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Bearing the Pain of Sweet Celebrations

Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group members were hesitant to start off the session at 11 a.m. Saturday morning with a glass of wine and sweets, but by noon, the ‘sweet nectar of the gods’ was morally acceptable…or so I was told. We celebrated Saint Valentine’s Day together over pastries and chocolates, wine, juice and water, ruining our appetites for lunch…but no one seemed to care! A few times a year we gather for a bit of revelry, and this day of “amour” seemed quite appropriate to show our affection for one another. To see the photos from the day’s ‘intercourse,’ visit

You wouldn’t know that there’s an economic crisis happening in France for all the packed-to-the-brim restaurants Saturday evening for Saint Valentine’s Day. If you didn’t make reservations, you were out of luck…and I thought France didn’t celebrate the day much! Wrong!

We ended up in a favorite Korean Barbeque restaurant on rue Delambre (number 22, 14th arrondissement), called “Shin Tokyo” — why, I don’t know — except that the sushi and sashimi are worth a try, too. I wouldn’t call it a ‘romantic’ spot, unless there’s something ‘sexy’ about ‘heating up the meat’ between you.

The trek to find dinner came shortly after hearing Italian singing star Max Zanotti and American-part-time-in Paris Marcia Cohen sing to Floriano Bocchino’s agile and accomplished fingers on the ivories at the Swan Bar on boulevard du Montparnasse. Other illustrious members of the American community came to take in the sounds of the threesome, including journalist Pamela Leavy, who is currently working on a story for the Saint Petersburg Times about Ms. Cohen, a resident of the Florida town when not enjoying her rue Daguerre “pied-à-terre.”

“La pièce de la résistance” came Sunday afternoon at the retrospective of artist David LaChapelle at the Monnaie de Paris on quai de Conti (number 11, 6th arrondissement). There are posters all over town that have attracted a young and exuberant attendance, creating a queue to enter that entirely circled the courtyard of the stately building. It’s a good thing the show is on until the end of May to allow plenty of tim

e to mark your agenda. Don’t miss the show! It’s brilliantly exciting and hilariously funny. (A great review of the David LaChapelle Retrospective can be found at )

LaChapelle has been my daughter’s favorite photographer/artist since before she picked up her own camera and so our bookshelves are lined with small printed versions of his more-than-life-size and monumental works. This past December she had the good fortune of meeting him in person at an opening reception for his “Jesus Is My Homeboy” in Miami where she was reporting for the “Whitewall Daily” ( ). Now, he’s mine, too, after having seen some of his works live and up close.

Parisians seriously appreciate art in all its forms, thanks to the educational system that teaches art and culture from the lowest of grade levels. While American kids are making drawings as a way of learning through creativity, French kids are memorizing artists’ and writers’ names and their works. It’s an acute difference in the way we raise our youth. The result is the pleasure we take in being surrounded by so much art, but the pain is the effort one must make to battle the crowds at almost any exhibition.

As they say, “no pain, no gain,” and so we must “bear the burden” (or in LaChapelle’s case, “bare the burden”), to stand in long lines, just to enrich our minds.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris


P.S. Sorry about the ‘bad puns’ in today’s “nouvellettre.” The devil made me do it. (Wink)


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