Posted by: facetothewind | August 3, 2010

Today in Paris

I continue to be astonished at the continuity of the architecture here. Uniform height and detail. It appears that the entire city was planned and built all at once: the mid 19th century. And because it’s not America and sold to the highest bidder to showcase one’s capitalistic fantasies, it has remained intact. It’s a freak of a city that way, especially coming from Germany where so little of the historic architecture is left after the war, Paris is like stepping into Art Noveau heaven.

And there’s a fascinating story about why Paris survived the ravages of war: During Germany’s occupation of France, the French resistance and allied forces had begun to show signs of gaining back Paris. Hitler ordered the complete destruction of Paris stating: “The city must not fall into the enemy’s hand except lying in complete debris.” But one of his generals, Dietrich von Choltitz, who was now the acting governor of the military-occupied Paris, disobeyed Hitler’s orders. To this day, Choltitz is celebrated for having surrendered the city of lights back to the French. (One shouldn’t do too much bouquet-throwing in Choltitz’ direction as he did carry out one of Hitler’s previous orders to “liquidate the Jews” of Russia.

So while Sebastian and I prance around the Eiffel tower, I’m aware that this place was once stolen from the French. I found this picture of Hitler during the German occupation of Paris. He really should have stayed an artist and been relegated to doing tourist portraits on Montmartre. Speaking of which…

Fighting my worsening foot condition, I limped up the hill to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre, the former artists community of the famed Moulin Rouge. Picasso, Modigliani, Edith Piaf and Satie all lived, worked or drank themselves silly there at one time. Now it’s just a tourist trap full of tacky artists pandering to the artistic desire of tourists.

We went on to visit the Montmartre Cemetery to find Degas’ grave. We never did. I did, however, see a bug walking on a face…

We stumbled on Berlioz’ grave and then someone of more recent cultural infamy, and one closer to my heart (sorry Hector)… Jean Daniel Cadinot, the famous French porn film maker, whom I had not realized had died. Cadinot was famous for making imaginative films with smiling, carefree men in multiracial scenarios with real plots that gave his films believability. Watching some of his films was like watching someone’s highly erotic home made movies of their adventures in the desert or countryside. They didn’t leave me feeling embarrassed to be gay like so many other plucked, pumped and fake-o porn films have. So it was a sweet moment to find a familiar face among immortalized strangers, and one whose life has delighted me many a time. He was buried right next to his mother. His name was not on the register of famous people to find in the cemetery. Poignant.

This note he wrote before he died was to be posted on his website upon his death:

Dear friends, critics and others,

If you’re reading these words I will have put down my camera, switched off the lights, drawn the curtains and taken my final bow. May all the efforts and work of a whole life, the quest for the moment of pure truth in the sublime communion of two beings under the spell of the undefinable desire for the other, inspire those who inherit my heart.

The human being is made such that it only remembers the good and the beautiful, therefore I leave you with a free mind and a head overflowing with a myriad of young men, sometimes strong and vigorous, sometimes fragile and sensitive. All of them gave me these unforgettable moments of their most tender intimacy, moments that only a few really know but which I made into images to allow you to admire them over and over again.

Never were success or personal fortune my creed. You offered me gratitude and I thank you for that because I wanted nothing else. Cadinot salutes you. Remember a kindly fellow, an extreme observer given to rages and contradiction but who listened to others and was full of love.

“An erect phallus is a symbol of life, a cross a symbol of death.”

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Responses

  1. Thanks for this, David! I, too, was a fan of Cadinot: he made the kind of naturalistic, freewheeling porn that I would have liked to make. He caught the mystery and yearning aspects of young lust so beautifully – in darkened dorm rooms and boy scout outings. RIP!

  2. Ah, but the views from Montmartre, particularly Sacré-Coeur, are spectacular!

    And I always love looking at the artists’ work. Not all of it is schlocky. Some of it is quite good.


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