A ‘Crazy American’ discovers Paris

A saxophonist is playing a jazz solo in a small park, competing with the sounds of children splashing in a nearby fountain. It’s the middle of a workday in Paris, but no one appears to be working.

“All Parisians leave Paris in the summer. By August, it’s like a provincial town,” says Ronnie Rubin ’76C, who teaches courses in marketing and intellectual property rights in Paris. “You start with five weeks of vacation right away at any level, and a normal work week is thirty-five hours. In terms of quality of life, that provides such a different balance. It is so healthy in so many ways.”

After Rubin graduated from Emory with a degree in political science, he moved to California, where he worked for Hyatt, an L.A. rock station, and Disney. After eight years, he joined Hanna-Barbara’s international team, introducing the characters (Yogi, Fred Flintstone, the Jetsons) to Mexico, Australia, and other remote locations.

“That’s when I knew I wanted to work internationally,” Rubin says. “I liked being in strange environments, moving, the travel.”

He transferred to London to oversee control of the studio library, branding, licensing, and home video distribution, traveling throughout Europe. In 1992, Rubin returned to California to pursue an MBA at the University of Southern California. He then worked for Sony Pictures, and Twentieth Century Fox, which had just released Independence Day.

“I traveled 300,000 miles in a year and a half,” Rubin says. “I was forty-five years old, a vice president of promotions. I had a house in the hills, a convertible, and was living the L.A. lifestyle. But I wasn’t happy. I had a long-distance relationship with a woman who was French, so I came to Paris. I connected with Paris like I’ve never connected with a place in my life.”

Rubin enrolled in the Sorbonne, took an intensive three-month language class, and lived on a cobblestone street in a building from the 1700s. “I knew everyone, from the students to the butcher. I was the crazy American–those were the days when it was cool to be an American overseas.”

Rubin plans to stay in France for many reasons, perhaps most importantly to be near his three-year-old son, Remi, who lives with his mother.

“I’ve lived everywhere, from San Francisco to London,” he says. “Paris is where I want to stay.”–M.J.L.



© 2005 Emory University