Paris/worn out shoes
I first travelled to Europe in 1984 to attend an international symposium on urbanism in Paris.
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 helpfully taught me to pronounce the street name correctly.
Eventually 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 went out to look at Paris. I walked to the Seine. Tears began to run down my cheeks and I could almost see the Montgolfier brothers’ balloon drifting across the October morning sky.
The week I was attending the conference I wore holes in the soles of my shoes walking around the Left Bank neighborhood of my hosts.
I first heard, in the spring of 1964, Aldo Ciccolini's recording of Eric Satie's piano music. Satie's music was an altogether new experience. Its effect on me was transformative.
I was aware of Ravel, Debussy, Honegger, and other Impressionist composers. Debussy's Syrinx was, for a while, the theme music for the 1950's era TV program Omnibus. Their music was engaging, and distinct from the Classical music I'd listened to throughout my childhood.
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 austere West Coast jazz. 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 to which I go to 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 it formerly was.
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.