Category Archives: travel & food

Keeping it Pencil Thin on Saint-Germain

UPDATE: I just realized I keep getting the name of Montmajour Abbey incorrect. Montmajour Abbey is the correct name. In French it is Abbaye Notre Dame de Montmajour. Wiki it here.

Jesse sublett, blues singer, surrealist, crime writer

Jesse sublett, blues singer, surrealist, crime writer

Clockwise, Lauri, Lois, Jesse, Jake at La Rotonde

Jesse Sublett, crime novelist, blues singer

Me & Karl Lagerfeld, you know, ran into each other & I said, Hey man, you need a black cat like mine, or at the very least, a pencil thin mustache. Well, he met me half way. Cool guy.

So I was walking down the street, singing “Last Kind Words” by Geechie Wiley, which is, like the saddest song in the whole world, in the history of history. It goes like this:

The last kind word I heard my daddy say
Lord the last kind word I heard my daddy say

If I die, if I die in the German War
I want you to send my body, send it to my mother, Lord

If I get killed, if I get killed, please don’t bury my soul
Just leave me out, let the buzzards eat me whole

When you see me comin’, look ‘cross the rich man’s field
If I don’t bring you flour, I’ll bring you bolted meal

I went to the depot, I looked up at the sign
Cry some train don’t come, there’ll be some walkin’ done

My momma told me, just before she died
Lord, Oh precious daughter, don’t you be so wise

The Mississippi River, you know it’s deep and wide
I can stand right here, see my baby from the other side

What you do to me baby, it never gets out of me
I mean I’ll see you, after I cross the deep blue sea

And I ran into that Karl dude, see above. And then back at Hotel Bellechasse, there’s our pals, Jake Riviera and Lauri Riviera, checking in just two minutes after we got there, not unexpected, but a welcome sight, and it means a pleasant evening is in store.

Jesse Sublett, Surrealist, crime novelist, blues singer

Toro Piscine!! Like what it looks like, bullfighting for the kids.

Jesse Sublett, Surrealist, crime novelist, blues singer

Olive Trees, St. Remy d’Provence, first attempt. May Van Gogh & all those guys rest in peace. Don’t get up on my account, OK?

Jesse sublett, blues singer, crime writer

So like what kind of a great predicter of the future was Nostradamus? How did he not predict that we were coming? Bummer. We left a note, will let you know if we find out WTF.

Jesse Sublett, Surrealist, crime novelist, blues singer

Olive trees, St. Remy d’Pce. Second attempt drawing the trees across from the swimming pool at the villa.

Jesse Sublett, Surrealist, crime novelist, blues singer

Philosophie magazine. What timing!! I saw the posters everywhere in Paris & I’m like, How did they know I was coming?

I finished Anne Carson’s Grief Lessons (Four tragedies by Euripides)before we left for Provence, and the images and plots and hysterical, brutal scenes were still ringing in my head, and I’m running into characters from those tragedies in bronze (at Musee Rodin, at Musee d’Orsay, etc.), and then there’s this poster everywhere, for Philosophie magazine, and I just had to buy it. Not just for the guy with the horse head, and just about any time there’s a guy with a horse head, it’s disturbing enough to get my attention, but as it turns out, they’re holding the
23rd World Congress of Philosophy in Athens now. Excellent! If I could I would go, even if all the talk would be over my head. So I bought the magazine and I’m slowly translating the whole thing (it’s in French), with the help of Babelfish. Looks like they’ve got heavy duty articles on Theseus and the Minotaur, Oedipus, and all that great stuff that’s been spooking me out for the past few years or so.

I also bought a couple of graphic novels at the bookstore by Deux Magots, and we went out shopping with the girls (except, now that I think about it, Jake and I would park at a bistro or something and have a couple of drinks while our wives shopped, then when they wanted to move on, we’d find another bar close to the new shopping area). Later that night we ate at La Rotonde, and it was just as good as the last time we ate there, maybe better. Next day we ate at the mother of all brasseries, La Coupole. We ate a lot of places and I took a lot of iPhone pix.

Jesse Sublett, artist, crime writer

The house in St. Remy d’Pce.

Jesse Sublett, artist, crime writer

The cover of the new Fleetwood Cadillac Mac CD by Jesse & Daphne

La Rotonde. Sure, it looks better in person.

La Rotonde. Sure, it looks better in person.

Jesse Sublett, artist, crime writer

Lois, lobby of Hotel Bellechasse, Saint Germain.
Last dinner in Paris we went to Cafe Louis Philippe with Jake & Lauri, with Michael & Linda Moorcock and Martin & Lynn Stone. Michael as you may know is an author and Martin Stone is a musician and rare book dealer. Martin plays with Marianne Faithful and has backed up a good many legendary blues guys. Anyway, it was a superb meal there and it was very funny, this black and white tabby found us soon after we were seated and she made herself at home between Linda and Lynn, parked there the whole time, accepting bites, and when we left, she escorted us downstairs as we bid goodnight. We were just saying that France is the most dog friendly place we’d ever seen, but you know, when you think about it, France is very, very catlike. If you disagree, tough luck, I’m not gonna argue with you because you’re wrong.

[caption id="attachment_5303" align="aligncenter" width="3264"]Jesse Sublett, Surrealist, blues singer, crime writer breakfast at the villa

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Jesse sublett, blues singer, crime writer

library in Marais

Jesse sublett, blues singer, crime writer

Daphne with our chef, who is also a livery driver

Jesse sublett, blues singer, crime writer

on Bellechasse.

Jesse sublett, blues singer, crime writer

Shopping on Saint Germain.

Jesse sublett, blues singer, surrealist, crime writer

view from Abbey, wild white horses

Jesse sublett, blues singer, surrealist, crime writer

Abbey Montemajour

Jesse sublett, grave digger blues, surrealist, crime writer

This gargoyle is the Monster of Tarasco who would eat sinners as they tried to cross the marsh by the Abbey

Jesse sublett, blues singer, surrealist, crime writer

Hey is that a man in your mouth, or what?

Jesse sublett, grave digger blues, surrealist, crime writer

Daphne, resting at the monks’ graveyard at the Abbey

Jesse sublett, blues singer, surrealist, crime writer

Ivan has a bright idea before putting the fish on the grill

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Filed under Books & other writing by Jesse Sublett, MY ART BLOG, travel & food

Greetings from France

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author Arles.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Moe ghosting the patio at chateau, St. Remy d’Pce

> Coliseum in Arles, where they still have bullfights.[/caption]

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Eygalieres, where we had our first 3 hour lunch. Provence is fine.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Agent Double-O-Ivan. Russian sniper camera, junk shop outside Eyaglieres.

Powered by 3 double espressos & too many chocolate croissants… Shopping in St. Germaine… sitting across from Musee d’Orsay… having a nice day, in general. The weather has cooled down quite a bit. Last week it was hot in Paris and also in Provence.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Bull painting in Arles shop. Cool. Bull iconography everywhere you look.

Every day, hiking through the markets in St. Remy d’Pce, Arlenes, & other villages, ending the day feeling like a baked potato. Fortunately the chateau where we were staying with P&I and Bob & Daphne has a pool, so after a quick immersion and some aperitifs, all was fine with the world again.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

At the chateau, St. Remy d’Pce. Like I said, toreadors & bull imagery abounds.

I instantly dig the lifestyle here and other than everything costing about double, I find nothing to dislike. I was looking for a current corrida poster but did not score one. So many bookstores.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Powered by croissants & double espressos. Paris.

Yesterday after we arrived back in Paris we went walking and we must have passed at least half a dozen. Stopped in two of them this morning and bought a couple of really cool graphic novels.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir novelist

Moe aka Chavez, ghosting the chateau in St. Remy

Will write about them later and when we return, I’ll scan some pages and post them. Another book note, at Shakespeare & Company, I wormed my way into the teensy alcove or closet, whatever you want to call it, which is the poetry section there and checked for Anne Carson titles.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Iris the Messenger who brings Madness to Herakles to make him kill his family because Hera is fed up with this superhero trip he’s been on. Oh yeah, by Rodin at Musee Rodin in Paris.

It’s really hard to find more than one or two titles in any bookstores I’ve been to in the States lately.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Moe, aka Chavez, ghosting us in Paris.

Guess what? They had every single book Carson has in print. Bought one of them and spoke to the gal behind the counter who said the owner is a huge fan of Anne, so that’s why. Good for you guys. I bought GRIEF LESSONS (Four plays by Euripides, translated by Anne Carson, with intros and essays that are worth the price of the book, plus her translations of the plays are brutal, wicked, like classic Greek on meth. Awesome. Hysteria. Like running around outside naked when it’s raining razor blades. Anyway…).

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Arles

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Please note the souls being dragged off to Hell. Don’t let this happen to you.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Our first lunch in Provence. Yum.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Dorado. Great on the grill.

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

Dorado, grilled by Ivan, + sausages, salad, asparagus pasta, + other stuff.

 

Jesse Sublett, surrealist, blues singer, noir fiction author

The lavender people. Met this couple at the market in St. Remy d’Pce. See the purple car? They’re from Holland. They do this all the time. After taking their picture they said, We even buy purple toilet paper. We can’t get it in Holland. That’s Ivan on the left, synchronicity, wearing a purple Izod. Next day we saw them in Arles. Weird!

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Filed under anne carson, Books & other writing by Jesse Sublett, France, NOIR & TRUE CRIME, travel & food

SF, crab cakes, man bags, HSBG, PHJB, etc.

The light in the lobby of Sir Francis Drake magically enhances the golden glow of a shot of red whisky.

Monday, October 8, 2012. Last weekend was a nice time to be in SF. Went there to hang around with our great friends, Jake Riviera and Lauri Riviera. It’s Lauri’s birthday weekend, the week before Lois’ & my wedding anniversary, and Jake has business there, since he manages Nick Lowe, who had quite a few gigs over the weekend. We don’t listen to a lot of blue grass music, or any at all, technically speaking, but so the “hardly strictly” part of the Hardly Strictly Blue Grass Festival was reassuring.

The effortlessly cool Nick Lowe singing “Tennessee Stud” in the only version of the song I ever want to hear again.


Always lots of Austin musicians in SF during this thing, which we realized five years ago. We were staying at the Sir Francis Drake, and every time we got in the elevator it was like being back stage with our pals. I remember Joe Ely, his band members, and probably Lou Ann Barton, (one of my favorite friends since forever) and dozens of others. This time we stayed at the Prescott on Post, went over to Sir Francis Drake bar, a really, really nice bar, for drinks, and Steve Earle was there, and some others. I had a Mitscher rye whisky, which was new for me, and quite good. The bartender also gave me a sample of Whistle Pig rye, at $20 a shot, one expects magic, and I have to say, it’s pretty good.

Lobby bar at Sir Francis Drake Hotel on Powell.


We’re huge fans of Dashiell Hammett, so when we’re in town we usually seek out the Hammett landmarks, but we’ve done a good deal of that already, as one might guess of a crime novelist and his wife who named their son Dashiell. We passed by John’s Grill (a haunt of both Hammett and his fictional protagonists, including the great hero, Sam Spade), but neither took a snapshot or peeked in the window. We’ve eaten there, but there are a lot better places to eat in SF.

Although best known for his great novels Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, The Glass Key is one of my big favorites, and what a movie it made.


Thursday night we dined with my nephews, Jay Sublett and Robert Woods, two fine gentlemen enjoying successful careers in the Bay Area. Robert is an engineer in the Coast Guard, Jay is in marketing, and Jay’s companion, JoAnna Karem, is a territory manager for Southern Wine & Spirits. It was cool to find Jay enjoying a Bulleit rye, my favorite drink, when we arrived at Chambers, the hip restaurant at Hotel Phoenix, and to find that Bulleit is one of the brands distributed by JoAnna’s company. Cool.

We knew there would be a lot of people in town for the music festival, but were unaware that it was also Fleet Week, and there were several major concerts in town, including someone from the eighties named Madonna, and someone from the nineties, Justin Timberlake. There were also bands playing in Union Square, near the hotel, including a great second line brass band. I couldn’t see them, but their music boomed around the streets Saturday morning in the most delightful way. First indication that it was Fleet Week was the humongous aircraft carrier I spotted on the way in from the airport, along with a couple of missile frigates. Something about a whole bunch of sailors hitting port, too, was in the air.

Every few minutes the Blue Angels would scream past and people would look up, often too late to catch a glimpse between the buildings, smiling with an expectation of wonder. It’s sobering to remember that in many countries, such as our Earth colleagues in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., when they hear American jets, they are not smiling, not anticipating something wonderful.

Ben Jaffe and the Preservation Hall guys, huddling before their set, center of shot. Beautiful day.


Buddy Miller! What an awesome musician. Saw him three nights in a row. First night at Great American Music Hall, starring the always awesome Nick Lowe, Buddy joined Elvis Costello and a lap steel guitarist for a tribute to Jesse Winchester, who was ailing and not able to open the show. Buddy owned the audience during his rendition of “The Showman.” Elvis sang “Black Dog” and a couple of other songs.

Nick Lowe, who I am privileged to call a friend, was even better than usual. We’ve seen him literally dozens of times, and he gets better every time. Where will this end? If he lives to be 100, he’ll be so good that it will discourage teenagers from even attempting to scale his lofty height. “I Trained Her to Love Me So I Could Break Her Heart” was a highlight, as usual, and there was a new song, “Tokyo Bay.” Sadly, “All Men Are Liars” was not in the set, but when you’ve got so many great songs, you can’t do them all every night. By the way, the first time I heard “All Men Are Liars” was shortly after he’d written it. He played it for us in the hotel after dinner. Great introduction to one of my favorite songs. Next time I saw him I gave him a copy of a vintage paperback crime novel titled ALL MEN ARE LIARS. Guy Clark also performed a short set.

Lois at Sir Francis Drake


Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale levitated the sea of music fans at HSBG the next day on the Tribute stage. Buddy was joined by Joel Guzman, the incredibly talented Austinite, on accordion. The band had two drummers, churning out a nonstop monstrous swampy beat, and, as attested to by Buddy after the show, when I complimented him, a surfeit of drummer jokes. Emmylou Harris was in the wings, waiting to join on the encore, which also included Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Patti Griffin, and too many others for me to remember right now at 3 AM in the morning.

Robert Plant, brown leather man bag. Onstage, Buddy Miller & Joe Guzman, laying down the law of the groove.


I didn’t want to bug Robert Plant by saying, Hey neighbor, saw you in HEB the other day, but I did snap a couple of iPhone shots in profile to have a later look at his brown leather man bag/purse. John Paul Jones had a nice one, too. Several other musicians were carrying smaller, narrower messenger type bags. I’ve been considering getting one for my iPad and other junk I need for my satellite espresso bar offices, but I think for the time being I’ll stick with my army bag, inherited from my father-in-law. Not only is it the perfect size but it carries a certain machismo that, frankly, is lacking in even the roughest looking leather man bag. Call me weird, OK, a purse adheres a certain testosterone boost with the knowledge that the last guy who carried it was in a forward artillery unit in Guadalcanal, the Philippine jungles, Papau New Guinea and several other rather touchy places.

Have I mentioned that I’m a HUGE fan of Preservation Hall Jazz Band? With their bulletproof cool, PHJB played after Buddy, a short funeral march set that included a version of “Didn’t We Ramble” that kept percolating through my backbone all weekend. Spoke with band director Ben Jaffe beforehand, reminding him that the band rented my upright bass for a gig a couple of years ago, and that I would remind him again next time I saw him, just like I did the last time, etc., etc., and he seemed quite relieved. I forgot who played next, but then shortly Jimmie Dale Gilmore followed in his ostrich skin cowboy boots and wowed the audience, as usual. Before he went on I asked him if he was relieved he didn’t have to follow PHJB and he agreed it was indeed fortunate. I mean… you know.

Man bag, vintage 1941


The O’Brien Family Band played next, and they were fine, although I am not familiar with their music. Tim, playing mandolin this time, sat next to me on the van ride, and is a nice fellow. The reason for our outing at this point was in fact for Nick Lowe’s performance of “Tennessee Stud” as part of the tribute that day, and Nick did a fantastic version, with his skiffle rhythm and honeyed brit drawl. He was apprehensive before, since they recruited him for this last minute, and he had to learn an awful long list of verses on short notice. But he pulled it off and then some. I forgot the name of the drummer, but the guy is just great.

Rode the van back to Hotel Monaco and, leaving for my hotel, heard someone call my name. Turned out I had just breezed past Andrew Duplantis, who was in town playing with Son Volt. I must say, Andrew looks really good in short hair and aviator shades. He’s got the old school musician look, you know? Back in the day, when a gang of musicians entered a truck stop or airport or wherever, you knew, people stared, they said, look at those weird, semi skuzzy creatures of the night. These days, you see a bunch of hipsters or nerds, they could be working for a high tech company or in the city parking department, but they’re carrying guitars like maybe they just bought a starter kit from Guitar Center. I don’t care if this sounds curmudgeonly, but it just ain’t right.

Anyway, that night we met our good pals Kathleen Maher and Jon Peddie at Le Colonial, a great Vietnamese restaurant in the little alley called Cosmo, right off Post. What a great joint. It really does look French Colonial. Dien Bien Phu and all that. Great bar upstairs, food was fantastic. Crab cakes, prawn and papaya salad, all great stuff. Kathleen and Jon are in the high tech industry and recently contributed short stories to an anthology of science fiction stories by people in the high tech industry. They’re sending me a copy. Jon and Kathleen are usually the sharpest wits in the room, and I’ve known Kathleen as a writer and editor forever, so I know their stories will be good.

Enjoying an R1 rye, neat, at Le Colonial. R1 is a Kentucky distillery.

So then we went with Jake & Lauri to The Chapel in the Mission District, which is the brand new Preservation Hall West. By brand new, I mean there was still sawdust here and there and some unpainted wall board in a few corners. The place opened for business last Thursday, and the hammers were still wailing that afternoon. Sound technician Doug Anderson was running the board that night and he said when he arrived with Robert Earl Keen’s entourage that afternoon, he took one look at the state of the place and said, Well, no way this is happening tonight. But they pulled it off. Doug, by the way, got a weird idea to build his own parlour sized guitar. He proudly showed off photos of this work in progress like a new father with baby pictures. I think the finished product is gonna be a real player and hope to get to plunk on it someday.

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale again rocked the house at this super cool benefit show at $150 a ticket. Elvis Costello again played a set, wearing a hat with a flat crown and a suit. On one song he played a tiny electric guitar for no apparent reason other than it looked silly. Bill Kirchen was often in the spotlight and burned, soared, rocked, thundered on his vintage Telecaster. Then he took the mic for Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing” and boy oh boy, the house lifted up in the air. What a barn burner. Hooray for Bill. Keyboards by the abundantly talented Austin De Lone.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band joined Elvis for the last set and shined, as always. Have I mentioned that I am a huge fan? Oh, yeah, guess I did but here it is again. Those guys are super cool.

Dinner at Farina, around the corner from the club, great Italian food. I had a locally brewed stout that knocked my socks off. Speaking of footwear, Nick complimented me on my Mark Nason distressed pointy toed shoes, saying, “You realize you’ve got the coolest shoes in San Francisco?” Nick is a dapper man himself, so this meant much more than receiving praise from a sales person at, say, Ben Sherman. Not to knock Ben Sherman, either. Actually, the Ben Sherman store is always one of our first stops in SF, and on this trip I bought a nice belt.

View from the Tribute stage at HSBG, just a sliver of a glimpse of that sea of people. LOTS OF PEOPLE.

Bill Kirchen annihilating all resistence with his stunningly great version of “The Times They Are a-Changing” at Preservation Hall West. On left are Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Elvis C. (bad iPhone pic).

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Filed under BLUES, MURDER BALLADS & OTHER COOL RACKET, travel & food, Your basic culture thing