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Neighborhood Art in Troubled Times

It is not for nothing the attacks of Friday, November 13th, took place in the neighborhoods around République where Parisians gather to demonstrate whenever they feel their civil liberties are at stake.  The headquarters of France’s left leaning newspapers, Charlie Hebdo, victim of an earlier attack, and Libération, lie not far from this recently remodeled square which stands as symbol of France’s republican values not in the least of which is secularism. Rather than delve into this hotbed of a topic (if you’re interested in reading my response to the events I invite you to visit my Ecole des Femmes newsletter:  I’m posting a brief photo journal of my neighborhood in tribute to the spirit of the artists here.             What would Vermeer say?             From the bathroom of the Pavillon des Canaux            … Read more
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Salon Mme du Châtelet Strikes Again et avec grand succès!

What can I say but that I run the most fabulous, bijou literary salon in Paris.  It’s just a fact.  But the brag is hardly mine alone; the success of this venture would not be possible without the extraordinary posse of artists with whom I work.  My main wing woman, visual artist Sarita Beraha, has been sculpting the 70 meters of red velvet we acquired for the first salon (see earlier post) into theatrical dreamscapes; this last salon, she created a flower, a rose, or maybe it’s a lollipop? The theme for this past salon was Le Royaume des Fleurs and to this effect we created seven tableaux to celebrate the feminine and the floral.  In the mix was poet Constance Chlore, musicians Rebecca Waterhouse and Lea Klinghammer, dancer MaryLou Sarazin, writer Shannon Cain, and myself as writer, dancer and director.  London-based actress Doraly Rosa made a recording of my… Read more
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An Interview with Novelist Juan Alonso

It is a great privilege to share art critic Lyle Rexer’s brilliant interview with Juan Alonso, a novelist whose work I’ve admired for years.   Why this interview is being published here rather than in The Paris Review remains a question perhaps only Karma the elephant can answer (and at the moment she’s busy embracing her love interest, Juan); in lieu of explanation, let me express how deeply honoured I am to bring you Juan’s inimitable humour, turn of phrase and fascinating literary mind.  Without further ado, I turn this over to Lyle and Juan.  Readers, you are in for a treat.       Playing Hardball in Montevideo: an Interview with Juan Alonso Lyle Rexer I first met Juan Alonso more than thirty years ago. I had just read his fourth novel, Althea (the Divorce of Adam and Eve), published by the Fiction Collective, and intended to review it. It… Read more
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La salonnière

Mme du Châtelet Productions debuted Saturday, January 31st, with its first edition of the Salon, held in my candlelit home with some thirty people in attendance.   The evening included writers Christina Mirjol, Shannon Cain, and myself as well as the visual artist Sarita Beraha who turned our white tiled bathroom into a red velvet grotto, an oeuvre that took two days, four trips to the Marché St. Pierre and 75 meters of fabric to complete! The end result was a sumptuous setting for Shannon Cain’s reading in the baignoire. Christina Mirjol read from her book “Les Cris,” punctuating the evening with voices of varying timbres – satirical, emotional, playful, haunting – while Shannon, dressed in bubbles, read passages of her racy novel-in-progress. I read/performed a piece I wrote especially for this edition of the salon entitled “Bake a Cake”; Shannon Cain joined me, playing the role of June Carter Cash… Read more
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Madame du Châtelet Productions presents a literary salon on the frontier of “plaisir”

  I am thrilled to announce the launch of Mme du Châtelet Productions, a new literary salon in Paris featuring women writers exploring the pleasures of text in the spirit of Emile du Châtelet, the eighteenth century mathematician and enlightened coquette.  Emilie  outwitted her lover Voltaire in science and math experiments, gambled men under the table through, “prodigious feats with numbers in her head,” translated Newton into French while pregnant and created the fashion of rouging nipples for the plunging necklines she favored. Of happiness, she wrote: “We must try to invite pleasure in through all the doors to our soul: we have no other business but this.” Our mission is to celebrate how the word becomes flesh and turns us on — au féminin – by encouraging contradiction, unlikely pairings, the outrageous, the erotic, the poetic, the sensual, the quiet and the loud, as well as the engagement of… Read more
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Oddities, Curiosities, Louvuhs, Lady Enjoy?

Oddities, Curiosities, Louvuhs, Lady Enjoy… ****Louvah (loov-uh), n. – an American undergrad studying art and polyperversity in Paris, predominately stationed in the Louvre Museum and bars with Anglo-Saxon names. Late June. We left Paris giggling. It wasn’t the news former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was in garde à vue — detained by the police at the commissariat — that tickled us but our surmising he had no underwear on. Why did we suspect this? Let’s just say I learned a thing or two from my former job in Louvah Maintenance (aka Directorship of an American study-abroad program). You see, when suspects are locked up in garde à vue, the French police take their underwear away for safety reasons. Safety, you ask? Apparently, it is not impossible to hang yourself with them. Think about it. A Louvah under my jurisdiction once stumbled home at three a.m. drunk as a skunk and… Read more
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Celebrating Painter Kathy Burke

“Gratitude.   Have you filled your tank up on it?  There are many reasons to do so.  After all, it is free and ecological.  It will put a rose tint on your day.  Gratitude is the base line of your music; the rhythm that holds together the potential for your greatness.” - Mme de Sauvignon Celebrating Kathy Burke I had heard of artist Kathy Burke’s portrait work years before I stepped into the job as director of a study-abroad program and discovered she was on the faculty.   We became instant, and as it turns out, long-lasting friends and my admiration for her work, currently focused on the view of Notre Dame out her window (yes, she lives on the Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville!) gets a fresh squeeze of excitement with each project she undertakes. Recently over lunch, I told Kathy how much I appreciated the way she would help me… Read more
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Better get your pedi done — Thursday latest.

Holy Week just kicked off today with Palm Sunday and a procession led by Père Boyardee down the rue Palestine.  I declined on joining the crowd waving  branches of boxwood and retreated inside to the front pew where I finished composing an Ode to My Toes (relevant to Holy Week as you’ll see shortly), the last bit of this week’s homework for The School of Womanly Arts. I heard the Hosannas wafting outside the gothic lair and then, three thundering knocks on the main portal, clearly not made by mere human knuckle.  It was Père Boyardee banging the door with his cross.   A high pitched voice from inside queried through a megaphone: “Who is this king of glory?” Outside, Père Boyardee boomed:  “It’s the Lord, the strong, the brave, the Lord, the Brave Combatant!” Again, three extra-strength knocks. “Who is this king of glory?” “Door, lift your frontons; Lift them,… Read more
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The Apron Manifesto

Friends. Something about this precocious Parisian spring, rich in creative impulse, has made me unearth my Apron Manifesto and post it here, once again.   I remain a firm practitioner of the apron.  Here is why. THE APRON MANIFESTO Though I set my first novel in the fashion world, my interest in couture is largely metaphorical. I would be hard pressed to distinguish a Christian Lacroix from a Christian Dior and have not bought a fashion magazine in years. What appeals to me is fashion’s appetite for outlandish excess and for marrying the absurd with the sublime. I had the pleasure of practicing my fashionese when I wrote Remedy and this experience was not unlike reading Alice in Wonderland where one enters of world of queer pairings and alliteration, where the associative and the excessive poke their tongue at reason. Despite the conformity of mass produced ready-wear, fashion craves and inspires… Read more
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Friends! First of all, I report with relief that Afghanistan President Karzai did veto the law I wrote about in my last post.   In a country where honour killings of women – and their children – are on the rise, this is a positive action yet hardly a step toward securing basic human rights for women.  Alas. While we in the West pride ourselves as being as above such barbarisms, it seems we play Hun here and there.  Some shocking facts from the International Business Times: - In Arkansas, a man can legally beat his wife no more than once a month. - In Stafford County, Virginia; a man can legally beat his wife on the courthouse steps before 8:00 pm. - In South Carolina and Huntington, West Virginia; a man can legally beat his wife on the courthouse steps on Sundays. Hmmm… In a recent article in the London… Read more
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