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From Paris to Beirut

Created on: 06/30/20 11:05 AM Views: 71 Replies: 2
From Paris to Beirut
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2020 11:05 AM

Apologies:  The edit function would not operate on my first Paris/Beirut story, and in trying to fix it I was left with two stories--now both without the edit function.  Now there are three entries--the third does have the edit funtion, so I can add and delete as I wish.  :-). 


I remember sitting at the bar in the PR babying a long-neck one night during my college years.  Dylan was wailing out "Lay Lady Lay" from the jukebox and Bernie, carrying a large pizza pan, was cleaning off tables.  There was romance in the air....

"We'll Always Have Paris"

Pere Lachaise is an old walled Parisian cemetery with cobbled-stone roads winding through its sprawling landscape of grey tombs and sculptures. A cemetery for the affluent, the famous. Where Frederick Chopin was laid to rest, where Modigliani, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, Colette and Jim Morrison are interred.  And Edith Piaf--  The romance of Paris is so fully embraced within her songs of sorrow and love. Her tragic life so fully lived, so fully struggled, her husky voice so passionately stirring. They say that Paris stood still that day in October, 1963 when thousands waited along the city streets as Edith's coffin was led to Pere Lachaise.

Pere Lachaise:

Paris Cemetery



Over the years I have found that romance often unhinges itself in the most unlikeliest of places and circumstances.

A lovely French woman in grey sweater and blue jeans once offered me a bottle of Heineken at the Jim Morrison grave site.  Her name was Marion Jardin, and she was a street artist who was just putting the finishing touches onto a charcoal drawing of Jim Morrison's face along the stonework of "Jimmy's" (as she liked to call him) granite tomb-- Her artwork entitled "c'est la fin belle amie" ("This is the end my friend").


Jim Morrison Gravesite at Pere Lachaise:


Père Lachaise Cemetery in ParisStock Photo



In her earthy voice she spoke slowly, drawing deeply and often on a Marlboro cigarette.  And on a grey and drizzly Parisian day Marion led me on a somewhat whimsical tour of the old cemetery, her beguiling smile emitting a charming sense of warmth and wit. For that day the two of us were alive and well and content within the confining  walls of Pere Lachaise, exploring here and there among ornate stonework, tombs and statues.  Where Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf still sing.





Funeral of Edith Piaf 14. October 1963


Wonderful Paris


A Magical Night in Beirut

Beirut forever in my heart

One New Year's Eve I stood on the roof-top of a faculty apartment building on AUB's terraced campus in West Beirut along the Mediterranean Sea.  I was with friends, mostly faculty, watching the New Year's fireworks erupting high in the skies over the sprawling capital city. The fireworks were spectacular but different from the usual American fare.  Mixed in with traditional streaks of Roman candles, these colorful explosions had long streams of intermittent tracers flashing upward through them from AK 47's.  A sudden clink on the concrete floor had us all rushing for the stairway.


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No stranger to hardship, the American University of Beirut endures ...





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I left my party and headed over to a little restaurant just off the American University campus. My Lebanese friend, of military distinction during the Lebanese civil war, owned the little bistro which served wonderful Lebanese food and wine within a lovely candle-lit garden setting. At his bar I ordered an arak and water in a short whiskey glass and sat and listened to the lovely voice of a beautiful Arab woman singing from an alcove in his garden.  She was strumming a guitar and sang softly by herself, a stilled crowd watching and listening with great fascination.  She was Fairuz, and every bit as enchanting as I had heard.  Fairuz, her angelic voice, her songs of romance legendary.  And here she was, a surprising delight to everyone in the restaurant--seems she had slipped away from a New Years Eve party to be with her friend (my friend) at his bistro on this special night.

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I remember getting home around four in the morning, vague notions floating in and out of my head of New Year's Eve revelers packed snugly inside an Alfa Romeo sedan darting through the city, my restaurant friend and some of his patrons and Fairuz and I dancing from club to club, party to party, being waved through by protective militias into neighborhood after neighborhood.  Maybe just an arak-induced dream, but I do have a vivid recollection of Fairuz and I laughing with each other and clinking our long-stemmed flutes of champagne together.

Clinking bullets, clinking glasses.....

A New Year's Eve in Beirut....


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And of course Jimmy's  "Riders on the Storm"....Of which they all were......


The Doors - Riders On The Storm (ORIGINAL!) - driving with Jim

And Bob....and the brown-eyed girl in the corner booth at the PR that night--when there was romance in the air.  :-)






Raleigh News & Observer






Edited 06/30/20 11:55 AM
RE: From Paris to Beirut
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2020 07:38 PM

Good story, it's a shame all those people defaced the grave stones with their grafiti. Hope you and the family are well. Things are getting much worse here in Colombia and after 4 months in quarantine, it looks like they are going to extend it again....aaaaarrrrrggggghhhh!!!!! It looks like we will have to take a humanitarian flight out of here to get back to the States. I want to spend this Christmas in the snow. 

Hasta luego amigo


RE: From Paris to Beirut
Posted Wednesday, July 1, 2020 11:22 AM

Hey Barry,

We are loosening up a bit in Pattaya, but still wear masks, keep safe distance, and wash hands frequently.  Thailand has good numbers--hope that continues. Hopefully we will be free of this awful virus soon.