Friday, December 19, 2008

THE CONCIERGE HATES ME



FB: "The concierge hates me."
ME: "What? No way."
FB: "Seriously. She hates my guts."
ME: "You're paranoid, I'm sure she doesn't HATE you. Why would she HATE you?"
FB: "I don't know, but she does."
ME: "Are you kidding me? I just saw her today and she was nothing but nice to me as always! Asked how my trip was, said you must have missed me, we talked about her dog and Christmas....."
FB: "Of course she likes you, you're foreign and you brought her cookies. She tells me what she REALLY thinks though."

Evidently, while I was away the concierge told him to get the shoes and all the other crap we keep in the hallway out and please make it look prettier. Evidently, while I was away there was a certain incident involving a certain armoire that we failed to measure before purchasing that resulted in some heated words with the aforementioned concierge. The armoire ended up denting several walls, sitting downstairs for three days before being loudly sawed apart in the courtyard, hauled back up the six flights and put back together again (I have new-found respect for FB's woodworking skills fyi).

But still, I had trouble actually believing that the very sweet, always smiling and asking how I am concierge was truly capable of HATING anyone.

That is, until yesterday morning when we walked out of the building together. She tried to avoid our eyes but I was persistent and walked past her with a cheery "Bonjour!" She turned, gave me a quick a smile before shooting dagger eyes into FB's skull.

ME: "Oh my god. You're right. Dude. She hates your frickin' GUTS!"
FB: "Told you so."
ME: "Wow. So uh, what are we supposed to get her for Christmas?"
FB: "I don't know, what do usually get someone who wishes you would drop dead?"

Hmmmm.....

Friday, December 05, 2008

THE LOST MONTH

I've been in New York for the past few weeks doing the music for two film scores and shoving my face full of bagels, pizza and Mexican food. I heart U Brooklyn. Every time I come back here, my Parisian reality fades into the background as I understand everything people say, I catch up with good friends and I eat myself across the borough.

But I do miss Paris.
I'll be back in a week, retarded as ever.....

:)

Dana

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BLOOD, SWEAT, BUT NO TEARS


I had to get some blood work done today. My fear level of blood tests is somewhere in between having my eyes stabbed with forks and my arms sawed off. While I have absolutely no fear of the dentist (one dentist told me I was his first patient to actually go to sleep during a root canal), I had some bad experiences with blood tests and IVs as a child that have left me with a sheer terror of anything having to do with needles in my arms. Even though I always eat beforehand, I bring my own "fainting kit" of juice boxes and cookies for the inevitable pass out.

I woke up today and my stomach sank as I realized not ONLY would I be getting blood tests done...but I would be going ALONE and having to deal with the whole process in Frrrrrrrench.

Gulp.
Ok.
Pack extra juice box.

I was recommended to go a CEF lab in the 14th arrondissement. I walked in, took a number and was immediately called to one of the secretariat desks.

S: JDFKSDVKDJFBVKDFV JDSV JHV JFDSVBJDVHD?
ME: (Silent. Deer eyes.)
S: JDFKSDVKDJFBVKDFV JDSV JHV JFDSVBJDVHD?
ME: (Cricket sounds. Big deer eyes.)

SNAP OUT OF IT! You have been here almost a YEAR. Just LISTEN to what she is SAYING. Listen CAREFULLY instead of just flipping OUT all the time. My GOD, what is WRONG with you!????!?!!!!

ME: Uh....peut etre un peu plus lentement? (maybe a little slower?)

I have to tell you, as she proceeded to raise her volume level to 11 and slowed it down to a mere crawl, I could actually understand her and we got through all the paperwork and information without much of a problem. I now know that yelling at a foreigner really slowly DOES actually make it easier to understand. I used to find this offensive in NY when I'd hear someone yelling at a stranger but I'm 100% DOWN with it now. I wish all of France would yell at me really slowly. With hand gestures.

WHAAAAAT IIIIISSSSS YOOOOOOUR MAAAAAAIIIIIIIIDEN NAAAAAAAAAAAME????!!!!!!!
HOOOOOW WILL YOOOOOU BE PAAAAAAAAYING TODAAAAAAAAY?!!!???!!!!

She gave me a gold colored token and about 65 pieces of paper so I wandered down the hall she had pointed at wondering where to go and what this token was for. Is it for the toilet? Is there a prize? A technician spotted me coming and guided me into one of the saw my arms off/torture rooms. I told her my French was bad and that I have fear. She was very nice, I looked away as she took the needles out, breathed deep breathes and tried to picture the ocean. Sometimes I am able to go to my special place where no one can touch me but today was not one of those days as when I imagined the ocean, I just saw Coney Island with needles all over the beach. OK, forget that.....moving on...California, California, California...you used to live there....picture the beach, the biiiiig beautiful beach....briiiight blue waves....wait what is that in the water? Oh look, it's a school of needlefish jumping into floating arms in the blood red stained waves where sharks have just torn the arms off all the swimmers and everyone is screaming....

OK STOOOOOOP IT!!! And then I feel the old familiar....arms and legs go numb, heart racing, profuse sweating, stars in eyes, ringing in ears...NONONONONONO... you will NOT pass out in a foreign country...NO WAY....pull it TOGETHER NOOOOOOOOOOW.....(trails off)

And
scene.

Pass out.

I wake up and the technician is asking me if I am OK. "Uh...Je ne sens pas tres bien..." She tells me she is going to get me a café which cracks me up as I reach for my fainting emergency juice box kit. Is coffee the French answer to all ailments? And more importantly, does it work? I drink both juice and coffee as she tells me to sit quiet for two minutes. I feel better after five minutes or so, pack my bags and put on my coat to leave. She comes back in and asks me where I am going.
"I'm leaving."
"No no, you have to do the second series of blood tests still."

WHAT?

I'm only HALFWAY done? I hear the waves crashing on Needle Beach already as I mumble "uh...ok" and sink back down into the torture chair.

A second technician comes in, this time a guy with Converse sneakers and punk rock hair. I tell him of my previous pass out (actually all I managed was "I fell down when she takes the blood"), we chat a bit (all French), he finds out I am musician from NY and he starts talking to me about every punk band he knows from there. He's never been to NY and wants to go badly, he learned English from listening to lots of American music. As we sit discussing the genius of Sonic Youth, I don't even notice the needle is already out of my arm and I am finished with series number two. Whoa. I thank him profusely, he says he will myspace me and suggests the next time I just talk about music when I get blood tests.

I'm asking for THAT guy next time.

:) Peace out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

OUTTA MY WAY

I quit smoking again. For those of you who know me, feel free to roll your eyes into the back of your head. I know. I am forever known as the girl who is ALWAYS quitting smoking. If only one of these times, I would NOT do the idiotic "oh I can just have one" before hurtling headfirst onto the slip n' slide right back to it....

Day 1 & 2 - Things are OK as long as no one speaks to me or looks at me in any way. My shut in job as a film composer works great for this but am having serious trouble writing a love theme as all I can think about are knives and fire.

Day 3 - a friend's band is playing a punk rock show. I want to murder everyone in sight and am breaking into random fits of crying but I must go to the show. We arrive early and as an hour turns into two, I realize I have not eaten dinner and I am about to lose it. I HAVE to eat. HAVE TO. As in, RIGHT NOW. We are down the street from the Monoprix at Pigalle so I make a beeline from the club to get myself a sandwich or five before I die. As I head up the sidewalk, I see two young guys approaching me and they move to block my way. Are you KIDDING ME? Nothing right now in this world could possibly get in between me and my Monoprix sandwiches. NOTHING. I saw them coming and I think secretly inside I wanted them to mess with me because frankly, I am looking for a reason to go off. As they give me the up and down creepy look and say something in French, I get in the little one's face and yell as loud as I can, "I WILL TAKE A HAMMER TO YOUR FUCKING FAAAACE, UNDERSTAND ME LITTLE MAN????" before pushing through them and continuing my beeline for tasteless ham on white bread with cheese.

They didn't follow.

Yeah yeah, I know the smarter thing would have been to ignore them and cross the street instead as I do time and time again being a girl in a city, but I have to say....
that felt REAAAAAALLY good.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

O O O O O!!!!!

I stopped by the small market yesterday and as I checked out, the man behind the counter asked me how I was. "Nervous" I said. "I hope tomorrow I have a new President Obama." There were about 8 people in line behind me who cheered when the woman next to me said, "the whole world does!!!" The magnitude of this election hit me. Yes indeed, the whole world is watching.

From my little apartment in Paris, I sat with baited breath devouring both television and the internet. Internet then television. As night descended and state by state went blue, I really began to believe that yes, it actually....can happen.

And then it did.

O.B.A.M.A!
I have a huge smile on my face and joy in my heart.
There's a long road of troubles to overcome but after 8 years, I finally have hope for my country again.

America, I really do heart you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

LET'S GO TO THE MOVIES!

In the past month, out the clear blue, I landed two jobs scoring two different films. One feature and one short. They are both due by December and as I made my usual excel spreadsheet to chart out everything, it quickly dawned on me the MASSIVE extent of work I have ahead of me in the next two months. Gulp. In the last week I have been outside my apartment once a day to go grocery shopping and that's it. The rest of the time - morning, noon and night is spent in my home studio, writing, recording and placing music to images. Yesterday I started to feel really really really insane so I went for a quick walk and was actually surprised to hear people speaking French on the sidewalk.
Oh, yeah. I am so holed up I actually forgot I was in Paris.
Whoa.

I love, love, LOVE scoring film. I have already done one feature film and countless songs for television. Adding another story and another life to an image and seeing a magic result gives me a natural high. My favorite film scores are movies by Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Tim Burton and Gus Van Sant. They all use an eclectic mix of licensed tracks and/or they have genius songwriters like Danny Elfman and Mark Mothersbaugh scoring.

I have no budget to license any popular music for the scores so I am aiming as high as possible (quelle surprise)....can't license big expensive songs? OK, no problem. Just write a ton of songs really fast (in multiple genres, everything from punk to lounge to country) and hire all your musician friends to come together to make it happen. I just LOVE organizing and a movie score brings out the best talents in me. I was flipped out last week about my lack of knowledge of the industry standard recording software, Pro Tools. As in, my usual sobbing on the bathroom floor while giving myself hives sort of freak out. But with some help from my friends (thank you Byrd and Chicky), some online tutorials and something I never seem to have enough of - less tears and more patience, I am working my way along just fine.

I might not be posting a whole lot (especially about Paris considering I forgot I live here but hey, it sounds mysterious for the movie...film scored in Paris, ooh lala) until these two projects are finished, but I'll be around, looking at the world through music colored glasses and figuring out if country music or a punk song would fit best. I was in the shower the other day and had an idea for my next business venture - write personal theme songs for people. Wouldn't YOU want a theme song of your own to play each time you feel down? (Or I could customize it and if you are feeling too up, something to bring you down, WAY down)

"OH DANA, SOAR WITH THE EEEEEEEAGLES! YOU ARE ON FIIIIIIIRE!!" (insert squealing guitars)
OR
"Oh Dana....everything is daaaaaark in your wooooorld..." (insert organ dirge)

I'd have an initial consultation with a list of questions......

1. In what ways do you rock? Be specific.
2. In what situations do you most feel your rockness?
3. What kind of music makes you feel fired up? As in, MAN do I ROCK!
All genres welcome.

They would make wonderful birthday/anniversary gifts or stocking stuffers.
Oh the ideas, they are a flowin' these days. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

THE REVOLT

It started slowly, quietly and I almost didn't realize what was happening until it was too late to do anything about it. French classes at the Alliance Francaise rotate students in and out every week so the classes are like waves of ever-changing social dynamics. What started out happily as my quiet collaborative French class of mostly Asian students and myself, by week four had turned itself into unruly three hour shouting matches between Italy and Brazil with occasional outbursts from Spain and some disjointed lengthy wastes of "I can't even formulate a question but I am going to sit here for five minutes and mumble something while I hold up class for the 6th time in an hour"....you guessed it....California.

Am I the ONLY one who actually WANTS to learn French? And learn French efficiently? My teacher is very nice but she is prone to letting students drone on and on and ON and OOOONNNNN about whatever topic they want at whatever point they want to during class. In the beginning, this wasn't really an issue. But one by one as the loud, belligerent most annoying "WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE" students infiltrated, they tested the boundaries, found none and proceeded to hijack every class. If I wanted to listen to bad, uncorrected French for three hours, all I need to do is open my own mouth. Why am I sitting in class for this? I made a TANGENT CHART and at last count the average number of interruptions per class is standing strong at 38. Why bother speaking French when you can shout in Portugese across the room? Why bother paying attention when it's OK to use an electronic translator that SPEAKS Chinese throughout class? Why bother learning French grammar when you can instead argue and INSIST every day with the French teacher who is FRENCH that "In Italian it is not like this! You don't do that! You are not right!" Are you seeeeerious? WE ARE IN FRENCH CLASS. WHY are you insulted that the teacher would even DARE to teach something that's not ITALIAN??? I am not paying a whopping 336 euro a month to listen to you flex your imaginary brain muscles and last time I checked? I DON'T CARE ABOUT ITALIAN. I LIVE IN FRANCE. F-R-A-N-C-E.
FRANCE.
Where they speak FRENCH.
That language I don't know.
The one I am PAYING to learn while the minutes tick off on your diarrhea of the mouth/I just wanna hear myself talk some more tangent.

I've officially had it with this sitcom situation where everyone is a cliché of their country. I am clearly the snotty New York bitch who thinks she's better than everyone. I try and show up late to class (in black) so I can best gauge where to sit the furthest away from the battle of the dimwits but there are too many of them now, it's impossible to escape. They are in France for only a few months, half of them don't even do the homework anymore and I sit desperately rolling my eyes at the teacher, BEGGING her to DO something. In NEW YORK time, please.

I feel that my time at the Alliance Francaise is slowly turning me into an eye rolling racist asshole so I have decided to cut off classes after next week and take another breather before I really start assuming things based on peoples' country and place of origin. Or I totally lose my shit altogether, join a secessionist movement and vote for McCain or something.

I'll be back again but I'm going to insist on getting my old teacher back from January, the one who made me cry and openly made fun of students. Hey, at least the students were too scared to speak much during class. Well...everyone except Italy. ;)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

GO AWAY

I am the proud recipient of another amazing music video made by my dear friend, Adrianne Jorge. She rules and she ruled Burgundy on our shoot there this summer. Go to youtube and watch it in high quality....merci Adrianne!
xoxo Dana

p.s. My album is on itunes now. Hooray.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

PLAN DE SCENE

A music booker asked me to email my stage plan to him.
So I did. Written on a giant blackboard.
It's now the centerpiece art in our home and my new favorite thing.
I think that everyone (musician or otherwise) should draw up their own stage plan and pin it to the wall to remind yourself of the magic balls of fire within you.
If you were to ROCK THE UNIVERSE with the POWER of your very BEING...where would YOU stand?
Stage left? Stage right? Or flying from the rafters with flames coming from your wings?
Exactly.
Having a bad day?
Well, just look at your wall and remember the LIGHTNING coming from your ROCKNESS.

That's it.
I'm drawing flames on the guitars right now and lightning bolts shooting from my accordion....

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

IN SEARCH OF..........

I like finding things out by myself. I know it's the long way of exploring a place and I know there are plenty of opinions to be found about what is good in Paris, where to go, where not to go. But I simply prefer approaching things like a five year old with no knowledge and no expectations and without someone's opinion etched into my mind. It leads to conversations like....

ME: OH MY GOD, I found the MOST AMAZING bakery today that sells artisan bread and these butter cookies that are SO AAAAWESOME.
YOU: Poilane?
ME: Uh, yeah. How'd you know?
YOU: Cause it's a really old and famous bakery.
ME: Oh. Well, totally. Yeah. That place ROCKS!

It's just.....more fun for me this way.

My latest search has been more difficult. I didn't fully realize the complications of foraging for food in a tourist area before I actually moved into one. I've never lived in a tourist trap before. One by one I have written off all the overpriced and less than mediocre restaurants on my block bordering the 6th and 7th arrondissements. I can't even afford to be mediocre here. My hopes were raised when the epicerie around the corner on rue des Saint Peres opened at the beginning of September. YES! They were then smashed into bits when the small rotisserie chicken I purchased came to a total of 26€. I visibly choked when the cashier rang me up. 26 FRICKIN' EURO FOR A PIECE OF CHICKEN????!! I at least hoped it would be the best rotisserie chicken I ever ate but as I chewed the dry bits of chicken trying to calculate how many euro each bite cost, I realized I had been taken for another mediocre and overpriced ride.
Again.
Sigh.
GONE are the 2 euro Indian meals I could easily have when I lived in the 10th. GONE are the surprise and wealth of little hole in the wall restaurants offering tasty bits for not a whole lot of money. And if it sucked, oh well. What did you expect for 3 euro? Suivant.

So I cook a lot. But now I have to deal with the Monoprix St. Germain where, despite trying to do my shopping at every hour of day, it remains a hellion of crowded shoppers and lackluster produce. La Grande Epicerie is way out of my league for any regular shopping and the produce stand on Rue de Seine is just...eh. So yesterday I went to check out the Marché St. Germain in my usual style of not reading anything about a place beforehand and just going. Expecting an actual food market, I rolled in with my wheely cart. And stopped.


Soooooo....am I in New Jersey now? Uh, is that a food court I see? Is this Short Hills Mall? Is there a Hot Topic here too? And more importantly, can I get cheese fries? Is this air conditioned? Uh......where's the....marché? Wait, am I still in France?

After rolling past The Gap and Zara, I finally found the market tucked into a back corner. Empty but for a few shoppers, there was not a whole lot of choice there but hey, at least I'm not being run down by carts and pushy people in Monoprix. I have already written off the fish vendor at the front who sold me tuna steaks covered in scales (um, how does one manage that?) and Merlan filets filled with bones but the butcher seems alright, the produce hasn't been toooo bad and I got a nice bottle of wine from the caviste.

In the meantime, I will keep not doing any research at all and instead just blindly walk the streets one by one in search of something better.....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

SEPTEMBER MORN.....9 MONTHS

I'm in my last season of firsts.
My last first fall in Paris. It will be 9 months ago tomorrow that I left New York. I love September morns here. If it could just always stay like this forevs.....the sun, the warm afternoons, the slight chill in the air at night but only enough to make a hot toddy that much better. I know the drear is around the corner but in the meantime, Neil Diamond has been rocking my world. I highly recommend walking along the Seine and fake crying to this song nonstop ad nauseum.
video

Monday, September 22, 2008

LA DEFENSE, THE FINAL FRONTIER - SHIRLEY AND NANCY PART III

After helping Shirley up the 68th staircase of the night, we stand there huffing and puffing and I have a look around. Here we are in the middle of the giant plaza by the giant arch I vaguely know about. I only have a moment to think "ohhh, this is pretty" before Shirley takes off in a different direction exclaiming....

SHIRLEY: OHHHHHHH! I recognize that big thing! (points to arch) We've been here before! Vincent the tour guide took us here and said something about that big thing!
ME: (catching up to her) Great! Do you know where your hotel is from here? (they both point in different directions).....sigh....ok. (think, think) Can you SEE this arch from your hotel?
SHIRLEY: Yes.
NANCY: No.
ME: OK, just take a good look around. Look at the different buildings and angles. Does that help you remember anything?
SHIRLEY: The tour guide DEFINITELY said something to us about that big thing right there.
ME: OK, but are you RECOGNIZING anything about your HOTEL location maybe?
NANCY: Ah just don't know. Maybe ah have been here at some point.

Pointless. I give up and we head back to where there is a taxi station. My heart leaps as we walk up to the first taxi driver. But before I can even get to him with the address given to me by Benoit, most helpful security guard ever, Nancy rushes up to him to exclaim....

NANCY: WE NEED TO GET HEEEEERE! (points to piece of paper that says Hotel Mercure, 3 rue de Fontanot, La Defense...note that there is no Q in Mercure) HEEEEERE! DO YOU KNOOOOOOW HEEEEERE? (pointing pointing pointing)
TAXI DRIVER: (looks at piece of paper) No. Thees no here. Two Hotel Mercure. Go across that way (points in general direction) and there ees one.

Uh, ok.

I intervene again and find out in French from the taxi driver that the address is apparently completely wrong and that there are in fact at least two Hotel Mercures. My heart sinks and for the first time, I just don't know what to do. Nancy is still asking the driver "WHYYYYYY? WHAAAAAAT? Ah just don't understaaaaaaaand! Vincent GAVE this address to Benoit and he wrote it out!" as though mentioning the Spirit tour guide and the security guard at Conforama will somehow magically make the taxi driver suddenly understand bad directions and know where we want to get to. I tell Nancy it's over. Done. We have to come up with plan B. Nancy spies a Hilton Hotel right in front of us...
NANCY: Ah'll bet they have a bar in there and they speak some English.

Nancy is now making sense to me and the thought of a drink is growing more appetizing by the moment. Hotel Hilton here we come. One rolling cart, four bags and now three lost tourists enter the lobby. Shirley sees a piano and as she now knows I am a singer, she stops and insists I sing them a song. "Well, you're a lounge singer aren't you? Play something!" Ok I am just not feeling up for breaking out in song. No ladies, this lounge singer is grabbing the bull by the horns here as I have had it with any further distractions. I'm doing it My Way from here on out. "No, we are going to the front desk. Let's move."

We roll up to the reception area and I ask the young guy behind the desk if he could look up the Hotel Mercure for me. He has just started working there and has no idea where 3 rue Fontanot is. I ask him over and over to please just google it. Nancy pipes in with a "JUST GIVE US THE NUMBER!" as I try to speak in French to them. I smile my best "I am really really really trying to stay super friendly" smile and ask him again if he could just google it. He directs me to a woman next to him who also has no idea what the address is I gave them and also knows nothing about any Hotel Mercure. She tells me there is an old man who works there who knows every street in the area but he doesn't start work for another 10 minutes. OK, I say, we'll wait. And we wait. And wait. Another hotel employee tries to find the Hotel Mercure and also comes up empty. I begin to wonder what exactly is on the mystery screen that they have been looking and looking at behind the desk as I could have googled this half an hour ago and already had the number.

An older man approaches me, takes one look at the name and the address on the paper and tells me that the hotel I am looking for is actually in Nanterre and I can take the RER A train there. Nanterre. Really. As in, not in Paris. No way. I am not putting these ladies on another train to nowhere. They will take a cab. I thank him profusely. Still no number from the mystery/I no google screen so I decide to stalker dial Vincent the tour guide over and over and over until he picks up. I dial two times, three, four....I begin to hate Vincent with all my soul as I get his voicemail over and over and over and over and over.

Then, at last, he picks up....

VINCENT: (frantic voice) ALLO? ALLO?! (massive static and voices and noise)
ME: Yyyyyeah. VINCENT. HI. You don't know me but I have the women from your Spirit tour that you left behind at the Louvre. Yyyyyeah...I found them in a store totally lost and VERY upset. The address you gave the last guy who called is TOTALLY wrong and we are now in La Defense at the Hilton. I need the number of the correct hotel please.
VINCENT: ALLO?! Ahhhhh, oui, bien sur. D'accord...I am on ze RER A (train) weeth the rest of ze tour and I....NONONONONONONONON zees ees NOT zee stop! Do NOT get off ze train here!!! ALLO? ALLO?!! Attends.....NON! STAY ON ZEES TRAIN! OK ZE NUMBER EES 01 58....
Click.
Dead.
Suddenly I cannot possibly be mad at Vincent. After two more calls, I finally get the entire number of Hotel Mercure, call and get directions and a correct address. It is, in fact, in Nanterre. I write everything down for them real big and clear. Nancy spies the hotel bar and invites me for a drink. I want to but it is 10pm now and I have to find my way back to the metro with my wilting lettuce and get home.

NANCY: Aw your husband must be worried sick about you. You go home. We'll take a cab downstairs. Dana, you are just an angel.
SHIRLEY: A real ANGEL.
NANCY: Thank you so much for getting us here. We'll send you the pictures.

I kissed them goodbye on each cheek. As I walked out the door, the old man who helped me asked where the other ladies were so we cold catch a taxi. I told him I didn't really know them and was just helping them find their way. I asked if he could keep an eye on them, he smiled and I rode the subway home with a grin on my face.

Thank you for the random ride through Paris, Shirley and Nancy. I had a wonderful time and yes, you did get to see the "real Paris." I hope you made it home ok.

xo Dana

Sunday, September 21, 2008

BOTTLE WITH THREE STRAWS - SHIRLEY AND NANCY PART II

One rolling cart, four bags, and two lost American tourists in tow, we roll out the door of Conforama in search of the 1 train. As we left the store, I whispered to Benoit, the most helpful security guard ever..."um, Chatelet metro....a droit et a droit, oui?"
Yes, he smiles and I try to hide my frantic look at the map to see which way this La Defense place is that I have never been to but am now apparently the designated tour guide for. I am carrying Shirley's bags for her, she waves her cane at me and says...

SHIRLEY: I feel great! We should walk! My pill kicked in!
ME: Oh yeah? What pill is that?
SHIRLEY: My Vicodin.
ME: (pause) Vicodin. You're on Vicodin right now?
SHIRLEY: For the pain. I feel GREAT. Let's walk!
NANCY: Let's get a drink. Ah don't drink but today ah feel like drinkin'. Let's get a bottle.
SHIRLEY: And two straws!
NANCY: THREE straws!
ME: Uuuuh...well Shirley, I don't know how smart drinking while on Vicodin is....
SHIRLEY: I feel great! Let's stop and get a drink!
ME: Aaaaaactually....let's just get to La Defense first before it gets dark, OK ladies?

As the last sentence comes out, I grab Shirley's arm and yank her back to the sidewalk before she walks into oncoming traffic on very busy Rue Rivoli. At this point I realize I should just settle in because it's gonna be a long night. Shirley's popped up on painkillers and Nancy has a sudden urge to get trashed. We reach the first subway entrance and make the long descent down several flights of stairs, through hallways and down some more stairs only to find....the entrance doesn't take tickets, only swipe cards. Shit. After apologizing profusely to them, we have to make our way back UP all the stairs and across the street, all the while Nancy and Shirley telling me how their grandchildren will never believe this adventure of theirs.

"Betcha this beats the Pope, EH???!!!" I ask.
Silence.
Ooooookkaaaaaay....note to self...nix nay on the religious talk with conservative Christians. I gotta get to La Defense. And FAST. It's getting dark and I don't know when Shirley's painkillers will wear off.

We finally make our way onto the crowded subway train. Neither one of them has ever been on a subway in their lives and they are busy snapping pictures of me, having me snap pictures of them. Shirley whips the video camera out...."WAVE DANA, WAAAAAAAVE!" The looks from other passengers range from incredulous, hate, pity, fear and straight up laughter. I make Shirley sit down after she insists on trying to stand, cane in one hand and video camera perilously perched in the other.

ME: Shirley, seriously. SIT DOWN.
SHIRLEY: I feel GREAT!
ME: I AM SERIOUS. SIT. DOWN.

After a long ride, we finally reach the last stop and I audibly gulp as we get out and all I see are endless stairs leading into a GIANT station. I cannot let them see me sweat. But this place is HUGE and I cannot see ANY exits, much less signs for taxi stations. But Nancy spies something much more useful....the liquor shelves behind the counter at a Monoprix in the station.

NANCY: Let's get some vodka!
SHIRLEY: And THREE straws!
ME: Um, OK, you want me to buy you some liquor now? Uh...maybe we should find the taxi stand?
NANCY: Let's get a bottle!
SHIRLEY: And THREE straws!

I am clearly not in control of the ship anymore as they head straight into the Monoprix, walk right past the huge line of people, right up to the cashiers who are ringing up other orders and exclaim slowly and loudly for the whole store to hear...

NANCY: WE WAAAAANT A SMAAAALL BOOOOTTLE OF VOOOOODKA, OOOOKAAAAAY? A SIIIINGLE SEEEEERVING BOTTTTTTLE, OKAAAAAAY? NOOOOT A BIIIIIIG BOTTLE. DO YOU HAVE SMAAAAALL BOTTLES? PETEEEEEEEEEET BOOOOOOOOTTLE?, OOOOKAAAAAAY?

I stand behind them with my mouth hanging open. This is actually happening. The cashiers look at them like they are insane which, is clearly beginning to dawn on me that maybe they actually are. But they are MY two insane tourists and I try to intervene.

ME: How about a small bottle of wine instead? See? They have those small bottles there.
NANCY: Oh no no no, ah don't drink waaaaahn.
ME: OK, well, it's the big bottle of vodka then or nothing.
NANCY: Well ah am certainly not drinking awl THAT vodka!

I manage to shuffle them out the door, convince them that looking for a taxi might actually be a better idea as I see the station is emptying out into a ghost town and this is clearly no place for a lost tourist at night. We finally find an exit only to find steps steps steps in every direction. I stand there not knowing which way to go and just before I lose my cool, a woman approaches me and tells me in French that there is a taxi stand up the steps to my left. I thank her profusely and we make our way up to what I think is going to be my saving grace.....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SO MAD I COULD SPIT - SHIRLEY AND NANCY PART 1

I left the house on Monday with my rolling cart that I travel with each day packed to the brim with everything I need for my three personas. My 65 books for French class, my boxing gloves and clothes for Savate and my CDs and flyers for music. Just another rolling overachiever in Paris. As I left, I spied my camera on the table and thought "Oooohhh, I should take it."
"Nah, I'm just going to classes today, I'll never need it."
"Wait, just cause I thought that means I should actually take it but now I know I am not going to take it and I also know I will somehow regret it but here I am leaving anyway."
And out the door I rolled.

After an uneventful French class, I tried to roll my way onto the subway at St. Michel. I have never seen it so packed to the brim with people and after me and my cart got violently pushed off two trains, I decided to screw Savate class and go couch shopping instead. Little did I know what this twist of fate would bring.....

PLACE: CONFORAMA FURNITURE STORE, NEAR THE SEINE RIVER
TIME: 6:30PM

I roll into the store and am browsing the couches that are next to the front door when two women enter the store, disheveled and distraught. They barrel up to the security guard. Enter....

NANCY (American, from Texas, 65 years old, bright pink shorts and matching top, heavily made up and a name tag that says SPIRIT TOURS: MY NAME IS NANCY!

SHIRLEY (American, 81 years old, from a Denver suburb, wearing a cream travel suit with matching visor, cane in one hand and large video camera circa 1990 swinging from the other)

NANCY: Sir, we need a phhoooown, OKAAAAY? We are lost, lost LOST and we need you to make a phown cawl for us, OKAAAY? Our tour bus left us high and dry at the Louvre, we have been walkin' for HOURS now, I crossed that rivah 'bout four times, I have NO idea where in God's name we are and we need some help....right now! I am just BESIDE myself!

My head wheels around as I am stunned into silence. The guard smiles, pulls out his cell phone and tells them of course he will make a phone call. I make myself conforama on one of the couches and listen to Nancy spill their story to the guard, as loud and dramatic as possible. Shirley stands vacantly smiling next to her seemingly enjoying herself. I wish I had some popcorn. So....Nancy and Shirley are on a Spirit Tour Catholic pilgrimage with 75 people following the Pope around Europe for three weeks. Nancy's friend Suzanne wasn't feeling too well at the Louvre so Shirley let her borrow her wheelchair for a while. While they were leaving the Louvre, Shirley was walking slow with her cane so Nancy stayed behind a little to help her. When they got outside, the two Spirit Tour buses were gone...they left them there with no money, no Spirit, no idea where they were and only the telephone number for the tour guide. They proceeded to wander around trying to find the buses and ended up getting completely lost.

NANCY: I am TELLIN' YOU, I am so mad I could just SPIT! I got left behind last night too and I had to pay 50 euro to take a cab back to the hotel. Sir, what is your name?
GUARD: Benoit.
NANCY: Weeeell, Benoit, here is the card for Vincent our guide, ah suppose he won't pick up his phone now but I just don't know what else to DO! You'd THINK they would do a HEAD count!
SHIRLEY: No use crying over spilled milk. (camera swinging next to her)
NANCY: Shirley, I am TELLING you they should have done a HEADCOUNT! My LORD!
SHIRLEY: No use crying over spilled milk.

Benoit calls the tour guide but there is no answer.

NANCY: Ah HAVE to sit down a minute, my head is spinning! I am so MAD!

And with that, the two women plop themselves down on the couch directly across from me. Nancy announces, "We should say a St. Jude raght now, Shirley. Oh Lord, do we need one. A St. Jude would do us some good." As they start to pray, I cannot hold it in any longer.

ME: Are you two ladies lost?
NANCY: Whaaaaah YES we ARE. Are you Freeeeench?
ME: No, I'm from New York.
NANCY: You're from New York CITY?
SHIRLEY: I was there once in 1952.
NANCY: I am just BESIDE myself, they should have done HEAD COUNT!
ME: What's the name of your hotel?
SHIRLEY: There's an M and a Q in it!
NANCY: I don't really know and I left without any of the papers today. Maybe M-U-Q....no wait, M-U-N-Q...
SHIRLEY: There's a Q! A Q!
NANCY: ...M-Q...then something something...maybe an E in it
ME: Uhhh, ok. I could call my husband and ask him to google it. (I dial) Yeah, hi, it's me. Um, I need you to google MUNQ Paris Hotel ok?....Don't ask why, long story...Nancy, what part of town is it in?
NANCY: The NEW part.
ME: Uh, ok.....(into phone) um, does the NEW part of Paris mean anything to you? Yyyyyyeah, I know.

FB finds nothing, I tell him I'll explain later and hang up just as Benoit gets the tour guide on the phone. He gets the hotel address from him (Hotel Mercure near La Defense) before Nancy grabs the phone away to yell into it "VINCENT. I AM PISSSSED raght now. You left me AGAIN and I am NOT spending another DIME to take a taxi. I spent 50 euro last night and that's 75 dollars! You send someone right now to come get us!"
SHIRLEY: Let's walk there! I can walk!
NANCY: Vincent! I am serious! (listens) Well why not? OH! (she hangs up phone) He said no he couldn't and I am NOT taking another cab.
SHIRLEY: I can walk! Let's walk!
BENOIT: You could take ze metro.
NANCY: Can't the Police come and get us?
BENOIT: I don't zeenk zey will do zat.
SHIRLEY: Let's walk! I can walk!
ME: Shirley, I don't think you can walk to La Defense. That's like, REALLY far.
SHIRLEY: I can! Let's walk there!
NANCY: We are NOT walking there! Okaaaay, let's take the metro.

At this point, I realize there is no way I am letting these two ladies get on the metro alone with name tags and swinging video cameras to find their own way to the outskirts of Paris with no clue. I lie to them and tell them I am going the same way and will show them onto the metro. As we leave Nancy tries to slip Benoit a $20 bill.

BENOIT: Nonononoonononon!
NANCY: But you have been so NICE to us!
BENOIT: I weel not take your money!
NANCY: But why NOT? TAKE $20!
BENOIT: Beecause I would want a person to do ze same zing for me and I want to show you zat French people are, een fact, very nice people.
NANCY: Well aren't you just a DOLL? You should get together with Dana here, she's such a pretty girl, just look at her, she's...
ME: I'm MARRIED! I told you that!
NANCY: Well maybe she has a sister or something. You give me your address, Benoit. Such a nice boy.

Benoit laughs and writes his address down for her. I decide that it is now my personal responsibility to get these two ladies back to their hotel. If my Mom and Grandma were lost, I would hope someone would help them. Someone with more than just a vague idea of where La Defense is or where to catch the 1 train from where we are. But hey, I'm all they have at the moment.
"Ladies, on y va. We're off to La Defense."
And out the door we roll......

Monday, September 15, 2008

THE ART OF FLYERING

I love flyers and I love talking to people. I especially heart giving people I just met a flyer. Little nuggets of art with some concert info on it. FB made me these awesome flyers and I have been enjoying the surprised looks on peoples' faces as I pull out my Grandma ziplock plastic baggie out of my purse and hand them a flyer for my show this Saturday. I should have some cheese bites in there too and offer a snack with that.

Unlike New York, Paris is not overrun with people flyering. I used to stand outside of shows in New York with my punk band (Stupid) and pass out flyers, homemade stickers, buttons and sampler CDs. There would usually be a bunch of other bands doing the exact same thing. It seems that culture has been moved to mostly online flyering and marketing now. Nothing beats the face to face interaction though. I can myspace people all day but I much prefer going out, introducing myself and having an actual conversation. Especially when I am trying to speak French. I gotta talk with the hands!
So here's my online flyer.
I'll be around the clubs all week though, talking with the hands and passing out more flyers. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

AU REVOIR, LIAM

When I arrived in Paris eight months ago and began to check out the local indie rock music scene, I thought I would find many more Americans based here than I actually did. I have seen plenty of American bands pass through but I have not seen or heard of that many who call Paris their home. I met talented Californian (and half French!) singer/songwriter Liam Carey somewhat randomly when I went to see a show of his back in January. I was an instant fan of his music and we became fast friends ever since. He introduced me to Erica Buettner, another American musician in Paris working the music scene who has the most angelic voice that makes me actually stop chewing my nails when I hear her sing.

We all played a show together this summer and it seemed the beginnings of a scene of our own....and then....(drum roll).....Liam announced he is moving to New York City.

Yes, devastated I am.

Tonight he plays his farewell show in Paris before moving to my hometown, the big and beautiful New York. Erica Buettner and Stefanos (my favorite anarchist accordionist) will join him for what will be a beautiful night of songs and some teary goodbyes. It somehow seems strangely appropriate for September 11th to go listen to some incredible music and send a dear friend off into the New York horizon.

Jeudi 11 Septembre
Café Charbon
109 Rue Oberkampf, 11e (M : Parmentier)
19h00, gratuit

Bonne chance, Liam. You will be sorely missed.


xoxoxoxoxoxoxo Dana

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A+++++++

10:06AM
Yesterday
HOME

Books scattered everywhere, worksheets on the floor, conjugation book open, dictionary in other hand....
"Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god...WHYYY did I leave ALL my homework for this morning!$@#....(tears welling)....I have to leave for class....
FB: "In two hours."
ME: "But I...(choke choke) have to study more and I don't understand this part and I can't show up without everything done and I have to write this chart out for myself still and I don't remember the reflexive verbs in negative passé composé and I SHOULD have studied this more last night I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT and now I totally SCREWED myself!!!!..."
Silence as I throw book across the room, smashing it against wall and proceed to collapse into more tears.
FB: "Dude, for real. You need to seriously RELAX. It's not high school."
ME: "YOU. TOTALLY. DON'T. GEEEET IT!!!!" SLAM.

And with that....it's back to school. My inner high schooler is easily accessible because I never worked on becoming a less competitive, sensitive, overly emotional and generally reactionary kind of person.
Why would I do that? At least I FEEL things, man.

I do actually love my class this time around. Chapter 5 is my friend. My teacher is my friend and the other 8 students from mostly China who I can never understand are my friends too. They all got here between a week and three months ago and there was an audible sigh on the first day when I announced I have been here for 8 months. "Ohhhhhhhh" as I heard everyone's mind ask the same question, "Is she retarded?" Hmpf. I'll show THEM what retarded looks like. I sit front and center every day with my highlighters and my charts neatly lined up in front of me. I raise my hand for every question, even if I don't know the answer and I help break the ice with the shy students when we separate into small groups to roll play.

"OK Feng, YOU be Pierre, OK? You just won 5 million euro in the lottery, OK? 5 MILLION. And I'LL be Marie and we are at lunch so you can tell me you are leaving me for a younger woman now, OK? Tu comprends? OK GO!"
"PIEEEERE, NOOOOOOO, C'est TERRIBLE! C'est un HORREUR! PIEERE, MON AMOUR, PIEEEEEEERE!!"

My favorite exercises are the "finish the following sentence" ones.

1. Carole and Maxime have been married for three years. They leave the doctor's office, they are very happy because....

(raising hand) "Excuse me, how do say brain tumor?"
TEACHER: "Pardon?"
ME: "Actually, wait, no...how do you say boils....um, how do I explain...your skin is bad, you have infection in your arms, your skin with red circles...very big...and there is a lot of water in the circles?"
TEACHER: "Furoncle? Qu'est ce que tu veux dire?"
ME: "Oh! I want to say that they are very happy because Maxime's brain tumor is gone and Carole's boils have finally disappeared."
TEACHER: (blank stare) You certainly are.....creative. (cracks a half smile)

MERCI PROF!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

THE RETURN OF TRACY FLICK

I thought it would work.
Who needs SCHOOL?
Gross.
I've got osmosis and French in-laws.
Just open your mind maaaaan, and let the French just floooow right in...

Yeah, it flows in OK.....flows right in, hurls itself around while my brain searches for some sort of order then usually propels itself right back out while leaving a word or two behind. Most of the time the words that really help me understand the conversation....like THE or THEN or NOW.
Wow.
Deep.

I've got zero problems talking (diarrhea of the mouth since birth helps) but having 10% or less comprehension doesn't really make me a very good listener unless you are into confused faces and "Je n'ai compris pas" being repeated dozens of times. After three months of a French comprehension plateau and much internal debate, I decided to humbly accept that I do in fact, need to go....BACK TO SCHOOL.


I dusted off my books and returned to the Alliance Francaise on Friday to sign up for class. I took a month of classes there in February and all I wanted to do is pick up where I left off. Simple. Chapter 5 please. I went to the information desk, stated my query in French and was promptly told by the woman (in French) that I would have to retake the French placement test...

ME: Why?
HER: Because your French level may have changed since February.
ME: To change nothing. Wait, nothing change. My French does not change.
HER: You cannot enter the class without taking the test first.
ME: I want chapter 5.
HER: Take the test first. You are speaking French to me now. See? It is better.
ME: No, no. I do not know chapter 5. I never learn chapter 5. I want to take chapter 5. I do not want the test. It is not necessary the test. My French is same. My husband is French. I know chapter 4. I want chapter 5.
HER: Take this test to the second floor testing room.

GRRRRR. OK, fine. I am clearly not going to get anywhere with her. But I am NOT taking that test again. I already took it once and I am DONE. I march up to the second floor, determined as ever to get out of this test. The man running the testing room escorts me to a desk with the test.....(in French)

ME: Wait. I want to talk. It is not possible for me, the test. I studied here in February and I want chapter 5. I want a class with chapter 5.
HIM: But your French may have improved since February.
ME: My French is terrible. I do not understand. I want chapter 5.
HIM: You are speaking French to me right now. Take this test and we will talk after the test.
ME: No, we talk now about this test. This test that I do not take. We talk. I want chapter 5.
HIM: It has been more than three months since your last class and the policy is that you MUST take the test again.
(pause)
ME: If I take this test, I am dead.
HIM: (stops and looks at me for a moment) You will die?
ME: Yes, I am dead if I am taking this test. Dead.
HIM: (thinks for a moment and smiles) Well, we don't want any deaths here. You can start with chapter 5.
ME: THANK YOU. You are very nice.
HIM: That's what my wife says to me every night.

SCORE. My comprehension kicked into high gear in my hour of need (well, that and the fact that everyone at Alliance Francaise speaks in overly pronounced, extra slow for dummies French) and I learned that yes, you can really talk your way out of anything here. No means maybe means yes. Just threaten to die, that's all. Simple.

Friday, August 29, 2008

BOURGOGNE PART 4 - THE TEST

Our last day here. We spend the day on a walk through the woods with one of FB's aunts. We return to the house and have time to make one last dinner before departing back to Paris. FB's Dad mentions making an omelet and doing a simple dinner with bread and cheese before we leave. I think "GREAT!" and then notice no one is making the move to actually cook the omelet. FB's Mom has departed earlier and I wonder who will actually be doing the cooking in her place. And then it dawns on me.....hmmmmm....um, maybe I should try and make the omelet?

I have not cooked one single thing for FB's family yet, being intimidated and overwhelmed by French cooking as I am and having FB's Mom always making me delicious meals, it just never fell to me to do any cooking. So here it is. The chance to do something. I did not grow up cooking and I only recently started experimenting and cooking in any real sense. So far, FB has been the main one to try my various forays into the kitchen experimenting with recipes and ideas. I knew the moment I took the eggs out, there was some sort of unspoken pressure to prove that I could, in fact, actually cook. My palms starting sweating but my dear friend Adrianne stood in the kitchen with me and calmed me while my thought train went berserk.....

OK OK OK OK OK eggs. It's just EGGS. You KNOW how to cook eggs. Eggs are your favorite. You cook eggs ALL THE TIME. But the Julia Child book said how important being able to cook basic eggs is and oh my god, what did she say to do? OH my god, I don't even know where the pans are. OK OK OK OK here are the pans. Um, this one looks too big....uh, I think. Well, like, I would NEVER cook my own eggs in this pan. OK OK OK pretend no one else is here. You are just cooking your own eggs. OK this other pan is oval shaped. What's it used for? I don't know. I guess you could cook eggs in it. No, you couldn't. Yes, you could. OK, if no one was here, what pan would you cook them in? DEFINITELY the oval pan. OK, crack the eggs.

ME: OK OK, I am using six eggs. There are six people, one egg each, right? I mean, the pan couldn't fit more than six or it'll be too full, right? What do you think?
ADRIANNE: Yeah totally. Sounds great.
ME: (frantically searching the fridge) OK, there are tomatoes. If they have thyme, I could do tomatoes and thyme.
ADRIANNE: They totally have thyme.
ME: OK OK OK OK, but wait....they are French people. Do they like thyme and tomato? Shit, I don't know....what if it freaks them out? What if they hate these flavors? What if they never eat tomato and thyme on eggs? I would put the tomatoes and thyme in at the end but wait, is that right? What if there is a better way to add them? What if they think it sucks? I don't know what to do. OK OK OK I'll make it plain. That's the safest choice. Just a plain egg omelet. Just salt and pepper...or wait, no salt? Let them salt it at the table? Yeah, just pepper. I think. I mean, I don't know. OK OK OK OK wait, salt and pepper them. I would do that anyway. OK, I'll salt and pepper them.....right?
ADRIANNE: Totally......maybe put some cream in them?
ME: Yeah, yeah, yeah....cream. Cream is good. Who doesn't like cream?
(heart starts racing and I choke back a panic attack)

I search for olive oil but only come up with a mystery bottle of some sort of oil. Oh my god, what if it's weird oil? I have no idea what this oil is and I always think everything smells like oregano anyway soooo I don't know, I don't know, I don't know what to do......OK OK OK....screw it.....just use the oil. Done.

I try and turn the stove top on but I can't figure it out so FB's Dad lights it for me. Great. I already have one retard point. I put it fairly low and as the pan heats up, I add the eggs. FB's aunt walks by, proclaims the flame is too low, turns it way up and leaves. Uh......OK. Does that mean she is cooking the eggs? Um, OK, guess not. Great. So now I have eggs cooking faster than I ever would and now I REALLY start sweating. Panicked, I take the eggs off the heat and go to my special place where no one is there and I am only cooking eggs for myself. With tunnel vision, I make an open faced omelet, sprinkle salt and pepper on top and serve it in wedges. I have to say, it looks very pretty and as we sit at the table to eat, FB's Dad comments on what a good looking omelet I made. And it tasted great too. I breathe a sigh of relief. I passed the egg test. Next up...Bœuf Bourguignon. :)

It was truly four days of magic and I could not have asked for a better place to shoot a video. Merci to the Boulés for making two American artists very very happy......xo.....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

BOURGOGNE PART 3 - COCKS, BATS, SLUGS AND FISH.

I had zero idea of how many animals would make their way into this music video. A couple weeks ago I half seriously asked FB's Mom if she could cook some sort of animal and keep the head on it so we could possibly use it in the video shoot. She has taken me absolutely serious and got a rooster from the farm next door to make a Coq Au Vin. She has told the farmer to preserve the head and as she takes a large bag out of the freezer, I shriek in surprise as I see two huge frozen rooster heads, the blood still dried on the necks. Adrianne and I burst into fits of amazed laughter as we thank her for such an incredible addition. A random thought that PETA officially would NOT approve of this video crosses my mind.

We shot a scene using the head with the cooked meat behind it and then sat down to eat my new favorite dish...Coq Au Vin. Holy crikes, can someone say DELISH??? Food for art and the art of making and eating food, all in same day. Merci mon petit coq, you were wonderful and delicious.....




4PM
Though warned of the 100 bats in the attic, we nervously decide to shoot anyway in the run down house next to the chateau. After mistaking a salamander for a viper and shrieking "OH MY GOOOOOD!!!!", I enter a dim lit room, close the door and wait for Adrianne's cue to enter from the next room. I suddenly hear "OHHHHH....OHHHHH....OOOOOOOHHHHHHH!!!!!" I desperately hope that her shouts are because she thinks the light is so good. Please oh, please.
"THERE IS A BAT IN HEEEEEERE......"
OK OK OK OK OK OK OK....do NOT panic....DO NOT PANIC......walk out the door......OK OK OK OK....just walk quieeeeetly through the room and out the door....OK OK OK OK OK OK...do NOOOOOT PANIC....down the stairs....OK OK OK OK...keep moving....keep moving.....

We make it outside and after our shaking stops, we decide that maybe the rest of the day we should shoot outside instead. We enter the apple trees....

5PM
Climbing a tree in a ball gown proves harder than I thought. Nerves are shot from the bat terror in the broken down house. My makeup keeps smearing, I am sweating and after seven hours of shooting, all I want are my Converse sneakers and a cheeseburger. We decide instead of climbing, I will simply crouch down and pretend to climb some low branches. I kneel down and put my face to the ground when I see one, then two, then ten giant slugs creeping their slimy way around my sandaled feet, my dress and now my face. Standing up I declare I am officially done for the day. Nature can keep it's creeping and flying beasts. I need a glass of wine. Immediately.


9PM
FB and his friend have gone fishing for the day and return with enough fish to feed six people for dinner. I watch as he deftly chops the heads off and guts fish after fish, all the while thinking "Um, you were like, totally CITY when I met you...". I had NO idea about his livin' off the land skills and I unsuccessfully try and silence my peals of urban girl horror/laughter as each fish is chopped up, gutted and thrown into the frying pan right before my eyes. Hot. And they were deliiiiiicious.



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

BOURGOGNE PART 2 - KILLER WASPS

I am not from the country. I have never spent time in the countryside. A salamander will send me screaming for safety and a bat could potentially send me into a coma. The meat I ate never had a head on it and the very thought of camping sends me into a Blair Witch terror.

9PM
I am told to keep the windows closed at night because there is a large wasp nest in the chimney. Uh, ok. And if you listen, you can hear them. I listen and um yyyyyes, I can hear them. I am then told that these are not regular sized wasps. They are in fact, REALLY BIG wasps. In my mind I try and picture what really big means and I think maybe half an inch and shrug. Whatevs. Then I am shown to window where outside, drawn to light, I see two of them. My shrug turns to horror as I see the size of the wasps. They are...in fact, REALLY HUGE. Having an overactive imagination, I immediately see graphic and violent pictures of myself being covered in them....arms flailing, running for my life and I am suddenly thankful I do not live in frontier times because I would be dead by now from heart failure.

10PM. DINNER.
A wasp is noticed flying around the dinner table and after a battle by FB's father involving a broom, a knife and finally a lethal dose of bug killer, the wasp is pronounced dead.

11PM
FB and moi are standing outside in the dark looking at the stars. The Milky Way shines bright and Jupiter beams in the dark night. My thoughts wander and I feel my nerves quietly calming.

FB: You know, those wasps can kill you.
ME: (sigh) OK, thanks.
FB: Seriously, if they get the right vein...
ME: Yeak OK, I get it. THANKS.
FB ....and they sting it in the right place, you can die from....
ME: OK! YES! I GET IT! Look, we are OUTSIDE and I am trying to relax here so can you knock it off with the YOU CAN DIE/KILLER WASPS talk?
FB: Sure. (pause) But seriously, you could die. I'm just saying.

At that point, we hear a sudden buzzing in the air and faster than I can say KILLER WASPS, FB runs off like a shot in the dark. Gone. Like a flash. I have never in my life seen him move so fast and as I run to the door to go back inside, I wonder how far exactly FB is planning on terror running into the night........

KILLLLLLLLER WAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSPSSSSSSSSS

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BOURGOGNE PART 1

Adrianne Jorge, one of my amazing film director friends came to France to shoot my next music video for Go Away. As we drove up the driveway to the chateau in Burgundy, she muttered "O......M......G" from the backseat. A smile set in across both our faces as the endless location possibilities unfolded themselves before our eyes.


Monday we embarked on three days of heaven in the middle of France. It was sunny, beautiful and warm. While we ran around the various rooms and garden shooting, we were fed the most delicious local dishes with farm fresh meat and freshly caught fish. It was.....simply......frickin'.........AWESOME.

FB's parents opened their doors for us and invited us to dream the days away......




Monday, August 25, 2008

THE LAST HURRAH

Woke up this morning from a bender that started off a week ago when a friend asked if I wanted to come out and research some restaurants and bars she is writing about for a guidebook. Um, let me think.....YES. Enter another New York friend in town visiting me and another one leaving in a few days and what do you get? Party train central.

The train stopped abruptly about six minutes ago upon realizing I am leaving in an hour to go to Bourgogne to shoot another music video and I haven't packed yet or thought about anything like wardrobe or makeup or I don't know....washing my hair for a week now. Scratch scratch. Um....oops.

Seriously. Pull yourself together. Wipe off last week's makeup and start acting like a frickin' professional. You can pass out in your trailer between takes but at least make it to the set on time.

A bientot!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

SUPER! DAY 237

Myspace, Youtube, Facebook, last.fm, Blogger.......it's bloody exhausting to keep up a virtual world. After spending a week holed up in my makeshift office (a.k.a. my bed as it's the only piece of furniture we own) trying to add "friends", "meet" people and mostly sift through bad band after bad band, I jerked myself out of myspace migraine to go run some errands. The joy of being a Gemini is that pissiness never lasts long with me. I wandered off down the Seine with Dr. Dre's The Chronic blasting in my headphones and a smile on my face...."Swing down sweet chariot stop and...let me riiiiiiiide."
Hell yeah.

My French seemed to recognize me again today. I don't know if it was the smile on my face but everyone seemed to want to talk to me. I had a full ten minute discussion with the paint guy about New York bars, I gave a French woman directions (IN FRENCH!) and an old man behind me on the ice cream line told me he knew I wasn't French because French women don't wear purple pants. He said he liked them because they reminded him of the flowers in his yard. That especially made me smile as I said "AWWWWWWW!"

I wandered back home along the Seine, blasted the soundtrack to The Umbrellas Of Cherboug and did my own little dance across Pont Neuf bridge. Note to self: Take it to the streets more often. People are super nice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

HUGE IN FRANCE - PART 1

Is that a crab in your pants or are you just pissy?


My one music and life goal since I moved to Paris is plain and simple.
Become HUGE in France.
As in, REALLY HUGE.
Duh.
I always aim high. REALLY high.

I'm pissy today. Barbie Dream Life Music Vacation is not all fun and games, as many people assume. If my only goal was to be a stoner musician in Paris who hangs out all day "jamming" with myself and the voices in my head.....well, that would be easy. Check. Music Stoner Barbie wants to sit at her piano and play songs all day and drink wine and make some more CDs and music videos with her friends but Business Barbie has to butt her stupid jerk pink face in sometimes with her high pitched chipper voice and pre-programmed "LET'S MAKE A SPREADSHEET!". Business Barbie frowns, tugs at her pink skirt and makes Music Stoner Barbie get the hell off the piano to keep working to put her music out there into the world like a good Saleswoman Barbie in a smart two piece pantsuit with a HI! I'M BARBIE, WANT TO HEAR A SONG? nametag splashed across her shiny bright vest.

Sometimes I really want to tell Business Barbie to go fuck herself.
But I can't.
Because if I don't do the following, no one will.......

Here's what I've been doing all day every day while most of France takes a month long nap......I run my record label, Ex Best Friend Music. Usually from my bed with my phone, piles of papers and CDs spread all over. I update my six websites, I field music licensing requests, I phone conference with my lawyer, I make club and press contact spreadsheets, do the booking, deal with running a company for my music publishing, send out mailings, work with the graphic designer on my website launch, update my accounting spreadsheet, fix a tax problem with New York State (cause it's so easy and just so much fun), set up a French company (cause it's so much easier and even that much MORE FUN), design business cards and everything else that has to do with the business of launching a serious music career here this fall.

Sometimes it is like sticking forks in my eyes. Especially the "getting yourself out there" marketing part that sometimes makes me feel like a broken record when all I would rather be doing is writing more music and playing more shows that magically appear and all I have to do is show up and magically everyone already knows who I am and I have a magic fanbase already magically there.

Sigh. Not today.
Today me and BIZ Barbie are BFF.
"LET'S MAKE A SPREADSHEET! YAY!!!"

Yeah, I heard you. Let's go.

Monday, August 18, 2008

KNOCK KNOCK, GO AWAY

I don't know what it is about living in Paris, but I have had it with people knocking on my door with a variety of disconcerting situations. I am a calm and peaceful musician who keeps a quiet home but in the seven months I've been in Paris, the ONLY times I have had an unexpected visitor it has been.....
KNOCK KNOCK, it's the police!
KNOCK KNOCK, it's a lawyer!
KNOCK KNOCK, you're evicted!
KNOCK KNOCK, it's some official looking guy and I have no idea what you're saying!

KNOCK KNOCK = BAD.

What happened to KNOCK KNOCK, here's a present!
Or KNOCK KNOCK, I'm your new neighbor and here's a pie!
Or flowers?
Or I won the lottery?
Or sign this petition?
ANYTHING!

9:32AM
Doorbell rings in our new apartment. My stomach does a triple axel as I vomit out....
"OH MY GOD, I HEAR MEN OUTSIDE THE DOOR. OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD!"
What NOW? Am I murder suspect? We just GOT here! I haven't even finished painting!
My instinct to clean kicks in as I run hyperventilating for the sponge and soapy water. FB answers the door and engages in what is seemingly an endless conversation with two men. I furiously focus my terror into last night's dishes and die inside as I wait for a search and seizure. I try helplessly to understand the conversation but the fight or flight (or clean) instinct clearly overpowers French as all my mind can do is put "OH MY GOD!" on an ever-increasing volume loop. FB returns and calmly explains it was the EDF and they had come to turn off all our electric.
Naturally.
????
Just add "KNOCK KNOCK, no lights for you!!" to our list of friendly visitors.
Evidently they got the wrong floor and shut off ours instead of the downstairs neighbors.
Thanks for the joke, EDF.
Hilarious.

You know, one of these days I'm going to actually get a flower delivery and begin to erase my Pavlov's Dog terror of anyone at my front door in France = RUN. I unpacked my ninja mask this week so until those flowers get here, I am answering all future inquiries like this.......CAN I HEEEEEEEEELP YOU?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

AVEC TOI

Once again, the amazing Corey Tatarczuk surprised me with another beautiful video for one of my songs. This one floated its way into my inbox and made me smile. In French.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WELCOME BACK. (SLAP) DAY 230.

I unloaded my well-worn French verb conjugation book out of my bag. My dictionary I happily kissed goodbye to. I shut off any notion of knowing French whatsoever and boarded a plane to New York where I happily spent two New York weeks talking non-stop and joining in every conversation I possibly could for as long as humanly possible.
It. Was. Glorious.

As I boarded the flight back to Paris I got a sinking feeling as the flight attendant made the announcements in French. My babbling bubble burst as I realized I understood nothing. Maybe the plane is on fire. Or the emergency exits are located in aisle 16. Or I should stow my portable electronics. Should I fasten my seatbelt or is the flight six hours and twenty minutes? Who knows? Certainly not me.
Oh yeah.
French.
Sigh.
I put my best foot forward into CDG, took the train back into the city ready to say "HIEEEEEEE, I AM BAAAACK!!!!!!"
(insert cricket sounds)

When I left Paris, she was still open. She offered me baked goods, wine and green markets close by. She was hot and irresistible. But when I returned, my brain rested and ready again to understand, she had left. Closed up shop for the rest of the summer. And the nights have turned an early fall cold like a slap that says "You want New York? Go ahead. I could care less about you cause I am OUTTA HERE."
Paris, wait! Where'd you GOOOOOOO????

And for those who stayed, yes, I am back to explaining myself again with the vocabulary of a three year old. Embarrassed the first night all over again to order my own dinner with authority, disoriented again to lose the entire subject of the conversation and frustrated again not to communicate with a full language at my fingertips.
I feel like the lover who left only to return to an empty house and the housecat asking for an explanation.
Ah Paris, you sneaky girl, you.

But it's OK. I will wait and she will come back to me. In the meantime I will learn some new words for her return and enjoy the quiet of a sunny afternoon in the park.
DAAAAAAAAAAANA.....LEARN MORE FRRRRRRRRRENNNNNNNCH......

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I DON'T MIND

Get me around my talented friends and inevitably, we make stuff.
This is my dream life New York vacation.

ME: "Dude, I need some videos asap for my album."
COREY: "Wanna make one today?"
ME: "Yeah sure. That sounds cool."

A weekend in the country with my girlfriends and 48 hours later.......it's done.
Surround yourself with talented, driven people.
Always.
Merci Corey Tatarczuk for directing, shooting and editing the first of many ....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SUPER SIZE

"Are you okay?"
"Where'd you go?"
"Is something wrong?"

No no, my friends. Nothing is wrong. After a bout of homesickness, I just decided I needed some bagels, pizza and a really fast paced conversation with ten girlfriends, at the same time and preferably switching topics at least six times per minute. So.....New York...here...I...am!

Travel tip for you...gouge your foot open on a screw the day before you leave rendering it impossible to carry anything heavier than one pair of shoes. It works. I also amped up my limp at the airport to qualify myself for pre-boarding both my flights. Just mention "flesh wound" to an airline employee and you'll be surprised how the questions stop. I'm thinking of bandaging my face and crawling my way to the gate on my return trip in hopes of crawling my way right into first class.

As I sat at the bar yesterday at Chili's restaurant in Detroit waiting for my connecting flight, I chowed down a giant taco salad with ranch dressing and ordered a beer. The waitress asked if I wanted a double pint as she pointed to the gallon sized tumbler behind her.

"Uh, no thanks. Do you have a demi pint?"
(blank stare) "A what?"
"Oh...um, sorry. Just a small glass."
(blank stare) "You want the double pint?"
"Uh..no, just the smallest one you have."
"You want to add a double shot of whiskey for only $3?"
"Haha, you REALLY want to get me wasted! No thanks, I just want a very small, tiny, tiny glass of beer."
"Hon, this is the smallest we have."

Ahhhh, hooooooome. Love you to pieces Paris but for the next week I will be busy super-sizing, reading US Weekly and People, talking a mile a minute and understanding absolutely....everything.

I'll be back in a week...this girl just needed a brain break.
Pass the cheese fries, please.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ROOM WITH A VIEW

I just finished reading My Life In France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme. A friend gave me the book to read a few months ago and I had absolutely zero idea how inspiring it would be. All I remember of Julia Child was she that she was that funny, always slightly drunk English lady who did The French Chef shows I saw as re-runs on PBS. In reality, she was a 6 foot 2, hilariously funny, native Californian (how did I confuse that??) who moved to France in 1949 at age 36 without a word of French and proceeded to discover her true calling here to which she would devote the rest of her life to....the art of French cuisine. I almost choked when I read that she lived on the exact same street that I just moved to and I finished the book in tears as I was so moved by her tales of falling in love with France and all things French. Today I went down the street to visit the building she lived in a lifetime ago. I grinned as I stood there, imagining her life here and smiling at my own adventure 60 years later.

Oui, c'est vrai. I just moved into the 7th arrondissement by a random stroke of chance that gave me a small and very cheap apartment near the Seine with a magical and beautiful quiet view. I had wanted to live in the heart of the music scene, in the 18th or the 20th but this apartment fell out of the sky and gave me an unexpected turn.

All my life I have lived on the outskirts of a city, both in Los Angeles and New York. I have always lived above a bodega or a cheap restaurant, I have always had cockroach problems, rats on the front stoop and a roof that caved in every time it rained hard. I laughed out loud the first day we moved in and I saw that the store downstairs is actually a realtor who only sells castles. Not houses. Castles. As in, real BIG castles. "Honey, I'm just going downstairs to get some milk and a castle, be right back...."

I panicked my first week here. Each time I walked out the door in my worn Converse sneakers, I thought someone would surely throw me out of here. I feel like an outsider in this area. It is rich, beautiful, soft, manicured and quiet. There are lots of old people....old women who slowly walk to the market in beautiful old dresses and smart summer hats. Old men with canes and old couples who stroll down the sidewalk with a dignity from a time long gone by. Not only am I out of my element in a foreign country, but I am also in a part of a city I would have never EVER thought to actually live in. What? No one puked on my front doorstep? No dead rat in the hallway? No heroin addict from the first floor banging on my door asking for money again?
Huh?

So this is my Paris adventure continued, always something unexpected and always something new to be inspired by to write more music. There are interesting people to be found wherever you live, there are stories to be heard if only you just ask, and there is art to be made no matter where you are. Make your own scene....just buy your groceries in a cheaper part of town.

As Julia Child would say, "Bon appétit!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

STEP IT UP

HER
I knew the moment she stepped onto the metro, she was going to sit right next to me. Her hair in a perfect ponytail, bangs in a perfect line, skin aglow and makeup parfait, stylin' minidress, clanky yet understated and therefore chic bracelets, tanned legs, summery strappy heels, manicure/pedicure and an easy oh so breezy attitude. All eyes on the train turned towards her as she slowly and gracefully sat down next to...

ME
Five days unwashed hair in an uncombed mess of what could loosely be described as a "ponytail", fucked up bangs in an 80s hair horror across my forehead, unshowered, no makeup, unstylish yoga pants with a skirt on over the top, old t-shirt, old Converse sneakers, a granny sweater and a ripped gym bag to carry all my Savate gear in.
Hot. I know.

As the entire train stared at the perfection sitting next to me, I thought to myself "hmmm...did I even brush my teeth this morning?" I looked at the various sets of eyes gazing at her, then quickly glancing at me, then back to her. Yeah, yeah people, I get it. I look even more homeless sitting next to HER and she looks even more glamorous sitting next to ME. Quelle surprise. I glanced over her shoulder as she pulled out a date book filled with loopy girly writing of all her activities and she carefully ran a manicured hand down her busy busy schedule that day. I rolled my eyes. All that was missing was 11:48AM - make smelly hippie girl on #4 train realize she could stand to step it up a notch or ten and stop it already with the homeless look.

So I decided to do the most immature thing I could think of. I pulled out my gym bag, pretended to search for something at the bottom and let my boxing gloves "accidentally" fall onto the floor, coughed loudly and then proceeded to put them back as slowly and conspicuously as I could so as many people could notice them as humanly possible. Why? Because I'm retarded and immature and it made me and my fuzzy teeth feel better. After class I went home and dug around my closet for my one pair of heels I have here. I'm wearing them out tonight...complete with gym sock marks, mosquito bite scabs and some leftover pedicure from February.
Hot. I know.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

LE SHOW

I have one more week sans internet at home and I've reached my end. McDonald's may have free internet but it comes at a price. I can't bear the smell anymore and I was nearly puked on a few nights ago so I'll be brief here.....the show.....was....AWESOME!! So much fun, loads of great people and an audience attitude I would have killed for in NYC. As I sat down to play, the entire room went silent. At first I thought something was wrong but no, they were just ready to listen. And listen they did! I played for over an hour and they still clapped for more.
HUH?
In NYC I would have had to shoot myself in the face to make a room go silent and even then, it might be sketchy.

Paris, I love you more every day.
:)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

MIRACLE CURE

5:12AM Friday morning
ME: (shaking FB) Are you awake? Can you hear me? I need your help right now. Are you awake?
FB: What? What?
ME: I need you to look at my throat. It is covered in white spots and I think it is strep throat. I can barely swallow, my glands are totally swollen, it hurts to breathe...
FB: Quoi?
ME: I HAVE STREP THROAT!
FB: (pause) Are we seriously talking about this right now?
ME: Yes! I need you to look at it with the light. Pleeeeease, I am seriously sick.
FB: (sigh) OK, turn on the light.
ME: Ok ok ok ok ok. There. Look. Ahhhhhhhh.
FB: What am I looking at?
ME: THE GIANT WHITE LESIONS ON MY GLAND, MY LEFT GLAND!
FB: (starting to laugh) I don’t see anything.
ME: Are you KIDDING me? LOOK CLOSER. THE LESIONS, DON'T YOU SEE THE LESIONS?!
FB: (putting down lamp) Look, I am trying to take you seriously right now but you are making it really, really difficult. Yeah, I guess your throat is a little red but I don’t see any “lesions” and I certainly don’t see the bacteria cesspool you are describing. You need to seriously RELAX. Go back to sleep. (shuts off lamp)
ME: WHAAAAAAAT? Oh my god, you totally don’t get it.
(Silence)
ME: I said you TOTALLY don’t GET IT.
(Silence)
ME: Hellllo? Oh my god, are you SLEEPING????

7:03PM Friday evening
I trudge back to my apartment from McDonald’s where I get my internet these days (don’t ask). Thoughts of doom fill my head. I hope I can make it home. I hope I can get up those steps. I hope my throat doesn’t close before the show on Sunday and I die and can’t take over France anymore. Then I see it and stop dead in my tracks.
CHEZ POON
RESTAURANT ASIATIQUE RAPIDE

Oh my god. Of COURSE. Chinese TAKE OUT. DUH! I’m a NINJA! How could I NOT have noticed this restaurant around the corner from my new apartment?? My mouth starts watering as I have not had Chinese take out food since I left New York. My lesions start to settle. It’s the miracle I needed and it’s RIGHT HERE. I funnel all my doom thoughts into positive miraculous rapid Asian take out magical cure for strep throat thoughts. These noodles will SAVE me. Especially if I dump half a jar of mustard on them and wash it down with two-day old white wine...isn’t vinegar an antiseptic? Oh Chez Poon, how I adooooore you!

10:33AM Saturday morning
ME: GUESS WHAT?
FB: What?
ME: My strep throat is GONE. And guess what else? I dreamed last night that I was playing a show for like, 50 THOUSAND people and my hair looked really really good and behind me was a GIANT lit up screen, like in all colors, flashing really REALLY big...HUGE...IN...FRANCE!
Isn’t that AWESOME?!
FB: (laughing) Yeah, that’s really awesome.
ME: Wait, are you laughing at me? Seriously, I had strep throat.
FB: Yep, I’m sure you did.
(smiling)

Adding to the Kung Fu magic, I got an email today announcing my CD is now available for purchase online. It's MAGIC! I’m ready for my show tomorrow and I’m ready for you, France.
BRING IT ON.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

HAIR BOMB AND CUTTERS

A few days before I play a show, I usually get sick. It starts with the throat, a fever and then moves onto chills, cough, headache, joints aching, then wraps itself up nicely with me lying in a horizontal position crying “BUT I HAVE A SHOOOOW!! I CANNOOOT GET SIIIIICK!!!!”.
Then it “magically” disappears…usually...oh...right after I am done playing.

No mystery here at all. But I don’t even have the slightest bit of stage fright. My favorite times are spent playing music to an audience but I REALLY wish I could be that “chill” girl, the one whose feathers never get ruffled, the one whose stomach doesn’t hurt all the frickin' time. But I’m not. I am a high strung, over achiever who sometimes vomits at any sign of change. Change being most accurately described as in anything involving leaving the house.

No surprise then that today I woke up sick. Throat ache, check. Feverish. Check. Nice work. Right on schedule. This should flare up nicely into a full blown flu by Friday, leaving plenty of room for a full blown panic on Saturday leading right into Sunday’s show. Voila.

But this time is different. This time I decided to mix it up a little and REALLY up the ante. Give myself something REAL to panic about. So I sliced my finger open across the joint with a bread knife while opening some boxes.
FB: “Are you retaaaaaaarded???!!”
ME: “Uh, yes?”

NICE!! Why stop now? Why not take a pair of scissors to your hair and give yourself a brand new set of...
FANTASTIC NEW BANGS!!!!

Pantera called, they want ALL their fans back. Immediately.

These bangs are not doctored, sprayed, gelled, blow-dried or styled in ANY way. Yes, my friends, they were washed and let to dry on their downy, feathery own. I spent 20 minutes trying to glue them to my head this morning and all it took was one small puff of wind to send them flying gracefully into the unicorn wings they were born to be.

Guess I better start learning some Slo-Jazz numbers for Sunday. Sigh.