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A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 24: Hemingway and Me

It's all Ernest Hemingway's fault that I'm in Paris. I blame him, his movable feast, Gertrude Stein, and her entire lost generation. I was an English major. I sponged up all the details of descriptions of starving artists and writers who ran away to Europe, mostly to Paris, during the 20s. Zelda and F. Scott, Hem and Hadley, and all their cronies. If you are not a reader, you can relive some of this era in the movie Midnight in Paris. Many of the scenes were filmed near where I live. The red door #4 in the opening scene of the film is just down my stone steps and to the right on Rue Paul Albert. E72B4995BFF938CABACACFE663291DE8.jpg

I fell for the seemingly romantic lifestyle that I read about all those years ago as an undergraduate. And I, like the character Gil in Midnight in Paris, believed somehow that those were better times for writers. It seems as though it was easier to starve, live cheaply, write, and, if you were good, ultimately publish. I have chased that dream for a long time. My writing has improved. I've been to writing workshops in places like New York City and Tuscany. I've met talented writers and made new friends. Now, I'm sort of freezing in my fifth floor apartment high up in Montmartre. It's not quite a garrett, but if you use a little imagination...

Tonight I'm going to a writer's workshop in a loft in Paris. I will pretend to be a writer (a real writer gets published, sells books, and gets read). I have three unpublished novels and 1 1/2 screenplays if anyone is interested. I will workshop my newest novel with other writers here in Paris. I think that is nearly as good as it gets. The only thing better would be to find an agent and to publish.

Somehow, somewhere along the line Hemingway seems to have become my muse. I have visited his haunts in Venice, Madrid, Havana, and now Paris. In fact, after a long dry spell when I had more or less given up writing, I sat in the bar where Hem drank (where didn't he drink?) at Hotel Nationale in Havana, Cuba this past September and suddenly was filling up a notebook. I visited his Cuban home there in Cuba. It's exactly as he left it when the American embargo forced him to leave. He expected to return, but shot himself a year later. The Cubans blame America for his death. He was happy in Cuba. He wrote well in Cuba. He was handed his Nobel prize at his home outside Havana. The Cubans believe if he didn't leave, he wouldn't have died. They may be right. Leaving may have been his undoing.

Anyway, I am grateful to Hemingway for helping me live my dream, for bringing me to Paris and to yet another writing experience. E726862EF641C39BBDBC04BFAA303C92.jpgE72EC532B7095B7F20F19CF51CBCDCCB.jpgE72D35E7AD2473FD27B45217DA7DB3A3.jpgE7295743E0194252542D685C479FC150.jpgE7280BE5AD9B088F8B34E9F8C216942E.jpg

Posted by teethetrav 05:26 Archived in France Tagged venice cuba madrid havana hemingway midnight_in_paris hotel_nationale f.scott_fitzgerald zelda_fitzgerald hadley_hemingway Comments (2)

SEGUSO: The man, the glass, the poems

Glass-blowing is at least one thousand years old. The tradition of glass defines the island of Murano which lies across the canal from Venice. Glass, to me, is magic and fascinates me. It’s a substance that is indefinable really. A molten liquid which is blown by mouth, spun by hand, baked in a furnace until it becomes a solid. Yet it is a solid that is fragile, often transparent, and can be amongst the most exquisite, ethereal objects known. Giampaolo Seguso comes from a family who, for more than six hundred years has created glass. Born in Murano, his father Archimedes and his uncle Angelo were the creative force who preceeded Giampaolo. Giampaolo is a passionate creator of glass and, it turns out, of words.
I was honored to attend a reading of his poetry book, The Home of the Heartbeats, on May 9 at the Italian Cultural Institute in NYC. To my amazement, each poem has its own piece of glass with the poem etched on the object. Seguso read about fifteen poems from the book and the pieces were on display. He is as passionate about his words as he is about his craft. 9CD67A362219AC6817075A76F0724D35.jpg

My favorite poem and piece of glass is SNOW. Here is a line:
Later, by the stove, we crumble our minutes amid smiles, staring eyes and embraces.
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Another is I ATE MANY CHERRIES which starts: I ate many cherries in my grandfather’s garden…
He not only ate cherries in the garden, he learned his craft generation after generation. It amazes me and leaves me in awe, jealous that he has always known who he is and what he could be. He spoke of seeing himself as one in a long line of relay runners, passing the torch, one to another.

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Posted by teethetrav 10:49 Archived in Italy Tagged venice nyc murano italian_cultural_institute seguso_glass Comments (0)

La Fenice

Venice Opera

DSC02376.jpgIn John Berendt’s book The City of Falling Angels he writes about the mysterious fire that destroyed La Fenice opera house and nearly destroyed all of Venice. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see an opera while I was in Venice and see the magnificent renovation. La Fenice is a golden, sparkling treasure. If you go, be sure you are a buying a seat where you can see the stage. In Italian opera houses, many seats are available where you can’t see without standing and leaning over. It’s kind of like parts of Yankee Stadium. Buyer Beware!
This banner was hanging outside when I visited. DSC02373.jpg Anyone knowing what it means, please comment.

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Posted by teethetrav 05:49 Archived in Italy Tagged venice travel italy opera john_berendt la_fenice Comments (0)

The Hidden Nest: Venice

Searching for John Berendt

John Berendt is one of my favorite writers. No trip to Venice would be complete without searching out the places he describes in his book The City of Falling Angels. One of my destinations was to find "The Hidden Nest"; home to the writer Ezra Pound and his lover Olga Rudge. This was not as easy as it sounds. The address is 252 Calle Querini near Rio Fornace canal on Dorsoduro. I strolled the main street next to the canal taking in the sights as I walked. The narrow Calle Querini was difficult to find. It was indeed hidden.

Read Berendt's book. It is rich, wonderful, and filled with stories about Venice and Venetians.
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Posted by teethetrav 10:12 Archived in Italy Tagged venice dorsoduro john_berendt the_hidden_nest ezra_pound olga_rudge Comments (0)

Venice: Shopping

Italian shopping at its best

Although it's not known as a shopping mecca, Venice is still part of Italy. Shopping anywhere in Italy is an experience not to be missed or overlooked. Okay, much of my shopping consists of window shopping ("licking the window" is an apt phrase although French, not Italian it still applies). The window displays are sometimes enough to statisfy me. For example, these stunning glasses: DSC02393.jpg If I owned them, I'd be terrified of breaking one. So I am completely content to ogle them in the window.

DSC02394.jpg I am also elated to gaze at the windows at any of the Venezia Stadium stores. Look at these colors! Look at these fabrics! One pillow can cost 75 euros! I'd be terrified to own anything that came from these stores. Even if I could afford them. DSC02390.jpg

Of course, shopping makes me hungry so I have to stop and have some bruschetta and vino while being serenaded on San Marco Piazza.

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But my all time favorite non-purchase were the tiny figures that are as big as my thumbnail. I stood transfixed forever watching these "Tiny Dancers."

Posted by teethetrav 12:27 Archived in Italy Tagged food venice shopping Comments (0)

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