mardi, mai 29
posted by Gina at 22:32

So we flew to NYC last week for four days of nonstop Americana. There were $2 hot dogs in Central Park. Kandinsky at the Guggenheim. We got have drinks with Jenne. We missed Kirna Zabête and Scoop, but I did my homework beforehand and found a Hollywould sample sale not far from our hotel. A search for all things un-Parisian led us to Lucky Cheng's. My husband had his first brown bagged beer at a would-be speakeasy. I kept an eye out for endearingly bizarre things you'd find in a place like NYC, like the Venezuelan restaurant that turns into a gay salsa bar after midnight. Or the crazily cheery man who yelled "Yes!" and gave high-fives to all who would accept.

In school, I once had an ill-fated poetry assignment which kept me away from all writing instruments for weeks. But that doesn't mean I won't put my photos to poetry for you now. Ahem...

Whose chopper this is I do not know
It's feeling pretty shaky though
To think I'm here on my own will
And now I'm going to be ill
And now I'm going to be ill

Or hey, how about a limerick?

The drag queens were bitchy and rude
And totally obvious dudes
But the show was ok
and the waitress did say
No one comes here for the food

If you can take it, here's a haiku:

Rubber street dancers

Flipping for dollars and change

I see your undies

How can you not heart New York?
dimanche, mai 13
posted by Gina at 14:52

It's no surprise that English is the universal language. It's undoubtedly one of the most useful languages to learn. The Paris métro is splattered with ads for English language schools. Parisian parents are always looking for anglophone nannies to speak English every day to their little Virginies and Charles-Henris. Japanese housewives brought to Paris by their husbands' jobs will sign up for English classes before learning French.
A few months ago, my husband's uncle was visiting France from Australia, where he's lived for the last 30 years. He says every time he comes back, he finds there's always more and more English words that have snuck into the French language- casual, every day English words that have no business being in a French conversation.
It is true the French use lots of English words, however incorrectly. They park their cars in the parking and keep their clothes in the dressing. If you're having cocktails with Angelina and Gwyneth, you're in a soirée people. Blow-drying your hair straight is a brushing and you dry clean your clothes at the pressing. My French mother-in-law is into scrapbooking. Does this have anything to do with the English language having five times more words than the French language does? I don't know where this all stems from but it seems the English language has got a hearty appetite and it's in the mood for French. It's as though English is nibbling at the French language word by word.
Take for example, this imagined conversation:
"Veronique, tu veux du chewing gum?"
"Non, merci. Comment c'est passé ton weekend?"
"Trop cool! On a fait du ski. C'était top."
"Faut que je fasses du sport. Ce soir je vais faire du jogging."
"Tiens, tu veux faire du shopping?"
"Volontiers! Ca serait super."
"Moi, je veux trouver un smoking pour mon copain. Celui qu'il a déjà, c'est un peu too much."
"T'as raison. Je suis pas très fan. Ca fait un peu fashion victim."
"Il faut qu'on y aille. Avec mon job, j'ai une journée assez speed."
"Allez! Let's go."

Looking into it, it's not as contemporary as it seems. Originally English words like révolution and gouvernement crept into French back in the times of the French Revolution. Since then, there have been efforts to preserve French and keep it pure, like laws forbidding state employess from using any other language than French in work communications. The Académie Française, the French language's #1 guardian and defender, requires that foreign themed restaurants have all items listed in French. It's impossible the French language would go in the same direction as Breton or Provençal, but there are people who who don't like English imposing its parking and pressing on French speaking.
But, for those people, let's not forget: C'est fashion parler anglais.
mardi, mai 8
posted by Gina at 11:51

President...Sarkozy..... President Sarkozy. After the first few times, it rolls off the tounge. And now it can be said. Sunday night is a blur of events. The results were known by officials an hour and a half or so before the 8:00 p.m. announcement but French law prohibits the media from revealing anything ahead of schedule. However, that law doesn't apply to other countries. How they got the results ahead of time I'm not sure, but Belgian and Swiss websites were already leaking the numbers with Sarkozy's clear lead beffore 8:00.
We watched TF1 from our apartment as the countdown started... 15 minutes minute... 5 seconds.... boom. Sarkozy's face appeared on the screen with 53% flashing across the bottom. People cheered. People cried. My husband yelled at the tv screen, "Make France a champion!"
Sarko made his acceptance speech and went down the Champs-Elysées to Place de la Concorde where staff, celebrities and thousands of supporters waited to cheer him. People sang and climbed lamp posts and danced in the fountain.
Then there's the other 47% who weren't so happy. If you can call huge protests, hundreds of arrests and an estimated 730 torched cars unhappy.Some may call this an understatement. Peaceful and less than peaceful protests continued into Monday night.
News reports here say the U.S. president was one of the first to call and congratulate Nicolas. Here's what Tony Blair had to say:

vendredi, mai 4
posted by Gina at 00:44

No one was on the streets last night. Ségo and Sarko went face to face for the first and only time in the presidential debate on TF1. Those few who missed the debate didn't watch it because they were watching Manchester and Milan face off in the League of Champions. Hard to say which was more brutal between the two.
Today in the streets, presidential fliers were everywhere.
I stood outside the Odéon métro station this afternoon watching a young man in an "I heart Sarko" t-shirt handing out Sarkozy pamphlets. People either smiled and accepted one or hissed at him and went on their way. One guy passing by poured his full bottle of water over Sarko Guy's head as his girlfriend laughed and clapped. They walked away and a man in the crêpe stand next to him stepped out and sympathetically handed him some towels.
"It'll dry off," Sarko Guy said with a shrug and a smile.
A few minutes later, a Ségoist strolled up and handed out Ségo pamphlets. Then one if his buddies joined him. Soon, there were four friendly men handing out Ségo's final call to voters while this one guy rushed around to meet enough people to keep up with them. Not long after, walks up this man that looks like Tom Petty's head on Shaquille O'Neale's body (ignore the color difference, I'm going for the size factor). Bouncer type asks Sarko Guy for a few pamphlets and rips them up and throws them on the ground. Then he closed in on Sarko Guy like he was going to beat him up until one of the Ségoists stepped in and calmed him down.
Political opinions aside, I had to admit Sarko Guy stood his ground. You had to like the kid's moxy, so I took a pamphlet from him and went down into the station.
Irked from all the bad vibes outside, I sat in the métro opposite a young hippie type who squinted at me and the paper in my hand.
"Excusez moi," he said to me. "You're not really going to vote for Sarkozy, are you?"
"I can't vote in France." I braced myself for what was coming.
"Oh, well that's good, then. It's just, you believe all his conneries. You would vote for a dangerous man."
This is where I hit my limit.
I leaned forward and said, "Do you see me giving you a hard time for doing your hair like a grandmother? No. I see people in the métro and I stay out of their business."
It's not a habit of mine to insult the hairstyles of total strangers in the métro. Though it was true that he did his hair in a bun and looked like the cartoon on a box of Mother's Cookies. Usually, I'm overly polite. It's just that this guy pushed the wrong button at the wrong time. It takes me back to crossing the campus of my San Francisco university where political activism is as fashionable as it is about a cause. I couldn't get to class without someone with a barbel through their nose yelling in my face about the evils of big business, local media, WASPS and how I was contributing to it by reading the San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle! Imagine if I'd been reading the National Review? Ironic how people yelling about peace can't seem to leave people in it.
Which takes me back to this guy in the métro. The straw that broke the camel's back.
After I snapped at him, he shrugged and leaned back. Between being caught off guard and fueled up, my French came out all floundered though and I can't even tell you if the guy understood me or not. As I was stepping off the métro, I heard an old man say, "What'd she say about her grandmother?"
Then I got on the last train to get home. After I found a seat, a middle aged woman sat across from me and immediately started shaking her head. I saw this out of the corner of my eye. I also saw the girl next to me watching her shake her head and following her gaze to me. The woman may have had a nervous disorder. There was a lady with a nervous disorder in a building where I used to work and I always thought she was shaking her head at me until the guard explained her condition. In any case, I wasn't looking to get in another train confrontation so I kept my eyes on my i-pod and put on Django Reinhardt's version of La Marseillaise. That always puts me in a nice mood.
We'll know who the new president is Sunday night. Both parties think they've won the debate. It's going to be a close one. Until then, while taking public transport, I'd rather just say "Je ne parle pas français."