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Friday, October 18, 2013

Le Café des Chats



I've always thought of Paris as more of a dog town. I've never seen another city with those nifty green street and sidewalk cleaning machines--which seems perfect for all that residual dog poo.

But cats have a place in Paris, too.

Reservations are strongly recommended. And no, you can't bring your cat. Here's the website.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My French Valentine

Last evening when the man who loves me arrived at my place, he came bearing groceries, as he often does.
"Brussels sprouts? Would you like some brussels sprouts for dinner?" he asked. I laughed and asked him if that was a Valentine's Day thing because earlier I'd noticed that my chic neighborhood market had displayed brussels sprouts prominently and that there were people in line with wine and fancy cakes....and brussels sprouts.
"No," he said. "It's a Korean thing."
But still, it left me wondering. And remembering that, in France, "mon petit chou," is a term of endearment.
It translates to "my little cabbage." And isn't that what brussels sprouts are? Little cabbages?
If they're not a Valentine's tradition, perhaps they should become one, mon petit chou.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

An Ange Passe


The other day while having lunch with some French speakers (in a fancy Chinese/California cusine-y place,) there was a sudden silence as the dozen or so of us stopped chattering. "Ah! Un ange passe," said the facilitator from the Alliance Francaise. The expression was new to me. I can't think of an American equivalent.

I love figures of speech and colloquial expressions. The way one culture sometimes chooses to express something so differently from another. I seldom get to hear or speak French these days.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The God of Carnage by Yasmin Reza (translated from the original French by Christopher Hampton)

The play begins unremarkably. Two couples in a living room--strangers come together to discuss the fracas in the park between their little boys that left one with a split lip and two missing teeth. The tone is tensely polite. Imagine George and Martha without the booze, the madness, and the tragic history. These two couples in the stylish living room in Ms. Reza's play are civilized despite the dynamic that pits a call for justice against justification. One might wonder how this foursome will fulfill our expectations for a scintillating evening of theater, but it's right about then that the alliances onstage begin to shift. The parents of the boy who wielded the stick begin to wield their own weapons at each other, and in a dizzying escalation, the upset wife vomits all over the art books on her hosts' coffee table. The collective shriek from the audience will not be the last of the evening.

As the politeness behind the proscenium  is pulled away like a restrictive necktie, the audience is forced to let its hair down, too. We can look all we want for a solid protagonist, but there's only whiplash waiting for us. By the time the booze comes out, we have loved and reviled each of the four characters, and we're not finished yet.

Reza examines love, marriage, the gender gap, parenthood, and the very nature of the human animal, but   given the escalating antics onstage, the experience is more visceral than cerebral. I was too busy laughing   to get a headache from thinking too hard.

The God of Carnage is at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis until August 7th, 2011.
It won a Tony in 2009 for best play.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Following Sophie Calle





Lounge area at the Walker
I love this room. For me it embodies its setting--Minneapolis, Minnesota 
where snow and ice are likely to be part of the environment half the year.


I took break from my home improvement chores the other day--an art break. The Walker Art Center is one of those museums I could go to over and over again. Iconic modern masterpieces. Surprising temporary exhibitions. This visit I spent almost all my time at a traveling exhibit called Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera Since 1870. Here's a quote from the Walker's website, "Exposed offers a fascinating look at pictures made on the sly, without the explicit permission of the people depicted. Investigating the shifting boundaries between seeing and spying, the private act and the public image, the exhibition reveals the myriad ways photography has brought to light the forbidden and the taboo. Homing in on sex, celebrity, violence, and surveillance, it provokes an array of uneasy questions at the intersection of both power and pleasure."


There were photos from Brassai's series "Secret Paris of the 1930s." And more photos of people in Paris by Henri Cartier-Bresson. But I think one of my favorite parts of the exhibit was a series of photos by Sophie Calle, a French photographer, writer, and installation artist that I've written about HERE. The photos I just saw at the Walker are a project of hers called The Shadow. Ms. Calle had her mother hire a private detective to follow her for a day while she went various places in Paris that were personally significant for her. She wrote journal entries throughout the day, and these are included in the project, too She wanted photographic evidence of her own existence, she said.


The are so many significant days in a person's life. People and places that are like the sun to us as we revolve around them. Would we see them differently if we had a photographic record of them? Would we see something new? Change our minds about someone or something? What would that surveillance expose? Would it change us?



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