Thursday, September 30, 2010

This was a shop window in the middle of a trendy street filled with clothing boutiques and perfume shops.
Even though the tools and other hardware look kind of beat to hell, they are probably hundreds of years old and still function perfectly.
I imagined myself bringing home a nice hatchet for my brother Billy. "Here's a souvenir I got you from Paris, Billy."
"Yes, I thought you might like it better than a baseball cap."

Here is a self portrait of my foot standing on one of their famous hobblestone streets. If the endless flights of stairs don't get you, these streets will. Even with high tech, stretch-o-matic woven leather shoes guaranteed to last at least 100,000 miles, my dogs were always barking loud enough to wake up the neighborhood. By the time I got home, I had twin Achille's tendonitis, trick knees, aching quads and glutes that could crack walnuts. How those Paris fashionistas can rock stilettos is the mystery of the ages.

I Just Can't Stop Thinking About Paris.

The trouble with traveling is how much a new place can occupy one's mind long after the trip is over. In just short of a few weeks, I acquired some little habits in Paris I really enjoyed and miss like crazy.

I crave those tiny espressos with the little teaspoon of foam on them.
I miss the knowing grins I got from waiters when I asked for un carafe d'eau--aka tap water--so we could avoid getting nicked 5 Euros each for a bottle of mineral water.

I miss the insane drivers, the death wish motorcyclists and the 70-year-olds riding bicycles in the middle of traffic like they thought they were immortal.
I miss the sound of those crazy police and ambulance sirens that go ReeRoh-ReeRoh in some ear splitting pitch.

I miss the fancy little dogs all over the place--in restaurants, department stores, anywhere a human can go, a dog is welcome. Fat French bulldogs are very popular there, and all the male Frenchies have their testicles intact. The dog in the cafe picture above was named Hula Hoop, and she was so mellow and well behaved it took me 30 minutes to even notice she was there sitting next to me.
I miss sending someone a text message and 45 minutes later meeting at some cafe or bar that's nowhere near where either of us lives. I miss flower and chocolate shops as available as beer and Marlboro reds are in Texas. I miss how good the place smelled, even though it should smell as old and musty as a great-granny's panty drawer.
I miss drawing strangers into conversations as I walked the streets, with my horrible French not even being that much of a liability. French people are very, very friendly, and anyone who denies that must be an unfriendly asshole with an outrageous sense of entitlement. I came home with a pocketful of e-mail addresses, phone numbers and other ways to contact the wonderful French people I encountered.
I hadn't planned for Paris to embed itself into my psyche like it has. Once all the touristy crap had been gotten out of the way, just walking around by myself on the streets made me feel like not just a true global citizen, it made me feel absolutely Parisian.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Christine O' Who?

Wow. I leave town for two weeks never having heard of this ditzy broad, and now she's all over the news all the time?
And best of all, it's not because she's some new teabagging politician who hornswaggled Delaware (or wherever she's from) into electing her.
Nope, it's because she says stuff so crazy she makes Sarah Palin sound like Socrates.
I say more power to her!
She's on the Crazy Express and it's a bullet train!
Someone enlighten me, please.
When did this happen? Who is this broad?
She's an actual U.S. Senator? Seriously?
I feel like an alien who just landed on Earth and have to be educated about this odd new life form.
Dish! I need the dirt dished about this dip. And hurry!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gee, what a gorgeous building! I wondered what it was...
Silly me.
When I heard the cabbie tell me it was, "La Conciergerie," I imagined centuries of eager French students attending what must have been an exclusive school for hospitality, butlering, food service or other lovely French profession created to provide luxurious service to visitors. I was wrong. I was batshit crazy wrong.
This glorious, castle-like structure on the banks of the Seine instead was for centuries an abysmal prison, where thousands upon thousands of prisoners were held, and too many doomed souls were tortured beyond the imagination of any serial killer.
Almost 2,800 people were guillotined here, including Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI. Their 10-year-old son died alone in a prison cell here shortly after his parents were executed.
A tower on one end of the building was called, "The Babbler" because the screams from victims being tortured could be heard all over that end of the Seine.
As I mentioned, at one time the French were a bunch of vengeful, crazed sadists who'd chop off the head of someone even if they "weren't considered liberal enough."
I guess any culture that has survived as many centuries as the French has had its share of historical bloodshed, but compared to the French, we Americans are a bunch of namby pambies with a couple of rifles, a few hand grenades and a bomb or two.
Seriously, when we Americans students studied French history for two weeks back in 7th grade, they left out a whole lot of gruesome details.
What amazes me most is how the French are so enamored with architectural beauty, even their shithole prisons look like castles nestled elegantly beside the shimmering Seine.
If someone told me this building was an elegant hotel where I'd be staying while visiting Paris, I'd be sending postcards to people in America whom I didn't even like, just to be a show-off.
The Conciergerie is just one more example of dark, mysterious Paris.
You know how the place got its name?
The head torturer used to enjoy recommending great places to eat to tourists who happened by his place of business. Yep, I guess he'd remove his blood stained leather gloves, wipe the guts off his forehead and say with a jaunty smile, "Mais oui, zere iss zees great crepe place just up zee reever from here. Tell zem Pierre Le Sangre sent you."

KarenZipdrive's Food.

Please visit my other blog, listed to the right, where I'll be discussing Paris food and the inspiration it's given me to start cooking again.

Delicious Funky Bodegas
Paris property values are too high to support large urban grocery stores.
If you plan to make dinner at home, you first must stop at the meat place, the fish place, the produce place, the bread place, the wine place, the cheese place, the flower stall and the pastry place.
A pear or a peach might cost a few Euros each, but you can believe it'll taste like a vintage pear, and each juicy bite will be more delicious than the last.
As a foodie, I would have gone nuts planning a menu for a dinner party. Alas, my neat freak flatmates made Martha Stewart look like a hillbilly hoarder eating pork n' beans from a hacked open can, so I wasn't about to soil the tiny kitchen with a lot of chopping, schlepping and stove top work.
Paris really is the city of romance.
It's not hard to spot an elderly couple squashed into a dimly lit alcove, making out and groping each other like a couple of horny teens.
To contemplate preparing the ultimate Parisian seduction dinner was a fantasy I indulged in at least twice a day. Just a salad alone could be assembled to look like a Matisse abstract.
Shock of all shocks, I actually lost weight while I was in Paris.
All that walking could have accommodated a 4,000 daily calorie intake without adding an ounce of flab.
We'd start each morning with a warm, flaky pomme tart, the apples subtly sweet and melting into the layers of buttery pastry. A pot of coffee accompanied the tartes, along with an unfortunate substance they called half and half which was sold unrefrigerated. We think it may have been breast milk, but who can say?
Sometimes we'd change things up for a breakfast of croissants, creamy French butter and a confiture of slightly sweetened, fat cherries.
Pastry and coffee for breakfast should become a law in all countries.
There is no substitute for leaving the house in the morning without the comfort of a tummy filled with coffee and pastry. None!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Explained by an
Ignorant American

Basically, there are three types of buildings in Paris.

First, there are flats and apartments by the zillions.

The average home dwelling is approximately 400 years old, features ceilings made of plaster and enormous, dark wooden beams that make railroad ties look like puny little 2x4's.

Some of the more modern flats have elevators, but Parisians seem to take great pleasure in dragging themselves up and down dark, narrow stairways--the more floors the better.

We rented a flat on the third floor, sans elevator, which meant about 150 stairs ascended and descended several times a day, usually en route to a metro with another 500 to 1,000 stairs to contend with. Then you have to walk to wherever you're going, stroll around for five or six hours, then descend again into the bowels of the nearest metro.

Next come the churches, basilicas, cathedrals and other religious structures.

Not churches in the conventional American mega-church sense, these churches are usually one floor but 10 stories tall, with soaring ceilings covered with gold leaf, hand painted frescoes depicting the history of Jesus and every priest and nun from the last 2010 years, angels, cherubs, life sized statues and enough stained glass to cover the entire state of Rhode Island.

In some gigantic church near Notre Dame where they house Jesus's original crown of thorns, I could almost swear I was developing a touch of stigmata on the back of my hands.

If metropolitan Paris has 2 million residents, I suspect 2.5 million of them are Catholics.

The last time I cried in a church was pretty much never.

At Sacre Coeur, approximately 15,000 stairs straight up, I found myself bawling like Jimmy Swaggart caught with his zipper down at a whore motel. The grandeur was overwhelming and I sobbed thinking how much I wished my Mama could have lived to see it. Big Sis and I clung together like two rhesus monkeys, oblivious to everyone around us. It was a great cry.

The third set of Paris buildings were the monuments.

You cannot swing a 5 euro bill without hitting at least three spectacular monuments.

You see, the French are a compact, wiry bunch of easily insulted warriors.

Each monument seemed to boil down to this:

Someone insulted a Frenchman, or even worse, a group of French men.

They went to war with the insulting party or parties, kicked their asses, then built another spectacular monument to commemorate le royale ass kicking they gave le enemy.

About 10 or 20 centuries ago, a 19-year-old French chick named Joan inspired Frenchmen to fight for their nation and their rights. She was very compelling, so the French enthusiastically complied.

Then Joan, who apparently lived in or near a town called Arc, said she heard God's voice compelling her to compel the French to action.

Apparently, the French do not like people claiming to hear the voice of God, so they killed her.

Joan of Arc still had her fans, however, so the French guys who killed her made amends by building her a little memorial church they called Notre Dame.

All this time I thought the dame in question was Mary mother of Jesus, but nope, the dame was Joan, from Arc.

And do not get me started on Emperor Napoleon and his monument. That's a whole 'nother blog.

Sacre Coeur
Now this is what I call a church.
Sacre Coeur, or Sacred Heart, is at the top of Montemarte, the highest butte in Paris.
It was at this amazingly glorious spot I learned the most important words in French:
1. Bon jour.
2. Sie vous plais.
3. Merci.
4. TAXI!
Sacre Coeur was my Catholic Mama's all time favorite symbol--the sacred heart of Jesus's mom.
It was essential that Big Sis and I made it up there to light candles and pray for Mama's soul.
Being hardly Catholic anymore, still the grandeur, the spectacle and the priest's velvety French and the old nun's high soprano caused Big Sis and I to fall into each others' arms and cry like babies.
We flung Euros in every direction, lighting candles, buying rosaries, icons, medallions and everything else they had for sale. We even found an ancient old priest in a side room who put his blessing on every doodad we'd bought.
I don't care what religion you are, Sacre Coeur is the churchiest church on the planet. It even made Notre Dame look like a revival tent.
And that's saying something.
Paris: How I Learned to Love It.
Here I am at the Louvre, touching the sign that says, "Do not touch."
Paris is a marathon of sights to see, places to be and things people will ask if you saw while you were there.
Here's what I didn't see:
The Catacombs
The Paris Sewer Tour
Pere La Chaise cemetery
Everything else, I saw.
After about 8 days, my Achille's tendons were shot, my left knee was tricking out on me and my glutes and quads were throbbing like an ER visit should have been next on le menu.
But by then, my traveling companions and I had agreed to go off on our own to tour the places we wanted to see on our own terms.
That's when I fell in love with Paris.
The side streets and alleys were filled with lovely surprises: a couture studio next to a dog groomer's. A felafel joint near an S&M bondage shop. Every third business was either a boulangerie, a patisserie or a chocolate shop.
The sidewalk cafes were everywhere. For 2 Euros 50 you could buy an espresso. Add another Euro and you could have a teaspoon of cream. Call me a bargain hound, but I think a 3 and a half Euro demitasse of 2.5 ounces of java n' cream was a real value.
The metros were fantastic, if you happen to be a world class mountain climber who can navigate eight flights of steep stairs in two minutes flat.
Our flat in Le Merais was adorable, if the three flights up sans a lift was no issue.
Then the cobblestone streets added to the ambulatory challenges. Big Sis called them, "hobblestone streets," and she was not kidding. I tripped at least 40 times.
But off on my own, at my own pace, my heart filled with the kind of je ne sais qua that can only be gained by strolling on an overcast day, talking to strangers, bartering for souvenirs, and joining other world citizens for tiny cups of coffee at the sidewalk cafes.
On a few of my strolls, I wandered two or three Arondissements away from the 4th. I found myself in little Tunisia, little Congo and little Dakar.
I booked it the hell out of there tuit de suite.
I may not look rich, but compared to these suffering souls I looked like Donald Trump wearing a suit of 1,000 Euros sewn together with a garland of golden leaves on my head and leaving footsteps of Louis d'or coins.
There are many more tales to tell. To be continued...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Uh oh.

Looks to me like gay bashing Florida Bishop Eddie Long, the preacher on the down-low who's being sued by a handful of hunky young black male parishioners for using them for sexual favors in exchange for religious whatever, might need to consult the oldest law on record.
Yeah, this looks like a case for the Code of Hammurabi, on which the bishop should lay on of hands and try to find a vein of information that will
help him explain why he liked to single out the hotties and groom them for greatness.
He looks like he could use a firm, hard explanation for his actions.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Home From Paris

Wow, what a town.
I shot this picture from the window of a Patisserie as we were strolling by.
It's as good as any to illustrate just a sliver of Parisian life.
Paris and its suburbs must have 3 million people living shoulder to shoulder; people of all nationalities and costumes, but the image of the tall, leggy, wild maned Parisiene femme is real.
If the rest of the world's largest cities have maybe 4 percent gorgeous women who make your jaw drop, Paris has around 28 percent.
Many of he men are just as pretty--especially the gay ones. In Le Marais where we stayed, it was impossible to swing a messenger bag without hitting at least three of them.
This entry will be the first of many about Paris--the good, the bad and the...well, you'll see.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Oh mon Dieu ! It looks like the French don't know what's hit them!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Our beloved Karen Zipdrive is vacationing. I of course am jealous as shit. I did tell her I would post 'something' on her blog whilst she was off enjoying the hell out of her vacation. Here is a short post by moi with a timely video from the wonder known as George Carlin:

This just into the newsroom..

Cher looked damn fucking HOT last night on the VMA's. Yes, I watched that shit. So here’s the question: Will U.S. policy makers let themselves be spooked by financial phantoms and bullied by business intimidation? Will they continue to do nothing in the face of policies that benefit Chinese special interests at the expense of both Chinese and American workers? Or will they finally, finally act? Stay tuned.-Paul Krugman, today's piece.

No one tells it straight like George Carlin did.
THis post wasn't posted by Zippy, its posted by Dusty.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tell Your Story

I'll be leaving soon for Paris, where I've never been.
My heart is full and my sense of awe and wonder are boundless.
Many of you are far better-traveled than I, and I'm sure you have some amazing tales of your travels.
While I'm away (leaving of course massive security at my home including three ex Israeli guards and a few Dobermans off their leashes to patrol the grounds) I would love for you to use the comments section to tell your best travel stories.
They may be wonderful, frightening, funny or sad, I just want to hear them all.
Thanks, and I will miss my commenters and readers.
Au revoir!

Friday, September 10, 2010

There Are Places for Screaming Kids

I know if I walk into Toys R Us, McDonald's or Walmart, there's a good chance my ears will be assaulted by the piercing sound of some bratty kid who's screaming his or her little guts out.
The brat's parents are either inured to it, or they just don't give a damn what their kid's screeching is doing to other patrons.
I do not patronize establishments where children are likely to be screaming.
Grocery stores cannot be avoided, but the higher-end the store, the less likely there will be screaming brats present.
If I'm at a restaurant that does not offer a kiddy menu, then I should feel safe to assume little screech owls will not be there, allowed to ruin my meal.
If I'm at a movie rated GP, R or X, then there should be no goddam kids there at all.
If the cost of my meal is $10 or more, same thing.
I can think of two kids who were adorable as toddlers--my nephews Sam and Albert. They were not screamers or tantrum throwers in public. Their daddy (my bro) would have dealt with them later in a manner that would have discouraged further public outbursts.
Rule of thumb: if the locale serves alcohol, children should shut the hell up or we all get to smash pie in their faces or throw ice water at them.
I didn't have kids partly because I don't like all the screaming.
That means I don't want to hear your screaming kids, either.
If you own kids who make scenes in public, make them stop it. Now.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Wow! Palin Uses a Really, Really Big Word.

Sarah Palin is speaking out against a plan put forth by a Florida-based church to burn Qurans on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. She said book burning was 'antithetical to the American way.'

The former Alaska governor outlined her position on the contentious issue in a message posted to her Facebook page Wednesday evening...

Antithetical? Really?
It's not enough that Palin uses Facebook to spread most of her political rants, but now she tries to make us think "antithetical" is part of her vocabulary?
Seriously folks, if a politician needs a ghost writer to create her Facebook posts, how dumb must she be?
And jumping on the bandwagon against some backwoods hayseed preacher with a congregation of 50 who found a Quran to burn was a no-brainer.
Palin ranted about the anti-American nature of burning books, yet when she was mayor of Wasilla she fired the librarian because she refused to remove copies of Harry Potter books and a few others that Palin deemed inappropriate.
What a miserable opportunist Palin is.
What a pathetic bandwagoneer.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

I Give Up.

I used to enjoy The View, but now I hate it.
First, Whoopie Goldberg makes me sick. She's an eyesore, her smoke-smothered voice is grating, and she's the biggest closet dyke in the world.
Elizabeth Hassledork is stupid and so are her politics.
I don't care about Sherry Sheppard's stupid kid Jeffrey, or what "adorable" things he's doing. She's worse than Kathy Lee Gifford used to be about her damn kids.
Joy Behar talks over everyone, and although she's good away from the show, she's obnoxious on it.
And Barbara Walters is totally played out.
So there!
Please Help a Foodie Out

Over at my other blog KarenZipdrive's Food (listed to the right) I have a new poll.
Please click your little butts over there and respond to the poll.
Thank you.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Where L.A. Justice is Swift and Effective

Uh oh. Paris Hilton was recently busted in Las Vegas with about a gram of cocaine in her Chanel bag.
Apparently, convicted criminals who are not subjected to punishment in Los Angeles have to travel to Vegas to get what's comin' to them.
Murderer O.J. Simpson got off Scot-free in L.A. for killing his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman, but he's now in a Vegas prison doing hard time for an armed robbery.
My hunch is, Paris Hilton also will end up serving some time in Vegas once she's tried and (likely) convicted for cocaine possession.
I'll bet rapper TI is relieved he was caught with drugs in L.A. rather than Vegas. He's on federal probation for weapons trafficking, so his drug bust does not look good, but being busted in LA probably will result in just another tiny slap on the wrist.
I'm not exactly a strict law and order conservative, but even I get sick of these celebutantes like Hilton getting busted all the time without any repercussions.
As I've said before, the kids of today have no idea how to do drugs without getting caught.
For example, if you're on probation and smoking weed in a moving vehicle with the windows down, it's probably best not to be holding cocaine in your purse.
I think perhaps it's time to put Paris Hilton in prison for 5 or 10 years.
Until these Hollywood chippies learn to be discreet with their dope habits, something has to happen to teach them what not to do.
It's just a shame that L.A. is too chickenshit to enforce their own laws.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars

This is a star?
And worse yet, Bristol announced that she plans to "dress modestly" on the show.
Without the scanty outfits, why watch?
They need to change the show's name from Dancing With the Stars to "Dancing With People You've Maybe Heard Of."
Special thanks to my friend Nonnie9999 of Hysterical Raisins for doing the Photoshopping. Go see her blog, she's brilliant.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

An Hilarious Story

It might be hard to believe, but I've never actually watched even one snippet of MTV's "The Jersey Shore."
But even a hermit who has no TV has heard of Snooki by now. She's the 4'11" drunken tramp who's in the cast of the show, and her antics have made her stand out ahead of the rest of the girls of the cast.
Now here's the thing I think is totally hilarious.
It seems the people who make Coach and Gucci handbags have been sending Snooki free bags to carry around. Coach is sending her Gucci bags and Gucci is sending her Coach bags. HAHAHAHA!
You know you're a slut when companies beg you to carry other company's products.