Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Oct 19 - Japanese Hipsters in a Paris Garden

All week I've gone for an hour-long morning walk in Luxembourg Gardens. Amazing! I feel great the rest of the day. It sounds so basic, but somehow this was never obvious to me before! thing I'm going to discover is the wonders of sliced bread.

Anyway here's my story for the day. Luxembourg Gardens is probably Paris' prettiest and surely most striking gardens. In the center there's a huge reflective pool where kids play with colorful toy sailboats. There are palm trees and flowers. There are also pony rides and petanque players (a game like bocce ball) and tennis courts and ice cream stands and a spot where grizzly old men play chess and even bee hives with apple and pear trees tucked away in a far hidden corner. This is the place where floods of high schoolers bask on the sunny lawns during lunch break, and where you find classic Paris scenes of couples kissing. It's the Mount Everest, the mighty Mecca of people-watching.

But one of the MOST amusing things that I like to see here are the busloads of Japanese tourists.

This morning was quiet -- a pretty fall day that switched from misty to sunny every fifteen minutes and made me think of apple cider and pumpkins. Most chairs were empty and had dried leaves swirling around the legs. Only one sailboat drifted aimlessly across the reflective pond, put there by the toy-boat rental guy to catch the eyes of youngsters and make them beg their parents to rent them one.

But breaking the silence a mass of bodies arrived. They must have come in a fleet of tour busses! About two hundred young hip super-trendy Japanese guys and girls roamed into the gardens and began lining up with for photos in front of the fountain. And judging by their clothes they could come from nowhere else but Tokyo.

It was amazing. It made my day.

They were dressed in the most elaborate, theatrical clothes on the face of this planet, and seeing as how it was 10am, I think these were just their regular clothes.

One girl combined a lollipop-licking Lolita look with 18th-century petticoats and top hat reminiscent of industrial England. She smiled for pictures with a punk girl with ripped fishnets under huge furry wooly mammoth boots and a necktie over a black heavy metal t-shirt. The guys are even better. They all have long rock-star hair dyed blond, and half seemed to be going for the Don Johnson - Miami Vice look. Huge sunglasses, steel-tipped alligator boots. Others had dandy tweed coats with massively furry collars, and a walking cane like they were going to show their friends around their English manor! Beautiful! Flabbergasting!

For those completely unfamiliar with the phenomena of Tokyo fashion, one guy made a whole photo book of it (Called Fruits by Shoichi Aoki). It's filled with hundreds of images of average young Tokyo hipsters on the street. Here's some of the outfits he captured:

Someday I'll get to Japan............Gotta love em'

Oct 19 - They Named it What?

Those with delicate sensibilities (Mom!) may not like (or not even get) the following pictures. Everyone else will probably find them pretty funny.....

They Named it What???

Heck, sometimes I have to let out a bit of Midwestern fratboy humor to balance the Parisian high culture around me right? It's a yin and yang thing.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Oct 14 - Indian Summer

Wow, there's beautiful weather out here! I was starting to get discouraged (very discouraged) by the quick arrival of winter here in Paris, but then we got a massive atmospheric u-turn and are now basking in a true Indian summer!

On Sunday, in the sunshine, Marco and I drove an hour south of Paris to Fontainebleau with our friend Eric. We went for a hike in the expansive forest there. Nice. The leaves were mostly still green, not like Paris where they've all turned brown and filled the sidewalks already.

Every day since then I've gone for an hour walk in the Luxembourg Gardens first thing in the morning. I should have started doing this ages ago. It does wonders for energy and morale the rest of the day.

I finished my glassworking studies last week, so now I've got my whole week free, or at least unstructured. I've been researching where we are going to move to a lot. I like Boulder Colorado a lot and so does Marco, but my goal is to get away from wintery places and I'm not sure how well it fits the bill. Many sources say Boulder has over 300 days of sunshine a year, but others say it's more like 250.

Our little neighborhood of Rue Mouffetard is thriving under the sunshine. The vegetable and cheese and meat and fish vendors are all out. There's even a guy that gives free massages, and they are really gooood. There's a new butcher that just moved in and yesterday I bought a grilled Cornish hen stuffed with tarragon from him. It was only three euros (about $3.50) and made dinner and lunch. Tasty and a good deal.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Oct 7 - Big News! I'm Coming Back!

I've been quiet on this blog for a week or two. That's largely because I've been working a ton on the logistics for my big (VERY big) piece of news .....
Marco and I are moving back to the US!!!

This has been a question up in the air for a looongg time and now, finally, we've decided to make the US our next home.
Well that's getting too specific because we don't really know yet. The contenders: California (either San Diego, between LA and SF, or the wine country north of San Francisco), Boulder Colorado, Madison Wisconsin or good ol' home - Minnesota.

Today was my going away party at the glassworking studio, with another girl who is also leaving and will be very missed - Delphine. I'm ending my studies 3 weeks early officially, but I had completed all my projects early too, so it was ok with Monsieur Andrieux. Anyways I'm still going to go back a couple more times to finish the class on glass fusing (a kiln process where you meld glass together) which was supposed to be done by now, but got delayed a week or two.

I'll miss many of the friends I made at the studio. I'd say they're my truest French friends, and they're really cool people. In fact I shouldn't even call them "French" friends -- they make cultural boundaries meaningless and forgotten. They'd be friends no matter what culture they came from. I'm sure if they were to mix with my favorite people from back home they'd get along really well. Man, did we ever sit around yukking it up and laughing some days. Yeah, I'll really miss them.

Here are some pictures .......

the group

Valerie and Christine

Marc, with Antonio, Eric, Fanfan and Valerie behind

Fanny and Celine

And finally the studio itself, in what is surely one of the greenest courtyards in Paris.


Here I come US....

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Oct 2 - My Greatest Sympathies to Bali

I just wanted to note my deep regrets when I heard about Bali's recent terrorist bombing. I lived one island away in Java, Indonesia in 2000. I studied Indonesian language for 3-1/2 years and Southeast Asian politics, economics and culture for 4 years. I did all that because this is a beautiful region with some of the kindest and most intriguing people I've met the world over.

Indonesia has been doing so well in their transition to democracy, a process which is never easy. Indonesians, including Muslim Indonesians, generally exhibit a great deal of patience, generosity and intelligence in their daily lives and are a pleasure to know. They don't deserve this.

This second round of terrorist attacks will take a heavy toll on the economy of Bali and Indonesia, places with enough hardship as it is.