From Toulouse-Lautrec to Asa at Le Trianon
By the time you read this, I’ll be on an Air France flight to Los Angeles (as long as the strike doesn’t cancel the flight). But, it’s been an eventful few days leading up to packing and heading out of Paris.
In the usual synchronistic rhythm I seem to have, the 19th-century artist Toulouse-Lautrec and the 21st-century recording artist Asa (pronounced “Ah-Shah”) interjected my life in an unusual way. You likely already know who Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa was (more widely known as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec). An exhibition of his work, titled “Resolutely Modern” is currently on at the Grand Palais until January 27th.
It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen his work at the Musée d’Orsay or other venue, it just makes me smile. His work is so representative of that period of life in Paris — the late 1800s — and particularly in and around Montmartre where he frequented the clubs and cabarets as part of the bohemian lifestyle in which he was embroiled. Sadly, he died young, just two months before his 37th birthday, as he suffered from a number of congenital health conditions attributed to a tradition of inbreeding. But, meanwhile, he was prolific, fun-loving (an alcoholic for most of his adult life) and clearly in love with red-headed women, evident from the many ginger-topped muses he painted.
One of his well known advertising posters was for a concert at Le Trianon Theater. Located at 80, boulevard de Rochechouart in the 18th, it’s not too far from the Moulin Rouge. Funny that I had complimentary tickets in my hot little hands for a concert at that very theater just two days later. Without his poster or these tickets, I wouldn’t have known the theater existed, really. It opened in 1894 as a concert hall in the garden of the Élysée Montmartre, a music venue that opened in 1807. The legendary French actress and singer Mistinguett, also a red-head, made her debut at Le Trianon its first year. The architect, Édouard Niermans, used steelwork salvaged from Gustave Eiffel’s Pavillon de France which had been built for the Exposition Universelle of 1889.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a regular visitor of Le Trianon and here we were headed there to see Asa in concert. Asa came to see me about a year ago because she was spending more and more time in Paris and wanted to talk about property. She was lovely, but I wasn’t familiar with her as a performing artist. When she offered up tickets to her show Monday night, I jumped to say, “Oui, merci!”
We chose to sit on the first balcony for the best views. The theater filled up and Asa’s opening act, Giulian Charles, performed for about 20 minutes. We loved him and his music, but we had no idea the powerhouse who was about to follow him on stage…Asa.
What a force of nature! Her voice is beautiful, sexy, powerful and sweet…all at the same time. She wore a long red ruffled cape over a black body suit — very cool and incredibly dramatic the way she moved as it flowed behind her. After her first song, she threw off your stiletto shoes and “got down” in her bare feet. That was a stroke of genius as we all loved her from that moment…when she showed no pretense, just her. She blew us all away — even the French were clapping, singing and even dancing…not their usual emotionless style. Her energy on stage was so warm, so inviting, that it made us all feel like her friends. It’s a gift, really and it’s clear, she’s a star we’re going to hear a lot more from her as more people get to know her.
About half-way into her performance, she had a brief dialog with the audience. I thought I heard her ask, “Is Adrian Leeds in the audience?” I could hardly believe my own ears. Then, she asked again, “Is Adrian Leeds in the audience?”
That’s when it hit me, she was really singling me out in front of this crowd of 1000 spectators, so I waved wildly and shouted, “Asa, I’m here!”
“Thank you for coming!” she said. “For apartments in Paris talk to Adrian Leeds!”
Well, that simply made my year! I had to pinch myself to believe it was happening! She had the audience in the palm of her hands and who was she thinking about? Me? Seriously?! Oh my, my eyes filled with tears!
Even if that hadn’t happened, I’d be singing her praises. We went with no expectations and came away having fallen in love with her and her beautiful sound. But, don’t take my word for it, hear her for yourself. Here’s a video from her new album, Lucid, but I urge you to see her perform if you get a chance. Here’s a list of her concerts, and here’s where you can Like her on Facebook.
The last time I flew to the States in May, I was lucky enough to have all 70 seats to myself in the last compartment of the Airbus 380 on route to Atlanta. It was shocking not only to me, but to the four flight attendants who had charge of our section — one of whom said she hadn’t seen that in all the 15 years she had been flying.
“The girls” and I became fast friends as they brought me drinks every few minutes just to break their boredom. I reveled in the solitude, space and number of bathrooms that I was lucky enough to have for the sole reason that I chose the back section, knowing that they book the seats front to back — so that the chances of scoring at least one extra seat next to me was good. I hadn’t bargained for 70!
I am not financially able to book business or first class, so I have to make the best of it. I do prefer Air France over the other airlines, which I find is price-wise in line with the others, but the service is better, friendlier and the food actually edible…even more than that…sometimes actually really good. Even check-in is faster, simpler than the others. So, I stay pretty loyal to Air France and you see how I was rewarded!? With 70 seats to myself!
This is my advice to you when planning your flights: when you select your seat, choose the back of the plane. Then take an aisle seat with as many vacant seats next to you as possible. (Most people don’t like the middle seats, so they fill up last.) Sure, you exit last, but it’s worth it.
My reason for going to Los Angeles is first and foremost to visit my daughter who is now living there after spending 16 years in New York City. She scored a big, spacious two-level apartment on one of the Venice canals just a couple blocks from the beach in Marian del Rey — for the same price that just her monthly maintenance was costing in New York! Since we lived in L.A. for seven years before moving to France, I have a nice group of good friends there, and in particular, my ex-business partner. She and I have so much in common that we feel as if we’re “twin sisters of different mothers” and have always been very close…as close as sisters could be, without being related.
Los Angeles is the antithesis to Paris in just about every way, so it’s impossible to compare the two cities. Each offers a completely different lifestyle and it’s about this that I will likely be writing. Paris: You don’t come here for the weather. Los Angeles: You come here for the weather. Paris: You don’t need, nor do you want a car. Los Angeles: You can’t exist without a car. Paris: It’s best to work for a company to benefit the most. Los Angeles: It’s best to work for yourself to benefit the most. Paris: Dress code is black. Los Angeles: Dress code is white. Paris: Knowledge is power. Los Angeles: Physical fitness is power. Should I go on?
While I’m there, I’m meeting with a number of consultation clients — people who have the yearning to move to France. Angelenos generally make great candidates for the move, as they are usually mobile, moneyed, open-minded and adventuresome. They usually have come from somewhere else and therefore moving or making a change is second nature.
I hope to give them all the reasons they will want to join us here in France…like enjoying Toulouse-Lautrec or Asa, to name just a couple.
A la prochaine,
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. Thanks to Patty Sadauskas for photos of Le Trianon and Asa.