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Thursday, September 27, 2007 – Piaf on Melrose

Édith Piaf mural, Melrose and Spaulding, Los Angeles

Yes, that's La Môme Piaf – the Waif Sparrow, Little Sparrow or Kid Sparrow in Parisian slang – on a mural on Spalding Avenue at Melrose.  Up the hill on Hollywood Boulevard when you walk by one of the fake French sidewalk cafés you can hear Piaf on the thin-sounding little speakers singing her signature song, "Non, je ne regrette rien" (1960, lyrics here and a video clip of a 1961 performance here). Somehow she fits.  Her story is legendary and there was that film of Piaf's life by Olivier Dahan, La Vie En Rose, which debuted at the Berlin Film Festival in February, 2007 – it was La Môme in France. The definitive biography would be David Bret's Piaf, A Passionate Life – but it's currently unavailable.

Why Édith Piaf (1915-1963) and why here? Why the four foot eight dead French singer, accused of murder in the thirties?  How about this? In 1940 she co-starred in Jean Cocteau's one-act play Le Bel Indifférent, they became close friends, and she died on the same day he did - October 11, 1963. And Melrose is a Cocteau sort of place, visually.  Or maybe it has something to do with the great love of her life, the married boxer Marcel Cerdan, who died in an October 1949 plane crash on a flight to the United States for a rematch with Jake LaMotta.

It's more likely they love her out here because she was a scruffy rebel with an attitude.  She was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris, even though she was denied a funeral mass by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris – because of her lifestyle, so to speak.  Her funeral procession drew tens of thousands of mourners onto the streets of Paris, and the ceremony at the cemetery drew more than forty thousand folks.  One singer she discovered and promoted, Charles Aznavour, said that Piaf's funeral procession was the only time since the end of the Second World War that he saw Parisian traffic come to a complete stop.   You can visit her grave there, not far from the grave of Jim Morrison of the Doors, or visit the small Musée Édith Piaf, at 5, rue Crespin du Gast, in Paris, in the scruffy 11th arrondissement – or you can just drop down to Spaulding and Melrose.

The little sparrow?

Bird mural, Melrose Avenue
Bird mural, Melrose Avenue
Bird mural, Melrose Avenue
US Postal Service truck - logo defaced

A dog in 3-D glasses that Jean Cocteau would appreciate –

A dog in 3-D glasses the Jean Cocteau would appreciate - Melrose Avenue

Current rebel singers –

"Playground Killer" sticker on trtaffic sign

The essential question –

Black alley door, Melrose Avenue
"Local Celebrity" sticker - Melrose Avenue

If you wish to use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me. And should you choose to download any of these images and use them invoking the "fair use" provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976, please provide credit, and, on the web, a link back this site.

Technical Note:

Most of these photographs were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0. Earlier photography was done with a Sony Mavica digital still camera (MVC-FD-88) with built-in digital zoom.

[Piaf on Melrose]

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Alan M. Pavlik