Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Out West

Heading out west (USA)...reports from the road to follow soon...!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Watch the closing doors

As a friend recounted her recent horror stories about being on the Paris metro over lunch today, I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement. The metro of course, is no way to judge a personality, and certainly I have had my share of nastiness on the NYC subway, and she on the London tube, but there seems to be an exceptional lack of respect for personal space in the confines of the Paris metro. I chalk it up to outdated cars. They are too small. It is clear that the Parisian population has grown faster than the city planned for allotting money for expanding the current system. In these older model cars the seats that flip up allowing for the option of standing when it gets full was perhaps appropriate for the days of Victorian politesse, but it doesn’t work in today’s world. On a train packed to the gills it almost always someone between 13-25 who determinedly sits while people clamor around them. It drives me insane. On a few occasions I have become the naggy old lady curtly suggesting that they stand up. I can see them roll their eyes at me like when their mom scolds them. It’s become somewhat entertaining now. There seems to be an issue for many people here about how to move onto and into the train car. You don’t stop at the doors if there are people getting in behind you. You move in and across, whether you get off at the next stop or not. This is just a general safety rule that often helps avoid forceful pushing and doors slamming on people. I think that all Parisians should have a two-week training period in NYC learning subway language. NYC is no charm school and can in fact be worse, but somehow there is generally (excepting the 1st time tourists from the middle of the country), a universal understanding of working around this confined and dirty space which will hopefully get us where we are going in good time.

My friend told me about her run in with a pole leaner with enormous hair. Why is it that people think they can lean against the pole thereby disallowing anyone else to really hold it? There is nothing worse than your hand resting against someone’s sweaty back. I have tried firming my grip so my knuckles get in their back a bit, which often gets the message across, but not always. As my friend was being blasted by this perky woman’s voluminous hair she asked her to please move a bit and was met with a high-heel jammed into her foot. Classy. I also don’t think that the cell phone needs to really work on the metro, at least in the cars, maybe the platform is cool, because though the twenty minute commute might be a good time for you to have an argument with your boyfriend, it’s not really something I want to be subjected to for the ride. The Paris metro has its moments. The boards that read the amount of minutes till the next train alleviates a good deal of stress, and some of the newer train cars I have spotted look like a good omen for the future, but until then, please stand up, move in and watch the closing doors.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Four Days under the Spanish Sun

A brief 1h40min plane ride from Paris and we were in the northwest part of Spain, Galicia.
In the non-summer months this region has a climate similar to Ireland,
with lots of rain and clouds, which gives it a lush, verdant landscape.
In theSummer months, however, it is typical Spanish sun. Four days was
quick, but it was a great fix of sunshine that lasted until almost
1030pm each day...the typical hour of dinnertime tapas.Pontevedra is about 45min south of the famous Santiago de Compostella, the mecca of religious pilgrims who flock there to see the great cathedral constructed in part due to the rumor that the bones of St. James turned up on this site long ago. Pontevedra lies on a river, a beautiful bridge by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava
connects one side to the other (although of course their are other
bridges). A lovely old town anchors the town, full of restaurants and
bars. Shopping is so-so but with the sales going on, was more
appealing. We filled up on seafood--mussels, clams,octopus, and delicious albarino white wine. A short 20 minutes in a taxi brought us to a lovely beach called Montalvo. The coast here is lined with national parks/beaches that are relatively untouched. The Galician coast definitely makes for a great alternative to the typical Costa Brava along the Mediterranean.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Style Pixie

Calling all anglos
(though not strictly), living in Paris and who feel comforted by the
idea of having a hairstylist who speak English...Style Pixie is your
place. Owned by a young Australian woman, Victoria Nelson and aided by
Lexi, who is also a singer, thiscoiffeure is friendly, funky and professional. Set in an artist studios warehouse in Ivry
, the salon is white, open with lots of light. It's a change of pace
and what's more...they speak English, so none of the mega hand gestures
to try and explain what you want, or worse, coming out blond when you
wanted brown.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rosé, you say?

Macho men and rosé wine for lunch-- Sorry there are no photos to share with this blog. I was working on my computer at a local café when I became distracted by a table of four men sitting across from me, and I was reminded of this classically French phenomenon: Macho construction workers who sip rosé wine from delicate glasses at lunchtime. My first encounter with this jarring reality was last year at a typically grubby kind of French café in my neighborhood. I was trying to pay for my café noisette at the bar but was being blocked out by gruff men in their construction overalls who were acting way to stereotypical in their intonations and puffed out stance. Ten years in NYC however, doesn’t make one shy and so I pushed my way in and caught the reality. Here they were, at 5:00, post work, having a drink…but here there were no large pints of beer or a whisky. Here we had a kir royale in a champagne glass for one, and rose wine for another. Sorry boys, time to move on over. Not going to be intimidated here. Only, and I think I can say this as truth, ONLY in France are we going to see this situation. I wouldn’t have even made a fuss if they were drinking red wine, but kir? In a Champagne flute? Come on. It’s too good. J’adore.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

John Armleder: Jacques Garcia

A unique, collaborative project between John Armleder and Jacques Garcia is on view at the Centre Cultural de Suisse. Armleder, is a contemporary artist based in Switzerland, who applies conceptual methods to his large-scale installations. For Armleder, the artwork can be finished conceptually before ever being produced. Jacques Garcia is one of the top interior designers in Paris, working on such projects as the Hotel Costes and Laduree in Paris, and has private clients including the Sultan of Brunei.

In this installation, Armleder takes his conceptual practice one step further by inviting Garcia to completely decorate the interiors in the upper floors of the institution. For Armleder this is a conceptual study into Ornamentation. Garcia constructs a dining room, salon and bedroom using elements of ornamentation and design ranging from Orientalism, neo-gothic, minimalism and ancient Egypt. The result is a surreal walk into a another universe- one fears of the reality of this existing in a serious manner somewhere in the upper east side of Manhattan or in along the outer reaches of the 16th in Paris. It’s gluttony revisited from the tiger rug that still has it’s head on, Helmut Newton photographs, a big, sumptuous bed (which we are told not to lie before we enter the space), and decorative objects all around. Visitors are invited to sit in the chairs and read the selection of art books and auction catalogs that are scattered around. As the press release states, “ Armleder uses the signature style of Garcia like a ready-made, nothing that it is “the observer who makes the work,” while Garcia responds with a mirror note saying it is “the client who makes the décor.”

Centre Culturel de Suisse, 32 et 38, rue des Francs-Bourgeois,

Saturday, July 5, 2008

As seen in Paris on the 4th of July:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sophie Mallebranche

Sophie Mallebranche,,
is a textile designer based in Paris, who makes beautifully woven
pieces by combining the use of metallic , silver, copper based threads
with linen, silk and cotton. Her works are mostly high-end commercial
or private residence. These textile/tapestry works are amazing as room dividers, curtains or just for decoration. Paris clients have include the restaurant Marcel and the Plaza Athenee.