Murder on the Orient Express

While in Paris I visited the Orient Express exhibit and walked through the wagons. It was probably the finest show I had seen in Paris. To actually walk through the legendary train and seeing it exactly as it was described by Agatha Christie her timeless novel Murder on the Orient Express was a dream.


Me inside the Orient Express in Paris.





Devil’s Trill Sonata (or Tartini’s Dream)

Composer Giuseppe Tartini allegedly told the French astronomer Jérôme Lalande that he had dreamed that the Devil had appeared to him and had asked to be Tartini’s servant. At the end of their lessons, Tartini had handed the devil his violin to test his skill, which the devil immediately began to play with such virtuosity that the composer felt his breath taken away.

Today, Tartini’s most famous work is the “Devil’s Trill Sonata,” a solo violin sonata that requires a number of technically demanding double stop trills and is difficult even by modern standards. (One 19th-century myth had it that Tartini had six digits on his left hand, making these trills easier for him to play). According to a legend embroidered upon by Madame Blavatsky, Tartini was inspired to write the sonata by a dream in which the Devil appeared at the foot of his bed playing the violin.






The Cocotte’s Misery

My second take of French working girls. The first one I did was more about the luxury of courtesans, their high class clients and the art of seduction: The Lust of La Paiva; one of my seven deadly sins.

This is more in tune with Les Miserables, the lower class French girls who worked the streets.


Based on the series Maison Close and the French films House of Tolerance and La Vie en Rose. 

I also read Love for Sale: A World History of Prostitution by Nils Johan Ringdal. Courtesans and prostitutes influenced the artistic endeavors, literary works and personal lives of Manet, Emile Zola, Edgar Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Victor Hugo, Vincent van Gogh,  Paul Verlaine, Honore de Balzac and many, many more prominent figures of the era.

I have always been fascinated by the libertine, Montmatre bohemian of the late 19th century: small, dim candlelit rooms, bars and brothels hazy with smoke and green with absinthe.


Inspired by my mother’s bottle of perfume that I broke as a child: Opium by Yves Saint Laurent.

The idiomatic expression in English “pipe dream”, comes from the hallucinations people had in opium dens. It means “an unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme.”


Joe Graziano:

Oh my! How sensual and concise!