Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Memories for Sale? Or Inspiration?

One of the most popular photos of the 20th century (and one of my favorites), "Le Baiser de l'Hotel de Ville Paris," went on the auction block Monday in Paris. If you're not familiar with the photo by name, you will be when you see it.

Analysts expected it to sell for $19,000-$26,000 American. It went for $202,000!

The woman in this picture, Francoise Bornet, put her original copy up for sale. She admitted a few years back that the moment was not spontaneous, but staged after Robert Doisneau saw her and a fellow theater student kissing there. A few days later, they met to recreate the tableau for posterity. Bornet told a French magazine that the image was staged, but the kiss was one of the most real she has had to this day. I told this story to someone last night. His first response? "Buying that picture is buying someone's memories."

It's an interesting take, but I have to disagree. That memory, spontaneous or staged, has been part of the world's culture since it appeared on the cover of Life magazine in 1950 or '51 (I don't recall which). This shared moment hangs in thousands of living rooms and bedrooms and dorm rooms courtesy of the poster industry. It has been reprinted hundreds of times on greeting cards and notepaper and hatboxes.

All this exposure has not watered down the impact of the image. On the contrary, I believe it has expanded its reach. How many people has this picture inspired? How many of our parents and/or grandparents have looked at this black and white and thought back to the days of their youth when things were simpler and the rules were easier? How many of our parents generation and our generation have looked to images like this and "Kissing the War Goodbye" and wanted that kind of passion for ourselves? The moment when our desire for another person obliterates all else that's going on around us and all that passes us by?

Therefore, I contend these images are not just memories, but inspiration. And only you can decide for yourself what price is too high when it comes to inspiration.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Just as Elaine's closet is probably getting empty, good news from the FDA. Today, they decided the Today Sponge is once again "market-worthy."

  The company that now makes the contraceptive says the Food and
Drug Administration has approved its sale in the United States.
   When it was withdrawn from the market back in 1995, the sponge
was known as women's favorite nonprescription birth control
product. The device's original manufacturer halted production
rather than upgrade a manufacturing plant.
   The sponge's effectiveness and safety were never questioned.
It's been sold in Canada and over the Internet for the last two
   The fierce loyalty of the product's fans made for a memorable
episode of the sitcom ``Seinfeld.'' The character Elaine stockpiled
a supply of the birth control device, then screened prospective
lovers to be sure they were "spongeworthy."

Out of Body Experience

I'm not one of those New-Agers (or as Penn and teller call them, Newagers) who believe in this sort of thing, but I feel like I'm standing outside myself, observing as I sabotage the best thing that's happened to me in years. I don't want to do that. I want to grab this and hold it and make it work, but I see myself pushing it away and feel almost helpless to stop myself.

I suppose it's because I don't know how to talk when the words are needed most. Fear of saying the wrong words paralyzes my voice, and I say nothing, even though normally, when I'm wrong, I'll admit my mistakes. I'm afraid of inflicting hurt on some one else, and would rather turn it all against myself.

I'm sorry. Help me not to ruin this. Don't let me ruin this.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

April Memories

I have a feeling this is what April will be like for me for the next few years. My mind has been thousands of miles away for the last few days. In Europe, to be exact.

One year ago last night I was standing atop Montmartre drinking champage and rum and pineapple juice and watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle at the top of each hour. We saw Paris in the dark, and the dark side of a couple of Parisians.

The next morning we walked through Sacre Coeur by daylight. I stopped to read an inscription on the wall. It said that on the night of April 20th and early morning hours of April 21st, 1944, German bombs rained down on the city of Paris. The entire neighborhood around Sacre Coeur was damaged, much of it destroyed, dozens killed. But the church itself, the city's gleaming white monument to guilt and sin, was not touched.

April 20 into April 21. The same night 50 years later that we spent standing on the stone, overlooking the vistas as others injected drama into our lives. The same night I felt helpless to do nothing but watch it all unfold because I was untouched, uninvolved. That coincidence of dates struck me that day, and again last night as I looked at the calendar. Is there something more to it? Or am I just trying to connect myself to a history that just isn't there?

Regardless, a year ago today, we got our hotel with the gorgeous view of the Eiffel tower, and walked the streets of Montmartre and of Paris itself. Tomorrow, the train would take us to Rome for yet another series of adventures. It makes me happy to remember, yet sad it has passed. That was a lifelong dream finally fulfilled at the age of 28. I'm remarkably glad I did it, and it opened the door for me to start doing more things for myself, but at the same time, it's been a year, and I still feel I'm floating aimlessly.

Paris was the city I wanted it to be, but I felt there was something missing. Rome was the city I never dreamed it would be, and I felt there is so much more than the surface we scratched. I want to go back.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

iPod One

One of the President's aides has released a list of the songs on the President's iPod. I haven't found the complete list anywhere yet, but the sampling listed by the BBC confirms yet again - vanilla, vanilla, vanilla!

I can think of MUCH better things that could go on there! As could the rest of the people who wrote in at the bottom of the article.

Monday, April 04, 2005

An Interesting Segue

Listening to my music on shuffle, and I just got a very interesting segue:
Green Day "Are We The Waiting" into "Children of the Revolution" into "Little Earthquakes" into "Had a Dream"
From there it settled down a bit, but those were some interesting jumps....

Friday, April 01, 2005

Inspiration in strange places

This has been a wacky week.

It started out pretty poorly, and has bounced all over the map from there, but one thing has been consistent. I've found inspiration for some of my creative projects in some of the strangest places this week.

First off, there was the poem that has been bouncing around in my head for the better part of a year now. I knew what I wanted to say, but not quite how to say it. So I'm surfing the website for a local club and one of their headings says "Meet me." The synapses started firing and somehow, in that convoluted grey matter of mine, that set off the domino effect that resulted in a poem being written in 20 minutes. Keep in mind, I completely changed it around when I cleaned it up, but just the fact that I've had the idea around for so long and no idea what to do with it, and now it's out there on paper, is one heck of an accomplishment.

Second, I was looking at a friend's blog entry and clicked through to this amazing art project called PostSecrets. The basic idea is that you write a secret on a postcard, decorate it, and send it to the author, who posts them on line each Sunday. I only read the first few, but those were powerful enough to set my brain in motion....

Then there was tonight. Reading my friend's email about the evils of the national media, another couple of phrases struck me. I'm not sure what I'll do with them yet, but they're in the toolbox, as it were.

And sometimes there's just no explaining where things come from. My latest odd image literally just spewed forth from my pen as I was writing. I was trying to finish off a poem that had given me fits in trying to capture. I reached the last stanza, and that just reeled off the I had been thinking about it and had it in the back of my mind, but I hadn't. Not one bit. "Love's lead token of golden promises broken" Not only does it have that ring to it, but it has the layers of hidden meaning that I can't capture if I try, but when I don't, it flows. Wish I had more moments like that!