ai ajuns aici din acea consignatie, acea nostalgia store, lasandu-ti visele sa pluteasca fara graba? Sau te uitai tinta la vechiul afis cu o imagine din 1950, afisul pe care l-ai cumparat odata in micul butic din New Hope? Il cumparasesi in 2003, acum era vara lui 2009, te pregateai sa te muti din apartamentul in care locuisesi vreme de sapte ani, urma sa te muti in alt oras, foarte departe, si afisul era acolo, iar tu trebuia sa il iei acum de pe perete, visele tale pluteau prin jur, iar nostalgia parea sa isi faca de cap. Asa ca ti-ai luat aparatul tau ieftin si ai facut o fotografie.

(imagine a afisului care atarna in apartamentul meu)

Asa ca este 1950, asta am stabilit-o, si esti in Paris. Este miezul noptii si tu esti pe strada, in ploaie. Si cantecul acela, fara cuvinte, un cantec de dragoste si nostalgie. Si incepi sa te gandesti la o epoca mai veche, al treilea deceniu al veacului, Anii Nebuni, Les Années Folles, pentru ca iti amintesti de alt film, a fost singurul film facut de Mirea Alexandresco.

Mirea, un om care s-a intamplat sa imi traverseze viata de doua ori. Odata in Paris, in 1945, de abia ma nascusem, si mama a primit pentru mine in dar dela parintii lui Mirea caruciorul care fusese al lui, si apoi, zeci de ani mai tarziu, pe la inceputul anilor optzeci, cand Mirea a venit la Bucuresti pentru o scurta vizita, impreuna cu sotia si cu fetia lui. A murit prematur candva dupa 1990. I-am vazut filmul la televizor, cu mult timp in urma.

Azi am descoperit pe web imaginea unui afis pentru Les Années Folles. Un afis de colectie, fara indoiala, cu propria lui istorie: a fost odata impaturit (ups!), apoi pastrat intins pentru o lunga perioada (lasat sa-si revina in forma, ca sa zicem asa), iar un pic din hartia afisului s-a rupt chiar sus de tot. Afisul era folosit in cinematografele belgiene, asa ca are titlul filmului si in franceza, si in flamanda (Zotte Jahren). A fost scos la licitatie in 2011, si vandut pentru zece dolari.

Ei bine, afisul asta m-a adus inapoi in Parisul anilor douazeci, erau acolo Hemingway si Scott Fitzgerald, si toti ceilalti, si Gertrude Stein tocmai ticluind termenul de Generatie Pierduta. Si Buñuel, si Dalí. Chiar asa, era el, Dalí, sau Adrien Brody, jucandu-l pe Dalí in filmul lui Woody Allen? Pentru ce imi tot revine filmul asta in minte? Vorbesc acum cu Dalí, despre plimbarile mele prin ploaie pe strazile pariziene pustii, in miez de noapte, rasfoind decenii, iar el nu pare surprins. Este normal, imi spune, timpul nu este decat o conventie, tine-o asa,visand.

Era acesta Parisul in care voiam sa fiu? Poate ca nu, visele mele pluteau catre o epoca mult mai indepartata, aceea a lui Emonds si Marville, un oras pe cale de a-si schimba fata, pe la mijlocul veacului al nousprezecelea. Strazi batrane urmau sa dispara, maestrii fotografi luau poze in graba, sa ramana marturii ale caselor vechi, si ale vechilor caldarme. Si arta picturii isi schimba atunci fata. La Barbizon artistii descoperisera plein air-ul, iar impresionismul batea la usa. Da, asta era Parisul in care voiam sa fiu.

Si poate ca drumul ar trebui sa inceapa in anticariatul acela mititel, de pe Rue du Cherche Midi, chiar langa casa in care imi petrecusem primii trei ani de viata. Revenisem pe strada aceea in 1999, si intrasem in anticariat. Un loc in care sa rasfoiesti carti batrane, si fotografii ingalbenite de vreme, desene si gravuri, si sa iti lasi visele slobode.

Si iata-ma din nou afara. E miezul noptii si ploaia a inceput din nou (ca sa-l citez pe prietenul meu Dan, care il cita la randul lui pe Woody Allen). Si deodata cuvintele cantecului mi-au revenit in minte, este Plaisir d'amour, a fost scris la Paris, numai ca mult, mult mai devreme, in 1780! Berlioz avea sa compuna apoi muzica, un pic mai tarziu, in prima jumatate a veacului al nouasprezecelea.

Si e atat de frumos ca lacrimile mi se amesteca in aerul rece cu picaturile de ploaie. O sa revin, sunt multe de spus.



Friday, September 09, 2011

My Paris

(click here for the Romanian version)

It could start the way the movie of Woody Allen is telling us, in a nostalgia store, with vinyl records and ebonite plates, and old musical scores, with old photos, with posters for movies from the sixties, and books printed in Paris by 1860 or 1865, and all that kind of stuff, requiring patience, to be browsed quietly, while hours are passing, and evening is coming.

It's midnight now here in Paris, and the rain has just started. Are you still there, in the nostalgia store? Or are you out, walking in the rain, without care? Who is that girl smiling at you? La Môme? How could that be? Edith Piaf, is it she? Someone is humming a song without words, you know the song, you cannot figure out the title, but you know it, and a few tears begin to flow, as from nowhere. Is it nostalgia? No, it is joy, only you cannot believe the miracle.

Is it Edith Piaf, is it rather Marion Cotillard? Does it matter any more? Or is it Kiki, the Kiki of Montparnasse, and you are competing Man Ray?

Wait, who is the girl, and where are you now? Is it Zelda, and you are on the stairs at Montmartre? The same song, without words, you know it, you still can't remember the title.

No, it's not Zelda Fitzgerald, this image of the Escaliers de Montmartre comes from 1950. Have you arrived there from the nostalgia store, letting your dreams float without haste? Or were you staring at the old poster showing an image from 1950, a poster that you had bought one day in that small boutique in New Hope? You had bought it in 2003, now it was the summer of 2009, you were ready to leave the small apartment where you had spent seven years of your life, to move in another town, far away, and the poster was there, and you were ready to take it down from the wall, and your dreams were floating around, and your nostalgia. And you took your cheap camera and tried a shot.

(image of a poster that hanged in my apartment)

So it is 1950, and you are in Paris. It's midnight and you are out, in the rain. And that song, without words, a song of love and nostalgia. And you start thinking at an earlier age, the third decade of the century, the Mad Years, Les Années Folles, as you remember another movie, it was the only movie made by Mirea Alexandresco.

, a man who crossed my life twice. Once in Paris, in 1945, I was just born, and my mother got from the parents of Mirea the baby carriage that had been his, and then, years later, at the beginning of the eighties, when Mirea came to Bucharest in a short visit, with his wife and little daughter. He passed away prematurely sometime in the nineties. I watched his movie on TV, long time ago.

I discovered today on the web the image of a poster of Les Années Folles. A vintage poster, no question about this, with a history of its own: once folded (oops!), then kept flat for a long period of time (to get in shape again), with a bit of paper loss in the right of top edge. The poster had been used in Belgian theaters, so you can note the movie's title both in French and Flemish (Zotte Jahren). It was auctioned in 2011, and sold for ten dollars.

Well, that poster brought me again in the Paris of the twenties, Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald were there, and all those guys, and Gertrude Stein who was just coining the term of Lost Generation. And Buñuel, and Dalí. Is it he, Dalí, or Adrien Brody, impersonating Dalí in the movie of Woody Allen? Why is this movie coming again and again in my mind? I'm talking now to Dalí, about my walks in the rain on empty Parisian streets, browsing decades, and he's not surprised. It is quite normal, he says, time is just a convention, keep dreaming.

Was this the Paris I wanted to be in? Maybe not, my dreams were floating towards a much earlier age, the epoch of Emonds and Marville, a city about to change its face, the mid of ninetieth century. Old streets were to disappear, and the photographers were taking photos in haste, to document the old homes, and the old pavements. And the art of Painting was about to change face. The artists had discovered at Barbizon the plein air, and Impressionism was about to come. Well, yes, that would be the Paris to be in.

And maybe the journey should start in that small antiquarian shop, Rue du Cherche Midi, just next to the house where I spent the first three years of my life. I came back there tens of years later, in 1999, and I entered the store: a place to browse those old books, and old photos, drawings and engravings, and let your dreams free.

And I am out. It's midnight and it's raining (to quote Dan, who was quoting in turn Woody Allen). And I start to remember the words of the song, it's Plaisir d'Amour, it was written in Paris, only much, much earlier, in 1780! Berlioz would compose the music a bit later, in the first half of the nineteenth century.

And it's so beautiful the song, that my tears are mixing with the drops of rain. I will come back to this, it's much to say.

(Cinéma Français)

(A Life in Books)

(The Fitzgeralds)

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

2 Days in Paris

Have I ever watched a movie with a Paris so de-romanticized? No poetry of the place of any kind, only aggressive cab-drivers, insistent ex-lovers (are they totally ex?), people hostile to foreigners (even when they are your in-laws). Well, the movie has a point. When a couple's life sucks, even Paris sucks. Because the movie is not about Paris, it's about a couple thrown in troubled waters. Will the relation survive? Let's hope for the best.

And there is another thing: Paris opens its heart only to those who are open to receive it. When you come there, leave your baggage of problems and arrogance, and become a poet, as the city is.

(Cinéma Français)