Miles Marshall Lewis describes himself as a bohemian B-boy from the bronx living in 21st century Paris. He is a gifted writer and has a cleverly titled blog www.furthermucker.com, all about his ex-pat adventures in the city. He also has a few published books under his belt and has written for top magazines & newspapers like Vibe, Rolling Stone, and the Village Voice.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
My late grandfather used to own a Harlem brownstone, and my parents lived there when I was born. My hospital was in Washington Heights. But they found another place in the South Bronx for a few years, and then moved to the Co-op City housing development in The Bronx’s northeast. I grew up there from the age of 4.
When & why did you move to Paris?
I first came to Paris at 23, visiting a friend who basically introduced me to my wife (her French girlfriend), picking me up from Charles de Gaulle Airport in her little stick shift Fiat. I came back 10 years later because I’d just lost my apartment and my job in New York City, and I always planned to live here for a while ever since that first visit.
What writers influenced you growing up?
I learned to read really early from huge stacks of my father’s old comic books in the closet of my great-grandparents’ place in the South Bronx. I can’t talk about early influences without mentioning comic writers like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Byrne, Howard Chaykin, Frank Miller, and Marv Wolfman. Sci-fi guy Isaac Asimov was big with me, his Foundation and robot novels. Expats James Baldwin and Richard Wright became influential afterwards. I’ve read everything Baldwin’s written. Toni Morrison is my all-time favorite. Playwright August Wilson was another great; I saw Fences on Broadway at 17. As a magazine junkie, I loved Chris Heath and Mim Udovitch’s work at Details magazine, as well as Greg Tate, Lisa Jones and Nelson George at The Village Voice.
You say you grew up listening to hip-hop and musicians Lenny Kravitz, Public Enemy, and the Cure. How did you land your internship at Vibe magazine and also tell us about your other magazine work.
Vibe put out a test issue in my senior year at Morehouse College. I was already a hip-hop lover on staff at the school newspaper. Having grown up on my dad’s Rolling Stone subscription, Vibe was a dream job. I bothered them about a gig from the beginning, and they gave me an internship the summer I graduated. I worked on their first two issues, the Snoop Dogg and Wesley Snipes covers. Six years later, editor-in-chief Danyel Smith hired me as Music Editor. I’ve done dozens of celebrity profiles and arts criticism for Rolling Stone, Spin, The Fader, The Believer, Dazed & Confused, XXL, The Source, Essence and more.
Do you write for any French publications?
French magazines don’t pay anywhere near the rates that America does. I wrote for French Rolling Stone when I first got here, but it’s not worth it money-wise. And my French isn’t strong enough, though a lot of them translate writers’ work. My wife’s a great translator.
Please tell us about the essays you have written.
My first book was an essay collection, 2004’s Scars of the Soul Are Why Kids Wear Bandages When They Don’t Have Bruises. Like Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, the book dealt with the decay of a culture; hip-hop culture, in my case. I’ve got some new essays being anthologized soon, in Hip-Hop: A Cultural Odyssey and Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness (edited by Rebecca Walker).
How familiar are the French with the history of American black culture and music?
I’ve spent time with vinyl collectors who fiend for Esther Phillips and other people who only know pop stars like Rihanna and Kanye West. It depends. I will say that—just like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Coca-Cola—America has the money to spread its cultural products globally. Black culture and music deserve the love and influence they get worldwide, but you can’t ignore US cultural imperialism. French singers like Les Nubians would never be as well known as Beyoncé is here, not because they’re not talented enough, but because the US has the power to force itself on everybody and France doesn’t.
You recently wrote a new book Irrésistible and had it published solely for Amazon Kindle and iPad. Tell us about the book and if publishing on those devices is any different than publishing a physical book and what the experience is like?
Irrésistible follows lead character Kit Jackson, a college DJ, through the turmoil of his romances with two study abroad students in Paris and Madrid during the golden age of hip-hop (1989-93). Publishing an ebook is basically self-publishing, which eliminates the middlemen of literary agents and publishing houses. Amazon simplifies the process with its digital text platform, and iTunes Connect makes it just as easy to upload your manuscript for sale through their special iBooks app. The most complicated part is buying your ISBN number from the Library of Congress, something I did for Irrésistible over 10 years ago when I thought briefly about self-publishing. (I finished my first draft way back in 1995.)
You grew up in New York, lived in London, and now Paris. How did each of those cities influence your writing and what were key differences in each city?
In New York, I belonged to a wave of hip-hop cultural critics (Dream Hampton, Touré, etc.) who put out books heavily influenced by that culture. So my early work was drenched in my experiences as a Bronx native who watched hip-hop start outside my window. Even now there are vestiges of that; The Bronx is as vital to me as California is to Didion. London didn’t influence me at all. I lived there four months studying abroad, failing all my classes while I wrote Irrésistible. Paris helped me sharpen my voice even more, because I’d moved two thousand miles away from that competitive hip-hop circle jerk of writers.
What one writer living or dead would you most like to have dinner with and where would you have dinner?
I’d have dinner with Zadie Smith; breakfast in bed, preferably. Let’s pick Le Royal Monceau hotel near the Arc de Triomphe, where Madonna shot her “Justify My Love” video.
What do you prefer about Paris?
I love that Paris is the most romanticized city in the world for escaping the matrix. Lenny Kravitz, Tricky and Saul Williams all got here a few years after me, and that just keeps serving the city’s reputation as a haven for artists. It’s a beautiful place for self-reflection, meditation and creation.
Eye Prefer Paris Photos for Sale
I am happy to announce the sale of prints of my Eye Prefer Paris Photos. I am offering 17 of my most popular and iconic images for sale including my courtyards, doors, architectural details, statues, and monuments. They will make great holiday gifts for all your Francophile friends, relatives, and colleagues but don't forget to buy some for yourself.
Click here to see photos and for full details including sizes, prices, and shipping. Here is a sample of some of the photos.
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotteís professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 195 euros for up to 3 people, and 65 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com