Tomorrow at dawn, Susie and I leave for Amherst, MA, and then for Paris. We shall return on July 15th. I will of course continue to blog from Paris, where I will arrive just in time for the second round of parliamentary elections. I know that Europe's socialist parties long ago gave up the dream of socialism, but it is still comforting in my dotage to spend time in a country whose new president actually calls himself a "socialist."
One of the lovelier ideas of Paris' openly gay socialist mayor is fete de la musique, an event that occurs on the first night of Summer. Everyone in Paris comes out into the streets and amateur soloists, duos, trios, combos, and quartets play music in every square and on every side street of the central city. Place Maubert, our little square, is home to three or more duelling rock bands, each with a full set of amps. Place des Vosges, the very ritzy and lovely old square in the 4th arrondissement, last year saw performances by everyone from Paris' gay men's choir to a quartet playing late Beethoven quite creditably. Down by the Seine, one can hang over the railing of a bridge and watch the upper crust, attired in formal dress, assemble on a river boat for a dinner-dancing cruise.
Several years ago the mayor decided that those Parisians who could not afford an August trip to the Riviera nevertheless deserved a beach, so he trucked in sand, got some beach umbrellas, and turned the banks of the Seine into beachfront. The attitude of the French to public spaces seems to be the polar opposite to that of Americans. Two years ago, a number of "vertical gardens" sprang up around Paris. These are lovely botanical displays of growing plants, not cut flowers, that rise up the side of a wall rather than spreading out horizontally. Susie and I went here and there to see some of them, guided by an article in the 5th Arrondissement newsletter.
My gig at Bennett College is developing nicely, and in a few days, I hope to be able to tell you about it in more detail. Now back to a few last minute packing chores.