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utah students deem van gogh’s “starry night” magically delicious

Who says the arts are dying in the US?

Doyle Geddes, a Utah high school teacher had a dream.   He wanted to connect his students to art in a meaningful way, by recreating the world’s largest reproduction of  a Van Gogh’s masterpiece in cereal on the school gym floor.

A donation from Malt o meal allowed him to fulfill his dream.   Geddes said they chose to recreate “Starry Night” because of its beauty and recognition. To accompany the display of “Starry Night,” there were also 28 smaller Van Gogh recreations that students made with cereal.   The project took a grueling 4 hours.

The public viewing was from 1 to 5pm last Saturday before the masterpiece was fed to local pigs.

Geddes feels the experience has already impacted his students’ appreciation of Van Gogh’s sugary goodness.

Personally, I’m appalled.   Cereal might be fine for the muted tones of a Rembrandt, but to authentically recreate a Van Gogh, one must use jelly beans.  I’m sure art experts would agree.

Read the original article.

In the realm of non-foodstuffs, Legos seem to work quite well.

Click here to go to the original Lego Starry Night website (www.brillig.com) with step by step directions.

 

stalling–roadtrip to bruges (part 1)

I’ve seen pictures of Brugge (or Bruges), Belgium and have always wanted to go there. They call it the Venice of the north, with picturesque ancient buildings flanked by canals. A town untouched by World War II. A gem. According to mapquest, it’s 168 miles away or a 2 hour and 48 minute drive from Auvers (they lie) or a 2 ½ hour train(s) trip from the Gare du Nord in Paris, so about 7 hours roundtrip.

If I take a train, it’s over 240 Euro round trip to get to Brugge. Flying might be cheaper, but there’s getting to the airport, security, waiting, fees… As opposed to the train, which is quick and painless. But I lose time in connections (ie: from Brussels to Gent to Brugge) and there’s that price thing.

I check the prices of a three day car rental and it’s a no-brainer. Three days unlimited mileage for more than half the price of a train ticket.   And this way, I can stop where and when I want.

But I quickly discover a catch…there’s a premium on cars with automatic transmissions. The difference in prices is huge. Which presents a huge dilemma.

The last time I attempted driving a car with manual transmission was in San Francisco (probably one of the world’s stupidest places to attempt such a feat). It was one of the most mortifying experiences of my life. Not only was I in constant fear of death by rolling backwards down a vertical hill, I was also constantly humiliated by my inadequacy in shifting—stalling at every intersection and being forced to stop people on hills and ask them to hold the car in place while I shifted. I think I lost half my weight in sweat that day. I swore I’d never touch a stick shift again.

But poverty does funny things to a person. I decide driving with a stick shift will be an exciting challenge. A new experience. And there aren’t a lot of hills up north. I gamely click “reserve”.

The next two nights I spend studying maps and travel websites like I’m cramming for a final.

The night before I’m to pick up the car, the enormity of what I’m attempting hits me. I try desperately to come up with a reason, or find a sign that I should really cancel this whole junket. I’m sure I’m coming down with something. I can’t find my glasses. I can’t drive without my glasses. Oooooh, I have a bad cramp in my clutch leg. Where are the damn keys? Not being able to find the keys must be God’s way of telling me not to go. A black cat just crossed my path several times….THAT’s got to be a sign, even if it is Denzel.   Every little thing seems a warning of impending disaster.

I tell myself to calm down. It’ll be all right. I’ve got every conceivable route written out and mapped. How hard could it be? Less coordinated, dumber people than me have driven a stick shift. I temporarily ignore the fact that less coordinated, dumber people than me can also walk and use a cellphone at the same time and I’m totally incapable of that.

I mentally practice shifting until the xanax kicks in.

I must be maturing, because I don’t recall being tortured the by nightmares of sleeping through the alarm on the morning of my final exam or being at school naked. Only a few sane waking moments wondering whether seeing Bruges is worth dying for as I drift off to sleep.

When I wake up the next morning, I have that feeling I used to get before finals of being too tired and brain dead to cope with the task at hand. Being a trooper, I lumber towards my goal.

Armed with maps, instructions.credit cards, passport, drivers license, snacks and bottled water, I take the train to Pontoise, where I’m to pick up la voiture.

By 8:30 AM, I’m at the Pontoise Europcar. The car rental process itself is painless. The rental agent seems amused (in a friendly way) by my caveman French. The only rocky moment is when I sign the receipt and realize (after I signed it) that the number on it is E 500. Not the E116 I’d been quoted. The agent seems to notice that I’ve turned white and reassuringly tells me “c’est une deposit.” I’m relieved and terrified all at once. One false move and I’m broke. That’s worse than a fatal accident. I wonder if they’ll charge me for the day if I return it now?

No, I will hate myself if I don’t attempt to go to Brugge while I have this damn car. After stalling three times and almost backing into a Volkswagen Golf before getting out of the parking lot, I resolutely tell myself that I’m definitely driving up to Bruges while I have this goddamn car in my possession.

Just not today.

I stall 12 times on the 5 mile drive back to Auvers.   Fortunately, the French drivers are kind.   One person  honks when I stall at an intersection, but two jump out of their cars and offer to help.   In New York, I would have caused a riot.

The rest of the day, I intermittently practice driving the damn car interspersed with taking naps to recuperate from the physical and mental tension of practicing driving the damn car. My left leg will be very muscular from this experience. I have so many “my little goat moments”, I’ll be surprised if I don’t have permanent brain damage. I’m still trying to unfurl my hands from clutching the wheel in terror.

With a deep sense of foreboding, I make a delicious dinner of pasta with sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes before I go to bed. I figure it could be my last supper.

***

roadtrip to bruges part 2 (lost in the nether regions)

***

embarking on a life of crime


Don’t ask me why I didn’t consult the weather report before getting on the train to Paris. Maybe it was destiny.

The plan was to start in the Canal St. Martin area in the 10th arrondissement. It’s supposed to be an up and coming neighborhood. From there I’d cut through the Marais, and cross the Seine to the 6th and 7th arrondisements (which is ideally where I’d like my future husband to have a pied de terre).

After a short sweaty walk down the Canal St. Martin I head for the Seine…maybe there’s a breeze there. There isn’t. Which leaves two options. Jump in the Seine or find a nice air-conditioned establishment to seek refuge from the imaginary global warming. The refuge just happens to be Dalloyau Patisserie. Here I will cool off, get something to drink and reassess my game plan.

In the Sex in the City version of my life, there would be a handsome Frenchman also seeking shelter in Dalloyau. It would just be him and me and the windows steaming up. We’d start to chat, the windows would steam up some more, maybe there’d be a hot pastry sharing scene followed by a thunderstorm. Of course, we’d run through the rain to his fabulous nearby pied du terre. That doesn’t happen. It’s just the pastries and me.

Since I have a short attention span and am easily distracted by bright, shiny objects, I immediately forget my game plan. Oooooo, pretty tart…pretty puffy thing with cream and berries…pretty chocolately square… Since I haven’t set foot into any sort of boutique for months, all my most shallow consumer cravings are bursting forth here and now and I’m not sure if I have the self control to stop them.

I’ve always been a little stand offish about French pastry. Sure, there’s your croissant, your tarts, your pan au chocolat, éclairs, panniers, beignets…all delicious. But there’s a whole world of pastry out there I’ve never tried. The custardy things with apricots on top, the huge chocolate bombs, the things that look like opaque green jello, the napoleons of many stripes. Frankly, I never thought I’d like them. Most of them look a little too gooey, too sweet, too much (although right now, I’m sure my life will never be complete without consuming each and every one of them).

It doesn’t help that I’m afraid of the women in the Auvers bakery. I pretty much buy my bread, catch a quick glance of the desserts out of the corner of my eye and get out of there. No hemming and hawing trying to decide between the cannonball sized snowball rolled in shaved dark chocolate, the tried and true fruit tart with plump perfect raspberries, the white creamy looking cakes with imbedded strawberries…nope, she’s giving me a dirty look…she’s gonna yell at me…’un bagette s’il vous plait…une Ooops, desolee, UNE bagette, s’il vous plait.’ I always wind up skulking out in shame.

The pastries here at Dalloyau look like jewels glimmering behind the glass. I get lost in them until reflexively, like a guilty dog, I look up at the woman behind the counter to see if she’s giving me a dirty look or about to smack me with a newspaper. She’s not. She’s smiling at me. I take this as a sign that fate brought me here for a bigger purpose than whatever my initial game plan was.

I should make it my business to try every pastry out there and write a thorough review. Sort of a verbal painting depicting the beauty of each pastry. I’ll be the like the Van Gogh of French Pastry description. If I try one pastry a day, I think I can still get every possible pastry in. There couldn’t be more than 90 french pastry varieties out there, could there?. I suppose if there are more, I’ll have to double up.

I know, it seems like an indulgence. A pastry a day can really add up. But it’s cheaper than lipgloss or a pack of cigarettes, both of which I’ve given up. And my efforts will serve mankind as a guide to what sort of pastries they may like and dislike. Yes, I’ll do it in the name of helping my fellow man navigate the intricate world of French pastry. And for art. Now that’s a lasting legacy.

Of course, the venture does involve critical risks. Like spending my hard borrowed money on deserts I may not even like (and where will that leave me when I crave something sweet and I blew my wad on some lavish frou-frou concotion that sickened me earlier?) And the capital risk is enormous considering that at this very moment, I only have 5 Euros. How will I afford a pastry AND get back to Auvers? And what about tomorrow? Will I be forced to beg for pastry? Will I become poor AND fat? Nobody feels sorry for a fat homeless person. Now I’m sweating out of pure stress.

But sometimes, you’ve just got to go for it. At least I know I won’t have to shoot myself in a field when my time here is up. I can just have a heart attack on my way up to the field. Nobody can say I didn’t consider all the angles.

I order a chocolate macaroon. A relatively safe bet being chocolate and only 3 Euros. Now, this isn’t your classic coconut cookie you think of in America. Not even close. It looks like a scooter pie. It’s two chocolate almond merinque cookies sandwiching a thick layer of dark chocolate ganache. I hold my breath and take a bite….ahhhhh, this is decadent.

It’s like the world’s biggest truffle, with a slightly crispy coating that crackles like a thin layer of ice and melts into the ganache. How could heroin possibly be more addictive than this? There’s that pure chocolate endorphin rush, but there’s also the taste…no, not just taste, it’s bigger than taste, it’s a feeling. It almost engulfs the brain. I’m in Paris and I’m eating the most chocolately delicious thing in the world and I’m soooooooooooo happy!

When I come to, I’m already wondering how when and where I’ll get my next fix. And do I really want to try those custardy things? Maybe I should limit myself strictly to macaroons. Seriously, I haven’t even dented the surface of macaroons. There are caramel, coffee, vanilla, strawberry, green ones, chocolate noisette.…

No, that would be the cowards way out. I must explore the entire pastry realm. But damn, I could go for another chocolate macaroon right now. Maybe I should marry a Patisserier. I nonchalantly check the back kitchen of Dalloyau to see if Mr. Right is back there. He’s not. I guess that would just be too easy.

I gather my remaining two euros, thank the girls behind the counter profusely and step out out into the torture chamber. I was going to walk back to Gare du Nord and save myself the Metro fare but I forgot how hot it is. I fear I’ll become one of those elderly woman heatwave death statistics if I do. And how tragic would it be to die after experiencing such happiness only an hour before? On the other hand, perhaps THAT’s my destiny. Nahhhh. The metro entrance is about 50 yards away.

As I walk briskly toward my train, I don’t even notice all the handsome men I’m sure must be checking me out. I’m deep in thought, ticking off my options methodically. I hope I could be mistaken for a high powered businesswoman (wearing “don’t socra-tease me” toenail polish) making a career altering decision as she rushes to her train for the burbs. Nobody has to know what I’m really thinking: “I could try the chocolate cannonball next, but maybe I should try something fruitier. Or would it be smarter to bite the bullet and get one of those things that look like jello with berries out of the way. Hey, there’s probably something for two Euros at the bakery in Auvers.”

I jump the turnstiles and head for my train.

***

Read David Lebovitz’s compilation of all things macaron, including recipes.

 

bridging cultural chasms

The other day when I was watering the yard, the neighbors were coming home. We smiled said bonjour and I returned to my watering. I nearly jumped out of my skin when the husband said “I have a question.” I think this is the first complete sentence I’ve ever heard in Auvers, except for Henri and Alan when they were here. He invited me for drinks. I accepted and I have both looked forward to and dreaded this day arriving.

I don’t know why I’m so fearful of the language barrier thing. I’ve spent time with Japanese people who don’t speak English, dined with Italians who don’t speak English, had drinks with Dutch people who don’t speak English, Americans who don’t speak English, and always had a perfectly good time. Nonetheless, I’m nervous as I walk up there with a lovely, hand-picked, hand- arranged bouquet of flowers.

Okay, flowers and weeds. But in the weeds’ defense, they would have cost at least $6.00 in the US. Maybe they’ll think it refreshingly humble for an American to bring something personally crafted. Or that I’m a cheap bitch. It’s a huge responsibility going next door for drinks. I represent America. The Lubattis don’t count because they’re American, but also French. They speak French, they have roots here (not the kind of roots I have). They know how to behave.

So much to worry about. Will there be cheek kissing? If so, how many times does one kiss each cheek? And are you actually supposed to kiss the cheek or do an air kiss thing? Chhhhhhh. Merchk –ci. Je pouvais. Je pouvons. How long am I supposed to stay? I suppose I’ll have to drink something. What should I drink? Should I have brought wine? Will there be food? What the hell are their names?

Within minutes, Carole and I are planning to meet on Wednesdays so she can help me learn French and I can help her learn English. If this doesn’t improve my French, I’m afraid my one remaining hope is enrolling in French kindergarten and learning it the way children do.

There are important things I learn at this meeting that need to be shared in order to help bring about an understanding between our two cultures. For example, I learn that the women in the bakery don’t hate ME, they’re like that to everyone. The French don’t curse like we do. When we say “merde” as a curse, we don’t sound French. We sound like Americans trying to sound French. The French equivalent is of our “C” word is probably “putain” which sounds like it’s got a lot more syllables when pronounced correctly (kind of like (pchkwuuuueeeeetaeeeen. When Carole says it, it sounds really vile…like the worst thing in the world you can say. If someone called your mother that, you’d have to punch their lights out (or at least give them a good head butt in the solar plexis). When I say it it sounds like Porky Pig. The French often feel uncomfortable in America because there are signs everywhere telling people not to do things. I’m sure 75% of that is the no-smoking signs everywhere.

Jerome and Carole also float a theory as to why so many Americans are perceived as arrogant and narrow. Europeans are constantly exposed to different cultures because there are so many different little countries so close together. Americans, not so much. Americans is huge and homogenous for the most part. the limits of what we’re exposed to as a result of our size is what makes us come off how you say, xenophobic. I never really thought about it, but that makes sense. I also give them credit for giving more thought to justify our being assholes than we do. And nothing creates a warmer bond than a mutual hatred for German tourists. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

On a practical level, I learn that a Kir is quite refreshing and makes me feel much happier than a diet coke does.

After about two hours of pleasant conversation, I feel we have made vast inroads mending the French/American relationship. I also feel like I’m making friends with the neighbors. I thank them very much for having me. They thank me for coming and for the flowers, c’est tres jolie. And I say je vois vois en mercredi. She says haltingly “at six o clock.” I leave feeling really good about the whole thing. Like maybe I will learn French. And make French friends. And feel like I really live here (if only when I have to leave/shoot myself in a field.)

This is a critical step in breaking down walls and stereotypes and re-establishing that deep friendship between France and America that seems all but lost these day of ruthless political expediency. Maybe we can live side by side again as brothers and sisters. Maybe I’ll even have someone to feed my kitties when I go to Croatia! This is promising. But wait, I hear Carole say something to Jerome that’s too fast for me to make out and they laugh….Did that French snob just call me a “pchkwuuuueeeeetaeeeen?”

***

international political summit (in which Carole and I discuss global politics in the others’ language).  A comedy.

impressionist and other works of art

Since my hair is now as colorful as a Van Gogh (especially the roots), I decide it’s a good time to go into Paris and re-visit the Musee D’Orsay with new perspective.

I catch my favorite train from Auvers transferring in Valmondois which travels through the beautiful countryside into what I imagine is the riot ravaged section of North Paris into Gare du Nord. I bravely decide to take the metro to the Musee D’Orsay despite the fact that I know all metros are under terrorist threat. Somehow, the Paris metro is so much more civilized than the New York subway I let down my guard and forget to be afraid. My fellow passengers and I survive.

I get off at St. Germain and prompty walk in the wrong direction. When I reach the Odeon, I realize my mistake and backtrack, passing a gazillion gorgeous food stores. At least I know if I get lost I can follow the trail of my drool back the way I came. I resist the urge to enter and continue past the fashion boutiques (also drool inducing) and down the Rue Jacob past the small galleries until I reach the Musee. The line is virtually non-existant and I’m inside in a flash.

It’s a beautiful museum, a converted railway station, with art instead of bums. I head straight for the impressionists, trying not to notice the art lovers critiquing my hair.

The first room alone is more impressive than MOMA and the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam by a long shot. And it keeps going. Rooms of impressionist paintings, many of which are scenes that looks strikingly familiar, maybe because so many were painted in the Val d’Oise. Pissarro, Corot, Sisley, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne and Van Gogh are well represented. There are numeous paintings done in Auvers, I notice with pride (as if I had something to do with it). Views of Pontoise, Argentueil, Sannois, the Oise, Chaponval are as plentiful as if I were at the Chateau Auvers looking down on the valley. And not all that different.

I like Renoir more than I remember and Monet less (although I’m still fascinated by his series of the views of the cathedral in changing light). I still think Pisarro is underrated and feel my rage rising at the injustice of it.

But I’m immediately soothed by the room of Van Goghs. He may have been a douche and a drama queen, but man, I love his paintings. They’re brighter and more striking than I remember. I can’t keep my eyes off the picture of that quack Dr. Gachet and can almost understand why that Japanese industrialist who bought one of the two portraits Van Gogh painted of him wanted to be buried with it. Dr. Gachet looks depressed. His hair is very red. I wonder he went to the same hair salon in town that I did.

I can’t help noticing the scarcity of English speaking people here in the Museum. Where are they? Are they boycotting France because of our refusal to take part in the Iraq war? Whatever it is, I’m grateful, as the museum is uncrowded and pleasant.

Until I go to the ladies room and realize, this must be where the Americans have been hiding. The line here is longer than the line into the museum and virtually everyone in line is an American. Maybe we have smaller bladders than the French?

Only one of the two stalls has toilet paper and rather than take toilet paper from another stall when it’s empty, the women in line choose to wait for the stall with toilet paper to become available, which doubles their wait time. When a woman leaves that stall, I cut ahead to take some toilet paper and go into the free one. The women act as though I’ve just invented the paper clip or something. I begin to understand why the US is no longer a center of innovation any more.

Once I’ve finished my business I take a look at a pre-impressionist work of art—Paris itself. The view from the D’Orsay balcony is spectacular, even when it’s overcast.

By now it’s almost 3:00 and time to wander over to the Place de Madeline and Opera, which I haven’t seen since I floated by in the 80’s high on painkillers from a tooth infection (I have searched vainly for whatever that painkiller was ever since). I walk through the Tuilleries and up the Rue de Fauborg Honore to the Opera. It’s as impressive to me now without narcotics as it was while under the influence.

Then, I don’t know what possesses me, maybe a narcotic flashback, I walk to the Boulevard Haussman to Galleries Lafayette. I recommend this neighborhood to anyone homesick for New York. Here English is more prevalent than French. And I experience the pushing and shoving I’ve so missed. I hate it and rush out. Until I remember that the food hall is supposed to be an epicurian oasis.

I’m not disappointed. It’s the Musee D’Orsay of food. And it’s not nearly as crowded as the rest of the store…in fact it’s downright pleasant.

This place makes Eli’s in New York (the best and most overpriced food emporium in NYC) look like Safeway, except the prices of course, which are high, but still comparatively reasonable. The options are infinitely more mindboggling than Eli’s (which only boggled my mind with the prices). There are all sorts of prepared foods to take out, or eat at little counters set up at each section. There’s the Italian deli section, the Petrossean section, the tapas section, the dim sum section, the meze section (the take out meze platters are so beautiful, I consider them to be art on par with a Van Gogh), the Indian section, the oyster section. There’s also fresh produce, meat, seafood, bakery, candy and grocery sections that includes everything I’ve ever craved and some things I’ve never imagined to crave but will start immediately.

My budget allows me a smoked salmon on blini sandwich for 4 Euros which is tasty, but leaves me longing for more. I take one last slow, tortured lap and decide I better leave before I find my credit card buried in my bag and create a deficit at the dim sum counter that’s bigger than the US debt to China.

The train ride back to Auvers is uneventful. I watch the countryside go by now with the eyes of an artist—the slashes of green, gold, and red of the passing fields as vibrant as the tabouli salad at galleries Lafayette.

Once again, I feel a kinship with Van Gogh, despite my desire not to. I stop at the grocery store on the way home and linger over the wine section since absinthe is no longer legal. I decide against buying a bottle, since like Van Gogh, I’m short on cash. What would Van Gogh do? It seems I have two choices. One involves cutting, the other painting.

I head back home to paint my hair.

paris fashion notes

carrie-bradshaw-satc-movie1-previewimages-2Ever since I quit my advertising job, I’ve spent very little time on Madison Avenue (meaning Barneys and Bergdorf, or as I liked to call them with a certain amount of sour grapes, fashion victim central). I havn’t looked at a Vogue, Harpers Bazaar or Elle since pink was the new black

Needless to say, I’d been feeling hopelessly out of place on the New York city streets for quite awhile. Sure, there was my out of style Levis and non-brand name tee shirts, but more importantly, my face still moves. I often got the feeling that women I knew recoiled in shock, horror and pity when I smiled or furrowed my brow. I was also convinced that I was the only remaining B cup left in Manhattan, which I think may have qualified me for my own personal display in the Museum of Natural history.

Aside from the 600 dollar price tag for a lousy shot of botulism toxin (wouldn’t it be cheaper to cultivate my own? I had some funky looking cans of soup that were probably chock full of the coveted poison), the whole idea of injecting something that used to have a skull and crossbones on the label into my face seemsto be pushing fate. And major surgery to insert huge plastic globes in my breasts seems more ridiculous than…well, cutting off my ear.

So when I go to Paris, I watch the women with interest trying to get an idea of what’s in style and whether my next move will have to be to a country where Burkas are mandatory.

carla-bruni-sarkozy_0The good news is, I won’t have to move to Iran for several years, at least.images

The first thing I notice (or don’t notice) is the omnipresent low cut satiny lingerie type blouses with huge plastic breasts on display with cleavage up to the chin aren’t present. Not a one. Nor is the night of the living dead parade of bandaged women on the streets that’s so popular on Madison avenue and Soho. Maybe the French just have the good taste not to emerge until their plastic surgery scars have healed. And I won’t have to invest in absurdly low cut jeans or acquire the obligatory rolls of fat that accompany them (where is lipsuction when you need it?

I scrutinize the French womens’ faces and smile at them. They smile back and their eyes actually crinkle. Some of the women even have grey hair, god forbid. Further, their faces are not caked with Lancome, Chanel and all the other ridiculously expensive make up products American women seem to believe are the height of fashion in France. And the B cup seems to be the norm here—for the first time in ages, I almost feel adequate. These women actually look human.

Before I left New York, I consulted a couple of fashion experts to see what the summer trends would be, just to make sure I didn’t stand out like a sore thumb. I was told to wear wedgies with two inch platforms and another four inch of heels, brightly colored skirts, tiny little sweaters and to carry a large brightly colored leather bag, preferably by Louis Vuitton or Prada if I didn’t want to feel hopelessly out of place. Thank goodness I couldn’t afford to take their advice or I would have felt hopelessly out of place.

The women here seem to be much more casual, usually wearing jeans, cargo pants or a simple dark slightly above the knee length skirt, blazers and very basic small leather purses. Their shoes are generally stylish, yet comfortable looking. And there’s not a tiny sweater in sight.   I’m pretty sure Carrie Bradshaw would have been laughed out of town.

As further research, I enter a couple of drug stores and the cosmetic departments of department stores. Unlike the mile long displays of exhorbitantly priced French named cosmetics found in the US, the array is small and simple, mostly devoted to skin care, rather than cover ups. And unlike the 200-500 dollar miracle creams peddled in the US, the creams here are in the 50 Euro range and seem to have the same miracle incredients.   Creme de la Mer is nowhere to be found.

The clothing lines are simple, consisting of names that for the most part, I haven’t heard of. And the only place I can find Channel, Louis Vuitton, Versace, and the other designer names popular in the US is on the Rue St. Honore-Fauborg, where the only languages spoken seem to be American, German and Japanese.

Isn’t Paris the fashion capital of the world? What’s going on here? Is it possible that the women here are guided by some innate sense of style, rather than the fashion magazines?

I begin to think that the designers and fashion magazines have been pulling the wool/gabardine blend over Americans’ eyes all these years. Is the still  booming billion dollar plus US beauty and fashion industry based on a lie?   Why not?   It seems most of our billion dollar industries are.   So now my only remaining fashion question is how can I cash in on that lie so I can afford to buy the $2,000 dollar Louis Vuitton purse I saw in a store window.

***

The real housewives of elysee palace A look at President Sarkozy’s many wives and their many lovers.  Lots of information and pix of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.    And you thought the Kennedys were busy.

***

A sad addendum regarding French women and cosmetic enhancements.    I just came upon this recent photo of Carla Bruni.  Hopefully it will scare other French women from doing it.

counting crows

It’s common knowledge that as Vincent Van Gogh grew more disturbed, it showed in his art. His final paintings had dark swirls for the sky and black crows all over the place.

My question is, what was Vincent so depressed about? Sure, he was probably a little bipolar, but honestly, isn’t that just a modern name for moody?

Did the person who took over his room at the institution in St. Remy threaten to sue him? Was he afraid that someone was going to throw all his hard-earned worldly possessions onto the street? Did people take advantage of his good nature? Were his roots turning grey?

Whatever the reason, I’m starting to see the crows and dark swirly clouds quite clearly over the beautiful green wheat fields near his tomb. And it’s a lovely day.

What’s the commonality here? I don’t pretend to be an artist, but I can certainly appreciate their struggles. Is there something in Auvers that attracts troubled artists, or does it create them?

All I know is that they flocked here like crows. Some in search of treatment, some in search of tranquility. And they wound up a coven of talented but messed up people whose various acts of self mutilation, amputations and diseases make me imagine a ragged group who resembled the Taliban in that not a one was fully intact (except poor old unappreciated Pissarro).

How can someone be depressed in such a beautiful place? Is it the tempestuous weather? Perhaps they were disconcerted by seeing the sun shining through one window, then looking out another to see rain. Maybe it was watching the quick lifecycle of flowers constantly blooming and dying? Or did the simple but spectacular beauty of this place make them feel inadequate or undeserving?

Maybe in the same way that Jerusalem attracts and spawns religious nuttiness, (which I believe is some force that emanates from the dome of the rock), a similar power here in Auvers drove them to madness.

Or maybe the problems started from whence they came. Legend had it that the day before Van Gogh shot himself in the stomach, he went to Paris. What happened that set him off?

I’m sitting here at this desk trying to type this with my cheek because I’m too depressed to lift my head. I’m not depressed enough to shoot myself in a field, mind you. Fortunately, my prozac and wellbutrin cocktail is a lot more effective than Vincent’s Dr. Gachet, who actually proclaimed Vincent cured a week before he killed himself.

So what was the tipping point? I’m inclined to believe it was something that happened in Paris, the day before he shot himself. I can certainly relate, as some of the harsh horrors of humanity of New York City continue to haunt my sleeping and waking life. But suicide seems so … final. Not to mention the fact that it eliminates any possibility of getting revenge on those who hurt you. And the ear cutting off thing, makes no sense at all, unless he didn’t have enough money for dinner and needed some protein. But he gave it to a prostitute, so that possiblility can be eliminated.

I just don’t get it. So far, depressed as I am, the only thing I’ve considered cutting are my fingernails.

I suppose it all may become clearer to me in another 40 days or so if my current NYC problems continue. But one thing I can guarantee…I would NEVER commit any act of self-mutilation in this house.   I can’t afford the cleaning fee.

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