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February 26, 2006 - Goodblognight

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Our Man in Paris is Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis. His weekly columns appear here and often in a slightly different version the next day on his site from Paris, with photographs. Right now MetropoleParis has paused publication for maintenance, so posts there, and here, will be somewhat occasional, as Ric is rather busy.

This week, Saturday night in Paris, a writers' party in Montmartre with the writer from Los Angeles living there now.



PARIS, Saturday, February 25, 2006 - Last week Laurie Pike wrote, "It's on the ground floor, so no need for a door code - just knock on the window to the right of the door."


Quote: "It's lavish... but I call it home." - Clifton Webb


On hand - many lady bloggers, maybe four - including Laurie. This housewarming at Laurie's place in the Rue Nobel, a one-block affair on the north slope of Montmartre with the middle third of the street being stairs, yes, and tapping on the window is okay. Inside the lavish apartment is one room with a bathroom half as big again, full of coats. It is what is called a foot-in-the-door - a 'pied-à-terre' - and if you put in more then someone has to step out the window.


As a housewarming gift I've brought a black telephone. Although I've carried it across town from Montparnasse it is not a portable phone.  It is a phone you plug into the wall to make phone calls, and receive them too. Laurie plugs it in and ding-a-ling, it works. She phones her portable and it goes buzzt-buzzt. Somebody says it costs a fortune to call portables. Laurie looks fondly at her new-used plastic black telephone. It's a '80s model I got for free from l'Obs for subscribing for three months.


Everybody is drinking Champagne because there's no corkscrew. I haven't been to a party like this since the late '70s. It hardly occurs to us carry corkscrews everywhere we go, especially since giving up the booze. If in France you should remember to carry a corkscrew if you are visiting Americans. They think all bottles come with open service. Here they don't. Pushing in the cork is a sign of dementia.


I talk to a lady blogger named Tanya who used to call Atlanta home.  She has just started blogging and is eager to meet another blogger. I think she says she didn't know what she did was blogging. I try to tell her about the room full of monkeys with typewriters - no, sorry, this was a French Tanya. She has never heard of the writing monkeys.  The IVY lady tells me we met before, in the Rue Daguerre. She's right. It was with Matt Rose. She was with Matt Rose, or he was with her. IVY does art stuff in Paris and other places. So does Matt - that's the connection. IVY is cool.


In fact, where is Matt? It was he who turned me on to 'In Paris Now' and Laurie Pike, and now this housewarming. Laurie has a house in Los Angeles and now here on Montmartre, she has the foot fixed in another house, lavish but modest. Well, proportionally, the bathroom is as big as a château. Usually they are smaller than toilets, and the toilets are tiny. Fact is, bathrooms are rare. Why not live in one if you're lucky enough to have one?


Being with a crowd of people is making me nervous. I might drink too much orange juice. I decide it is 'Group Photo of the Week' time. I already did this on Thursday but I like challenges. As in small room, poor light, no corkscrew, about a dozen people who have never heard of the 'Group Photo of the Week' and left their dress-up heads at home. But there's an unused chandelier so I ask Laurie if I can turn it on and she says, "Oh no, it's far too bright. Everybody will hate it!"


So on it goes and she's right. It's like the gangbusters of industrial chandeliers, totally movie-grade and a dozen pairs of hands fly up to shield weak eyeballs from the cut-glass crystal blaze. Well, none of us have seen the sun recently, have we? But I'm not drinking so I can bully the others into a pose. I wave my arms, order loudly, plead, cajole, hector, grimace, and prod the victims into place. Jesus they look wooden, lined up like aslant bowling pins. Hell, this isn't about a photo, this is about control. A second 'Group Photo of the Week,' dammit.


Their attention - they are standing at attention - starts to wander after the fifth shot, and then the girls turn to the window.  Something is happening out there. Matt's arriving on his new Vespa scooter. He looks like a spaceman with 50 kilos of anchor chain, and he ties up his wheels. And he's carrying some cornucopia. Man, we already have grapes, peanuts, sausage, those Mexican things, and jeroboams of Champagne.


Matt kisses everybody. This is Paris after all. It's why he moved here. I'm proud of Matt, introduce Tanya to him and vice versa. I wasn't making him up. Of course the glow goes off when it turns out that Matt doesn't actually blog. Um, actually Matt's life is a blog but he's so busy living it he doesn't have time to jot it down. I guess this is what all bloggers did before they started blogging.  Like me, in reverse, I write too much to be a blogger.


Now there must be 20 people in the room. Frankly there is no separate kitchen to hang out in and there's too many coats in the bathtub. Yet there seems to be room to sit and when somebody gets up somebody else sits down, so there is a sort of equilibrium - like in a passenger cabin on the Queen Mary just before sailing time.

Matt shows up looking for a corkscrew. I quit carrying one in 1991. They are pushing the corks into bottles.


It's too wicked for me and I find my coat and get the hell out. But first waves of new people coming in force me back into the room.  Here's the landlord with wife and daughter. The daughter looks like a blogger, looks like she has adventures in Paris. I'd stay, but then I would have to take my coat off and brave the bathroom full of coats.  Outside the window I wave at all my new friends, but nobody in that little room full of smoke, bloggers, jeroboams of Champagne, grapes, ashtrays, Matt's motorcycle helmet, can see the geek who shot the 2nd 'Group Photo of the Week.'


Just in case there's no photo, I jump the Métro at Vavin and shoot the big poster for the LA expo at Pompidou. I did it the other day at Gaîté too but it was on the same platform. I almost had my head on the rails for that one.


Otherwise, at Laurie's collective blog In Paris Now

… a one-block affair on the north slope of Montmartre with the middle third of the street being stairs …

Montmartre, Paris - February 2006

'Group Photo of the Week' time…

Montmartre Blog Party - February 2006

… the Métro at Vavin - the big poster for the LA expo at Pompidou

Paris Métro poster - LA expo at Pompidou

Paris grocery –

Paris grocery, night - February 2006

Text and Photos Copyright © 2006 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis



Editor's Note:


From the Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2006


In an official expression of support for the arts, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a media conference Friday at the Caltrans downtown headquarters to celebrate landmark exhibitions of Los Angeles contemporary art and architecture coming soon to Paris.

"Los Angeles 1955-1985," featuring about 350 works by 87 artists, and "Morphosis," exploring a prominent architectural firm's work, will open March 8 at France's Pompidou Center.

"This is a transformational milestone that will establish Los Angeles as a leading artistic and cultural capital," Villaraigosa told an audience of artists and representatives from museums and art schools. "Los Angeles" will track the art scene's coming-of-age in a sprawling survey. "Morphosis" — to appear at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art in 2007 — will present recent projects of the group whose founder, Thom Mayne, won the 2005 Pritzker Prize and designed the Caltrans building.

As the media conference evolved into an L.A.-Paris love fest, Scott Stover, head of the Pompidou Foundation, announced plans to base the support group's American branch in Los Angeles.


See also -


L.A.'s so aujourd'hui

Paris puts up 30 years of Southern California art history - or at least one interpretation.

Suzanne Muchnic - Los Angeles Times - February 26, 2006


Early next month, much of the local art world will decamp for Paris for a taste of its history as seen through French eyes. "Los Angeles 1955-1985," the Pompidou Center's survey of L.A. art during an invigorating period, will open March 8 with about 350 works by 87 artists, and though the roster is broad, it's been a hot topic of conversation and contention.

Is it a love letter to Los Angeles artists from Paris? A skewed view of L.A. art from the Eiffel Tower? A French interpretation of the L.A. art scene's coming of age? Depends on whom you ask.

"It's high time that something like this is done," said artist Ed Moses, who has a piece in the show but is angered over the omission of one of his peers. "I think it's a great thing to do and we are open for it, but everything is 'Rashomon.' Everyone has a different view on how to do this." And every big group show has its critics.

"People who are left out of these shows feel that they are left out of the writing of history and that it's determined by the luck of the draw," said artist Alexis Smith, who made the cut in this one.

The controlling view of the Paris exhibition, of course, belongs to the curator, Catherine Grenier, who has constructed a multifaceted chapter of Los Angeles art history. Her chronology begins with works by artists who emerged or flourished artistically in the mid-1950s, including painters Sam Francis and John McLaughlin, Beat luminary Wallace Berman and sculptor Ed Kienholz, known for building gritty environments of found objects. The final galleries will feature artists who rose to prominence in the 1980s, such as Raymond Pettibon, Jim Shaw, Lari Pittman, Jeffrey Vallance, Stephen Prina and Christopher Williams.

… Ambitious as "Los Angeles" is, it has spawned several concurrent exhibitions. The museum will present a show of recent projects by Morphosis, the L.A. architectural firm founded by Thom Mayne, who won the Pritzker Prize in 2005. James Turrell's "Alta (White)," a 1967 projected-light work recently acquired by the Pompidou, will be temporarily installed at the adjacent Atelier Brancusi, a reconstruction of the Romanian sculptor's studio. Several commercial galleries in Paris have scheduled shows of works by artists in "Los Angeles," including Moses, Guy de Cointet and Allen Ruppersberg. …


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik

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