never talk about politics

Breaking the cardinal rule… but the shameful show of our politicians in 2016, in the UK for “Le Brexit” and in the US for Trump vs. Clinton, it really is hard not to say something… maybe that could be the silver lining for this farce – people have actually gotten a little more interested in politics.. but I still fear for the consequences. A base line set so low now, a cat-fat, use of personal attacks and inflammatory statements…
To clarify, I am NOT a trump supporter in anyway shape or form, AND I think sexual abuse/exploitation is a real problem in general, but I am -sadly- not surprised by his bawdy boastful locker room talk, nor even his actions… I’m surprised that we’re surprised. What bothers me is that the campaign has move so far away from the actual issues of running a country, and have turn into a slinging match of character appropriateness because of sexually inappropriate talk, sexual exploitation, and men trying it on with women. Again, not to condone it – but this is (unfortunately) a prevalent challenge in modern society interaction, and I don’t think it is where the debate should focus. There’s a holier-than-thou nod to Victorian values, chastity belts and you’ll go blind if you masterbate or even think such thoughts… Have you never had an “inappropriate” thought, have you never made a comment that could be taken as inappropriate? Have you never done something you regret (maybe not, but then hey, Mr. you’re a better man than I!)
In a world of sexually charged music videos, child beauty pageant contests, TV programs, films, ads of men’s groins in tight undies, quivering lips, and oh so much spicy flesh, 20 year old girls marrying 70 year old men “for love”, money/power marriages, mini skirts and shorts so short that you can see butt cheeks (and much more if you’re behind them walking up the subways steps), low cut tops with cleavage pushed to the max, pop culture and psychologist touting men think with their dicks and women with their hearts, women want dominant male providers – of course, it’s a biological predisposition – men are the protectors (think of the big male gorillas or lions) women want to be provided for… I don’t know – it’s a REALLY complicated area… I don’t even know what I think about it all… I want to wear what I want, it’s my right! freedom of expression and all, and if I wear revealing clothes, or I act in a friendly, or somewhat flirtatious manner, it does NOT mean that I want sex… And yes, I have been inappropriately touched and taken advantage of, and it really hurts, and it is an abuse, and it’s a real shame, but I think most women – and a lot of men – could point to a time when they have been taken advantage of. It’s a complicated blurry line…with or without alcohol! But that’s a whole different discussion. What we are really talking about is whether or not Trump is fit for presidency…and I say NO.
He is a business man, who openly says it’s all about “winning the deal”. But Presidency is not a business game, it is about running, leading, inspiring, representing our SOCIETY and our Country. I have seen little evidence pointing his care for the people, nor about his experience in real life politics of government, or war.
He certainly doesn’t have any indication of cultural sensitivity – he’d need a fleet of trainers to tell him how to act appropriately in other countries; he will exploit what ever situation he can to his advantage -whether it’s women (they want it) or business, saying it’s good business.
He is all about money and power, and I think he wants to be in the White House, not to do a job, but to say that he was in the White House, he thinks he’s king of the world, or the animal kingdom, he’s the type of man that would make the US dollar print his portrait on the currency, he would have “TRUMPS in the White House” turned in to a reality TV show to rival The Kardashians.
He may be a “good” business man, he may “love” women, but he doesn’t have the experience, predisposition, nor the character to be our president.
– I do not believe he cares about being an inspiration to the people, he cares about himself, power and money
– I do not believe he stands for the highest values and ideals of the country – he doesn’t even pay his taxes and thinks this demonstrated good business acumen
– I do not believe he is “a living symbol of the country” – his is a living symbol of himself
– I do not believe he would treat being president as a great honor, but as a notch on his belt
– I do not believe he understands how the laws of the US should be enforced – my way or the highway.
– I dread to think of a frat boy as responsible for the US armed forces. This is not a game, this is WAR with real lives involved.
-I do not believe he would be a “Guardian of the economy” – more like guardian of his own economy…
But the government (theoretically) reflects the people, We The People are casting the vote… What does it say about the America we have created, and the America we want if he supported…

roaming around in Nice

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a wonderful guided walk around Belleville Paris, to look at the street art. Organized by David Cohen’s Secret Paris Tours, and guided by Israeli Street Artist Shiry Avny, it was a really interesting afternoon, being exposed to a range of different styles, themes and aesthetics. The artist I most liked was Mesa, a Spanish artist whose use of large walls and environment was really dramatic.

Nice EPE 1.jpgSo when I arrived in Nice, I was very excited to see the current exhibition on at the Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art was of Nice-native street artist, Ernest Pignon-Ernest. I had not heard of him before but the retrospective, curated with his help, was a wonderful and comprehensive exhibition reviewing his work.

Active since the 60’s, Pignon-Ernest has been decorating streets and walls with pop-up ‘living‘ art projects that combine his political, social, aesthetic and ethical interests. NICE EPE 3.jpgNICE EPE 4.jpg

With solid underlying draftsmanship, with figures generally drawn to size, his charcol / screenprinted art blended into their environments to fuse his ideas and commentary on past and present, life and death, experience and memory, reality and fiction, communication and isolation. Inspired by poets and painters – Rimbaud, Artaud, Jean Genet amongst others – there was a room dedicated the “those who lived their poetry.”
NICE EPE 2.jpgWhether commemorating the centenary of the Paris Commune, where he covered the streets of Paris with The Commune lying man  where the streets, linked to the history and memory, become the canvas for life sized bodies to be walked over,  opposing apartheid, or challenging other social issues, I love how the program described the art “like footprints in the sand” the paper art fixed to walls “emulate both an absence and a presence” that capture the attention and imagination of the passer by.

NICE Arman .jpgAlso at MAMAC, there were rooms dedicated Arman (Armand Fernandez) – one of the founders of the New Realist Group in 1960, Yves Klein, and Niki de Saint Phalle.

With the MAMAC 10euro entrance ticket, you are eligible to visit 13 museums around Nice within 48 hours; my agenda was set.

Theatre de la Photographie et de L’Image: This small gallery, with a good sized screening/ performance room was showing a film that provided a good introduction to the accompanying photo exhibit of Jacques Henri Lartigue.

Born in 1894 to a well-to-do family, Lartigue only became recognized for his photographic work capturing the leisurely pursuits of high society in the Belle Époque, in the 1960’s when a handful of his photos were exhibited in MoMA, NY, and Life magazine dedicated a spread to his work.

He took over 100,000 photos, freely trying all types of techniques. This exhibition explored themes of fleeting moments, the brevity of happiness and the fragility of life. Generally, the photos were light and joyful – apparently a sickly child, Lartigue felt it incredibly important to seize and preserve the moment. He would build his happiness by continually depicting it and recreating it…”to be a photographer is to capture one’s astonishment” … he was an avid journal writer and considered himself to be “a taxidermist of things that life gifts me…” His work reminded me of Cartier-Bresson – candid moments, observer of life, dramatic black and white. A very enjoyable exhibition.

 NICE LARTIGUE 1.jpgNICE Lartigue 2.jpgNICE Lartigue 3.jpg

Matisse Museum: After a long walk up steep hill Chimiez (there is a bus, but I was intent on walking) I reached a beautiful grassy area with welcoming benches. There were several games of boules in progress, with the lovely thuds and clinks playing against the breeze and lazy sounds of summer. The Matisse Museum is housed in an 18th Century stately home that had a contemporary annex added in 1992. Wonderful collection, stain glass, wall hangings in beautiful surroundings.

Gallerie Des Ponchettes: This was a lovely surprise. The Prototype Improvise de Type <<Nuage>>. Conceived by architect Yona Friedman, this project can only be realized withNICE YONO 2.jpg

  • Community involvement
  • A good dose of freedom
  • Simple materials, recycled objects
  • Improvisation and imagination
  • Creativity

NICE YONO 1.jpgSince the ‘70’s, Friedman has worked on social architecture solutions to address poverty, overpopulation, and depletion of natural resources. The Ponchettes cloud was conceived and created by 10 people living in Nice, with some connection to the sea…. Their cloud was beautifully draped and illuminated fishing net.

If you’re in London, you should go and check out the Serpentine Summer House 2016 designed by Mr. Friedman!

Palais Lascaris: This was a favorite find that I almost passed by. The Genoese style Baroque house was built in the mid-17th Century for an aristocratic family. Now it is home to a wonderful collection of instruments – primarily wind, string, but some lovely pianos. A collection of harps, guitars and lutes to die for! This was really a little gem that I almost missed, so I was very happy to have found it.

Massena Museum: Beautiful Belle-Époque villa built in 1898 for Grandson of Andrew Massena, Marshal of the Empire, Duc de Rivoli, and Napoleon’s friend. Felt very traditional after all the other wonderful modern work.

Natural History Museum: This is a small museum with a selection of taxidermy animals. Whilst maybe a good resource for an active researcher (it boasts over 1 million specimens, and 80,000 books), the museum did not compare to the Natural History Museums of London or New York.

There were some nice illustrations, this wouldn’t have captured the interest of my 6 year old!

Galerie de la Marine: Just down the road from Gallerie Des Ponchettes, the Galerie de la Marine, I could have done without. A collection of works by 18 different artists, it was rather random and I didn’t find it inspiring, though I did think I could make use of an old card filing cabinet, thanks to Agathe Wiesner’s untitled Meubles recuperes, bois, platre.  (Later, I read that this galerie was dedicated to the art of graduates from the Villa Arson National Art School so whilst giving young and emerging talent exposure, I think they need better curation).

The other museum I had to visit was not included on the 48 hour pass, so after another long walk up a different hill, I got to the Chagall museum.

Chagall Museum: A lovely space, relaxing gardens, large spacious gallery rooms, I enjoyed being surrounded by the large colorful Chagall’s. Focused on the Song of Songs, there was a section dedicated to the recent restoration effort and process.

Musée Jean Cocteau: In the town of Menton, this museum was designed to house Severin Wunderman’s Jean Cocteau collection. Cocteau portraying friends, artist friend portraying Cocteau, this collection includes items from his path through illustration, posters, poetry, theater, and cinema. Continuously concerned with the “night of the human body”, suspended between dream and reality.

Now, slightly saturated from all the visual stimulation, I have returned to Paris. I loved Nice and the people I met along the way. It was a really lovely week.




general musings – get out the vote

vote-none-of-the-above.jpgI’ve been holding my head in my hands over BrExit and the impending Trump/Clinton election. What is so wrong with these situations (other than the number of fights reported at Trump rallies and the surge of hate crimes – up 42% – in the UK post Brexit),  there also seems to be an overwhelming amount of people no longer voting FOR something, rather, they are voting AGAINST something.

In an either/or situation, we are forced to decide between things, what we might consider the better of two evils. And with a 50/50 (+/- 2) spilt, this is not a majority vote …this is a got in by the skin of my teeth. A fine approach for the winner of a 100 meter dash, or a poetry competition, but not for a democratically elected head of state, or a country’s exit from its union.

Granted there have been former attempts to discuss alternative approaches to the Union prior to the BrExit vote, and third candidates that may have dropped out along the way (eg: Mr. Sanders), but this still leaves the general population – who let’s face it, are not really fully  aware of the detail or implications of what they are voting on – with a situation where a binary Yes/No In/Out  vote leaves those who don’t agree with either option, to cast their vote against the one they REALLY don’t want, or to not vote at all. But currently, their no vote means nothing.  If Britons had been given the option of a white vote, would the result have been the same? With a counted white vote, the population would have a true voice, and if there was a majority, or equal count, this would demand the ‘powers that be’ come up with another solution.

The fall out of Brexit has left a complete state of disarray – the underbelly of politics exposed – an embarrassing mess and blatant acknowledgement of bias, distortion, exaggeration and fear marketing leading up to the vote – our system is a farce and a sham. 1.2 Million people have now been counted as (up to 7%) regretting their choice! (Opinium Research) and another interesting article on the media’s influence on Brexit opinon, show stats that “Only 22% in their penultimate survey thought they understood what they were voting on “well or very well”. And where did they get their information from?  BBC ~34%; newspapers ~20%; family members ~18%; social media ~16% … A quarter of over-65s claimed the Leave campaign itself was their most important source of information; a stunning 48% of all Ukip voters also made that claim.”

Back in the day, Athenian democracy believed it was every citizen’s duty to vote and participate in society’s decision making. Whilst assembly was voluntary, lack of attendance was frowned upon and the no-shows could be subjected to public disgracing.

This principal is echoed in don’t vote, don’t complain, and we also consider it our right – something that women had to fight for, a right that is less that 100 years old in the UK (other women voting rights: New Zealand, 1893, South Australia, 1894, Finland 1907, Denmark, 1915. Britain, 1918, Holland, 1919, America 1920).

But on average, voter turn-out is around 60-65% in the UK and US (in 1996, US voter turn out was 49%). It is also skewed by education and income level. So what about Compulsory voting? Could Voting be considered an extension of civic duties, just as taxes pulled for common services, or jury duty. Voting as an obligation could also help overcome the inconveniences, or concerns that voting imposes on an individual, along with the I can’t be bothered, I don’t understand, or I don’t like any of the options. Other benefits range from:

  1. a higher degree of political legitimacy – the victorious candidate actually represents a majority of the population, not just the politically motivated individuals who would vote without compulsion
  2. more accurately reflecting the will of the people rather than reflecting who was more able to convince, bribe voters to take time out of their day to cast a vote
  3. White (spoilt or blank) votes being counted – indicating dissatisfaction with the candidate list rather than simple apathy at the whole process
  4. decreased the role of money – no need for campaign funds to goad voters to the polls
  5. decreased influence of “charismatic” but sectionally focused demagogues.
  6. stimulating a broader interest politics, as a sort of civil education and political stimulation, which creates a better informed population.

For Brexit, 72% of the population turned out to vote. Almost a 10% increase from general election turn out. 17,410,742 voted Leave (51.9%) 16,141,241 voted Remain (48.1%). We are hearing a scary amount of “I voted for it but I didn’t think it would happen”, “I didn’t think it would mean this”, or “I didn’t know what to vote for”… so we asking the population to vote on things they didn’t really understand b) based on a bunch of lies and false promises, and c) to make a decisions between the lesser of the two evils.

While there may be those who consider compulsory voting an infringement of their rights, beliefs or their religion, I think it’s an option worth considering. How else can we move from a position of apathy, or backing into a vote, to moving forward with positive cast?


london music – edward rogers

Ed Rogers.jpgEdward Rogers at The Borderline, April 24th

Fortuitously, I just so happened to be in London the same weekend my dear New York friends were in town, and even better, Ed, Don and James were playing at The Borderline with Colin Blunstone!

I can’t remember how many years I have known Ed and Melani–but I do remember my embarrassing introduction to Melani…. a smoker at the time, we were at a Woolsey downtown christmas party, and i had just taken a (terribly shy and nervous) deep inhalation, only to have someone say “this is Amanda….” I opened my mouth and exhaled a large cloud of Silk Cut (or Marlboro light) smoke right into her face… I was mortified, but Melani  – queen of graciousness – did a slight head dodge, smiled and carried on chatting.

I didn’t cross Ed and Melani again for a couple of months. As part of an ASCAP Songwriters workshop, Marci Drexler had been teamed up with Joe Condirraci (fabulous voice, beautiful man) who was in a band – The Green Rooftops – with Ed. Attending a Loser’s Lounge at the Fez with Joe, we ran in to Ed, and Joe introduced us as “She’s English, He’s english… thought you might get on…” And we did. Ed and Melani have been the closest of friends ever since. We had weekly Sunday dinners for years, I’ve celebrated Greek Easters, thanks givings, christmas’s and welcomed in numerous new years together. I love them as family.

I think it was 2001 when Ed asked me if I wanted to write some songs with him. I had just had knee surgery and was hobbling around on crutches, taking things slowly… my well of solo song writing reserves had slowed down (i used to infuriate my wirebird band members with “I’ve got a new song” every week) so I was open to trying out this co-writing thing….

And so was born the Bedsit Poets. It was a really sympathetic combination and we had a lot of fun…Ed has an endless reserve of words, and I have a bounty of melodies and harmonies. Together, I edited and added words, he input rhythm, sound and structure. Sometimes we came at it from the opposite angel. I had the words, he had the music, sometimes, we had nothing but created something. We recorded a great album (the summer that changed) with the Kennedy’s, Ed found a label Bongo Beat to give the album a home, we added a third partner to the mix, guitarist Mac Randall, and then recorded a second album – Notel Rendezvous – with Don Piper (ever since, my go to producer/ engineer/mixer..he’s awesome!). At a certain point though, with a third albums worth of songs on paper and tape recorders, we decided to take a hiatus.

Ed has gone on to record four solo albums, three of which I have had the pleasure of doing the cover art for (Sparkle Lane, Kaye and Glass Marbles), and his output continues to be abundant. Of course I prefer some songs to others (as with any artist), but there are some real gems in Ed’s catalogue that stand out for me – street fashion; borrowed & blue, blackpool nights; looking for stone angels. Ed is like a sponge, he observes the world around him intently… people, places, things… and he has them all covered in his songs. Even with recurring themes, he finds a different consideration…it’s as if he is still mulling over certain themes and will continue to explore them from every angle until he is satisfied that he understands. His albums are like the an Encyclopedia to Ed…what he thinks about, what he sees, what he sees in others, what he loves, what hurts him, his past, his present his future.

FJames Mastro.JPGlanked by Don and Ed, the Don Piper.jpgsoundscape is full and rich, dynamic, and varied. Musically, nothing else necessary (but you know it will sound great augmented with the band too), so it was great when Marty Piper-Wilson who just so happened to be passing through town as well, joined them on stage.

The crowd loved Denmark Street Forgotten… (the song reflects on the end of one of London’s musical meccas as the new swanky inter-rail link is built. From the 50s to the present day, UK’s Tin Pan Alley hosted the NME, Melody Maker, Elton John, David Bowie and the Stones amongst other. The 12 Bar Club and Enterprise rehearsal studios are closed, but funnily enough, just recently, the Sex Pistols have come to save the day! As Britain gets ready to celebrate the 40th anniversary year of Punk (in and of itself slightly perverse), No 6 (where the Sex Pistols recorded the first demos of God Save The Queen and Anarchy in the UK 1975-77) and No 7 Denmark Street, have be awarded Grade 2* listed status by a Conservative government Heritage Minister… so it can’t be pulled down!!!)….But I digress.


With the powerhouse engine of support, encouragement, sounding board, idea generator, editor, photographer, organizer and best dressed lady I know, Melani Rogers is the 5th Beatle of this band 🙂  The show was great, succinct, tight.

Ed is a born show man, he loves it on stage, talking to the crowd, getting them engaged, and it is always done with that special ed rogers smile, passion and a joy of life.





paris musings – the doctors (east paris)

I have not enjoyed the identification and establishment of doctor relations in Paris. Unlike New York, there does not seem to be the same proactive followup, alerts or reminders of what I should do with either my child, or myself. My general physician, highly recommended by several as the doctor for all expats, is very laissez-faire and I don’t think I have had one issue resolved satisfactorily. My son’s physician is lovely, but it just never feels as buttoned up and organized as my NY pediatrician. As for finding a ladies doctor, it’s been really difficult…appointments have to be booked months in advance, and then the first appointment I finally got to, the doctor was so rude, I literally walked out on one her and wrote a letter of complaint to her affiliated hospital!

So in hopes to help some others in search of a good gyn’y – I have compiled this list from the various Expat Community Posts in response to request for recommendations:

Dr Edith Finet (F)- 15eme
34 Rue de Lourmel
Phone:01 45 75 38 08
Speaks English & “does tests in her office.”

Dr.  Anne-Isabell Richet (F) – 7eme
109 Rue de l’Université, near Invalides metro
Speaks English “she’s a gynecologist, though, not an ob”
Dr Marie Harif (F) – 17eme
56 rue des Batignolles
Phone: 01 53 06 80 03
Speaks English “She’s great, does ultrasound and consultation as well.”
Dr McGinnis (F) – 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
American Hospital, 63 Boulevard Victor Hugo
“she is excellent and took me through 4 pregnancies.”
“Dr McGinnis is amazing at the American hosp if your insurance covers it, think it’s €120”
Dr. Rizk (M) – 15eme
45 rue Saint-Lambert, (near Convention)
Speaks English  – “GYN/OB. nice guy, not touchy feely, but a great dr. “
Dr. Gonod (F) –  15eme
179 Rue de la Convention
“she’s hard to get into for just a GYN appt.”
Dr. Patrick Douieb (M)  – 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt
65 Bis Avenue Victor Hugo
Metro Marcel Sembat
Dr. Isabelle Azan
Clinique des Franciscaines at Versailles is excellent.
Probably because of that she has pretty long waiting times for rdvs, unfortunately.
Dr. Francois Jacquemard
Speaks English.
Top specialist in Paris for prenatal scanning he has his own practice and also works at the American Hospital
Dr. Richard Benhamou – 92800 Puteaux
58 Rue Eugène Eichenberger
He has 3D ultrasound equipment which is quite rare.
One of the most worrying things has been when my little one has been sick and I have not been able to communicate clearly with the Doctors. Here is a list of the English speaking doctors that I have been recommended along the way from various parents:
Dr. Lovejoy  – 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
Hôpital américain de Paris, 63 Boulevard Victor Hugo
Dr. Rosemonde Poinsot – 16eme
15 Avenue D’Eylau
01 45 20 29 29
Dr Anne Sylvester Michot – 16eme
15 Quai Louis Blériot
Phone:09 50 86 58 04
She’s French but speaks English

Dr Elena Lamberti  – 16eme
75 Boulevard Exelmans
01 40 71 05 10
Dr Pierre Bitoun – 4eme
6 Rue de Jarente, (near metro St Paul).
“Speaks perfect English and takes the time to listen to each patient. Unfortunately this means that he runs over a lot, so get an appointment early in the day!”

paris music – the flamin groovies

The Flamin Groovies Le Petit Bain, Friday April 29

In Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 10.53.15 AM.pngfull transparency, I have to declare there is a predisposition to positive bias – The Flamin Groovies were one of my favorite bands growing up; my first NY band, the Wirebirds, spent many an hour playing flaming groovy songs in the music building 1206; and road trips require a Flamin Groovies sound track (perfect time to brain wash a five year old in to loving them)… so when I heard they were coming to Gay Paree, I had to get tickets (thanks melani for the heads up!)

My other bias… a  Metro, boulot, dodo life also means a night out is a hot ticket item.. I’m already giddy! I had also managed to persuade two of my dearest french girl friends to come with me! I am living the life, right now, so of course, I’ll love the evening! I skip down the stairs at Metro Quai le Gare, I had already spotted our meeting location, Chez Lili et Marcel (highly recommended), their awning blazoned in sans serf retro lettering, and crossing the road I saw my friends through the window, already seated, chatting and laughing. I caught MP’s eye and she turned and gave a huge smile and wave, followed by Edith’s little jump of joy in her seat! Through the window photo op… but no time here… we were on a mission – catchup, eat, and get to the show on time.

Flamin Groovies at Le Petit Bain.

I had anticipated a 9pm start based on DJ and opening acts being listed on the bill, so at 8:30 I started to get a little anxious… (flash back to hanging out on the beach, assuming Matthew Sweet would be 2nd or 3rd on the bill, I actually missed him), so we headed over to Le Petit Bain…a strange looking floating box bar, on the actual Seine, and next to the Josephine Baker Swimming Pool (in the actual Seine!).

The crowd was a mix of old and young rockers, lots of jeans and leather jackets, black hair, grey hair, pink hair, biker boots, beatle boots, (my friends lovely light suede channel boots). I almost had a wave of…“my people…they exist in Paris as well as NY!”… the unifying force of music! No disrespect to my well dressed rocker friends in NY, but the Parisians do have a certain je ne sais quoi in the way they put it together! So amidst the très chic (and not so chic), we went down the stairs into Le Petit Bain floating Tardis club with 450 others.

Perfect timing! Weaseling our way through the crowds we got fairly close to the front and waited for the show to begin…Teenage Head was what I in and what they started with. We danced, I sang along, Feel a Whole lot better, She Tore Me Down, First Plane Home, Slow Death, Tallahassee Lassie, Between the Lines, Yeah My Baby amongst others before closing with Shake Some Action! Much fun!


Founded in 1965, this is Cyril Jordon and George Alexander’s 51st year as Groovies! Chris Wilson joined in ’71 (after Roy Loney’s departure) and in ’76 (teaming-up with Dave Edmunds producing) they came out with the fabulous Shake Some Action. FullSizeRender-3.jpgThere are only five Flamin Groovies albums, but stuffed with gems.

The band – Jordon, Wilson and Alexander, joined by Victor Penalosa on drums-was a mix of tight and loose, sometimes fingers didn’t FullSizeRender-5.jpg
seem to work exactly how I imagined they would like them to (George also had pinky and ring fingers taped at their base), vocals were a little gravelly, but why I am even saying that, the energy, the performance, was great. The club was full of joie de vivre –  on and off stage.

All my worries that my friends, with slightly different musical tastes, we not going to enjoy themselves, dissipated as they smiled, laughed and bopped along! Per MP’s message this morning… “Très chouette hier cet anti métro boulot dodo”…  alive again!FullSizeRender-4.jpg


Spring Reading

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 12.45.38 PM.pngUs David Nicholls, 2014 This delivered on its promise of laugh-out-loud moments—maybe more like cry-out-loud moments! Narrated from Douglas’s wry and often endearingly baffled point of view, Us navigates through a variety of situation, life stages and events, un-peeling the different ways in which each character responds and evolves.  As The Guardian review said, Nicholl’s is “…acute and astute about the dynamics of relationships”. Trying to rescue his marriage and improve his barely existent relationship with his son, these efforts are set within a trip across Europe, down memory lane and looking to the future.
Arranged through 180 chapters with teasing titles, I wonder if he structured it this way to appeal to the bite-sized attention span we are now struggling with! Either way, the titles and their subsequent reveals kept me up late, wanting more. 

The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared Jonas Jonasson, 2009
I really liked this book. The central character, centenarian Allan Karlsson’s adventures cross back and forth between the past – fantastic episodes and crazy encounters from his long 20th Century life,  and the present – crazy encounters from his current day excursion… Unbelievable, but woven together beautifully to make it plausible! From the Manhattan Project to Russian submarines, encounters with Truman, Franco and Stalin, the butterfly effect of Allan’s movements and the crossed paths/ 6 degrees of separation, remind you of the ripples your own life may have, whilst giving you an entertaining ride with the police chase!

The Humans Matt Haig, 2013
I enjoyed this book. An alien arrives on earth to destroy all evidence of the newly found proof of the Reimann Hypothesis by a distinguished Cambridge mathematician. This requires killing and assuming the body of aforementioned (not very nice) mathematician, then attempting to interact with his friends and family to determine who else needs to be killed to keep the theory unknown. Much of the novel is taken up by his puzzled analyses of primitive human ways. The conceit may not be original, but it’s a good read with a couple of laugh out loud moments. The reflections on humans inhumanity as well as our capacity for love culminates in a letter of life advice for his depressed son – a 97-point list six and a half pages long…. this may have been his inspiration for his 2015 book Reasons To Stay Alive (which I have not read, I am basing this off the title). The book has generated a wide array of reviews from lovers and haters… yes, you have to suspend disbelief, there are inconsistencies.. why can the alien do this but not that, but it is a fictional novel after all!
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Rachel Joyce 2012
I enjoyed this book. An unexpected yet inspired walk from the south coast to the north of England, Harold Fry has some lovely countryside to describe and an array of interesting characters to encounter. Though laced with loneliness, and time enough to reflect on the twists and turns of life, the disappointments and sadness is tempered with a sense of quiet celebration, new openness and discovery of life.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist Moshin Hamid, 2007
I liked this book. Sitting in a Lahore Cafe, Changez, our narrator/host, tells an American stranger about his time in America, studying at Princeton, working in a top NYC consulting firm, and his unrequited affair with Erika… then his abandonment of America after 9/11. It was a gentle, intricate read. Ambiguous and unresolved… leaving you hanging, or to conclude as you wish. Now a film, it will be interesting to see what they pushed and left out.

paris musings – rules of the road

There are none.

Or should I say, there maybe, but they seem discretionary.


As a cyclist, it’s quite important to understand – Give way to the right, give way to those on the roundabout…give way to those wanting to enter the roundabout….never encountered that one before. But as I was cycling with gusto around a fairly large “Porte” I noticed that my fellow travelers were all stopping mid-roundabout to let new vehicles enter. I got to work (in one piece thank goodness) and asked a colleague who drives: “Those on the roundabout have right of way.”

I recounted my near death incident and he amended his statement…”Ah yes, some roundabouts you have to give way to those entering…”

“How do you know which type of roundabout you are on?”

“You just do!”

Zebra Crossings

Don’t EVER expect a french driver to stop for you. Even at a cross walk, even with a child, even near a school, even in the pouring rain. Rarely will a Parisian driver yield to a pedestrian. Move forward with caution.

Curbing & poop-a-scooping

Parisians don’t give a shit.

On a street between my bus-stop and the office (400 meters) I have counted up to 20 poops on one pass. Incredible! It’s a dodge and a weave dance all the way down the sidewalk passing the most incredible variety of messes. The same is true on my way to school – which annoys me even more- what about the kids running, tripping, falling with gay abandon??!!


If the car fits, hell, even if it doesn’t fit, Parisians will park their car there. At an angle, on a cross walk, sticking out, 2 foot away from the curb…stop the car. get out. see you later.


On the highways, long vast open stretches of road, your favorite soundtrack playing …. don’t!

I’ve never had a speeding ticket in my life, yet last summer I got zapped with three from their speeding camera system. luckily the fine correlates to how much over the speed limit you were going, so I was only in teir 1 – still…


paris musings – the locksmith

There are times when I feel literally overloaded with thoughts… what I need to do, what I need to remember to do, for home, for work, for school; what I want to do, what time is it, am I on time, or not… usually the latter…. and it means that not everything happens as it should!

I was happy that I had found a local place for S. to do some sports on a Saturday. As a result, I now had a sacred me-hour in the morning! Running late, I raced to get S. ready for judo, so I could go and have my nice relaxing coffee & reading for the hour. All went according to plan until we got home. Where the hell were the keys? I emptied my bag and stared and the content rubble… no keys.

Thank god I had my phone…but the battery was low. I called my landlord who I had become aquainted with due to the flood a month before. He didn’t really speak English, but I managed to establish that he didn’t have a spare key- I had both the keys … in the apartment. So I called my French friend- what do I do? who should I call. She offered to call a locksmith on my behalf, saying she would call back once she had sorted it out. I sat in the stair-well and explained to my four year old that mummy had very foolishly left the keys inside the apartment and as there was no way to scale the building and climb through a window like Spider-Man, we needed to wait for the locksmith to come and help open the door. My friend called back. she had identified someone who should be with me within the hour.

With the phone battery at an un – optimistic 10%, I told S. that we had to go to the cafe and see if they would be willing to help. Up the road at Les Ondes, I explained our plight to the waitress and waved the dead phone in front of her. How would I know when the locksmiths arrived with out juice?! She took sympathy and plugged the phone in to her adapter behind the bar, so we sat in ears shot for the anticipated call, and had a drink to pass the time. About 50 minutes later, phone working, locksmiths arriving, we returned to the apartment.

The two men met me in the hall way and without checking any ID or asking any questions, they got out a drill and quickly zapped the lock. The door didn’t open. They then got out a tired looking piece of X-ray film… slide it into the frame of the door, down to the lock, kicked the door and it popped open!

On examining the opened door, they said they needed to replace the lock unit, and this quickly evolved to needing to change the entire door frame… one of the men was already unscrewing the metal frame whilst the other was telling me that this was all necessary… But why? and how much money are we talking about … 2000€ – WHAT??!!  I exclaimed – oh you’re insurance will cover it… “but I don’t know that” I cried, “I need to call them…” Interspersed in the activities, I had been txting the trials of the day back and forth with another friend. I texted him this latest update and he immediately called me and said this was a joke and told me to put him on the phone with the men. I’m not sure what they said to each other, but voices were raised – the phone got handed back to me, the unscrewing of the door frame stopped, I was handed a piece of paper to sign and pay 500€ because they had “had to ” drill the bolt, and they were waiving the “visit” charge so I should be happy, then they left, leaving be with a dodgy lock, screws and metal frames on the floor. I called my friend back who said he was looking for another locksmith for me.

With a couple of names, I called the newly identified locksmiths for a quote. The challenge here lay in the fact that they both said they had to come and see the door before they could quote. I told them I didn’t want them to come until they told me approximately how much it would cost to replace a lock. I managed to agree with them both that i would send them photos of the lock and door for an estimate. The next challenge was that my phone memory was full and wouldn’t take any more photos. I deleted images, took new images, and finally sent the images to the two potential locksmither’s to aid in quoting. One of them called again and insisted he should come and look – I reiterated that I wanted a quote first, but that if he didn’t charge me for coming, that he could come round, so he said he was on his way.

Whilst waiting, I re-screwed the doorframe back together. As locksmith #2 turned up, I received a quote from locksmither #3. #2 quoted 200€ more than #3 so I thanked #2 very much for coming round but I was going to use #3. #2 then insisted that I pay him for the house call… “No, no” I said… “on our phone call I had told you not to come without providing a quote, but you had insisted… I told you I didn’t want to pay for a house call without a quote…” He grabbed his papers and stormed off saying it just wasn’t right… it was in appropriate not to pay… my goodness this day was an ordeal…

# 2 disappeared, and I waited for # 3. Whilst waiting this time, I decided to try and replace the existing lock, so by the time # 3 arrived, I had managed to reinstall the lock that had been removed by the #1s. A fairly polite and unassuming chap, #3 looked at the door, the lock, the key, that still actually worked despite the drilled lock face, then said while I could continue to use the preexisting lock and key, he still recommended replacing it as there was no guarantee it would continue to work based on the drilling that had happened.
he then also told me it had been totally unnecessary for the first guys to drill the lock. they should have started with the X-ray film then proceeded to show me how he could open the door with his X-ray film. Great! Remember to double lock in future! I decided to accept his advice and replace the lock. he didn’t have the right lock with him so he dissappeared off to buy the necessary type, but then he called to say he wouldn’t be able to get it until Monday.

So, using the dodgy door for the next couple of days, come Monday, I had a new lock, an insurance claim filed, and a war story of the 2000€ door frame proposal by some Locksmith con artists. What amazed me in the subsequent days were the number of locksmith shops I walks past in my neighborhood. I had been blind to them the week before.

Lessons Learned
1. Don’t leave home without your keys
2. Locate a local locksmith on moving into a new neighborhood in advance of needing one
3. Don’t let anyone drill the lock until they have tried the X-ray film

4. sign up for the key repository of Paris  –   !!



paris music – joe jackson

What the hell is wrong with you tonight?

Not much! What a great show by Mr. Jackson, Teddy Kumpel, Graham Maby and Doug Yowell.

Despite obviously having the bug that I think everyone in Paris seems to have, with discrete coughing between songs and a slightly nasal voice when talking in his most charming broken french, he sounded great.

IMG_0589.JPGOpening solo, we got to hear It’s different for Girls, Home Town, Be My Number Two, before he launched into a New Orleans Honky Tonk version of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi. He then moved into Fast Forward, his new album playing against a bass/drum loop, before Graham Maby joined on real bass to play Is She Really Going Out With Him…Doug Yowell, and then of course Monsieur Teddy Kumpel joined the stage for the rest of the hit packed show!

IMG_0592.JPGFast Forward was recorded in NY, Amsterdam, Berlin and New Orleans, and I think we got two songs from each location interspersed with old classics. A fabulous Scary Monsters puts the Grammy shenanigans to shame, and then when demanded back to the stage with a standing ovation, we got another mini show in and of itself. The audience remained standing to bop and rock along to the cover of Television See No Evil, two other songs, and then finally sitting to let the Slow Song  wash over us to close the show.

Given how bad he sounded when speaking, it was amazing that his singing was so solid. I hope he’s soothing his throat with ginger tea and honey as he goes to bed! Need to keep those vocal chords in order for a few more shows!