Posts Tagged ‘Paris’
Much more conversational coaching at “Women Trying To Politely End Conversations With Men In Western Art History.”
* Hedy Lamarr
As we demur, we might trip the birthday fantastic for Freda Josephine McDonald– better known by her stage name, Josephine Baker– the dancer, singer, actress, and civil rights activist born on this date in 1906 in St. Louis, Mo. By the mid-1920s, the “Black Venus” had become the toast of Paris and a celebrity throughout Europe; in 1934, she became the first black woman to star in a major motion picture (Zouzou) and to become a genuinely world-famous entertainer.
Baker was a vocal opponent of segregation in the U.S.; she worked closely with NAACP and refused to perform for segregated audiences.
Known for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, Baker received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Her funeral service in Paris in 1975 drew 20,000 people, and she was the first American woman to receive a twenty-one-gun salute from the French government.
[Update from friend Ted Coltman: “Not to quibble, but I thought France, like most nations, reserves a 21-gun salute (i.e., with artillery) for heads of state, including the president of the French Republic. Are you sure it wasn’t a “3-volley salute” by a 7-member rifle party, which would still constitute ‘full military honors’?” Ted may well be right about this– as about so much else. FWIW, my source was this piece from the National Women’s History Museum. Either way– quite a woman.]
“Her hat is a creation that will never go out of style; it will just look ridiculous year after year”*…
An opportunity to get in at the very beginning of a fashion trend…
“Le Grand” is a new hat concept: a hybrid between the baseball cap and the top hat! Help us bring a new fashion icon into reality!
* Fred Allen
As we cover our crowns, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that French chemist, engineer, and inventor Georges Claude switched on the first public display of neon lights– two large (39 foot long), bright red neon tubes– at the Paris Motor Show. Over the next decade, Claude lit much of Paris. Neon came to America in 1923 when Earl Anthony purchased signage from Claude, then transported it to Los Angeles, where Anthony installed it at his Packard dealership… and (literally) stopped traffic.
Being stuck in a grimy, crowded metal box deep underground doesn’t bring out the best in the average subway commuter. And Parisians aren’t exactly known for their willingness to keep their complaints to themselves.
Last year, the regional transit authority Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens launched an ad campaign to discourage rude behavior on the Paris subway. They used images of hens, warthogs, and sloths to scold riders for holding loud phone conversations, eating gross foods, and taking up too much space.
When public shaming failed, RATP turned to an equally Parisian solution: charming PSAs that look straight out of the Belle Époque. The newly released ebook Manuel de Savoir-Vivre a l’usage du Voyageur Moderne names 12 essential, if slightly tongue-in-cheek, rules for getting by on the subway. Local graphic designer Marion Thomas-Mauro created some very French illustrations to accompany the rules, offering a slightly wacky take on the recommendations…
Read the full story, see more of the instructive illustrations, and find a link to the full guide at “Keep Your B.O. to Yourself, and Other Friendly Tips for Paris Metro Riders.”
As we just say “non,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1944, that Glenn Miller and the plane on which he was flying disappeared over the English Channel. The musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader– the biggest star and best-selling recording artist of Swing Era– had put aside his career when the U.S.. entered World War II to enlist and lead The Army Air Force Band. He was on his way to Paris to perform for troops there; the wreckage of the plane was never found, and he remains listed as “missing in action.”
Emily is a self-proclaimed Luddite:
I use the term because that’s what most people, my own parents included, call me. Fun Fact: the term “Luddite”, although it has now come to mean one who fears and resents progress, originally referred to a movement that developed during the first Industrial Revolution in the factory towns of Northern England where workers feared that new technology would threaten their livelihoods. They weren’t anti-progress; they were just pro-humans.
She has turned her passion for books and bookshops— “the joy of book-hunting, of going in with no idea what you want and finding that hidden gem or that old favourite recalled from a foggy memory”– into a calling: The Matilda Project. Emily wanders London, finding and reporting on the independent book stores that graces its streets. From The Southbank Book Market to Stoke Newington Bookshop, she delivers “by a book lover, for book lovers” reviews and rankings.
It’s altogether enchanting– and inspiring. For while Emily’s is a disciplined London-specific focus, her example could– and surely should– be replicated worldwide.
As we delight in the feel of yellowed pages between our fingers, we might send modern(ist) birthday greetings to Nancy Woodbridge Beach (or, as she was better known later in life, Sylvia Beach); she was born on this date in 1887. An American expat in Paris to do bibliographic research, Beach met and fell in love with Adrienne Monnier, one of the first women in France to own her own bookstore. Inspired by her partner, Beach open a small English-language bookshop at 8 rue Dupuytren (in the 6th); she called it Shakespeare and Company.
The shop quickly became a gathering place for both French and American writers, and succeeded sufficiently that Beach had to move to larger premises across the street. She made occasional forays into publishing (e.g., when James Joyce couldn’t find an English-language publisher for Ulysses, Shakespeare and Company put it out). Beach’ memoir, Shakespeare and Company, recounts her experiences with Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Thornton Wilder, André Gide, George Antheil, Robert McAlmon, Gertrude Stein, Stephen Benet, Aleister Crowley, Harry Crosby, Caresse Crosby, Berenice Abbott, Man Ray, and many, many other icons of Left Bank intellectual and artistic life in the years between the two world wars.
Shakespeare and Company was closed during the German Occupation of Paris; Beach was interned for 6 months, but hid her books in a vacant apartment above the store. When the war ended, Hemingway symbolically “liberated” the store; but it never re-opened. The Shakespeare and Company that operates today (as featured, e.g., in Richard Linklater’s and Woody Allen’s films) is a different operation, in a different location, renamed in 1964 “in honor” of Beach and her creation.
Happy Einstein’s Birthday!
(Be sure to celebrate with a slice of pie: it’s 3.14– Pi Day)
Best reason to go adventuring in Wonderland:
Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.
– the last line of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
19 other conclusive gems at Flavorwire’s “Famous Last Words: Our 20 Favorite Final Lines in Literature.”
And for a complementary collection of such wonders as…
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
—the opening line of Gabriel García Márquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)
…visit the American Book Review’s “100 Best First Lines from Novels.”
As we reach for our library cards, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that Alice B. Toklas moved in permanently with Gertrude Stein. The two women turned their Paris home (22 rue de Fleurus) into an artistic and literary salon, where they hosted Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and many others– several of whom appear, with Ms. Stein herself, in the lists above.
Cecil Beaton’s photo of Stein and Toklas at home (source)
Star Wars with a French Existentialist twist. Almost all the subtitles (except for little things like “Despair!” and “I die!” and a few others) are actually quotes from Jean-Paul Sartre. And obviously this will make no sense if you understand French. If you do know it, hit yourself in the head repeatedly before watching this. And then hit yourself repeatedly when you’re done watching.
As we steep in ennui, we might recall that it was on this date in 1889 that the Eiffel Tower opened to the public. The spire, now iconic of Paris, was designed by Gustave Eiffel (who also created the armature for France’s largest gift to the U.S., the Statue of Liberty) and served as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair.
2m40 (“Un blog impactant”) is devoted to chronicling the problems that develop when truckers fail to heed the warning sign at the mouth of one of Paris’ tunnels. The site is in French… but then, the pictures do speak for themselves.
As we watch our heads, we might recall that it was on this date in 187 that the Mobro, a garbage barge, left Islip, Long Island, on what turned into a six-month odyssey. It stopped in several other states and three other countries, looking for a place to dump the 3,200 tons of garbage it was carrying– but was turned away each time. Eventually, it sailed back to Islip, where space was found.