Bohemian Dreams at The Pescadrome

Last night, The Pescadrome hosted a glorious bohemian evening. It all began with some luscious aerialists wrapping and swinging and altogether sexily hanging from red silks, and two scantily clad youngsters twisting and swirling from a big twirling hoop. Then we, Bohemian Dreams, were up to all kinds of musical and otherwise maniacal mischief:  Opened with a sultry “As Time Goes By” with Gregory (The mad Ukrainian) on piano. Before I sang Jacque Brel’s “Ne me Quitte pas”, which Riccardo and I have translated the chorus to ” Stay with me”.  I (Zizou the Courtesan Parisienne) yelled at him (Jean-Paul the cad from Provence) “I hate you! Stay! I hate you! Stay! Stay! I hate you…” and then sang, while he and others from the audience waltzed about with Gregore swooping in and around with his red accordion; turning the song into a stomping, driving Russian lament.

After Jean-Paul welcomed everyone he set the scene with the partly written, partly improvised prologue: “The war is over.  It is a damp and dusky evening in Pigalle; the cabarets and sex clubs are just opening their doors…” Then invited everyone to dance with their sweet ones and I sang the endlessly romantic, “La Vie en Rose”. “Les Feuilles Mortes” (The Autumn Leaves) had them near tears. After this I proceeded to improvise a ‘not-so-swift’ change of clothes behind a dilapidated folding screen. Because it was crazy hot up on the stage, I was so sweaty and sticky, Riccardo had to help me haul and skooch off my bodice in order to put on my final outfit for the last song… throwing feather boas and skirts and such over the screen to all kinds of hoots… poking legs and heads around the side, in various states of dishabille and delight.  Finally, stepping out, I let my hair down, grabbed my guitar and sang a baudy version of “Je ne ve pas Travailer”, (“I Do Not Want to Work”, wink, wink…)

It was a good segue to the extraordinarily bendy, flirty (tossing out a wacky smile from under some limb) sparkling, bikini-clad contortionist. And THEN we were thoroughly entertained by a twitchy, baby-face burlesque dancer who started out in a filmy, slinky, lacy pink nightie… (I thought, “I have one of those…hmmm”)

This act was followed by DJ Mac, who filled the dusky room with fabulous dance music, while the mirror ball turned and twinkled. We pushed chairs and tables out of the way and danced wildly with each other and anyone else who dared to join us. Finally wearing ourselves down, we made our way to the upper red lounge where the eloquent and charismatic Mark, with his well oiled handle-bar mustache and Raiders of the Lost Arc hat, (he’d been our master of ceremonies) held court, speaking sagaciously and luridly about what … I cannot seem to remember.

Mark’s tall and exotic babe, Corinna, (she of the endlessly long fish-netted legs, and top hat) was our attentive hostess. When the evening finally ended, she walked me out to my car, insisting I take a breath mint in case I get pulled over and breath-a lized… I told her, “I only had a shot of whiskey”. (Which I had brought with me in a tiny old jam jar; passing on the home made ‘Moonshine’ and grapefruit juice being offered)

I guess my wild and energetic capacity to be the life of the party sober had her fooled. Comme d’Habitude… (As usual)

Sometimes I think I’m channeling my Uncle Woody and my Mom, Blanca, at the same time. They had the some kind of Puerto Rican juju where they could work all day and dance all night. This last week I was not only preparing for the Bohemian Dreams performance, I also opened the 15th Annual Buddha Abides art show the night before, all the while having the phone attached to my ear while organizing and fielding every question and need possible for the up coming Children’s Festival at the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration.  Woody and Mom would be proud. In fact, they may be in heaven now, but their spirits dance on through me and the rest of our wonderful, wild, unsinkable Batteau-Matos tribe.

All I have left to say is, thanks to all for making it possible for me to realize my Bohemian Dream. Love streaming…

My legs are looking terrific!

Paris 23rd Avril

Why are my legs are looking terrific? Because I climb a lot of stairs every day. Yes, every day. Last week I decided to count the number of steps I go up and down in the Metro here in Paris.

In that I go up and down about four times a day, it seems I’m doing over 400 steps. Over 400! Who needs the gym? Well, it’s not exactly aerobic, but I do feel the burn sometimes, especially on that third ‘escalier’ up to the Metro headed toward the left bank. Not to forget the climb up the ancient, rumpled, marble steps at the Alliance Francais three times a week. It’s says the class is on the third floor. But in France, the first floor is called the rez de chausses, so it’s actually on the forth!

So ladies, you can go pull on your sweats, tie up your sneakers and drive over to climb the City College stadium seats, or you can come to Paris!

Most of the young women here wear ballet flats, converse sneakers or two-inch ankle boots everywhere they go. They all seem to have that French insouciance, and walk briskly; which I guess is why no one is fat. Really, no one.

Oh well, maybe in the crazy tourists areas like Saint Michel. But you know when you see them: the waddle, the guts and muffin tops, the vocal decibel, that they are not from Paris.

It’s amazing that I have not developed a gut myself… I’m eating at least a baguette a day sometimes on the street as a sandwich with ham and Swiss cheese, or simply with fresh butter while I luxuriate in my tiny kitchen, feet up on the baby chair, dreaming of just another slice. The duck liver mousse is awfully delicious, too. And oh, that Tart Tatin from the boulangerie on the corner…

So many temptaions. Just up from the Metro Voltaire, as I walk home from a days exploration, I pass a cheese shop, an artisanal wine and beer shop, a Turkish deli, a kitchen gadget shop, a boulangerie, and an antique bric and brac store. Across the street there is a butcher and another boulangerie. I think there are like maybe four of these pastry shops in one block!

Heavenly scents.

Despite all the delicious food distractions, as I wait for the traffic to clear before crossing the street, I always watch out for people young and old who zip by on their bicycles. And by the way, no body wears helmets. Every one zigs and zags and crosses against the lights. You’d think that cops would be handing out tickets left and right like in California. But no. Not at all.

The cops are however evident and looking to rule in other areas. A few weeks ago, right after the local mayoral election, there were an amazing amount of them out and about in the little Place Leon Blum where the local city hall is. I don’t know if they had some kind of notice about probable trouble. But there they were, hundreds of them, usually in groups of three, black full body armor like big lizards, packing some serious ‘amo’ and big-bear guns. They have a menacing sway to their walk, kind of like Darth Vader. With some good lighting design, it would have made a very interesting piece of cartoon-like theater.

Oh, and several times when I was on the Metro, a bunch of cops in ugly cloth jackets with insignias, but no armor, showed up in force, like five of ‘em, at a time, looking dead serious, blocking the entrance and exits, asking to see tickets. I had just been wondering why there wasn’t more ticket trash? Evidently, if you toss it, you could be arrested.

I’ve had people push threw a turn-style with me. I’ve seen guys jump them, too. No big deal. I lived in New York; seemed like pretty normal city behavior to me and very petty as far as crime goes. I mean how bad are they really? The another evening when I was walking home, there was a group of snarling teenagers standing in the street outside “The Dubai Café”, right next to a pizza joint, across from the cool, tiny Italian bistro. They wore falling down pants; emblazoned leather jackets, had buzzed and tufted haircuts and damn beat up noses. And yet, there they were looking mean as could be, but when another friend showed up in his gnarly outfit, they would give each other kisses on both cheeks in greeting. That French ‘politesse’ seems undaunted.

I just love all this kissy-touchy-feely going above and below the streets. I sat across from a couple on the Metro the other day. The cool blond had her legs crossed away from this long and lanky guy with shaggy, delicious Elvis hair. He was chatting away with her, kissing her temple, stroking the inside of her calf and then the next thing you know, he kisses her knee. Her knee! On the Metro! Gotta love the French.

I’m getting an education about knees. Yesterday, with a group from the Alliance Francais, I went to visit a perfume museum called Fragonard just around the corner from the enormous and rococo Opera Garnier. Our petite guide was educating us about and trying to sell us perfume in the shop at the end of the tour. She said that in an earlier era (I can never keep track if it’s Louis XIV, XV, or XVI’s) women put perfume not just behind their ears, but also behind their knees. The reason for putting it there was because they wore these big, fluffy skirts with trains that dragged behind them. Gentlemen had to lift them up a bit, to help the ladies walk. I’m sure that little waft of flowers coming out from beneath layers and layers of swishing silk was quite erotic.

I’m going to start putting perfume on behind my knees. Now that my legs are looking so good, you never know when some Frenchman with surging Louis-the-whatever genetic memory might be falling down behind me, trying to kiss MY knee. One can only hope.

Bodhissatva in Mantilla

When senseless acts of violence are brought upon innocents, as they were in my hometown of Boston this week, it’s understandable that we become so terribly distraught, angry and helpless that we draw ourselves out of this world into some cave of our own making, physical or mental, that protect us from these unbearable feelings.

Yet, as we have been taught by our patient lamas, gurus and yogis, we must be braver than this. We must be brave enough to consciously carry these awful feelings in our hearts, and yes of course, grieve and rail, but ultimately turn them into a compelling compassion, from where we can look out and say, ‘What must I do?”

I am not a politician, therapist, social worker or city manager. I cannot make new laws, counsel the disturbed and poor or make new city protocol. I am an artist and a promoter of the arts, believing that the creation of things beautiful or the witnessing of things beautiful can uplift spirits, calm the mind and open the heart in profound ways.

When this happens, we are incapable of wishing harm on others, realizing that we are inexorably linked, because someone else’s images somehow tell our story, evidently that others feel the pain we feel, that others feel the happiness we feel. When we share the pain of others, it lessens for them. When we share the happiness of others, it grows and becomes a light that ignites joy in all around.

Just a few short weeks ago I was is Boston, because my mother was dying. My family from all over the world flew in. Fourteen to twenty of us crowded together in her hospital room for three days, telling stories, singing songs, playing instruments, weeping uncontrollable and laughing uproariously over and over and over again as we awaited her time, her last breaths on this earth. A little after ten in the evening, when her last breaths were evident, they were incredibly tender. Then she began to softly exhale with a low tone. One, two, three times and then there was a pause… then another inhale and one more long, low, gentle tone and she was gone.

At the base of her bed I was singing a song I had just recently learned from my ‘BlesSing’ hospice sisters:
Rest, rest, rest Peacefully rest, rest, rest. ‘Til we meet again Bodhisattva ‘Til we meet again… Rest.

My Mom was an enormously bright light in this world. I feel so blessed to have had the great luck to be her daughter. I feel so blessed to have been able to be there for her at the end. I feel incredibly awakened to the inexorable fact that our life is truly precious and brief, that we are filled with light and breath and warmth, that at any moment we have such an opportunity to be a blessings to others, and to never deny that we have the power to choose to be just that.

As my Mom’s brother, Uncle Woody, used to say,

“Choose Joy.”

Lark

Buddha Abides 2013

13th Annual Art Exhibition
Opening Reception Sat May 11, 5-7pm.
Santa Barbara Frame Shop & Gallery at 1324 State Street

Visit www.buddhaabides.blogspot.com for more information and get involved in the 13th Annual Art Exhibition. This is going to be a great show, so please participate by submitting your work and join us on opening night!

 

What Would Buddha Do?

Penny Arntz’s painting, “What Would Buddha Do?”, is featured on the Buddha Abides 13th Annual Exhibition poster. Her bright colors and simple composition show the Buddha sitting on a lotus above an oversized hamburger in the tradition of Claus Oldenburg.

Santa Barbara French Festival

I had my debut as a singer of passionate French songs at the Santa Barbara French Festival on Saturday, July 14th, 2012. Bastille Day. My nom de chanson is Alouette (which means Lark in French). I sang Jacques Brel’s La Chanson Des Vieux Amants and Ne me Quitte Pas. Back on the internet looking for music this morning, I am now working on Rufus Wainwritght’s  La Complainte de la Butte from The Moulin Rouge movie. I will be singing again at SoHo on Monday July 23rd during the Open mike session with Jeff Elliot.

Description of the day:

After getting all the microphones set up and the people who’d been learning some come kind of Scorpian Tango in front of the stage cleared off, I said, ‘Bonjour. Je m’appelle Alouette’ to the audience.

I asked how many out there were French (about 10), how many spoke French (about 15) and ” The rest of you,” I said, “love the sound of French, but it sounds like people gargling under water.” So I will read my English translation of these songs, before singing them to you.”

Because my friend the MC Steve didn’t make it up to the stage as planned to ‘set the scene’, being a veteran performer and improvisationalist, (I took a swig of Scotch from my delicate, robin’s egg blue girlie basket) with a little vamping on the guitar, I did it myself:

“Imagine it is 1957. Paris. You are in a dark and old smoky bar, filled with the scent of Galoise. It’s very late. After midnight. and you are sipping a glass of red wine, house red, always good…”

Then, I set off into singing Brel’s passionate love songs, with wonderful Jazz guitar accompaniment from Jimmy Tamae. (We’d been rehearsing over the phone, because he lives in LA. Not the best of methods, but you do what you can do. We’d rehearsed together in the morning before the performance in my living room.)

Of course, I mispronounced words, and sometimes played the wrong chords, and such, but kept going and entertaining the crowd of about 150 people. (There were probably 300 later that day for the drag review, which was fabulous!) Lots of friends were in the audience, including my old dance partner from 25 years ago, Riccardo. He and I’d gone ‘Contact Dancing’ Friday night and a few of my ribs got badly bruised and I’d worried that they were cracked. Yes , it’s a very athleletic form of dance and I’m not as pliable as I used to be!) But I was still breathing, and, as the saying goes, ‘the show MUST go on’. So go on I did. (It really only hurts when I lie down…)

Remembering what I taught all my kids at Circus Camp, that no matter how your performance goes, just end well, and they’ll love you, I ended with a very passionate and drawn out and pleading Ne Me Quiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitte Pas! and on the final note of my guitar, thrust my arm into the air!

Later, as I wandered with friends around the festival, a few strangers came up and thanked me for singing (although I was never quite sure if it was my singing or the tight black dress they liked so much.) An old lady hobbled up at one time and said, “Your jewelry is fabulous!” I’ll take all the compliments I can get. God, I ‘m such a slut.…

Wish yo were there.

Bisoux, Bisoux, Bisoux,

Larky

Buddha Abides 2012

12th Annual Art Exhibition
Opening Reception Sat April 28, 5-7pm.
Santa Barbara Frame Shop & Gallery at 1324 State Street

Visit www.buddhaabides.blogspot.com for more information. Download the guidelines and entry form and get involved in the 12th Annual Art Exhibition. This is going to be a great show, so please participate by submitting your work and join us on opening night!

Paris 2011

In August 2011 I visited Paris with my good friend Cecilia. Click here to view a slide show of photos from our trip together.

HISPANIA!

David Batteau

Wednesday, November 30, at SoHo in Santa Barbara at 7:30pm
Download the flyer.

My brother David, singer-songwriter supreme, and I would like to invite you to his concert at the end of the month at the club SoHo in Victoria Court.

If you were not able to come to his HISPANIA! concert in July, this is an opportunity to come hear his gorgeous music. This particular series of songs are all inspired by the rhythms and cultures of Spanish Speaking countries around the world, along with a few love songs that will have you sighing and yearning for more.

David is an extraordinary and true artist. He has devoted his entire life, and I mean entire, to the creation of beautiful music.  His voice and presence will capture your heart and never let go.

listen to Blue Love
listen to Misery

So re-arrange your schedule and come join us for an intoxicating evening of original music by my brother David.

Tickets are only $8. You are encouraged to make reservations for dinner as well, (805) 962-7776. SoHo has a terrific menu.

As always, I remain enthusiastic not just because he is my older brother, whom I mercilessly and relentlessly followed around in childhood, but because he is absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, fantastic!***

Lark

Paris Conscious

By Lark Batteau

Introduction

“Du beau, du bon, Dubonet, du beau, du bon Dubonet, du beau, du bon, Dubonet.” I babbled in a delirious haze of fever, while lying on a small cot in an apartment in Paris. I remember light streaming in through lace curtains, multi-paned windows providing a glimpse of tiled rooftops and sky, the wispy, white hair of my friend’s grandmother… and that ad.

another trip, I was so consumed with my French boyfriend, six foot three, chestnut curls and green eyes, a low, velvet voice… that Paris remains a blur. Continue Reading…