Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm trying to put pictures from Granada up but Blogger wont let me- most annoying. Although when blogs that I read put vacation photographs up I generally skip them so maybe it for the best.

Kelly is visiting Fez, Morocco for two weeks to attend a class on non-profit organizations or NGO’s, as they are known here. I'm not certain why she needs to attend this class as we have been non-profit for the past 8 months but off she is going. I have to figure out what I'm going to do for two weeks. My brother and his family are in the Alps skiing and then they are off to Tunisia. It occurs to me that I should probably make some friends or something.

It's been my experience that after your early twenties it becomes more difficult to make lasting relationships. I have made one very good friend in the last five years- a neighbor down the street. We used to meet weekly at a coffee shop and complain about our wives. Nothing serious but a fella needs to vent. My other close friend I met in 8th grade and we have been buddies since. Both have visited us with their wives but neither is irresponsible enough to quit their good jobs and move here- so I am forced to actually try to make friends.

Have you ever tried to befriend a guy? Guys, by their very nature, are idiots so you have meet a lot of bucket heads before you find a cool guy- and then he might think you're an idiot or he might be all full up with guy friends so you're sunk. The plus side in guys being stupid is that very soon they will send out subtle signs that they are not friend material. "Fox News ROCKS!!" "Pamela Anderson is a TOTAL BABE!!!" The 'high five' is always a great weeder out of potential guy friends.

I’ve watched Kelly befriend girls- they will meet for the first time and by the end of the conversation they say - "Hey lets meet for a coffee or go shopping” look at that, they are on their way to becoming friends. If a guy says to another guy at a party, "Hey let's meet for coffee or go shopping" it sounds like a bad pickup line. And let's face it; a slim, good-looking guy with incredible hair such as myself is often mistaken for gay and my intentions may be misconstrued.

The super secret anonymous club I belong to should make it easier to meet people but the simple truth is men don't befriend other men easily. I've always found it easier to befriend women but I’m no longer permitted to be friends with pretty women -so sayeth my wife. By the way- I met a woman that tried to kill herself by jumping in the Seine- (reference to an old post that I'm to lazy to look up and link to)- fortunately she's just average looking so she is "friend material" but...well... she did jump in the Seine and I'm looking for a long term relationship.

So these next two weeks I will try to make some friends and when Kelly gets home I'll ditch 'em.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Smells and tastes always transport me. A fresh cut field reminds me of playing soccer when I was a child- A smell will come from nowhere and I will be immediately returned to the halls of my high school. At the time I don’t realize that the smells or tastes will stick with me but I believe that in the future, no matter how long I’ve been away from Paris, the smell and taste of a clementine will bring me back to these days. I will bore the grandchildren with nostalgic tales of my clementine days.
Our friend Cecile, of "Ask A French Woman" fame, has posted my answers to her questions. I must warn you that my answer are terrible in comparison to hers but you should check out her site it's very good. Are you worried that you can't read French? Have no fear- go to and have the page translated from French to English. For those of us that want to learn more about the French this is an excellent site.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


As you may recall, a few weeks ago we began compiling questions that we could ask a real, live French woman. Cecile, a Parisian at, has graciously agreed to answer any questions we had- and we had a lot. I hadn't realized that I sent so many over and so I want to thank Cecile for being such a good sport. I'm only publishing the first 12 today and I'll do the rest throughout the week. Thanks everyone for the questions. I think some expat magazine should pick this series up and pay Cecile many euros for her work. you can visit her site to read my answers to her questions.

1. What would be the one French music CD you would recommend?

It really depends if you’re familiar or not with the French culture and what kind of music you like. If I have only one choice, I guess it would be a compilation of songs of Serge Gainsbourg songs, one of our greatest songwriter (a poet actually) and melody makers. Most French people just love this guy.

This record should include titles like:
- Harley David son of a bitch
- Elisa
- Requiem pour un con (“Requiem for a jerk”)
- Qui est “in” qui est “out”
- Love on the beat (one of the hottest songs I know)
- Initials B.B. (he wrote this one for Brigitte Bardot)
- Je t’aime… moi non plus (this song was one of the rare French songs n°1 in the English charts… He wrote it for Brigitte Bardot but was married at that time and asked him not to broadcast it. So he sang it with his next girlfriend Jane Birkin. The title means something like “I love you… neither do I”)
- Bonnie and Clyde (my favorite, the female voice is Brigitte Bardot)
- Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais (I just came to say I leave)

I have plenty of other suggestions of brand new great French bands on my blog and you can listen to them on myspace… If you want, I can also make a compilation of “French standards”.

2. What is your favorite French book?

This book is not known at all, it’s called “Septentrion” and the author is Louis Calaferte. My second guess would be “Le Petit Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupéry which was first published in N.Y.C. during WW2 and was for many decades the most translated book in the world (except for the Bible)… and then came a guy named Potter, Harry Potter… “Le Petit Prince” is really really really (I insist) a beautiful little book, with beautiful drawings by the author and very easy to read in French.

3. What are the most prevalent American stereotypes? (Be honest)

I’m not sure to understand the question well. If it is “what do French people think about American people?” I’m afraid the “honest” answer required is not very pleasant. Don’t get it wrong: despite all that was written in the papers when the second war in Iraq started, French people just LOVE American people and kind of admire then. Really. But as we say: “qui aime bien châtie bien” which could be translated approximately translated by “The one who truly loves, really know how to punish” (I manage to write longer sentences in English than in French… strange…). So, I have to admit that the most common stereotypes are “American people are arrogant and want to rule the world” (this one is quite recent) and the other one is “American people are stupid”.

I have a video in my blog, a report for an American show actually, where a journalist asks questions like “how many angles does a triangle have” or “what’s the British currency?” and get all kinds of crazy answers… That’s the funny part of the video… What follows is kind of creepy. The journalist then asks “what country should we attack next?” and surprisingly everybody has a precise idea about this particular question… Scary.

In another one a woman is asked for the capital of Hungary in a T.V. game. The problem is not that she doesn’t know the answer… (Nobody has to know everything after all but still there is a minimum). The problem is that she has never heard about Hungary and says “hungry?” There is a country called “hungry”, really?”

Of course those example aren’t representative but they are funny. We have a lot of stupid persons here too but I just can’t imagine an adult walking down the street not able to give the correct answer to “combien y a-t-il d’angles à un triangles?” or not answering “Are you insane?” to a journalist asking, “quel pays devrions-nous attaquer?”

4. What do you think the most prevalent French stereotypes are?
One is about the same: “French People are arrogant” but not for the same reasons I guess. We don’t give a shit ruling the world but we think we’re smarter than anybody else on earth. Am I correct? Isn’t it our reputation most of the time?
There is a Belgian story about us which goes like this: “Do you know why French people choose the cock for national symbol?” and the answer is “Because even both feet stuck in the muck they keep on singing”.
- Savez-vous pourquoi les français ont choisi le coq comme emblème national?
- parce que meme les deux pieds dans le fumier, ils continuent de chanter.

The second stereotype is, I think: “French people always complain… They’re always on strike, they shout all the time”. Kind of right but as we say “Ca fait partie de notre charme” (it’s part of our charm). The positive aspect about this is that we have no traces of hypocrisy. We can just argue about almost anything for hours (we love to talk so much…) and then shake hands and have a drink together (we love to drink too).

5. Do all Germans dress badly or just the ones that visit Paris?
It’s worst in Spain!

6. Where did you learn to speak English?
At school and I spent some times in the States… All French kids have to learn at last 2 foreign languages. I started with German and then English. Do not forget that French people listen to English songs all the time; we see English/American movies, etc.

7. Do you miss the French franc?
Why would I? I don’t care about the currency as long as:
- It is the one chosen by my country
- I get enough money… ;o)

8. Who do you think would win in a nude, Lime Jell-O wrestling match Bush or Sarkozy?
Hum… difficult question. Bush is much taller and certainly stronger but I guess Sarkozy is sharper and more nervous. It would be strength against strategy, muscles against brain, calm against anger… I bet on my president but on the other hand Bush would be on his own field, as we’re not really used to Jell-O here…

9. If I stood outside Carla Bruni apartment singing “Love me tender, love me sweet” wearing nothing but a tee shirt and socks -would that be considered romantic or creepy?
I’m afraid you wouldn’t even get closer to her metro station dressed like that and it would be kind of inappropriate even under my windows…

10. Is it just me, or do the English seem to be drunk a lot?
It is not just you. It is just them.

11. The men in Paris seem to take a piss anywhere- is that something you become used to?
I’m not used to it after 15 years in Paris… and my building and the one next to it makes an angle in a small street if you see what I mean…

12. I was told that French women find American men speaking French incredibly sexy- I was later told that that whoever said that was lying to me- which is it?
I’ll tell you that after a drink or two to check your French level…

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Do you feel as though you've been abandoned? I went to Granada in the southern part of Spain and forgot to mention that I wouldn't be blogging for the week. Sorry about that. I took a slew of pictures and will get them up as soon as I get myself situated.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I have been remiss in posting this week. We had guests and at some point we are supposed to move away from the computer and actually live a life worth blogging- at least that what some people believe.

We re-watched “Dead Poets Society” and then went out to live life deliberately- you know- suck the marrow from it. The inspiration that comes from a movie, as well as motivational speakers, lasts about 3 hours so we had to move quickly.

The Chinese New Year was brought in with a parade designed to chase away the evil spirits. I think it worked. Which brings up a point- is it ok to say that Asian people can be very pushy, in the physical sense, without appearing racist? Note: I’m not worried about being racist just appearing racist. This also happened at the Bateau Mouche. At the end of the boat ride there was a stampede to the exit. I asked a Chinese guy behind me if the boat was on fire- he laughed and pushed me out of his way.

In the Marais a man danced with a fish bowl on his head- I’m not certain why but there it is. A pet peeve I have regarding photographers. If you are going to take a picture of the street performers you should throw a euro in their hat. I’m amazed at the number of people that stand beside a silver elf, have their picture taken and not give the guy a little money. He’s dressed up like a silver elf with pointy ears- give him a euro

In the 3rd arrondisement I found the charred remains of a row of bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles. It looked like art- I was then thinking that could become a performance art piece that could be performed around the city. Only after awhile it occurred to me that that would be arson. Sometimes the line isn’t so fine.

We spent time with the dead, as I mentioned. This particular gravestone was of interest. I couldn’t read the inscription but I suspect that this guy wasn’t the most fun to be around. Anyone know the history of the person that wanted Promethius on his gravestone?

I wrote about Victor Noir’s grave a few months ago. I didn’t realize that we have two things in common- one is that we both wear Chelsea Boots.

Sacre Coeur is incredible in the sense that on a cloudless day we all appear to be skilled photographers.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Yesterday was spent with the dead at Pere Lachaise. What better why to put your life in perspective and contemplate what’s truly important than to be reminded of your own mortality. While wondering through the cemetery I ran into an old friend Amedeo Modigliani.

Modigliani died January 24, 1920 of tubercular meningitis at the age of 35. His excessive drug and alcohol use was a major factor in his death. The following day his common-law-wife, Jeanne Hebuterne, eight months pregnant, jumped from a 5th floor window- she was only 22 years old. They had a 14-month-old daughter, Jeanne, who was adopted by Modigliani’s sister. Very sad- Modi should have put down the bottle and the pipe and taken care of his family.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Last night we were treated to a wonderful meal at Les Bouquinistes by Dodging Lions and his lovely wife, Red. It was an incredible meal at a very fancy restaurant. The waiters were knowledgeable, fun and charming. When Red ordered the Cod the waiter said, “No the Sea bass is better I will give you that.” When Dodging Lions ordered the veal he said No no I will bring you the scallops and you can have some of his veal."- He said motioning to me. The evening was perfect. Well…except maybe the bathroom.

Dodging Lions was giving me grief because when I point out Parisian sites I would also mention the nearest best bathroom to the site. It isn’t that I have to use the bathroom very often but it’s nice to know where a clean, comfortable, free bathroom is located. For instance, in the 7th arrondisement The American Church has a lovely bathroom. Or, let’s say you’re strolling down the Champs de Ellyse and you pass the Louis Vuitton store- suddenly the urge hits. Don't panic, take a right at George V and go to the the American Cathedral. The doorman has to buzz you in- and will ask you what you want tell him your going to an AA, NA, or SA meeting- he’ll be too embarrassed at your non-French candor and buzz you in without looking you in the eye.

So a new segment to this completely worthless blog is rating bathrooms around Paris. As with the other segments on this blog I will do it for a little while and then it will end as quickly as it began. Remember “I See Dead People”, “Helpful Household Hints” “Argument’s I’ve Had”, “People Who Done Me Wrong”? All of them gone after one or two posts. Follow through has always been an issue with me.

The bathroom at Les Bouquinistes needs a bit of work. The fixtures are stainless steel and the sink basin is marble The quarters are tight but most bathroom in Paris are small so you can’t really hold that against them and the sink was with the toilet which is always welcome. Many bathrooms in Paris are unisex and the sinks are in a communal area- it’s hard to be suave with the ladies when you are washing your hands after a noisy pee. What is less forgivable is the lack of cleanliness. I hate to say it but it needed a good scrubbing and their male patrons have a tough time hitting the target, if you know what I mean. Kelly suggested that they toss a Cheerio in the toilet, which would give the guys something to aim for. I started to complain that that’s how you teach a child to pee in the toilet and that we aren’t children but I realized that it would probably work and would in fact be fun. (Note To Self: Carry a few Cheerios in Man bag). I’d have to give it 2 stars out of a possible 5. It would have been 3 but since it is such a fancy restaurant we expect better from them

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

There is still time to Ask a French Woman.

We were originally going to have the "Ask A French Woman" answers today. Unfortunately, Cecila had some unexpected business come up. If you haven't figured it out Cecile is an international spy- She was called in to her main spy headquarters to help in taking over a small country- whose name she couldn't release. Cecile thought it would only take a week- she's that good. It's bad news for that small country but good news for us. Keep sending in those questions. Dyna that means you too.

We will have answers next Wednesday.

Did you get the last post? I was suggesting that Sarkozy was a geek and that his marrying a hot supermodel would be a victory for Star Trek geeks everywhere. My wife didn't get it and when I explained it she still gave me a puzzled look.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

On Saturday night there was a loud cheer at Star Trek conventions around the world.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I had a lovely Sunday. It’s cold in Paris- 40 degrees if you consider that cold in February. Kelly has a paper to write so I decided to help in the best way I knew how and that is to get out of the way.

On the first Sunday of the month many of the museums are free. I think we’ve established that I’m umm…. frugal and so it was off for a free afternoon at the Louvre. One of the many pluses in living in Paris is that there is no need to cram everything in. Walk through a museum until you are saturated and leave. There will always be another free day on the horizon. The last time I was there I focused on the French sculptures on the lower ground floor- this time my plan was to hit the French painters- but was sidetracked by the “Objets d’arts” on the 1st floor of Richelieu wing. Very cool- I was particularly impressed with the tapestries. A few of those tapestries are down right salacious which, of course, makes it all the more interesting. It’s easy to only glance at them as you walk by quickly- but study them. My goodness, I think you’d be surprised. If they were in a porn shop I’d be a pervert but since they are at the Louvre I’m a clever little art monkey.

I’ve mentioned this before but I’m all about beating a dead horse. Watch people the next time you are in a museum. Many of them walk up to a painting look at it for a second and snap a picture of it. They must have a hundred digital pictures by the end of their visit. Even more fun are the people holding up their cell phones and snapping that perfect shot. I saw one guy walking around the perimeter of the room videotaping the paintings- he saw them only through the viewfinder of his camera! I realize that it is his experience and not my business but Jesus man get in the moment. I’m sure he’s thinking that he will study the art later, in the comfort of his home. I’m guilty of that kind of behavior too- it’s hard to be in the present and enjoy the moment for what it is. I don’t need a souvenir; I don’t need to prove to anyone that I was there. I just need to enjoy it at that moment. Easier said than done.

Is the only thing keeping you from moving to Paris the fear that you wont be able to find a good burger? Trust me, I understand, but fear not. I went to a café around the corner from the Louvre called Café De La Comedie and I had a, dare I say it, GREAT burger. This place is a total tourist trap; it was expensive but completely worth it. I should have looked at the menu and ordered water instead of diet coke- I ended up spending 1/3rd of my weekly spending money- but it was a good burger and I was content.

I went home to pester Kelly who was deep into her 20-page paper. Just looking at it made me tired so I took a 45-minute nap and then went to a group meditation meeting. I’ve been going to this meeting for about 3 months every Sunday. Fifteen of us meet up at the communist headquarters in the 3rd Arrondisement and do a 1½ hour guided meditation. It’s nice and the people are just crazy enough to be interesting. I go to my “happy place” with pictures of Che Guevara grimacing down at me. If the numbers on the white board are any indication the Communist party isn’t doing so well which might explain Che’s furrowed brow.

When I got home I found that Kelly had roasted a chicken- the apartment smelled wonderful. We had a meal that couldn’t be beat and chatted about our day. I tried not to let on how perfect my day was so she wouldn’t be jealous and I fell asleep reading a mystery novel about a stolen Modigliani. Can a day get any better?

Remember, there is still time to Ask a French Woman.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I wrote once about our 1966 convertible bus, which we owned for 20 years. My brother sent me a picture of it recently and I thought I’d share it. I don't know all of the people in the picture- some are siblings and my mom, who loves her some Lime Jell-O, is the babe leaning near the back of the bus. I’m the dashing young lad in the front passenger seat with a head as big as all outdoors.

I reread the post and it made me miss that bus all over again. I think my brother Sean dropped the engine and put it in the lawnmower or something sketchy like that.

Remember, there is still time to Ask a French Woman. You have until Monday to ask a real live French person any question you want- she has promised not to ignore, mock or pssssst! you. Ask your questions in the comment section or email me at We will run the questions and answers next wednesday.