Saturday, September 27, 2008

Black and white...

Went to see the Richard Avedon exhibit at the Jeu de Paume. I loved seeing the portraits enlarged as to be able to see the reflection in the eyes of the subject. The images were all so powerful and the exhibition space lent itself to the black and white starkness of his work.

I had my little Olympus with me and took a few shots indoors of the windows and space... the above was taken outside after we left the building. It was just a blank wall, but the shadows and the play of light on the leaves made an interesting pattern. The person I was with asked me, "how do you see that?" as I nudged her in that direction and took the shot. The beauty of digital is it is right there. I showed her the preview. I don't know the answer to that. It's just there... it pleases my eye.

Here's a link to the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. A lot of pleasure in this site. Enjoy.

Note to self: This was such an inspiration. Make more time to go see more shows and make it a point to go out and just shoot.

I speak through my photographs more intricately, more deeply than with words.
~Richard Avedon

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mois de la Photo

A few years ago I took a digital photography course at Parsons School of Design here in Paris given by Bob Bishop, the editor of Paris Voice. I've been rehashing a few of those photos here in this blog, including the above taken at the Jardin des Tuileries.

For me, the course was a refresher in how to look at things. He gave us a great assignment of shape, form and texture. Simple and subtle. I enjoyed going out, camera in hand, with a specific task in mind.

To be honest, I've never been technically astute with my equipment, but I think I have a good eye. I saw an interview once with Gabriel Byrne and something he said captured the essence of my photography and how I like to shoot. He said, "The camera photographs thought. It photographs emotion. If you think it, the camera picks it up." That says it all for me.

Here comes the shameless plug.

The Mois de la Photo is coming up soon here in Paris. I had emailed earlier this afternoon with Bob and he sent a link of photo events that will be happening around Paris for the next few weeks.

Hopefully, he'll be adding the upcoming Mona Bismarck exhibition "Serendipity: Photographs by Kim Powell". Kim is a friend and a professional photographer. We did a trip to Sri Lanka together last November to photograph and document the works of 60 Sri Lankan artists for Expressions of Independence, the previous MBF show. We spent an amazing 12 days in Sri Lanka, touring the island, the temples, and getting a feel for the culture. If you haven't been there, you must make it a destination to be seen and experienced. It will take hold of all your senses.

Much of our time was spent in the back seat of our car being transported to different sites by Nalin, our driver. We quickly figured out that if we wanted to capture anything, it was going to be on the move. There are a lot of motion shots, lots of movement and color blurs. But it seemed to capture the essence of what we both saw, incorporating thought and emotion.

My photos from the trip are rotating in the little photo sidebar on this site. Here's a link to the bigger slideshow.

If you are in Paris between October 22, 2008 and January 10, 2009 be sure to stop by the Mona Bismarck Foundation to see Kim's work. As I write this, it is still being set up, but having shared the experience with her, I can assure you, it will be well worth the visit.

Say "fromage"!

Monday, September 22, 2008

All the leaves are brown...

Well, not yet... but it is autumn!

I love the fall. I love when it gets chilly enough at night to throw on the big thick comforter. I love watching the leaves go through their changing metamorphosis of colors and the rustling they bring when the winds blows. The days begin to grow noticeably shorter and soup makes its way onto the menu...

Here in Paris, the chestnut leaves will be falling soon. I call them landmines because you never know what might be under them. I wrote an "Ode to Fall" when I first moved here... I wish I could find it. Suffice to say it involved sidewalks, big leaves and small dogs.

For those of you considering a visit to Paris, the autumn is the best time of year to come over. The weather is still good, everything is open, most of the regular tourists are gone and the fêtes and salons are in full swing.

The last few days here have been perfect. The next few should be just as good. A friend's mom is here from San Francisco, we're going to try to do a Cordon Bleu class. The Richard Avedon show ends next week and I'm meeting someone on Saturday to take that in. I started yoga classes every Thursday evening... all is good. A brief break in the rentrée schedule.

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
~Elizabeth Lawrence

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blast from the past...

This is really stretching it... first the FA days and now this!

As part of a learning process for a project I am working on, I was asked to join FaceBook (social networking, community building, et al). This was something I have always been reluctant to do as I already spend more than enough time on the web. But, I did it. I'm still learning how it works... and I need to make a few adjustments to the privacy settings.

I will say this... it is instantaneous as far as getting in touch with old friends. Especially for old farts like me! I have gotten back in contact with most of the old neighborhood gang, and people I haven't heard from since HS graduation day! So, to bring back the haze... here's a self-portrait of moi, circa 1976.

I used to have "my darkroom" in the bathroom... (please note the fine 1970s vintage wallpaper à la Strathmore East!) I had the enlarger and trays set up on a folding table... turn on the red light, lock the door and block out the light at the floor with towels... et voila. I'd spend hours in there, developing film, printing... lost in my own little world. My friends were my best subjects. Candid shots, portraits, staged photos, just doing what we did... it's nice to go back and look at them... even better to see they survived after 32 years!

And we survived too. So, Floyd, Sue, Anita, Sue, Jim, Kev... here's looking at you!

Ah, how good it feels! The hand of an old friend.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Welcome aboard...

There was an article on today's NYT website entitled, "Flying the Unfriendly Skies". The author, Michelle Higgins, went through American Airlines' Flight Attendant Training School and reported her experience. It had a video that went with it called, "Flight School Confidential"... I had to watch it.

As you know, I was a Flight Attendant for 10 years, and let me tell you, FA training is not easy. Judging by the video, it has not gotten any easier over the years.

The above photo is of a few of us crew members lolling around in a 747 engine, that's me standing. (Sometimes it got a little boring hanging around on the tarmac...) Luckily, we had a ladder and a few "ramp rats" to help us up and down. In training, it was a different story. To qualify on the 747, we had to jump out of a mock up cabin... Our trainer popped the door open, blew the slide and down we went, JUMP, JUMP, JUMP... It's a scary thing to do that without the adrenalin rush of an actual "event". We were given the opportunity to jump out of the upper deck... no takers. A single lane slide 47 feet up? After you.

My flying experience began as a bet. There was an ad in Newsday... I was sitting around with my boss at the time and read the ad to him. He said, "I'll give you the day off if you go to the interview". Sure, why not? That began my whirlwind career of "sky-walking". I had the opportunity to see places I never would have traveled to otherwise. I met people of many different cultures, tasted foods from all over and sated my wanderlust nature.

As cliche as it is, I met my future husband on a layover... it was April in Paris... he worked for a French airline, I worked for an American airline... we dated NY-Paris for a year and ended up getting married. Long story short, I'm still here, he's not... see my profile.

I worked for three different airlines, all charter (I wanted to do international flights and not just Peoria-Pitt-Philly-Phoenix). The last one was American Trans Air (ATA). They just went bankrupt this past spring. I met my roommate (DD) in training and we shared a house in Long Beach, NY, just four blocks from the beach and close to JFK. Our hours were not normal, we had two phone "signals", one for friends and one for crew scheduling... we had "The Wall of Shame"... photos from layovers that you wouldn't want your mom to see. We had a lot of fun. We also lost a lot of friends. It was the 80s and HIV/AIDS was still not quite defined.

Some of the more memorable flights include flying the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Washington, DC for George H. W. Bush's 1989 inauguration. I kept asking them to sing something and after a bit of egging on, the forward cabin broke into song. It was amazing to be surrounded in that sound. We flew Sir Richard Branson, his wife and several of his guests including John Hurt, from Miami to London when Virgin's plane broke down. He's an inspirational man. I had the opportunity to work a flight to the "North Pole" with the Sunshine Foundation. We had kids and their parents on board for an hour or so, with clowns and Santa... we just inched along the empty runways, but the kids enjoyed every minute of it. So did I. I have a lot of good memories.

These days, post 9/11, it just doesn't seem like it would be much fun anymore. The training video included smoke hoods and defibrillators! We were lucky enough to have a basic first aid kit and CPR certification. If you want a good laugh, go rent the movie "Stewardess School".

Fasten your seat belts!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Herd mentality...

I left this shot in a larger format because I want you to click on it and enjoy the details. It's the screen saver on my second monitor and it takes me back to that day. We were at the baby elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka and it was at the end of bathing time in the river. As you can see, there's always one hold out in every crowd. I like to think that maybe s/he thinks s/he can break free... Why not?

The reason for this photo is exactly what you see... the herd mentality. I was thinking about it today in reference to the campaign and all the mindless polls... let's just vote already! NYT's Gail Collins must have been reading my mind. Check out her column today.

This is just a quick post, knee-deep in a big deadline...

I wonder what an elephant would look like with lipstick??

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oooops, I did it again...

I love French taxi drivers.

Between yesterday and today I have been in 5 cabs, zipping back and forth across Paris. Until I open my mouth, I'm French. Then they ask me where I am from. New York. Then they ask, who am I voting for? They smile when I say Obama.

On my iGoogle home page, I have the NYT feed. One of the headlines today was "Straining to Reach Goal, Obama Presses Donors"... Ever since I donated a few days ago, I have been getting a bunch of emails from the Obama campaign. IMHO... y'all need a good copywriter to punch up the pitch! ---> Moi, (a registered Democrat abroad) didn't realize that Obama had made a decision to bypass public financing for the general election!

For that reason, I whipped out the credit card and made another donation. Check out the Obama website. They even have a $5 button for donations! Isn't that what a latte-choco-moto-whatever-it-is costs at Starbucks? Put YOUR money where your mouth is... and don't forget to register and VOTE!

I'm not that innocent...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pump up the volume...

I'm on a few mailing lists. I am also a member of FAWCO. This came in the other day from the FAWCO list...

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed new regulations that would effectively redefine commonly used birth control methods as “abortions” and restrict the access of millions of women to contraception methods and information about alternative methods of birth control.

Women’s groups are disappointed that a department of the US Government which should normally be concerned about women’s welfare is using its power to try to curb and dramatically restrict the ability of women, particularly the 17 million women who depend on federally-supported medical facilities, to receive contraceptive services.

FAWCO, in keeping with its Resolutions & Recommendations which state:

2. Resolves to encourage and support FAWCO members to promote human rights and welfare with a special focus on the most vulnerable women and children through education and awareness-raising, and recommends:

c. Affirming a person’s right to accurate information about reproductive and sexual health, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases; supporting health education programs aimed at preventing, controlling and treating diseases, as well as publishing information on cardiovascular disease, cancer and other health issues;

has written a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt recommending that the department drop the proposed regulatory change and concentrate on improving and expanding medical services for women, particularly those least able to afford private clinics.

Our letter is on our website under UN/NGO “FAWCO Speaks Out.

For a complete copy of the regulations the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing, go to

The government has a 30-day public comment period, which will continue until Sept 20. During this time, if you wish to comment you can contact the government at

If you would like more information go to NOW’s website at:

Are we that far removed from reality? Where are we headed? I feel like women are going back in time. Judith Martin's blog today spoke volumes.

Words fail me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

We won’t get fooled again...

I'm gonna need a few cases of Alter Ego to get through the next eight weeks.

In order to be bipartisan, I watched the reruns this morning of McCain's speech at the RNC. (No way was I getting up in the middle of the night to see it live!) I noticed, as the cameras panned the audience, that there was something missing. In that sea of American humanity, cowboy hats and red, white and blue buttons aside, it looked pretty pale compared to Obama's crowd. Where's the diversity? Where's the melting pot of America? And I kept hearing the same word over and over... 'fight'. Aren't we tired of fighting??

Speaking of fighting, let's move on to the pitbull in lipstick... While listening to Ms. Palin’s party acceptance speech yesterday, I had to put a finger in my good ear (I’m half deaf) to soften the shrillness of her voice. I kept saying to my son, “She sounds like, like...” and couldn’t remember who... until this afternoon. Think back to 1984 and the movie Splash. You know... Tom Hanks, Darryl Hannah? Here’s a clip from the movie, you’ll have to wait until very close to the end to hear what I mean, but it’s totally worth watching. I especially enjoyed the Crazy Eddie commercial.... IN-SANE!

Here's another little tidbit: Gail Collins' NYT op-ed today mentioned some off-mic chatter made by MSNBC commentators. I'd rate this exchange right up there with Jesse Jackson's recent gaffe. However, it's interesting to get some honest opinions from "the experts".

Now that the conventions are over, it's time for the debates. I hope CNN will give those the same full election coverage we've come to expect for the viewers overseas. I am looking forward to seeing Joe Biden and Sarah Palin face off in the swimsuit competition...

The change, it had to come...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

They’re baaack!

It's official. Anyone who held out until the last possible minute has made their way back to Paris to what is known as "La Rentrée". I can hear the Xanax being popped across the city... I can also hear the roaming street band outside... they wasted no time getting back in the swing of things. Cue Strangers in the Night... it sounds like they spent their summer learning some new tunes! It also sounds like they bought some new amps.

For those of you who have no clue as to what la rentrée is, it's the traditional time of year when, following five glorious weeks of French vacation, you pack up your bags (and your attitude) and make your way back into the grind. Work, school, whatever... then, you start counting down the weeks to the Toussaint vacation. Six weeks on, two weeks off. I love France.

It also means everything is open for business again! Cafes, bistros, newsstands, the open air markets are back with all the stalls and regular vendors. The kids have returned to school and routines fall into place.

Autumn has always been my favorite season, no matter where I lived. A time to begin anew and hopefully, make some real changes to the schedule. In my mind, it's better than making New Year's resolutions that you know you'll never keep.

Right now, I am busy working on the catalogue for our next show, (I will be shamelessly plugging that in the upcoming weeks) and I once again find myself glued to the chair and box for long hours. As you know, I have been trying to figure out some nifty time management tricks over the past few months. I've sort of come up with a list... or as I like to call it, Notes to Self. Feel free to add your suggestions!

Note to Self: Do not go to Carrefour after 4pm. The mom brigade is out in force to pick up the kids at school and head en masse to do the grocery shopping. I now have the luxury of doing daytime shopping. I just have to get off my butt and do it.

Note to Self: Roll your butt out of bed, throw something on, bypass the Nespresso machine and go do a 45 minute walk around the lake. You owe it to yourself. Side note: I hear the blind man tapping his way around the block everyday at 5pm-ish and the guilt sets in. My son has to be out of here at 8am every morning, Monday through Friday. (No Saturday classes this year!) I must build in a regular walk schedule, so if I don't answer the phone first thing in the a.m., you'll know where I am!

Note to Self: Take advantage of this amazing city and go see more stuff. There are two photo shows on right now: Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon. The artistic input will be a point of inspiration and, who knows? I might even meet some new folks in the process!

On that note, a friend's mom is coming over to visit in a week or so and I have promised to do a class with her at Cordon Bleu. I haven't done that in years! It will be fun to see her again and to spend the afternoon doing something we both enjoy... cooking! I'll have more on this later. Until then...

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
~ Albert Einstein