Oct 24

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. I have a 20 minute presentation due tomorrow on Napoleonic propaganda in the French press. My roof is leaking. It has been for a while, but it stopped, and then it started again and it’s worse than ever. I put a pot on the floor to catch the water. It’s filling up very quickly. My neighbor did knock on my door last Thursday to let me know he had called a plumber but apparently this mysterious plumber either didn’t show or didn’t do anything. I was getting dressed at the time, so my neighbor and I had a rather awkward conversation through my closed door. And now… I’m procrastinating.

The two major things: first, I saw Muse on Thursday, and second, I went to Brest on Friday with 2 friends and came back late last night!

Where did I leave off? Two weeks ago, that’s where. Remind me not to go that long without posting ever again. Too too much to write.

So I did end up going to the Cinematheque Francaise in Bercy with a friend, and we watched a French film by a Georgian director called “Adieu, Plancher des vaches!” We just went and saw whatever was playing at that time so we didn’t know anything about the film, but it was actually wonderful and I never would have known about it otherwise. It was in French with no subtitles but the dialogue was minimal so I had no trouble at all. Watch the trailer!


Well, it’s Tuesday now. The leak has stopped! Hooray. I had to stop procrastinating at some point… and thankfully I found the motivation to actually get my presentation done in time! And it didn’t go too awfully! It helped that there were only 5 other students in the class, that they were all American, and that my professor was super encouraging (she literally went “mmmhm!” after every other thing I said). And now it’s over and I’m very happy.

Okay, where was I? Yes. Still 2 weeks ago. Anyway, remember that time when I crashed at my Candian friend’s friend’s place that one time? That same guy had invited us to his birthday party Friday at his apartment in the 20th. Our first house party in Paris! We drank lots of wine and mingled with French people (though I did meet another New Yorker who’d just graduated from Barnard! Small world.)

Anyway, the party winded down but it was too late for us to take the metro home, so we hung around to wait for the morning metro at 5 am. I think I fell asleep for a bit on the couch. I ended up getting home around 7.

I slept until around 11:30, when I heard a buzz at my door. It was my landlord. I was in my pyjamas but I had called him to take care of the leak in my roof  the day before and there he was. Groooooaaan. I tried to hide my grumpiness as best I could but I still asked him, as politely as I could manage, to call before coming by the next time. He was very nice about it. Anyway I had lunch and went back to sleep until 6 pm so that was aaaaall good.

That night I went to another party in the 15th arrondissement. My friend just finished her Masters in film here in Paris, but last year she did an exchange at Brooklyn College (which is where I met her). She came back here to finish taking her exams and graduate, and was going home to Romania that week.

As it turned out, the party was held in a 60 something year old Romanian artist’s studio/house. It was very interesting, to say the least… there was artwork everywhere, and a huge chain hanging from the ceiling. I ran into a French guy who had studied at Brooklyn College for a year–I’d only met him briefly while in Brooklyn, which made this kind of hilarious. The crowd was mostly people studying or working in film, which was really cool to say the least! People from Australia, Iran, Morocco… oh yeah, and France. Since I was by myself I was in no position to miss the last metro– so I headed out fairly early. But not before my friend shared some of her grandfather’s homemade Romanian plum liquor, which she kept in an innocuous plastic water bottle. Good stuff.

On Monday I finally went to the Louvre for the first time since I’ve been here! This was only thanks to a family friend and her husband, who were visiting Paris for a few days. I hung out with them for the day and we went to the Louvre and Notre Dame. Free for students, awww yeah! Of course we saw the Mona Lisa… I really need to go to some more museums.

Anyway. I didn’t stay up for the vice presidential debate (or the second presidential debate for that matter) but I did watch it. I don’t want to spend time on it as it’s pretty much old news now, but I do need to say this: I love Joe Biden. I saw The Paperboy with a friend on Wednesday. What a film. I’ll just say that it’s pure melodrama, but extremely well done, and never boring. I like A.O. Scott’s description of it as a “hot mess”. Hehe. I thought it was interesting that it was playing in a multiplex here, though. Did it get a wide release in the U.S.? I would be very surprised if it did. Watch the trailer, even though it’s probably one of the worst trailers I’ve ever seen. I literally had no interest in seeing the film after seeing this trailer. The reviews changed my mind.

On Thursday…

I saw my favorite band in the world, Muse, play at the Bercy Stadium!

I can’t really justify saying that they’re my favorite band in the world, anymore. The album they’ve just released, The 2nd Law… well, it has its fun moments, but it has barely any emotional depth to it and musically it’s just all over the place. And don’t get me started on the lyrics… Matt Bellamy has never been the most brilliant lyricist but this is just…just…saddening.

HOWEVER!  This album doesn’t take away from the many masterpieces they’ve created in the past. Muse have been my favorite band since I was 12 and I can’t just throw them away. I will always, always always go see them live, regardless, because they put on an amazing show. Matt’s just an amazing performer all around and their stage setups are great. Plus, there’s always the faint hope of hearing some of their older songs…

I went to the concert straight from my last class of the day, which ended at 6. It was raining. By the time I got to the stadium the line for general admission extended through the park all the way to the Cinematheque Francaise (aka, really, really, really far). Finally, around 7:30 I got inside, and shortly afterwards the opening band came on. From the first notes they played I thought they sounded familiar… then I saw the bleach blonde hair and bright red dress of the lead singer and remembered. I’d seen this band at Lollapalooza. The Joy Formidable! Yes, that was it. Hi again, I thought. They’re from Wales. It was funny, because even though I’d really liked their set when I saw them in Chicago, I hadn’t ever downloaded or listened to any of their music. Anyway, they were great.

Muse came on after about 40 minutes. The crowd went absolutely insane– the entire floor section was dancing! They ended up playing TEN songs off the new album, which was… a lot. But they sounded better live, of course. They played Supremacy towards the beginning of their set and everyone was singing along. If the French accents weren’t funny enough… there’s a ton of falsetto in the song, and everyone, and I mean everyone, decided that they could reach those notes like Matt could. The result? A stadium full of the most bizarrely high pitched singing ever. It was hilarious. Here, listen at 2 minutes in and 3:44 in:


They played classics like Time Is Running Out (my first Muse song), Stockholm Syndrome and Plug In Baby. They also played a song from their first album — Falling Down — which they haven’t played in YEARS. That was absolutely stunning. And I loved that so much of the crowd was singing along! I hadn’t expected that at all.  Here’s the original song:

This was my 5th time seeing Muse– and no, that’s reaaally not a lot for how many years I’ve been a fan– and I really hope I get to see them when they play 2 nights at MSG in the spring. MUUUUUSE!


My 2 Canadian friends and I decided that we’d go away for the weekend. But where? We decided to just look for the best deal and go wherever it took us. So we were headed to Brest, in Bretagne– the Northwest of France!

I was worried that we wouldn’t have much to do there, but we actually had an amazing time. I’m just going to shut up and show you some of the beautiful pictures I got and you’ll understand!

The train there took about 5 hours, but it passed quickly. The TGV is super comfortable.

One of the main streets in Brest, Rue Jean Jaures. There’s a tramway!

The bus we took to get to a tiny town called Le Conquet…

In Le Conquet! It was low tide, so a lot of the boats were just resting on the sand which was a strange sight.

The dock, with the lighthouse in the distance!

The beautiful Atlantic Ocean!

Early morning Brest in the fog…

Plage Sainte Anne, about 20 minutes from Brest by bus…

We walked out onto a cliff, sat by the rocks and enjoyed the view and the ocean air. It was perfect.

Yes, my shoes…

Then we headed back into Brest and checked out a fortress that had been turned into a naval museum. This was the view from the top…

We returned to Paris on Sunday evening. We actually had to switch trains, and our layover was an hour and a half. But when we arrived we realized there was a train going back to Paris within 15 minutes. We decided to get on that train even though there were assigned seats and there was a very real possibility of us getting kicked off. We were stowaways!

We did end up having to move seats for people who got on the train at later stops, and for a good half hour we were sitting on the little seats between cars! But eventually a lot of people got off and we were able to get normal seats again. We arrived in Paris an hour and a half earlier than we were supposed to. Muahahaha!

So it was back to classes today. We watched parts of this film and this film in my Korean cinema class. I swear, that class is basically my prof showing us films and being all like, “Ohhh I love this part, isn’t this part lovely? Tra lala la!” and then sometimes also inundating us with important names and dates in Korean history. I love my Korean Cinema class. I love all my classes. (Can you tell I haven’t had any exams or assignments due yet? Yeah? Yeah. Sigh.)

I’m still endlessly entertained when my professors try to speak English. I know they actually speak and understand English pretty well, but their accents are too much. Ah-doh-rah-ble. Today in my Hollywood Economics class, Weinstein turned into Veinshtayn and Joe Roth turned into Jeroff (giraffe?). And in Korean Cinema “Hand of Fate” turned into “Chand of Fate”. That’s the “CH” you make when you say “Chanukkah”, girls and boys. I have no idea where that pronunciation came from and I really hope I didn’t grin too widely. Hehehe.

I’m going to end this post with a French song that I adore. I heard it for the first time on the radio this summer. It’s originally by Henri Salvador but I was just browsing YouTube as I do, and I found this version by Yves Montand that… well, just hit play.

(And for good measure, click here for the version I first heard this summer — it’s a new arrangement by Benjamin Biolay, whom I also love, and it’s so, so so lovely.)

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Gabrielle in Paris