Friday, June 25, 2010

Three of my favorite Paris haunts...

There is nothing like pre-move nostalgia on a sunny summer's day to make you admire the errands you run in a city you will soon be living without. Paris has been my home for over a dozen years now. I know its streets like every meandering poet type. I have walked and run and slipped on these roads in every season, every mood: from the blues on days when I have been jobless and overworked, to the headachy blindness not seeing a thing on days when I was too caught up to notice the city, to days when I seemed to notice every stone's nook and cranny, as in love with the turns and twists and changes of Paris as with my own maturing. But today was that lovely mix of running the everyday errands, getting things done, and reveling in the hereness of here. For my errands involved stopping by some of my favorite haunts, haunts--Places which I thought everyone should really know about! (And I don't just mean walking over the river looking at le Pont Neuf--as in my picture, top right--though that is great, too!)

Nothing is like waking up early and pouring the last coffee into the filter, not really having enough. It can make you grouchy. Or me grouchy. But instead I got all happy: I'd decided to stop in at Cafés Amazone. Situated in the marais not far from the Pompidou Center and across from Space Hair's dance grooves pounding on the pavement, Cafés Amazone is a sleepy caffinator's dream. Almost unremarkable, it is situated at 11 rue Rambuteau, 75004 Paris, M° Rambuteau, which is also a comfortable stroll length from Les Halles (exit towards Pompidou) or Hotel de Ville (photo at left from evous, click store name above for link). One can easily fly past and not notice this hole-in-the-wall. Cafés Amazone is half filled up by a giant coffee roaster, the other half with an L-shaped counter behind which rows of coffees and teas, plus some honeys and other local products rest on shelves. The shop boasts one table for anyone who wants to have a euro coffee in house but not standing up. For the great price of between 3e50 and 5e90 per 250g (depending on rarity and styles of café) the range of grain coffee which can be ground to perfection by the owner for filter, espresso machine, Italian cafetière, etc is delightful. An added bonus is that there is always a coffee of the month--this month is is called "China" and is a coffee with a delectable chocolaty finish. My favorite? The "gourmet blend". I also am a fan of the Ethyopian Moka that the charming, aimable owner always carries. But if you like a darker, more acidic finish to your morning jolt, try the Guatamalan or the "dark roast". This is a place to not miss if you are looking for excellent coffee for the house, or as a gift. I can't stand to get my coffee anywhere else since discovering it!!! Open Tues-Saturday, til 7pm. Often closed all of August for the holidays, so don't wait!

A second, perhaps more cliché fave of mine is the old Bon Marché. ( I adore admiring all the overpriced, colorful goods in there (the name is an oxymoron for the store). The exotic foods, the pastas that look like they should be framed instead of being consumed, and at Christmas the extravagant window and light displays, with mechanical objects delighting passing children (or adults like me!). As I mill about on the upper floors, I think of Anaïs Nin journalling in there--writing stories on couches between lavish clothing options. She really did this, you know. But there are some deals no one ever tells you about to be found at le Bon Marché (M° Sèvres-Babylone). Lunch, for one. There, among the pricy deli options, is a glass counter area shared with numerous deli options. One which includes the Chinese traiteur stuff also currently has next to the Chinese offerengs a place for sandwiches made to order (though it does move sometimes, so watch for it) There is no billboard, and it is hard to spot, probably because it is such a deal. Sandwiches on command! And on these huge rectangular slabs of pain poilane-ish bread. They have every veggie it seems--carrot, tomato, lettuce, olives, broccoli, eggplant, pepper, mushrooms, chives, basil, etc. They allow you to chose a base--chicken, ham, salmon or if you want to just stick with none. Then you can have cheese or no cheese and then all the veggies you want plus either tzatziki sauce or eggplant spread or 2 other spreads I have yet to try. The sandwich is ENORMOUS, so bring a friend. It goes for a little less than 5 euros, but as I said, it is really two sandwiches, and they cut it in two.

If you are not wanting a sandwish or are doing that Atkins no bread thing, then go for the Bon Marché Chinese traitor skewers: Chicken rolled in lemongrass. One is enough--trust me! And it goes fro 3euros20. They will heat it (after you pay for it), and there is a park nearby where you can eat in the sun on days like today. So... there is a little bon marché to be found at le Bon Marché! And if you feel like splurging, the delights certainly await!

After you have run round the posher and populated areas of Paris, you might be wanting a little less of all that. Next to Nation metro stop on the corner of rue des immeubles industrielles and 307 rue du faubourg st antoine, 75011 (M° Nation or bus 86) is a café we like to call the XO--but which is literally the Extra Old. A popular apéro joint, you can enjoy conversation on the terrasse with a démi beer on tap for 2euros90. Want to stay for dinner? I totally recommend it! Your general, but good, brasserie faire is to be found, but in a cooler, hipper, neighborhoodly ambiance of this bar rather than the overneon of the bigger brasseries found along the place de la bastille--The XO is nicely lit, with a fabulous big zinc counter. It's also a place where people of all ages gather. In winter, it is an excellent place for hot chocolate or café crème tucked in with a good book along the heater, but right now, with our summery end-of-June weather, it is better to be out on the street watching passersby as you get some sun (and a nice breeze, too, if you are lucky!)

OK, so... those are a few of my faves. Hope you enjoy them for me while I am away in Alsace!!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Something needs to be done NOW about the BP oil spill

Sure, we are all blogging about it, posting videos, looking at the shock images of birds covered with oil (All the photos here are courtesy of AP, & can be seen in the Huffington Post). But what is this really all about? According to the very very powerful testimony of a single resident, personally involved because the oil spillage is making her children ill, has killed the wildlife in her area of LA and she has personally watched what it means to allow BP to be in control of safety and thus in control of NOT giving people access to respirators, this means that IF NOTHING IS DONE THIS SPILL WILL DESTROY A THIRD OF THE WORLD'S WATER.

YESTERDAY AP printed a new image of the oil still gushing gushing gushing like an enormous storm cloud up out of the pipe into the sea. The oil has coated much of Alabama and Louisiana's coastline and is also washing up in Florida and elsewhere now. SEE HUFFINGTON POST ARTICLE WITH TONS OF PICS HERE.

Can we as a group of human beings not find a way to help that red tape get cut, and for real action to happen? I don't know. But certainly I would like to believe. I encourage you to watch this whole video! It is Kindra Arnesen Venice LA Local @ the Gulf Emergency Summit -click her name for the link as well.

It is not that visually dramatic. There is nothing to "SEE" on it, but one person's testimony is often all we need to hear. Can we hear it? Can we make it heard? Actions you can take:
Post this video, too, on your blogs,
send it and other news to your friends,
mention this and what is happening on your facebook
join ASK BP TO SHUT IT OFF where you can keep up on more news
mail it and everything else you can find to
60 minutes,
Obama and Co,
email or more importantly call your local newspapers and government leaders regardless of what state or even country you live in?
If you are free, volunteer, help fund one of the wildlife groups cleanup, look into more.

Please, do act as much as you can. It is better than letting this continue to happen.
After all, don't you want to go to the beach this summer and have a little swim in... this:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

3 readings: Marché de la Poésie 2010, Wallonie-Bruxelles bookstore & for M Batalla's book!

Yes, I am going to be present doing a little reading in French and in English this weekend, then the 30th and the 1st of July. I hope if you are free you will come along!

TOMORROW: the 20th of June from 15-17h :

I will be reading and introducing at this TRILINGUAL Reading event. It will be in English, Catalan & French, and is organized by the magazine La Traductière and in conjunction with the Marché de la Poésie & the Festival Franco-Anglais de la poésie (click for their full programme of events!). Readers include a poet I admire and who has a lovely chapbook out and a first book forthcoming:

Francesc Parcerisas
(a Catalan poet whose work it will be exciting to discover--the work will be read in French & Catalan. ),
Jennifer K Dick
(you know me, I am "américaine" as they say here, and I will read in English & French),
Denise Desautels
(Québec poet, winner of General Gov award in 1990, who will read in French with English translations:,
Bruno Doucey
(France, director of Seghuers, reading in his native tongue. See more on him/listen to an interview:,
Claude Held
(France, reading in French as well:,
Pierre Ouellet
Patrick Williamson
(British poet based in Paris who will read from works in English & have translations presented. He has numerous books, the most recent of which appeared in a bilingual edition.
The event is on the theme of “Du poétique à la poésie”
AT : Café de la Mairie,
8, place Saint-Sulpice,
Paris 6e,
M° Saint-Sulpice.

Then, after we have all recovered from the bulimic poetic experience of the marché de la poésie with a week off, there will be an event I am participating in on the 30th of June to celebrate a very beautiful publication reflecting on women's poetry from the 19th century to today: VOI(ES)X DE L'AUTRE
The evening will include a talk and discussion with the editors followed by a reading: 30 juin : 17h-19h : Camille Aubade et Patricia Godi présenteront « Voi(es)x de l'autre » sur les poésies écrites par des femmes--et les poètes Marielle Anselmo, Jennifer K Dick, Marie Etienne et Marylin Hacker (click on the names of the poets to go to some bio pages for them) liront leurs textes en conjonction avec cette présentation-discussion autour du livre. Venez écouter ces poètes lire, à cette occasion, des extraits de leurs textes contenus dans l'anthologie ainsi que des extraits d'autres livres! AT Librairie Wallonie-Bruxelles: 46 rue Quincampoix, 75003 Paris, M° Rambuteau or RER Les Halles (sortie: Pompidou)

Finally, I will be reading the English translations completed by Christophe Marchand-Kiss of the poems by Michaël Batalla to celebrate the bilingual artbook publication "Autour/Around" Details of the exact venue will be added here, but you can peruse pictures from the book on Fougeirl's site at Also, for the book, to order a copy, see/voir for more on the book itself! A wonderful object and poetry collection, which I am excited to support with my anglo voice reading some splendid translation works by Christophe. With photos/ Photographies de Benoît Fougeirol--see his site at "La grande périphérie parisienne laisse des espaces ouverts et indéfinis, des ruines de paysage.Benoît Fougeirol et Michaël Batalla y ont erré, les yeux grands ouverts." (éditions VMCF, 38,00 €)

Monday, June 07, 2010

Breaking Bad: a break for pop culture!

Last night's episode of Breaking Bad (Season 3, episode 12) was the one I feel I have been waiting for for a little while now: an episode which makes me wish I could see what is going to happen next week right now--the waiting is over and the consequences are at hand!

For this season has been simmering for a few episodes. With its usual brilliant dialogue and bizarre psychological explorations, it has kept us hooked even though we have been in a kind of holding pattern : Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul) has been on observation. Hank (actor Dean Norris) has been in the hospital. There have been various spins around the house so that we think perhaps Walt (played by Bryon Cranston) will be returning home at some point, or to the hospital with more cancer. So the plot's been cooking at a nice, mesmerizing boil, threatening to slip over the rim then pulling back, again and again. But under the surface, the pieces have been set in place for us viewers to see this explosive confrontation coming. However, unlike what we may have suspected a few episodes back, it is not Walt's instability that throws everything off-kilter, but Jesse's, as he comes to a few realizations and seeks justice.

So this was it--the moment of no turning back, of Jesse finally setting off on his course of no return, of not getting away, of no more u-turns, of taking his no-holds-barred revenge regardless of the cost. Especially following the "pep talk" of our favorite hit /cover up/solution-for-any-bad-situation man, Mike (played by Jonathan Banks), it seemed inevitable, in the nature of Jesse, to act out. So we were getting the brilliant signals oozing out of every frame that this was it, that Jesse was going to either get himself killed or kicked off the ranch. Walt sees it coming, does everything in his power to curb the active anger--from flat out telling Jesse murder is a bad idea (duh), to trying to get Jesse arrested and held in jail, to forcing Jesse into negotiations with his opponents.

And it seems like it might hold, for just a second, and then it is over.

The moment where Jesse slips up, goes back to zero on the 12-step count, was bound to lose it all, is here. But we can already see something is racing towards him, has dashed out of the tranquil, safe suburban family dinner option and is whizzing through space like the heroic antihero that he is--all rationality in a way, all past rationality, to save the day.

Walt remains the superman figure that Pinkman depends on without realizing it, and it is Walt we are worried about and concerned for when he leaves the viewer panting, ready to high tail it for the hills at this episode's ending exclamation: "Run!". But like any comic book hero left under a massive slab of Kryptonite, we now ask the requisite questions (as comically sure of the response yet thrilled to play out our curious role): Will our hero escape? Will this be his untimely devise--an unselfish act of self-sacrifice? Or will our villains get what they desire?

The wonder of Breaking Bad is that with its fabulous moments of subtle humor (ie: Skyler (actice Ann Gunn) reading the Wikepedia entry on Money Laundering, or Marie's proud, sly smile as she wheels Hank towards the hospital exit, knowing on what grounds she has succeeded in forcing him to leave (played by actice Betsy Brandt), it manages to grip us and jerk us around and surprise us even in actions that are somewhat predictable. We knew Walt would come, but did not guess at the graphic moment of his action.

Gritty, funny, dramatic, horrifying--this mixture is the very thing that keeps me coming back for more of Breaking Bad. An A+ episode by writers who always have an unexpected ace up their sleeve. (Photos courtesy of AMC, and MSN)