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03 October 2013


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William R. Cumming

WOW! Where are the snows of yesterday?


I felt the dampness and solitude of my Boulevard General Leclerc flat and my year in Paris... Your writing also brought forth smells and thoughts from the "Notebook of Malte Brigge" by Rilke that I read 30 years ago. Thanks man


Ah, Paris before it got gentrified. Notre Dame cloaked with soot. Filthy Halles. Beggars entertaining people by playing spoons. Hostile people. Paving stones that could be picked up an heaved.

My first night there, I went to a cafe on the Seine only to find a Jewish coed from my university hanging on the arm of a Turk.

Yet it was infinitely more interesting than today's scene with its highly cultured, pampered crowds, miles of gourmet restaurants, and monuments floodlit for romantic tourists.

Have you read Maugham's account of Stickland's stay in Paris in the Moon and Sixpence? Or Orwell's Down and Out in Paris? Both portray the unforgettable reality behind the shining image of the city of light.


There are still quiet backwaters in Paris. The famous Cafes of Boule St Germ are a good place for watching the wives and kids of the latest generation of Russian Oligarchs.

The Twisted Genius

Richard Sale, you are a master of story painting. I enjoy your work immensely.

I "won" a week in Paris back in the early 80's when my name was pulled from a hat at Fort Devens for courier duty. Since my civilian clothing was frozen in the 70's before I began wearing uniform every day, I had the appearance of an East European. I spoke Polish to add to the effect. I even carried a USSR made camera. I had a grand time masquerading as "le Polonaise" among the Parisians.


"Take that young girl, for example. How does one write of her? "

I don't have your gift with words yet I remember her still, two years on. Standing in the aisle on the metro. From the Étoile to the Tuileries. Ten minutes, more or less, yet one of those eternal moments.

I'm glad that I avoided the tourist season, though I must say a few of the Brits I saw in action gave New Yorkers a good name.

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