Tag Archives: Paris

Remembering a Free Man in Paris on Father’s Day

A street artist in Montmartre made this sketch of my father, Bob Willis, in 2005. It’s based on a photo taken after the war which is tagged “Paris 1945.” I carried that photo in my pocket until I found a suitable artist. The challenge now in Montmartre is choosing just one while evading a flock of noisy and aggressive competitors. In commissioning this drawing I was completing a circle for me and my dad. He had carried a wedding photo of my mother throughout the war, and in Montmartre he found a street artist who turned the image into an oil painting. The price Bob negotiated was two cartons of cigarettes and a chocolate bar. Continue reading






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A Call to Judge from Spoken Word in Paris: “Writers Get Violent – Le Match de Boxe”

A blind flaneur wanders into some preposterous situations from time to time. With a website like this one, preposterous situations also find him. This morning I was thrilled by an invitation to be a judge at the Writers Get Violent boxing match on Thursday night in Paris. Alas, I am in the States today, and I don’t know how I could get it together to cross the pond just now. Break my heart!






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Art Lives Forever at Pere-Lachaise

Forever: I love the way this documentary is put together. Filmmaker Heddy Honnigmann brings patience and faith to the interviews, allowing her subjects long stretches of silence to gather their thoughts and emotions. She finds extraordinarily fresh ways to tell the stories of famous artists immortalized in the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Three blind film buffs listen to a movie with Simone Signoret and Judy Garland, collectively recreating the scene from what they hear. An illustrator describes his improbable path to rendering À la recherche du temps perdu into a graphic novel, and another pilgrim to Proust’s tomb speaks passionately, in untranslated Korean, about what the master meant to him. Perhaps most affecting of all is a quiet man explaining how he tries to bring the artistic sensibility of Modigliani to his own craft – embalming corpses for burial.






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BBC Radio 4: The Paris Bouquinistes

The BBC Radio 4 program about les bouquinistes aired this morning, and I am thrilled to be part of it! Many thanks to producer Geoff Bird for bringing me into the process, and for Phil who alerted me to the broadcast. Listen now. Or launch the audio player from the BBC Radio 4 web page.






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Thomas Jefferson and the Francophobes

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Every man has two countries, his own and France.” By France he surely meant Paris. I know the sentiment. Pursuing this dual citizenship of the heart is one of my life’s great passions , and it’s a leitmotif of this blog.






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