Air pollution in Paris gets so bad car driving is banned on alternate days -- reported as Europe's worst pollution event since 2007! (Photo by AP)
La Route, Le Vote et La Folie
Monday, March 23, 2015 • Paris, France
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
Author, Cecilia Woloch
I came home from New York to a very polluted, but very pretty city. The taxi driver leaving Orly Airport Friday explained that the haze wasn't haze at all -- it was the pollution level that is the highest since 2007, rendering the public transportation free and a ban of driving one's cars (alternate days, alternate numbered plates) thanks to the 180 micrograms of PM10 particles per cubic meter.
Fortunately, I'm not as sensitive to the pollution as many are and the haze just looks like the usual smoky atmosphere that makes Paris, Paris. Even behind the gray, its beauty cannot be denied, even if we can't breathe!
SUR LA ROUTE
Knowing an author has its advantages. And knowing an author, or two, or twenty or even more isn't very difficult in Paris. Authors in Paris are a dime a dozen -- great ones, good ones, mediocre ones, aspiring ones and even those that don't yet know they have it in them to be great.
As a result, the bookshelf is overflowing with signed copies of some of the finest books, most of which are filled with poignant words, either ABOUT the city of Paris, or filled with stories SET in Paris.
Occasionally, I have the distinct pleasure of getting an advance review copy from the author. I returned from New York last week to a tall stack of unopened mail, in which was poet and old friend Cecilia Woloch's newest "novella" titled "Sur la Route." (Quale Press)
Normally, a new book goes directly into the "to be read" section on the shelf along with the others that are waiting "to be read." This time it was different. I opened it and started to read.
The first word led to a page and a page led to 200 pages. I read without looking up while walking to the bus stop, waiting at the stop, riding on the bus, walking to my destination and all the way home again. At page 63, I recognized myself and my family in her story about her arrival in Paris in 1994 when we first met, slightly disguised by a small change of names, but nonetheless quite obvious it was our first encounter.
That wasn't important. Every luscious word in Woloch's novella counts. The 224 vignettes, described as "vivid, poetic episodes"..."sexy, intriguing, and passionate"....are so much more than that. It's about discovering Paris and all it has to offer, from the people who inhabit it to the inner beauty of the city that is like no other to what Woloch was experiencing from the inside. The prose will open your own heart as she has opened hers and as she opened mine.
Here's just a taste:
Chapter 2, Page 3
"And what am I running from? Los Angeles falling away, already, beneath me -- forever: too bright, too flat. My life as a stranger everywhere. The way I keep failing and failing at love. My fear of being trapped inside that shining flatness, too. Perhaps what Baudelaire described as 'l'horreur du domicile.'
And what am I running toward that I've only glimpsed but keep longing for? A city with grit on its heels and the smell of tobacco on its breath. A river that glimmers, as if with stars. A world inside the world, just out of reach, more 'real' somehow.
It's 1994, I've just turned 38 years old, an age when a woman in Los Angeles begins to disappear. Okay, I think, disappear. Close my eyes above one city; open them in another city halfway around the world."
Sadly the book is not yet for sale on the open market, but will be soon! And to hear Cecilia Woloch read from "Sur la Route," plan on attending a special event at Skylight Books on April 4th at 5 p.m. at 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
If you can't be in Los Angeles, then be sure to be here in Paris at Parler Paris Après Midi on June 9th where she will be gracing us with her novella and her words about "Paris as an Inspiration for Writers: Blurring the Borders Between Autobiography, Fiction and Poetry."
Former French President Sarkozy - France24 Screen ShotThe results of the first round of the French departmental elections Sunday were led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative UMP party with 29.2%, with Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front (FN) in second place with 26.3% and the Socialists, as expected in third place with 21.4%.
This is a good sign, in my humble opinion. It means that perhaps some of my predictions about the future of France may come true.
While I don't know anyone who thinks the National Front should have more power in France than they already do, seeing the UMP party gain strength (more equivalent to the U.S. Democratic Party thinking) and the Socialist Party lag so far behind, means that there is a fighting chance to restore some balance between the capitalist and the socialist ideals.
If this plays out in 2017 when there is a presidential election, I predict that all those who left France for other countries to 1) avoid high taxation or 2) seek job opportunities or 3) create their own businesses -- the wealthy, the young, the aspiring -- who didn't really want to leave their native land, but felt they had no choice...will see HOPE and OPPORTUNITY in France that they haven't seen for the last 5 years.
Not all, but many will return to France to fill the holes they left behind -- and with them they will bring a more global view, enhanced language skills, enlightened thinking, bright ideas, an entrepreneurial spirit and a real appreciation for what France has to offer after experiencing life in another culture.
This new injection and resurgence will bring France to new heights. Watch for this to happen in 2017-2020. This is when you and everyone will want to be a part of it. I know I will.
LA FOLIE PRATIQUE
Piero Fornasetti's Folie Pratique
Don't miss the current exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Piero Fornasetti's Folie Pratique -- more than 1000 pieces retrieved from his incredible archives.
No doubt, you have seen his illustrations before...on scarves, on furniture, on walls and screens, plates, trays and even umbrella stands. He was a painter as well as a decorator, a printer and a publisher, a collector and a merchant. He created a universe: "the subjects imbued with poetry and imagination play with optical illusions, metaphysical landscapes, figures drawn from the comedy of craft and enigmatic and lunar faces depicted in multiple variations."
The exhibit is nothing short of fun and wonder. You will want to go home with everything you see. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the bookstore and museum shop has missed the mark by not providing souvenirs one can take home at an affordable price. Shame on the merchandisers for leaving us so unsatisfied!
P.S. The Financial Planets have Aligned. This could be your best opportunity in years to purchase your home away from home in France. Don't miss out! See last Thursday's French Property Insider for details (and be sure to subscribe if you aren't already!).
P.P.S. Thanks to all of you who contributed to "Nue York: Self-Portraits of a Bare Urban Citizen" by Erica Simone as the project is now 103% funded. But don't let that stop you from adding your two cents (or more) to the project! And for all my New York friends, you are invited to attend a beautiful one-night photography show curated by Jaci Berkopec, Erica Simone and Monica Watkins tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24th from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Kinfolk Art Gallery (94 Wythe, 11249, Brooklyn, NY) to celebrate the Classical Elements (Water, Air, Fire & Earth)—a benefit for The Foundation for Art In Motion and The Shooting Stars Photography Workshop for Teens at Risk. For more information, visit us10.campaign-archive2.com/
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