Excerpts

Francois Baschet, an artist known for his sound sculptures and unique musical instruments, maintained a long-standing open invitation to his studio-workshop every Tuesday at noon. Friends and guests—physicists, inventors, concert pianists—visiting from all over the world would magically gather at his large wooden dining table. Everyone, except me, seemed to know it was the tradition to bring something for lunch—wine, cheese or some kind of dessert. Once I caught on to the ritual, I became a welcome addition by bringing roast chicken from a street vendor I found along the way.

These 3-hour lunches were conducted almost entirely in French. I could follow the conversation fairly well, but when it came to speaking, it was helpful if my audience had a knack for charades. I loved being among these people who were dynamic and accomplished in unusual ways. They were creative and fun-loving and didn’t seem to defi ne themselves by their careers—they defi ned themselves by their interests. I couldn’t have found a more compelling reason to keep on wrestling with the language. Baschet took pleasure in sharing my work with them and introduced me to a director of the 6iéme Festival d’Eroticism who enthusiastically took a few of my pieces to show there.

Several weeks after I returned home, I received an envelope in the mail from Baschet. As I opened it, out poured an army of little origami men he had made out of discarded Métro tickets. Pulling on the feet creates this uplifting response.

Many Macho Metro Men

“Prendre son pied” is a French idiom that literally translated means “to take his foot,” but is commonly used to mean“to get a kick out of something” or to convey a feeling of tremendous joy, particularly relating to an orgasm, as in “it took my breath away.”