Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
I have arrived in Paris, but before I left New York, there was a phenomenon that held all my ardor. It was called "Play Me, I'm Yours."
On Friday, I swore that I spied a piano in the entrance of the building where I work on Park Avenue. It was true. Later that day, Amy, my co-worker, told me about this art installation all over New York: pianos everywhere. It is artist Luke Jerram's proejct, which had previously visited London. Here is the concept: 2 weeks, 60 pianos, 8 million New Yorkers, running from June 21-July 5.
So, Amy and I made a break for the elevators to find the piano roosting in the courtyard of the building and there, we held a mini-concert. I had never played the piano outside with the sun and the shade and the noise/aroma of New York - sirens, hot dogs cooking on the corner, traffic. Thrilling. I was immediately addicted to the installation.
So, I went searching for other pianos. They are everywhere. Lincoln Center, Battery Park, Greeley Square, Astor Place, Gansevoort Plaza, Chelsea Market. In comparison to the stretch of New York around the them, they are teeny tiny, but they have these commanding presences - especially with the individuals in this city who are commanding them. New York is so saturated with people who are obscenely talented that there is a constant line to play these babies. And then their voices and the notes dashing from their fingers saturate the space. What magic. Plus, all the pianos will be donated to schools and hospitals after it is over.
I love New York. I will miss you.
Friday, June 25, 2010
This is the view from the apartment I will be staying in this summer (thanks goes out to Daniele, who is there and sent me the photo as a teaser). I'll be working in St. Tropez, France.
I know, I don't really understand how such an auspicious fate found me either. But as a result, this blog is about to get franco-interesting again. I'll have great frenchy stories, like before, but this time they'll be about those frenchies in the south of France (a more cheery version, to be sure). I leave Sunday - I'll spend a week in Paris, etc. with the lovely Joly family/friends and then head to the Côte d'Azur...
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Magic New York City trice. It actually happens every weekend in Central Park, Saturdays and Sundays on Skate Circle. But if you haven't taken it in, it is well worth it. You will stand there gleaming from ear to ear. They jive, they boogie and bob, they do the two-step, they shimmy. They = a solid representation of every type of human who could possibly abide in this country/city - on roller-skates.
And he was (they were) there to witness it all.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Manhattan Island. Needs (needed) lighthouses. This little one is the last remaining guy. He sits nestled almost against the base of the George Washington Bridge and I would have never known he existed except that we took a long bike ride up the Hudson River to him.
Who knew? If you read the classic children's book: The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H. Swift, you knew.
And who knew that the Whitney Museum has commissioned artist Gina Badger to present a sound piece, which is broadcast from the Little Red Lighthouse (91.9FM)...a mélange of oyster sounds, knives shucking the shells, people slurping oysters, shells crunching under feet. Oyster reverberations.
On the way up the bike path, we noticed all these sculptures people had created out of driftwood. It was like a running exhibition.
We stopped to make one too. Xavier's balancing genius.
And I took a cheesy photo of us. The camera is posed on the ledge of the Little Red Lighthouse. In the background, you can see all the way down Manhattan island. Impressive view.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
We went on the biggest weekend of the year for the city of Montréal - the weekend of the Grand Prix, the Francofolies de Montréal Festival (a musical festival) and all sorts of parties overflowing from both events - including a joyous fireworks show.
We rode around everywhere on bikes, because Montréal has Vélibs! (Well, they are called "Bixis"). Just like Paris, except better because the bikes are not marred by the public for fun.
Nestor was there in Montréal, the famous majordome (butler) in the world of Tintin. I guess they love Tintin too.
One of my favorite things about Montréal was the French. When I would speak to cab drivers, they would tell me that I had a Parisian accent and would applaud my French. Let's just say it doesn't happen that way in another place I lived where people speak a lot of French. I made sure Xavier was paying attention when the compliments were paid. I was quite surprised at how different the French was in Montréal - the accent particularly. It seemed a lot like an American accent in French. And their vocabularly logic was much more sensible to me. For example, a stoplight in Montréal is lumière - direct translation from light, but in Paris they use feu instead. When I first arrived in Paris, people laughed at me for employing lumière (and for so many other reasons, let's be honest). In Montréal and Québec they often translate very literally. Sometimes it is surprising - stop signs, for example. In France, stop signs say STOP. In Québec, stop signs say:
We ate the famous Poutine, which is french fries with cheese curds mixed in and gravy on top. Very funny mixture.
Monday, June 14, 2010
We went to Montréal this weekend. We went for the Canadian Grand Prix. That's right: Formula One racing. I really believed I would hate it. I was rolling my eyes going. Then, it captivated me. This is one of the great things about being in a 'mixed couple' - making 'cultural' discoveries you would never otherwise have made. The Formula 1 track in Montréal is on an island in the middle of the Saint-Laurent river. So we took the metro and got off, surfaced and immediately felt the agitation in the ground under our feet. And that says nothing of the blast in our ears. You had to put ear plugs in, if not, hearing damage was assured. Even with ear plugs in, it was almost like a concert - the zips and the whines and the tremor of the pitch of the cars. You could walk over bridges and feel an intense vibration even in your nostrils when they would pass underneath. Maybe a reasonable person can only enjoy something this tawdry if it is a lived experience - if all 5 senses are taking it in (that is what I am telling myself). The fumes were even compelling.
The cars go 360 km/h (220 mph). They do 70 laps around this race course with hairpin turns and long stretches (this is not Indy-whatever where they just whir around a loop again and again). They stop 2 to 3 to 4 times strategically during the race to change tires and refuel - this is like a 4-second stop. 4 seconds. Insane. Below there is a video of the pit stop - and a pit stop that resulted in a huge fire (not surprising considering the heat of the things + petroleum). Xavier can do the noise of these cars really well. He practiced a lot as a kid in Europe (I think most European kids like Forumla 1). I used to make fun of him for it, but now I'm going to start practicing myself. Monaco is next.
(Photo credit here).