PARIS Chapter 12 - Donald Sutherland's Chickens

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DESTINATION Bon Marché, Paris

INSPIRATION Donald Sutherland, my favorite old man, inspires me to visit the Bon Marché. 

To this day, I am still unsure who told Donald Sutherland to contact me with BlackBerry questions, but I would love to know so I could kiss them. From the day of that blind call from him in 2007, Donald became my oldest role model. He’s my “chicken soup for the soul.” The first call about BlackBerry turned into so many questions that eventually I had my assistant get his email address. Lucky for me it kicked off, over a span of years, a series of emails that could make me forget daily dramas and suffocating stress. Always entertaining, chock-full of facts and wisdom that only come with age, Donald sends me articles about BlackBerry, stories about meeting political figures, intellectual quotes he enjoys, and tales from his time on set around the world, always signing off in a way that puts a smile on my face. 

Donald once used his computer pen to draw a picture of me wearing a white wig. Along with it was a note that went something like this: “Dear, this is you with a white wig just as I imagined before seeing how young you were at your delightful event. I never go to those you know, but I really enjoyed myself.”

FROM Donald Sutherland

TO Angie Banicki

subject RE: Au bon  Marché 

Angie, 

Paris. You’ll love it. They have such  a fantastic life, the French.  Theirs is what Paul Krugman  in his column in the NYTimes called the true ‘family values’. Health  care,  wonderful education, long family vacations, no shopping on Sunday so the people stay at home for a lunch with  all the generations around the table. The food  is extraordinary. Even  the ordinary is extraordinary. If you can, go into the markets, the local one  I knew best  was in Passy, have a look  and  you’ll get  an idea how you eat at home. And you do your shopping every day, for the day, not for the week. Look at the price range of chickens. The really expensive ones are really, really good. Huge difference. The Bon Marché  in St. Germain de Prés is a good place to go look at food.  At bread and  cheese and  wine and  all the other  delicious things they eat at home in France.  And they have great clothes and stuff.

And go to Rue des  Saint Peres because that’s where all the shoes are. That’s just off Boulevard St Germain.  You can have coffee at the Flores,  maybe lunch across the street at Lipp. Deux  Maggot is there.  There’s the Parfumier  in the Palais Royale, Serge Lutens. I was there a while ago. Mostly I was outside in the park on a bloody conference call with  the dog and  my wife was in there.  The fragrances are only sold  in Paris and  it’s fantastic. Go smell it. I was walking the dog and  on a conference call. I was not on a conference call with  a dog. You should get  a telephone card from the tabac.  It used to cost you twenty five dollars and  you could call forever, actually three hundred minutes, to pretty much  wherever. For a special occasion with  friends coming from the States you can take them  to eat at Ami Louis. The lamb was wonderful and  it’s a big favourite of North Americans. The number used to be 0148877748 but that’s probably out of date.  It’s at 32 rue de Vertbois in the 3rd. Stresa is good. Used to be, anyway. Expensive. Itali Chambiges behind the Plaza Athene. Everything is ‘used  to be’ because I haven’t been back  in a while. Cesar, the sculptor was always there. But  he’s gone now, of course.

Chez Allard on Rue St Andre des Arts near  Place St Michel  was terrific. An old  favourite. So was Chez Josephine on rue du Cherche Midi, (it has another name,  but your hotel will know it), and  Angelina on rue de Rivoli. It’s probably the Frenchest place of the lot. And it’s pretty near  Faubourg St Honore where Hermes is and  that’s nice to wander around. Lanvin and  the hats at Gelot.  Go sit in the Louvre, the Orangerie at the Concorde at the top of the Tuilieries has the water lilies of Monet.  The Jeu de Paume which is right  beside l’Orangerie and  it has modern work. It used to hold  impressionists but they moved over to the Gallerie d’Orsay, which used to be the old  railway station,  when it started up as a gallery in the eighties. The d’Orsay has hanging there the scandalous ‘Origin of the World’ by Gustave Courbet. It was hidden behind a curtain  for years and  years. Then Andre Masson painted a painting to cover it so that the collector who owned it could hang it with  Masson’s  picture in front and  then  take off the Masson when he wanted to show the Courbet. Jim Morrison’s buried in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Boulevard de Ménilmontant in the 20th  if you want to go there.  I never saw his grave but the cemetery’s fabulous  if you like dead people. If you get  sick go into a hospital. It’s the best  health care in the world.

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