Things I love this week
“Ponyo on the cliff by the sea,” a 2D Japanese animated feature from artistic genius Hayao Miyazaki, is my “coup de Coeur” this week. The “Little Mermaid” gets a Japanese makeover in this adorable story of a little red fish who becomes a human little girl. The story is simple, and the amazingly vivid and colorful images are complemented by an incredible musical score. Definitely worth a look.
2. The term « c’est normale. »
In sum, this expression gives the French permission to do or say whatever they want and then with a simple “c’est normale” (“it’s normal”) all is well. They’re French, so that’s how things go, no matter how bizarre, rude or insane the situation. For example, Me: “Some guy on a vélib just ran me over with his bike.” French person: “C’est normale. You must have been in his way.” Or French guy: “My girlfriend is around this weekend, but we can hang out next week.” C’est normale. Me: “I had to call that woman 150 times before she finally called me back.” French person: C’est normale. C’EST PAS NORMALE. (It’s not normal!) The French definition of what is “normal” is quite astonishing. Arriving 20 minutes late for dinner (and not even bothering to warn the person one is dining with of one’s tardiness because technically, until you’re over ½ hour late, it doesn’t even count as being late)? C’est normale. Blowing smoke into someone’s face as one smokes a cigarette? C’est normale. Cheating on one’s wife/girlfriend (and thinking this does not prove an impediment to continuing to sleep with other women at the same time)? C’est normale. However, the French consider “pas normale” (not normal) the following: eating peanut butter, going jogging, wearing shorts and (this one I am quite happy about) leaving tips. So, in sum. It is normal to be late, smoke cigarettes and cheat on your girlfriend, but abnormal to eat peanut butter before going for a run in your new pair of shorts. I rest my case.
3. “Someone I Loved”
Zabou Breitman’s drama “Someone I Loved” is based on Anne Gavalda’s novel “Je l’aimais.” The film, which opens the ColCoa film fest in LA end of April, stars Daniel Auteuil and Marie Jose-Croze in a story about finding love when it appears to be too late. The story is ostensibly very déjà vu and very French – a man cheats on his wife. However, Auteuil and Jose-Croze have wonderful chemistry and the film is beautifully shot.
4. The Luxembourg Gardens
The Luxembourg Gardens are definitely my favorite gardens in Paris.
I adore going running there, or pausing to read a book or write in the sun when the weather is nice. I’ve tried running in the Tuileries and risk plowing into unsuspecting Japanese tourists. I’ve tried the Parc Monceau but risk plowing into unsuspected children playing. ButI LOVE running in the Luxembourg gardens, especially because it is the ONE place in Paris, France where people don’t look at you strangely for going for a jog. The Jardins de Luxe are always filled with joggers. And students. And families. And cute little kids playing with old toy boats in the center. There are tennis courts and even outdoor ping pong tables. On the St Michel corner, there is a little crevice with a small pond and leafy fences – my favorite spot to think and reflect on la vie in Paris.
5. The organic market on the Boulevard Raspail
I am a reformed Sunday-hater. While I used to dread the day when everything in Paris closed, when none of my friends were awake before noon (or before 5 pm – you know who you are) and when the next day to look forward to was, my second least-favorite day of the week, Monday, return to work. Lately, however, I have learned to love le Dimanche, thanks, in part, to the organic market on the Boulevard Raspail. From the wee early hours of the morning through early afternoon, farmers from all over France make the trek to Paris to share their organic fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses and even wine with the Parisian population. (or rather, the more economically stable, healthy food loving population of Paris since all of the goods there are very VEP (very expensive produce)) The market is always bustling with people – mostly Raspail veterans who come with their baskets on wheels to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies for the week, but also some tourists. The stand owners are typically very friendly – probably because most aren’t from Paris – and usually volunteer samples of the week’s freshest fruit, or a sliver of the day’s apple tart so that a young American girl can taste it before she decides to invest (it was delicious. Investment made.)
However, I am apparently not well educated in the field of fruit and vegetable seasonal agendas. I asked for blueberries last week and the man working at the fruit stand literally laughed out loud and said to his coworkers “Hahahaha this girl asked for BLUEBERRIES in early APRIL. Hahahaha next thing you know she’ll be asking for butternut squash in June.” (I have indeed requested butternut squash in June.) It appears that while, in America, we memorize the 50 states and the months of the year, French schoolchildren are given a vast fruit and vegetable calendar to ingrain in their heads. “Apples in October, asparagus in April …” “Good, little Pierre! You get a gold star. And an apple. But not until the Fall when they’re in season again.”
6. Pizza Chic.
I’ve been saying it for years. Those who eat pizza are chic. Now there’s proof in the form of a big red neon lighted sign on the rue des Mezières “Pizza Chic”. The new ristorante Italiano from the people who brought us l’Altro (my go-to restaurant) (and by “go to” I mean, I go to there at least once a week), Les Cailloux, Lei and Quai Quai. The New York-like décor provides a posh yet relaxed background for the best pizza this side of the Italian border (note: I didn’t say best pizza, just best in Paris). Thin crust, fresh ingredients and REAL Italian chefs/servers for a change. I recommend the “Aurora” (which is also perhaps the most difficult Italian word to say in French with an American accent. Trust me, I’ve tried to say it about 450 times to no avail) with homemade tomato sauce and huge chunks of buffalo mozzarella. Or try the prosciutto – thin crust, just a bit of mozzarella and fresh tomatoes, topped with arugula and prosciutto. The panna cotta – same one as l’Altro – is delic as well.
7. Popup bar
Popup is the new ephemeral spot du jour from la Clique, set up to launch Vitamin Water in Paris. The bar is located at [… just kidding it’s supposed to be a secret…] in a little old theater. The neon chalk-decorated walls and bright red neon lights spelling Popup provide a retro-chic backdrop for the very hipster scene complete with cocktails à la Vitamin Water. There are different events every night from 6-10 pm. Two weeks ago, I went to a cinema night sponsored by La Maison de la Pub to see screenings of old ads from famous directors including Madonna getting naked with an American flag, strange Swedish TV spots and even an old ad featuring Guillaume Canet dancing around dressed like a pineapple. I also got to see Housse de Racket live for a mini-concert last weekend. Housse de Racket is a French punk band featuring two skinny little French boys in white tennis outfits. They’re actually good !
8. Dr. McSteamy
McDreamy has been less than dreamy these days on “Grey’s Anatomy.” McSteamy, however, is not only much better-looking (and taller!), but he has proven to be a big cuddly teddy bear (see: his romantic romp with little Grey, awwww)
9. Vanessa and Chuck (Chanessa? Vuck?)
Nate and Vanessa breaking up on “Gossip Girl” - FINALLY. And now she and Chuck? Oh PLEASE. Worst match made ever in life. Now if they’d just get that annoying Vanessa off the show…
10. The Tourette’s episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Best television ever made.