I spent last week in Paris attending pressing family matters. I snuck in a rehearsal of the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, conducted by American expatriate John Nelson, about to go on tour with an all-French program. At the auditorium of the Conservatoire de Paris, I heard snippets of Darius Milhaud’s Le boeuf sur le toit (Ox on the Roof) with its funny, mischievous dissonant passages.

On my way out, I saw a huge billboard showed an attractive brunette nude to the waist, with the caption: SHE SHOWED HER BREASTS! SHE SAVED HER LIFE! (covert advertisement for breast cancer screening, French style).

The current food trend was a diet disaster and a vegetarian’s nightmare. Nouvelle cuisine has now been completely discarded for rich, heavy, peasant-like food. Someone dragged me to a food fair where I saw hundreds of goat cheeses in freaky shapes and colors, including a red one well-named “Satan”. Every shop competed for more fat and calories in the shape of rich cheeses, patés, sausages, jams and jellies. The wine-tasting stands seemed attractive enough but I am in essence a teetotaler. A notable and original product however caught my attention: herb-flavored crystal salt, which makes it just about the most refined food item I have ever encountered.

And I heard more divorce horror stories from women…Paris hasn’t changed a bit. In France, woman is second to man. Have you ever looked at French music programs? Are there any women on these programs? Eliane Radigue is certainly a name that should have its place in these events. What about Joelle Leandre – and myself… although I am more American than French at this point, and maybe you understand why!

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