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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Paris Day 7 - "free"

Today was my first day off. I’ve decided to emulate various Jewish family members by observing a sabbath of sorts during this period - I will not work more than six consecutive days on the novel. I’ve pulled some nasty work binges at previous retreats, going weeks without any kind of day off, and the idea of doing that for three months in Paris seemed equally criminal, idiotic and contrary to the spirit of the residency. It’s not a residency in Frankfurt.

My day off began with 4 a.m. reveille (I’m not jetlagged, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not) and three hours of work on the Day 6 blog entry, most of it spent trying to get a single photograph to adequately represent that rainbow. (If someone would enlighten me on how to create a layer mask in Photoshop CS-2, I would be grateful.) I closed the distance between breakfast and lunch with 20 pages of Anna Karenina followed by four hours of sleep - no comment on Tolstoy though I am losing patience with Levin's economic theories. After lunch, a half hour on La Creation du Monde. I’m giving myself a day off from the novel, but the other projects, the blog and CDM, I can’t part with even for a day. My name is Paul and I’m a workaholic.

I finally got out of the house around 2 and walked north. My destination was Rue Ruisseau up in/above Montmartre, where there is a used-bike shop that was advertising 50-euro bikes on Craig’s List. I loved every minute of my 3-hour walk, past Stalingrad and along the aqueduct with weirdly enchanted skyscrapers in the norther distance (above), past a candy-colored 60s modern box -

- through the Indian/Sri Lankan section east of Gare du Nord, up through Pigalle and the southern slope of Montmartre, Rue Lepic and all the narrow streets and stairways. But until I have a bike I feel grounded. Now I am the happy owner of the cheapest bike in that shop – 80 euros, thank you very much, plus a 20-euro lock that looks like it was made with prison labor in a former Soviet satellite state and furthermore like something you could break by just flashing a Bic pen at it.

I can’t tell if the name pictured below is the make or the model and have nothing further to say about it.

I should add something about the new Velib "free" bike service that Paris introduced, if for no other reason than to save readers the trouble of telling me I wasted 100 euros. These bikes are free for 30 minutes. Keep them longer and you get charged. One of my colleagues here tried the service on a previous visit and racked up 150 euros in fines.

Dinner at a restaurant in front of the Mairie du 18eme (“Brasserie le Nord Sud”) where I cleaned a confit duck leg to the bone and washed it down with a blue Chimay. I bought groceries and Creation du Monde props and biked home.

I walked around Montmartre with the chattering of Messiaen’s demented angels resounding in my head, tears welling in my eyes.

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des Récollets.

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