Friday, October 19, 2007

Stalking Beirut and la Blogothèque (again)

The band Beirut and the french site la Blogothèque both have dedicated fans and a quasi-cult following. Recently, however, they have become twin fascinations for John Norris over at MTV.

Watching the video below, you might think to yourself, "damn, them kids is cool. I'd sure like to have a beer with them..."

It's not as hard as you might imagine. At the very least, you can stalk their favorite bars and watch them from across the room, waiting for the moment when they are drunk enough to consider letting you sit on their lap.

Not that I've tried...yet.

What I'm getting at is that Zach Condon from Beirut, along with Vincent Moon, Chryde, and several Blogothèque writers, have all revealed their favorite bars for indie rock drinking in Paris. It's all waiting for you in this article over at Gridskipper. So hit the trail and check out these spots where you're sure to feel comfortable in your hoodie and your love of home recording. And after you stumble home, treat yourself to a little un-sober surfing with la Blogothèque's Take-Away Shows video series.

And as pre-bar homework, watch this MTV news broadcast in which (a newly wig-topped?) John Norris manages to suck up to Zach Condon to a greater degree than even I have attempted in the past.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wine, Wimmin' & Song

This weekend is the annual fête des vendanges in Montmartre, and I'll be making the rounds in the "village" of wine and regional products.

Coming from the States and a protestant background, there's something really great about being able to booze from wine stand to wine stand at the foot of a giant church.

For those interested in checking out the festival, which includes a parade, fireworks, and hundreds of music, literary, and even gastronomical events dedicated to the singer George Brassens, the official festival web page is here, and my Gridskipper article about it is here.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Coming Soon

..a real live blog post, I promise!

But until then, here's a Gridskipper post about all the Paris concerts that are happening through December.

November in particular is absurdly full. It's really almost too much. I remember complaining upon arrival that the Paris indie music scene was dead, and now I'm deciding between Cat Power, the Shins, Beirut/Andrew Bird, I'm From Barcelona, the National, Hot Hot Heat and about 15 other bands.

In any case, there's a whole lot of hoopla on that post, including video for my favorite bands playing in October, plus a Google calendar and a radio player that lets you listen to all the picks who are playing before January.

And I promise to write a real something soon. Just as soon as I finish my next Gridskipper article, which is tentatively titled "Famed Vagina Now Open in Paris."

Can anyone guess what show that is about?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Vegetarian Problem

During my first year in Paris, seemingly everyone who came to visit was a f@*k#ng vegetarian.

I support this choice, honestly I do. But it makes (in Paris) for truly lousy eating.

Or at least it used to...

In the olden days of 2004-2006, choosing a restrautant with a (non-fish-eating) vegetarian in mind meant that somebody was not gonna be happy. And most often, that body was me.

My insanely bulleted and hyper-linked list of Restauarants To Try was usually set aside because the places specialized in game, offered no choices, or were otherwise unlikely to have anything my friends could eat.

Recently, however, a new list has taken shape. I call it Places Where I Can Take My Vegetarian Friends Without Wanting to Kill Them.

Or, more formally, Fine Eatin' with Fleshless Options.

This new list features six restaurants where I would gladly eat, with or without a vegetarian in the mix. Beyond these, there is a world of casual street eats and ethnic joints that also get the job done. But for those who are looking to have a special (and not cheap) night out, with a focus on French rather than Cambodian, these are my top picks:

  1. Arpège
  2. Maceo
  3. Mon Vieil Ami
  4. Les Allobroges
  5. Transversal
  6. Maison Blanche
The map, and full descriptions of each, are published here on Gridskipper.

Go forth, friends, and eat without passive aggression.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

You Will Miss Me When I'm Gone

This morning a young woman sat down next to me on the Métro, an SMS already in progress.

The furious tapping of her manicured nails prompted me to look up periodically from the pages of my book, in which a conceptual fish was stalking our already-dead (or not?) hero.

"You will miss me when I'm gone..." began her text. I hated myself a little bit for reading over her shoulder.

"...but I understand your reasons,"
[deleted, then...]

"...and you're an asshole,"
[deleted, then...]

"...and you should call me when you change your mind..."

There were ten or so of these.

And during the seventh one (approximately) she farted.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Paris Coffee Tastes Like Ass

Tourists are often too distracted by the ambiance to notice that brew between their fingers tastes funny -- but connoisseurs abhor the sludge that's on offer in the everyday Paris café.

It sucks for many reasons, including the frequent use of robusta (not arabica) beans, chalky water, sterilized milk, dirty machines with low pressure and temperature, and untrained baristas who almost never tamp their shots.

And while French drinkers don't seem to know what they're missing, many 'Mericans - even those from Kansas - certainly do. For those of you in search of a jolt without the dirty mouth, I made a list for Gridskipper of the top places in Paris where you can find a decent cup of coffee.

>and here it is...

Thursday, August 30, 2007



I've started a new feature at Gridskipper to track the local music finery.

Being slightly compulsive, I also added video links for all the upcoming bands and built a radio player to let you listen to everything.

Go and have a look, hey?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Paris: City of Naked

Dear friends,
Please excuse me for being late last night for margaritas at La Perla. Something happened while I was riding my bike along the canal.

I was watching him lift his penis so that friends could remove the bits of floating trash that had adhered to his testicles and I got a little dizzy - had a mild stroke, perhaps - and after that had to ride my bike slowly.

In any case, sorry.

Your pal,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Swing Set

I have just returned from a vacation in the Loire and will soon tell you all about it.

But first, and more importantly, I must tell you about the Sex Clubs.

, you see, offers a bonus each month for the correspondant who draws the most readers. Being competitive by nature and poor by tax bill, I am going for the throat and compiling a list of clubs échangistes.

This endeavor means that I've been rolling around for hours in the webworld of the swinger. And let me tell you, it is...hysterical.

This post shall not knock or otherwise comment on the practice of having sex with strangers. What I would like to share is this collection of absurdity that I discovered during the course of my research.

Five Reasons Why Sex Clubs Are Hilarious

1) Soundtracks!
Le Quai 17 website provides a continuous stream of music, presumably the sort of sounds one might encounter at the club. I tuned into "Radio Libertine" and laughed to the point of tears when I heard 4 Non Blondes bleating out the chorus of "What's Up." This was followed by (what else?) "Boys Don't Cry."

Don't get me wrong, I'm really quite fond of both these songs. But I could not be expected, while balancing in heels at some quai-side swapmeet, to keep a straight face while Linda sang about her great big hill of hope.

2) Message Boards!
The very same cyber-wizards at le Quai 17 have also introduced the message board, allowing users to publicly register for soirées and chat with eachother in advance. In this way, "cplbi3446" (at left) and "Michelx74" can break the ice a bit before meeting at Thursday's Gang Bang Buffet.

and speaking of...

3) Buffets!
Nearly all the clubs offer a buffet or some other form of pre-game dinner. I'm trying hard to imagine (and help me out here if you know) what on earth is the etiquette for warm-up supping? Does a lady retain her skirt while tossing back her plate of moules? Does she chit-chat with the man in the mask about the delicious moelleux? I think Buñuel may have made a film about this...

4) Special Nights!
This city's love for theme-parties knows no bounds. In the most remote backrooms and cuddle corners, one can still find people dressed for "Carnival." Le Nautilus, for example, recently hosted a "Las Vegas-style Casino Night" complete with blackjack, poker, and prizes. Au Pluriel will soon be celebrating its anniversary with "surprises, gifts, and onion soup." I might mistake this for the local Rotary Club if I didn't know about the Saint-André cross in their basement.

5) Mind-Blowing Translation!
There is so much to choose from, but here's my favorite from Le Nautilus:
This club is appreciated by loose couples which appreciate to meet themselves in a felted frame, wish to make more ample knowledge with new couples which share certain art of living and to make the "holiday."
I will leave you now to reflect upon your readiness for the felted frame. This video from Stereo Total, to say nothing of Radio Libertine, should aid in your considerations...

Update: the article is now up (here) at Gridskipper. Needless to say, the onion soup is not mentioned...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Making Love to Zach Condon

No more marching down the boulevard and singing along with the iPod - my love for the band Beirut has finally found an appropriate outlet.

The Blogothèque asked me to write a text in English to accompany the release of their latest video. Taken from the magical Soirée à Emporter, it features two amazing songs and one Go-Go dancing blogger.

Below is the video and my text from the Blogothèque. Many other delights, including the other eight videos from this concert, are available on their site.

When Zach Condon introduces his last song, denial rings throughout the Flèche d’Or. "But after," he continues, "I will play with Kocani Orkestar. It’s a dream for me."

This news about a Balkan band elicits very little reaction from the crowd. Most of those crammed into the venue, not to mention the hundreds who are waiting on the sidewalk, have arrived to see Beirut. The announcement of their last song seems to signal the end of a very special soirée.

The opening tump-thumps of "Sunday Smile" see the crowd start to turn around, swaying and beaming with pleasure of discovery. Zach’s attention is initially focused on the job of filling his microphone. When he raises his head for the chorus, looks around and sees what’s happening, a manic grin threatens to wipe out his ability for words.

He is 22 years old, this kid. He has spent the summer in Paris, mere steps away from the stage that now holds him with his musical heroes. Their brass envelops him and sends this unreleased song into the sky. His new neighbors are all around, waving their arms and asking for more.

How did he get here ?

It was only a few weeks ago that Chryde broke the news in a Paris café. Upon learning that the Blogothèque was bringing Kocani to come and play with him, Zach was stunned into silence. He lit a cigarette. He said "thank you." He then retreated into the fear that comes with getting what you want.

That initial astonishment infuses this song with Kocani Orkestar. "Sunday Smile" is taut with anxiety and joy. It is bursting with Zach’s gratitude for the beauty of this moment. By the end of the song he is nearly bowing down before his guests from Macedonia.

When the call for "Siki Siki Baba" is sounded, Zach raises himself up and promptly jumps into the fray. "Watching me listen to this song," he wrote last year for Said the Gramophone, "is like watching a hyperactive four-year-old without his Ritalin. Pure excitement." Watching him not only listen but play along to this song is doubly exciting.

The crowd that only an hour ago was held spellbound by delicate sounds is now erupting, their energy in each chorus threatening to break out the windows of this former train station. Zach gushes along with the rest of them, waving his arms like some deranged conductor. His eyes are often closed or fixed upon the distant ceiling as if the sight of this swell is just a little too much. When he opens them and looks around, he can barely contain his laughter.

We are so thoroughly whipped into musical fervor that the end of the song is not an option. The crowd continues to bleat out its ecstasy in chorus after unscripted chorus. Our consolation, when the last note falls, is that this song is only the beginning of our night with Kocani Orkestar.

Let’s hope this is also only the beginning of these Soirées à Emporter.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Men Like to Hunt: the Cachet of Hidden Kitchen

A brief mention in a post three weeks ago that I had been to Hidden Kitchen garnered ten or so hungry emails:

How was it?
Can you get me in?
Oh my oh my oh my god! (etc.)
The panty-throwing reaction prompted me to write about it for Gridskipper. Not only about the food (here), but also the chefs' favorite places to shop around the city (here).

There were more undies in my in-box this morning, and a whole pile of them waiting on the electronic doorstep of Hidden Kitchen.

And every wet knicker reminds me of one of the cardinal rules of dating: RUN AWAY.

When I moved out of my marriage bed and into a shared apartment, my roommate Kate had a bookshelf stacked with (plenty of high-quality literature and some) classic dating tomes. And so I spent those first nights, when I wasn't hyper-ventilating, turning the pages of He's Just Not That Into You.

This of course brought on more hyper-ventilating.

Surely, I thought to myself, I have more to offer than "not answering the phone."

"Utter rubbish," declared Catherine, who read the book as soon as I'd finished it. Along with Kate, we decided that while some girls might need gimmicks - hiding themselves and cultivating mystery - we were interesting enough to be exempt from the rules.

Months later I sat across from a man who told me "Men like to hunt."

He then advised me to be "more like a gazelle."

I stopped inviting him to free concerts after that.

Who among you will wager on whether he's booked at Hidden Kitchen?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Biking Bliss in the Fôret de Sevran

I have been an active biker for over a year.

By "active," I of course mean occassional, and only in near-perfect sunny conditions.

Such biking activity has rarely, however, extended outside of the city. Only once last year did I bike out of bounds, on a lovely trip near the Royaumont Abbey. Last Sunday I tried again - a rematch country ride to the Fôret de Sevran.
The morning started with a trip to the market. A loaf of bread, fixings for a green bean salad, some drippy Reine Claudes and a nice Brie de Meaux - we bought everything we needed for a little country picnic.
Setting out from the Parc de la Villette, we followed the Canal de l'Ourcq (the northern extension of the Canal Saint-Martin) in the direction of Meaux.
For the first five minutes, the view was post-industrial. The falling-down Grands Moulins de Pantin towered before us and we breezed past buildings with broken windows and graffiti.

Emerging from a massive SNCF repair complex, we found ourselves in the middle of a Bobigny block-party. Balloons, each one with a message attached, filled the air above our heads. I smiled at them memory of doing the same twenty years ago in Kansas.

Next up along our route we spied some rough necks letting off jet ski steam. All bike traffic stopped to watch them as they skidded across the stank and murky waters.

Thirty minutes into the ride, the view became more picturesque. Wooden fences replaced grafitti-covered walls and flowers bloomed from suburban patios.
Time flew and soon enough the view had become fully forested. The heat of the day was held at bay by the canopy of trees. Light filtered between the branches to cast a serene glow on all who were picnicking (or reading, sleeping, drinking, entangling in various states of undress...).
We found a shaded spot within the Fôret de Sevran. We dropped like sacks after the sixty-minute ride and spread ourselves out for a sigh. A nap in the grass followed a leisurely lunch and then we found the buvette and a revitalizing beer.

Our party turned back around 4pm to attend to some pétanque around the Bassin de la Villette. The return trip took just over an hour, with some delay from weary legs and the of number joyriding Vélib'ers.

This trip was part of my training for an upcoming cycling holiday. I have been persuaded to pedal through the countryside between the châteaux de la Loire. Considering the number of very good vineyards along the way, it is certain to be a fiasco.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Woo Tube (p. 3)

I started this blog about a year ago.

The intention, as I described in my first post, was to tell stories about France to people back home.

But most of these friends were not internet fiends. And they were swiftly outnumbered by strangers on my site.

Just one month into this electronic endeavor, some website listed me as one of its favorite blogs. This brought the Brits and a bunch of other unknowns to my door.

And they started leaving comments. It was weird.

"Who are these people?" I would shout across the room to where my husband was sitting with his own laptop. He would roll his eyes, rightly so, and then return to Googling himself.

Our courtship long ago had been conducted over the wires. Eight years and another continent later, we were still susceptible to those screen-based shivers.

Only not so much from eachother.

However odd the sensation, it didn't take long for me to adapt to writing for the invisible. It didn't matter that my readers had no faces and were prone to over-punctuation.

What mattered was that they loved me, insofar as that could be deduced from comments like " :-) " and "woo!!"

I found myself rushing to check the computer like I'd done back in the old days. They weren't romantic, these exchanges, but they held the same thrill of discovery.

Not all of these readers remained strangers. My first friends of blog origin were two Canadians who introduced themselves at a concert. They recognized me as "Le Meg," much to the amusement of my visiting friends. They later posted about the night as bloggers (I now know) are prone to do.

I began to spend more time online and outside the apartment. Things weren't going well at home, and this new universe (which had expanded into writing for Expatica and Parisist) was wonderfully distracting.

Eventually it became large enough to climb into.

It's odd to look back upon one year of blogging and think about everything that's happened. My marriage ended, I stayed in Paris and decided (after a brief pause) to stick with the blog.
To all of you who I've met in some way or other through this site...

...and to all you unlinkables, invisibles and old dears - it's been lovely to have you around in this year of new beginnings.

Friday, August 03, 2007

My Secret Garden(s)

Need a quiet spot away from the horde for feeling up your summer fling?

I just posted an article on Gridskipper about some of my favorite hidden terraces.

You can read about them here, and tell me in the comments what I've forgotten.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Woo Tube (p. 2)

It was 1998 when I had my first and only internet fling.

Back then, the only way that people seemed to interact on the web was in "chat rooms." These were dark and awful places which, according to the local news, were full of sweaty old men trying to pick unripe peaches.

I didn't want any audience for our "how did you meet?" story to think we had sullied ourselves in some virtual disco. Our first encounter was respectable - in the flesh and broad daylight.

Yet any courtship that involves the frantic refreshing of a browser is bound to breed suspicion among the Luddites.

My exclamations about email failed to conjure for my friends any of the old-fashioned romance of letters. To the contrary, they spurred tense smiles and the worry that perhaps I was projecting.

"She's headed for a fall," some of the eyebrows seemed to say. "I give it six months."

As anyone who's made the transition can tell you, the road from email to real life is fraught with shameful inarticulation. Because as anyone who knows me in person can tell you, I am much more clever in post-production.

Whatever bounce my words have on-screen is padded in reality by a lot of "buhhhh?"

And when sitting across from a new flame, one who's been lured by fancy typing, every spot of faltering speech feels like a flare. Every "ummmm..." is another shot into the sky, a distress signal to illuminate the disappointing reality.

Case in Point: I just searched for and found another word for "inarticulate."

Exhibit B: I then typed "point in case."

The only solution is to drink. And to find other outlets and ways to impress.

Like learning to cook, for example. Or playing the banjo. Or perfecting one's already impressive range of monkey sounds.

Because once you're living with the boy, there's really no point in writing anymore.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Paris Through Take-Away Eyes

One of the reasons I've been neglecting you, my dear readers, is that I've started pimping Paris for the travel website Gridskipper.

Today's post exalts the Blogothèque and their series of Take-Away Shows. Click on over to watch some great videos that capture the Shins, the Hidden Cameras, Arcade Fire, Guillemots, Andrew Bird, I'm From Barcelona, and Alamo Race Track playing songs against a backdrop of the city.

And then head over to la Flèche d'Or on Monday night (July 30) for the premiere of Soirées à Emporter. The Blogothèque's latest venture is a series of concerts that bring indie darlings to play with eachother and from positions within the audience.

Zach Condon, who reportedly just bought an apartment near Gambetta, is the big draw for this first one. The freakishly talented near-teenager from Beirut will be playing with Sidi Ali and his favorite-ever Macedonian marching band. David Ivar from Herman Düne will also be there to delight, along with Jeremy Warmsley and Inlets.

It's free and will undoubtedly fill up, so my advice is to get there on the early.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Woo Tube (p. 1)

I open bottles incredibly well, as a result of having worked in a wine bar.

At the time, nine years ago, it was the only wine bar in Kansas. Perhaps there are others now (franchises?) named Vines or Sonoma Pete's.

Anyway, one day, at this wine bar, a man looked up from his big fat book. We spoke a little and fell in love... eight months later over email.

He was living in Chicago, and I was working in Western Kansas. Not as a waitress this time, but as an anthropologist studying sex among the meatpackers.

And despite what you may think, there wasn't actually a lot to do at night. After a long day of "participant observation," my options back at the dorm were to:

1) Play basketball with the boys from the John Deere tractor repair school
2) Paint my nails with the future beauticians
3) Exchange emails with this incredibly funny person in Chicago

By mid-summer, when the air outside was choked with cow-dust, our email pace had quickened to several lengthy notes per day.

His words on the screen brought a jolt of electricity matched only by re-reading my own. I wasn't sure who I was falling for, but it felt incredibly good.

I saw him in person during a quick trip back to the college town. Our paths crossed for only a few hours, but it was enough to confirm an IRL attraction. After several mix tapes and two anything-but-virtual visits, I packed my bags and moved up to Chicago.

And the internet, having served its purpose in our lives, went quiet.

(to be continued...)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Free Love

After months of living well beyond my means, the arrival of summer festival season means I can breathe easy through September. Each year at this time, the city of Paris turns slutty and starts to give her milk away for free. These are some of the ways in which I'll be loving her:

There's a price tag for some of these theater, dance, music, and circus events, but also plenty for free in this festival that runs through August 5. Mahmoud Ahmed, the most famous living Ethopian musician, will be playing tonight for free at 19h in the Jardin d'Eole. The open-air film series feature several picks like The Van (Stephen Frears) on July 20, and Fish & Chips (Damien O'Donnell) on July 27. A bonanza of Australian cinema will be on offer July 28 in the Parc André Citroën. Mainstream and experimental films will show between 22h and 6h, with a free Australian breakfast served in the morning.
Last night the annual festival opened with a screening of Gosford Park. The lineup is filled with plenty of other decent English titles, like The Magnificent Ambersons, My Beautiful Laundrette, Tess, All About Eve, The Philadelphia Story, Sweet Sixteen, and Million Dollar Baby. The films roll at nightfall, generally between 21h30 and 22h, every Tuesday through Sunday until August 26. Entry to the lawn is free and chairs can be rented for €6.50.
The coming weekend (July 21-22) brings the second installment of this boutique electronic music festival. The brand-new Jardins d'Eole, newly landscaped to look like early pubescence, will host two days of concerts, DJ sets, expos, and installations. The festival will then reappear on September 2 with eight hours of concerts and projections in the Parc André Citroën.
This festival finds our friends in city government projecting free films in large format on the side of old buildings. The 2007 program will be held in 14 different locations around Paris. Highlights include an old-school version of Moulin Rouge (Zsa Zsa!) shown on Saint-Eustache, and Godard's A Bout de Souffle in the Jardin des Champs-Elysées. Films are shown at 21h30 between August 1-19.
The goofy urban beach concept came to life again last weekend, so the banks of the Seine will soon be swollen with sunbathers. The exciting news for 2007 is the addition of a third site at Bassin de la Villette. The new location in the 19th will offer kayaking, paddleboating, an outdoor dancefloor, and the usual mess of deck chairs.
This free outdoor series begins this weekend, courtesy of the mammoth music store Fnac. In association with Paris Plages, concerts will be held every Friday and Saturday through August 18 between 17h-22h. Highlights for 2007 include Bertrand Belin on July 20, Hey Hey My My on August 4, and Adanowsky on August 17.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back in Black Blog

Editor's note: readers are advised to click on the link below to add dramatic effect to the reading of what could otherwise be a slightly tedious blapology.

Dear reader(s?),

Sorry I haven't written
. And thank you for your threatening comments, derisive posts, and not-so-delicate jabs to the ribs.

All this seems to have worked, in combination with the shame I experienced last week in seeing Daniel Rose point and whisper the following to one of his customers:

"Oh her? She's a blogger. Well, not really anymore..."

That was followed a few days later by an encounter at Hidden Kitchen in which a group of strangers were talking about blogs. A young American girl was describing her exciting (ahem) Myspace blog to the foodie superheros Dorie Greenspan and David Lebovitz.

I couldn't bring myself to mention that I too had a blog, and thus sat silently in a spiral of self-flagellation until revived by a very nice fish taco.

And thus I realized, even before Moonke threatened to cut me off, that I should really get back in the swing of things.

So thanks for sticking around. I'll be back with a story or two real soon.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Not Your Grandmomma's Blogmeet

The Paris Bloggers' Picnic was a resounding success because:

  1. Daniel Rose promised to buy me a hot dog stand
  2. I made out with King Negrito (pictured here)

Something tells me that neither will remember...

Other picnic highlights include:
  • Guarding the bushes as Petite peed no fewer than fifteen times
  • Watching Katia and Rhino perform Xanadu (captured on FwaB TV here)
  • Getting locked in the park after we ignored the guardian's whistle
  • Watching Amy make a near-donut of herself while attempting to scale the gates
  • Painting the sidewalk outside my apartment with a mélange of Pimm's Cup and Pringles
Police estimate that around 70 bloggers turned out for Saturday's picnic. Organizers put this number closer to five hundred.

Five hundred bloggers means that at least the same number of posts and no fewer than forty thousand photos will be circulating before Wednesday.

Thanks to everyone who came!

photo mosaic swiped from the Rhino
top photo poached from the Bear

Friday, June 08, 2007

In the Butt(es) with the Paris Bloggers

Your hosts Meg, Rhino, Frog & Petite
As previously warned, the peaceful idyll of the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont will be gravely interrupted on Saturday.

Check back here for the post-picnic wrap-up, in which I will answer some burning questions:
  • are all blogs crap?
  • did Meg roll in any dog poo?
  • did Petite have sex in the bushes?
More than 100 bloggers and their hangers on are planning to turn out. If you're going to be in Paris, and are narcissist-friendly, please join us. The picnic website is here.

Petite has whipped up a little t-shirt competition, and you can vote for the following picnic slogans:
  • I don't read your fucking blog
  • But enough about you...
  • Shag me first, Google me later
  • Will this picnic improve my stats?
  • (front) I'm a little bit famous (back) Overall visits: 47
  • Your link here
  • I don't fuck with my shrink because he reads my blog
  • Kiss my bloggin' ass
  • Paris Bloggers Take it in the Butt(es)

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Wiener

The polls are closed, and I lost in three categories.

But I did done win Best Writing. Thanks for voting.

This victory will free me from obsessive tally-watching and enable me to focus on an important new project:

The "Who Will Sleep With Petite Anglaise?" Facebook group.

You Are a Ham Sandwich

The "what city do you belong in?" quiz was recently brought to my attention by Bookpacker, and I took it this morning as a break from tally-watching.

My result should come as no surprise:

You Belong in Paris

Stylish and expressive, you were meant for Paris.
The art, the fashion, the wine!
Whether you're enjoying the cafe life or a beautiful park...
You'll love living in the most chic place on earth.

What did come as a surprise however, was my result in the "what kind of sandwich are you?" quiz. I tried over and over again to rig the results, but got "ham sandwich" every time. I always fancied myself as more of a grilled cheese.

Other valuable information to be gleaned from this site:
  • What's your rapper name? (dirty money)
  • Can you make anyone fall in love with you? (no)
  • Are you running on adrenaline? (yes)
And finally, some clear evidence against that Best Writing nomination:

Your English Skills:

Punctuation: 80%
Grammar: 60%
Vocabulary: 60%
Spelling: 40%

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Brest of Me

I could feel with my eyes closed that the train was slowing, and pulled down my headphones to hear "terminus."

I had only 30 minutes to wait before my friend's arrival in Brest, and then our hosts would arrive to collect us. The first leg of this journey had seemed to pass without incident, and I was looking forward to some time outside of Paris.

I trundled out of the train and was surprised to find a party. A band was screeching some traditional music and a cidre was placed in my hand. A sturdy Breton gal shoved some sort of finger-glistening dessert at me and I wondered if perhaps I was dreaming.

"What is all this?" was the first question that entered my mind.

"Where the hell am I?" was the second.

These festivities, you see, on the eve of Ascension, had been organized for visitors to Lannion.


Had I not boarded a train for Brest? Had the conductor not punched my ticket? Was I maybe just a little bit drunk?

I considered these possibilities while the party moved off toward the exit. I looked back and forth between my bag and the sign, and before long was alone on the platform. My watch read nearly 11pm.

The conductor whistled past me. "Excusez-moi" I mewed, and explained my total confusion.

He put his hand in his pocket and then passed me some chocolates.


This was intended to soften the blow, I suppose, that I'd be stuck overnight in Lannion. Brest was two hours away, he said, and there would be no more trains before morning.


My train, it seems, had separated while I slept. Train A, which included my assigned strapontin, broke off and went to Brest. Train B, which contained the all-important bar car, had continued on to Lannion.

And I, after downing a beer near Rennes, had found the first available seat and passed out.

I could picture my friend Andy, as I checked into a hotel, just shaking his head and muttering "Mahgan, Mahgan, Mahgan..." Which is exactly what he did when I recounted the story yesterday.

"Did they know that you... y'know... do this sort of thing?"
"They do now," I said, and we shook our heads together.

The bathtub, it turns out, was all I saw of the hotel. My rescue team insisted upon arriving that very night, and then promptly got a flat in the parking lot.

"It couldn't get any worse!" said our cheerful host, who clearly imagined that these would be my only antics. I didn't have the heart to argue as he changed the tire in the dark.

His naive optimism was shattered en route to the Ile d'Ouessant, on what will now be referred to as "the pizza boat."

"You threw up on the ferry - what are you, ten?" Andy teased.
"It was choppy!" I protested.

"Mahgan, Mahgan, Mahgan..."
*TGV photo swiped from the dishy and talented Rion

Friday, May 25, 2007

Damn you tween devils!

Comment left on the blog of my chief competitor in the category of Best Expatriate Blog:

  1. DarkoV UNITED STATES was totally all, like,

    It’s not that I have anything against Mme. LeMeg. I’m sure if she won, she’d look much prettier in the Satin PJs’ what with her Amelie-ish blog portrait and everything, than you would. Plus, she seems to be a good sport, which counts for a lot.
    But, you in Satin PJ’s would be a stitch and you know that saying about stitches in time and such.

    I hope the cavalry is coming. I’m rounding up my daughter’s Facebook chums so I’m looking for some high numberage from that corner of the Internet lot.

Okay, am I really afraid of the tween brigade on Facebook?

I am terrified.

And rightly so.

My lead in the only category in which I have a chance has suddenly plummeted. Those tweens - in between updating their Facebook status from "oh my god" to "I am so bored" - are kicking my ass.

Any knights in shining armor may still vote here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bloggers in Paradise

Do you blog? Do you pretend to tolerate somebody who does? Do we look like the kind of people you'd like to spend some quality time with?

If so, and if you're planning to be in Paris on Saturday June 9, drop on by the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont for the Paris Bloggers' Picnic. Your hosts Meg (that's me!), Rhino, Frog with a Blog, and Petite Anglaise will be doing log-rolls down the hill from 2pm onward. Details are here, along with an email address for signing yerselves up.

Expect to see hair pulling and possible pond-dunking as Petite gets progressively drunker and takes revenge for Meg's come-from-behind WIN in the Third Annual Satin Pajama Awards.


You're probably better advised to vote for her in the Best European Blog Overall category, where she is currently bitch-slapping me with more than 65% of the vote.

However I would gladly accept your electronic love in any of these other blog categories:

  • Best Expatriate - in which I am being mounted from behind
  • Best Writing - in which I am being Twatted (again)
  • Best Personal - in which I am being trounced

The fancy vote tabulator on the polling site is doing wonders for my productivity:

11:32 am - 2% of the vote

11:34 am - 2% of the vote

11:36 am - 3% of the vote - yesssss!!!

...see you at the picnic.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Why You Are Here

"What's your blog about?" is a question that I usually avoid by not mentioning the existence of this website.

To be honest, I haven't known how to answer it. "It's about Paris" sounds plain. "It's about me" sounds vain. So recently I have turned to Sitemeter for a more detailed analysis of my content.

Sitemeter, alternately known among bloggers as "Psychometer," is a program that allows me to track the number and location of my visitors. And to see the search terms that have brought you to this site.

It turns out that visitors, despite my best efforts, are not coming here to see pictures of dogs on bikes.

What you want, and what I have given you, is the following:

1) Transvestites. French visitors searching for ladyboys make up the vast majority of my Google hits. Bienvenue! Your average visit length, upon discovering a post about shoes, is a disappointing 0.4 seconds.

2) Naked Snorkeling. Here come the southerners! A large number of you have arrived to see me swimming in my nuddie pants. Could someone please explain why you all hail from Mississippi?

3) Naked Opera. I had not realized that this was a fetish. But it is, and almost exclusively among the British. Llaaaahhh!! La lalala alalaa!

4) Vagina Party. Call me cocky, but I really thought I invented this concept. I see now from the search terms that there is a whole community waiting to welcome me. Does anyone else find this a wee bit frightening?

In sum, this exercise has reinforced my belief that the best way to build traffic, apart from landing a spot on Petite's blogroll, is to sprinkle my text with perversion.

And now I finally have a response - four of them - when someone asks about my blog. Whether or not this represents an improvement over previous descriptions is a "research question" for the next big social gathering...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Election Night

Thursday, April 26, 2007

La crème de la crème

Ahh... french women.

I'm a little bit obsessed with them. We share the same sidewalks but seem to occupy two different planets. I feel foreign around them, like a cross-dresser in their midst.

And yet I find myself slowly migrating and starting to mimic their strange behavior. Just look at what I did to my face!

It occurred to me today that I could cream myself french - that culture may be a simple matter of conditioning.

This was following a conversation with some male victims on Gmail chat about the words that they use to for les françaises.

"Douceur" was the first response and an obvious effect of creaming.

The second description was "complicated," and can also be attributed to beauty products. To simplify the theory (Descartes, I believe it was) about local ladyplexity and the differentiation of creams: if the pharmacy in a given culture is selling two seperate creams for knee and thigh skin, than the women in said culture will be crazy.

The third adjective, "elusive," is also related to the regimen. A stong commitment to hair removal leaves little time to return phone calls. Is Delphine being coy... keeping you quivering with anticipation? Or did she just not have time to shave her legs?

The final word, "passionate," was used multiple times, and I gotta give the girls credit on this one. French women are without a doubt more sensual than their American counterparts.

Some say our prudishness is the by-product of Protestantism. But I think it's all about lubrication. Sensuality must increase with the number of hours spent self-lotioning. All that rubbing is bound to make a girl think about sex.

I pressed the same boys to give me some additional words for Americans. I heard "franche," "bold," "assertive," "confident," "strong," "busy," and "delurée."

At least half of those adjectives are directly related to alcohol. And french girls, after their 70 breast cream, can rarely afford more than one drink. Americans may have an edge in the "strong" and "witty" department, but it would be wrong to say that French women aren't busy. The work of beautification is invisible to men, but the breasts, rest assured, are not lifting themselves.

"A few kilos, at least" is how Nabékor summed up our cultural differences. But this, too, I'm happy to report, has a cream-based solution.

Monday, April 23, 2007


A cheer rang out around 8pm over the waters of the Bassin de la Villette.

We left the sun and found a wood-paneled café with a TV mounted above the jukebox. The space, empty when we arrived, was soon filled with young faces.

They were washed with relief upon hearing the broad outlines: Sarko and Ségo and defintely no Le Pen. But that (unbeatable?) 30% brought silence and worry - would Sarkozy really be the next president?

I remembered the anxiety that filled a similar bar seven years ago. We were gathered at Simon's to watch the map turn red. The same unbelieving questions were being asked about Bush. But not one among us had voted.

Stellar excuses abounded that night: I had gone to the wrong polling place. Many others had forgotten to register. And our votes weren't needed in Illinois...

For the French - who plan vacations around voting - this kind of apathy is incomprehensible. Nearly 85% cast a ballot yesterday, and turnout is expected to be even greater on May 6.

A mild depression has set in today among my lefty friends and colleagues. Not one of them is excited about their candidate. The "anyone but Sarko" ballot is not an inspiring one to cast. But they will do it anyway - and in huge numbers. Which is more than their US counterparts seem capable of.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Near miss in Montmartre


The Shins were recently a few blocks from my apartment recording one of my favorite songs as a Concert à Emporter.

The tractor beam - the one that should have pulled me through the open window and deposited me within grabbing range of all that facial hair - was not working.

How could I not have known?

I suppose it's better this way. Had I been there, the "Gone for Good" video would have included a distant female backing vocal.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spring Crush

Daniel Rose, the American chef, is being wooed. Every day his phone at Spring rings off the hook. "Are you free?" beg the callers, a little too desperate at times for his taste. The answer, short of ten days' notice, is no.

Hard-to-get is not just a pose for a man with sixteen seats. The diners know their luck in scoring a date. They have read the reviews and know all the rules: one seating and no substitutions. They arrive bursting with anticipation, walking billboards for the season.

The foodie faithful enter the 26 m2 chapel through a door that Rose designed. They are greeted by the acolyte, a lovely waitress who whispers the menu. She constitutes, aside from the occasional stagière, the entire staff of Spring. Rose himself shops and mops and does everything else in between.

The "clients," as he likes to call them, fall silent with the first course - a velouté sans crème (carotte). They ponder the secret (duck fat) behind his famous creamless soup, which is prettied by a foie gras throw pillow.

When presented with a whole dorade, stuffed with rosemary and red onion, every diner wears the young face of love. Round three, during which Rose wanders, looking worried and asking about salt, is spring lamb en croute à l'Italien .

One wonders, watching Rose with his clients, if perhaps he is wooing them, too. But as he builds the dessert, little towers of cake and cream, the object of his desire becomes clear. Is he touching a lover's face or arranging a garnish? This young chef has got it bad for his food.

28 rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, 75009
Tuesday - Friday nights only
Tel: 01 45 96 05 72