Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Ulysses Induced – a Short Story That Took 17 Years to Publish

July 6, 2017

First edition of James Joyce's Ulysses

First edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses

Continuing in my diversions from my main thrust on this blog of writing about my open mic and other musical adventures, today I am adding another story to the section on the blog comprising some of my fiction. This is my short story “Ulysses Induced,” which was the only printable material that emerged from a 300-page novel, and also took 17 years to find a publisher for…. That was a real lesson in perseverance, as I say in my little introduction to the story on my fiction page: Today I have decided to add a new section to the blog, comprising some works of my fiction, either published or unpublished. Today I am starting with my short story, “Murder in the Abbey,” which was published in 1996 and nominated for a crime writing prize in Canada in 1997. So here is Ulysses Induced,” an obsessional tale of antiquarian books and writerly inspiration – to say nothing of greed….

Garage Discoveries, Old Receipts, Musings on Human Resource Departments and other tales of Three Star Restaurants – Especially Joel Robuchon’s Jamin

July 5, 2017

My receipt from Robuchon's Jamin 1991

My receipt from Robuchon’s Jamin 1991

PARIS – I have been spending recent weeks tearing apart all the boxes and other crap in my garage and storage room, digging through a lifetime of papers and crud, trying to find anything at all that can prove to the French retirement agencies that I was employed at The Globe and Mail newspaper from the summer of 1980 to the fall of 1983. A series of emails to the human resources department of the Globe resulted in my discover that they have no record of my existence! (It led me to wonder if they even have any record of the 19 years that my father, David Spurgeon, spent reporting for the Globe from the 1950s to the 1980s! (and also made me wonder once again what human resource departments do other than fire people!!)) While I did manage to find at least one record of one period of my existence there – the last year and a half – I have still to find any official records of my own. On the other hand, I have been absolutely amazed to discover that as far as just about every receipt, metro ticket and French payslip or household bill for my subsequent 34 years in France, I have apparently been a packrat. But one of the most amazing artefacts I found was the sudden appearance last night of the actual receipt for the best meal I ever ate in a restaurant: My 1991 meal at Joel Robuchon’s great restaurant, Jamin. So I have decided to add that receipt (its nearly 3600 francs equal around 557 euros in today’s money, not counting the difference in cost-of-living fluctuations, etc.) to my very popular article about that evening, which I wrote about immediately afterwards and subsequently had rejected from many major publications many times. It has proven to be one of the most popular items on this blog, with almost daily readers from around the world ,which vindicates me a little about having been crazy enough to write it. You can see the receipt on this post, and also now accompanying the story itself in my rejection writings section under the title: A Dinner at Robuchon’s Jamin.

Another Unique Night at the Rush Bar Open Mic in Paris – Yes, Again!

July 4, 2017

Rush Bar open mic

Rush Bar open mic

PARIS – I seem to be writing a large percentage of this blog in recent weeks about the Rush Bar open mic. My apologies to anyone who finds that boring – but the reason is that the nights at the Rush bar, as last night again proved, are anything but boring. In only my third ever visit to this relatively new open mic – last night’s Rush open mic was edition No. 22 – I again had a fabulous evening of playing, listening and socializing. There is, for me, at the moment, no open mic in Paris that equals this ambience.

I was also happy to have been able to persuade some friends visiting from Austin, Texas, to attend the open mic at the Rush Bar last night, and they provided quite a bit of the fun ambience, as you’ll see in the videos on this page. One of those people was Christy Moore, who has her own great open mic in Austin at Threadgill’s, and has just finished a stint teaching in Paris. Christy, whom I met at her open mic, once appeared in a fine guest post for this blog, comparing the Paris-Austin open mic scenes….Rose Gabriel at the Rush

I was really pleased to be able to almost close out the evening last night, as the ambience was at its height. Having said that, arriving at 21:30 was really the absolute limit, and even, in fact, beyond the limit to get a spot on the increasingly expanding list.
mostly a capella at the rush

But again, the evening was expertly, and warmly MCd by Charlie Seymour, a longtime Paris expat musician….
more Austin at the Rush

I’ll be back!
Cuba at the Rush

Christy hits the Rush

bit o jamming at the Rush

another Rose Gabriel at the Rush

really a capella at the Rush

Sunday Night at Le Klein Open Mic in Paris – Another Alternative….

July 3, 2017

Le Klein open mic

Le Klein open mic

PARIS – For some reason, Sunday nights in Paris have never been the best night for finding open mics. They come and go quite a bit – except for the dreaded Pop ‘In – but I kept hearing about an open mic I expected would disappear with all the others…and so far it has not. And judging by my first experience at Le Klein, in the Marais, this looks like it is now a mainstay on the Paris open mic scene. I hope so, in any case….

I found at the Le Klein open mic, a very cool, long, narrow, barroom full of musicians and spectators, regulars and people coming just for the music, or just to play, and I found a wonderful set up, with the “stage” area in front of the front window and door. I found a kind, open and ready-to-please MC.
first at Le Klein open mic

And like the MC, Riyad Sanford, whom I know from his frequent participation in Brislee’s open mic in Pigalle on Tuesday nights, I also found many familiar faces and sounds. Many of the musicians from the old Coolin open mic seem to be participating here regularly – or that’s the feeling I got.
second at le klein

In any case, it was a party, festival atmosphere that I found, and I was practically happier to listen than to play.
third at le klein

It was quite cool to hear a Jake Bugg song performed by one person, a song I had never heard performed anywhere else except by Jake Bugg himself on a Tiny Desk Concert video….
fourth at le klein

Anyway, I’ll soon be adding this one to my Thumbnail Guide to Paris open mics, and I’ll definitely be returning to Le Klein.

Rushing from the Rush to the Some Girls to the Galway on a Monday Night in June

June 30, 2017

Rush Bar open mic

Rush Bar open mic

PARIS – I can confirm on my second visit to the Rush Bar open mic in Paris that this place is really cool. As it turned out, I was late to arrive, and despite a very full list and an open mic that had to end precisely at midnight, the MC made room for me to play as the last man on the list, acoustic. It turned out to be a huge pleasure, despite my fear of confronting a large audience without a mic for the voice or amp on the guitar.
Third at the rush bar

That was the way I was treated personally, but the other positives were the huge crowd, the great vibe and a new batch of musicians I had not seen the last time I was there. In addition to a few of the same. The bar is soon going to have a new owner, and the new owner also happened to be there and assured us that there would be no change in the attitude toward the open mic.
second at the rush bar

So long live the Rush.

And I noticed that Charlie Seymour, the MC at the Rush, apparently used that word “rush” near the end of the night without noticing it, as he said they had to rush along and do only one song per person when near midnight in order to let everyone play. So it is that after using the silly pun in my post a couple of weeks ago, I could not resist using it in a different way in my headline above.
first at the rush bar

Yes, after performing in the Rush bar I was still hungry for more. So I rushed on over to the Bastille in cab, as it was only a few minutes away and I knew there was another open mic at the Some Girls bar.

And then it was off to the Galway Pub open mic

Unfortunately, when we got there, we found that that open mic had also ended some 20 or so minutes before. So it was that I decided to rush over the more distant Galway Pub open mic at the Place St. Michel, again in a cab. There, I found the stage occupied, and the wonderful Tess running the show as quietly and efficiently as ever, and she offered to let me play, despite her having already announced to the crowd that the open mic was about to end.
outside view at the Galway

I got to do four songs! And then it turned out another late-comer got to play as well. And so it was that the Galway open mic must have ended at around 1 AM or later. And once again it confirmed my warm feelings for this longstanding open mic in Paris, which has changed MCs three times since I started attending in 2008 or so, but which has maintained its quality and standards….

It was all worth the rush….

Update of Thumbnail Guide to Melbourne Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music – And a New Approach to the Guides…From You

June 14, 2017

Melbourne Skyline

Melbourne Skyline

After creating a total of 26 Thumbnail Guides to open mics in 26 different cities around the world – and almost as many countries – the year 2017 marks the end (at least for the moment) of the world travels that enabled me to create these guides. This year, after more than 20 years covering Formula One auto racing around the world, I have opted to live a more sedentary life as I finish all sorts of personal projects – my film, books, music, etc. But the result is that these open mic guides risk going out of date. In fact, I have now come up with a potential solution: I will update all the guides via confirming the open mics I have visited still exist (using various methods, including the Internet), and for the first time, I want to open up the guides to the users to make contributions.

If you are interested, read all about that on my updated Thumbnail Guide to Melbourne Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, my first guide after the original one that was about Paris open mics.

An Update to My Paris Open Mic Guide

June 9, 2017

Thumbnail Open Mic Guide

Thumbnail Open Mic Guide

Just a note to say that I have updated my open mic city guide, The Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music.

The last time I updated, in March, I brought the sad new of the closing of the Caveau des Oubliettes. Now, I bring great news in the recent addition of an absolutely fabulous Paris open mic, which takes place at the Rush Bar on Mondays (heading for its 20th edition this Monday). I have also tweaked bits and pieces throughout the rest of the guide to try to keep it as up-to-date as possible.

So The Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, remains the most extensive and up-to-date guide of the Paris open mic scene. Check it out!

Blog at