If You Find The Earth Boring...

Le Week-End à Nancy

This past Sunday, I had one of the nicest days since coming to the old world late this summer.  Although it was warm and sunny, not typical for my time here, I spent a portion of the day indoors at two events. The first weekend event was the Nancy record swap.  I’ve been to record shows in Portland, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Austin, etc., but this was the first record show outside of the US I’ve been to.  The size of this show rivaled most US shows, especially for a fairly small city. I was really hoping to find some rare European gems much cheaper than you would typically see in the US (my French want list: Magma LPs, Serge Gainsbourg LPs, stuff by and produced by Jean-Claude Vannier, early France Gall records, stuff by Anna St. Clair, Francoise Hardy LPs that I still haven’t been able to track down).  I didn’t have the greatest luck.  The French have plenty of Nana Mouskouri records to sort through, just like the US.  I was a little surprised by how high some of the prices were, particularly since the Euro is approaching 1 & 1/5 times that of the dollar.  I was still able to come away with some records for under 40 Euro, which I was pleased… now I just have to wait to listen.  Here’s my loot: Although I did spend some time outside to enjoy the weather, I squeezed some time in at the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Nancy.  On the first Sunday of every month the museum has free admission, so I took advantage.  I was actually really impressed by the quality and quantity of the art in the museum.  The museum has a load of work from great French painters such as Bastien-Lepage, Monet, Manet, Dufy, Bonnard, Valadon, Derain, etc.  There’s a nice modern and recent acquisition section with some paintings from Modigliani, Gris, and a nice later period Picasso.  There was also a collection of glass skulls.  Wild! Upstairs at the museum is not really my bag, but still interesting: loads of paintings of chubby babies with wings set against black backgrounds.  One thing I have noticed is how well French painters portray passionate eyes (check out any Renoir), and there are many examples of this here in the Musee des Beaux-Arts, especially in the rooms upstairs.  There are a few paintings by Rubens and Caravaggio here, as well as a nice collection of Flemish paintings from the mid-16th century and mid-18th century Italian art.  Finally, located throughout the museum, but concentrated in the basement, is arguably the world’s largest collection of Daum Art Nouveau glass work.  There’s a special exhibit at the museum now of this pretty amazing stuff.  In the basement of the museum is remnants of the original building structures built in 1673.

High Speed Trains In The United States

After some time in Europe, I’ve gotten to enjoy getting from place to place on the high speed trains.  Here’s an interesting article from the Economist about the promise of high speed rail in the US, particularly comparing US strategies to the massive initiative China is taking to expand high speed rail travel.

European Heaven & Hell

I was told this by a German during my recent travels through Italy, so I think Europeans in general have a good laugh at this.  Now that I have traveled a bit in each of these countries I can also find this entertaining: European Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are Italian, the mechanics are German, the lovers are French, and it’s all organized by the Swiss.  European Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it is all organized by the Italians.


I don’t remember why I was awake at dawn.  I could have had to take a friend to the airport or I might have been up all night, but I don’t think that was it, I was pretty sure I woke up very early for some reason.  I honestly don’t remember why I was awake so early and it doesn’t really matter anyway.  This was probably ten years ago, I don’t know.  All I really remember was going to my neighborhood coffee shop at Belmont and 34th.  It was early so the shop was just opening.  The bright sun came in through the high windows in the back of the shop and bleached out the room.  I think I might have been the only one in the shop, but I doubt it.  I think Sarah was working, the Sarah with the tattoo of the flying bird on her arm, and I think Hutch was working too.  The shop was silent except for the sound of coffee mugs clinking together, perhaps some coffee percolation, or was that music I heard?  Someone must have put some music on.  I remember thinking that I must be still in a dream.  Was I still asleep?  I thought to myself that I had to ask what the music was that was playing.  It was the first song from the new Vincent Gallo record, called When.  I think I went out and bought it later that day.  It’s been one of favorites ever since. I listened to this album this morning as I was waking up.  For me, it’s for when the sky is gray, for when you’re still rubbing your eyes, and for when you are sipping your morning coffee, but for you it may be for another time.

Italian Plywood Factory

Here are some of the photos of an Italian Plywood Factory that I recently toured during my travels.  The photos are basically ordered chronologically through the process of making the veneer and gluing the plywood together.