One day I’m going to spend Fashion Week just walking around the city photographing the creatures that come to town. I find that species fascinating and if nothing else, visually interesting. Snapped a few pics of these fashion victims during a trip to the Apple Store and the Jardin des Tuileries, but I know that with a little effort, I could put together a portfolio of images that would be both comical and startling at the same time. Someday.
Got the chance to shoot a ridiculous and entertaining event so I dragged myself out of bed early, took the bus to Place de la Concorde and stood for an hour in the dark in the freezing cold waiting for the event to the begin. The event was a promotion by the Spanish clothing store Desigual and the idea was that they were offering 100 contest winners the chance to come to their store near Place de l’Opera on the first day of the Winter sale period and get one top and one pair of pants for free. The catch? They had to come there wearing ONLY their underwear.
So there I was, before sunrise, in Place de la Concorde with the 100 contest winners, mostly young but a few that looked like they could be in their 60’s. Two disco party busses showed up and we all boarded the busses and took off to drive around Paris as the city woke up. After maybe 15 minutes or so the driver made the announcement that we were heading to the store and that the party should begin. So the participants put down their Red Bulls and stripped down to their undies. I would have had more photos in the bus but after standing out in the cold for so long and then boarding a heated bus, my lens was fogging up uncontrollably. Not to worry … there were plenty of photos to be had once we exited the bus.
They let me and the other photographers off the bus first to get in position and then one by one, each participant exited in their underwear and congregated in front of the store, waiting for the store to open. A few minutes later, the doors opened and a chaotic, semi-naked crowd flooded the store and attacked the clothing displays.
I don’t need to explain much more – the photos will take care of that – but I did have two observations: (1) dressing rooms are really unnecessary when shoppers start off without clothes on and (2) it’s surprising to me how uninhibited people can be in public (with photographers around!), especially those who, one might say, don’t exactly fit the description of underwear model.
Shot a much tamer event – the French premiere of Django Unchained. Not much to say, just another movie premiere.
Finally, I love shooting big demonstrations in Paris. It brings out great characters of all kinds. The latest demonstration was the counter demonstration to the pro-gay marriage event held a couple of weeks ago. This event was against gay marriage, gay adoption and medically-assisted procreation – a weird coalition of right-wingers, muslim groups, old people and even some gay people (or so they claim). The turnout was massive, easily the biggest demonstration I’ve ever seen in Paris. It was very well organized as their supporters were bussed in from all over the country to converge on Paris and send French President Francois Hollande a message that they don’t want him to follow through on his campaign pledge to legalize gay marriage.
I enjoyed shooting the event but I have to say it was much less interesting and animated than the pro-gay marriage demonstration I shot a couple of weeks back.
Some photos of the week:
Like most years this millennium, spent the holidays in the countryside about 50 miles from Paris. Relaxing and calm, laughter and indigestion.
Holiday desserts mean good times, especially the galette des rois (“cake” of the kings), which is only available a few days (give or take) before and after the Christian holiday of Epiphany. Simple but really tasty, especially when served warm, the cake is filled with two things: (1) Frangipane, a stuffing made of almond and (2) a small toy trinket which, if found in your slice of cake, gives you the right to be king for the day (if you’re a kid and have tolerant parents).
A couple more American chains opened in Paris this last year, one noteworthy for the building it’s in and the other, for the taste it brings. Abercrombie & Fitch opened a store along the Champs-Elysees that looks like something fit for royalty. You enter through a gate trimmed with gold, walk along a perfectly manicured pathway to the main entrance doors, also trimmed out in gold.
If you make the mistake of stepping on one of the square patches of grass along the way, there is a guard there carefull watching each patch telling you to stay off. Once you enter, you’re greeted by the now-famous shirtless male model and as you move around, you see plenty of female employees scantily dressed serving no other purpose than adding to the ambiance by dancing in place. Not your typical shopping experience.
The other notable opening this year is, yes, a Chipotle Mexican Grill. Finally tried it and it really does taste just like it does in the US. Not the most refined cuisine out there but it does well in the belly when the urge for Mexican pops up.
The French Still Flock to Bookstores – from the NY Times:
PARIS — The French, as usual, insist on being different. As independent bookstores crash and burn in the United States and Britain, the book market in France is doing just fine. France boasts 2,500 bookstores, and for every neighborhood bookstore that closes, another seems to open. From 2003 to 2011 book sales in France increased by 6.5 percent. To read the article, CLICK HERE.
In past blog postings, I’ve mentioned one of my favorite spots on earth: Fatamorgana gelato in Rome. Never experienced anything like it. If you go to Rome, you’d be a fool to miss trying this place. If I had to choose between seeing the Sistine Chapel or trying Fatamorgana, the most difficult part of that decision would be which flavors to choose. Speaking of which, here’s a PARTIAL list of some of the flavors they make, all organic (but only some of which are available at any one time):
ROSE, ORANGE AND HIBISCUS FLOWERS
PEAR AND GORGONZOLA CHEESE
PUMPKIN WITH CARAMELIZED SEEDS
BASIL, HONEY AND WALNUTS
PINK VENUS (BLACK RICE AND ROSEBUDS)
LAPSANG SOUCHOUNG CHOCOLATE (SMOKED BLACK TEA)
APHRODITE (CELERY AND LIME)
SEADAS (SARDINIAN PECORINO CHEESE, CHESTNUT HONEY AND ORANGE PEEL)
LITTLE DEVIL (PACHINO TOMATOES AND HABANERO CHILI)
DUKKHA (THREE-SPICE NUT)
DATTERINO (SICILIAN TOMATO)
SALTED MOULATTA (MILK CHOCOLATE WITH SALTED CARAMEL)
TAGGIASCA BLACK OLIVES AND DRY MARTINI
CARAMELISED POPCORN, CHIPS AND RED CAMPARI
RICOTTA CHEESE AND FRUIT MUSTARD
GOAT RICOTTA CHEESE WITH TRUFFLE HONEY
FOSSA PECORINO CHEESE
LOBSTER AND VODKA
WASABI CHOCOLATE (CHOCOLATE WITH EASTERN HORSERADISH)
Ever seen anything like that?
Read an article this last week that included a quote I quite enjoyed; the last line I think is good advice for anyone:
“Mathematicians find the concept of infinity so useful, but it can be quite subtle and quite dangerous,” said Ian Stewart, a mathematics researcher at the University of Warwick in England and the author of “Visions of Infinity,” the latest of many books. “If you treat infinity like a normal number, you can come up with all sorts of nonsense, like saying, infinity plus one is equal to infinity, and now we subtract infinity from each side and suddenly naught equals one. Youcan’t be freewheeling in your use of infinity.”
Happy 2013 wishes to all … and can’t wait to see McKenna in Paris soon!
Some photos of the week:
Lots going on at Notre Dame this week. I shot two very different events near and at my neighborhood cathedral: a big pro-gay marriage demonstration as well as the opening ceremony of the jubilee celebrating Notre Dame’s 850th birthday. Try to figure out which photos are from which event.
For those of you that remember her, the French actress Leslie Caron, who starred in the film “An American in Paris” way back when, was presented a medal declaring her an honorary citizen of Paris by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe.
One humorous story I heard about this week. In the former French colonies, it was once customary to name children the same name as their saint, as displayed for each day on the French calendar. So for example, if a child was born on Saint Paul day, he’d be named Paul. Comically, the tradition led to a significant number of children with the name “Fetnat” whose unwitting parents didn’t realize that that was not a name of a saint but was in fact the abbreviation for “Fete National” (national holiday). There wasn’t enough room on the calendar to write out “Fete National” and so the name FetNat accidentally came into existence. Ouch.
Some photos of the week:
Winter has arrived. I’m still in denial.
Shot a wild concert put on by an eccentric French singer/musician/performer Sebastien Tellier. He was drinking, smoking and doing his thing when he invited some attractive women from the audience to come up on stage and take off their clothes. I really don’t know if some or all of these women were “plants” but it didn’t seem like it. It really livened up an already charged concert.
Shot a much more tame event … Richard Gere doing a photocall for his new movie Arbitrage. He was really nice and insisted on shaking the hands of the photographers and then declared “OK, now we can work” and went to pose for us.
There is always something new happening in Paris. The latest? Floating cinema.
For the release of the film Odyssey Pi, a film in which one of the characters finds himself the sole survivor on a lifeboat, a local public swimming pool transformed itself into a floating theater. They installed a giant screen and the audience watched the film in lifeboats totally immersed in the atmosphere of the film. I wish I would have experienced this but I found out too late.
Witnessed an astonishing event on the metro this week. I was on line 8 when the metro stopped and the doors opened to let passengers in. A fairly large African woman, wearing a colorful traditional boubou (dress) stood on the platform with her baby stroller while talking on her cell phone. She pushed the stroller into the metro car and continued her conversation. The buzzer sounded indicating that the doors were going to close so she hung up from her call; but as she hung up, she dropped her phone and the battery came out and flew a few feet away from her. Instinctively she went to pick up her phone and battery, letting go of the stroller that was still in the metro car. We started freaking out a little as the doors began to close, knowing that this baby was about be separated from her mother. Thankfully an alert young man next to the door realized what was going on and grabbed the door to stop it from closing. He quickly enlisted my help because those doors are not easy to keep open. In a couple of seconds, the woman recovered her phone and slipped between the metro doors. She thanked us but was really as cool as a cucumber, like nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.
Photo of the week: