Audrey Hepburn, a perpetual Valentine

What is more emblematic of Valentine than a good old love story played by Audrey Hepburn in Paris?

The story of a mousy looking bookshop clerk who got discovered by a hot shot fashion photographer (Fred Astaire). He convinces her to go to paris for a major fashion event.

She’s nagging in the following scene to the 1950’s top model, Dovima who looks stupid and pretty at the same time! Audrey doesn’t care about how she looks and has a brain…

Something in Hepburn’s face is so different form others…She looks fresh, innocent and intelligent.

She looks adorable as a child:

Let’s go back to our Valentine story. She takes the plane and they all get to Paris:

Between the photo shoots, they all sing and dance and discover Paris. She has Pont des Arts behind her in this picture and there is even a small boat on the river!

Of course Paris of 1957 looked a little different than today – for one thing it wasn’t exploding with people.

The story is full of clichés:  she’s crazy about Parisian philosophers (that’s why she agrees to come to France) and she goes to Montmartre where the artists are:

She’s being photographed in front of the Arc de Carrousel,

and in the Louvre:

She plays with doves in front of the fountains of Place de la Concorde,

and she goes to the Opéra:

They even make her wear a Burqa!

Isn’t she prettier with it around her shoulders instead of her hair?

Now she can have any man she wants…

But she’s only dreaming about one man,

the one who doesn’t want her – the photographer:

He’s played by the dorky  Fred Astaire. He was a great dancer but so pathetic playing the leading man with the prettiest of them all, Hepburn!

They fight and she cries and cries…

But they finally make up and the rest is history! Richard Avedon and the rest of the gang made sure that it becomes part of the cinema history.
So to have a happy ending to your Valentine day, you have to be as beautiful as Audrey Hepburn or as lucky as Fred Astaire and go to Paris where everything is a zillion times more expensive than when the “Funny Face” was made (1957) and 8 million more people live in the metropolitan Parisien region!
My favorite Valentine post of 2010 here
Valentine 2009 with nice poems here
I am soooo romantic in the Valentine of  2008 here
To see a great clip from Audrey’s son go here
Audrey Hepburn’s site here

Lilacs for my mother

I wished I were with both my mother and my son today but I am alone, somewhere in Europe between Los Angeles and Tehran…

I would have offered my mother some lilacs and a fabulous view,

and walked with her under the ubiquitous wisterias and admired all the pansies.

We love our mothers for all the stories they told us when we were children,

all the books they read to us,

food (tahdig) they’ve made us:

let’s not forget the clothes,

and things they kept from the time we were babies,

I would have loved to share a meal with my mother and my son today,

or at least a cup of tea.

I would have offered her a perfume with the scent of spring flowers,

and bought her a hat,

because mothers have to wear different hats in bringing up their children!

We love them and should let them know;  as I am sitting in front of my computer, I dedicate this post to my mother and yours,

because they have loved us with all their might…

Happy mother’s day.

Fatherhood in an Age of Insanity—by guest blogger Dr. Ali Nasseh

A wise man once said: Father’s Day should be nine months before Mothers’ Day and in some crazy way, this statement makes sense! For men, fatherhood is a byproduct of sex. At least, that’s what evolutionary psychologists tell us. Through the millennia, Children of men have been caused by our sexual instincts as a species and not through rational analysis of the concept of fatherhood. The same goes for other animals. Whether an organism has a one day lifespan like the mayfly or if it lives for a couple of centuries like the bowhead whale , the life of all organisms appears focused on survival, finding a mate, and producing offspring.

samll and big

And quite frankly, if I were a mayfly with a single day to live, I’d also put mating at the very top of my list!  Once that first item is checked off, we humans preoccupy ourselves with the arts, culture, and entertainment in order to fill the remaining hours of the day. Voila! But let’s not get off the subject. Father’s Day is the day we celebrate Fathers. And since I just became a father a month ago and am still a freshman on the subject, I would like to salute those fathers who came before me.

ali nasseh baby micheleroohani

But what are the merits of fatherhood? Other than our biological instinct for sex that results into children, do we have any rational reasons for this act? The project involves so much work and sacrifice that one may wonder what’s the utility of the whole thing. It starts with dirty diapers and ends with a lifetime of anxiety over safety, health, and happiness of our child. An old, Persian expression says, “Children are hard, only for the first one hundred years!”

ali nasseh baby feet micheleroohani

Yet, when a child smiles, learns, and grows, and especially when she pays her parents back with emotional pride, all those sleepless nights and anxieties melt away and the entire ordeal appears worthwhile. Or does it?

father’s day micheleroohani kid in museum

I want to pose these questions to the fathers and others out there, and to those who consciously or unconsciously chose this path. I’d like to ask you to make your case for or against fatherhood in today’s world of dynamic change and uncertain future. Are we leaving a better place for our children, or has our greed and recklessness destroyed our economy and environment irreparably? Is it still a responsible act to bring children into this world given the future challenges?

Dr. Ali Allen Nasseh

Valentine came early this year, so did lover’s quarrels

The whole world fell in love with Obama. A collective smile, a collective tear of joy…Women dream about him and men want to be his best friend, but will it last?  We are all keeping our fingers crossed.

valentine 2009 michele roohani black hat red heart

Everybody needs a little bit of love in these dark days of uncertainties.

“Cut me a rose, make my tea with the petals…”—from Diana Krall’s very hot  “Peel me a grape”—was my inspiration for this next photo. Watch her sing it here and for a better rendition (just sound) go here.

valentine 2009 michele roohani roses in a tea cup

I have to confess that my love of the moment is this guy  and not somebody with a glass of champagne in his hand; he has the gift of bringing clarity to obscure, chaotic subjects.

valentine 2009 michele roohani roses in a glass

I learned today that Sepandarmaz may be the precursor to Valentine’s Day.

بخوان به نام گل سرخ و عاشقانه بخوان

حدیث عشق بیان کن بدان زبان که تو دانی

Shafiee Kadkani

My Valentine 2008 post was one of the most visited ones of my entire blog—we are all romantics after all.

Here is another part of Tagore‘s beautiful love poem to tie Valentine, Frank Rich,  and his version of the slumdog millionaires…

“Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you,
the love of all man’s days both past and forever:
universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life,
the memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours–
and the songs of every poet past and forever.”

first grade notebook cahier d’ecolier michele roohani rose

A night with George Steiner and Gaelle Boissonnard

A night with George Steiner and Gaelle Boissonnard—now that’s a curious ménage! Late caffeine kept me up until 6:30 this morning and I spent the night with these two.


gaelle boissonnard passerelles poissons fish michele roohani

Steiner took me from an old Transfuge to wikiquotes and Cornel West; there goes  3 hours pf precious sleep and when my mind was too tired to absorb anything more, Boissonnard’s images were there to help with their delicate originality.


gaelle boissonnard passerelles poissons fish michele roohani hat

“There is something terribly wrong with a culture inebriated by noise and gregariousness.” Steiner


gaelle boissonnard passerelles blue michele roohani

Boissonnard is everything our “noisy” culture isn’t—serene, quiet, tranquil…

She has started working with a new company; I hope this move makes her work more available to international markets. Just found out that my friends in Paris, La Banque de l’Image, mention her in their company’s blog!


Gaelle Boissonaard michele roohani in the wind

I love this quote of Steiner: “the most important tribute any human being can pay to a poem or a piece of prose he or she really loves is to learn it by heart. Not by brain, by heart; the expression is vital.” This is what I have learned by heart long ago:

“Le tout est de tout dire, et je manque de mots
Et je manque de temps, et je manque d’audace
Je rêve et je dévide au hasard mes images
J’ai mal vécu, et mal appris à parler clair.” Eluard

gaelle boissonnard passerelles bird michele roohani

دلم گرفته است

دلم گرفته است

به ايوان مي روم و انگشتانم را

بر پوست كشيده شب مي كشم

چراغهاي رابطه تاريكند

چراغهاي رابطه تاريكند

كسي مرا به آفتاب

معرفي نخواهد كرد

كسي مرا به ميهماني گنجشكها نخواهد برد

پرواز را به خاطر بسپار

پرنده مردني است

I feel sad,

I feel blue.

I go outside and rub my fingers

on the sleek shell of the night.

“I see  that lights of contact are blocked,

All lights of contact are blocked.”

“Nobody will introduce me to the sun,

Nobody will take me to the gathering of doves.”

Keep the flight in mind,

The bird may die.

Forugh Farrokhzad

This post is in the loving memory of the 3 sisters my friend, Marie, has lost in the past few years (the last one two days ago)—all young, all from heart problems…

To see Boissonnard’s blog  go here.

Kertész and me: “on reading”

I am a bibliophile and not ashamed to admit it! I love good books, and as much as I read online, paper and ink remain sacred to me. My love for books is thanks to my father’s great library of classics.

burnt old books los angeles library michele roohani

I went to the Los Angeles Central Library looking for some books and I couldn’t resist taking these pictures and sharing them with you. This library burnt in 1986—something about burning books fills me up with utter sadness and an enormous sense of loss (remember Fahrenheit 451?)

To see the most beautiful libraries of the world visit this site. We need these in a world where “print” increasingly resembles an endangered species.

burnt old books los angeles library michele roohani ribboned box

The books that were somewhat burnt yet still salvageable are so fragile that they have to be kept in special boxes. You can still see the black soot on them:

burnt old books los angeles library michele roohani black soot triolet

You can’t check out the more damaged ones because of their fragility like this one:

burnt old books los angeles library michele roohani ziska

The good news is that there are thousands of wonderful and “healthy” books in this library and the reading rooms are very pleasant.

reading room books los angeles library michele roohani

This is one book I have promised myself to read one day:

gibbon roman empire los angeles library michele roohani

But who has the courage to even contemplate these ones:

zola los angeles library michele roohani

André Kertész‘s newly reissued photo essay On Reading,  features 66 images, taken between 1915 and 1970, of people enraptured by print.

kertesz michele roohani man reading with a cat

“Kertész’s images celebrate the power and pleasure of this solitary activity and capture the deeply personal, yet universal moment of reading. This poetic book that has long been out of print is even more compelling today in a world where “print” increasingly resembles an endangered species.”

kertesz michele roohani woman reading

Even if Jeff Gomez argues that we are at a Gutenbergian moment, in which writers, publishers and readers must make the jump from paper to the more fluid territory of the screen, I can’t imagine being without the smell and the feel of paper.

kertesz michele roohani child reading

I still print everything serious that I want to read because staring at my screen bothers my eyes.

kertesz michele roohani woman reading in subway

“Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.” Alfred Whitney

Kertész and me: “on reading”

Speaking of great photographers, I went to Melvin Sokolsky’s opening night last thursday at Fahey/Klein Gallery. I’ve had the privilege of  taking a “Master Class” at UCLA with him some years ago. His pictures have remained as fresh as the day he took them and unbruised by time.

melvin sokolsky michele roohani

Sex, Sex, Sex…

Now that i have your attention, I have an important announcement: you can buy many of my images from this fabulous site. You can get them as cards, mounted prints, canvas prints, even framed. My major posters are still being sold on all the “art” sites of course.

man, woman, lust, sexy, desire, tattoo, trenchcoa,t love

I have been waiting to get more of my images on redbubble but I think that it’s time to tell my friends about it; I will be adding to the batch little by little.

The models here are the beautiful Joey House, House of Petals‘ owner/actress and a friend, Mark.

man, woman, sexy, desire, love, tatoo, lust, intimate

“I can resist everything except temptation.” Oscar Wilde

man, woman, sexy, desire, voyeur, love, lust, intimate, tattoo

The new Ang Lee film, Lust Caution, was released last friday and the NC17 rating is already making it more important than it really is. NY Times article made me want to see it. When it comes to TV, the HBO’s “tell me you love me” is an example of unnecessary, gratuitous sex shown on screen. I really don’t need to see Jane Alexander in an oral sex scene but that’s just me…

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose

Gertrude Stein made the above utterance famous in a poetry of hers and i can’t get it out of my mind every time i see or smell a beautiful rose. Coming from a country known for its gardens of roses and jasmins, tuberoses and tulips, irises and narcissus, I am still like many Persians partial toward the ROSE, the queen of them all. The rose below, smelled like the rose gardens of my childhood, unlike the sterile tall red roses you find nowadays in flower shops.

rose, pink, garden, stein, spring

“Mignonne, allons voir si la rose
Qui ce matin avait déclose
Sa robe de pourpre au Soleil,
A point perdu cette vesprée
Les plis de sa robe pourprée,
Et son teint au vôtre pareil.”

“See, Mignonne, hath not the Rose,
That this morning did unclose
Her purple mantle to the light,
Lost, before the day be dead,
The glory of her raiment red,
Her colour, bright as yours is bright”

Ode to Cassandre by Pierre de Ronsard 1550
white,roses, black&white, flower

Other noteworthy “Roses” are Roman de la Rose, and the name of the Rose by one of my favorite italians, Umberto Eco.

bouquet, roses, pink, peach, flower, mother�s day

“I am close to the beginning of the earth.
I feel the pulse of the flowers.
I am familiar with the wet destiny of water
and the green habit of trees.”Sohrab Sepehri

bouquet, red, roses, romantic, flower, love

Claude Verlinde, the illusionist

I got to know the work of this great artist in 1998 in paris at the Michelle Boulet gallery. I just found out that Verlinde has been very active in the past few years. I loved this piece of one of his paintings which reminded me of Jean Ferrat‘s song, l’Amour est cerise.

verlinde, amour, cerise, love, painting, cherries, woman