Category Archives: Paris

Paris En Deuil


Photo: A statue in Pere Lachaise Cemetery

About That Paris March…

HEADSOkay, I’m feeling dense here. The massacre at Charlie Hebdo was an act of fundamentalist religious madness with an undeniable political dimension that makes it all the more horrendous as a potential goad to other criminal and/or deranged extremists who see it as an acceptable act of revenge for insults to Islam

The simultaneous attack on the kosher market was another facet of religio-fascist Islamic fanaticism that considers Jews a particularly heinous subset of infidels.

I understand the spontaneous gatherings of the thousands who poured out into the streets of Paris. My older son was among them. In the midst of such trauma and uncertainty (the killers were still on the loose; the shoppers in the market were being held hostage) such an act of community, solidarity, and mourning is a good, positive response.

I understand the immediate messages to the French nation of concern and condolence from world leaders and prominent international figures.

What I don’t really get, as I think about it, is the meaning of all those dignitaries and heads of state, many of of them, as has been pointed out, among the cruelest dictators on the planet, some of the most repressive national leaders, who, even as they march in Paris, hold journalists, dissenters, political rivals, etc. in brutal captivity. Who torture, exile, spy on, and silence their own people on merely the suspicion of dissenting ideas.

What, exactly, is the message of this outpouring of the notable and the just plain folk? Why do I feel this is one big anti-Islamic gesture that will further marginalize millions of men, women, and children resident in western nations, and give license to the demonization of Muslims worldwide? I just don’t see this cadre of “world leaders” dropping everything to go stand up and be counted for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, or for freedom of the press, or for… what, exactly?


American Cocktail


Women’s Review of Books 


Here’s a link to the first review, which is mine.

 An African American Prima Donna


 Reynolds at 16 on the cover of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis

American Cocktail: A “Colored Girl” in the World

By Anita Reynolds, with Howard Miller. Edited by George Hutchinson

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014, 333 pp. $29.95, hardcover

Reviewed by Marilyn Richardson

AnitaReynoldsAnita Reynolds, born in 1901 in Chicago, came of age in Los Angeles, California, during the heyday of silent films. She was a smart, clever, and vivacious teenager, who, as she says, early on “relished the role of prima donna.” She and her brother, Sumner, were encouraged in their interest in the arts by their exuberant family, both the bevy of kinfolk in California and the numerous far-flung peripatetic relatives who circled back to visit from time to time. School dropouts and Harvard graduates, their professions ranged from mail sorter at a post office to well-placed member of the foreign service…


Reynolds models a Chanel gown, 1938 


Wellesley Centers for Women Women’s Review of Books | Women’s Review of Books | Publications


To: New York Times; Re: Henry O. Tanner Exhibition

To The Editor, Re: “An African-American Painter Who Tried to Transcend Race” Feb. 9, 2012)

Ken Johnson’s review of the major Henry O. Tanner retrospective at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is flawed by errors, misinformation, and passages of snide condescension.

Johnson writes that after 1894 Tanner made no paintings of African- American life. In fact, his formal portrait of Booker T. Washington was completed in 1917. He also made drawings of black servicemen during World War I.

Beyond painting blacks in America, Tanner spent considerable time in North Africa and Egypt producing vivid and complex paintings of architecture, street scenes, and the people of dark and light hue he saw there.

France has long recognized Tanner’s genius with awards and honors; his paintings are in collections at the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, and elsewhere.  Along with the religious scenes Mr. Johnson discusses, Tanner painted life in the French countryside and in seaside villages. He produced dozens of gorgeous paintings of Paris that study the play and power of light in scenes observed from dawn to midnight.

Johnson makes much of Tanner’s wish to escape American racism in moving to France, and of the way European critics addressed the work while their American counterparts emphasized the artist’s race. His superficial and dismissive review inclines Mr. Johnson to that outdated American camp. 

I hope the public will take the opportunity to enjoy and judge for itself this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. So far, the show has attracted a record number of visitors.



A Bit of Paris Nostalgia

Theatre De La Huchette

Ionesco’s absurdist classic La Cantatrice Chauve (The Bald Soprano) has been playing here since 1957, running on a double bill with his La Leçon.

Things happening in 1961 — Mozart, Liszt, Chopin and much more.

These independent news kiosks are disappearing, replaced by Hachette news stands.

The poster and some images from the production of Endgame directed by friend Michael Blake.

Closerie des Lilas where Michael introduced me to Samuel Beckett when they were rehearsing Endgame. Have the seafood.

Came upon this online in 2017. Hmmmm, I’ll have to try and dig up those letters from Michael.


The real Shakespeare and Company on the rue d’Odeon. The bookstore  near Notre Dame that now uses the historic name was previously called Le Mistral. Under that name it  became legendary and one of a kind. I think the name change is unfortunate, not to mention historically confusing.

The bookshop originally called Mistral.

18 rue Soufflot

Once upon a time I lived for a year at 18 rue Soufflot in Paris.

A few details:

18 rue Soufflot


soufflot door handle


Once a week we took the bus to Nadia Boulanger’s apartment in the rue Ballou. There Mademoiselle gave a group lesson for music teachers and other less advanced students.







There’s an old music biz wisecrack that in every small town in America there are two characters you can count on finding – – the village idiot and the person who studied with Nadia Boulanger. I was not a private student in the way the greats were – – I was part of a Wednesday afternoon group that met at her apartment. We were assigned a piece and volunteered to perform and be critiqued by her. Two or three people got to play each week. She took both their playing and the score apart in profound detail discussing composer, composition, performance options, and demonstrating passages herself. Most of the students were piano teachers, music directors of various sorts, and a few of us rank amateurs privileged to join in. I had a grand piano where I lived, so some of us would gather there to practice.


And on another day we gathered each week at the Louvre for Mlle. Salmon’s art history class.




Two weeks of exams at the Sorbonne. I had a brain freeze and had to take the oral twice. Decades later I returned and gave a lecture (with slides) in the same building.