Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Not-So-Fancy Lunches.

FrenchBoy and I have been floundering a bit when it comes to keeping up on our weekend ‘Fancy Lunch” tradition as of late. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of fancy restaurants in and around Metz, it’s more that we’re becoming too lazy to do the research to find them all. Yes. We research restaurants. After-all if I’m gonna pay 40 euros a person for lunch, I want some reassurance that I won’t leave with food poisoning or that I won’t have to suffer through some waiter’s horribly obnoxious service.

So anyway, a few weekends ago we found ourselves in a pinch because we hadn’t done any research. We headed to Rue DuPont des Loges which is lined with restaurants which we’ve been sampling one by one. We randomly chose an Italian restaurant called La Storia. We didn’t have a recommendation from anyone but the menu looked OK, and I was about to go into a low-blood sugar rage so we went it and ordered.

Crappy Italian Food

Let’s just say we were not impressed. The food was mediocre and so was the service. And to make matters that much more annoying, there was an insane 4 year old girl at the next table that was carrying on like she had just taken two hits of crack. Possibly three. A few minutes into my pizza, I hear a loud “whack” and simultaneously feel a thud on the back of my chair. You guessed it, the little cracked-out 4 year old somehow managed to run smack into the back of my chair at full speed. How? No clue. And is it wrong that the sound of her wailing from her head smacking into my chair somehow made my pizza taste better? Anyway---on a scale from one to ten, that place gets a six.

Indonesian Food

Fast forward a week. Indonesian food! Yum. It wasn’t fancy, but then again neither were the prices, but still…Yum!

Indonesian Food 2

I’d actually been to this place before, but years before with my wedding planner. The owners are an older Singaporean couple who lived in Paris for many years before moving to Metz to open L’ile de Java. Go figure. Anyway, the service was as delightful as I remember and the food was quite good….and so were the three ginger cocktails I slurped down.

So, lessons: Italian restaurant with crack-head 4 year old = bad.

Indonesian cocktails = good.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Snaggle-Tooth Be Gone!

Yesterday as I was driving to the supermarket I thought: "That's odd, the street looks different." And then I realised why. Madame Snaggle-Tooth's tabac was gone. I mean really gone. They tore down the entire building. Gone.

I laughed with glee.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kill The Rich.

Yuppie-mobile #2

So—we got a new car. A kinda fancy grown-up new car. Well, fancy for me anyway. I’ve only owned one car in my life. My grandparents bought me a car when I was 21 years old. It was a three year old Chevy Corsica. I drove it for another three years until I graduated from college and then I sold it and used the money to move to New York City. Before that, as a passenger, I had suffered through many of my mom’s hand-me-down automobiles. You know, the car that just barely runs, but needs special attention ie: the transmission slips between gears, the engine light never goes off, and only one of the front seat-belts works so you have to pull it across your chest with lightening speed whenever you see a cop cruiser. Needless to say, the idea of having a new car is totally foreign to me, let alone a fancy new car.

When FrenchBoy picked me up in Paris at the airport for the first time, the Alfa Romeo 147 was probably one of the nicest cars I had ever been in. The name even sounded fancy to me! And a year later when I became the primary driver of the Alfa, I did so with a heavy dose of trepidation. Now, fast forward four years to the day, not so very long ago, when one evening out of the clear blue sky FrenchBoy puffs up his chest and announces with absolute glee: “This weekend we’re going to order an Audi A4!”


Yuppie-mobile  #3

Luckily I had a few months while the car was being built to get used to the idea. But I’ll be honest with you. The day I went with French Father-in-law to pick it up, I was still scared. I mean really scared. I could barely sleep the night before.

But then something happened in my brain at the car dealership. Maybe it was all those new car fumes in the air, but as I signed the service agreement (Which was conveniently written in German, so for all I know I signed away my first born child.) I started to get all giddy. And then, the Car Dealer Dude handed me the keys. I accepted them graciously. I played it cool. But in my head I was screaming: “Holy holey sweet muther of the lord baby jesus. I just got me a dope-ass bran-new car!” (Note the mid-western liason on “bran-new”.) And then as soon as Car Dealer Dude's back was turned, I made a mad dash for the front door of the dealership and ran out into the ice-cold pissing rain to find my shiny new car waiting for me. Eventually Car Dealer Dude came out to meet me and explained how every knob and button worked. But five minutes after he was gone I had to run back into the dealership to find him because the first time he explained everything I hadn’t actual heard a thing he had said. I went all ADD while looking at all the shiny buttons. Finally, after the second explanation of everything, I turned on the car and, well, I drove my brand new car off the lot.

Yuppie-mobile #1

With the exception of the time I accidentally turned on the heated sets on a 30 degree day, every ride in this car has been an absolute pleasure. I’m not afraid to drive it, I’m not afraid to park it, and it purs like a kitten. I never thought I would say this about a car, but, I looooove this car. I love diving it, I love parking it. I love coming out of a store, looking for it in a sea of Peugots and Fiats in the parking lot, and then finding it. (A task made much easier by the huge Obama for president sticker on the back windshield.)

In fact there is nothing I don’t like about driving the A4--- except the way people look at me while I’m driving it. Mind you, women generally pay no attention, but men, especially grouchy middle aged men, seem particularly indignant when they see me pull up in the A4. Which brings me to the heart of the matter. The French hate the rich. They hate them, hate them, hate them, no mater the fact that no one can decide what constitutes “rich”. And let me clue you in on something--nothing inspires more suspicion in the old-school Frogs than an adorable little 30-something Black girl, easily young enough to be their daughter, rolling around in a tricked-out Audi.

Inside the Yuppie-mobile

You should see the daggers these old Toads shoot at me. You’d think I’d robbed a bank, their bank to be specific. Mind you these are probably the same connards who find new and creative ways to abuse the system and screw the French government out of money any chance they get while simultaneously complaining about how high their taxes are.

So what gives? I’ve already read 60 million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, but apparently I need a re-read to remind myself that their behavior is common if not normal. But still, I’d like to enjoy driving the only new car I’ve ever had in my life without that gnawing feeling that perhaps the locals are secretly plotting to guillotine me.

BONUS: Serious Brownie points for the first poster in comments who can translate the saying:
"Don't hate the player, hate the game." into French.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Like Old Times...But Better!

Garden of Hoes

Does anyone else have the distinct impression that time is speeding up? No seriously, are the years getting shorter or is it just me? Someone consult a scientist or something.
Last week FrenchBoy and I had a last minute dinner date scheduled with a few of our old pals. We met up at the same old bar that we’ve been meeting at for the past 6 years and we probably ordered the same drinks. It was just like old times except that everyone had changed. In fact after a bit of dicussion we realized that we hadn’t seen eachother in almost a year! How does that happen?

Old Friends1

And it’s amazing what can happen in a year. Joyce got married and had a baby girl. Manu is married an living in Hong Kong. And even cousin Phillipe had lost weight and seemed somehow different after his short stint in Hong Kong. Everything’s all…..different.

Old Friends2

Even the dinner conversation has changed. Where before the ladies side of the table would talk about our boys and our next vacations, we now talk about where to bargain shop and how to lose baby weight. Even the boys have become men…well, almost. Their conversations about the annual car shows in Frankfurt and Paris have given way to advice on such things as real estate investments, how to negotiate a better salary contract with certain companies, and OK, they still talk about their cars.

Old Friends3

And although it would be easy to be a bit nostalgic for the good old days, it’s kinda hard to miss it really. I mean, everyone is doing better than any of us could have imagined. We grew up good! Being with my old friends, all grown up, made me realize that there are plenty of good things that can come along with becoming a grown up: buying your own house, having a decent paying job, dinner parties instead of keggers, and even buying fancy cars. Oh, wait. I conveniently forgot to tell you about the new car…

To be continued…

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

sont-Ils vraiment cons?

I hate to come back from being away for almost a week and have to start whining, but I can't help it. I read this article the other day and almost flipped my wig.

If you're too lazy to click over, no worries, I'll explain. Basically some assholes broke into the famous Cathedral and vandalised a bunch of stuff. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of visiting it, you're really missing out. It's quite lovely and quite famous for it's Chagall windows. (No the windows in the photo below. They busted up the Adam and Eve ones!)

Metz Cathedral

So these dorks break in and then can't figure out how to get back out so, they punch their way out --you guessed it--throught the Chagall windows.


I'm especially pissy since that particular window was my favorite! The worse part is, they seem to have done it just for the heck of it. They didn't even take anything valuable.

That's like breaking into MOMA, not taking anything, and then punching a Picasso on your way out. I mean, we're talking real idiots here. Hence this post will be filed under the WTF category.

Now on to more pressing matters: Did anyone watch "Ile de Tentation" last week?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two Holes and a Funeral.

Trou = Hole.

1. An opening through something. 2. An area where something is missing: flaw, weakness. 3. A hollowed-out place.

So one of the glorious things about having a studio-slash-gallery-slash-Artshop in a charming historic building that was constructed in the 1600’s is that, well, you have a studio-slash-gallery-slash-Artshop in a building that is several hundred years old! Hence---water damage.

Monster Hole Before

In short, the main exterior wall of the shop is in bad shape. Due to some water damage that took place awhile back, the interior drywall is essentially rotten in a few places, and has taken to pouring out onto the floor in big piles of white dust. Lovely. Basically we have a hollow wall that spews dust. It would actually be kinda funny if it weren’t so viciously ugly.

So today, under the influence of a high fever and 600 milligrams of ibuprofen, I decided to march downtown and patch that baby up myself! Two pounds of plaster of Paris later, all I can say is: it should hold about 2 weeks. Once I got started, I realized just how bad the water damage was. I need to hack out a 2 foot by 3 foot chunk of the wall, replace it with a new piece of drywall, and then replaster. And since I didn’t have a 2 foot by 3 foot chunk of dry-wall conveniently stored in my back pocket, I did the best I could to just kinda….glue the remaining pieces of the wall back together. Result: It still looks like crap.

Monster Hole After

So after being defeated by the drywall, I drove home and decided to do a little canvas and painting inventory while I was in the garage. (Funny how I get crazy energetic while I have a burning fever.) I don’t usually like to admit that I store artwork in my garage, but there are a 3 or 4 small pieces that are down there because I haven’t moved them to the studio-slash-gallery-slash-Artshop yet. Anyway, while I’m looking at what’s in there and deciding what to take next weekend, I realize that one of my favorite little paintings has a freaking hole in it!

poked painting

Now, the way I see it, there’s no sense in asking how or why it happened. (Clearly I got a bit careless in my wrapping and packaging. It’s my fault.) What I really need to know is---Can it be fixed?

I refuse to believe that I have to throw out this painting. I mean didn’t some jack-ass accidentally poke a hole in a Picasso? My paintings don't sell for 40 million yet, but I still want to save it if I can!

Ok, I’m gonna noodle around google to see what I can come up with. Hopefully I won't have to have a funeral for this painting.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Studio...Gallery....Store.... Oh my!

So one of the most exciting things to happen this past month is that I started a studio/gallery share with another local artist. Kayla has been renting this really cool space in downtown Metz near the Cathedral for the past 3 years. In fact that’s how I met her. I came into her space during a local Open Studios walk. At the time I was still living in the no-man’s land of Thionville near the Luxembourg border, and she was the first real “art friend” I made here in France.

Fast forward two years. I’m finally settled into our new place in Metz and low and behold Kayla casually mentions that she might need to either give up the space or rent it out occasionally to cover her overhead. I immediately proposed that we share the space and split costs. She loved the idea. The whole deal works out perfectly for me. I get the benefit of being able to have people visit a space and see my new work without having to invite them into my private studio space in the Barbie Dream House---which I really think of as my private little sanctuary. Also, it’s perfectly located in the tourist district which brings in plenty of foot traffic on Saturday afternoons.


One of the coolest parts about this arrangement of course it that’s since I don’t have a record deal (That’s my way of saying that I don’t have a contract with a gallery.) I can sell my work directly. Also I love having the contact with the public. As much as I adore being cooped up in my home studio, sometimes I need to get out and interact a bit.

So, now the work begins. How to market art in this environment. Personally I’d like to give it more of a boutique environment rather than the intimidating white-walled gallery feel which pretty much scares the be-jeezuz out of the average person. And as two independant artists trying to market our work, that's the last thing we want to do.


Hmmm. It’s not a gallery, it’s not a studio, and we aren’t quite a store either. We’re something in-between and I kinda prefer it that way.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Oh, so thaaat's where you've been.

Paris 025

I spent almost every weekend in July in Paris. Sounds glamorous no? Of course nothing is less glamorous than schlepping yourself through the metro to do gallery research. Of course, it does still beat having an office job.

So, FrenchBoy and I arrived in Paris Saturday morning. We did some shopping and bought some fancy new cutlery and then went to lunch where he proceeded to sneeze and cough and begin to run a very high fever. I sent him directly back to the hotel to sleep, which meant that I was stuck doing gallery hopping without my favorite gallery hopping companion. Boo Hoo.

Paris 085

I've probably mentined this before-- FrenchBoy knows very little about art, but he sure loves looking at it. Heck, he loved Art Basel, FIAC, and the Berlin Biennial as much as I did. In fact I love going gallery hopping with him because I like to have someone to compare notes with after we leave each gallery. (Me: “Did you see how snotty the receptionist was?” Him: “No, but did you see how many typos they had on their price list? Ils sont nuls!”) Also suddenly with him on my arm I’m not just another sweaty tourist or an artist trolling for representation or inspiration. I could be a collector! I admit it. He’s…my disguise!

So since my “Art Beard” had a fever, I set off to Le Marais solo. I knew many galleries were closed already for the summer, but I figured I’d at least be able to visit a few. Unfortunately, almost every gallery I visited was just…horrid. My friend Julie, another artist from New York, was in Paris the weekend before and she had mentioned how crappy she found most of the galleries to be compared to New York, but I was hoping I’d magically stumble upon a few good ones. No such luck.

I’m not even going to start criticizing the actual artwork, because the thing I found most appalling was the galleries themselves. Two particular instance stand out in my mind. The first being the fancy gallery near Place des Vosges where the gallery assistant was scaring everyone away with her evil glare before they would even try to enter, and my favorite being the gallery where the seemingly drunk receptionist refused to make eye contact with clients!

Now, I can take being treated poorly, but what if it was my work in this gallery and a drunk gallery receptionist treated my collectors like that? One by one my already modest list was being reduced to almost nothing. Not one of these galleries woudl be suitable for mywork!

But just when I was about to lose all hope and head back to the hotel completely deflated, I ran across one tiny little gem. I saw a group show of all of their artists. I read their resumes, and checked their price lists. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like about this gallery. Even the 2 women working the reception desk were helpful and chatty. Chatty I tell you! Also, as I was checking things out, 2 people actually bought 2 paintings. So, apparently they sell stuff!....which is always a bonus.

Ok, so, I don’t want to jinx it yet by talking about it, and I’m not running to dust of my slides just yet, but I am excited to see what they have on for the fall!

*fingers crossed*

Friday, August 08, 2008

Je ne suis pas bien dans mon assiette!

Just in case you're all wondering why I haven't been posting very often, I might as well tell you before you work yourself all up into a panic.

About 4 days ago I started feeling a bit queezy. It would come and go at random hours of the day and then I'd be fine. Then about 2 days ago I woke up and had a 10 minute sneezing fest. Since then I have been fighting off this summer cold like my life depends upon it.

Thursday I took a 4 hour nap and actually slept through lunch. Even so, I fear the cold is kicking my ass. So, I've been spending most of my days on the sofa watching FireFly on DVD. (..because heaven knows there isn't anything good on French TV.)

Also, I'm just generally pissed off that I lost a whole week that I could have been doing something productive like starting that new series of paintings that I wanted to complete in August...

So ya see, I'm here, but groggy and grumpy, and a bit feverish. As the French say: "I am not well in my plate." And frankly, I doubt you wanna read about enough already.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Taking The Next Step.

I was just thinking the other day. Some of you have been reading this blog for like 3 years now and my site statistic counter says that lurkers from all over the globe are reading my nonsense by the thousands, so I guess there's no time like the present to take yet another big blogging step.

*dorky drum roll*

I now have an e-mail address: MadameK (at) ymail (dot) com.

Now those of you who are too timid to post in comments or have been harboring burning questions for the past 3 years can e-mail me directly.

Hate mail is also accepted to this address, although please note that your e-mail, your full name, and your e-mail address may be re-posted here if you're not nice. *evil laugh*

Monday, August 04, 2008

The One With the Satan Flowers.

Warning: This post contains ranting and strong language. It was written in cranky mode.

So yesterday we were invited over to a friend’s house for a BBQ lunch. Ok, they’re a bit more than friends. We’ve known them for ages and they were the witnesses at our legal wedding ceremony, and the husband in the couple is directly responsible for getting FrenchBoy his current fancy new job, so I don’t mean the word "friends" lightly. I mean it in the French way, ya know how you make about 10 friends and then you keep them forever, so you don’t have to go through the trouble of getting anymore?

Anyway, as all of you other ex-pats know, when you’re invited to a meal in France you bring one of the following items:

1. A bouquet of flowers for the host.

2. A bottle of carefully chosen champagne, or wine ….And I say carefully chosen because you know damn well everyone will talk shit about you when you leave if you bring a bottle of cheap swill.

3. or last but not least, if the hosts have kids, you buy a cheap-ass, but not too cheap toy for each of their children to amuse themselves with while the adults get drunk.

I’d forgotten to buy a fancy brand of champagne for the occasion (Our “house champagne”, which we buy by the case once a year isn’t quite fancy enough for this particular occasion. And yes we buy champagne by the case. You read that correctly.) and everything was closed on Sundays, so I stopped at the florist to buy a bouquet.

We pull up to the florist in the car and FrenchBoy leaves the engine running. I turn and give him the screw face. “I’ll wait here while you run in.” he says. Now, folks, this is where things went terribly wrong. Ya see. I know jack-shit about flowers. I don’t know their names, I don’t know where they grow, and I certainly don’t know which ones smell like what.

So, I run into the flower shop, and grab a whole mess of flowers, and manage to get in and out of there in under 5 minutes inspite of the fact that I almost came to blows with the middle aged asshole who tried to cut in line in front of me.

Side note: If by chance you are the man who tried to cut in front of me at the flower shop yesterday and by some act of fate you are now reading this post, As soon as you are finished you should get down on your knees and thank whatever God you pray to. Dude—yu almost got homicided. Hint: If you see me barreling into a flower shop at 5 kilometers per hour with a wicked scowl on my face from being forced to enter said shop, not to mention the fact that my left foot is soaking wet from the puddle I tripped and stepped into on my way in, do not, I repeat, DO NOT get all jazzy with me. I am an ill-tempered American girl with a fiery Aries temper, and if you haven’t noticed, I got a little meat on my bones. I could pick you up by your Achilles tendon and snap your petite frog body in half over my knee without breaking my stride. Seriously dude, just back away slowly.

So, I get the fucking flowers and run back to the car.

Five minutes into our 40 minute drive, I realize my mistake. I have somehow managed to buy the funkiest smelling flowers in Metz, France or perhaps on earth. I mean they smell like compost! Just rancid. We were coughing and our nostrils were ablaze!

As soon as we get to the BBQ I warn the hosts about the stinkiness, and apologize profusely. (“Here’s some flowers. They smell like ass, but whatever… where’s the food?”)

One hour into lunch, their entire three-story house smells like putrid flower pee.
Am I a great guest or what?

Next time I’ll just bring a freakin’ bottle of Charles Lafitte and be done with it.

photo snagged from Hilarious.