New York/Paris

Paris 1981 `– © Brian Rose

My first trip to Europe was in 1981 to France where I was exhibiting my photographs of the Lower East Side in the city of Nancy as part of a theater festival. The focus of the festival that year was the Downtown New York scene, and my photographs provided a visual context for the performances being presented at various venues in the city. Each day the festival participants lunched outdoors in a city park sitting at long tables laid out with cold cuts, bread, and carafes of red wine. I was there for a week, hanging out with the students who helped me install my exhibition — they were only a couple of years younger than I was — and one day my friend, Jack Hardy, the folk songwriter, showed up in my hotel lobby, fresh from a tour of clubs in Germany.

After a friendly dinner together in a cous cous restaurant, he suddenly lashed out at me accusing me of standing in his way with regards to a certain woman who shall go unnamed, and I did my best to defend my rights and my honor against his torrent of righteous indignation. It was an impressive display of romantic nonsense, and hardly justified given that I was actually quite conflicted about my feelings, and was at that very moment rather smitten with one of the aforementioned French students. Jack left town after a couple of days, and I followed a few days later, ending up sitting on the floor in a packed train stalled for hours somewhere between Nancy and Paris.

I stumbled off the train in the morning in a stupor and found a most wretched buggy hotel near the Gare de l’Est. After a brief walk around the city, I returned to my hotel for a fitful night, the halls echoing with shouted French epithets and slamming doors. I believe I went to the Louvre on that trip, though my memory is clouded, and has blurred together with subsequent visits. I had no idea where I was going most of the time, and somehow, managed to find only horrible food. But I was in Paris, broke, alone, and never happier in my life.

Jack wrote a song after he — and I — got back from Paris.

take the night train to paris
hoping to escape all the rules
take the night train to paris
you hopelessly romantic fool

I regretted leaving France without getting the address of my French student, but such was life, pre-internet, and I moved on. Weeks went by, when one day while having breakfast in my favorite spot on Second Avenue in the East Village, I looked across the restaurant, and to my astonishment, like an apparition, she was there — the French student — alone, her leg in a cast propped up on a chair. I got up, walked over, and said, “Do you need some help?” She did. And so began a short romantic episode that turned into an unsustainable trans Atlantic relationship. Alas.

I only took a few pictures while aimlessly wandering around Paris. 35mm Kodachromes. One of them is above. As foggy headed, and unsteady on my feet as I was, I was still capable of finding moments of visual equipoise. It was 1981 and U2 was playing Paris according to the poster. They just cancelled their most recent Paris engagement, 34 years gone by. The most tragic circumstances imaginable. I won’t even try to comment…

2 thoughts on “New York/Paris

  1. Christophe Coureau

    Dear Brian Rose,
    sometimes circumstances are amazing, surprising; I mean, I was (til yesterday morning) looking for Jack Hardy dates at Folk City, Kenny’s Castaways and around. Today morning Wednesday 18th of November, I wished to have a look on your home page and see your words, talking about your October ’81 trip in Paris, then, Nancy for the Theater Festival. Of course, no need to comment what’s happening recently in Paris which has no word and no world…

    In fact I’m working on a project in which you’re part of the characters of the story – please Brian Rose, forgive my English which isn’t hot. On this project I have vivid interest on the 1977-1985 period which is still obscure for me. Looking back about what I said, find the dates I found according to Jack and your ‘Travelers Passing Through – Boulevardiers and Fast Folk’ page. Unfortunately, I did’t find the September gig at Kenny’s Castaways.


    Jack Hardy Trio – David Messengill & Jim Eaves Wednesday July 20 thru Sunday July 24th 1977 at Folk City
    [Note: the Talking Heads Tuesday thru Friday July 5, 6, 7 & 8 at Village Gate as well as Blondie and Patti Smith]

    Jack Hardy – Mary Smith Tues Aug 23 thru Sun Aug 28th, 1977 at Kenny’s Castaways

    Jack Hardy Trio – Robin Greenstein Wed Sept 28, Thurs Sept 29, Fri Sept 30, Sat Oct 1st & Sun Oct 2nd 1977 at Folk City

    Jack Hardy Trio Monday Nov 14th 1977 at Doctor Generosity’s Musical Saloon, 1403 2nd Avenue (cor. 73rd Street)

    Jack Hardy Trio – Nancy Lee Baxter Wed Dec 14, Thur Dec 15, Fri Dec 16, Sat Dec 17 & Sun Dec 18th 1977 at Folk City
    [Note: the Talking Heads Tues Dec 27th 1977 at CBGB]

    I didn’t find more for 1977, sorry.

    And then it continues in 1978

    The Song Project featuring Jack Hardy, Tom Intondi, Nancy Lee Baxter, Carolyn Mas Wed Feb 15, Thur Feb 16, Fri Feb 17, Sat Feb 18 & Sun Feb 19th 1978 at Folk City

    Jack Hardy – Dick Pinny Tues Mar 14 thru Sun Mar 19th 1978 at Kenny’s Castaways

    Jack Hardie Trio – Willie Nininger Wed May 10 thru Sun May 14th 1978 at Folk City
    [Note: Lou Reed Wednesday May 17 thru Sunday May 21 Sold Out at The Bottom Line. Blondie special guest star Robert Gordon with Link Wray May 4th 1978; Elvis Costello and The Attractions – Mink DeVille – Nick Lowe with Rockpile Sat May 6th 1978 7:30 & Midnight; Patti Smith Group Sat May 20 Sold Out extra show added May 21st 1978 at The Palladium. B-52s/Nervus Rex May 25, May 26 and May 27-28th 1978 at Max’s Kansas City. Talking Heads – Johnny Castro and The Convertables May 10th 1978 at My Father’s Place, Roslyn Village]

    Jack Hardy Tues June 6 thru Sun June 11th 1978 at Kenny’s Castaways

    [Note: Fri Sat Oct 20, 21st 1978 from England, POLICE at CBGB]

    Jack Hardy Tues Nov 14 thru Sun Nov 19th 1978 at Kenny’s Castaways

    Dear Brian Rose,
    I hope these dates-gigs on Jack Hardy will give you vivid reminder/souvenirs.

    Sincerely Yours,
    Christophe from Dijon, in Burgundy, France

  2. admin Post author

    Christophe, It was almost certainly the late August dates at Kenny’s Castaways when I first saw Jack Hardy perform. I had found an apartment in New York back in July — the day of the blackout to be exact. I moved in at some point in August just before beginning school at Cooper Union in September. Unless I’m confused with a later series of shows, I recall that Jack was playing with Joe Henderson on guitar, Howie Wyeth on drums, and Jeff Hardy on bass. Howie was the drummer on Bob Dylan’s Desire album and Rolling Thunder Review tour. Jeff was Jack’s brother who died on 9/11 in one of the Twin Towers.

    If you want more information about that period of time, please feel free to contact me directly.

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