March 30, 2010

THE Results.

[Les résultats, rather, in the spirit of the competition at hand.]

Remember the Francomot competition, where Sarkozy and his friends were trying to put an end to 5 vile English words that currently bring shame to the French language? Drum roll: THE RESULTS ARE IN!

"Chat" = Eblabla et Tchatche
(Dialogue remains the official term)

"Buzz" = Ramdam
(Apparently derived from Ramadan - what is the connection? Heaven knows, but at least it no longer has anything to do with the English language. Finalist 'buzz' alternatives included actuphène, bruip, échoweb, ibang ou encore réseaunance)

"Tuning" = Bolidage
(Favorites that didn't get chosen were: autodéco, automotif, autostyle, persauto, persoptimisation ou revoiturage)

"Newsletter" = Infolettre


Talk = quite simply, Débat
(Runners up: parlage, débadidé, débatel ou encore débafusion)

Bravo the youth of France! The French language is effectively out of peril for the moment. I've banked these ever useful neologisms away, knowing the moment where 'tuning' might have slipped out of my mouth in a French conversation, I will now turn to 'bolidage:' a real French word.

The world, properly gallicized. Now bring on the Académie française for enforcement.


Lately, Xavier and I have been sharing our commute. The B train on 72nd Street ---> 47/50 ---> Park. It is strange to experience each other on the brink of a work day, more formal than we customarily are. We take the same route and walk underneath the Rockefeller Center. There, we encounter such strange cards.

This one bird sits at the same table every morning at 8:30 and arranges herself and her belongings in such a distinguishing fashion. She has a total of up to seven bags: duffels, hand bags, over-the-shoulder slings. They all congregate around her, like the cavalcade of a long dress. They are always in the exact same position, although she has clearly showered and taken time to re-do her strange self since the previous day. The most off-beat part though, and it is thanks to Xavier that I ever noticed this, is that she always has a pair of sunglasses perched on the top of the exact same attaché every single day. Today, for instance, New York is almost sinking into the sea, the rains are so heavy. Notwithstanding, there they were - the lavendar-rim pair, in attention, in a squat on the top of that bag. Yesterday it was the white pair. Who in heaven's name is this gal and her on-the-ball eyewear?

She likes Xavier. Sometimes I have to leave earlier than he does, but he always goes at the same time and never misses her. Yesterday, she eyed him and winked. Subtly, but comfortably. That went over big with him. Today, he almost requested that I walk further away from him, not to discourage her attention. He is resolved to one day get up a little earlier and be there waiting for her when she arrives, loaded with her chattel.

He makes me laugh as he observes the Americans around him on our way. We passed a security sort of person and Xavier was all eyes, "Did you see the number of pens he had in a line in that front pocket? We [apparently French people] always say that any American security guy/worker in a white shirt is sure to have a pen sticking out of the front pocket." I replied, "Yeah, it's useful." He retorted, "You guys and your pragmatism." (Shirts with front pockets are to be avoided under almost all circumstances in France).

March 28, 2010

March 25, 2010


Marie: HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Comme je suis loin de toi, voilà le symbole de mes pensées quand je pense à toi.
(^ le m. qui fait le clown sur les quais de la Seine - tellement beau). Lui, tellement magique, fantasque et saugrenu. Comme toi et ta façon d'être.

Je t'aime, Marie. Je pense souvent à notre séjour à Nice. Je pense souvent à toi. Tu me manques.

His latest and greatest.

Stephen's. Love it. Positively.

Apples. Spring light.

March 24, 2010

March 23, 2010

Set down.

While I was typing the other day, the cursor was not in a field as I had assumed it had been.

I went on typing and then looked up and paid attention to the screen and wondered where all my words had gone.

Where do those words go that get typed but not registered? Sprouting thoughts and half-formed intentions: be free.

March 22, 2010


Some of the people I work for are influential to the max. What does this odd looking machine, presumably from the 50's or 60's, have to do with that? Well, this machine is called an auto pen. It uses a mold to replicate signatures and handwriting. Really important people do not have enough time to sign all the documents that need their signatures. I had never heard of such a machine before my time at my current job. I wonder how many people in the world have molds for a machine like this one...

In other work news, I can say without equivocation that after three years of adjunct teaching, tour guiding, photo taking and a whole lot of Paris bike riding, 9-5 is exhausting. I was really getting good at all that.

March 21, 2010

St. Bartholemew's

I recently featured this church from above, but here are some of its finer points. If you want to see them in the flesh, go to the church to hear the Tallis Scholars March 26, 7:30 pm in the vaulted space of the Nave. Should be divine.

Whispers of 1846.

March 20, 2010


I looked a lot like these turtles today in Central Park - craning my neck to get as close to the sun's rays as possible.

They were lined up, as charming as could be.

March 19, 2010


Celebrating Mr. Stephen Johnson. There is so much to celebrate. At a fantastic place on the Lower East Side off the Bowery: Freemans, "a rugged, clandestine colonial American tavern." Hard to believe such a description could be apt. It is though. Thanks John Derian for this good news telegram full of merguez (which, under other circumstances I might not necessarily love).

March 16, 2010

The wonders of the Upper East Side. the dark. Moral: never go on a run across the park without a camera.

Variations on a theme.

The theme is Central Park on a halcyon night after days of rain. This weekend the storm was so bad, trees fell, pulled from their roots - sometimes resting right on power lines. Lots of people on Staten Island are still without power. That said, four or five days of vats of rain will clear the air for spine-tingling light.

March 15, 2010


The view from where I work.

March 14, 2010


This is one case where we might rightly say, "Only in the USA." And plus, they are removable and reusable.

March 12, 2010

Remember Margot?

I do. When the sun comes out and the shadows start prancing, I rejoice and give thanks and I think again of Margot. Daylight savings time is this weekend. That means the reign of the shadows will be ever longer. Spring days: venez.

March 11, 2010

My gym.

I joined a gym recently. It is a special gym, a wonderland of sorts, if your wonderland is made of yoga classes, a swimming pool, a sauna, endless lemon-y smelling towels and totally free Kiehl’s products everywhere. Mine is at the moment. This hinges much on the fact that winter in New York (especially this winter) feels long and hard and amaranthine. When it is so cold for so long, I find myself hunched against it. Winter literally worsens my posture. And since we arrived in New York on winter’s very front porch, I needed a magic potion.

I sit in the sauna for up to 45 minutes (yes, I realize that could be dangerous for my health) and pretend it is not winter. It works.

I swim in the pool and pretend I am in Hawaii. It doesn’t work. Still, I am swimming. I shift the scene to a suburban swimming pool in summer. It passes.

I go to yoga where the instructor, who is some wild-eyed gal, begins the session by mispronouncing the names of some Yogis and then quotes them and ‘their poetry.’ (This annoys me and I work on meditative oblivion). Then she talks about freedom and thoughts and it gets more interesting. More on this in some other post.

I laugh in the locker room, witnessing all of the various presences and forms of body affectation. There are the peacocks, who love their feathers and grandstand about, gazing, chins slightly skyward, at other bodies. They are never wrapped in towels. There are the dogs with their tails between their legs, swathing themselves fiercely with towels and avoiding eye contact, rushing to get out. There are the people who walk back into the locker room never having increased the clip of their breath, but still wearing the look of someone who 'went to the gym.' Then there are the competitors, the ones for whom the other bodies are inappreciable; they don’t even see them. These ones are there in their urgency, with their standards and their frantic gerbil-like motions on the machines. They all crack me up. And you ask, what am I? Come to the gym and see.

March 10, 2010

March 9, 2010

Can You See It?

It is there. I went looking for it when I read this article in the New York Times this past week. "It" is the eruv that acts as a symblic border for the Orthodox Jewish community in Manhattan (in this case made of fishing wire and suspended from the traffic light, up there, crisscrossing Third Avenue).

Eruvim (plural) date back far into ancient Jewish history and act as an extension of the home on the sabbath, a necessary extension - for without an eruv, an Orthodox Jew should not carry anything outside the house (house keys, babies, umbrellas, even clothing). It was once the stone walls that encased a whole population, but today it is more often fishing wire suspended from telephone poles and traffic lights in modern cities. In Manhattan, the eruv extends far and wide (but does not encompass the entire city).

Orthodox Jews check announcements about the eruv every week before the sabbath and find guidelines (like this one) that accompany the map below: "On 56th Street, between Broadway and Tenth Avenue (Amsterdam), only the north side of the street is in the eruv," or "The eruv is up - Shabbat March 5-6" (after snow storms like we've had that compromise the integrity of the circle formed).

The eruv must be inspected in its entirety each week, since the assumed position is that it is down unless verified. I love the image of the rabbi who walks along the wire hem of this community space, scrutinizing its absoluteness.

(Map and more information on the Manhattan eruv here).
(And here is a good link to an article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, written by Lacey Nadeau).

March 4, 2010

Une couche d'oxyde.

The colors kill me.

March 2, 2010

The Bluebird.

The Bluebird is an institution in Logan, Utah. It is a soda fountain, candy shop and restaurant that dates back to 1914. My grandparents went there as kids, my mom and dad went there as kids and when we were kids visiting Utah, chocolates from the Bluebird were the best kind of treat. You can see why. "America", if we can name such a place or bundle such an idea, is best here.

March 1, 2010


Remember the beauty queens at Brigham Young University? I am in Utah for a few days and I had to go back to campus to see if our fight ever paid off. I'm happy to report that the traditional beauty queens are no longer featured, but the "Indian beauty queens" remain. Their presence fills a diversity quota that would otherwise be blank without them. I love these ladies.

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