Paris/worn out shoes
I travelled to Paris in 1984, on my first trip to Europe, to present a paper at an international symposium on urbanism.
My plane landed at dawn. After clearing customs, I took a train of the RER, the light railway system for Paris, to the neighborhood where I would be staying.
I asked several individuals where rue Joseph Barra was located. Nobody knew, but they taught me to pronounce the street name correctly.
The children of the family with whom I was staying found me, and guided me to their apartment. After a brief visit I washed my face and I went out to look at Paris. I walked to the Seine. Tears ran down my cheeks as I stood there imagining the Montgolfier brothers’ balloon drifting across the October morning sky.
During the week of the conference, I spent most of my free time wearing holes in the soles of my shoes as I walked around the Left Bank neighborhood of my hosts.
In the spring of 1964, I listened to Aldo Ciccolini's recording of the piano music of Eric Satie. Hearing it was a transformative experience.
I was, at an early age, aware of Ravel, Debussy, Honegger, and other Impressionist composers. Their music was engaging, and unlike the classical music I'd listened to throughout my childhood. Debussy's “Syrinx” was, for a while, the theme music for the 1950's era Sunday afternoon culturally enriching television program, Omnibus.
Satie's music is not burdened by the sweetness characteristic of much of the music of the other composers who were his contemporaries. It reminded me of the West Coast jazz I was also listening to at the time. Satie's music, especially as played by Ciccolini, was Modern.
I am still moved by Satie's music more than half a century after I first heard it. Satie's residence is one of the places I like to stroll past when I visit Paris.
With, of course, many exceptions, much of the classical repertoire which I have listened to since childhood seems tired and is not as engaging as I formerly found it.
Eric Satie's residence
Odette is a few steps from Shakespeare and Company. The shop sells only round baseball sized creme puffs. I try to limit my consumption to more than two per day.