31 May 2006

Are the French open to fancy footwork on the court?

Marc Gicquel (photo: AP)

Sebastien Grosjean (photo: Reuters)

It's not like a Frenchman to stray too far from tradition, even with sports. These photos, taken during the French Open at Roland Garros yesterday, seem to suggest that French players have introduced some peculiar new moves to their game. But, don't be alarmed. I'm sure these hijinks are the product of a camera's shutter opening and closing at just the right (or wrong?) time.

Marc Gicquel (top) appears to be playing futbol rather than tennis. Or is he riding an invisible polo pony across the court? In the second photo, Sebastien Grosjean looks like he has blended some kickboxing and ballroom dance moves into his game. Or, like Luke Skywalker, has he finally mastered "The Force," which allows him to suspend a tennis ball in mid-air simply by clenching his buttocks?

I suppose these questions shall remain unanswered.

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23 May 2006

Now that's one Smart Car!

If you see a car similar to this one being driven backward...on the sidewalk...by a woman who looks like this -- get out of the way! She is on a mission. Something about a code. I dunno. I think there might be a book or a movie called Da Vinci Code. I haven't heard much about it, have you?

By the way, you'll remember that Steve Martin drove a SmartCar in the unremarkable Pink Panther. Now la petite voiture has returned au grand écran to terrorize pedestrians and sidewalk cafe diners...and passenger Tom Hanks.

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21 May 2006

Montmartre: a short video spotlighting one of Paris' most noteworthy neighborhoods.

Artist Robert Hawkins has put together a brief video tour of the Lamarck-Caulaincourt area. You'll recognize the streets and cafes of Montmartre as Hawkins strolls with his little dog.

It's not uncommon for people to ask "If I am only going to be in Paris for a couple of days, what's the one thing I should see?"

I always tell them not to miss Montmartre and suggest they make some time to sit and relax on the steps at Sacre Couer for at least an hour one evening. It's not exactly a place to witness Parisians and their Parisian-ness, but from those steps it feels like you can see the whole world and that the whole world is comprised of only Paris.

If one wants to absorb an abreviated version of Paris, this is one of the best places to do it. And now, when they ask, I will also refer them to this little video that Robert Hawkins has assembled and hosts at turnhere.com.

11 May 2006

'Teeth of the Sea' doesn't sound as frightening as 'JAWS'

When your American friends ask you if you've ever seen the movie Varsity Blues you might want to say "no, friend, I don't believe I have." But, if you saw American Boys at the French cinema then you did, in fact, see Varsity Blues. There are many movies that get re-named for clarity's sake, and others for reasons known only to the foreign distributors. The Incredibles was changed to Les Indestructibles; Wedding Crashers was changed to Serial Noceurs...and there are many more interesting examples.

If you can think of any, here's your chance to add them to the "40 Days in Paris" list of oddly re-titled films. Post your contribution in the comments section just below this blog entry.

And beware of Les Dents when you visit Paris-Plage this year.

06 May 2006

We'll return after these messages...

Ten Days on Hiatus.
(See you soon.)

L'espirit Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Jazz may be an American invention, but it immediately - and permanently - found a home in Paris decades ago, especially on the Rive Gauche where jazz will never die.

Afficionados will be flooded with choices as the sixth annual jazz festival descends on venues in Saint Germain des Prés from 9 May until 21 May. Of the events taking place throughout the quartier, these two struck me as quite unique: (a) "Musical ride in 1950s bus touring the left bank," (b) "The French National Jazz Orchestra's tribute to Led Zeppelin."

For more traditional gigs, check the schedule at
Le Festival Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés

The festival will include photo exhibits and will spotlight up-and-coming talent. But, if you can't wait until next week to get a fix of jazz, go to
Jazz à FIP and click on the "écouter" button to soothe your nerves.

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04 May 2006

Dora and cat fetch $95 million

"A Picasso portrait, 'Dora Maar With Cat,' sold for $95.2 million at Sotheby's last night, the second-highest price ever paid for a painting at auction." -- The New York Times. (Image: "Dora Maar With Cat" detail, 1941 portrait by Picasso.)

Man base jumps from La Grande Arche de la Défense

Hervé Le Gallou likes to jump from tall structures. In Paris alone, he's jumped from La Tour Eiffel, La Tour Montparnasse and La Grande Arche.

But, it's not a sport for just anybody. Base jumping requires planning and skill. Getting arrested and having your gear confiscated - or plunging to your death - are real possibilities. In this case, you'll notice on the video (above) that Gallou makes a nice landing and a clean getaway. More of Gallou's exploits are posted at his Web site.

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02 May 2006

Democrats Abroad France

Democrats Abroad France will hold a "Voter Registration and Wizard Launch" on Friday. The group intends to register voters and demo their new online voter registration tool. Come to Le Coffee Parisien on Friday, 5 May between 17h00 and 19h00. The cafe is at 4 rue Princesse, 75006 Paris.

"Our goal is to double our overseas voter registration numbers for the 2006 midterm election and to double that again in 2008," said Democrats Abroad members Joe Green and Margo Miller in a recent editorial. They represent Democrats in Canada and the UK, respectively.

Democrats Abroad is active in 75 countries, according to their Washington, D.C. headquarters, and has 2500 members in France. The organization allies with the Democratic National Committee and sends a delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Members of Democrats Abroad France pay no dues or fees to join and have the option of joining subgroups such as Young Democrats Abroad France, open to the under-40 crowd.


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