Alone in Paris

Just came back from a brief stay in Paris and these are some of my pictures:

glorious morning paris michele roohani louvre

The Louvre is glorious in early morning,

morning at the louvre michele roohani

some jet-lagged tourists were the only people around,

from Rio to Paris michele roohani

early birds can witness the majesty of an empty Louvre Court.

lonely louvre michele roohani

When you wake up that early in the morning, everything is beautifully calm even in the nauseatingly crowded Paris,

paris penishe seine michele roohani

Another lonely hyper-connected dude:

computer dude in paris michele roohani

I met Jon Stewart at Deux Magots for breakfast that day—he made me laugh…

jon stuart at deux magots michele roohani

Angelina still has the best Mont Blanc of the city and it’s my duty to check the quality every time I am in town:

mont blanc angelina paris michele roohani

Of course my favorite is always “un petit noir au comptoir” (a quick small espresso at the cafés’ counter):

petit noir au comptoir michele roohani

Paris is a movable feast…

heart paris michlee roohani

Couldn’t resist adding this image of Maryam from a couple of years ago…

maryam louvre paris michele roohani

Caged tulips and false sense of security

“Real security is the ability to tolerate mystery, complexity, ambiguity—indeed hungering for these things.” Eve Ensler

Behind bars, these tulips have lost their beauty and have only gained a false sense of protection.

caged tulips michele roohani paris

Real security means contemplating death, not pretending it doesn’t exist. We are prisoners of our fears or the fears of our fathers; uniformity becomes the only acceptable way…

red chairs cafe paris michele roohani

“When security becomes the center of your life, you can’t travel very far or venture too far outside a certain circle. You can’t allow too many conflicting ideas into your mind at one time as they might confuse you or challenge you. You can’t open yourself to new experiences, new people, and new ways of doing things.”

solitary wine glass on parquet bread michele roohani

Self-imposed rules prevent potential disasters but they also ensure mediocrity—Salieri’s mediocrity against Mozart’s genius…Too scared of trying new things, we stay secure, in control and alone.

paris tulips nowruz 1388 michele roohani

According to Charlie Jones , “the only difference from where you are right now, and where you’ll be one year from now, are the books you read and the people you meet.”

For a great example of passion for life and risk taking that leads to success see my popular post about Gustavo Dudamel.

Norouz 1388, the blooming of a new year

The Persian new year, called Norouz (or Nowrouz)—New Day—is just around the corner and Southern California nights have the sweetly fragrant scent of jasmine and citrus flowers. Last year’s  Norouz blog  remains my  most read post so please visit it for a detailed account of Haft-seen and some great pictures.

camelia bud michele roohani

Tulips don’t know much about the financial crisis and narcissi couldn’t care less about job layoffs; they come out with their effortless beauty, reminding us that nature renews its vows with life every spring.

pink tulips spring norouz michele roohani

Before 1564, most of Europe celebrated the New Year with the first day of Spring.

pink tulip spring 2009 michele roohani

The Gregorian calendar changed that to January first. To me, it is only natural to start the year with the first day of spring and not in the dead of winter…

red striped tulip michele roohani

“Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling,
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturb’d,
Give me to warble spontaneous songs recluse by myself, for my own ears only,
Give me solitude—give me Nature—give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!
Walt Witman

pansies banafsheh spring michele roohani

The Norouz celebration lasts 13 days and is rooted in the 3,000-year-old tradition of Zorastrianism. March 21st will be the first day of spring, the first day of the new year. The fragrance of these lemon tree blossoms reminds me of a Norouz I spent in Shiraz years ago…

lemon tree blossom spring michele roohani

 This poem of Fereydoon Moshiri always makes me smile…

بوی باران، بوی سبزه، بوی خاک
شاخه های شسته، باران خورده، پاک
آسمان آبی و ابر سپید
برگ های سبز بید
عطر نرگس، رقص باد
نغمه شوق پرستوهای شاد
خلوت گرم کبوترهای مست …
نرم نرمک می رسد اینک بهار
خوش به حال روزگار

خوش به حال چشمه ها و دشت ها
خوش به حال دانه ها و سبزه ها
خوش به حال غنچه های نیمه باز
خوش به حال دختر میخک – که می خندد به ناز –
خوش به حال جام لبریز از شراب
خوش به حال آفتاب

sabzeh wheat germs michele roohani

Would it be the dawn of 1388 or 2547 like some purist Persians suggest? It’s surreal to see this anachronistic image of the late shah’s crown in the middle of Santa Monica boulevard wishing you a happy new year in Persian!

pahlavi crown amir michele roohani west los angels santa monica boulevard

I just can not resist sharing these beautiful flowers with you:

violet ranunculus spring 2009 norouz michele roohani

This is a celebration of Life.

pink ranunculus yellow poppy spring 2009 norouz michele roohani

It is time to recalibrate our priorities and do some spring cleaning. Just look at the beautiful baby green of this Hydrangea:

hydrengea baby green michele roohani

The hyacinths (sonbol) or the quintessential Norouz flower:

hyacinths spring 2009 1388 norouz michele roohani

 I wouldn’t dare translating this beautiful Rumi poem about Norouz:

اندر دل من مها دل افروز توئي
ياران هستند ليك دلسوز توئي
شادند جهانيان به نوروز و به عيد
عيد من و نوروز من امروز توئي

anemone ranunculus michele roohani

Don’t forget to visit my last year’s Norouz post.

fish carps michele roohani

Norouz Pirouz!

The gorgeous Alain Delon

Alain Delon is the most handsome man of Cinema—I say is because he’s always the same age when you are watching his films. I just saw The Samurai again and took these pictures. I go back to these old films for their art direction and their history.

alain delon le samourai montage michele roohani

Just look at these timeless shots of The Samurai:

alain delon le samourai blue car michele roohani

No Cary Grant can touch him here:

alain delon le samourai last secene michele roohani

So modern in this beautiful shot:

alain delon le samourai cage michele roohani

Delon is very succinct in this film,

alain delon le samourai blue corridor michele roohani

my favorite scene of the whole movie:

alain delon le samourai metro michele roohani

Netflix is making it so much easier to find these old films. I got to watch L’Avventura last night and Antonioni’s poetic compositions were arresting:

l’avventura monica vitti terrace michele roohani

Monica Vitti is divine in these shots from 50 years ago…

l’avventura monica vitti stairs michele roohani

Today’s generations think they have invented these styles/fashions; our arrogance fades after watching a couple of these films.

l’avventura monica vitti mirror michele roohani

50 years ago people…And you wonder where Barbie (who turns 50 this week) got her image from…

l’avventura monica vitti close up michele roohani

I just loved this shot,

l’avventura monica vitti corridor women michele roohani

these close-ups are amazing,

l’avventura monica vitti newspaper michele roohani

The visual language of these films is so relevant after all these years.

l’avventura monica vitti Gabriele Ferzetti michele roohani

Gabriele Ferzetti is smashing and looks so 21st century:

l’avventura Gabriele Ferzetti michele roohani

Shot mostly in Sicily—Noto and Messina, the architect protagonist is in his element:

l’avventura  Gabriele Ferzetti michele roohani

and here,

l’avventura bar Gabriele Ferzetti michele roohani

and this is how I did all of this:

l’avventura chez moi Gabriele Ferzetti michele roohani

This was my homage to  Alain Delon.

Added on 5/22/09:

My friend Mitra called me this morning, super excited about the Cannes Film Festival’s official poster which looks so much like the images i have in this post:

avventura cannes poster michele roohani

Did somebody flatter me by copying me?

Hillary Clinton in chador and the three KH’s—Khomeini, Khamenei, Khatami

Hillary Clinton in chador is not as far-fetched as we may imagine! Ahmadinejad is already calling for a mutually respectful dialog and the white house is more than eager to oblige…

hillary clinton in black chador iran michele roohani scarf

It took a Nixon to go to China and it will take a Clinton to go to Iran. Only the one who threatened to “obliterate” Iran can now go and mend the thirty year wound between the Great Satan and the Angelic mullahs…

The United States needs Iran’s cooperation to take care of its problems in  Iraq, Palestine (read Hamas and Hezbollah), Afghanistan and now Pakistan. To understand a bit better I suggest reading Roger Cohen’s articles from Tehran.

khomeini khamenei khatami cartoons

Now I would like to clarify once and for all, the mystery of three KH’s for my foreign friends— it’s been unfortunate and confusing that the three important leaders of the islamic republic have last names starting with a KH.

These are not the same person even though they do look alike with that black turban but let’s remember the actual ranking:

Khomeini (the leader of the islamic revolution who—20 years after his death—still induces nightmares for the foreign leaders),

Khamenei (today’s supreme leader since Khomeini’s death)

and Khatami (twice president of the islamic republic).

khomeini khamenei khatami islamic republic

On a less depressing note, I recommend reading Michael Axworthy’s  book about “the remarkable perseverance of Iran’s cultural identity”—in spite of the turbans and the KH’s…

Michael Axworthy history of iran michele roohani

I am a big “Law & Order” fan; who knew that Ahmadinejad will be mentioned in one of the episodes. If this is not a sign of things to come people I don’t know what is! It’s amazing all the positive coverage Iran is getting; maybe they have hired a PR firm…

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.

President Obama, finally.

“what’s required is a new declaration of independence — from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry.” President Obama

president obama michele roohani

At last, some Law & Order and good riddance to uncurious george! I thought he’d never leave.

obama sweraing in nytimes michele roohani

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 1

These are some pictures from today’s  New York Times and they are telling…

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 4

The euphoria was not diminished because of the bitter cold, and the whole world smiled on tuesday— a cautious sigh of relief for never having to listen to another incoherent sentence from that idiot bush or to accept some blatant  injustice shoved down our throat.

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 3

Americans feel proud again and there is this beautiful aura of hope over everybody—in spite all other major problems—a little break.

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 8

May all this great energy take care of some of the world’s problems…

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 7

I am allowing myself to be hopeful—for a cynic like me, it’s not easy…

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 10

January 20th 2009: the End of an Error

obama in bush out nytimes michele roohani

An eye for an eyelash? Hamas and Israel…

I am no friend of Hamas—not all muslims are—but what is happening in Gaza is like a bad horror movie. Thousands are being sacrificed between the belligerent Israel and Hamas (and the two American presidents.)

palestine middle east israel hamas maze michele roohani

I remember when I was about ten years old, spreading the newspaper on the floor and reading with the naive curiosity of a child about the Palestinian conflict—and not understanding much of it. I still don’t…Robert Kaplan says “Israel has, in effect, launched the war on the Iranian empire that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, in particular, can only have contemplated.”

gaza eyad baba associated press michele roohani

Hamas and Hezbollah both being fed by the Iranian government does not buy my sympathy for either one but let’s not forget that Israel used to support Hamas, because it undermined Fatah

gaza kids slingshots nytimes michele roohani

Israel has prevented international journalists getting into Gaza. Is “an eye for an eyelash”,  Israel’s appropriate response to Hamas’ rockets? 13 dead Israelis to 1100 dead Palestinians? I hated Yasir Arafat for what he did and didn’t do for his people but is Hamas much better? Can you really close the borders of Gaza and bomb them in front of the whole world? All I know is that the 2 state plan is barely alive and a thousand people are dead, so far…

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.  Bertrand Russell

Further reading:

Sara Roy’s If Gaza falls

Benny Morris’ Why Israel feels threatened.

Ehud Olmert’s very interesting interview.

David Samuel’s How Yasser Arafat destroyed Palestine.

Avi Schlaim’s How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.