Jan 31, 2008

Color photography—Interiors

Food Habits

Hungry Planet: What the World Eats "details each family's weekly food purchases and average daily life. The centerpiece of each chapter is a portrait of the entire family surrounded by a week's worth of groceries accompanied by interviews and detailed grocery lists."

You know there is a problem when a family of six in Chad lives off of a few bags of grains and a handful of fruits for a week, while some are fighting obesity and other degenerative diseases in other parts of the world.
What's up with the Coca Cola fascination outside of the U.S.A? Also, can someone tell those families in North Carolina and in England that processed foods really shouldn't be the base of their diets? Last but not least, if anyone's traveling to Bhutan, would you mind dropping off half a dozen of dentures for that family of 13 who lives off of $5 worth of food per week?

Jan 30, 2008

Mark Morford

another highly entertaining and pertinent article by sfgate and sf chronicle columnist Mark Morford.


Jan 28, 2008

Paris—vietnamese food

Paris Hanoi and Little Hanoi, same house, two different restaurants, same arrondissement, different metro sations.
good, cheap and simple vietnamese food in a nice atmosphere with a rather young crowd.
Paris Hanoi: 74 rue de Charonne 11eme. open 7/7 12h-14h30/19h-22h30
Little Hanoi: 9 rue Mont-Louis 11eme. open m-sa 12h-14h30/19h-22h30

Traveling by TGV for less

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Jan 27, 2008


Watchin' a chinese version of the L Word.

Jan 24, 2008

An afternoon à la Secu.

A mother, with her child in a stroller, walks in the "securité sociale" office; the kid is very animated, not A.D.D like, just a kid with stories to tell and maybe not getting much attention. So the kid's talking without his mom answering or asking him to turn it down and all of a sudden one of the securité social workers yells across the room: we are not in a park so calm your joy down!
That was so gracious!It sent me right back really deep into the good old testy french culture. Which reminds me of a very good book written by a couple of canadian journalists, Jean-Benoit Nadeau & Julie Barlow, titled: sixty million frenchmen can't be wrong (why we love france but not the french). which is now titled: sixty million frenchmen can't be wrong, what makes the french so french. Dommage, the first title was much funnier!

"Calmer sa joie" is a french expression that pretty much means: stop getting all excited.

Beaubourg museum—strike

"Thousands of teachers and other public service workers are staging a one-day strike in France over jobs and wages." Right. I didn't think the musée Beaubourg would close because of the strike but it did! A first for me. Too bad for the two groups of elementary kids lead by their teachers who apparently had no clue they would find the doors of the museum closed either.

Paris—Le Pain de Sucre pastry shop

Paris is such a tease!
I happened to stroll by a very pretty pastry shop — Le Pain de Sucre, with its perfect looking pastries and jewelry-like glittering marshmallow cubes on sticks. It felt like a very sophisticated and tiny factory where macarons are made for visual delight as much as for gustative bliss. Imagine a sour cherry/pistachio macaron: two deep lip-smacking red round meringue-like domes tenderly squeezing a mouthwatering dark green layer of pistachio. If you want to be lured into a world of ambrosial pastries and luscious color combinations, all you have to do is walk down rue Rambuteau. you don't need the address, as you pass by the shop something will instinctively attract you, pull you in, whisper to you until you push open the front door and step in.

Closed on Tuesday & Wednesday.

Jan 23, 2008

Paris en couleurs—photo exhibit at the Hotel de Ville

Lucien Lorelle

my favorite. Peter Cornelius.

Robert Capa

Some of the first color photographs of Paris in this exhibition at the Town Hall and some great fashion photography. 300 photos of Paris taken between 1907 and today featuring works by Saul Leiter, Ernst Haas, Patrice Molinard, Franck Horvat, William klein, John Rawlings, Henry Clarke, Bob Richardson, Guy Bourdin, Gisèle Freund, Peter Lindberg, Ina Bandy, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier... And also photos by the awesome Martin Parr.

Tom Cruise (i never thought i'd write about him)

5 seconds of pure delight in this segment
of the video countdown: 5.04 - 4.59
The comments are pretty entertaining too.

"...it's not how to run from an SP, it's PTSSP how to shatter suppression. confront, shatter suppression. you apply it, it's like BOOM..." Tom Cruise.

Jan 21, 2008

India's Hijras—third sex

Males, transgendered or transexuals, sometimes intersexed, considering themselves neither man nor woman, but dressing up as women.

On castration:
-Does it hurt?
-Not really, it hurts like the bite of an insect.

-Isn't it terribly painful?
-No, the goddess gives us the strengh to go through it. one can die from a cut on the finger but with the help of the goddess the procedure's harmless.
-What about the hemorrhage?
-There isn't any. it only bleeds for ten minutes and then it stops. And two days later we throw some oil on the wound.
-What do you do with the penis?
-We bury it in the ground.

What surprises me the most isn't so much the lifestyle of the hijra but rather the widespread habit of "straight" men, married or not, to visit hijra prostitutes, or even better, lead double lives with some of them.

Paris—musée Rodin

La femme poisson (study for a foutain)

Room after room, piece after piece, it became hard to pay attention to the multitude of sculptures displayed all over the Rodin museum. Every once in a while C. helped me look at them with a fresh eye when she'd see a nutcracker in one of Rodin's beautifully sculpted butts or other evocative things such as the femme poisson...

Paris—chocolate: fabrique CHAPON

After a visit to the musée Rodin, we walked by a chocolatier that evidently caught my attention.
I tried the dark ROCHER (i always go for the dark praliné) and o H m Y g O d!
I want a Chapon rocher for every hour of the day. I understand why Paris' town hall gave Chapon the "grand prix du chocolat".
Little did i know that Mr. Chapon worked with the Crazy Horse girls and dressed them up in chocolate outfits. It reminds me of the time when Elizabeth Falkner from Citizen Cake covered my torso with warm chocolate sauce and gold leaf. mmmmhh.

Paris—la coulée verte

A kitty locked out, with no space to stretch out. Seen from the "coulée verte", a viaduc turned into a suspended garden. It's an old railroad that stretches over 2.8 miles, starting at Bastille and going all the way to Vincennes(right outside of Paris). This former railroad saw its last train in 1969. A pretty neat place to walk or jog away from the busy traffic.

Jan 17, 2008

The Beauty Academy of Kabul by Liz Mermin

The Beauty Academy of Kabul (website)
"A group of American woman hairdressers head to Afghanistan to open the country's first post-Taliban beauty school."

The part that really struck me:
When two of the American hairdressers ask an Afghani woman who trains at the beauty school if she thinks women in her country will ever be in a position of power, her answer is no. No, because that means that first the law needs to be changed so as to allow women to be in such position, which she says isn't going to happen as long as men will be in power. The two American women stayed so quiet long after one might expect a response, that the Afghani women asked the translator if she had said something wrong.

New Orleans's Lower 9th Ward— the Make It Right project

An inspiring project by Brad Pitt: 13 architecture firms commissioned to construct 150 sustainably built affordable houses for low income families.
In the meantime there's the Pink Project: a pink house installation "that would bring immediate global attention to a pervasive local issue" while serving as well as placeholders until enough money will be donated to allow the reconstruction of the 150 homes.

Jan 16, 2008

Barack vs Hillary—the pendulum complex

Emotional voting in the time of an unprecedented presidential race.
"Obama's supporters have accused Clinton and her surrogates of racial insensitivity after she suggested that King needed President Lyndon B. Johnson to transform his vision of equality into reality. Clinton had accused Obama's surrogates of "distorting" her record. The fight over those statements came as polls showed an overwhelming majority of black voters abandoning Clinton for Obama - while a substantial majority of white Democrats back Clinton."
The average voter's choice of candidate seems directly influenced by who "stabbed" who, who said what to who, what hurtful comment or maladroit statement was made. Today you say you'll vote for X, tomorrow you'll want to vote for Y and after tomorrow you'll go back to your original choice, before realizing that actually you will finally choose Y when the time has come. But then again...

Tout notre raisonnement se réduit à céder au sentiment (all our reasoning boils down to yielding to sentiment). Blaise Pascale (1623-1662).

Jan 14, 2008


French television needs a set designer. What's up with the electric blues, bright pinks, flashy purples and flamboyant reds bombarding you while you're trying to follow a debate? There's nothing wrong with my t.v settings—my eyes would probably still hurt, from such vibrant intensity, should i switch the image to grayscale.
Then there's the occasional show that looks like it was done with no budget, like that weird handicap porn on the Berkeley Community Access Channel. There was a short documentary about lingerie in which the model looked sort of what can be described as "your mama in shorts posing in front of Safeway". In other words, it wasn't Gisèle modeling for the camera.
Thinking about the well organized, super controlled american t.v shows, french t.v is starting to really amuse me. In Frédéric Taddeï's show "ce soir (ou jamais)" the guests speakers (who sit on blinking flashy rainbow colored plastic boxes) are surrounded by a crowd of people hanging out, each with a glass in their hand and chatting freely while the live show is being recorded right there on the same set. And i'm pretty sure it's not water they are sipping.

Jan 13, 2008

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Ms Hillary Rodham Clinton should've let Annie Leibovitz take another photo of her for Vogue Magazine. She looked good on the December 1998 (u.s.)Vogue cover and i'm thinking she would've looked even better this time. I think power adds a certain (sex)appeal to some who would otherwise seem completely bland (i wonder if Carla would be going out with Nicolas if he weren't the President of France...)
There is nothing wrong with looking glamorous and being a presidential candidate. As a matter of fact i think it's even better: being smart and looking good is better than being smart without looking good. Mr Bill Clinton got his dick sucked while in office, it didn't make him less of a President, did it? Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton isn't "struggling to create a persona", she's way too busy for that. And to those who think she has changed her image so many times that it "doesn't feel genuine", it doesn't matter an iota because you are the ones either against a woman being president or against a democrat being at the head of the nation.
It's pretty amazing to see how much of one's partisanship influences one's criticism of a candidate (which reminds me of how much condemnation Sarkozy got from the socialists for being so public about his new love affair.) I am completely bewildered to see how much shit a candidate gets for saying something like "you are likable enough" or for another one to display signs of emotions...
Georgia congressman and civil-rights veteran John Lewis said: "I hope we will put these issues of gender and race to rest and return to the marketplace of politics." Yeah, i would hope so too but it ain't gonna happen! As a black democrat how can you pass an opportunity to elect a brother for President? You can't. It's too big and too important to pass. As a white democrat as well. But then comes in the gender issue. How can you, as a (white)female pass the opportunity to vote for a woman president? For a lot of the people voting democratic this is not going to be a vote based solely on the candidate's program. And for those making fun of a candidate getting a little too emotional or a little too "offensive", how much of them are going to vote based on the fact that they don't want to see a woman or a black man for president rather than on the politics of the candidate? How much of those votes are going to be "emotional" votes rather than informed and thoughtful votes?

If i had it my way i would elect a male-to-female black transsexual lesbian president.

Jan 10, 2008

Lara Logan—hot news

I was thinking it would be nice to have a (hot)reporter come bring me the news every morning at my bed side and feed them to me. Lara Logan inspired that idea to me and i wouldn't want anyone else than her to do the job.
I wonder how many more peole are watching CBS now that they have such a hot reporter working for them. A judicial choice for boosting the audience ratings.

I think i will go watch that video of her again.

Jan 9, 2008

Paris—massage therapist

I love massages and i like them long too. The 1/2 hour chair massages are nice but thinking about the end when it has barely started, because it's always too short, sucks. As a gift, i was recently given a massage with someone who was highly recommended to me.I now know who to see and it's right next to the Beaubourg Museum (metro Rambuteau). The massage is a combination of Chi Nei Tsang, Shiatsu and Amma. This massage therapist loves to give massages (she has another job that involves dealing with the mind rather than the body) and she works 2 hour-long sessions so that the patient gets an opportunity to lose his/her sense of time and to relax. She also chooses to charge less than average to make sure that people who like her massages will come back. It is more important for her to keep giving to those who know her massage techniques and want more of it than provide to those who will only come once because it is too expansive to come back. Her rates are below average and definitely don't reflect her talent.
As for Chi Nei Tsang(click for definition in french), i believe everyone should try it. Everyone can get something out of it, whether the effects of this massage are clearly noticable or not. And if you don't notice it right away, you will sooner or later.

Massage therapist contact info:

Jan 8, 2008

The ultimate kitsch

Today i carefully watered a plastic orchid! I did notice a bunch of kitschy objects around my furnished apartment when i moved in two weeks ago, but that wasn't one of them. Gosh.
There is a pink flamingo made out of shells that has been living in the closet ever since i moved in — soon he and the orchid will keep each other company.

La galette des rois

The january delicacy (for a little history on the galette des rois click on the title.)
Look for a good boulangerie/patisserie to experience the best galette, it's worth it. Just because you are in France doesn't mean that the bread or pastries will be good everywhere. I tried Gerard Mulot's and it delighted my taste buds. The guy is serious about his pastries because eventhough i did not expect to find a lucky charm in my galette, i did, and it wasn't a plastic one (don't even think about suing your bakery if you were to break a tooth on one of those ceramic lucky charms.) Gerard Mulot opened a third bakery (6 months later and they still haven't updated their website) at Rue du Pas de la Mule et Rue des Tournelles (see map). That said, the galette des rois from the bakery around the corner from where i live is even better: boulangerie Lecomte, Bld Voltaire, Paris 11ieme.

I can't believe the amount of bakeries, chocolatiers, pharmacies and hair salons Paris has to offer. Something like one a block in some areas.

Jan 6, 2008

La saga Sarkozy-Bruni

Last month they slept together, next month they'll marry. Then they will divorce. Most likely. The saga Nicolas-Carla is starting to resemble the life of american pop stars. A Las Vegas chapel would be the perfect place for them to marry if it weren't for the fact that their life belongs to the glamorous world of the rich and famous. May they be happy while it lasts and who cares if the president of France acts more like a celebrity than a president. Accomplishing his presidential tasks while keeping us entertained shouldn't hurt.

Carla on a mission

It's all happening SO fast.

Mika says "Big Girl You Are Beautiful"

That's right. There's all sort of shapes for all sorts of tastes out there.
Sunday afternoon in my parisian apartment, trying to look up images of black lycra tights on the internet and ending up on dailymotion looking at videos of big butts while listening to a t.v show on the popularity of french fries. Thinking of jogging again but Paris is covered in dog shit: too risky. Missing my treadmill.
Black lycra tights: that's what i saw this morning on the way to the bakery. A woman in her mid-forties, with shiny black lycra tights on, mid-calf high boots, a long turquoise coat furry on the edges, a crazy hairdo—long dark curly hair and a face painted like she was getting ready to go out all night, and two tiny, all dressed up, dogs on leash on either side. She looked like she was coming out of a John Waters movie. The only thing i could ask myself was "does she pick up her dogs' excrement?"! And then i saw a young man rollerblading with his arms wrapped around two full bags of morning pastries. An image that symbolizes french sunday mornings to me. As for the other war painted creature, well i guess that was just another one of those encounters that makes you smile while reminding you that some live in a world diametrically opposite yours. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this. I also met another eccentric individual in a governmental office. I had been waiting for awhile to be seen by an agent, when a 50 year old lady came to the front desk to look at the names on the waiting list. She read my name while turning towards me (i was the only one waiting so she couldn't really guess wrong) and told me to wait another 2-3 minutes—the time for her to go smoke her cigarette. T.I.F.(This Is France) In half an hour's time i learned that she had terrible eyesight since she was a kid, that she wore her first pair of contact lenses when she was 16, that she didn't have a driver's license and had been discouraged both by her mother and eye doctor to drive because of her poor sight. She wanted to buy a Ligier car -the sport version- a car the size of a yogurt pot that you can drive without a license, except she was concerned about its price, didn't have a clue on how to buy one (internet vs car dealership—to which i suggested a dealer, the wrong word to use in french since it implies drug dealing) and worst of worst, was extremely worried about the fact that, sometimes, her contact lenses jump out of her eyes. I asked if her eyeballs were shaped differently than other's and her answer was no, of course, but that her problem was that she gets very agitated at times, so agitated (like when she's on her period—i don't know how to say "T.M.I" -Too Much Information- in french) that they fall out of her eyes. And then what would she do if that happened while driving?! Last but not least, she went to the u.s on vacation a bunch of times, but never to SF because someone told her once that it was a gay town! I told her it was a gay "mecca". When i made it clear that my partner was female she winked at me like "oh, that's cool, i'm fine with it", but later on she also let me know that she wasn't pro-gay marriage and didn't think gay people should raise kids. That was a superb caricature of a prejudiced individual in total denial about her homophobic stance.

Jan 3, 2008


There's nothing like going out in Paris and coming home without smelling like an ashtray. It's sort of strange to see people smoke outside no matter how cold it gets (feels like i haven't left California yet!)
Some choose to sit outside just so that they can smoke while sipping their coffee or eating their meal. I find it hard to believe considering that the temperatures oscillate between 32 and 40 degrees F. Unless these people are made of something else, i call this masochism.
A sign in a cafe said "no smoking" in five different languages (bar owners can be fined €750 for leaving ashtrays on the tables...) This is definitely a new era.
The non-smoking law was supposed to be implemented on the 1st of January but the government was nice enough to put the law into effect the next day. You can't ask people partying on new year's eve to suddenly, because it's the first of the month, step outside to smoke their cancer stick.
The other advantage to this new law is that i can see much better when i'm hanging out at bars or cafes. No more cloud between me and the rest of the room, no more stinging watery eyes and no more contact lens issues.