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Pop songs & cigarettes (Serge Gainsbourg, rue de Verneuil)

Improbable Walks, Season 5, Episode 4:  In this episode, we visit the classic Left Bank street, rue de Verneuil... which has a lively 20th century cultural record: This is where writer James Baldwin first landed in Paris, where singer Juliette Gréco lived, and where songwriter Serge Gainsbourg wrote, loved, smoked, and drank--today, his former home is the location of the Gainsbourg museum.

Below, a photo of the street today (Serge's house is the one covered in graffiti.) The next photograph shows you the decadent elegance of a sitting room in the Comte de Mornay's mansion on the rue de Verneuil, as painted by Delacroix. It's difficult to imagine Delacroix creating this delicate record of de Mornay's decor, a short year after the powerful LIBERTY LEADING THE PEOPLE, which is probably Delacroix's most famous, and most political, painting.

This street was also one of James Baldwin's first hotel rooms in Paris - here's a photo of the great writer at that time, smoking in Saint-Germain (notice the famous Left Bank church behind him!) Later on, the wonderful chanteuse Juliette Gréco lived at # 33 rue de Verneuil - her neighbor Serge Gainsbourg claimed he wrote the song "La Javanaise" specifically for her. HERE is a link to Serge, singing the song And, here is a photo of Gréco and Miles Davis. Next, a photo of Serge and Jane Birkin (with her famous basket/purse), the cocktail, Le Terrible, as savoured in the Gainsbarre... and a book about Serge, in the bath at the house. Happy virtual wandering!

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Poetry in London

This poem was inspired by the painting Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton. This recording is from a reading I did with poet Kate Noakes, in London, England, last year. There was snow on the streets


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