Me w/ friends on the Coney Island Brewing Co. float
The other weekend I made my first-ever trip to Coney Island
, which yes, is every bit as kitsch as you would think, but is still totally awesome and worth the hour-long subway ride.
Why, may you ask, of all the places in New York City to visit during one of my precious weekends did I venture to Coney Island?
For the Mermaid Parade
What is the Mermaid Parade you may wonder?
To be honest, everyone I asked about the event couldn't really tell me what it was, why people gathered for it or what it was celebrating. From what I gathered, it was basically an excuse for people to drink during the day, girls to walk around in pasties and for everyone to wear ridiculous costumes, eat fried food, and just have an all-around good time.The parade and Coney Island itself totally embodied that slightly flamboyant, cheesy and quirky sensibility that I still think of as being oh-so American. It actually reminded me a bit of the street protests I would see regularly on the Parisian streets - just with more alcohol and sans political statement. But you still had the chants, the crowds of people and the creative slogans, and plenty of cops on the streets to make it feel like I was back at Place de la Republique.To get a better sense of what it was like, check out my brief series of photos below. I also want to say a big thank you to Coney Island Brewing Company
(aka the World's Smallest Brewery) for letting me ride on your awesome float!
Everyone should go check them out and taste their delicious brews (Mermaid Pilsener anyone?
OK, so I have had this song stuck in my head since April 1st, and just had to share it.
In honor of this insanely gorgeous weather we've been having over the past few days (and if weather.com
does not deceive me, our good luck should last at least through the weekend!) I wanted to share this famous tune with those of you who have never heard it, as well as those of you who love this old classic as much as I do.This video is kinda random, just some photos from someones trip to Paris. But it has my favorite version of the song "April in Paris" by the lovely Ella Fitzgerald, and then eases into Frank Sinatra's smooth rendition of "I Love Paris."
FOX TV graphics in motion.
Sometimes it takes some distance - give or take the size of the Atlantic ocean - away from the traditions of home to make you truly appreciate them.
While I may not miss watching American football as much as I miss, say, my dogs, functional paper towel dispensers or CoolWhip
, I definitely felt as though something was missing this fall.
As I sat around watching the occasional rugby or football (aka soccer) match at a local Tabac or Irish pub, I missed the Cowboys/Redskins trash talking
, the crowds at the grocery stores on Sundays stocking up on junk food and beer, and images of over sized dudes slamming into each other, only to then tap each other on the butt a minute later.
So since I am currently living in the land of Sébastien Chabal
and Yoann Gourcuff
, not Ben Roethlisberger
and Aaron Rodgers
, I felt even more compelled this year than most to watch Super Bowl XLV
Unfortunately, 5€ pints are actually a deal.
I really didn’t have particularly strong feelings toward either team playing this year (and to be honest, I’m actually not a massive American football fan in general.) But this year it wasn’t really about the game. It was about the Americana experience.Even though we call the winners of the Super Bowl “World Champions,” American football is pretty much only a big deal to, well...Americans. The Super Bowl itself is broadcast to a decent international audience ever year, but overall, no one else really cares. And frankly, why should they?
American football is a great game to watch (and I assume a great game to play, if you’re 6’5 and over 220lbs). But those who get the most enjoyment out of watching the game are generally those who grew up watching it. After all, to get the most out the experience, it always helps to know the rules
(of which there seems to be about one gazillion) know the key players, and have a home team to root for.
So unlike the FIFA World Cup
, which is accurately named and involves a sport that most of the world actually plays, it can be difficult for the rest of the planet to get as excited as us Americans do about the Super Bowl. But that’s what makes it so special, and why I actually felt more compelled to watch the game and "connect" with my American roots this year than in years past.
The Great Canadian goes American for a night.
A group of us from school - which included a diverse group of Saints
fans - headed over to The Great Canadian
to watch the match, which is technically a hockey bar, but they make exceptions during other big sporting events.
The place was packed with a healthy mix of Steelers and Packers fans, as well as some confused Europeans who had obviously never watched American football before.
I was proud of myself for staying up through the half-time show, which ended around 2:30am Paris time; although frankly I would have been better off getting the extra 30 minutes of sleep – Black Eyed Peas
, please just stop. Please.
People needed a pick-me-up at kick off.
The only major downside to watching the game in France, aside from the massive time difference, was that we didn’t get to see the millions of dollars worth of commercials (average cost of a 30-second spot was $3 million.
) Which, let’s be honest, is the main reason a lot of us even watch the Super Bowl in the first place. Or maybe that’s just me.
Regardless, for silly copyright or other legal reasons I cannot be bothered to look into, I had to wait until the next morning to watch all the commercials on YouTube
. Although I'm thrilled that modern technology allowed me to catch up on all that I missed, it still wasn't the same as watching the commercials live, along with the other estimated 111 million
viewers that night.
Despite this one drawback, last Sunday's marathon day of drinking, eating, more drinking, and finally some football watching, was a great success, and made me thankful that I grew up watching the NFL instead of rugby
(no offense to my English and French readers.)
I have no idea where I will be for next year’s Super Bowl. But regardless of where I am, I will do my best to find some fellow Americans, who are looking to stay up past our bedtime’s, drink some beers (or tequila shots) and scream obnoxiously at the bar TVs as we enjoy a true American pastime.
Halloween used to be my favorite holiday.
My grandmother was an amazing costume designer, and every year as late October approached, I would check the mailbox five times a day for my made-to-order costume to arrive all the way from California.
Sadly as I've gotten older, I've noticed that Halloween has started to loose a bit of its excitement and spark -- maybe it has something to do with the lack of free candy, since it would be way creepy if I still went trick-or-treating.
This year, I nearly forgot Halloween was even happening, since they don't really get into it as much in France as we do in the U.S.
To be fair, some people here do
get excited about Halloween. This weekend while on vacation in Bordeaux, I have even seen a few people wandering about in full costumes, including a guy running around last night dressed in this classy number
(My parents, and my 86-year-old grandfather got a kick out of it, needless to say.)
So in honor of this festive holiday (which Glee's Sue Sylvester
describes as, "the day that parents encourage little boys to dress like little girls and little girls to dress like whores, and go door to door brow-beating hard working americans into giving them free food,"
) I thought I'd share a clip from one of my favorite holiday movies of all time (which can be enjoyed at both Halloween and Christmas, making it even more awesome): The Nightmare Before Christmas
iPhone Grand Piano App
I know, I know, this post has nothing to do with France.
BUT, it does have to do with the creative use of smart phone technology and online video marketing -- and indie bands from Brooklyn. Two things I'm very interested in at the moment.
Plus, I thought maybe you could all use a breather from all the heavy French politics going on at the moment.
For those of you who haven't already heard, Brooklyn-based band Atomic Tom
debuted a video on YouTube last week of the group performing their song "Take Me Out"
on the New York City subway.
The catch? The band used no instruments -- they used Apps.
Atomic Tom (fastcompany.com)
At last count, the video had 2,200, 507 views on YouTube.
The idea came from the lead singer's 24-year-old brother, who invited some of his friends along for a ride on the B-train
, and asked them to bring their iPhones.
The whole thing was low budget, relatively easy to produce and had massive benefits for the band. The clip has been blasted all over Twitter, Facebook, the blogosphere, and even "serious news outlets."
For additional coverage on the story, check out this great article from The New York Daily News
I've watched the video a few times, and can't get the song out of my head. I might even download it on iTunes, I like it that much.
So yes, I know this post may seem random, since all I seem to care about is France, food and markets. But I think this tale is a great example of what our generation has managed to do with modern technology.
We're sharing! And getting creative! All is not lost!
(And OK, yes, this is also another one of the millions of examples out there as to why Apple is just plain awesome.
I encourage everyone to watch the video, get inspired, and go out there and make some music.
Or if you're like me, you'll have to go out there and buy an iPhone first.
Late last week, the U.S. State Department released a travel alert
for Americans traveling in Europe.
No need to panic: this isn't like, a warning
No no. This is just the government's way of letting us all know that maybe, sometime in the potential near future, there is a possibility that a terrorist organization may decide to target a major tourist destination in Europe.
But they're not telling Americans to avoid traveling to Europe -- they're not really telling us to do anything.
Personally, I think this is just the government's way of covering their ass, in case a terrorist attack does occur sometime in the near future. But for those of us actually living or traveling abroad, I think this "alert" is completely useless, and if anything, somewhat dangerous.
This statement has basically managed to strike fear into some Americans but doesn't really give us any useful advice on how to protect ourselves -- other than use some basic common sense.
By the way, I know I'm about a week late on this, but I was a bit busy eating cupcakes
. It happens.)
So thank you State Department. If something like the below scene from Team America: World Police
happens while I'm in Paris, I have confidence that I will be fully prepared. Except not really.
For those of you who were in hiding in 2004 (maybe because there was another non-descript terrorist alert and you didn't know what else to do?) the below clip is from a film released in 2004 by South Park
creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
If you're in a hurry, jump to minute 1:45 to see some real action.
This morning while running some errands on Rue de Grenelle
, I passed a real live chimney sweep
I kid you not. Soot covered face, broom in tow. It was awesome.
I know for a fact that I was not the only person to get overly excited by this observation, as I overheard the following two comments by fellow anglophones on the sidewalk.
Comment #1: "Wow, look at that, a real live chimney sweep!"Comment #2: "It's fabulous, isn't it?"
Yes I say. Yes it is.