It’s a mystery.
I am happy to report that after many years of waiting, I am finally about to watch the first episode of Spenser: For Hire on DVD. Yes, long after inferior shows from the same time period–Hunter, The Equalizer, etc.–have had their complete series released on DVD, the first season of Spenser is out via the Warner Archive Collection. This might sound like a silly thing to get excited about, but Spenser: For Hire is pretty much my favorite television show ever. I like it so much that I spent my entire first visit to Boston tracking down shooting locations from the series. I like it so much that I taped 63 of the 66 episodes off Lifetime: Television For Women back in 1997. (I had to edit out so many tampon commercials.) Until today when my DVDs arrived in the mail, those ten VHS tapes were among my prized possessions and the things I’d rescue second in a house-fire. I’m still going to hold on to them, of course. I’ll keep them at least until seasons two and three come out.
And now I’m going to watch the two-part pilot, “Promised Land”. It’s based on Robert B. Parker’s novel of the same name.
I included the roof cat, but left out the woman who paraded around topless in that upper floor bathroom across the street. Both were magical Parisian sights that I’ll always remember, but it’s much easier for me to draw a tiny cat than a tiny woman.
I also left out the ladder because it would’ve overlapped the cat.
It occurred to me about a day too late that I should’ve set up my previous post differently. A click on any of the small close-up photographs should’ve opened a different, more traditional shot of each of the sights instead of a larger version of the close-up. The post would’ve featured eighteen photos (two of each location) instead of just the nine. Oh well, it’s too late for that now.
It’s not too late to post the other nine photographs, however. So here they are, more representative shots of the nine places featured in that earlier post.
(As before, you can hover over the individual photos for the names of the locations or click to enlarge.)
Today we visited the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, the largest and most beautiful cemetery in Paris. When I first visited the city nineteen years ago, I was mostly interested in tracking down the grave of Jim Morrison. This time around, I wanted to pay my respects to two of my favorite authors, Georges Perec and Marcel Proust.
Georges Perec wrote my current all-time favorite book, Life a User’s Manual. His ashes can be found in the Columbarium in box #382. (Jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli is two down and four to the left in #417.)
Although he doesn’t mean as much to me as Georges Perec does, I also stopped by Marcel Proust’s grave. Not only did I read the author’s seven volume In Search of Lost Time a couple years ago, but Sailor Babeaux considers him a moustache hero.
We also saw the graves of Gertrude Stein, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Frédéric Chopin, Georges Seurat, Isadora Duncan, and Colette.
…where black cats really do hang out on the rooftops in silhouette.
I thought that was just something the office de tourisme came up with for their advertising posters.
I should be packing my Jimmy Stewart suitcase, but I’ve been taking pictures of music on the floor instead. This first one shows my recent 12″ records. The name of the first band (up at the top left) is so stupid that I’m not even going to mention it. I only bought it because I like how they ripped off the back cover art from PJ Harvey’s Dry. Then comes the reissue of the first Posies record. The sticker on the front said it was on “translucent green vinyl”, but I swear I got a “piss yellow” copy. Grrr. Then comes an amazing full-length from a band called the Wake, an old Holiday Flyer that I already had on CD, and that Replacements EP they put out last year. The Replacements was used, but still had an active download code card tucked away inside. You hardly ever see that.
And here’s a pile of interesting singles I picked up at Everybody’s Records. It goes like this: Mudhoney, Icehouse, Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes, a row of Damien Jurado, and a row of Pedro the Lion. I’d never heard a Mudhoney song before and bought their record just because it looked fun. It turns out I like Mudhoney. At least I like their song “Butterfly Stroke”. You know how music media types often talk about something called the Song of the Summer? It’s usually Beyoncé or something like that. Well, mine has been “Butterfly Stroke”. I don’t even care that it came out in 1999. It makes me want to eat cotton candy and kick stuff.
This third picture shows the CDs I’ve acquired since the last time. I’ll admit it’s a hodge-podge of varying quality. In my defense, most of the dubious ones cost $2 and have been successfully cherry-picked for iTunes. Just so you know, I’m not talking about the Moody Blues here. I happen to like them very much, thank you. You’ll know I’m drunk if I ever stick out my hand like a Shakespearean actor and start reciting “Late Lament”.
You know what I’m talking about: “Breathe deep the gathering gloom…”
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere–ZZ Packer
I read Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry a couple months ago. The best part about the book was that each chapter was named after a famous short story. I wrote down all the chapter titles along with a few other stories mentioned in the book. That’s where I first heard about ZZ Packer. Two of her stories, “Brownies” and “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”, were referenced in A.J. Fikry.
Both of those stories were featured in ZZ Packer’s one and only book, also called Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. I thought “Brownies” was excellent, but didn’t think much of the titular story. Fortunately, I enjoyed most of the collection’s other six stories. “The Ant of the Self” was probably my favorite. It’s about a young man who gets bullied into driving his father to Washington D.C. so they can sell tropical birds to black men at a “million man march”.
Never Learn Anything From History–Kate Beaton
The funniest thing I’ve read this year was Kate Beaton’s book, Hark! A Vagrant. I was excited to learn that it was her second book. I dug around and discovered that Kate Beaton’s first book, Never Learn Anything From History, was still available from her website (the same site where I got the Glam Breakfast mug). I ordered up a copy.
Although this first book didn’t have as many laugh-out-loud moments as the second, it was a fun read and I’m definitely glad I tracked it down. It’s proof that Kate Beaton is getting better with time. That really makes me look forward to an eventual third book.
Murder in the Marais–Cara Black
This is the first book in Cara Black’s Aimée Leduc Investigation series. It was originally published in 1998. Each book in the series features the private investigator working a murder case in a different Parisian neighborhood. This one was about the murder of an old Jewish woman found with a swastika carved on her forehead. Although I wasn’t really in the market for a new mystery series–especially one dealing with Nazis and mutilations–I decided to try Murder in the Marais because the Marais is the neighborhood where I’ll be staying during my upcoming Paris trip. Strangely enough, the murder in the book takes place just a few numbers down from the apartment Beth rented.
So Aimée has to find out who would want to kill a seemingly innocent elderly woman. She interviews neighbors, infiltrates a neo-Nazi organization, steals fashionable clothes, hacks into a bunch of computer networks, and jumps into a gigantic pile of buttons. A good portion of the mystery could’ve been solved in the first hundred pages if Cara Black had bothered to describe one of the seemingly minor characters. The author went into great detail about most of the other characters (and everything else), so it should’ve stuck out as a clue when she skipped over this one character’s physical details. I didn’t pick up on it until much later, though. It was lazy reading on my part. I felt I later made up for it by identifying the mystery villain 150 pages before Aimée Leduc. Take that, Leduc!
OTHER STORIES READ:
“A Conversation With My Father”–Grace Paley
“What Feels Like the World”–Richard Bausch
The Paying Guests–Sarah Waters
Hey, I just realized that the last eight books I’ve read (and the one I’m currently reading) were all written by women. I don’t know if that means anything significant, but I thought I’d mention it.