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Top July Films by myETVmedia
Top July Films, a photo by myETVmedia on Flickr.
I came home from work on Hallowe'en to groups of children with their parents, walking up and down our street dressed as creatures of the night, carrying orange buckets for their sweet goodies.

I saw a neighbour come out of the corner shop and at first I thought she had made herself up to look like a zombie. Upon closer inspection, I realised she was just tired.

My boyfriend and I spent the evening watching Byzantium, a pretty decent vampire film set in a nameless location in the British Isles. It had a new twist to the genre: a mother and daughter were on the run because vampires were a brotherhood that did not allow women.

(Nobody knocked on our door.)

The 16-year-old daughter had been moping like a teenager for 200 years. She dealt with her curse by feeding off elderly people who wanted to die. She played the piano beautifully, which made me think of the pianos in St Pancras, with their signs "Play Me." There's one just by the Eurostar's arrival door: visitors from France and beyond, quite often, are greeted by some random traveler playing it as they roll their suitcases into London. It's quite a nice idea and I salute whoever came up with it.

I wish I could play the piano. I wish I could play any musical instrument actually (apart from the triangle.) I'd drop by St Pancras once in a while on my lunch break, sit at the piano and whip up a sonata.


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New York Subway by areshuan
New York Subway, a photo by areshuan on Flickr.
I just received a notification that my close and intimate friend Jacqueline Sorbet has returned to her novel A Rendezvous With Passion. She posted its 3rd chapter online today.

To be honest, I thought she'd given up on it. It had been nearly a year since I'd heard from her; I figured she'd moved on to something else.

I swear I'll never understand these creative types.

Get Real

Sep. 23rd, 2012 06:49 pm
commonpeople1: (Default)
The Reality Overload: The Modern World's Assault on the Imaginal RealmThe Reality Overload: The Modern World's Assault on the Imaginal Realm by Annie Le Brun

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very academic collection of essays that suffers slightly under the translation from French into English. Nevertheless, it's packed with ideas and polemics on how the dissemination of GMO foods in our world is not unrelated to the information explosion we are going through. In a nutshell, Annie Le Brun's theory is that an attack on our imagination (led by globalisation and French Theory, mostly) has left us incapable of standing up against corporate interests (such as the ones behind the replacement of our food supplies with GMOs.)

I could relate to Brun's views on art: she believes that the excess of information we are under has eroded our courage to stand up and say "this is shit". Our culture wants us to believe everything now has equal weight, everything is subjective. You just have to walk through any museum to see this in the way curators add equal weight to a Picasso and a Damien Hirst. She reserves her final essay for an attack on the French theoreticians from the postmodern school of thinking who opened this door and allowed this disaster to happen. (I imagine Annie Le Brun would get along swimmingly with Camille Paglia). Elsewhere in the book she critics the bodies of Olympic athletes and bodybuilders (non-erotic and only meant for "repetitions"), deforestation, the breakdown of language, and much more.

I couldn't possibly do justice to her book and all the ideas in it. Suffice to say that it's an urgent call to arms for what remains of our world, for us to stand up against changes that are being imposed on us without our consent. If only we could find the strength to disconnect from the reality overload...

View all my reviews
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Homage to Zenith by Briggate.com
Homage to Zenith, a photo by Briggate.com on Flickr.
Friday night, 14th September. French coastal town St-Malo.
Families and couples sitting down for dinner. Casual and sophisticated styles on display, elderly tourists strolling down empty streets. Chefs by the doors of their restaurants, having a cigarette and exchanging a friendly word with neighbours. The cathedral's tower looming above all. Teenagers in the town's Irish pub, red-cheeked and bobbing to Red Hot Chilli Pepper.

Me to my boyfriend: I like it here - I like France - but there's something oppressive about the culture. Either you conform or you stick out and have no friends. I love that there are so many bookshops in such a small town but - still - I'm not sure I could live in France.

Saturday night, 15th September. English coastal town Portsmouth.
Drunken men chanting slogans and boasting that they'll be kicked off the train. Group of women in miniature attire screeching at each other, dressed like Hooters waitresses for a hen party. Group of teenage girls also in miniature attire harmonising to "it's getting hot in here, so let's take off all our clothes." Kebab and chips wrappers on the streets, paint peeling off most walls. Wide-eyed tourists hailing taxis. Boarded up buildings facing the marina.

Me to my boyfriend: Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to live in France.
commonpeople1: (Default)
commonpeople1: (Default)
On a more optimistic note, here's a lovely new french band. Their sound is very subtle and gentle - give it a go, perhaps even a few listens. Very summery somehow, but not in the Ibiza sort of way:

commonpeople1: (Default)
May this song embody July for you:

commonpeople1: (Vicky Park)
I returned to that community garden yesterday after a two-week break. It's amazing how much can change in that time: flower stalks twice as high; petals twice as shiny; lemons and strawberries ready for plucking; beautiful lettuce heads we can harvest (the first time I took something from the Gardens home.)

I sowed some Leaf Beets and trimmed flowers off sweet peas. One of the volunteers, a woman that always shows up in dresses, black church shoes and pearl necklaces, introduced herself as Thérèse before asking me where I was from. When I found out she was from Cameroon, I asked if she spoke french; from then on, it was all ça va, oui and au revoir. I'm very happy to now have someone to practice my broken french every Saturday!

Today, I dropped by Blanche to feed her and worked on my CV (successfully managed to get it down to 2 pages.) I was about to start working on a job application for the Southbank Centre when I saw minuting as one of the job descriptions... and all the joy drained out of me. I must remind myself that this is not the age to be picky about what's going to pay for my bills.

Abbey Gardens

Nice Women

Jun. 18th, 2010 12:17 pm
commonpeople1: (Paris)
I take the number 8 bus home. Yesterday, the bus was unusually packed and I had to squeeze into a corner seat on the ground floor - the kind where you have two people facing you. A pair of women with a suitcase and a copy of the Metro between them sat across from me. I pulled out my current reading choice and was about to start a chapter when one of them spoke in french to the other. Something about her was familiar. I looked up and realised that she was one of [livejournal.com profile] sushidog's oldest friends, introduced to Wink and I some time ago during one of Sushidog's visits to London. She's the one half of a lesbian couple who have known Sushidog and her parents for ages, now living in Hackney - really funny, warm people.

The non-Londoner must have been a french friend just arrived in town. They chatted about what to cook for dinner and called someone to confer about courgettes and Tesco. (I imagine it was the other half.) They got off at Liverpool St station. I should have said hello, shouldn't I?

This morning, a prospective candidate from the French Guiana came into our agency for an interview. We got chatting in french and it turns out her mother is brasilian (from Fortaleza). She was lovely. It was the first time I spoke to a native french speaker where I didn't feel a sense of inadequacy. I hope they find her a good job.
commonpeople1: (Margaret)
It's good to know the 80s were just as surreal in France as they were in Brasil:

commonpeople1: (Clarice)

Plymouth Gin
Originally uploaded by olliefern
Il y a deux semaines, je suis allé à Plymouth. J'ai visité une amie qui étude la psychologie à l'université. Quand je suis arrivé, elle m'a rencontré à la gare. Pendant les jours suivants, elle m'a revelé Plymouth. J'avais de la chance parce qu'il ne pleuvait pas. Elle faisait le petit déjeuner tous les jours et les waffles étaient sa specialité.  Les nuits, nous regardions la télé ou parlions de notre vies. Nous avons visité aussi un bar où on pouvait acheter des cocktails. Parce que je n'ai pas eu aucun roman a bouquiner, elle m'a prêté un trés bon livre qui raconte l'aventure des vampires qui voyageait sur le Mississippi aux 19e siècle.


Merci [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula pour les corrections!

Institut

Feb. 8th, 2010 10:39 pm
commonpeople1: (Margaret)
I started my intensive french course this morning. Three hours a day for two weeks, plus homework. There's seven of us and a teacher from Paris. The teacher thinks I should be upgraded to Intermediaire Intensif. I think the teacher gave us too much homework for tonight. One of my classmates was once an assistant to Prince Charles (!?) How fast can you say "squeeze gossip soon" in French? Here's the trailer to a lovely French film we watched over the past two nights: Presque Rien

Should I post only in French for the next two weeks? Or will my endless mistakes drive you nuts?
commonpeople1: (Margaret)
I just got back from the Institut Français, where I was tested and interviewed; they placed me in the intermediaire intensive course that starts in two weeks. That's three hours a day for two weeks, which I'm planning on treating like a full immersion by only reading stuff in french, watching french films, etc, during that period. The Institut is just by South Kensington Tube station and I'd say about half the people that walked past me - even in the Tube ride there - were French. Sacré coeur! I'll get my rusty French off the ground in no time.

I also had an interview today with that temp agency I've been working with off-and-on for the past nine years. It's looking very good.

Tonight, we are watching some Wire with our dinner. Tomorrow, I'm volunteering at a LGBT organisation south of the river who need my help promoting a fund raising event in February. On Thursday we pack our bags, take a train to Plymouth and move in with [livejournal.com profile] sushidog for good!!

On Thin Ice

Jan. 7th, 2010 07:00 pm
commonpeople1: (Clarice)
Sissy A is trying to convince [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I to move to Toulouse. She's on her way there this month, to join her boyfriend and work long distance for an architecture company in Montreal. Rent for a two-person flat is around 500 euros. Jobs for those who speak cranky French but fluent English are available. But I could also just take out a loan and be a student for a year; learn French really well for an eventual job; wash some dishes... so tempting. No temping.

I go back and forth on this idea of doing a MA in Portuguese Studies here in London. Really, what kind of job am I guaranteed afterwards? Will I have to return to admin and bite the bullet until my loans are paid off? Or would I do well enough to become a researcher, or perhaps work for a Brasilian organisation? I know I should just take a deep breath and be courageous but I keep remembering the years after I graduated from university and my History and English Lit degree's mystifying quality.

Only one more week left at work. Since the snow, Regent's Canal has been all mine. Thank God I haven't slipped and broken anything! I love walking down it at night, past the barges that line the canal by Victoria Park, their engines running and the air smelling of burnt wood. That's what I'll miss the most when I (most likely) return to commuting downtown.

Two Tribes

Jan. 4th, 2010 11:43 pm
commonpeople1: (Margaret)
Two decisions for 2010:

1) To become vegetarian. Not right now though - I've got fish in the house and I might as well eat it rather than throw it away. I was a vegetarian before - for a year and a half (ten years ago) - but I didn't do it right (too much cheese). I think I'm ready now. Down goes my carbon footprint. Up goes my experiments with different dishes and spices. I think it would be a great learning tool, and a distraction from impending unemployment.

2) Enroll in the Institute Français and take an intensive course in February, followed by more dispersed classes throughout the year. And start giving Brasilian Portuguese lessons to [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale, [livejournal.com profile] blu_bear and [livejournal.com profile] desayuno_ingles (or anyone else, really, who's interested.) Good teaching practice for me; good language to learn for you.

Enya, please sing to me throughout the night and don't let the Big Bad Insomnia catch me.
commonpeople1: (Friedrich)
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris, by Morrissey

Morrissey, I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris, 2009
I confess that I wasn't too keen on this single the first time I heard it (despite a cute video where Morrissey is surrounded by sulky rockabilly musicians and offers his tambourine to an indifferent french bulldog.) Its lyrics are throwaway easy, its arrangement nothing to shout about - it's not trying to burrow into your head from the get go like so many pop songs these days.

But it grows with every listen and feels quintessentially "him" - the sort of record that fits into any period of his career. It's a melodic pop song in the mold of the many from the 60s Morrissey has been defending since he was in The Smiths, where (as usual) he announces some dramatic decision (in this case, his embrace of the City of Lights) because love has deserted him. Shame is the Name, the b-side, is a nice little gem too. Lyrically, it revisits the familiar territory of broken homes and lost youth that he's always been fascinated with, with backing vocals by long-time friend and Pretenders front woman Chrissie Hynde.
commonpeople1: (Mr Stamp)
Despite attending a "lame" fetish night at Slimelight on Friday, then not getting any sleep, [livejournal.com profile] tina found enough strength yesterday to get on a train from Walthamstow and come meet the actor who plays Kevin and I at Liverpool Street Station. Every Londoner was out and about after a smiley sun rose above the capital. She looked gorgeous as ever, although a little sleepy; we walked over to Brick Lane for the South African B-B-Q I'd promised earlier in the week, as well as a long-overdue catch up.

Afterwards, we grabbed some coffee and had a look at the stalls that sell overpriced crap by clueless Shoreditch designers. There seemed to be a vintage store every ten feet, which brought the shopper out of Tina and Kevin: soon he had a grey bag for his notebooks and pens, and she had a vest and a beautiful dark blue dress.



We visited Nog Gallery so Tina could check out their zines and art books; we ended up discovering a neat exhibition of darkly humourous etchings made by a Hackney artist called John M F Casey. They are quite beautiful - I believe he painted the wooden canvasses white, then black, then etched through them to create imagery of hellish horrors that would suit Tim Burton's living room.

Birthday Boy tired of treasure hunting London


We said our goodbyes to Tina around 4.30pm and went to Spitalfields Market to wait for [livejournal.com profile] tom. His girlfriend [livejournal.com profile] christa had planned for him a massive treasure hunt across London, and we were his almost-at-the-end-of-the-line stop. I had a pirate badge pinned to my bag which said "Happy Birthday to Me"; as soon as he found us, I removed it and he pinned it on his jacket. His task was to sing any of The Smiths' songs in their entirety, with no mistakes, so he could learn his next destination. He shocked me to the Moon and back by not knowing in full any of their lyrics. He stammered through "This Charming Man", failed at "Bigmouth Strikes Again", and was about to bomb on "Shoplifters of the World Unite" when Kevin told me to give him a break and suggest an easy one. So I suggested "How Soon Is Now?", which he murdered hurried through before making his escape. Remind me to never go karaoking with him.

We headed for Waterloo for a meeting with my old friend Kelly at the BFI Southbank. Juliette Binoche's paintings are being exhibited there as part of their "Binoche Season" and they are worth checking out if you are in the area. Her paintings are pairs that match her career's characters with the directors she has worked with. All of her self-portraits are infused with the personalities and physionomies of the directors that created them.

Kelly showed up with a gift for us, some french cheese, figs and lavender she collected from her house in France. We walked over to Soho's Curzon because the idea of watching a grim Icelandic thriller called Jar City on a beautiful September night seemed like a good idea. It was one of those films which could have easily been made for TV - a sort of Prime Suspect with detectives that eat goat heads for dinner and juggle their personal lives with their depressing work. The film had some wonderful aerial shots of Iceland but its main message seemed to be: DON'T LIVE IN THIS FUCKING MISERABLE ISLAND. Iceland's Ministry of Tourism should look into suing.

Party Bus on Charing Cross Road


Outside the cinema, past 11pm, London suddenly seemed overwhelmed by crowds of horny, drunken louts from the 'burbs. Everyone shouted over everyone else, and cars honked uselessly at a traffic that was going nowhere. A gang of women dressed as FBI agents, the leader wearing bridal headgear, stumbled past us. Even the neon lights seemed brighter than usual, intense enough to burn your retinas. A nightmarish sight rolled into view: a red double-decker bus crammed with people, blasting "YMCA". The bus carried girls wearing glittery tiaras who were having a right hoot rubbing their boobs against the windowpanes for the benefit of the men on the sidewalk, their hands banging in the air as if the Village People were the ultimate rave experience. Some girls on the street felt compelled to join the fun by rushing to the windows and doing their own YMCA moves back at the partygoers inside. It only dawned on me to take a photo of this modern horseman of the apocalypse once it was pulling away - thus the shaky photo above.

The Sickly Green Chest of Drawers


Today, we took our iPods and newspapers to Vicky Park, bought some bagels and coffee and lay on the grass in full view of the sun. On the way back, we found this chest of drawers sitting on the sidewalk, not too far from our tower block. There was nothing wrong with it apart from its green snot colour (debatable defect) and food stains (solved quickly with a soapy cloth). It's going to sit in the master bedroom after it failed to look alright in the hallway, the sitting room and the dining room.

The Squirrel Who Thought People Were Made of Carrot Cake


This little fellow approached us last week, when we were sitting on the lawn outside the Geffrye Museum enjoying coffee and slices of cakes bought at Broadway Market. [livejournal.com profile] dawnkitten made the mistake of giving it some of her carrot cake, instantly creating a friend who thought she was made of cake. I never saw a squirrel this upclose before; he was actually slightly intimidating. It didn't even flinch away from Kevin's paparazzi-style photography. Just look at that mouth. It wants to eat you. Yes, YOU!
commonpeople1: (George O'Brien)
It was an unusually beautiful Sunday in London, the likes we haven't seen this summer. So, of course, Kevin and I filled our thermos with coffee, grabbed some books and a bedsheet, then headed for Victoria Park for a bit of sunshine. Lying on the grass, listening to my new iPod, watching a young boy play football with his father and grandfather, it dawned on me - and I know this is trite - how little time we have for anything: we'll never get to read all the books we want, hear all the great music recorded, watch all the top notch films, attend all parties, dance in all night clubs, kiss all the beautiful boys, swim in all oceans and seas... you get the picture. The New Yorker has a podcast in its arts section where an author, each month, reads a short story by another author. Where am I gonna find the time to listen to these, on top of all the other things I want/need to do? (I still haven't cracked open the two gay mags I bought in Paris, for example.)

This existential drama played in my head as I reflected on my two social engagements yesterday. I had a housewarming party in Walthamstow with friends and, across town, a ticket for some stand-up comedy. I tried to do both - and it worked out fine - but it left me feeling at the end of the night that I didn't get enough of anything.

I brought vodka to [livejournal.com profile] suzi's housewarming (also known as The One Girl And A Whole Lot Of Blokes Party), drank pina coladas and cheap lager, answered the hostess' mobile phone and intercom in my best impression of her, laughed a good deal and was hitting my stride when the clock hit midnight 7.30pm and I had to dash out. (Did any of you witness my near fall when I stumbled down the step?) I'm particularly sad I missed out on the magic cookies...

Suzi has a great terrace just off her studio (which is a charming little lodging that reminds me of a cottage) with plenty of space for BBQs and social interaction. If there were firecrackers, we would have lit them; if there were banners, we would have waved them; if there was a snogging line, [livejournal.com profile] craig would have been first in line since he's the primary one. See... just thinking about the general silliness, the drunken text messages I exchanged with the party goers afterwards, makes me regret missing the rest of the party (and the ones who arrived when I was leaving/gone).

The 99 Club, temporarily housed in a pub just off Tottenham Court Road, hosted routines by Holly Walsh and Paul Foot. My experience with stand-up comedy (years and years ago) has been that there's usually one or two good performances, and a whole load of mistakes and deadly silence from the audience. Last night was generally great, with both acts delivering really good routines (they lucked out with the crowd). I didn't know this until afterwards but Paul Foot is a bit of a celebrity (he was even on an American TV show, Last Comic Standing.) There was a group of teenage boys right at the front who got teased mercilessly by him (they loved it). Afterwards, Paul joined us (he knows Sissy Jen and her fiancee) for some late drinks and food; we ran into the teenage boys and they fawned all over Paul as if he was the Second Coming. He suggested we go for omelettes at the Laguna Cafe, a dive just across the street from the Astoria, after he dispatched his fans but, oh boy, he must have really regretted that suggestion! He ran away from our belligerent selves as soon as he'd scoffed that omelette and downed his Coke.

The Party Dance )
commonpeople1: (Default)

planet03
Originally uploaded by lemmy_caution
Soho's Curzon hosts midnight movies once in a blue moon. Like last night, for example, with Fantastic Planet (1973). Kevin and I nearly didn't arrive in time (11.40pm) thanks to drinks and a game of Scrabble with our landlords that went on for too long. The nights have been balmy and there's nothing better than sitting outside a pub (such as the Royal Inn on the Park - too bad they are soooo ridiculously expensive) after the week has come to an end. Fruity beer is my thing.

I saw Fantastic Planet for the first time 9 years ago. Kevin and I were visiting Canada's east coast, staying with some of his friends in Halifax.[1] We were all a bit drunk, and after a fat joint was passed around, our host Chris decided to put this film on. I didn't pick up at the time how much it influenced the french band Air; just the horror, the cruelty of those bug-eyed giants towards the humans, tripping me out as I lay on the carpet. Very much like Planet of the Apes, but far creepier and sci-fi-ish; far more beautiful and eerie than any other animation I've seen since. It was good to finally watch it sober and slip inside its world, unemcumbered by paranoid thoughts. There was a short film beforehand, I Met the Walrus, based on a tape interview between a student and John Lennon. It's great and you can watch it here. And here's the trailer for Fantastic Planet.

[1] They lived in an apartment right below Rick Mercer, one of the main stars of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, one of Canada's most popular TV shows at the time. One morning, Rick and his partner were in the garden, just in their bathrobes. We said hello and our hostess had a brief chat with them. I was all starstruck..
commonpeople1: (Eloise)
I'm doing two things today I've never done before:

1) working from home
2) visiting a police station to hand in criminal evidence of a robbery

My temporary office, located in a charming tower block that overlooks the East End, has run out of coffee and biscuits; a trip to the cornerstore may be in the cards. I've got All Flashback Alternatives playing on my iTunes, and it's currently The Chameleons' "Singing Rule Britannia". Now it's The Cure's "Push". It's a radio station that plays the contents of my head.

I heard The Chameleons for the first time while in Paris, a few weekends ago. Kevin and I were having an incredibly expensive pint of beer in a bar in Marais, and they were playing one of their albums in full. I was slightly outraged that I'd never heard of them before! It's like all my favourite bands and sounds wrapped into one package. See, just when you think life can't surprise you, something comes along and knocks you off your feet. Never presume you've seen (and heard) it all.

Fuck about... they are now playing Howard Jones' "Things Can Only Get Better". Didn't I tell you this radio station matched my brain?!

Ok, I better go and do some work. Be back soon. Upcoming topics: The Cure's latest singles; songs by The Chameleons; 80s nights in London; Joyce Carol Oates rocks my boat; and which biscuits go best with tea.

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