Jump to content


Photo

Notes from a Parisite


  • Please log in to reply
498 replies to this topic

#16 Maurice Naughton

Maurice Naughton

    In Memoriam

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,010 posts

Posted 26 May 2004 - 09:07 AM

Maurice, what camera are you using to get those beautiful pictures?

It's a Canon Power Shot S 330 Digital Elph (very fancy name), a sorta lightweight digital (only 2 mega pixels), about the size of a deck of cards, very handsome. But the color balance isn't adjusted well, and I need to find out how to get a bluish cast out. :(
Cambridge University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Sir Charles Oatley, in October, 1948, along with his student Dennis McMullan, began the research that led to the production of the first scanning electron microscope in 1965.

I thought you'd want to know.

#17 Maurice Naughton

Maurice Naughton

    In Memoriam

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,010 posts

Posted 26 May 2004 - 10:08 AM

Cross-posted from somewhere else.

It was a good day for smiling.

On the Courneuve platform in the Metro station at the place d'Italie, two pretty little things came up to me and said, in French, that they wanted to go to the Bastille. I said, "Tres facil, ligne numero cinq, direction Bobigny." They Merci-ed effusively and I smiled paternally, kept it up for about an hour. I'm so easy. And so vain.

At a tiny shop in the Marais, where you can get your violin or cello repaired, I asked to take some pictures and was welcomed warmly. I showed them to the artisan afterwards and he exclaimed, "Formidable!" First time I actually heard a Frenchman say that.

Posted Image
At the Violin Shop

A delightful old guy, M Magnichever, who owns a bookstore, the Librarie du Temple, on the rue des Hospitalières St Gervais in the Marais asked me to take lots of pictures and to e-mail them to him. He said, in perfect unaccented English, "I know what my shop looks like, but I like to see it through someone else's eyes."

Posted Image
M Magnichever, Bookseller

And at the Auld Alliance, a Scottish pub on the rue Francois Miron, I drank a pint of Old Caledonia and chatted with the barman for a while. He pulled me another, on the house, saying, "Seein' as you seemed to like it." He didn't know that I know Steve Graham, the proprietor--just showing a little Irish hospitality to a fellow Mick.

Maurice :D
Cambridge University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Sir Charles Oatley, in October, 1948, along with his student Dennis McMullan, began the research that led to the production of the first scanning electron microscope in 1965.

I thought you'd want to know.

#18 Maurice Naughton

Maurice Naughton

    In Memoriam

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,010 posts

Posted 29 May 2004 - 12:47 PM

Thursday, 28 May, 2004 - another in a long string of glorious sunny days.

Hi, There--

I spent the morning in the European Photography museum, and I learned quite a lot about how pitiful my pictures are. I suppose I will never learn the elements of good composition and proper exposure and correct color balance.

When I got hungry for lunch, I thought, as I occasionally do around lunch time, of young goats, and consequently of Corsican restaurants. They're the only kind I've found so far that serve Capri, which I like very much. So I went to the Table Corse.

Posted Image
Restaurant Table Corse

It's very small, about thirty covers, with old stone walls and an old beamed cieling and an old oak floor. The table clothes are yellow linen and the napkins yellow paper, and there's a pepper mill and a salt shaker on every table. The table-waiting is done by the patron's wife, and the patron emerges from the kitchen once in a while to survey his kingdom.

Posted Image
The Patron's Lady

The menu was on the ardoise, and had lots of interesting eats.

Entrées
Assiette des charcuteries corses
Flan au Brocciu et courgettes au romarin
Panisses niçois
Baccala en éffilochée aux arachides concasses
Filets de maquereau à l'unilateral et tomates

Plats
Epaule d'agneau confite aux épices chaudes, navets fondants au romarin
Entrecôte charolaise, haricots verts à l'ail
Suprême de voilaille, stufatu de pieds et orielles de cochon noir et pois chiches
Parmentier de canard et foie gras au Cap Corse
Saumon mi cuit, risotto carnaroli
Saint Pierre à l'unilateral, pommes au pesto

Assiette de fromages

I had the charcuteries and the parmentier.

Posted Image
Assiette des charcuteries corses

Posted Image
Parmentier de canard et foie gras au Cap Corse

Posted Image
Ditto

And I drank a quart, ie 25 cl., of an unprepossing Sciaccarello, but it went well with the peasant food. An excellent lunch for 21 Euros, and I was comped a shotglass of liqueur de figues for dessert, really good stuff.

After lunch, I strolled from the place de Contrescarpe over to the rue Monge and down to the place Maubert. I was busy taking pictures and collecting hotel brochures (a sort of strange hobby) when I got to Eric Kayser's boulangerie, where I got a little tartelette de mûres and asked if I could take a picture of the interior. "Mais no, monsieur, c'est interdit!" said the jolly woman at the cashbox. But the tartelette de mûres was excellent.

Posted Image
Maison Kayser

This photo refusal happens about one out of ten times when I ask to take pictures in a shop, and whenever there's someone to ask, I always do. I don't really understand it. A couple of years ago, in the Grande Epicerie de Paris at Au Bon Marché, where I could find no authority-figure to ask, I whipped my trusty camera out, to take some pictures of a Pata Negra d'Iberico, glistening pink and cream in one of those wood and stainless steel ham holders. A couple of store heavies showed up in about a millisecond and escorted me to the door. What dangers does a tourist with a camera pose, I wonder?

I was going to go to the Hôtel de Sully to see an expostion of photos by Lee Friedlander, but it suddenly clouded over and began to rain, so I came home to this, instead.

bien amicalement,

Maurice
Cambridge University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Sir Charles Oatley, in October, 1948, along with his student Dennis McMullan, began the research that led to the production of the first scanning electron microscope in 1965.

I thought you'd want to know.

#19 hollywood

hollywood

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 23,866 posts

Posted 29 May 2004 - 02:27 PM

Maurice, if your photography gets any better, I'll become obese.

I got that gin in my system
Somebody's gon' be my victim.

 

Big Freedia


#20 Maurice Naughton

Maurice Naughton

    In Memoriam

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,010 posts

Posted 29 May 2004 - 11:55 PM

Sunday 30 May 2004 - about two in the morning - insomnia.

Hi, There--

Everybody knows Paris is a beautiful city. When Napoleon gave Baron Haussmann carte blanche to knock down much of old Paris and build a new one, what disappeared may have been old and historic, but it was also diseased, decrepit, dangerous, and decayed. What the Baron built is the Paris anyone can recognize--six and seven story buildings of a particular style and harmony, wide, straight boulevards lined with trees, parks and squares, an open and airy feeling, and lots of light.

So Paris became the City of Light, and has traded on that image quite successfully, in spite of the desecrations it was to suffer at the hands of leaders like Mitterand, who in one way or another is responsible for the warts and wens and fistulas that mar the city's beautiful face. La Defense, a barren, bleak, windblown City of the Future is comic book 2001. The tour Montparnasse is an ill-conceived monstrosity. The Opera Bastille is a continuing embarrassment. The Pompidou Center at Beaubourg remains mostly a curiosity. The "development" where Les Halles used to be was seen as a mistake even before it was finished.

And throughout Paris, in every arrondissement and every quartier, there are simple failures of abandonment. For one obsessed with finding out what's around that corner, or what happens at the end of this rue or passage or impasse or cul de sac, the painful, bleak, dreary side is there. Not for tourists, of course. But there.

Posted Image
Suzy's cashed in her chips.


Posted Image
It looks very distinguished inside.


Posted Image
Someone needed space for Chopin.


Posted Image
Knock. Someone may be home.


Posted Image
Someone's watered the plants.


Posted Image
Come back tomorrow. We may have something for you.


Posted Image
Nothing for a lion to protect.


Posted Image
Rien de rien. Je ne regrette rien.


Posted Image
He grew old, and all the doors were closed to him.


Posted Image
Phil's back in HoHoKus, licking his wounds.

It's just another side of Paris.

Cheers,

Maurice
Cambridge University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Sir Charles Oatley, in October, 1948, along with his student Dennis McMullan, began the research that led to the production of the first scanning electron microscope in 1965.

I thought you'd want to know.

#21 hollywood

hollywood

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 23,866 posts

Posted 30 May 2004 - 05:10 AM

Thanks. Now I feel so much better that you are in Paris and I'm not. :D

I got that gin in my system
Somebody's gon' be my victim.

 

Big Freedia


#22 Maurice Naughton

Maurice Naughton

    In Memoriam

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,010 posts

Posted 30 May 2004 - 06:23 PM

Paris, Whitsunday, 30 May 2004 - began cloudy, became sunny and fine around 14h00.

Hi, There--

This Pentecost weekend means lots of closures in Paris, like a British bank holiday, and I've chosen this Sunday for the boring and desolate "day of the laundromat," a regular curse I endure without good grace. To ruin the day completely, I also make it my cleanup day at home, a resented time to get all the dishes washed and put away, to clean the wildlife out of the fridge, to sluice out the bathroom, to run the damned vacuum cleaner (it makes a noise I can't stand and that used to make my dog howl when I was a kid. I understood him completely).

I would rather be doing something else, almost anything. I could go to the Salon de Voyance Exceptionnel at the Hôtel Arotel in the shadow of the hideous Tour Montparnasse, and let a psychic tell me about my future for 43 Euros the half-hour. This is a popular pastime for Parisiens, and about as reasonable as buying Lotto tickets.

More to my liking is the Supers Occasions Auto at the Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes, the sixtieth Paris auto show, with about twelve hundred cars and flights of scantily clad girls trying to make you believe that the right car (a two-seater convertible is the most likely choice; there are gorgeous ones among the European marques) will open all kinds of previously closed doors to sexual success and concomitant bliss.

The sixth arrondissement is experiencing Persian Springtime, where Iranian arts, calligraphy, painting, photography, cinema, and theater are running rampant.

And the 40th edition of the Foire du Trône (Throne Fair) is just about to end on the Pelouse de Reuilly in the 12th. It offers 300 fairground attractions--shooting galleries, ring tosses, video games, merry-go-rounds, tilt-a-whirls, bumper cars, and vendors of churros, galettes, gaufres, crêpes, bonbons, cotton candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, ice creams and sorbets, hot-dogs, and even what Kansas City called pronto pups and the rest of the world corn dogs. A descent into the gastronomic abyss.

Since I'm skipping these galas for you and my laundry, I don't have pictures to post.

I talked previously about the redevelopment of the Les Halles disaster, and that inspires me to talk about some more geographical and architectural wreckage attributable to François Mitterand.

M Mitterand has a lot to answer for. Though he was a socialist in politics, he had a Gaullist commitment to increasing La Gloire de France. He has left as part of his legacy some new monuments in Paris, and most of them have failed in one way or another. The Grand Arch in La Defense still has people shaking their heads in wonder. They are wondering why. (Aside: The arch seems to be moulting. Many of its 35,000 marble tiles have fallen off, and the moult is expected to continue. No one has yet been killed.)

Posted Image
La Grande Arche de la Defense
(I borrowed this pic from a guy named Simon Brice)

I. M. Pei's pyramidal entrance to the Louvre has been accepted and integrated into the artistic conscience of Paris, although a pyramid is hardly a new monumental concept and is consistently over-hyped.

The Pompidou Centre at Beaubourg is familiar to everyone and remains an interesting curiosity. It will do so as long as the external infrastructure is repainted regularly and not allowed to grow smutty. And if they can keep kids from climbing up the building without wrapping its base in protective netting.

The Opera Bastille, Canadian Carlos Ott's monstrous design, is also afflicted with "cladding" problems. Since two years after its construction its been wrapped in netting, to prevent its 60 kilo limestone slabs from killing passers-by when they fall off. As they do regularly. Independent laboratories have suggested that perhaps a third of the stones are defective and subject to breakage. A big refurbishing project is to begin soon, and will run to decimillion Euros.

But Mitterand's real white elephant is the Bibliotheque Nationale François Mitterand. On the left bank of the Seine, directly across from the Parc de Bercy and just north of the Pont de Tolbiac was an ugly, impoverished slum lying between the river and the marshalling yards of the Gare d'Austerlitz, crowded with crummy dwelling buildings and abandoned refrigerated warehouses, Frigos.

A bunch of ugliness was knocked down and the sloping bank of the Seine was built up to a flat plane of seventeen acres on which was installed a wooden deck with a rectangular hole in the middle, at the bottom of which a lot of full-grown pine trees were planted. They don't get enough sunlight down there, and are starting to straggle. (One of M Mitterand's visions of monumentality evidently has holes in it, starting with the Forum des Halles.)

On each corner of the deck was erected a 25 story glass and steel building, with two equal wings joined at 90°s of angle, supposed to suggest an open book. To whom, I wonder?

The architect, Dominique Perrault, evidently didn't bother to consult any librarians or readers about his plans. He intended to store all the books underground, and a computer was to control access to the books, find them and send them by conveyor to the seekers of wisdom in the big glass rooms above. The computer didn't work. Moreover, it was soon discovered that the river had some access of its own to the basement, creating an environment friendly to mildew and dampness and inimical to the archiving of books over the long run.

So the books were moved up into the towers.

The glass towers. Shelving was put in, the books were put in order on the shelves, and the sun in its course began to beat in upon them through the windows, creating an environment friendly to fading and drying, and destined to help the books disintegrate into powder. Inimical to the archiving of books over the long run. The computer, reprogrammed to suit it to the new arrangement, still didn't work.

So wooden shutters were put over the glass inside, to block the sun, and the entire aspect of M Perrault's library was changed. As a psychiatrist would say of a clinical depressive, the affect changed. Since the shutters were never either opened or closed all at the same time, the buildings now appeared light, with random dark spots, a kind of pox.

There were other problems. The massive steps leading up from the river side to the platform above had wooden treads, the same wood as the decking, and there were no handrails nor handicapper access ramps. There were no benches for the weary. There were no lights. The wood grew dangerously slippery when it was wet (as often happened during rain, for example). And it all got worse after dark and in winter. The problem had to be solved. The solution again changed the installations affect.

The 3000 people who worked storage and access in the basement, before the books were moved out, went on strike because they were always cold and damp. Scholars had to wait twenty-four hours for the books they wanted, and finally stormed the stacks, to which their access was interdit. They pay about eight dollars a day to sit in the 2000 seat research room, where there are no research librarians to answer even the most rudimentary questions. But it now takes only a couple of hours for them to get their books.

And for years, these four graceless towers, unfit for their intended purpose, stood on this almost inaccessible (except by Metro) foot of earth, surrounded by vacant frigos and construction holes.

Posted Image
Bibliotheque Nationale de France François Mitterand


But it is all changing now, even as I speak, and I'll tell you about it later, if I'm moved to.

==

Snippets

I don't eat eggs much. They're bad for me, and at home I can only buy them by the dozen. But at the Marché August Blanqui (just down the street every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday) a poulterer always has a basket of fresh eggs, which he says he squeezes out of his chickens on market mornings at four. He doesn't think it odd for me to buy one egg. (He does think it odd that I don't want it put in a six egg papier maché carton, and prefer to put it in the bag with my mushrooms). The eggs are very brown and have quite thick shells and deep orange yolks and they taste great, poached or fried, on a buttered piece of toasted boule ancienne.

He keeps trying to sell me one of his little coquelets fermiers, saying that, roasted with garlic and tarragon, they have a wonderful deep old-fashioned flavor. I tell him my only oven is a microwave, and he encourages me to buy a table top roaster.

The cheese lady last week had some old emmenthal that was supernal. I admit to buying some supermarket Swiss when I'm at home (at home, I'm always cutting corners to save up for the next trip to Paris), and this emmenthal makes that seem like edible plastic.

Transilien is a public corporation that is trying to coordinate all the transportation--RATP (Paris and suburban bus and Metro), RER (suburban commuter express trains), and SNCF (main line rail service)--in the Ile de France, the imaginary island with Paris at its center and a diameter of roughly 120 miles. It has installed little electronic signs at many bus stops telling you how long you have to wait till the next bus. It's a little computer wizardry, because the buses must have those, oh hell, what do you call those satellite position locators, well, you know what I mean, which must broadcast their positions constantly, and a computer in the bus stop shelter keeps adjusting the time. The buses arrive when they're supposed to.

And in some metro stations there are electronic signs that tell you when the next train is due. That must be a lot easier.

Did I mention that I went to see the Francis Bacon exhibition at the Musée Maillot? I find Bacon a little hard to take, and his obsession with the prelates of the Catholic church sometimes seems disturbed. Ha ha. Wouldn't having Bacon and, say, Edvard Munch on hand make a Saturday dinner at La Repair de la Cartouche just a whole lot of fun?

Bien cordialement,

Maurice
Cambridge University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Sir Charles Oatley, in October, 1948, along with his student Dennis McMullan, began the research that led to the production of the first scanning electron microscope in 1965.

I thought you'd want to know.

#23 hollywood

hollywood

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 23,866 posts

Posted 31 May 2004 - 02:21 PM

A Bacon and eggs post. Very good.

I got that gin in my system
Somebody's gon' be my victim.

 

Big Freedia


#24 Maurice Naughton

Maurice Naughton

    In Memoriam

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,010 posts

Posted 31 May 2004 - 03:35 PM

A Bacon and eggs post. Very good.

Yes. I'm thematic. :unsure:
Cambridge University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Sir Charles Oatley, in October, 1948, along with his student Dennis McMullan, began the research that led to the production of the first scanning electron microscope in 1965.

I thought you'd want to know.

#25 ranitidine

ranitidine

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,727 posts

Posted 31 May 2004 - 05:12 PM

Those electronic signs in the Metro sound like the ones in the London Underground. There is talk of experimenting with them in New York. I don't think they'll do it, however, as they'll be too embarrassed to let people know how long the wait between trains is.
"Say not the struggle nought availeth...."
Arthur Hugh Clough, 1819-1861

Arise ye prisoners of starvation
Arise ye wretched of the earth

#26 hollywood

hollywood

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 23,866 posts

Posted 01 June 2004 - 03:03 AM

Those electronic signs in the Metro sound like the ones in the London Underground. There is talk of experimenting with them in New York. I don't think they'll do it, however, as they'll be too embarrassed to let people know how long the wait between trains is.

LA goes overboard on such signs (probably the influence of the billboard lobby). We had way too many Freeway Condition signs on the Santa Monica Freeway before they were dispersed. Now, we have these idiotic signs allegedly advising the number of parking spaces on floors of The Grove parking lot (but failing to note those on the closest floors [the most numerous spaces] are valet only). Ignore the signs. Be a free anarchic spirit.

I got that gin in my system
Somebody's gon' be my victim.

 

Big Freedia


#27 akiko

akiko

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,027 posts

Posted 01 June 2004 - 11:31 AM

and Sunday) a poulterer always has a basket of fresh eggs, which he says he squeezes out of his chickens on market mornings at four


Maurice, I love eggs. This is like poetry to my ears. And if I was jealous of you before, I'm turning green now.

#28 Maurice Naughton

Maurice Naughton

    In Memoriam

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,010 posts

Posted 01 June 2004 - 06:06 PM

Paris, Tuesday afternoon, cloudy and cool

Hi, There--

I came home for lunch (as I often do), and found a PM asking what my apartment is like.

Lunch, by the way, was a couple of smoked salmon sandwiches on pain Normand with some Maille mayonnaise avec moutarde Dijon, followed by some perfectly ripe Brillat-Savarin, the triple cream cheese created by Henri Androuët, father of cheese guy Pierre Androuët. With this I drank a bottle of Belgian Trappistes Westvleteren beer, semi-dark, fruity, yeasty, hoppy. Dessert, yet to come, is a tartelette fraise with a mix of heavy cream and Crème Frâiche. I generally don't eat dessert, but the tarts from the bakery down the street are worth having. (I know all about this sentence, so you needn't comment).

So I took some pictures, and here's where I live.

Posted Image
Main entrance, cooking-eating area.

Posted Image
Work area

Posted Image
Work area and "closet"

Posted Image
Entertainment Center :blink:

Posted Image
"Coin de cuisine"; very limited, as you see.

When the girls from the Theatre des Cinq Diaments across the street arrive after the show (Beaumarchais's "Marriage of Figaro"), I quickly run out of room.

This little joint costs 800 Euros a month, medium speed ADSL line and electricity extra. Owner is an American named Will Faas.

Quel heureusement,

Maurice
Cambridge University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Sir Charles Oatley, in October, 1948, along with his student Dennis McMullan, began the research that led to the production of the first scanning electron microscope in 1965.

I thought you'd want to know.

#29 hollywood

hollywood

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 23,866 posts

Posted 01 June 2004 - 06:44 PM

Had some Brillat-Savarin recently. It's heavenly. Quite the cozy corner where you live & work.

I got that gin in my system
Somebody's gon' be my victim.

 

Big Freedia


#30 Maurice Naughton

Maurice Naughton

    In Memoriam

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,010 posts

Posted 13 September 2004 - 10:49 PM

Paris, 13 September 2004, 14h00, 68 F, cloudy
In which I arrive, settle in, and eat lunch.

Hi, There--

I got to the airport in Flint about 6:15 last Monday evening, to discover that Enterprise Car Rental didn't have a drop-off station there (their other locations being closed because of the holiday), so my journey started with considerable confusion. By the time I got things squared away (several phone calls, moving the car to the short-term lot, checking my suitcases in), I was the last passenger to board the plane to Detroit.

Detroit airport the usual bore, mitigated by a book of Calvin Trillin's political poetry, "Obliviously On He Sails." Northwest flight 50 to Charles de Gaulle left 45 minutes late. The captain kept making comforting announcements tinged with humor, her voice low but pleasant, not trying to emulate the gravelly basso profundo of most of her male counterparts.

I was seated in the children's section, surrounded by about nine of the little beasts under seven years old. The one right behind me kept kicking me in the back of my seat, until I went to her, said hello, and asked if she'd do me a real big favor. She asked what it was and I told her. She said, "Whadif I don't?" I told her I would drop her out of the hole in the tail of the plane. Kicking stopped.

Five of the children were part of an extended family of about ten, made up of at least three races and admixtures. I sat in their midst. There was much passing of children over seat backs throughout the flight, mainly screaming or whining children, or those who'd just finished defecating. The boy next to me, nine or ten, poured half his 7-Up on my right arm and leg.

Northwest added its own little insults. "Dinner" was Pasta or Chicken. I asked for pasta and got chicken. Considering the speed at which the service cart was moving down the aisle, I calculated it would take about a week and a half to exchange it, so I dug in. God-awful little chunks of dry, stringy chicken breast with something vaguely sweet and brown poured over it. Grayish haricots verts decomposing next to the dead bird. Iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots, referred to by the airline as "salad." A small piece of Tillamook Cheddar provided some relief. Dessert was of such horrendous aspect that I left it entirely alone.

Red wine from Chile. Legend on the label said that the local populace lit fires all along their beaches to scare Magellan off as he was rounding the straits. Led geographers to call that land Tierra del Fuego. ?? I haven't taken time to look, but is wine really made right next to Antarctica? In the great hierarchy of world wines, this one would fit in the category just below plonk.

To top it all off, the featured movie was "Troy," to be viewed on a seven-inch screen embedded in the seatback in front of me. Gadzooks! When I was learning Greek in high school, we had to translate some Homer every night. I do not recall Agamemnon, Menelaus, Priam, Nestor, Achilles, Hector, nor even Astayanax uttering such fatuities as came out of these actors' (a word I use only out of necessity) mouths. And they kept referring to Menelaus as "Mini-louse."

My favorite scene: One of the women, Helen or a slave perhaps, is with one of the men, Paris or Achilles perhaps. Some seduction is transpiring. Woman reaches to her throat and undoes the clasp of her cloak. It drops to the floor. She is naked. She thrusts herself into her lover's arms and he grasps her enthusiastically. He is wearing his full battle armor. I was the only viewer on the plane laughing my arse off.

Arrival was as usual, about a half-hour of taxiing to the exit ramp. As soon as the seat-belt light went off, most of the other passengers leapt to their feet so that they could stand in the aisles for twenty-minutes holding their carry-ons and sweating. I kept to my seat with my book till the plane was empty, then got off. Passport control took my disembarkation card, I had another twenty minute wait till my suitcases arrived on the carrousel, then saw nary a customs officer as I left the airport for the bus to the RER station.

Chatted up a young woman named Celeste on the train to Paris, but with no particular result. At the Denfert-Rochereau station, I transferred to Metro line 6, involving a long trek and lots of stairs. My look of senile helplessness drew a Polish Jehovah's Witness into my web, and he carried my bags up and down the longest stair-sets, panting a "Gott be wit you" when he left.

My stop is Corvisart, an elevated station, and going downstairs is not too hard. But to get to my apartment near the top of the Butte aux Cailles by the short way, I have to climb about sixty steps. I was struggling to get up them (my suitcases being burdened with books and other heavy cargo) when a young woman took them from me and trotted them up to the top. Quel emasculation! I should join a gym.

The rest of the day and all day the next, I busied myself augmenting the odd collection of provender that had been left here by the three Irish lassies who'd left the day before--low-grade olive oil, cheap wine vinegar, a spice jar full of ground pepper, some ground cinnamon, a box of couscous, a bag of Sumatra rice, a kilo of spaghettini, French's yellow mustard, two bottles of store-brand ketchup, a half a liter of skim milk, a half jar of reine-claude preserves, a tray of little cubes of Laughing Cow cheese, individually wrapped, and a can of mushrooms. Whilst settling in, I noshed as needed on Lyonnaise sausages, Serrano ham, pain de sarment, avocado salad, peaches and some excellent fromage--Comte de Savoie and middle-aged mimmolette.

My first restaurant meal was the next day, Thursday, at l'Avant Gout, a bistrot just a few blocks from here. I had an extraordinarily good glass of Clairette de Die as aperitif, lamb's brains as entree and pig's cheeks for mains. Drank a couple of glasses of Coteaux de Languedoc Rosé during. (Owner-Chef Christophe Beaufront offers a niggardly pour, about 9 or 10 cl. A shame, really.) Skipped dessert. I didn't make many notes because I'd taken a picture of the chalkboard menu-carte with the full descriptions of each dish, which I intended as an aide memoire to help me out here. Unfortunately, it's gone.

The Cervelle d'Agneau was excellent, but the last time I had brains was thirty years ago, some Cervelle de Veau, and I've retained no taste memory. Here, each lobe was very lightly breaded and fried, and served on a bed of salad with cucumbers, frisée, tomatoes and shredded carrots. Blindfolded, I would have thought I was eating sweetbreads, and I liked the dish very much.

The joues de cochon were also quite good, three browned medallions on a bed of diced sautéed apple, potato, and onion surrounded by a moat of the reduced braising liquid, the meat incredibly tender and full of flavor, the apples, potatoes, and onions a good complement, if not very imaginative.

About forty Euros. There were about six or seven of us singles there, the others uniformly having chosen the new initiated mid-day formule, two courses, a glass of wine and a café for 12.50 Euros--quite a bargain if the food served is of the same quality as I had.

A note on Clairette de Die AOC. The cepages are Clairette Blanche (10 to 25%) and Muscat Blanc (75 to 90%). The grapes are pressed, the juice filtered and allowed to begin fermentation naturally. When half fermented the must is bottled and corked, the cork wired on. Fermentation continues in the bottle without additional dosage, until it reaches about 8 or 9% alcohol around six months later. At that point the lees are disgorged and the wines are recorked, naturally carbonated, and with some remaining unfermented sugar. So it's very light in alcohol, naturally petillant, a little sweet, and makes a good traditional aperitif and an excellent dessert wine.

After lunch, still a little jet-lagged, I came home and started writing this. But I got distracted and stopped for a while. I've decided to post it as Part one of my first report. I'll post the rest in a day or two.

Maurice
Cambridge University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Sir Charles Oatley, in October, 1948, along with his student Dennis McMullan, began the research that led to the production of the first scanning electron microscope in 1965.

I thought you'd want to know.