So, with PASSING LOVE coming out in less than 50 days, Paris is on my mind.
When I travel, I love to explore without purpose. Paris is a place where no one knows (and sometimes doesn’t care) who I am or what I do. That creates a kind of freedom to stare and consider, don’t you think?
In the City of Light, I get lost, safely lost, without concern (as long as I have my map and dictionary). Of course, you can argue that New York, Chicago or LA are great cities to get lost in—and you’d be right. When I can, I love to wander in those great cities, too. In Paris, there are hundreds of years, and levels and levels (literally) of history in nearly every neighborhood.
During my last visit, I stayed in the 6th arrondissement* not far from the famous Boulevard St. Germain des Prés. I’d already decided that Paris and jazz were going to be important parts of PASSING LOVE, but I had no idea of its past. It wasn’t until I took a tour, and started that aimless walking I so enjoy, that I learned who had tread the very same cobblestone streets of my neighborhood.
St.-Germain has a recent history that connects it to the U.S. Baldwin, Wright, and Hemingway are among the authors who walked the streets of the 6th. In late ‘40s and early ‘50s Bud Powell, Lester Young, Sidnet Bichet, Max Roach, and other well-known or struggling jazz musicians flocked to the clubs that dotted St.-Germain. The musicians were adored and enjoyed, and Parisians partied all night long to their music.
I wanted to learn as much as I could about jazz and Paris. I found many other places in the city where our American musical forefathers performed, played and lived. It was calming experience, and I felt closer to the city by learning more about it.
Wandering can be a kind of meditation that forces us to acknowledge and appreciate the details of the cities we love.
What city streets can you hardly wait to walk and explore?
*Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements or municipal districts, that spiral outward like a nautilus shell. I included a list of places and people in PASSING LOVE.