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Plywood slide in park

Parisian shops


There are thousands of often-tiny shops of every description. So many of them are a delight.

Roland Godard on an overcast Saturday afternoon

This guy was playing this little rinky-dink piano on wheels, old stuff, Scott Joplin style, 20s tunes, a great version of All of Me, slightly out of tune notes, just perfect on the Deux Ponts Marie. We clicked -- same age and all; a bro. I bought his CD. Roland Godard, Et Son Piano a Tout Faire…I'm listening to it this very moment.

Canterbury Cathedral


Vault along the close (courtyard), adjacent to cathedral, around sunset. The photos ended up in looking like paintings, a photographer's dream.

Bazar d' Le Hotel de Ville


Hold a pen or pencil over the garish "BHV" and see how it defaces this wonderful building. Why doesn't BHV (a department store) go green and get rid of the green? Then the architect could stop turning in his grave.

Alley in York

California to Europe back to California

It's a rainy Saturday morning in Paris, and we're leaving for home on Monday; a fabulous trip, but we're both more than a little homesick for California. I've shot thousands of photos, yet again presenting me the problem of finding context for content. I'm eager to get home and back to work. Each day we wander different Paris neighborhoods. Yesterday I took off on one of my high-speed city walks, went to the Pantheon (just one of Paris' out-of-scale, hard-to-believe buildings), started sensing my way down the most interesting-looking streets, and ended up following L' Estrapade down to a square (actually a circle) where five streets came in at odd angles, and there were people sitting at little sidewalk cafes; bakeries, tiny intriguing shops, very few cars on narrow cobblestone streets, therefore a lovely inner-city peacefulness. Da place felt good!

I'm surprised to find that I'm as overwhelmed by Europe as I was on a 7000 mile Lambretta motorscooter trip at age 22. for one thing, I feel, in varying degrees, like a savage. Many French men are dressed beautifully. I'm wearing cargo pants, running shoes, a lightweight North Face Summit series down jacket, and a homemade Merino wool watch cap. I mean, it's the right outfit for getting around, but it just doesn't have that Parisian zing.

Also eating: people are so deft placing food on the back of a fork held in the left-hand, it astounds me. My methods of getting food-to-mouth are much cruder. And on and on.

I'm also reminded from time to time that the people here in Europe stayed, whereas my ancestors crossed the ocean and headed west. I have a sense of coming back to the homeland(s) in Europe, a feeling of what I think is genetic familiarity; haven't I been here before? Yet I'm so glad to be living where I do, where there's a different kind of freedom (plus I'm homesick for Mount Tamalpais and the Pacific Ocean).

England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, it's been a blast! (from the past). I love you, and thanks for the memories, and you're still wonderful, but right about now I can hear somebody singing I'm going home home home home back home…

Around Paris

This half timber flying saucer building is in the Parc du Luxembourg. No idea what it is.


Below left: spiffy Beemer scooter

Below: west side of Notre Dame. I like it better from the outside. It's one of those huge cathedrals that is magnificent, but I don't find elegant. It's a marvel of soaring stone, but inside, seems gloomy. The stones that it's built of are large and clunky-looking inside.

Shakespeare and Company


Shakespeare and Company, started in the 20s or 30s was obviously the inspiration for Lawrence Ferlinghetti with his City Lights in San Francisco. A booklovers' bookstore.

Rainy day in Paris


Lord this is such a wonderful city! The beauty of the buildings, the whimsy, the elegance. I'm stunned by Paris. There are so many surprises. The language is soft and flowing; spoken French is poetry, the nuances, the sinuous softness of phrases. Many of the faces on the street are quite beautiful and refined. We're on day 3 of 7 days in Paris, staying in a small hotel next to the Sorbonne, v. near Notre Dame, it's a rainy morning, we're just starting to dial it in (in each big city it takes a while to get your center). After the one bad meal so far of the trip, we've had 2 wonderful dinners at cool little restaurants, with nary the sound of the English language.

I'll be posting some photos in the next few days.

Paris, soil, wind energy, gypsy wagon…

A loft in Paris
We took the high speed train from Frankfurt to Paris yesterday. A bit weird: you see a nice village, and pffft! it's gone, at 100 mph. And so into Paris, where we're now ensconced in what has to be my favorite hotel room of all time, a half-timbered 6th-story, top floor garret in the oldest part of Paris, next to the Sorbonne, walking distance to Notre Dame, the Latin quarter, and all manner of cafes and shops. Right now I'm sitting in a sunny dormer in our attic room, looking out at Paris rooftops, dictating this with a with my Sennheiser ME-3 head microphone.

Soil and non-oil-or-coal-burning power
I've been noticing that soil everywhere in Europe looks rich and fertile. If plowed, it's black; if there are crops, it's a verdant green. Ireland is glittering green. Better soil stewardship than in America. Yesterday at the train station, I met a South African electrical engineer now living in Germany, and working on large-scale windmill generators (blades 150 feet long). He told me that Europe is now laying very large transmission lines for a grid that will tie into wind power and other generators, that they will eventually be sending electricity from solar farms in Africa under the ocean to Europe. Also that China is building a huge transmission system. He told me a bunch of other exciting stuff about wind and solar power generation; I've never heard of any of this via the US media. He said to Google "supergrid," "D. C. light," and "ABB."

Dollar in dumps
Man, is it expensive in Europe! Costs in London and Ireland are shocking. Hotels in Frankfurt (except for mine) are $250+. Upon reflection, it's corporations who pay these one reasonably high rates; the corporate executive ripoff of the economy rolls on.

Tell St. Peter at the golden gate/you just hate to make him wait/but you just gotta have another cigarette*
There seems to be 10 times as much smoking in Europe as in California. It's surprising.

Suits
…never went away like I thought they would. Such an uncomfortable way to dress. Why do companies insist on burdening their employees with coats that are non-functional and ties that restrict the throat?

Germany into France
There's something bittersweet to me about Germany. I like the land, the buildings, and the orderliness (for a while). But after a week, I want less order and more funk, less rigidity and more soul. And so you cross into France. Immediately things look different. There's a softness in the landscape and the buildings. Think of the difference between the two languages. I feel a sense of relief. It makes me cherish the freedom we have in the US, especially in California.

Tiny gypsy wagon
Oh yeah, in the tiny house department: as we pulled out of the urban congestion of Karlsruhe on the train yesterday and got into the countryside, there was a green field with a row of trees, and a pretty little curved-roof gypsy wagon on wheels along the edge of the woods, with smoke coming out the chimney. I don't know if this was a shepherd, or a gypsy, or just some cool dude from Karlsruhe escaping into country tranquility for the weekend.

Possibly short-term thinking
There's a lot of fiberboard used in building in Germany, as in the US. Think of what's going to happen throughout the world if the fiberboard glue fails in 50 years.

*Hank Williams