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Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Roni Beth Tower - Psychologist, Educator, Author "Paris from a Personal Perspective"
Roni Beth Tower is a clinical, research and academic psychologist who taught at Yale and Columbia Teachers College. After retiring, she turned from writing science to memoir. Her award-winning book, Miracle at Midlife: A Transatlantic Romance (She Writes Press, 2016), describes the two years preceding her mid-life move to Paris in 1998.
I know what it feels like to be star-struck by seeing or interacting with someone well-known, especially someone I seriously admire. In Los Angeles, the possibilities are almost endless, if you pay attention or just spend your time in the right parts of town. Over the years, I've blubbered over the likes of Joni Mitchell, David Hockney, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacClaine, Dolly Parton and Jean Dujardin, to name just a few. Sometimes I get totally tongue-tied like when Danny DeVito, at his Malibu beach house wearing old pants hemmed by about a foot, said, "Hi, I'm Danny," and all I could do was nod my head, if that much, I was so dumbstruck. Like duh, I know who you are, dude! It's embarrassing, to say the least, either way, blubbering or tongue-tied...likely more for me than for the recipient of my bad behavior.
At the same time, because of the notoriety of our House Hunters International shows on HGTV, I get stopped often by fans, literally almost every day, sometimes in the craziest of places. While they might blubber like I do, or go tongue-tied, I always feel flattered. They obviously feel they can easily approach me and I'm always happy to stop, have a photo taken with them so they can show their friends back home or briefly chat about their stay in France.
Star-spotting in Paris can happen relatively easily, although not quite as fruitfully as in Los Angeles for the obvious reason that there simply aren't as many luminaries in the City of Light as there are in Hollywood/Los Angeles, the world's capital of film-making. The French who are famous also covet their private lives and remain more circumspect so as not to be openly recognized in public. They don't necessarily frequent places "to see" and "be seen" as they might do in LA. I also admit to not being as cognizant of French actors as I am of American film stars for the simple reason that I see less French films than I should. Politicians are more in my realm and have spotted a few including Prime Minister of France Edouard Philippe — tall, thin and quite debonaire.
When hot new singer Asa (pronounced AH-SHA) agreed to have lunch with Patty and me, we both got star-struck and counted the minutes down to that special occasion. You might recall that Patty and I had the pleasure of attending Asa's concert last December 17th in the midst of the transportation strikes — which we didn't let that stop us from getting to Le Trianon, the theater once frequented by Toulouse Lautrec. Her performance blew us both away with her powerful presence on stage and smoky, sexy voice. Then, she really surprised us when she called out my name from the stage! Maybe she does that to all her invited guests, but it was a first time a performer has ever referred to me in front of such a large audience (about 1,000) for no apparent reason. (See adrianleeds.com/parler-paris-nouvellettre/ to read the story.)
Asa's portrait is on the cover of the 20th anniversary issue of Divas, Le Magazine Afropolitain (December 2019-January 2020) and on posters on kiosks all over Paris. The article is impressive — nine pages long. She's in good company in the magazine along with articles about Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle. When we met for lunch, I brought along a Sharpie pen so she could autograph my copy. Patty just laughed at me, "You're always so prepared!" (Download a pdf of the magazine article here)
Mayors Bloomberg & Delanoë
Bloomberg interested in Vélib
I got another one of those reader letters, the kind that tell me that my own publication should not be a place to share my political views. David K. wrote, "Oops you lost me. I don’t really care what people’s politics are but I definitely don’t want to read them in this format. You should have kept it to the wonderful insights of Paris and France. Those I enjoyed. Not a political lecture about your political opinions."
These kinds of comments come from readers who don't agree with what I have to say, so they prefer I don't share them at all. They just want a glimpse of life in Paris and France without interjecting political opinion into their rosy-colored-glasses view of the City of Light. We know, however, that for every one of David K., there are thousands of you readers who do want to know what Americans in Paris think about politics, whether it be about French, American or European issues.
Let me ask you, how do we have a life without politics? Decisions our illustrious leaders make affect our daily lives, so I find it impossible to live with my head in the sand, or in the case of Paris, under the cobblestones.
One of the other luminaries I met as long ago as 2007 was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He was here in Paris meeting with then Mayor Bertrand Delanoë on a variety of issues, including the "Vélib" public bike system that he was hoping he could bring to New York. I was there as a journalist, up front and up close (I took these photos myself). At the time, I wrote about him:
"Bloomberg is a small-framed man that exemplifies the typical American success story. A self-made billionaire (ranked 34th by Forbes magazine in its list of 400 richest Americans in September 2006 and ranked 142nd in its list of the The World’s Billionaires in March 2007), born of Jewish Russian-Polish parents (as mine were) in Massachusetts, attended the finest colleges (Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Business School). He politically crossed lines twice, first to leave the Democratic Party to run on the Republican ballot in 2001, then left the Party to rejoin the Democrats this past June 2007." (Read the entire article)
Now, I'm campaigning for him to win the Democratic nomination and win the U.S. presidential election later this year. (Sorry, David K., here are more politics I'm sure to which you won't agree!)
My crystal ball, whether you like him or not, says that's exactly what is going to happen. CNN says that "Mini Mike" (as Donald Trump has called him) has soared into second place fueled by the hundreds of million of dollars he's injected into his campaign. (See cnn.com/2020/02/18/politics/)
I've been predicting this for a while, without seeing the polls, but just knowing that it takes fire to fight fire and he's the only one who can do it. He has the money to out advertise Donald Trump, if not the smarts.
Did you see the most recent fire-fights-fire tweets?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2020 Mini Mike Bloomberg is a LOSER who has money but can’t debate and has zero presence, you will see. He reminds me of a tiny version of Jeb “Low Energy” Bush, but Jeb has more political skill and has treated the Black community much better than Mini! (t.co/qIef5VhjDr)
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 13, 2020. @realDonaldTrump - we know many of the same people in NY. Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown. They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence. I have the record & the resources to defeat you. And I will. (t.co/fO4azmZaUg)
In an article in the New York Times provided to me by someone who works for Bloomberg News, the news agency owned by the man who is likely to become President of the United States, has a big dilemma: "How to Cover a Boss Seeking the Presidency? Michael Bloomberg’s rise in the polls has increased the pressure on political reporters employed by his news outlet."
"A spokeswoman for Bloomberg News said in a statement: 'Over the past 30 years, editorial independence has been at the core of Bloomberg News. We are proud of the more than 760 articles Bloomberg News has published on the election and the candidates, not to mention a host of broadcast interviews, since Mike Bloomberg announced he was running for president."
I can understand the dilemma, but at the same time, every media outlet has some sort of political bias. It's impossible not to. Clearly we all know that Fox News favors Trump politics and that CNN is on the side of the Democrats.
As you can see, even I have the dilemma of writing without bias! And guess what? That's my right, especially for a publication I own.
P.S. Our fondest condolences and heartfelt wishes go to Paige Stuart and her son, Hunter, who suddenly lost Jimmy, husband and father, to a heart attack here in Paris. The couple moved here last year for their retirement with our help to find them an apartment and were happily ensconced in their new life, until this sudden tragedy. Our thoughts are with them.
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