Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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Jewish Childhood Blog

"This blog carries the voice of my memoir, past and present, into the future. Feel free to fill out the form with a question or comment. I look forward to a dialog with you."

  —L'chaim, to life, Jeanne



A Jewish Childhood from Paris 2015
Tuesday, 09 June 2015 09:09

It is beautiful weather in the City of Light. The Luxembourg Gardens have not changed much. I meet my friend, Afi, and her dog Oscar, a Yorkshire terrier for a walk in the gardens. I notice that one of my queens of France surrounding the pond is robed this visit. Marie Stuart done by artist Jacque Feuchere (1807-1852). It seems that Mary Stuart retired for 40 days in a black chamber before she died. She was queen of France from 1559-1560. Not what we would call a long run. I will go to the show at the Luxembourg museum on the Tudors to bring back more information.

The master poetry class with Cecilia Woloch is turning out to be quite a treat and a challenge. All participants but one are from Los Angeles, United States except for me. It’s like a visit back home to my roots just talking about different landmarks, especially the Miracle Mile in which one of the poets works at the old May Company, where my mother and I used to shop. Such a long way from home and yet, in a way, home after all.

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A Jewish Childhood Blog - The Mystery of the Orient Express
Monday, 23 February 2015 19:33

When I was last in Paris, I saw an ad that told me, "The mystery of the Orient Express resurfaces at a Paris Museum”.

What has now reminded me of this wonderful tour of the Orient Express that I took this past summer is that so many people I know have recently mentioned train rides. It comes up in novels I am reading, and often, in a conversation with a friend.

As I walked up the steps to L'Institut de Monde Arabe, I heard the whistle blowing from the steam engine and saw people queuing up to pay and step into a world thought long forgotten. Yet the Orient Express is actually still in operation, from May through September to Venice and Vienna. I review the Dr. Who episode of Mummy on the Orient Express, all the while edging closer to the chance to actually step into a car.

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Jewish Childhood - Paris, Robert Mapplethorpe, Grand Palais
Thursday, 02 October 2014 22:39

What a remarkable exhibit. Mapplethorpe hitting his highs and yes, there were many penises but what most struck me was a comment of his about his photographs of flowers. There was something to the effect that he appeared to like the photograph almost more than the original.

I understand that objects and people are locked down in time, they, as people, don't wrinkle or age, or fade. They are always the same. And perhaps, there is comfort in that.

Think about your favorite family photo and how much it means to you, each person there on the paper, caught at a particular time, at a particular place where they will never change. They will always be there for us, just as they were.

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Jewish Childhood. The Clock - Pompidou Center, Paris
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 22:15

Each summer I come to Paris in June and go to the Pompidou to see their current art shows. One thing that caught my eye was THE CLOCK, a video installation by Christian Marclay. The Clock is a mechanism regulated with a clockmaker's precision, which tells the time in real time. This original, and I use this word in the cerebral sense of it, was created in 2010, unsuspecting of the purpose or anti purpose of the piece, I walk into a large theater, wait until my eyes become accustomed to the dark and find a seat. So much was so familiar. Not until I walked out after two hours when I asked: "How long is this movie? 24 hours, thousands of scenes taken from the entire history of the cinema, familiar faces from different eras, popping up here and there, and always with a watch, a clock, some kind of time peace and the joke on me. It's all about time, from dada to what? 30 years in the making a time machine covering nearly seventy years of the history of cinema, a race against time becomes, frenetic, spectacular and hypnotic.

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A Jewish Childhood Blog - Van Gogh/Artaud: Le Suicide de la Societe.
Monday, 28 July 2014 21:28

In the 80s I went to Amsterdam. There I visited the Van Gogh Museum. That was the last time I went to an exhibit of his work. When I saw that this was at the Musee D'Orsay, I thought, what an interesting concept of Van Gogh, "The Suicide by Society”.

The first thing I read, was a quote from Antonin Artaud, a French poet, actor, philosopher, genius, playwright and director. "There are no ghosts in the paintings of Van Gogh, no visions, no hallucinations. This is the torrid truth of the sun at two o'clock in the afternoon."

So what then created this concept? Was it Van Gogh or Artaud? In a letter Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo, Wednesday, 23 July, 1890, he says, "I risk my life for my own work and my reason has half floundered in it."

Artaud adds, "And so painting should be done at society's expense, and the artist shouldn't be over-burdened by it. But there you are, we should keep quiet once again, because nobody is forcing us to work; indifference towards painting being inevitably fairly general, fairly eternal."

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A Jewish Childhood: Back to Jeu de Paume Museum Part 2.
Monday, 07 July 2014 19:16

Oscar Munoz's work is called multi-faceted: photography, printmaking, drawing, installation, video and sculpture. What I found was most evocative was his use of what I call ‘now you see it, now you don't’. What he calls the capacity of images to retain memory. But what if what he does when he uses water on concrete to paint an image, which slowly evaporates, leaving only concrete.

I thought of my first true love. That love, delicately displayed for what seemed like a moment, then gone, ceasing to exist on this plane, caught in photos. I knew at once she was there, at one time real, to touch, feel, breathe. Sometimes an embrace shared, the breath moving quickly, then gone. Then back. Another attempt. The breath again quickened. Then gone. What can I call it besides:  First. Real. Love. Better than in the novels.

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A Jewish Childhood – Lunch with Linda and Fascinating Experience with Photos at the Jeu De Paume Museum
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 21:34

On Thursday, I had a wonderful lunch with my friend, Linda, at her health club. We were able to catch up for the past year. The amazing thing was when we first met in 2008, her son was to become a Bar Mitzvah the following June. I was invited and attended in June 2009, and June has been my time in Paris ever since. Her son is now 18 and will be going on to school in London. My mother used to say, tempus fugit.

After lunch, a stroll past Cartier, Lalique, where I had to go in just to see what beautiful glass would catch my eye this trip. There were many beautiful things but none to bring home.

Then on to Jeu De Paume, the museum that used to house “modern” painting which is now housed in Mussee D’Orsay, which I will go to later to see the Van Gogh/Artaud exhibit.

Jeu de Paume has become one of my favorites. I always discover photographers I didn’t know about prior to my visits. This time, the featured photographers are: Kati Horna and Oscar Munoz.

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A Jewish Childhood – From Paris, Musee d’art et d’histoire de Judiasme-on a day that is not Shabbat.
Sunday, 22 June 2014 16:35

For those of you on Facebook, you saw my photo standing in front of the memorial to Alfred Dreyfus.

This museum housed in the old Hotel de Saint-Aignon, evacuated in 1939 is the sole remaining traces of the people taken from there. Lives Crossing Paths.

I come here each year to bear witness. These 100 names posted on the exterior of the hotel and sighted from an interior window of the museum, many Jews, never to be seen again. The disappeared from the Paris ghetto, Le Marais. This could be a companion piece to my poem Marais, because when I walk in the front gate, the statue honoring Dreyfus honors all of us, and many that have fallen. Nonsense. It continues in France, deaths in the outskirts and small towns, of Jews hardly spoken of. There is a continuation of the pogroms from the late thirties and forties. One with a gun, senseless deaths in the name of nothing specific and so, my friends, it continues in the streets, Jerusalem, Paris, insert your own home town or where you now live, because in some way we are the bullies and the bullied. At one time or another. Before you speak, think out loud if it helps. Bear witness so that they don’t/didn’t die in vain.

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A Los Angeles Childhood – Paris, Mardi, Tuesday – A Rainy Day spent with Josephine
Friday, 20 June 2014 19:54

The portrait of the black swans: That’s what first caught my attention, Les Cygnes Noirs. I do not believe that before this time, I had thought of Josephine. My friend Sherry told me that as a child, she became most interested in Josephine. I needed to see what the fascination was.

Josephine was born 23 June, 1763 in Martinique.  Her family called her Rose, and nicknamed her Yvette.  Rose, I thought as I walked through this exhibition of the artifacts of her life. Josephine’s love of roses, showed a passion for botany. The famous painter Pierre-Joseph Redoute was called upon to illustrate the works published under her help. So botany, flowers, black swans, emus and kangaroos, along with the Australian black swans became part of her menagerie, as well as her rose collection that was the largest of its time.

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Jewish Childhood. Day 3 - A Day To Slow Down and Sleep In Part 2
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 21:30

Monday is another day to sleep until noon. I get up, usual ritual of food, French press from Pascal Guiraud, Tirrefacteur, which I purchase from Maison Marie, a wonderful neighborhood green grocer. Then review my manuscript of poems and pick one to read at Spoken Word Paris, this evening at the Black Cat, Le Chat Noir. After communicating with David via email, he finds the bus route for me with a map and sends it. I leave a couple of hours early just in case. I get near there and catch a snack, Asian, of course, and find the club. I purchase a decaf (a small decaf espresso), and when I have signed up and finished that and a small glass of water, I order a Perrier and drink that. Then it’s time to go downstairs and wait for the reading to start. I sign up for the first group. There are three and this reading goes on for three hours.

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