Friday, April 29, 2011

"Get the Picture"

We've been hearing about John Morris from friends in Paris for several years.  He's the legendary photo editor  of LIFE magazine during World War II, having edited Robert Capa's D-Day photos, executive editor of the Magnum photo agency, photo editor at various times of The New York Times, The Washington Post and Ladies Home Journal, for which he edited the exclusive photos of the wedding of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier, and the European correspondent of National Geographic.   His autobiography is titled "Get the Picture."

He edited the indelible photo of the Viet Cong prisoner being shot in the head on the street in Saigon, photos of the moon landing, and other iconic images.  He worked with Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, Elliot Erwitt among others.  He knew Robert Doisneau and Brassaï, and many many others, photographers, reporters, and newsmakers.  He's lived in Paris for nearly 30 years. He was awarded the Legion of Honor.  A couple of years ago he was instrumental in the Obama campaign in France.  He's 95 years old.

We were lucky enough to be invited to a dinner with him and his lady friend at the home of a mutual friend and were thrilled to meet a man who appeared 20 years younger than his age and who had fascinating stories to tell.  Before we left that evening Morris gave us an invitation to the opening party for the auction of his own personal photo collection, going on the block on April 30, 2011 at 15 avenue Montaigne.

There must have been a couple of hundred people sipping wine and looking at the incredible prints on the walls, from versions of Dorothea Lange's migrant mother to Robert Capa's gypsy wedding, to Alfred Eisenstaedt's photo of his and Morris's shadows on the beach, to a happy family picture of the Kennedy brothers and sisters at JFK's wedding.  We were blown away to see this incredible record of the 20th century and to have met a man who had been intimately involved in preserving it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring aka Summer

This faux summer seems to have come to at least a temporary end after the long Easter weekend, but Paris was taking full advantage while it was happening.  This fellow relaxing on the deck of his houseboat moored near the Pont Alexandre III might have been on the Canal du Midi, bike ready to ride along the towpath.

We would happily have joined this family having lunch on Easter Monday (a national holiday).

For someone who has never had allergies, it took me a while to realize that the sudden sneezing fits and throat tickles were likely caused by the gorgeous and ubiquitous chestnut trees flowering all over the streets and parks.  Yes, just like the song says, "chestnuts in blossom".  Achoo!

I don't know if this is a Citroën or a Peugeot or some other make, but by god it's still running on the streets of a holiday Paris, with the family within grinning proudly as it drives by

It didn't cool down much in the evening so a party on the quai was probably more appealing than one in a stuffy apartment.  This was just one of many we passed on the way to our own pleasantly cool place.  Those old stones make for great insulation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Monday

I know nothing about this exhibition at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, but boy do I not agree.

My mood is reflected more by this bike parked in the window of a decorating shop.  Yesterday we walked a wide circle around Paris, first from Saint Germain des Prés to Boulevard Haussmann to see the exhibition of paintings by Gustave Caillebotte and photos by his brother Martial at the Musée Jacquemart-André.  We loved the paintings, virtually all of which came from private collections and were thus ones we might never get to see again.  The photos, while interesting in the context of family and history, were not particularly thrilling to view.

(Neither are the ones I took during the day, or at least that's what my software seems to think, since it won't let me post any of them.)

A walk over to rue Montorgueil to find an open restaurant on this holiday brought us finally to a place that claims never to close, Au Pied de Cochon.  After a mediocre meal and a final walk across the river on the Pont des Arts, which, like the quais, was jammed with groups sitting on blankets, chatting and drinking from bottles of wine, we arrived back home, having circled the center of the city.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April in Paris

We arrived to spectacular summer weather.  People sprawled on the lawns of parks, sitting on fountain edges, taking advantage of an entirely atypical spring.  The song "April in Paris" is said to have been called that because the lyrics scanned, not because the weather is usually very nice, but it's hit the jackpot this year.

We left SF on time, flew northward over these pretty snow-capped mountains, and arrived early in Frankfurt.  Where we sat for several hours waiting for our connection.  How I hate United for cancelling the direct flight from SFO to Paris some years ago!

But now we're back and walking our usual paths again.  We've been to the Marais,

had lunch in the Palais Royal gardens,

and dodged sunbathing tourists in the Tuileries.  April in Paris indeed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

The weather forecast is summery, we have plans set up with friends, our little apartment awaits us.

We're at the airport, leaving for Paris in two hours...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Transition Time

When we got this notice included in our daily newspaper I suddenly felt a kinship with the writer.  I often feel my French, especially written French, must appear like this to a native speaker.

I know I've been a bit remiss in writing on this blog.  I think it's because all our good intentions of keeping busy here in the Bay Area, going to museums and concerts and events have petered out and I spend many of my evenings sitting in front of the TV, watching reruns of House, Bones, or Without a Trace; i.e. mindless hours vegging out in my chair.  I can only say in my defense that it's a comfortable chair.

Of course I'm exaggerating.  We do go places; we drove to the Napa Valley last week, we go to San Francisco, we run around Berkeley.  And everywhere I go I've been seeing bright colors.  This for example is a hand-knitted bicycle rack cover.  Doesn't everyone need one of these on his street corner?  How fabulous is that?

And a stroll on Hayes Street in S.F. yielded this touch of France, just down the street from what must be a clothing store for elves, judging by the teeny tiny sweater hanging on the door.

The theme for the neighborhood is spelled out in enormous letters on the side of a building:  Brighter, Faster!!!  Very Easter-y, don't you think?  It might be the motto for the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  "I'm late..."

And for those of you with questions about the afterlife, this tagger in Oakland isn't waiting.  "Enjoy Earthly" is his advice.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A la Mémoire d'un Ami

We got some very sad news from France today. A good friend died unexpectedly, and much too soon.

We've known M for nearly 25 years, through his marriage, through the birth of his children.  We were  welcomed into their family circle, included in birthday parties and holiday dinners with their parents and friends  They have always made us feel as if we had family in France.  

I was shocked to get an email from M last week, sent from his hospital bed, telling us he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.   Today we got another email, this one from his daughter, saying that M was no longer with us.

M traveled a lot for work and was often away, in Sudan, in Venezuela, in Mexico.  I wish one could just pretend he was on another of those trips, due back soon.  No such luck.