Friday, August 24, 2007

Paris by Night

Spot the deliberate mistake
We seem to have Paris in our sights for next year's MLA European get-together (Bogus View - Borksy View - of MLA Meetup 2007).

Borsky has started on our trip to the Underworld; I would insist on dropping in on Shakespeare and Co.
George Whitman George Whitman is the legendary owner of Shakespeare and Company. He originally comes from Salem, Massachusetts, but for the last sixty years has made Paris his home. George is a bibliophile of such stature that he insists his guests read a book a day and believes himself to be living in a novel. At 91 years old, he has recently retired but still sits as a figurehead above his store.

The Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart a piece by George...

I may disappear leaving behind me no worldly possessions - just a few old socks and love letters, and my windows overlooking Notre-Dame for all of you to enjoy, and my little rag and bone shop of the heart whose motto is "Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise". I may disappear leaving no forwarding address, but for all you know I may still be walking among you on my vagabond journey around the world.

NB: He allows young travellers to stay in the residential quarters of his rue de la Bucherie premises, in exchange for two hours' work in the bookshop each day; you are also encouraged to read a book a day during your stay...
Virtual Tour of Shakespeare and Co.

les escaliers de Montmartre - Brassaï 1936I'd love to bring Brassaï to people's attention (try Google Images) but only because of my early love affair with Henry Miller's writing (before sombunall of the feminists labelled him some kind of chauvinist - but ask Anaïs Nin before you judge him too harshly, and anyway the guy seems more like a mystic than a flâneur to me - and while on the subject of the French (and Duchamp, etc) I'd like to point you to Man Ray for sure, and Lee Miller, and all sorts of other wonderful people (I'll get back here with links and images when the whisky (for the flu) wears off.

Let's see - Louis Aragon (Paris Peasant), Louis Malle, Burroughs and Gysin at 9 Rue Git le Coeur (the famous "Beat Hotel") , Queneau, Prévert, Les Enfants du Paradis, oh, I'd better just go sober up and start again, seeing as how Paris in the 30s and 40s seemed like London in The Sixties...Picasso and Dali came up from Spain, people hung out, what can I say?

Maybe we can meet up there next year, but meanwhile...

...anyone got any clue as to the most creative city to live in right now?

5 comments:

Bobby said...

Old New Castle, Delaware!

Nah, but I think if it wasn't true when McLuhan said it, it's probably more true now that there's only one city on earth, the planet itself.

@gnosis! for example is written in North America & drawn in Asia.

Though also, I know what you mean! I haven't traveled enough to make much of a guess at it. Brooklyn, New York is probably the most creatively oriented place I've ever lived.

borsky said...

It seems amazing that George Whitman is still alive, I once saw a documentary about him from the seventies and he looked quite old back then. Until he put his hair on fire to provoke nubile groupies, that is…

Rue Git-le-Coeur! I had no idea of the 'Beat Hotel'! Today in this street is my all-time favourite bookshop 'Un Regard Moderne', which can only let pass through two customers at a time, and maybe one dwarf.
The Saint-Germain neighborhood houses the 'Deux Magots', a very famous restaurant where the Collège de 'Pataphysique holds its meetings…
And Brassaï, yes, quite a photographer. His political ideas however smell of faeces and decay… but the same can be said of Celine. And of some opinions of Ezra Pound, so maybe artistic values can appear even under ideologic mistakes. I prefer Robert Doisneau as photographer of Paris.

Bogus Magus said...

I think they rebuilt the front of the Beat Hotel, no sign of it when I last visited - according to Barry Miles' excellent book the frontage now belongs to the Relais-Hôtel du Vieux Paris...

And yes, much French politics confuses me, but then again my mum was probably a 'Communist' in the Thirties - when it seemed to stand for fair-sharing and atheist rationality, before they found out that Stalin turned out to have acted as ruthlessly as most dictators (including Hitler and Mussolini) tend to...

I didn't know much about Brassaï (beyond the photos), I did know about Celine, but Bob made me look at Pound, and try to avoid swift labelling of periods of people's lives, misguided judgements, etc - and yes, it may not always affect/infect the artistic product.

I never have visited Les Deux Magots - I've always been a little poor, and tended to avoid famous places, anyway...

borsky said...

Maybe of bigger interest is the Polidor where the famous members of the collège - Jacques Prévert, Raymond Queneau, Boris Vian, Eugène Ionesco, and the real founder of the collège in one of his avatars used to drink and eat.
And Le Chat Noir behind Montmartre, where the proto-dada's (Erik Satie the most famous of them) used to meet at the end of the 19th century (strangely relating to the priory of sion as well…). I could elaborate on the maybe logic values of the Hydropathes and the 'Incohérents'
Oh, and one or two fans of the Marchand du Sel might like to visit the arts center Beaubourg where some of his works are on permanent display (a smaller version of the Large Glass gave me a smashing epiphany last time I went there).

Bogus Magus said...

Ah, M. Satie! - links to the post about John Cage below.

I don't think we'd have much problem finding interesting things to do in Paris! It sounds as though you could give us a great guided tour (again!)

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