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Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 9, 2016

“I AM A MARXIST OF THE GROUCHO VARIETY”

grafitto, Paris 1968

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MARXISM-LENNONISM
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THE SECTARIAN TENDENCIES
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Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo were purged during the “Moscow on the Hudson” show trials.

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Posted in life, Marx, Paris | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Joann Sfar drew: Charlie Hebdo cartoonist in translation

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 14, 2015

France is an old country where lovers embrace freely.

France is an old country where lovers embrace freely.


Paris is our capital. We love music, drunkenness, joy.

Paris is our capital. We love music, drunkenness, joy.


For centuries lovers of death have tried to make us lose life's flavour.

For centuries lovers of death have tried to make us lose life’s flavour.


They never succeed.

They never succeed.


Those who love. Those who love life. In the end, they're always the ones who are rewarded.

Those who love. Those who love life. In the end, they’re always the ones who are rewarded.


The motto of Paris is beautiful.

The motto of Paris is beautiful.


It is beaten by the waves but does not sink'

‘It is beaten by the waves but does not sink’


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Terrorism is not the enemy. Terrorism is a mode of operation. Repeating 'we are at war' without finding the courage to name our enemies leads nowhere. Our enemies are those that love death. In various guises, they have always existed. History forgets quickly.

Terrorism is not the enemy. Terrorism is a mode of operation. Repeating ‘we are at war’ without finding the courage to name our enemies leads nowhere. Our enemies are those that love death. In various guises, they have always existed. History forgets quickly.


The people who died tonight were out living, drinking, singing. They didn't know they had declared war.

The people who died tonight were out living, drinking, singing. They didn’t know they had declared war.


Instead of dividing, we should remember what is precious: our way of life.

Instead of dividing, we should remember what is precious: our way of life.


Lovers of death, if God exists, he hated you. And you have already lost, both on earth and in heaven.

Lovers of death, if God exists, he hated you. And you have already lost, both on earth and in heaven.


It means, 'Fuck death.'

It means, ‘Fuck death.’


The cartoon, in translation, available here

Posted in Paris, terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Two bookstores with Bay Area roots help literary life thrive in Paris

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 31, 2015

Reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Berkeley Books of Paris, 8 rue Casimir Delavigne, Paris.

Berkeley Books of Paris, 8 rue Casimir Delavigne, Paris.


By John McMurtrie
July 27, 2015
Updated: July 30, 2015 9:04pm

No visit to Paris, for any book lover, is complete without a pilgrimage to Shakespeare and Co., the creaky, cozy bookshop on the banks of the Seine that has been a home away from home for so many writers, among them James Baldwin, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Robert Stone and many others.

But stroll 10 minutes to the south, in the Latin Quarter, and you’ll find two other, lesser-known but invaluable English-language bookstores — both of which have deep ties to the Bay Area. In fact, their very names say it all: They are San Francisco Book Co. and Berkeley Books of Paris.

As it happens, these two Left Bank stores are only a block apart from each other. Not surprisingly, given their names, they have common roots. And they’re competitors.

San Francisco Book Co., 17 rue Monsieur le Prince, Paris.

San Francisco Book Co., 17 rue Monsieur le Prince, Paris.


San Francisco Book Co. is the older of the stores. It was co-founded in 1997 by Americans Jim Carroll and Phil Wood. Carroll, a former San Francisco bookseller who once owned Carroll’s Books in Noe Valley (it closed in 2004), eventually bought out Wood’s share of the business. Wood went down the street, opening Berkeley Books in 2006 with Richard Toney and Phyllis Cohen, who used to work at San Francisco Book Co. Wood then sold the store to Cohen.

“We’re not bosom buddies by any means,” Carroll wrote in an e-mail, “but healthy competition is good, and the more the merrier.”

Jim Carroll, owner of San Francisco Book Co.

Jim Carroll, owner of San Francisco Book Co.


Vanishing bookstores

The more the merrier is right, especially given that Paris, like other cities around the world, has lost some of its treasured bookstores to rent increases and the rise in online book sales. Just last month, La Hune, a famous Left Bank bookstore frequented by the French intelligentsia, shut down after more than 60 years in business. Also gone are the English-language bookstores Village Voice, the Red Wheelbarrow, and Tea and Tattered Pages.

There is no doubt that the Latin Quarter, the student district centered on the venerable University of Paris (founded in the 12th century), has lost much of its bohemian allure as real estate prices have risen. But as the accompanying interactive map of the Left Bank shows, there is still a thriving literary culture in the city’s 5th and 6th arrondissements. San Francisco Book Co. and Berkeley Books of Paris fit nicely into that tradition, keeping alive the rich history of Americans and other foreigners contributing to the literary life of Paris.

“Paris is a great city for books, and I really enjoy life as a book dealer here,” Carroll wrote. “My shop is just a block from the original Shakespeare and Co., where ‘Ulysses’ was published. This area of Paris, close to the Sorbonne, has always been a prime location for bookshops, publishing houses, agencies, authors, critics, printers, binders and anyone else drawn to the world of books.”

This cat has been coming in to San Francisco Book Co. to escape the heat. Asked about the cat’s name, bookseller Richard Aldersley said, “Here’s one, off the cuff: Penelope.”

This cat has been coming in to San Francisco Book Co. to escape the heat. Asked about the cat’s name, bookseller Richard Aldersley said, “Here’s one, off the cuff: Penelope.”


‘A bit messy’

San Francisco Book Co. is a small store, with roughly 12,000 to 15,000 mostly used titles (and about 8,500 online), but Carroll said the shop has good walk-in business. San Francisco visitors frequently pop in, lured by the store’s exterior, painted in international orange, the color of the Golden Gate Bridge.

“It’s also a bit messy inside,” wrote bookseller Richard Aldersley, “with books stacked on the floor and on spare counters for lack of shelf space, and we like it that way because people go through the books and handle them, and everything is much more approachable and comfortable and unsterile.”

The store even has its own cat. “It’s been coming in during the recent heat wave to lay on the cool tiles under the fan,” Aldersley wrote. Asked about the cat’s name, he added, “Here’s one, off the cuff: Penelope.”

Berkeley Books of Paris also gets its fair share of visitors from Northern California. “The Bay Area people always seem chuffed with the bookshop,” Cohen wrote. “We named the shop in honor of the great bookshops of Berkeley. I tell them stories about Moe’s and Cody’s, and show them my wall of homage, covered with bookmarks.”

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The store also hosts art exhibitions, concerts, poetry readings and lectures, and Cohen said a lot of its patrons are professors, students, artists, writers and musicians.

“Many bookshops have gone under for reasons of real estate — those famous spikes in rent,” Cohen wrote. But, she added, “This is not specific to bookshops. People are still reading, and as far as I can tell, many of them actively miss bookshops that are long gone. Some have closed because Amazon and all that entails, but these shops mainly sold only new books” — unlike Berkeley Books, which sells only used books.

“Good old hand-selling and book swapping,” Cohen wrote. “There are quite a few loyal customers who frequent the place, and who have known me as their bookseller since 1999. Some of them are so attached to the bookshop that they’ve made me promise to stay open forever. Which is sweet, don’t you think?”

John McMurtrie is the book editor of The San Francisco Chronicle. Twitter: @McMurtrieSF

Posted in bookstores, life, Paris, San Francisco, Shakespeare & Co | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Je suis Charlie

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 7, 2015

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a cartoon worth?
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Here are some of the more controversial cartoons run by Charlie Hebdo:
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Charlie Hebdo’s website can be found here.

Posted in Islamic extremists, Islamic terrorism, life, Paris | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Annual Practice: Giving to Panhandlers

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on December 31, 2014

ows_140244198068966National Academy of Science Report Shows US Poverty Rate To Be 15.8 Percent
Every year, I take out $100 in $5 bills and distribute the cash to panhandlers during the holiday season as a gesture of good will. I have a few rules. I start the giveaway the day after Thanksgiving and finish by New Years Day. And I give only to people actually asking for money, either verbally or with a sign. I’ve never, ever had a problem giving away 20 $5 bills to different people down on their luck during the holidays every year.

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Full disclosure: I tend to give my “spare change” to panhandlers all the time. Also, my wife and I give regularly to charity through more institutional channels. I started this holiday practice when I had the money to spare, inspired by having been down-and-out, homeless, and pennyless for a period in my own life. Yeah, yeah, there’s the argument posted by many a municipality that giving money to panhandlers only perpetuates the problem, that the money I give only goes toward alcohol and drugs, and that I need to be giving to charity instead. Having experienced the good cheer and sliver of hope when somebody surprised me with a gift of cash when I was homeless, and having realized how much time and effort it took to get out of a similarly bad situation in my life, I never begrudge a bit of cash to the less fortunate, even if that money goes toward self-medicating or feeding an addiction. Americans tend to be so fucking puritanical and moralistic, always willing to look down on the foibles or sins or bad habits of others. Plus, in my experience, those who demand that I forego giving to panhandlers and donate to charity instead are often singularly lacking in personal charity and the impulse to give to formal charity.

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I was startled when I first came upon panhandling in Paris. The nature of the begging in the City of Light is, in itself, a kind of theater, a performance of misery and supplication so overt that it is meant to be visually overwhelming. And yet, most everybody in Paris does exactly what most everybody in American cities does when confronted by such begging, they walk right on by.

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What really pisses me off is that all the anti-panhandling talk frequently comes from conservative Republican types who have nothing bad to say when the panhandler in question is a US corporation coming hat in hand looking for a bailout from the federal government to cover its losses due to shit business practices or an economic downturn. And that’s on top of the economic subsidies (read charity) that governments give to business as part and parcel of what’s laughably called the free market. As a taxpayer, I have absolutely no say in this type of charitable giving to corporations or giving to corporate panhandlers. Yet I have to listen to oh-so-entitled corporate owners, their representatives, shills and hacks, berate me for giving my spare change to the begging poor. The fucking nerve!

Posted in economics, life, Paris, poverty, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A guide to hat wear, part one

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 8, 2014

“A trilby, a hat that somehow combines the douchiest parts of both a fedora and a porkpie.”

So proclaims Jon Stewart on his 6-5-14 Daily Show. Okay, for those of you who are confused, here’s a classic fedora, associated with the movie portrayals of hardboiled detectives Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe:
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Here’s a pork pie, with the association to 1940s bebop jazz musicians:
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And here’s a British trilby:
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Frank_Sinatra_trilby_hat_izandrew
A tad goofy, no? The above hat, popularized by Frank Sinatra and often done in garish colors or patterns, is indeed a sad hybrid of the worst of the fedora and the porkpie. It was often considered a “rich man’s hat,” worn to the races. Trilbies are worn by hipsters, and people with more sense should NOT wear them.

I was able to purchase a finer, much more styling hat that combines the better aspects of fedora and porkpie while my wife and I vacationed in Paris last year. Céline Robert created this fashionable chapeaux. The French word feutre refers to a felt hat that translates to trilby in British English, and fedora in American English respectively.
GAM_ParisFedora
GAM-hattrick
In the long run, how one wears the hat is more important than the minor differences between the hats one wears; fedora, pork pie, or trilby. However, I do have to draw the line at mountain hats…
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Posted in Céline Robert, life, Paris | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Going, going…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 18, 2014

Shakespeare_and_Company_store_in_Paris
The famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris is a well known tourist destination. Actually, it was a bookstore begun by Sylvia Beach in 1919 which closed during the German occupation in 1940 and then a second bookstore founded by George Whitman in 1951, a tribute to Beach’s original which is still around.
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Shakespeare and Company is also a small chain of locally owned bookshops in New York City unaffiliated with its Paris namesake. With three locations all in Manhattan, Shakespeare and Co started in 1981. In May of this year, it was announced that the Broadway location will close due to an astronomical rent increase.
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I often visited Shakespeare and Co when I made regular pilgrimages to New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. The scourge that was (and remains) Barnes and Noble, which spread like cancer across the City and systematically killed off most of New York’s independent bookstores, is still around if financially ailing due to competition with Amazon. This mainstream New York Times obituary hopefully does not portend the overall Shakespeare chain’s demise.
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I’m constantly lamenting the death of all the joys that make living in San Francisco and New York so wonderful. The steady destruction of independent bookstores, record shops, cinemas, etc. due to urban gentrification and stratification doesn’t make me nostalgic, but rather sad and angry. A marvelous blog, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, had this to say about Shakespeare and Co. Jeremiah’s is where I first heard that Little Rickie, a famous novelty store in Manhattan, also recently closed. Little Rickie is where I bought a smokin’ fez monkey.
smokingmonkey
So fucking sad!

Posted in gentrification, independent bookstores, life, New York City, Paris, San Francisco, Shakespeare & Co | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Darkness visible

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 5, 2014

I’m a city person, but I’ve sometimes missed the splendor of a rural night sky. And I’ve wondered what my favorite urban environment might be like if I could see a full night of stars. Photographer Thierry Cohen provides these composite shots of my three favorite cities sans urban lighting and moonlight. Maybe like the blackout of 2003 in New York City or the 1989 Loma-Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, with no urban unrest but no electricity either. Thierry Cohen identifies each photo with the precise time, angle, and longitude and latitude of the exposure.
New_York_20

New York 40° 44’ 39’’ N 2010-10-13 lst 0:04
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New York 40° 42’ 16’’ N 2010-10-09 lst 3:40
Paris 48° 51’ 03’’ N 2012-07-19 lst 19:46

Paris 48° 51’ 03’’ N 2012-07-19 lst 19:46
San_Francisco_20

San Francisco 37° 48’ 30’’ N 2010-10-09 lst 20:58
Paris_20

Paris 48° 50’ 55’’ N 2012-08-13 lst 22:15
Paris_5_20

Paris 48° 51’ 52’’ N 2021-07-14 utc 22:18

Posted in life, New York City, Paris, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A touch or two of Paris

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 4, 2014

Here are a couple of reminders of Paris, for those who are in love with the City of Light. First, a blog called Paris Daily Photo by Eric Tenin.
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Born and raised in Paris, Tenin offers typical and unusual, must see, restaurant, graffiti, food, exhibition, monument, and night photos. Oh yes, and shots of the Eiffel Tower.
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Then there’s David Lebovitz’s food blog Living the Sweet Life in Paris. Lebovitz is a chef who’s cooked at Chez Panisse, and you can taste French cuisine from viewing these photos.
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I haven’t read any of Lebovitz’s books, but given the quality of this blog, they would be well worth purchasing. He even provides interesting illustrated recipes.
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Bookmark these two websites.

Posted in City of Light, life, Paris | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Parisophile

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 30, 2013

There’s a word for loving everything French: Francophile. My wife and I are Parisophiles, if I can be permitted to coin the term. Here’s a Life Magazine series called “Paris Unadorned: Black and White Portraits of the City of Light, 1946.” The nostalgia of the time, the sumptuousness of the black and white photography, the breathtaking beauty of the scenery make these pictures gorgeous and stunning. Enjoy!

Ed Clark—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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1) View along Quai du Louvre (today Quai François Mitterrand) down the Seine toward Ponte Des Arts with the Eiffel Tower in the distance, 1946.
2) View of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, 1946.

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3) A barge churns up the Seine past Notre Dame on a gloomy winter day in 1946.
4) A man exits a Paris Metro station, 1946.

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5) The Arc de Triomphe, 1946.
6) A young artist paints Sacré-Coeur from the ancient Rue Norvins in Montmartre, Paris, 1946.

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7) Moulin de la Galette, Paris, 1946.
8) Paris’ famed stalls along the Seine, 1946.

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9) View across the Pont Alexandre III bridge toward the Grand Palace, Paris, 1946.
10) View across the Pont Alexandre III bridge toward the Grand Palace, Paris, 1946.

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11) Paris street scene, 1946.
12) Near the Pont Neuf steps, Paris, 1946.

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13) Scene on the Seine, 1946.
14) Parisian flower vendor on the banks of the Seine, 1946.

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15) Pont Alexandre III bridge, Paris, 1946.
16) Conciergerie, Paris, 1946.

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17) Rowboats on the banks of the Seine, Paris, 1946.
18) View of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Coeur, 1946.

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19) Montmartre cemetery, Paris, winter 1946.
20) Passerelle Debilly bridge on a foggy winter day with the Eiffel Tower in the background, 1946.

This is a post-war Paris where, according to Ed Clark, the Parisians were “cold, hungry, confused and tired — above all, tired — too busy keeping themselves alive to bother much about entertaining. . . . [The typical American GI in Paris at the time] felt cheated. Where was the Paris he had heard about? Where were the naked women?” According to Life Magazine: “The Paris [of Clark’s photos] is the Paris of the Parisians — and of anyone else who will take her. She is unadorned, somber and beautiful. Most of the pictures were taken in mist or rain, when the sharp, clean lines of the city’s spires and the bridges pierce through a curtain of gray. This is the Paris that neither Germans nor GIs could change. Even in the age of the atom bomb, she is as indestructible as the river.”

Posted in 1946, black and white photography, City of Light, Francophile, life, Life Magazine, Paris, Parisophile | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »