Paris This Time Last Year

It’s feels strange to imagine, but exactly a year ago today I was getting on an Air France flight at JFK airport and leaving cold, damp grey November weather in New York for cold, damp grey November weather in Paris. Even in chilly November Paris sparkles. It’s just getting ready for the holidays and all the glitter that come with them, and late fall sunlight never fails to make even the dampest, greyest sidewalks inspiring.

I try to remind myself that I am lucky to live in New York, but when I look at pictures of Paris, I feel my heart start to soften and melt and nostalgia overwhelms me. This is the city I feel I am truly meant to be in. I feel about Paris in my 20’s and 30’s how I felt about New York City in my teens. There’s a deep attraction and a longing to be in a place that I feel fits all the contours of who I am, or at least who I wish myself to be.

I know it’s irrational. I live in a big city and I understand the frustrations of daily city living. It wears you down. People are rude.  It’s exhausting. But then there are the rooftops, the sky, the open markets, the cafes, the boutiques, the culture, the Seine, the rues, the quartiers, the Canal St. Martin, all the many nuances that make up Paris.

Last year I set myself a Parisian itinerary guided by collections of “bonnes addresses”  from blogs I had been reading and Pia Jane Bijkerk’s book Paris Made by Hand.  I visited my dear sister, ate croissants like there was no tomorrow (the average Parisian croissant is better than the best New York croissant, which should not come as a surprise to you), and learned about the 80’s teen pop sensation Lio.  I spent a lovely afternoon (and several awesome evenings) with my dear friend Leila, running around to indie boutiques like Corner de Createurs and La Cocotte (twice!), and doing silly things I love like going to Monoprix, having tea at Mariage Frères, cooing at beautiful clothes at Antoine et Lili, and buying bras at Princesse Tam Tam. I also just let myself wander until my feet were frozen, rode the metro just because I like it (I never do that in New York), snapped pictures, and soaked it in what I hope was enough Paris to sustain me until I can come back to the city that feels like my rightful home in the world.

Petite Atlier de Paris. Great for handmade gifts!

Near Gare du Nord

Repetto paradise on Rue du Paix

The cozy apartment of my friend Leila. I love how Parisian apartment have the most perfect, tiny balconies.

The only disadvantage being that old Parisian apartments are also walk ups. In this case 7 floors!

Noodle soup lunch at L'Alicheur, just off Rue Oberkamf

My first breakfast in Paris at Pick Clops in the Marais after my overnight flight

Rue Cremieux, stumbled upon close to the Gare du Lyon while I was on my way to catch the train to my sister's house.

Perfect Parisian pierre de taille

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MiLK & Fruit Juice in NYC!

Photo by Anne Bourgeon

It started with a tweet, “When I am I going to see Corita play?” It seemed like a simple enough question, except that the author of the tweet was Michel, of the indie band MiLK & Fruit Juice and he lives in France. Unfortunately Corita did not have (and still does not have) any plans to play a show in France. Or anywhere else outside of New York. So I wrote back, “I don’t know, when are you coming to New York? I’ll set up a show.” Then I got a better idea, “Why don’t you play a solo show with us?”  When Michel told me he was coming to NYC in September I wasted no time in booking a venue. However, I knew the other members of MiLK & Fruit Juice could not come to NYC and that being on stage alone in a new city is intimidating, and so I volunteered to be the backing band.

Photo by Anne Bourgeon

First of all, let me explain why I love MiLK & Fruit Juice: Michel writes catchy, dreamy songs that are full of heart. Some of them sound a bit twee, with with accents of toy instruments and excellent backing vocals from Marjorie and Sabine, but there’s also a twist of sadness, irony and realism. I am delighted to have met someone all the way across the Atlantic that shares so many of the same musical interests and passions as me. While that may seem like a small thing in this Internet age, when you meet in person, it still seems pretty magical.

Photo by Anne Bourgeon

On a rainy night in September at Spike Hill in Williamsburg the Pale Lights, MiLK & Fruit Juice and Corita shared the stage. Michel and I had one practice together under our belt and I was playing drums and singing back up on five of his songs. The day of the show I listened to the songs from his well-crafted album I’m Cold Handed Because I Have No Heart to Pump The Blood Through My Fingers  on repeat.  That night Michel  debuted a beautiful, vintage Silvertone guitar he had found at Rivington guitars.  I got to break out of my usual role as a guitar player and play drums, with drum sticks that Lisa Goldstein of the Pale Lights loaned to me for Michel’s set.  Apparently I kept the fact that I play drums secret from my friends, but I actually took drum lessons for several years in middle school! I never really graduated beyond a 4/4 rock beat though. In any event, it was really fun (and a little nerve wracking) to be on stage playing drums supporting a friend whose music I love and who lives so far away. Anne, who co-runs the label MonsterK7 in Montreal and Paris, took these beautiful photos and video, and Sabine was kind enough to share with me. Enjoy and if you like Michel’s music perhaps you will set up a show for him in your town! Or at least buy his record.

Photo by Anne Bourgeon

Photo by Anne Bourgeon

Photo by Anne Bourgeon

Photo by Anne Bourgeon

Video for Corita’s Song “Remember That You Will Die”

When I asked my dear friend Leila Bourgougnoux if she would be interested in making a video for my band Corita I didn’t honestly believe she would say yes. Making a video is a lot of work, after all, and it’s not like Corita can pay our artist friends the big bucks. But she did say yes and I sent her a bunch of songs to choose from. She chose our shoegazy take on metal and Buddhist philosophy “Remember That You Will Die” and, after getting kicked out of filming in a Parisian laundromat, shot this beautiful Super 8 footage in the south of France. When the other members of Corita and I saw the results we were absolutely thrilled by how perfectly she interpreted our song. I hope you will be too.

The Rubin Museum of Art also wrote about the video and their song on their Education blog. It was my work on the Rubin exhibition of the same name that inspired the song, so this is a nice full circle!

Summertime Coup d’Coeur (et craquage pour les soldes)

I know what you might be thinking: when did this blog start to be so much about trees, art, and philosophy? Where’s the fashion, where’s New York City? Maybe you are not actually thinking that because you also know that being a blogger who touches on fashion is a fairly new penchant for me. So here is a little entry to satiate your (er, my?) fashion cravings before I head back to the woods of Maine and New Hampshire and the mountains and plains of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. At least blog wise, that is. I’m firmly rooted in Brooklyn for another month, thankfully, as I love the soft sadness and changing weather of late summer in the city.

Top: J Crew, Skirt: American Apparel, Shoes: Ellips

This summer I resisted participating that oh-so-French twice yearly tradition: les soldes. That’s when all the clothes from last season go on sale and you can watch that beautiful object that you’ve had your eye on get deliciously marked down until you can almost afford it. This was the case with Ellips, the chausseurs de createur from which I got a beautiful grey, black and red pair of heels from in the winter. How I wanted their multicolored summer sandals! How I could not afford them! Finally les soldes rolled around. I took a deep breath and grabbed my credit card. But no! The pair I really wanted, the lovely Alice, was out of stock in my size, which is one danger of waiting until the sales.

I hemmed and hawed and finally decided on a second choice, which was the sassy Anais, who I like to imagine was named for one of my favorite writers, Anais Nin. Something I love about ordering from Ellips is emailing Priscille, la creatrice herself, en francais (though I am sure she speaks English perfectly) to place my order. She is so nice and helpful and her shoes are beautiful, comfortable and high quality, in addition to being handmade in Spain with all natural leather. I could hardly contain my excitement when they arrived. I gave them a special bike transport home and then took them to work the next day (in my bag, no biking or riding on the subway in these beauties!). Apparently, they were the star of our weekly meeting. I already have my eye on a pair of boots (or two) from the new collection. The Bonnie or the Bluette? Either way, I better start saving!

Special shoe transport

Jouez vous au tennis? Non, pas de tout.

I hate to say it, but I’ve never liked tennis. My mother and grandmother are ardent tennis fans and tried to teach me how to play it when I was little. I got mad because I couldn’t just hit the ball as hard as I wanted. At that point I was too young to understand that many sports are about controlled strength. Sensing my disinterest in the sport my mother tried to appeal to logic. “It’s a good skill to have,” she explained weakly. I think what she meant was that it was a good way to network with the wives of rich business people you or your husband may be trying to impress. This made me even less interested and brought out my disgust of WASP culture in general. Even as a small child I knew I wanted nothing to do with the dominant, upper-middle class New England elite. Not for me. So needless to say, I have not picked up a racket since the age of 9. However, this year I got sucked in to the excitement and drama of the French Open, or le tournoi de Roland Garros pour les francais. Will I watch Wimbledon and the US Open? Maybe, but what also got me interested was all of les filles whose blogs I love and their Roland Garros inspired style. Stephanie, of the Byglam blog, put together some really nice ensembles inspired by the tournament, and like I have done before, I bit her style a little bit in coming up with this summery, sporty get up. Also, just in case, I found this list of tennis terms in French to study for next year.

Ready for the courts

Keep your eye on the ball

Shirt: Built by Wendy, Skirt found at Housing Works, Bensimon sneakers, Nola Springtime bag by Les Composantes
Rendez-vous sur Hellocoton !

Red, Red, Red (and Grey)

Antoine et Lili sweater, BCBG skirt, Ellips shoes

Call it a “coup de couer,” but when I read about the fresh, young French shoe brand Ellips on Dee Dee’s blog my heart crumbled a little bit. I love shoes with chunky, functional heels and different colors that still manage to be chique. Add to that the fact that these ones are designed by a young designer and handmade in Spain. Lucky me, they were on sale. Noticing there was no way to order them in the US on the website I emailed the address listed, not sure I would get a response. Not a minute later the creatrice herself wrote me back and voila! soon the shoes were on their way to me in the US.

New shoes on old cobbles

From Paris studio to DUMBO cobbles

A detail of my lovely Ellips shoes!

To celebrate the latest addition to what is becoming a French shoe (and clothes) collection I matched them with other red French clothes and accessories (okay, actually it’s just a coincidence they are French, mostly it was the color!).

Antoine et Lili sweater, and Ubu ring (a gift from Paris!)

Thankfully, I took advantage of our “false spring” weather these past few days and created outfits that let me wear the shoes two days in a row!

Grey, black, red

Brooklyn Industries dress, Ellips shoes

Today I debuted a new dress I got on sale at Brooklyn Industries (yes, I wear many dresses from them, and yes, I buy them all on sale). Combined with my vintage silk neck tie I felt like I was rocking a “60’s air hostess turned arts advocate” look. It felt great to be freed from the burden of winter for just a few days and celebrate it by wearing a splash of color.

Love the false spring

Soaking in the false spring in beautiful Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn

Falling in Love with Paris from the Seventh Floor

While the news is going nuts with the fact that currently Paris is covered in snow, I traveled there recently for a week that was much to short and very cold, with only a little bit of snow, but filled with wonderful friends and sights. One of my favorite parts of my trip was looking at the city’s fabled slate rooftops and red chimmenies from my friend L.’s 7th floor apartment. Yes, seven floors up and no elevator. It was how I evened out all the croissants I ate. For more view of the buildings, sky, and other pleasures of Paris in November view my set on Flickr.

Afternoon from the Apartment

Parisian Afternoon Sky and Rooftops

Bains Douches

More rooftops