Thursday, January 26, 2012


The nonprofit I volunteer at is planning their Spring Gala, which is our major fundraiser for the year.  This year's theme is "April In Paris." At our planning meeting, someone suggested that it would be cool to have movies about Paris playing in the background (sans sound) during the pre-dinner cocktail reception.

This is why I am sitting cursing MGM (who is, according to the Copyright Office records, the rights holder here) for my inability to find a place to write to request permission to show An American in Paris.  (It was so much easier to find where to get permission for Warner Brother's April in Paris.)* And wondering if the recent Supreme Court decision in Golan v. Holder means that even early silent films are off limits without permission.  Goodbye, Georges Méliès. (Even though his films are fantasies which would not show shots of Paris, his works are pretty well known and would be of interest following Scorcese's Hugo -- which is a wonderful movie I enthusiastically recommend.)

Our other option is to use a slide show of public domain pictures of Paris.  Fortunately, the Internet is greatly helpful:  I spent a couple of hours online yesterday and found easily 50-60 shots which I can use.  Everything from the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa to Père Lachaise cemetery and Sacré-Cœur cathedral.  I have yet to locate a public domain picture of one of Hector Guimard's  Art Nouveau Metro station entrances, but I am sure one is out there.**

The problem for me is.... I want to go back to Paris.  NOW.

It's odd to be homesick for a city which I have only seen three times in my life, for a grand total of less than two weeks.  I have felt it before, that longing for somewhere far away, although it is usually centered on London or Madrid.  (And every time I see one of them, the Lord of The Rings movies fill me with a desire to be in New Zealand.) In both cases, I have spent even less time there than in Paris.

Maybe it is just getting older (my excuse for everything these days, it seems), but I am restless.  I want to roam, to feel that excitement of trying to figure out the signs in a language I do not speak or navigate strange roads where people drive on the other side. I want to see the misty hills of Scotland again.  I want to lose myself in the corridors of the Louvre.  I want to sit at a cafe on the Plaza Major and have churros con chocolat.*** I want to walk along the Keizersgracht and watch the boats carrying the tourists go by. I want to see the malachite room in the Winter Palace, and wonder what it must have been like for the czar to sit there while the Russian people rioted outside, and how in some ways those everyday Russians are the ancestors of the Occupy movement.

I want to leave here and... just go.  There is some outside chance I will go to Italy in the fall, and that will help. I will hopefully get to see Rome, Florence, and Milan. But even that is not an unmixed blessing.

I'll just have that many more places to long for when my eyes are discontented with the horizon in front of me.

*There are probably better movies to use; both of these were primarily shot on sound stages. I'm looking into it.
**If anyone reading this has .jpgs of these -- or any other Paris pictures -- that they would like to donate to the cause, you can email me using my profile.
***Actually,  the best churros con chocolat in Madrid are at Chocolateria San Gines,  5 Pasadizo de San Ginés.  Oh, my God. They are so decadently good.  And, according to Wikipedia, they also have a branch in .... Tokyo.

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