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 - Imagine a Day in Paris
Tuesday, 16 July 2013 21:20

It's another gray day in Paris. Not quite cold enough for my Polartec jacket but still a Tencel shirt and vest and scarf will hold me in good stead.

I notice this year I tend to just walk over to the Luxembourg Gardens, station myself on a bench along the tree lined walkway and stare. Not a total non-focused.

It's at this time that dogs drift in and out of my view. Two that I see daily are Pekinese and they are held or walking by an elderly woman, one who looks older than I. We have gotten to the point of saying bonjour to each other but I have not been able to start up a conversation with her. It's surprising how many of these dogs I see this year. 9-10 pounds, they are about the same size as my terrier, Alice B. a true lap dog.

I especially enjoy this non-focus stare I have re-found this summer. I used to use it when doing sitting meditation and perhaps that is what's going on. The haiku:

                                             Stare out.

                                             Nothing more to be said.


I have re-visited the Statue of Liberty, George Sand, the Medici Fountains and another prayer of gratitude out to the powers that be for such a wonderful park, the second largest park next to the Tuileries Gardens.

Jewish Childhood - Genevieve Asse - Pompidou and by the way.....
Saturday, 13 July 2013 16:50

I skipped something important I wanted to tell you. Monday night I went with a new friend to SPOKEN WORD: PARIS and read at the open mike. The call was for writing about dreams. My poem called: LIST POEM: I DREAMT OF HER. Four winners will be selected and their writing entry will appear in BASTILLE MAGAZINE, a literary magazine, in Paris. I will keep you posted on that.

I must have Amerino Gelato before going in to the Pompidou Center to view the paintings of Genevieve Asse. Since I had not heard of the painter before reading the previews for the exhibit, I Googled her. What I found was the following: "Peintues. One of the major artists of the French post war scene, 'painter of light and space;, now known as bleu Asse, the emblematic colour of this artist from Brittany. The exhibition is organized around a donation made by the artist to the Pompidou Centre in 2012, composed of eleven paintings executed between 1948 and 1999." 

So armed with this information I purchase my ticket and travel up the escalators where one can view Paris from the heights, and up to the 4th etage where I find what is to become a personal reframing of modernism and an introduction to a new friend.

When the critics speak of Asse as the "painter of light and space," I now have a better understanding for this type of art I have only visited but never lived there before. What is it that is so evocative of her: Essence. I find myself reminded of the work by Agnes Martin.

Asse studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs in Paris during Nazi occupied France. She was clearly influenced by Chardin, Cezanne and Braque.

She took a break in her painting to serve as an ambulance driver in the first armored division during the Liberation.

In her art, it appears that she is on a search for simplicity. Atmospheric vibrations of light, which I have experienced in Taos New Mexico as the sky changes in gradations of color, which can actually be seen. Large white canvases were inspired by light of the midi, the afternoon. Click here: Genevieve Asse -

A Jewish Childhood - The Visit That Never Was
Thursday, 11 July 2013 20:04

So my friend Sherry and I are on the #38 bus on our way out to Pere Lachaise to pay our respects to Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas, Edith Piaf, et al and boom, just like in the movies, 8 or more of us on the bus are robbed. Not the drag down, harm you robbed, but like the leger de main pickpocket, and off the bus, back to the apartment to report the stolen credit cards and just mourn for the loss of the money. Someone once told me that anything you can throw money at and it goes away...well not like being hurt, right? Now it was just my feelings.

After the phone calls were made, Sherry decides to get something to eat, her treat since she was smart and wore a money belt. We go to Hanoi Restaurant. It is my latest Asian food find. We have a delicious meal and then Sherry takes me on a walk down memory lane, the places she remembers and the places she and her beloved, Jay, stayed in past trips to Paris.

I will try to catch you up quickly so that we can get on to more art and music. Saturday night at Shakespeare and Company for the critique group, and home.

Sunday, we hear Chopin in the rain, which is getting to be the rule and not the exception. But before the deluge, I hear Anna Serafinska, vocal jazz. What started out a front row seat is now the third row. Amazing that more chairs are found and people in Paris have the audacity to keep going forward, stopping short of the lap of the singer or player. But the music is so worth it. She scats like velvet, Chopin I have never heard before. She is accompanied by Rafat Stepien, piano, and Cezary Konrad, percussion. They are part of a project, Rock Loves Chopin, the singer is part of a group called Groove Machine.

A Jewish Childhood - Fete de la Musique, Happy Summer Solstice
Sunday, 07 July 2013 10:39

I wake up.

One stanza, note upon note.

Fete de la Musique.

Here it is again, one of my favorite times in Paris, music alive in the streets, public places day and night, this on one day of the year. What a joyous gift.


Luxembourg Gardens, another year.

The sky is again threatening rain.

I see a whole section of children off to my left in those wonderful dulled green, almost a sage green, the chairs marked SENAT. They sit ready to be mesmerized by the song. I see their feet start to move. Some of them are not tall enough for their feet to touch the ground, the pebbles. Next year they will. Next year I will again take my seat here.

I find my way here every summer solstice. The sun returned for the longest time, a front row seat. No. I will miss nothing. My time my choice.

While rehearsing, I spoke with Guelle Marie, one of the performers. I thank her for her songs. She hands me a flyer that tells about her CD. "Too bad you don't understand more French. There's jokes in my performance." I think to myself, oh well tant pis.

Flutes, a French horn, a sax walks across the stage. The concert will begin

The small children pick up a hand full of stones. They fall through fingers, thumb to pointer poised for just a second and then a toss up onto the stage. Here in Paris they call it the kiosk. Back home we call it the bandstand.

A Jewish Childhood –Day 7 and 8- A Walk in the Park and Musee D’Orsay
Tuesday, 02 July 2013 20:54

For years my friend Sherry in Santa Fe and I have been talking about the possibility of being in Paris at the same time. Last year my friend Jenny and her boyfriend joined me for dinner in Paris. Jenny was in Britain teaching weaving, her area of expertise, double weaving.

So Sherry and I found we were meeting at my favorite, Luxembourg Gardens. We walked there from my apartment via the sushi restaurant, Yaki on rue Gay Lussac.

After a wonderful meal, we meandered around the park, found two art exhibits at the Orangerie not far from the Musee Luxembourg where I saw the Chagall exhibition last week. We stopped from time to time on our walk to just sit and stare at the beautiful chestnut trees, and various sculptures for which the Garden is so noted. We took turns talking between English and French, maybe frenglish. We saw the rose garden and the children playing in sand boxes before heading over to Amerino so I could share my wonderful find, gelato with intense flavors. Of course, it’s an Italian company. Beside it, our local gelato store in Santa Fe pales.

Sherry performed a miracle, a trip to the Musee D’Orsay without waiting in line. Through a co-worker of her daughters, we were given passes to get in to what turned out to be a spectacular show entitled A PASSION FOR FRANCE: THE MARLENE AND SPENCER HAYS COLLECTION. Artists include Bonnard, Vuillard, Redon, Modigliani, and Matisse.

Going through this collection, Sherry and I kept remarking that this was hanging in the Hays’ homes. They built their own “hotel particular” in Nashville, Tennessee, in homage to Hotel de Noirmoutier in the rue de Grenelle, here in Paris. They also own an apartment in New York. So our question was, what do they hang on the walls while this majestic collection hangs here at Musee D’Orsay?

A Jewish Childhood – The Mexican Suitcase-Rediscovered Spanish Civil War Negatives-Musee d’art d’histoire de Judiasme
Sunday, 30 June 2013 19:05

I find myself again at the entry to the Jewish Museum. My bag is scanned and I am okay to go in. I begin my journey here. My history lesson: Robert Capa’s Spanish Civil War negatives, lost since 1939 exhibited in Paris for the first time. This work also covers the work of Chim (David Seymour) and Gerda Taro. This work is so important because it “demonstrates how the work of three key photojournalists laid the foundation for modern war photography.” Click here: Rediscovered Spanish Civil War negatives - a set on Flickr

Some of these photographs, those by Gerda Pohonylle, who changed her name to Taro, David Seymour, known as Chim, and Robert Capa originally named Endre Erno Friedmann. All three can be assumed to be Jewish which during these years was a dangerous thing.

Gerda Taro was the first female photographer to be killed while reporting on the War.

There is a sense of urgency and at the same time a sense that life just continues without a car. Women and men get up and go into their day while around them destruction takes down walls, buildings and monuments.

A Jewish Childhood - The Rest of the Day and the Next
Saturday, 29 June 2013 10:19

Oh Chopin, I waited all year for these concerts, to return to Paris and Luxembourg Gardens and voila, here it is: the fourth year of Chopin Festivals in the Gardens. Sunday, June 16, 2013, Lustostawski Piano Duo: Emilia Sitarz, piano, Bartiomiej Wasik, piano.

Since traffic was great and it took so much time to catch the 72 Bus, the bus was jammed and I arrived just after the concert started, all the chairs around the kiosk taken. I walked over to the café and found a table as soon as two others left.

Within a few minutes, a couple wandered by. I asked them to join me. Of course after conversation mostly in English with a smattering of French, I found that one of them, the woman sitting next to me gave me her name. We exchanged cards. She is a psychoanalyst(e) the French way, and I am, well you know what I do (auteur, ecrivane).

Every once in a while refrains of Chopin’s music, drifted through our conversations, and the others around us. I am always amazed at the friendliness of people in Paris. I have found this since I first came here in 1982. I know that was when the Parisians allegedly thought of us as “Ugly Americans.” Well, I always thought, what you see is what you get. That is just my opinion.

A Jewish Childhood – Jour 6 Jeu de Paume-Lorna Simpson and Ahlam Shibli. Part 2
Friday, 28 June 2013 21:03

The papers talked about Shibli’s work as controversial. The title of this show: Phantom Home. The brochure tells us, “The photographic work of Ahlam Shibli (Palestine, 1970) addresses the contradictory implications of the notion of home. The work deals with the loss of home and the fight against that loss, …restrictions and limitations that the idea of home imposes on the individuals.”

The work covered in this exhibit includes, as he calls it “Palestinian society preserves the presence of the ‘martyrs’.”

He deals with French resistance against the Nazis together with French fighters in colonial wars of people who demanded their own independence within. Here is LGBT from eastern societies. People left their old societies because they were not allowed to practice their lives with the freedom to be who they are and now they are denied sexual preferences or to “inhabit the gendered body in which they feel at home. In a foreign place, and sometimes only on weekends in a club, they seek conditions that allow them to be who they want to be”.

A Jewish Childhood – Jour 6 Jeu de Paume-Lorna Simpson and Ahlam Shibli. Part 1
Thursday, 27 June 2013 08:41

Ah we begin the sixth day, a Sunday, a special day, one that can hold such promise if only one remembered when to bring an umbrella in the pocket. It is Paris and it is June. I don’t remember so much rain last year at this time but then the past becomes but a dream and all weather is comfortable.

So on to the 72 Bus to Jeu de Paume, opposite side from Orangerie with all of the water lilies we all know, painted by Monet. And in between, there are the Tuileries. And way on the other side of the Tuileries is the Louvre.

Jeu de Paume has turned out to be on my list of favorite museums in Paris. Before coming to this museum I had not heard of either photographer. I see a large photograph entitled, “SHE SAW HIM DISAPPEAR BY THE RIVER. THEY ASKED HER TO TELL WHAT HAPPENED, ONLY TO DISCOUNT HER MEMORY.”

Jewish Childhood-Shakespeare and Company-Writing Group Critique Un Jour
Tuesday, 25 June 2013 19:28

The days have been so packed I start to forget what I did each day so I will try to pin down days. One should write down on one’s calendar what one did on a particular day. But after all it is Paris and se marche, it goes along like a montage by this time.

I vowed that next Saturday I will bring work to critique and will bring copies. My first time, mon primier fois….. well, met some good people and found a new way to get home from there by bus, so all was not lost. What else did I do this day? Hang out in Luxembourg Gardens. My other task was to search for and obtain Herbes de Provence, a well loved and wanted commodity in Santa Fe and more about that later.

So as you can see, this will be a brief Blog. At this point, I will add my haiku for the day:

                                                Rain is pouring down.

                                                Street noise through the window.

                                                Who cares? It’s Paris.

So a demain, until tomorrow…and thanks for reading my Jewish Childhood Blog.

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