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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Paris - Day 34 - caption catch-up

Email showed up from monastery admin a couple of days ago warning us to have our windows shut during the upcoming storm. I never look at a weather report - I like being surprised. So instead, I was surprised by the email, and excited; not every storm merits a warning. This one was OK - mostly wind, a fair amount of rain, some hail. It seemed to have passed yesterday at half past noon when I got on my bike to head for C.R.O.U.S. for my second stipend disbursement, but it had not, and I wasn't to the river before I was couldn't ride anymore, mostly because of how hard I was laughing at how miserable I was. So I bailed on C.R.O.U.S., locked up my bike in the Beaubourg, and headed to l'Imprevu, which was closed as usual, and then to the Café Beaubourg, where I got the daytime version of the Pompidou Center seen through electric-lit plastic weather sheeting -



Sunday was a work day but I got out of the monastery in the afternoon for a bike ride and a couple of hours of writing in a cafe out in the 20th, five or six blocks northeast of Père Lachaise. Cute, neighborhoody, with one or two pretty new buildings:



I got there via the long hill up Menilmontant -



and found a few other murals along the way -





When I got home I heard a big ruckus outside and saw hundreds, maybe a thousand people rollerskating down Rue du Faubourg-St. Martin, a good five-minute-long procession, followed by a police escort -



Saturday, my day off, I went to the movies, hoping to catch up with Marc/Matt but our text exchange flickered out. I saw the film I had become very excited about after running into my colleague here, a Chinese woman, also a filmmaker-slash-novelist, who invited me to join her to see the new David Lynch movie, Benjamin Button. And I believed her! "What," James said, "have you been living in a monastery?" I almost want to recommend going into the film under the same misapprehension, although ultimately the chasm between David Lynch and David Fincher does not flatter the film. Still, I liked it and cried twice, first when the dog was led away from his master's funeral, and then at the end, like a baby.

On my walk home I took pictures, this one with virtually no light:



- and this one of the ubiquitous Smart Car, times two:



Last week San Francisco expat Joel had me to dinner and the two of us spent hours drinking wine and yammering on about life here -



This is Joel's view of the Marais, right smack in the middle of the Jewish section:



And these, my favorite mannequins in Paris, some of them starting to put on a few threads as sale season winds down and spring approaches:






Today the idea was to make another attempt on C.R.O.U.S., but in the second week of the month it is closed the third day of the week (perhaps you've heard about the French bureaucracy, about which I have less right than anyone on earth to complain, because it is both feeding and housing me). I worked in the studio all day, which reminds me that my week away from the blog saw an important milestone - I finished Part 2 (of 4) of the third draft! This is both more and less than it sounds - less because I came here with most of the Part 2 third draft already written, more because it includes some now promising scenes that had completely stymied me in prior drafts, and because the first month of work included all that outlining and organization and synthesis. So writing through to the end of Part 2 was little more than a week's work. Now I'm on to Part 3, and it's coming out fairly fluently but perhaps too much so; 7200 words in, I'm just clearing my throat. It beats writer's block.

After an instructive but otherwise unsuccessful shoot for La Création du Monde, I left the studio for a ride down to the little cafe in the Tuileries, but their espresso machine was broken so I went up to the Café Marly in the Louvre. It's a little bit hard for me to believe they let me sit in that room for 90 minutes for the price of an espresso.

I write for love, but I also sing for my supper.

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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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