In NYC, ‘Je suis Charlie’ solidarity with France — Beryl Goldberg photographs for GallicFever

10 JANUARY 2015. A day before millions mobilized in France for Je suis Charlie solidarity, hundreds assembled in New York City’s Washington Square Park to let France know we support freedom of expression from Paris to Timbuctu — and everywhere else. Without fear of being silenced by late-model weapons in the hands of terrorists.

The form of free expression chosen by one New Yorker in the park was dance . . . pole dance. As leather-clad Carolyn Chui slowly waved a Je suis Charlie placard from high above the crowd, onlookers smiled.”Only in New York,” commented Lamia, who’s from France via Algeria.

Carolyn danced to music of Chopin and Rachmaninoff, played by Colin Huggins on a grand piano. Especially haunting to my ear was Colin’s rendering of Yann Tierson’s, “Contine d’un autre été.” Tierson wrote his ‘little story of another summer’ — as I later learned, for  the movie, Amélie.” That frigid January Saturday [scroll down. . .]

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was not the first time Colin played Chopin in the Greenwich Village venue, nor will it likely be the last. Where does he garage his grand piano? Wait for warmer weather, stop by the arch in Washington Square Park. . . and maybe he’ll tell you.

Colin’s fingers surely were ready to freeze — as were mine, and GallicFever photographer’s Beryl Goldberg’s. Beryl has photographed West African dance on location, but outdoor pole dance in New York was a first. For me, a chance to stand with the French couldn’t have been more welcome, once I discovered the Je suis Charlie invitation on the New York in French forum. French Institute Alliance France (FIAF), organized the bittersweet moment of Franco-U.S. solidarity.

Beryl and I had planned a second stop that Saturday afternoon: Albertine bookstore, uptown on Fifth Avenue. We’d long wanted to take some photos of my fave Franco-American cultural hotspot, but first we decided to warm up over hot chocolate at the Eighth Street branch of Vive la Crêpe. We thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant warmth of the shop, the French posters and our fresh fruit-filled crêpe. Tasty, and totally French — right? Only the former, since it’s a Mexican chain that opened their first Vive la Crêpe in Manhattan about five years ago.

At Albertine, I scoop up my budget-priced Folio paperback of Le Père Goriot, the Balzac novel we’ll read in the FIAF class I’m taking this semester. Meanwhile, Beryl has been shooting. We sit down in the shop’s upper level reading room and chose perfect photos of la belle Albertine, where the flower of French literature is shelved in both French and English editions. And where, every week, fascinating Franco-American cultural events inevitably attract full complements of my brothers and sisters in francofolie.

Reflections from a Paris kitchen window: blue and white

Who? Moi. Toujours francofolle — forever France-crazy. For some of the reasons, read About . . .

The Parc Monceau colonnade looks much the same today as it does in the old post card I found at a street market stand on a rainy spring day.

The Parc Monceau colonnade looks much the same today as it does in the old post card I found at a street market stand on a rainy spring day.

Where? My apartment exchanger’s comfy digs in the chic and calm 17th arrondissement. My adopted neighborhood, not far from the Arc de Triomphe, and anchored by lush Parc Monceau.

What? Views from the kitchen window, fifth-floor, looking out across the courtyard. And perhaps looking slightly inward. And maybe a few dispatches from the living room window. . . .

When? June 2014 . . . finally! Not a moment too soon, either — considering I’ve been living here since early April. And, before long, my kitchen will be a different one. I’ll move at the end of June to a new exchanger’s apartment, from which the views, naturally, must be different. (My Paris apartment exchanges will continue till the end of August, and then I’ll travel outside France for ten days or so. Then back to my NYC kitchen where the “window” offers me less clarity.)

The kitchen window in my spring 2014 exchange apartment (rue Jouffroy D'abbans, 17e) showed me a quiet courtyard, and more. . ..

The kitchen window in my spring 2014 exchange apartment (rue Jouffroy D’abbans, 17ème) showed me a quiet courtyard, and more. . ..

Why? The slothful blogger suddenly is moved to type! Not that I haven’t been pressing my laptop keys this spring. I most certainly have been — but to more specific purposes. (Read about those in Arts + Commerce, for instance, and in Le French +). From my kitchen window, you can get my observations on the pleasures of quotidian Paris, more or less in the same time frame as I live them. When the Paris sun chooses to shine full strength (not that often, but I love Paris gray, don’t you?), the effect can be incredibly

Mediterranean. Yes, the sky is so intensely, deeply, uniformly blue, the sun can’t help but radiate as if on the Riviera. Or in the Greek Islands.

The courtyard walls of the seven-storey house (I think it’s seven Continue reading

“Six months in Paris!” “Really?!”

“So, what will you do there?” Wait, must I have a vocational or other sensible reason to spend six months in this arguably more-interesting-and-exquisite-by-the-day wonder of the world? Come to think of it, at this point Paris is my vocation, whereas in the past the city was my . . . hobby, would not be a bad description. Three weeks here, a month there. In Montmartre, usually. Sometimes, I’d add a side trip Continue reading