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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Squirrels on the loose

A little more than a year ago I was in search of the bookstore linked above. It was a brilliant Sunday morning in Paris. The church bells were ringing and I decided the morning should be commemorated by paying homage to my beloved by purchasing an International Herald Tribune. I went to the closest newstand. Ferme.

Closest bookstore. Ferme.

I decided to track down the Village Voice, famous to be open seven days a week like Shakespeare and Co. Surely they would have one. It is located in the heart of the historic Saint Germain des Près neighborhood, between the cobbled streets of Place Saint Germain des Près and the currently infamous Place Saint Sulpice. I never made it to the VV. My pocket was picked 3/4 of the way there. I realized my digital camera was taken. This was a first. I've been to Paris close to a dozen times and spent more time here than any other European city... Still, my camera was gone with great photos MIA and I was sick about it.

Now, a year later, walking back from a long errand across Paris to the great Lost and Found of Paris Police stations, I realized I am walking along rue Princess! I wander into the small shop and unload my groceries and art materials, look around and pick up a Paris Times. As I am leaving I notice an announcement that writer David Sedaris will be reading on the 9th! That sounded like fun... except my meeting with le Foundation President was scheduled for the late afternoon the same day...I decided I would figure out a way to do it. I purchased "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and asked what time I should plan on arriving to get a seat. "6:15" he said. The reading was to begin at 7pm.

My meeting on the 9th was very interesting, something I must elaborate on in another post. I DASHED down the stairs and jumped on the metro and arrived at 5:50 - earlier than my friend who was to save our seats. Didn't matter. There was already a line snaking down the stairs by the time I walked in the door! I decided to purchace two more books: "Naked" and "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" and wait by the close circuit TV so I would at least be able to hear if I couldn't be upstairs. By the time my friend Yvette showed up the downstairs was standing room only and I was having to hold tight to my place by the counter and a chair. For once I chose the right island in the storm because David Sedaris walked right up to the counter and took out his pen! I was first in line, so to speak, because I was paying attention and had my books in my hands. He asked where I was from and what I did...where I was staying, etc. I was impressed.
He signed the first one: "Thank you for making me rich." daofjgf seouga[ (it looks like Greek, but then that would be appropo) It feels good to laugh out loud.

David is
a closet Parisian, which I didn't know (!) and he lives around the corner from the bookstore. He read a piece titled "A Brush with Art" that will be published in the New Yorker this spring as well as Valentine's fable that will be read on NPR Valentine's Week for "This American Life." Even better than his reading was the Q&A afterwards. When asked about the James Frey controversy he responded "I am amazed the American expects more honesty from a lying drunk than their own President..."

I must admit I was in heaven. Crying and laughing and crying and laughing. Its the first time I've been around so many expats since I've been here... and it was ok. If I could live around people like this all the time (well read and able to ask intelligent questions) I think I would be more content and less depressed. Living in the repressive state of America can be very sad when one lets the news and bozos on the street define one's definition of what it means to be an American. Its just as depressing being here and being defined by those same headlines and one-sided perceptions. Even the Australians are disappointed in us! Its a burden, thats what it is. I've spent my life first being defined as a southerner and now as an American. I just want to be defined as a good artist in search of that place like home where art is the language that makes sense of it all.


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