Numéro 37 Du 05/03 au 18/03/14

A VOS PLUMES !

  • 37- Respect

Qu’est-ce qui peut toujours séduire, quel que soit votre physique? Qu’est-ce qui peut faire votre élégance, quel que soit votre habillement ? Qu’est-ce qui est totalement personnel et vous rend inimitable, vous laisse présent même si vous êtes absent ? Vous ne devinez pas ? C’est votre écriture manuscrite. Après tant d’essais à l’adolescence pour lui trouver un style unique !

Qui n’a jamais admiré la calligraphie de cartes postales anciennes ou l’écriture parfaitement régulière d’un professeur qui a griffé un nom d’élève dans un livre pour la distribution des prix. L’esthétique de la calligraphie, «belle écriture», était jadis très codifiée, avec les pleins et les déliés dus à la plume. Les lettres étaient, par exemple, «bouclées de pied en tête», avaient un rôle décoratif. D’ailleurs les arabesques sont des ornements à la manière arabe, dont la calligraphie est admirable. Il existe de par le monde bien des calligraphies très élaborées qui rejoignent le dessin, ne serait-ce qu’en Chine et au Japon – où la plume se fait pinceau…  Quant aux Américains, qui pratiquent peu l’écriture cursive mais surtout le script proche des caractères d’imprimerie, ils veulent faire disparaître l’écriture manuscrite dans 45 de leurs États.

Ronde ou pointue, légère ou affirmée, simple ou sophistiquée, elle dit beaucoup de votre personnalité sans pour autant vous dévoiler totalement, rassurez-vous ! Écrire à la main, c’est de l’artisanat qui peut devenir du grand art – à condition d’accepter les règles de l’apprentissage, comme dans un entraînement sportif qui demande de l’effort, de la patience et de la discipline. À quand les championnats d’écriture ? Il semble que l’on s’en éloigne avec l’utilisation des claviers de plus en plus diversifiés. Incontestablement utiles et pratiques, ils sont des instruments techniques qui automatisent nos gestes, alors que le crayon ou le stylo sont des outils que l’on maîtrise et qui prolongent le mouvement de notre main. Celle-ci a mémorisé les lettres et les restitue dans l’élan ou la retenue, selon nos émotions. On se reconnaît dans son écriture, on ne se reconnaît pas sur l’ordinateur. Quelle fierté d’avoir une belle écriture. Bon moyen aussi de justifier les cadeaux de stylos à plume… en or.

Bruno Lancelot

 

Numéro 36 Du 19/02 au 04/03/13

DREAM SWEEPER

  • 36- Respect

Lionel Sabatté is a dream sweeper who saves the ephemeral. He is a good genie who wants to prolong the existence of that which has been abandoned, damaged or rejected, without necessarily trying to recycle. His driving idea is renewal, he likes to question traces and catch time as it passes.

He is one of those artists that invent worlds, by unpicking ours, and that give our perceptions another meaning. One day he noticed a piece of dust flitting around and found it poetic. A few years later he sculpted a life-size wolf with pieces of dust gathered in the metro at rush hour, especially at Châtelet-Les Halles in central Paris, a place of intense traffic (up to a million people daily). The surprising paradox was that the dust motes (“sheep” in French) turned into wolves! Some interpreted it as a symbol of the proverb “united we stand”. More recently he composed a black swan spreading its wings as if to escape a black tide. However, as a DIY expert who associates contrasted materials, nothing is ever “black is black”, there is always a modicum of hope.

He created another metamorphosis using one cent coins that he began to collect when the euro was put into circulation in 1999 as the cent is the object that we pass to one another, “that circulates from hand to hand, shined by the constant contact of all the people who have touched them”. As currency is “a symbol of the civilisations that use it and of exchange between men”. These little brown coins were transformed into scales on “money” fish which were then suspended over the ground in the Aquarium. As below them, chimerical animals, worried or worrying dinosaurs perch on hundred year old tree stumps from the Meuse that witnessed wars and were uprooted by the storm in 1999… 

Lionel Sabatté’s animal sculptures let their metallic structure be seen and open their jaws or beaks to call or sing. It is up to us to listen to and hear them in our own way…

Bruno Lancelot

• “Fabrique des profondeurs” exhibition by Lionel Sabatté, at the Aquarium de Paris, until May 18th.

 

Numéro 35 Du 05/02 au 18/02/13

THE SLOW SET

  • 35- Respect

OK, OK, it wasn’t always memorable… When you had to, for example, dance with someone you would have sooner avoided. Or when you were left sitting on the edge of the dance-floor like a wallflower…  Sometimes, you had to put up with your dancing partner’s wandering hands until the song ended… But, besides all that! The slow set was something! 

What about when the vibrations were not just from the speakers but from the thumping heartbeats at the idea of approaching the beautiful (male or female) stranger whose eye you had been catching for weeks. Was there a chance you would catch something else? 

The vibrations that came from our bodies when your arms went around someone at whom you had, up until then, just stared… You knew you were close to that first kiss, ready to reveal yourself, to bring the mysterious seduction to a close and take things to the next level… Between the excitement of the overly-long wait and the fear of the fantasy not living up to the reality… 

The vibrations that came from both places at once, the body and the heart. When a married couple got the chance to share a moment of tenderness, to flirt like the early days, to re-declare their flame, in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by all their friends but at the same time feeling, all at once, alone in the world.

Oh yes, the slow-set was all that. The dreams of the shy, the romantic, the charmers, the flirts, the lovers… Emblematic film scenes like from “La Boum” or “Always”, but for real…  The notes of “Only you” by the Platters to “I’ve been loving you” by Otis Redding or “Purple Rain” by Prince, that swept us up in waves of emotion and literally inhabited us from head to toe…

Not to forget the slow songs that we would love to test, to experience the surges, the sweetness, the voice… For them to become our soundtrack. From “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera to “Someone like you” by Adèle... So, any chance we could revise our playlists?

Virginie Achard

• Dream slow songs : The Notebook or Lake house

 
Numéro 34 Du 22/01 au 04/02/2014

MEMBERS ONLY BUT NOT PRIVATE!

  • 34- Respect

Why don’t we take a leaf out of our American friends’ book and set up a club for the slightest activity by meeting up with people we don’t know that well to share our love of something? Some call them “boudoirs” or “salons” if they are trying to make them sound more chic or more French. But it’s all good.

Imagine… You love knitting but prefer to keep it to yourself for fear of mockery or incomprehension. So, you discreetly invest in needles, balls of wool, patterns… You start off, alone. You sink rather than swim… And it all ends up in a drawer, with you wondering if it was a good idea after all. Too much French intellectualising… In the United States, it’s much simpler: you find or set up a club to share the same centre of interest. In a very short time you find you progress, show your creations to a supportive public who encourage you to keep going… American pragmatism. Not to mention a good dose of gratification.
You prefer to read? Perfect! You will easily find a group with which to share your emotions or disappointments, debate a scene, read a passage, discover new authors, all without standing on ceremony… You are more into baking, tuning, painting on ceramics, origami? They all work too. There are good reasons for all universes!

These meetings are moments of real freedom. Where you can finally give your time only to your hobby. They are also a chance to try something out. To dare an activity regardless of what it is rather than saying “someday, I’m going to take up…”. It’s better than all of those self-help and personal development guides!
Finally, it is above all a chance to meet up with friends in a different context, or even to pass on your obsession to them. It is a chance to set a date, to see people on a recurring basis and to take the time to chat in another context. A chance to broaden your circle of acquaintances to include people you would never have met otherwise. And to enjoy their company. And open your mind. You already opened it to knitting. With all this, what about your chakras!

Marie Veyrier

 
Numéro 33 Du 08/01 au 21/01/14

BREATHE EASY

  • 33- Respect

What is more natural than breathing? To the extent that we don’t even think of it anymore. It happens with no effort. But you should never forget that breathing is a primordial and fundamental activity, with no time out, that continues from the first second of our existence to the last! 

As easy as breathing. Isn’t that what people say about a skill that is easy to acquire, that it’s like breathing? In French they say “he lies like he breathes”, in other words completely naturally! But we would be wrong to underplay the effects of a practice that far from automatic. Indeed, trainers and increasingly, physical and psychological health experts teach the art of mastering its nuances.

This is because the rhythm of our breathing expresses our emotions. Short, sharp intakes of breath reveal a panicked state or one of great anxiety, even a malaise. In the same way a threat can make us hold or stop our breath while a hard blow can wind us completely.
The deeper we breathe, the more likely we are to yawn and the closer we are to total relaxation. Taking a deep breath in order to keep ones calm has a shielding effect. 

Breathing deeply gives one strength. Just like in a cartoon, filling your lungs makes the chest expand and you become more impressive. Breathing out completely can sweep away problems or tensions that keep your head underwater. Chasing out dead air provides us with oxygen. And don’t forget that “inspiration” can make us all an artist or a savant. In ancient Greece, the “pneuma”, breath, designated the soul.

Breathing can also give an impression, an air of something… Some people just breathe intelligence, others health, or happiness. What about you?

Bruno Lancelot

 

Numéro 32 Du 24/12/13 au 08/01/2013

SMELLS LIKE HARD CASH!

  • 32- Respect

If there’s one thing that is sure to make others envious, it’s money. Especially at the moment when money’s too tight to mention for most. The problem is that no one ever says it, especially in France. Admitting loud and clear that you’d like to earn shed-loads of cash is frowned upon… It’s greedy, and anyway everyone knows that money can’t buy happiness. And so on and so on…

These clichés only serve to create more disagreements and uncomfortable silences than a real philosophy of happiness. Why should it be considered so dirty and criminal? Why limit it to a necessity and not accept it as a pleasure? You need to eat to stay alive. However, you don’t just eat the bare minimum daily. A nice meal, a good dessert, a square of chocolate are all little pleasures that we enjoy without feeling guilty, without being ashamed to admit it.

Liking and wanting money does not mean a lack of consideration for those who have trouble making ends meet. It is even more hypocritical to not talk about it covering it up with a sort of decorum that doesn’t do anything to improve things for the poor. It is all the more hypocritical as the subject is talked about so naturally when people dream of winning the lotto. It becomes normal to reveal what they would do with all that money, even the craziest schemes. The minimal chance of winning the jackpot makes it all more tolerable? In the meantime, the taboo is hard to shake off. It is out of the question to reveal how much you earn, how much you spend… As if that guaranteed you remained a good, noble person. 

And what if the opposite was true? If to affirm that you “like earning money” was an honourable desire as it motivates, it forces you to have a vision of existence that is made of well-being, wealth and fantasy. Not to mention that being happy often makes one more generous.

The vain, the parasitical and the greedy make money so hateful. When it becomes your sole preoccupation so that you lose yourself and others. Unfortunately, excess is everywhere. Even a good buffet can’t stop freeloaders or indigestion. Having said that, all gourmets are not to blame. So, you’ll have some more cash?

Marie Veyrier

 

Numéro 31 Du 11/12 au 24/12/2013

STAY CLASSY!

  • 31- Respect

Finally! A chance to take advantage of the end of year celebrations to dress with a little more elegance without the fear of overdoing things. We’re going to dare as the pleasure of doing so is extremely gratifying for men and women alike. 

However, it is less and less common. Especially in France, even though we symbolise all that is chic. Today, even a birthday celebration doesn’t mean “going all out”… Trips to the theatre that once required “semi-formal wear” seem to be obsolete. And those who still make the effort to respect a certain level of refinement are almost pointed at while tattered jeans are de rigueur.  This is what it has come to. Looking sideways at people who wear their Sunday best for occasions that deserve it but for which the custom has fallen by the wayside.

The fault lies with the everyday it could be said. The rush of days that run into one another with work and shopping, lacking the urge when you lack a reason, choosing comfort as if it meant avoiding yet another burden… Economic circumstances are to blame, it could be added, even though certain protocols have been abandoned for years. Making elegance important when there are more serious issues at stake is necessarily seen as indecent.

Except when you have a good reason, the main one tends to be forgotten. Getting dressed up is above all, a gift to yourself. Giving yourself a different perspective. Taking the right to look your best and through a ricochet effect, be more at ease with yourself and those around one. It also means giving others a gift. A little like wearing perfume. You wear it first for you but everyone gets to enjoy it. 

Our English, American and Italian neighbours have no compunction about dressing up, even to go out to dinner. If you look at the smiles around the table, the compliments flying, the proud, happy faces, there is something in the heads held high that is enviable. Perhaps, we are secretly longing for just that. Why not go for it? 

Marie Veyrier
 

Numéro 30 Du 27/11 au 10/12/13

SUSPENDED GESTURES

  • 30- Respect

There has already been a lot of talk about this. Not surprising as the idea is so simple and so beautiful that you feel like shouting from the rooftops: the “suspended” or “pending” coffee, that has appeared in bakeries as a baguette or sandwich.
A little reminder of the facts: it all began in Naples with the "caffè sospeso". Clients pay for two coffees: one for themselves and one for a stranger in need who may happen along later in the day. Today, this surge of solidarity is spreading, aimed not only at the homeless but also at students, the unemployed, families in trouble… A further development has been mooted with a shift into the cultural realm: “book swaps” are already underway and the adaptation of the concept is laudable.

Without taking things too far, we should nevertheless start to “pay things forward”. We could tell our local grocer to put aside a packet of biscuits during our next shop. We could tell the fruit & veg man to “give me a kilo of golden delicious and leave one apple pending, please”.  Indeed, this way of giving and receiving is quite exceptional. There is a certain sense of sharing in the anonymity. The generosity is tinted with spontaneity. I know that I am giving: little nothings that feel good. I want to share my coffee, my sandwich. And even if the going to our local shops and asking for a “pending” is not an easy thing, crossing the doorstep may be a chance for conviviality and socialising. 

Of course, the critics are legion, calling the businesses involved opportunistic (cheap advertising), or declaring the initiative completely incompatible with the French mentality. Well, the naysayers can keep their opinions to themselves, if you see the bad in everything, then the bad stays around. We could even tell them to keep their opinions… pending.

Chloé Danglard

 

Numéro 29 Du 13/11 au 27/11/13

THE NEGLECTED HEROS

  • 29- Respect

November is here with its mud and tears of rain. The horrible weather we’ve been dreading, the dank, greyness before the lights of December. And as if on cue, November 7th saw the inauguration of a travelling exhibition entitled “De Boue et de larmes…” (Of mud and tears…), announcing the start of the First World War commemorations. Throughout 2014 a number of ceremonies and events will take place. And while some speeches are approaching saturation point already, this resurrection of a muddy but brave past may light up our shaky, uncertain future… 

A century after the outbreak of what was then referred to as the Great War, as the sheer size was overwhelming, the memory remains of course of a certain grandeur in the bravery of the soldiers but above all in their values of fraternity and solidarity, in the middle of a gigantic, apocalyptic disaster. 

While books published on the subject take care to highlight the sacrifice and discipline of the soldiers sent to the slaughter, few heroes stand out, there is a shortage of quotable names. This is for a good reason: The entire population was heroic. The entire population took part in the battle and merits homage. The role of women and children was just as important in the defence of the country. Women, for once, were treated as men in René Viviani’s call “Aux Femmes françaises” on August 7th 1914, which incited the entire country to participate in the war effort. “I am calling on your valiant nature, on that of children who are not in battle due to their age alone and not their courage. I ask that you keep the country working […] Stand then, French women and children… Replace those who are in the battle fields in the field of work”… There is no small job, “everything that serves the country is great.”
Of course, the patriotic exaltation reinforced commitment from all. “Tomorrow there will be glory for all”. The concept is broad. Today, this commitment has disappeared, there is no coming together, only the hunt for individual glory by the powerful. Making us feel like turning to our elders in search of meaning, even conscience…

Bruno Lancelot

 

Numéro 28 Du 30/10 au 12/11/13

BOTTONS OF SEDUCTION

  • 28- Respect

“Déshabillez-moi… Mais pas trop vite…” (Undress me… But not too quickly…) What a fabulous invitation!

Nothing is more sensual than a body that reveals itself slowly. Without going for complete nudity, we could even go as far as to say that nothing is as sensual as a body that suggests itself. Don’t worry, we are not going to pontificate on skirt lengths or necklines. Each to their own style and above all their own freedom. However, we do wish to get back to a sartorial detail that seems to be disappearing from our everyday lives when it is a promise of femininity, delicacy, and … seduction! We wish to get back to those little satin or velvet-covered buttons that were once found at the neck, on a shoulder… and that closed the garment while leaving the possibility of revealing a little skin, and the rest… 

Obviously, they are far from practical. In the morning when the race against time is the only one in town, a good zip is your best ally. Of course, they are part of a fashion that doesn’t signify a huge level of emancipation for women: clothes that, until the beginning of the 20th century, shut off the body, “corseting” it, hid it… Of course we do feel better in a good pair of jeans and a tee-shirt, not to mention that that can be really sexy too. But. The way clothes have evolved, looking sexy is no longer an issue today. You can be relaxed, rock n’ roll, working girl, classic… But can you be mysterious? Impenetrable? And, as a result, deliciously captivating?

Try the addition of a real touch of refinement. Because these perfectly aligned little buttons denote a perfection that goes beyond simple elegance. With a fragile side, as these buttons practically require another vocabulary. Women seem frail. We swoon, we go into raptures… A novel in itself! With a little provocative side. Especially when one or two buttons are left open leaving just enough visible to make it desirable. Hypnotising. 

Not to mention that it takes great patience, dexterity, delicacy to open these buttons… An invitation that gives ready-to-wear a touch of ready-to-eat. 

Bianca Alberti

 

Numéro 27 Du 16/10 au 29/10/13

DANCES WITH PIETRA

  • 27- Respect

Some know her well as a dancer. Some know her well but in a bad way because of her time at the Ballet National de Marseille. Others merely know her as a jury member on the French version of “Dance with the Stars”… Some people can’t stand her. We love her. Because Marie-Claude Pietragalla is one of those miracles that gives us art.

Whether she is on stage or directing a choreography, Marie-Claude Pietragalla manages to make a metamorphosis occur in her body. It seems to be disconnected from time, often in slow motion. It displays movements that go to the very edge of each cell, each muscle, each vertebra. Sometimes with an unimaginable elasticity, sometimes with great strength and precision, it seems unbelievably light. It must be said, Pietragalla reinvents the rules of gravity and we are carried off on the same journey. 

She takes inspiration from the nouvelle danse, a movement initiated in the seventies. But Pietragalla pushed it so that each dancer moves with their gut. This is Pietragalla’s real signature. What she wants to show and give is human depth. She makes every dancer on the stage strips down, searching inside for what they want to say. Indeed, at times this emotion is more important to her than perfect technique. And the advice she gives on the show on TF1 is constant proof of this. “Be yourself” she seems to repeat over and over… 

So obviously, with this philosophy, shivers down the spine are inevitable. Completely inevitable. Even when the tableaux she proposes can appear closed off, it is of no importance, we savour them nonetheless. And to get to where she is, Marie-Claude Pietragalla fought long and hard. While she was spotted quite early by Carolyn Carlson, one of the initiators of French nouvelle danse, Marie-Claude Pietragalla has also come up against the greats like Rudolf Nureyev and Roland Petit, and faced up to her critics when she was at Marseille. But there you go. Today, she shares her passion, her language. Pietra galla could be translated as “a stone that rises to the surface” in Italian. A name predestined to defy the laws of physics with such grace?

Marie Veyrier

• Watch the trailer for her new show "Mr et Mme Rêve"
• Take a journey into her world with an extract from "La Tentation d'Eve"

 

Numéro 26 2/10 au 15/10/13

PINBALL WIZARD !

  • 26- Respect

It was in the dirtiest spot near the bar. The noisiest too. But it was a pinball machine. Symbol of a living world, far from the antiseptic ambience of most cafés today. A slice of magic that we let them unplug. A bit of our culture and our heritage too.

The pinball machine was like an old zinc-covered bar. It welcomed its regulars or passing strangers. You could go alone or with friends. And whether you were a beginner or an experienced player, it didn’t matter, it took everyone. It was quite rock and roll too. The rebellious side that it brought out in us when we had to give it a little shake to hold on to the ball. And when we screamed. Which really annoyed the other punters who showed their displeasure on their faces without ever having the nerve to complain. It was ultra-pop. An electronic table with such improbable colours and design, the unexpected flashes of light hammering out the flippers and dings to announce defeat or victory… Sometimes it sported the effigy of our hero from the big or small screen. We played with Indiana Jones or Charlie’s Angels… Unforgettable.

All the same, pinball remains a game of strategy. A play field with ramps, arcades, bumpers and flippers to score points with the ball… The initiated became obsessives who knew how to play a certain machine to get the jackpot. But the pinball machine didn’t give in easily. One hit too hard to stop the ball from falling down the slope and it felt it. The whole machine switched off and the cheat lost the game. 

For a little background info, the pinball machine was invented in France in 1777 in the court of Louis XVI. It was then a table game called the Bagatelle ! Something to get our national pride going… Unfortunately the pinball machine is losing ground, up against other video games and in the era of the “Lounge” with its pseudo-chic and calm ambience. It is so much better with everyone on their own computer or smartphone… So, no regrets?

Marie Veyrier

• Magic pinball, Monopoly  or Family Adams version
• So if you feel like joining the resistance and experiencing the simple pleasures of pinball, here is a website that lists all the cafés in France where you can still find them : geoflipper.fr

Numéro 25 Du 18/09 au 01/10/13

WRESTLING WINS!

  • 25- Respect

Well done wrestling, it appears to have won a battle!
Despite the fact that this discipline was almost dropped from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, a sport that was originally recognised in the year 708 AD at the first games in Ancient times, and was officialised in 1896 when the modern Olympiad was established.

Obviously, this amateur sport garners little coverage in the press, there are no records to beat and the level of suspense is low especially since the competitions have been shortened to three two-minute bouts. It must be said that things had gotten out of hand. In Stockholm in 1912, a semi-final match lasted 11 hours and 40 minutes, outside, in the sun, with nothing but short breaks for water every half an hour to the point where the Estonian winner Martin Klein was so exhausted that he was unable to show up for the final the next day... 

It is not a hugely popular sport but is nevertheless practiced in 180 countries, by 55 million people, for the most part in Russia and Eastern Europe as well as Iran and Turkey. Wrestling is even the national sport in Mongolia. In the United States, it is one of the leading college sports, practiced by the elite. In France there are few clubs – unlike judo which occupies all the mats and swallows up all the grants. Wrestling is a modest sport, it requires no equipment or accessories, just a tight-fitting kit, and is accessible to all from school level.

Wrestling is a fairer sport than judo as it is a sport where one grapples and painful holds are forbidden. The aim is to pin the opponent’s two shoulder blades to the ground for two seconds – otherwise points are given according to holds. There are three types of wrestling. Flat-handed Greco-Roman wrestling initiated in 1848 by Jean Exbroyat, a soldier in Napoleon’s old guard, that doesn’t allow holds below the belt. Free wrestling, once a fairground attraction, allowed a broader variety of holds. Finally, women’s wrestling came to be in the 1980s.

Wrestling symbolises a life and survival practice that is as old as humankind. So, in these recessionary times, let’s follow the admirable code of honour of wrestling boxing: never hurt anyone!

Bruno Lancelot

• To understand wrestling philosophy

 

Numéro 24 04/09 au 17/09/13

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!

  • 24- Respect

September is here and that usually means a return to boring routines. But even though habits can be reassuring and it’s good to be home again, it would be nice to maintain an element of surprise, of the unexpected, or the unplanned (even though we do try to over-plan everything!).

What we love best about free time is not so much the chance to do things we enjoy but the possibility of leaving things to chance. Chance means adventure. You only need to look at people who are on vacation but who don’t leave home and get a buzz from wandering around their own city. As nothing is more stimulating than being forced out of one’s routine. Indeed, who has never felt a thrill when bumping into someone from your everyday life out of context on a journey for example? Has anyone noticed that regardless of the stack of DVDs beside the TV, we still prefer to watch a much-loved film when it is broadcast on regular TV? The unexpected pleasure is more powerful than the accessible desire. Human nature always aspires to another dimension. Beyond the fourth?

When things go our way we tend to think “Lady Luck” is on our side. A “pure chance” is a happy coincidence. To chance our luck means we give something a go. But more and more often, worry and prudence mean we “leave nothing to chance” and science tends to factor out luck with ever more precise forecasts. The problem is, chance is part of everything. The French term “hasard” comes from the Arab “az-zahr” which means “the dice”, and in life, it is better when the die is not cast, otherwise all bets are off. As the Prussian officer Carl von Clausewitz once said: “Military plans that leave no room for the unexpected can lead to disaster”. 
So, let’s be reasonable and stay open to surprises… 

Bruno Lancelot

 

Numéro 23 04/09 au 17/09/13

RED WHITE BLUE !

  • 15- Respect

Issue 15 from 01/05 to 14/05/13

May 8th is one of those days where buses drive round with little French flags attached to the front. Will this be applauded or will stones be thrown? Times are tough. Not like July 12th 1998 on the Champs-Élysées. The French football team had just won the World Cup and an explosion of French flags coloured the entire avenue like an expression of pride and togetherness around a team that reflected its country's multiculturalism.

What has happened since then for our flag to engender so much polemic or shame to the extent that some even refuse to sport it? It is true that the republican values that it symbolises have been taken over or denatured by politicians that it is difficult to look at it without thinking of excessive campaigning from both left and right. The issue is that a flag also stands for a state of mind. Like in Delacroix's painting from 1858. The depiction of a bare-breasted woman holding our flag aloft tells of our freedom and emancipation. Our tendency not to do like everyone else and to be proud of that fact. Our obstinate, determined, independent side. The French flag also honours our cultural identity: gastronomy, fashion, architecture, art. A subtle blend of terroir, classicism and sophistication. It is a mishmash of democratic, intellectual and human imprints. In the end, there is way too much going on behind those three simple "red, white and blue" bands.

So, is the problem aesthetic? The vision is a tad superficial. But, let's take a look at what other countries have done with the same three colours... With its fifty stars, the American flag pays homage to its states while retaining the glamour of Sunset Boulevard. The British flag, with its asymmetric stripes evokes the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but also the island's rock and roll aspect. And we like it. We wear it. Even on t-shirts! So, is it time to call on Jean-Paul Gaultier to provide us with an interpretation of our flag? At least then we might wear it as a dress, a bag or a jacket. Maybe even as trousers. A little revolution might suit us...

Virginie Achard

 

Numéro 22 Du 07/08 au 20/08/13

DEAR COCCINELLE…

  • 22- Respect

There are more four-wheeled coccinelles (Volkswagen Beetles and ladybirds in French!) around this summer than winged ones! But when you finally came round, your spots were replaced by hearts. What a joy! You do wear them well…

Virginie 

Numéro 21 Du 24/07 au 5/08/13

SPAIN: HUMAN WARMTH

  • 21- Respect

“Eating like the Spanish”. Proof of a certain nonchalance for some; synonymous with freedom for others. And what if it simply summed up a relationship to time, even to people, that we no longer know how to appreciate? A relationship to time and people that exists in other Mediterranean countries but that here has a deeper meaning?

It must be said that this is a real way of life. Our Spanish neighbours actually sit down to dinner around two hours later than most other countries in the world. And the further south you go, the greater the gap. Why is that? Because of the heat? Perhaps. Spain is particularly exposed to the sun due to its geographical location. But it is not the only country that experiences peaks in temperature where the air feels like it is on fire. Nor is it the worst. So what is the reason? 

So “Eating like the Spanish” means living. It goes beyond the simple notion of eating at times that seem a little odd to us. It means, for example, knowing how to switch off from 2 pm to 5 pm before going back to work. It means appreciating down-time, letting oneself be guided by the impromptu. It means making the moment count rather than counting the minutes going by. It means longer days that aren’t split into work, chores and sleep.

More than anything, it means spending time with one’s friends and family. Sitting down around a table and interacting. Having a family life that doesn’t take second place, even though the working day begins at 8:30 am and ends at 9pm (yes, if you add it up, the Spanish work a little more than our official 35 hours). It means being together. Sharing tapas and witty conversation with everyone joining in at once, or sticking together in tough times. Spending time with mates with the kids nearby. The others have it in their blood.

There is a downside of course: a certain lack of punctuality or organisation. But as we have found out, rigour and meticulousness don’t always guarantee stability so we can certainly start to enjoy what we have. 

Marie Veyrier

 

Numéro 20 10/07 au 23/07/13

AN EXTRA-ORDENER STREET

  • 20- Respect

The day it all started, passers-by watched with amusement, even scepticism as a man planted flowers at the foot of a tree on rue Ordener in Paris. Two months later everything has changed. The inhabitants applaud him now, thrilled with the tiny gardens that punctuate their route.

The original urge was spontaneous. Muriel, the florist, looked out on the tree across from her shop and the rubbish piling up around it. She cleaned it up and planted a few seeds but all of this went unnoticed. She then talked to Olivier, an artist friend. Together they decided to plant flowers already in bloom. And why not move on to the next tree? And why not do the same thing the following week? 

A short month later, passers-by started to stop, look, talk. A mini-vegetable patch with local kids sprouted up… A bit cutesy and «candide»? Far from it! As «cultivating one’s garden», unlike what Voltaire said, can change the order of things and create a social connection. This completely free action appears to have awoken a level of communication that goes well beyond just conversation. The flowers get damaged by a badly parked bike? A little chat with the owner reveals the fact that there really isn’t anywhere to lock a bike easily. So a proposal is made to install a special metal ring on a wooden post. Slowly, the public space is reworked to try to cater to everyone’s needs. And without breaking any local government regulations.

Today, the wear and tear is minimal. People even pick up cigarette butts and maintain the little patches of earth. This nice idea has spread to other neighbourhoods. Of course it is not the first of its kind. Movements such as «Guerrilla Gardening» have been around for a long time. Here the operation has been named  «Qui s’aime sème» and it is totally without a party line. No association, no organic, green or spiritual discourse. Everyone has their own ideas and remains free to express and act on them. And it seems to be working fantastically well. What a nice surprise !

Marie Veyrier

• For more information about «Qui s'aime sème» 

 

Numéro 19 du 26/06 au 9/07/13

TAPESTRY, MODERNITY!

  • 19- Respect

Tapestry making, women’s work ? Or so it seems. Nevertheless women and tapestries have a long, and chequered history! Remember Penelope who tricked people into thinking she hadn’t finished her work, or girls in the sixties worried that making tapestries was the only option left to them if no boy asked them out to the dance…

Times have changed. Long considered to be a dated pastime, tapestries are making a blazing comeback. Between imagination, manual dexterity and avant-garde creations (let’s not mince our words), they weave a fascinating world.

Tapestry manufacturers have names that make us travel through time: Aubusson, Gobelins... We immediately picture the life of the aristocracy in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, moving from one castle to the next with chests brimming with huge wall-hangings that kept chilly castles warm, soundproofed and decorated, while displaying the family arms and crests. And today, don’t we all dream of sleeping in exotic tents?

The tools needed are an invitation into a mysterious world, with strange terms straight out of fairytales : vertical loom or floor loom; the needle is a «flute» around which the threads are twisted, chosen in subtly blended colours and sometimes even gold and silver threads… Everything weaves together and the motifs appear as if by magic. 

This exception has not gone unnoticed. In ready-to-wear it has become a t-shirt emblem. Haute couture never left it behind and recently Valentino used it as a beautiful coat lining. Certain artists have given it an astonishingly contemporary take: Monory, ever-faithful to the colour blue in all its nuances composed a card with a result close to photography, Oppenheim contemplates the front and back of the tapestry while Grau-Garriga’s eccentricities blend fibres with objects…

Luckily for us, there are a number of exhibitions this season throughout France where we can appreciate the range. So, do we stick to our old idea of a dated pastime or can we follow a more contemporary thread ? 

Bruno Lancelot

• To see some of the pieces mentioned:
- Monory and Oppenheim : Gobelins par Nature, Éloge de la Verdure - Galerie des Gobelins (Paris)
- Grau-Garriga Musée Jean Lurçat et de la tapisserie contemporaine (Angers)

Numéro 18 Du 12 au 25 juin 2013

LET’S THE SUNSHINE IN!

  • 18- Respect

Weird. The sun’s been around for a few days now and the complaining hasn’t started yet. As it really is a question of constant ambivalence. When it is late, we complain. When it arrives to stay, we constantly repeat that it is decidedly too hot. Not to mention the dangers and warnings we associate with it. Each of its good qualities seems to be given a drawback!

Sunlight encourages endorphins, the hormones that are so essential to our well-being? The downside is that sunlight enters through our eyes and the sun is bad for them. It can cause cataracts. 
Sun is our main source of vitamin D which is essential for our bodies (bones, auto-immune system, providing protection from some cancers)? Unfortunately, our exposure must be limited to prevent another type of cancer, of the skin this time. 
The sun is good for those suffering from psoriasis or eczema? Possibly, but the cancer clouds still loom…
The sun stimulates the production of melanin thus saving our pale, dull complexions and helping to protect us a little from UV rays? Alas, it also speeds up the ageing process, and that cancer is still lurking.

Soon, it will start to get the blame for the greenhouse effect and the ozone layer when humans are solely responsible. There are even suggestions that it is the cause of global warming… Why not blame the sun for the financial crisis, the cake you burned yesterday or the TV being on the blink!

Most importantly: how boring! The exact opposite of the sun: smiles, pretty colours, insouciance… So to make sure all of the above bad vibes don’t make the sun feel like bailing on us, we dedicate this incantation:

Dear Mister Sun, of a thousand and one marvels,
We promise to be reasonable in your pleasant rays,
And to stop complaining whatever you do,
Without your, our daily lives would not taste the same.
We are in your system. So we need to say «We love you»
As the day you disappear, the Earth will stop turning.

Now, there’s a point…. Perhaps we should have started with it.

Marie Veyrier

 

Numéro 17 29/05 au 12/06

VIVE LE LUXE !

  • 17-Respect

«Luxury is superficial, it’s for the rich and it’s too bling»… An image that is hard to shake. Especially in a recession. Especially when it is linked to groups such as Kering (ex PPR), l’Oréal and the Bettencourt affair or worse, LVMH whose big bad president wants to go into exile with all his money. What else is there besides these clichés ? A little tour of a world that is far from perfect but that aspires to provide beauty.

Let us remember, first of all, that the luxury industry generates tens of millions of Euros in VAT and taxes, among other things, that it pays to the state. A sum shared out for each of us, in the form of social security, unemployment benefit… No, not everything is outsourcing and tax havens. Let’s admit that once and for all.

Luxury means the preservation of a certain craftsmanship. Because there is a lot of money available, it becomes possible to do things «the old way». When the hand of a man or woman is always more precious than that of any machine. Professions that could so easily have died out but that have survived, kept going by people who are committed and respected. We got the chance to tour a few sites, notably those of Louis Vuitton. We met a number of employees from a range of professions, happy to display their skills, to talk about them and work in increasingly better conditions. Young people, old people, disabled people. From all cultures. As the only requirement for admission to the circle is to be «meticulous».

Luxury means names like Dior, Yves Saint- Laurent, Chanel; names we are proud of as they represent creative audacity and a French art that is envied all over the world. And, as French people, we like that.

Finally, luxury means dreams. Because it is beautiful, most of the time. It means the extravagance that enables us to get beyond what we can imagine both in terms of images and technology, whether it is in watches, cars, textiles… Luxury could even be that which prevents us from giving in totally to the ambient moroseness and despair as it offers a little window on a world that, even if it remains inaccessible most of the time, proves that the unbelievable can happen after all.

Virginie Achard

• Interested in seeing all of this for yourself ? Luxury often opens its doors. Next LVMH event is the «Journées Particulières» on June 15th and 16th next :  www.lesjourneesparticulieres.fr

 

Numéro 16 15/05 au 28/05 /13

HIS UNFORGETTTABLE UNIVERSE

  • 16- Respect

In JR’s immense art gallery, everything is free for everyone. This is because this French artist, for those of you who don’t already know his work, has made the street and public spaces the location for his art, photography. This is the basic principle of street art, a contemporary art movement of which he has become one of the most respected and renowned representatives. JR not only creates objects of beauty, he also serves a cause; each of his projects is motivated by his urge to spread a message to all, simply, with portraits of men, women and children throughout the world. For him, «Change the way people see the world, is already a way to making things change…»

Among his works, «The wrinkles of the city», started back in 2008, is our personal favourite; in this series of monumental, black and white portraits plastered on the walls of different cities, he deliberately chose older people as models in order to reveal the history and evolution of a place through the traces of time passing on the faces of the inhabitants.A way of highlighting that these elders, with their «small» stories, hand down the «big» story ; in Havana, they are the memory of the Cuban revolution, in Cartagena, that of the civil war, in Los Angeles, they upset the image of eternal beauty… To better underline his approach, he often plasters his photos on dilapidated buildings, walls, like men; suffer from erosion with time…

In a world where each wrinkle is checked with a magnifying glass, it is refreshing to see that JR magnifies and rehabilitates them. He reminds us that they bear witness in a moving and beautiful way to the trials we go through, but also to the laughter shared in the good times, each one sketching out the map of our lives.
This project is ongoing and was last seen in Berlin in April. Wrinkled and proud…

Stéphanie Norris

• See and know more about JR and his works

 
 
Numéro 15 01/05 au 14/05

RED WHITE BLUE !

  • 15- Respect

May 8th is one of those days where buses drive round with little French flags attached to the front. Will this be applauded or will stones be thrown? Times are tough. Not like July 12th 1998 on the Champs-Élysées. The French football team had just won the World Cup and an explosion of French flags coloured the entire avenue like an expression of pride and togetherness around a team that reflected its country's multiculturalism.

What has happened since then for our flag to engender so much polemic or shame to the extent that some even refuse to sport it? It is true that the republican values that it symbolises have been taken over or denatured by politicians that it is difficult to look at it without thinking of excessive campaigning from both left and right. The issue is that a flag also stands for a state of mind. Like in Delacroix's painting from 1858. The depiction of a bare-breasted woman holding our flag aloft tells of our freedom and emancipation. Our tendency not to do like everyone else and to be proud of that fact. Our obstinate, determined, independent side. The French flag also honours our cultural identity: gastronomy, fashion, architecture, art. A subtle blend of terroir, classicism and sophistication. It is a mishmash of democratic, intellectual and human imprints. In the end, there is way too much going on behind those three simple "red, white and blue" bands.

So, is the problem aesthetic? The vision is a tad superficial. But, let's take a look at what other countries have done with the same three colours... With its fifty stars, the American flag pays homage to its states while retaining the glamour of Sunset Boulevard. The British flag, with its asymmetric stripes evokes the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but also the island's rock and roll aspect. And we like it. We wear it. Even on t-shirts! So, is it time to call on Jean-Paul Gaultier to provide us with an interpretation of our flag? At least then we might wear it as a dress, a bag or a jacket. Maybe even as trousers. A little revolution might suit us...

Virginie Achard

 

Numéro 14 17/04 au 30/05

MAKE ROOM FOR THE SMOKERS

  • 14- respect

The warm weather is on the way back and seats in sidewalk cafes are getting scarce. After having spent the winter on the terrace, smokers have now been pushed out on to the street. Cohabitation, if not confrontation with non-smokers oblige… A cold war has broken out between those who are damaging their health and those who are trying to preserve theirs. Some might even say a witch hunt.
True, for years non-smokers were victims. And while it is now time for payback, does it have to come with intolerance or interference? Of course, nicotine addicts come with their fair share of bother: nauseating smells, butts everywhere, carelessness… But.

A smoker, sitting on a terrace for the past hour, cannot ignore the complaints of the newly arrived punters at the next table when he lights up. But this is just the tip of the iceberg: the entire street becomes a battleground. Angry reactions abound and are becoming a daily thing: disdainful looks as if to a plague victim, over the top hand flapping at the slightest sign of smoke, noses covered with scarves as protection from the stream, inappropriate remarks from passers by: «Cigarettes are bad for your health». Would they dare accost a sweet-eating child to lecture them about tooth decay?
And inside it’s no better. In the evening, the smoker takes his or her leave spontaneously for the well-being of their friends – which isn’t unpleasant, true - , but it means losing the thread of the conversation at regular intervals without being brought up to speed by the others, which is not always easy.  
Even though some smokers remain impervious to others, for the most part, they have started to be more attentive. They now show evidence of a certain art de vivre that merits a mention. Non-smokers, the most virulent of whom are often ex-smokers, would do well to show more flexibility in the name of conviviality. And, let’s be frank, if Gainsbourg was still with us, wouldn’t we be a little more tolerant just to have him at our table?

Daniella Matoso

Numéro 13 03/04 au 16/04/13

THE REAL CHRISTOPHE.

  • 13- Respect

Christophe has always known how to follow the road less travelled and when to disappear all the better to reappear. He exudes a feeling of eternity.

Summer of 66’, despite the huge success of his hit «Aline », he turned down the chance to play the Olympia: he felt the legendary stage was a little premature for his beginner’s status. Such high standards, so early.
So he took to the road, in a caravan, as part of the Gruss circus, singing in the big top before each show, while his fans were bereft. The comeback was all the sweeter. In 1972, a majestic Christophe took everyone by surprise with «Les Paradis perdus» then, two years later, «Les Mots bleus» and, the following year… the Olympia. Christophe was no longer of this world, he had now entered his own world. He distanced himself from French pop music to shift toward a broader repertoire between rock and opera, with a baroque and romantic touch. His voice washigher, more androgynous, more broken than ever; the most beautifully painful music ever; with lyrics just right for this left-fielder. An extra terrestrial fallen from the sky.

His latest album «Paradis retrouvé», released two weeks ago, is a reflection of what he is: an absolute UFO where rough versions (garbled fake English) dating from ’72 to ’88 plunge us into his own galaxy. Despite their working titles, we do recognise notes, premises of themes that would later become «Enzo », «L’Italie » or «Les tabourets du bar». Ageless exhumations. Thrills intact.

In 89, Christophe took off again. There followed a long period of absence that maintained his mystery. Long all-night sessions working until… ’96 and the «Bevilacqua» album that was almost disconcertingly sophisticated, followed in 2001 by «Comme si la terre penchait», that made us tremble, and in 2002 a… second, unhoped-for Olympia. The evening was unprecedented, he brought Paris to its knees. A luminous spectre in the flesh. In half a century, Christophe has gone from teen idol to cult artist. Thanks to his determination to always be true to himself.

Maurice Achard


• For more informations about Christophe
• Buy "Paradis retrouvé" on Amazon 

 

Numéro 12 20/03 au 01/04/13

HIGH GLASS

  • 12- Respect

We associate it spontaneously with bright colours, a certain out of date kitschiness and an archaic manufacturing process… But also with the magic of Venice and its mysteries, with the unparalleled dexterity of its craftsmen… Murano glass is all of this. But this is not even half the story: it is a unique glass art that has evolved and been passed down through the ages. An art with a history unlike any other, cultural dovetailing, secrets, rivalry and even death threats! Seven centuries where it has been shaped into all types of objects, from simple carafes to ultra contemporary sculptures. It is a pity then to reduce it to the vision of the overdose of the tacky souvenirs that can be found in every high street in Italy…

We musn’t forget that Murano is also about the passion of men who use the same traditional methods as their ancestors, which is quite a feat today when we take into account how hard it is to preserve production modes that mainly involve time and hands. It is the transmission of a skill long-preserved by the master glassmakers. It involves sharing with other crafts and the perfection of certain techniques in the service of aesthetics. This is what makes the singularity of this blown or threaded glass in colours one doesn’t get anywhere else, with such unique veins, almost unreal ornaments and transparency, made with a detail and precision that verges on the spectacular. 

Today, artists and designers from all over the world come to Murano to work in the workshops of what is considered to be one of the oldest companies in the world. Creating modern designs using tradition gives each object an extra piece of soul and history… This also results in amazing, totally unexpected or avant-garde pieces. A little hit?

And the strangest thing? Murano continues to fascinate, despite our mocking, saturated or distracted perspective.  It might just be through a little figurine that so beautifully reproduces the world in miniature. Between a sense of wonder, a return to childhood or curiosity, the trip takes us further than Venice.

Stéphanie Norris


• Want to see all of this differently? See you at the musée de Maillol for the «Fragile. Murano» exhibition from March 27th.

 
Numéro 11 06/03 au 19/03/13

MORE TEARS

  • 11- Respect

 A drop streaming down a cheek, following its own path. Never the same journey. Never the same story. They’re called tears and they get some really bad press as they can only be a sign of weakness, anger, depression, hysteria, sadness, too much joy. Because they can only be the expression of uncontrolled emotions. And that is just not the done thing. To show one’s emotions. Worse, not to be able to control them. 

The phenomenon is not new. But it’s getting worse. Even at funerals, we get the impression that tears are only authorised at certain times and for certain people. A sort of code of conduct. And to think that even when we are alone, we still don’t let ourselves go, let out whatever is bothering us. What is happening? 

OK, not crying means a certain level of self-control. At the moment, a stiff upper lip can be essential. We are dealing with so much adversity and hard knocks and only the strongest will survive. What rubbish! It’s getting the wrong end of the stick altogether! Having said that, pain can make even the toughest of us cry. Unfortunately they don’t even benefit from it as tears of «irritation» are not the same as tears of emotion. The latter don’t just flow for any old reason. They contain a concentration of proteins and hormones – which is why women cry more easily than men – like leucine enkephalin and adrenocorticotropic hormone (natural analgesics). They even contain beta-endorphins! In short, while tears can at times be paralysing – can’t talk, move, breathe…, the effects are felt afterwards: a calm descends, all tensions and irritations have been evacuated, the real you reappears. Sometimes things are even clearer! Happy days!

But all of these scientific theories have some serious competition from cultural diktats. So let’s just say it: crying is beautiful. It means you’re alive. It’s brave. It is a way to shout out loud what you’re feeling, for yourself to start with. It also means remembering important moments. Crying is not setting oneself free, but feeling free. Too easy? Let’s begin by learning how to bawl again.

Marie Veyrier  
 
Numéro 10 20/02 au 5/03/13

PRESERVATION INSTINCT

  • 10- Respect 02

Long live parabens! Well, now we’ve said it. But given the different scandals in recent years, such a statement is not without risk. However…

Let’s rewind a little. Parabens are the preservatives that have been used in certain food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products for almost a century for their anti-bacterial and anti-fungal action. So, basically to avoid mould and infections. And they work really well! But on March 3rd 2005, the investigative news programme «Envoyé Spécial» threw a spanner in the works by presenting a study that concluded that there was a link between parabens and breast cancer. This remains a theory. And while, in the interim, no other study has been able to confirm this cause and effect, it is too late: the collective fear now exists. Since then, they’ve been blamed for allergies, skin ageing, male sterility… The whole shebang! 

So is it all wrong? No. Allergies do exist, to everything, starting with food. As for the other allegations, multiple factors (quantity, category, use, application, combination…) have to be taken into account and nothing is that simple or categorical. Whatever. It’s enough to for everyone flee parabens like the plague – especially in cosmetology – and for there to be regular attempts to have them banned entirely. 

But if so, what do we use to replace them? That is the real question and the real issue. Formulae using vegetable and/or essential oils? An alternative that unfortunately does not apply to all products. Benzyl alcohol? That can also be a cause of allergies. Dehydroacetic acid? Permitted in certain conditions. Methylisothiazolinone? Already a factor in causing eczema. In short, we would have to replace parabens with preservatives about which we have even less distance, less studies and less visibility. We seem to be jumping in without looking first. We are putting products on our faces and bodies that are perhaps even more dangerous! Even certain pharmacists are starting to try to calm things down, quietly whispering: «You know, parabens aren’t all that bad…». And when we know that the products «without» are much more expensive than the products « with », they are acting against their own interests. But their advice can in our favour. 
* by Phillipa Darbre at the University of Reading

Bianca Alberti

Numéro 9 06/02 au 19/02/13

KEEP THE MASK

  • 09- Respect

February means carnivals. From Venice to Rio via Nice or Dunkirk. Such madness ! And such mystery… All those people who, hidden behind masks or in costume, lighten up a little, mingle with strangers, blend in with the crowd while standing out at the same time… This said, we could all do with the same dose of extravagance if only we hadn’t totally forgotten our own «Mardi Gras»! A few years ago, a few brave souls still dared to walk around in unusual dress to the great amusement of passers-by.  But today it seems that Mardi Gras has put on its everyday clothes to blend in with all the other Tuesdays.

Nevertheless, one only needs to look at the raging success of «theme» or fancy dress parties and the indelibly euphoric memories they leave to admit that we do like to dress up. We love to «let go», thankfully ! Wearing a costume gives us a chance to take on a new identity, to try something we usually avoid due to shyness, principles or stature. It is a magnificent outlet. As for the carnival, it has always been a planned moment where letting it all out and breaking the rules is possible making the more austere periods more palatable. This is the very origin of Mardi Gras : the last party before the forty lean days of Lent !

Is it its religious origins that caused its disappearance ? After all, we live in a secular country. But this doesn’t seem to stop us eating chocolate eggs at Easter – the result of Lent also-, from taking the day off on August 15th and from getting gifts at Christmas. We don’t ignore all those chances to party… So what’s going on ? The way things can get out of hand at this type of celebration ? True. But that shouldn’t be a punishment as today, celebrations of all sorts get out of hand. Whatever the reason, we continue to ignore  Mardi Gras, and instead prefer relatively ineffective substitutes like Halloween.

It’s a real pity because we all deserve a Mardi Gras. We have been fasting for many months now. Not for Lent but because of the economic crisis and it hasn’t lasted just forty days. On February 12th, maybe we should all take a break.

Marie Veyrier


• A break? L’Acharnœur invites you to celebrate Mardi Gras on February 12th at the bar/restaurant «la Piscine Saint-Louis», 2 rue Juliette Dodu, 75010 Paris,  from 18h. L’Acharnœur offers masks. Other disguises are more than welcome…

  

Numéro 8 Du 23/01 au 05/02/13

SHAMELESS

  • 08- Respect

 

So... She came back from the Golden Globes empty-handed and she isn’t nominated for an Oscar much to the delight of the internet who have been « meme-ing » her for quite some time, especially since Batman.

But... There is much to be said about Marion Cotillard. You can find her comments about 9/11 totally irresponsible and idiotic, you may find her commitment to the environment irritating, you may think of her as a crazed bobo («bourgeois-bohème»). But you can’t say she’s a bad actress and be happy when she is left off the list for awards and nominations.

She was breathtaking in «Un long dimanche de fiançailles». Poignant and surprising. She walked off with the César and everyone thought she deserved it. Then she met the «Môme». Do we really need to go back over her performance and the list of awards that is hard to beat? Do we really need to point out how proud we all were when she won the Oscar? French pride got a serious boost and everyone enjoyed it.

So what then? She has chosen to work aboard, more often in front of American cameras then French ones. Her choice of films is not always « auteur » driven and she does not always excel… But she is still a good actress. Even in The Dark Night Rises and despite the failed death scene. Having said that, is that Marion Cotillard’s fault or Christopher Nolan’s? The jury’s still out.

What ever happens, it can’t be helped. She gives us so much joy and makes us so proud that we can’t forgive her when she is human and makes a mistake. Marion Cotillard is suffering from «Laure Manaudou syndrome», a strange phenomenon that allows for no weakness, no error… Our heroes must be perfect, whatever happens. Unless that syndrome is that of the dirty pleasure of begrudging too much success? Luckily, Marion Cotillard ignores these mean spirited reactions and comments. She says so herself, and she is not acting. Well played! 

Marie Veyrier
 
• If you missed her in «Un long dimanche de fiançailles»
 
 
Numéro 7 09 au 22/01/13

WEIRD PRACTICES

  • 07- Respect 4

«2013, année de la baise !» (2013, year of the bonk !). So the first rhyme of the year was chosen with the utmost delicacy. While it seems to promise plenty of tumbles in the hay, some will only see the 13, bad luck in a number. Seriously, who believes that rubbish ? Superstition is a bit like a fear we can’t control. There is the hysterical fear of mice, the skin-crawling provoked by spiders and the inexplicable fear of bread placed upside down on the table. Should we be disdainful though? If we own up, we all have our little superstitions. Let he or she who has never said «touch wood» or «avoid that black cat», throw the first stone! In everyday life, superstitions are everywhere but go unnoticed. And the number 13 is a very good example: no row 13 in some planes, no 13th floor in buildings, and no row 13 in some planes, no 13th button in lifts, and no room numbers ending in 13 in some hotels… But does that really matter ?  

Superstitions inevitably lead to some ridiculous behaviour: throwing salt over one’s shoulder, walking around ladders… But this means that they live on and, if we dig a little, bear witness to our cultural heritage. Why is it bad luck for a black cat to cross your path ? Because in the middle ages, cats were notorious plague carriers. The black is added to witch things up.  We finish with Napoleon who apparently had a black cat cross his path the night before his defeat at Waterloo and that’s it… Everything is impregnated with a reference. 

Superstitions wreck our lives and that’s why we don’t like them? They have nevertheless led to some mighty challenges. Christian Dior, to take only one example, decided to accept the offer to open a couture house in his own name as the day before meeting his investors, while walking with his doubts through the streets of Paris, he came across a little metal star, the vestige of a sewer plaque. He took the sign to be positive and followed the star. Everyone knows what happened next. The story is true and all the nicer with this anecdote. So is superstition the mother of little fairytales? Good for the superstitious.

Marie Veyrier

Numéro 6 26/12/12 au 08/01/13

WISH YOUR BEST!

  • 06- Respect

«I wish you a very Happy New Year!». While the phrase seems hackneyed, it’s still nice to hear. Things get complicated when it is followed by the more introspective: «What should we wish you?» Strangely, it is the only time that wishes can be said aloud without worrying that they won’t come true. Even more strange is that these wishes are definitely not unattainable. We don’t wish for impossible things as if we were wishing on a shooting star. We wish for serious things to help us move forward in life. 

But these wishes come true through resolutions. Nothing comes from nothing. You can’t expect to attain an objective without putting in the effort, want to win the marathon without running a little every week. These resolutions are the viable part. And often, they commit us to constraints, to complicated face-offs. So, before even starting, we retreat. More and more often, we hear «My New Year’s resolution is to make no resolutions!». One thing is sure, disappointment is impossible. 

And that’s all? We give up? We stop believing? We put everything into a little box, lock it and throw it overboard? We let ourselves drift along without any bets on our futures? No way. We need to rework the road map. To consider that perhaps resolutions are not burdens but our best chances for hope and action. On condition, of course, that we don’t set ourselves impossible challenges. As very often, «resolution» rhymes with «unfeasible». To mark a change, we can’t help but go to extremes. As if a U-turn was a symbol for renewal. And that is where things go wrong.

Why not avoid making decisions that are doomed to failure and chose realism? A resolution could then become your best card, your trump. Any bets?

Marie Veyrier

Numéro 5 12/12 au 25/12/12

PIECE AND LOVE

  • 05- Respect

Using metal that comes from leftover anti-personnel mines in Cambodia found at the end of the Khmer rouge regime to make glamorous jewellery. Daring? Upsetting? Unacceptable? Admirable? All of the above. 

Obviously, there is a good cause behind this crazy venture, that of «Saught». This project is the well-meaning brainchild of a handful of people that enables Cambodians in dire straits to work making jewellery while a share of the profits is donated to mine victims and the less fortunate. 

Still. It’s not easy to wear their pieces and to tell the unspeakable horror they come from. Explain that the earrings are made from pieces of an explosive device. You really need to believe in the man, or most probably the woman wearer, and their capacity to prove that fashion and humanitarianism are not incompatible. A touchy subject.

Nevertheless, this is also the strength of Saught, nothing about this non-profit business is oppressive. This is the real difference. As so often, lightness and philanthropy do not make good bedfellows. The companion of the latter is mostly guilt, it awakens a recurring feeling of malaise in us: realising that in our speedy existences, there is little room for «those who suffer». The Christmas period is a particularly heavy time for this, where we find ourselves torn, despite our best intentions, between an awareness of the unhappiness of those who are struggling financially with a backdrop of «there is no salvation without austerity», and an irrepressible need for sequins, pleasure and happy endings… 

Saught is just that, a fairy tale for the modern era. The internet site is relatively elegant, unlike the clichés generally associated with a charity; we are made aware of their charitable efforts without being made to feel miserable. The collections offer graphic and delicate designs; we do not just buy for the good cause, we buy because the pieces are beautiful. In the end, Saught opens a new era: the right to give and experience pleasure, with this little extra for the soul, real generosity. Happy Christmas!

Stéphanie Norris


For further informations : saught.com.sg

Numéro 4 28/11 au 11/12/12

DEFYING GRAVITY

  • 04- Respect

It only lasts a few minutes. But the minutes are so poetic and so strange that they force our admiration. These few minutes are the work of Berndnaut Smilde who creates real clouds in closed, empty spaces. Sculptures that take shape and dissolve before our eyes. 
His first attempt, Nimbus, dates from 2010, in an artistic test laboratory in Arnhem in the Netherlands. He repeated the performance last spring with Nimbus II, in bigger more «public» locations such as a gallery in Hoorn, a chapel… How are these ephemeral installations made? It takes a subtle combination of humidity, smoke, lighting and point of view, all precisely studied by the artist. Few people are allowed to attend the show but the miniature clouds have been immortalised by different photographers making the instants even more disturbing. It’s not surprising that this performance is listed as one of the inventions of the year 2012 for Time magazine.

Berndnaut Smilde is not the only artist whose living entities appear fleetingly to fascinate us with lightness. Recently, Michel Blazy captivated us with his cascading mousse at the Collège des Bernardins. But these are actual clouds. Airborne cotton candy we want to dive into. They evoke infinity but also something impalpable, an inaccessible serenity. This time, they appear inside a room. They are both real and dream-like; they invite us «in» to take us away.

Even if Berndnaut Smilde’s intention was to create a disturbing situation in a deserted place, that is not what stayed in our minds after seeing these images. What remained was a daring feat that pushed us outside our everyday, earth-bound vision. As if everything was possible. No mean achievement.

Bianca Alberti

 

For further informations : www.berndnaut.nl

    

Numéro 3 14/11 au 27/11/12

DRESSED FOR WINTER

  • 03- Respect

To begin with, they were just the lyrics of a Hugues Auffray song. Then, it became a saying: « girls get pretty again once Springtime comes ». Pity, winter is on the way. Does this mean that the entire female population loses its charm for the next few months? It must be said that puffa jackets and boots are not the most flattering of attire. Thankfully, there is a category of women who manage to keep standards up in all circumstances. These « victimes de la mode » tend to keep us amused with their OTT outfits and their futile stylistic obsessions are often the butt of our jokes. This may sometimes the case, but it is a touch categorical and more than a little inflexible.

Seriously, if you look a little closer, especially in the grim months, it’s not unpleasant. These women add surprise, colour, pleasure and pure bottle; they remind us that we don’t necessarily have to hibernate. Lesson one. And if you’re wondering why they’re not shivering in that adorable little jacket, maybe its hiding a mini lace thermal vest that we, with our ice-covered imaginations, were incapable of finding. Not only that, they symbolise an elegance that is considered to be very French. And we mean elegance, not fashion. It’s all there. They won’t – or are unlikely to, wear strappy sandals in the deep mid-winter as is the wont of our English or American neighbours. They have a sense of measure. While Paris might no longer be the world’s only fashion capital with Milan, New York or London snapping at its stiletto heels, it is still the capital of perfect taste. As Coco Chanel once said « Fashion goes out of fashion, style never does ».

So our « victimes » provide year-round fodder for one of our cultural myths. This is no small feat. Lesson two. Do they thus deserve our ironic and mocking looks? It’s a French thing… They make us want to be better. Lesson three. And, if we don’t know how to wear a nice shirt in the winter, there’s no point getting shirty about it… 

Marie Veyrier

Numéro 2 31/10 au 13/11

SPLITSVILLE

  • 02- Respect

Her name is Laurence Hilsum. Since 2006, she has made an art out of pole dancing. Not easy when you know the connotations of this sporting activity that essentially comes from strip clubs. And it must be said, despite the high level of democratisation and the opening of a number of schools for the general public, this activity is still prey to preconceptions and lurid curiosity. As a result, performers worldwide are attempting to give pole dancing another image. With unbelievable contortions, dangerous acrobatics and astonishing «abdominal» positions around a bar no thicker than a lamppost. Even so, the results are not always graceful or moving. This is where Laurence Hilsum’s style stands out.

As far as she’s concerned, Pole Dancing will be contemporary, or will not be at all. It’s daring. Each of her shows tell a story. Each of her movements is a vibration. She chooses her music for its rhythmic or ethnic universe rather than its popularity. Each piece of music teaches us to listen to the notes, the sounds. The result is beautiful, there can be no doubt.

Sometimes, it is not without risk. Sometimes things go off the rails. Like her show where she appears on stage covered from head to toe in blue ribbon that she shakes off with a huge scream. Too deep, too serious, too committed. But her shows never lack emotion and the feedback is uniformly positive. In recent years, Laurence Hilsum has become the French woman to win the most prizes in her category and she is vice-world champion until November 10th when she will compete in this year’s world championships in Zurich. She is also an inspiration to other international dancers. She has a real «French touch». But, above all, because of her we look differently on contemporary pole dancing. Double the challenge, double the success. So she stays in Pole Position. 

Marie Veyrier

 


Check out Pole Dancing according to Laurence Hilsum:

Pole Art 2010 : Laurence Hilsum was champion.
World Pole Dance 2011 : Laurence Hilsum was vice-champion. 
- Pole Art 2012 : Laurence Hilsum won the third place.
- Aerial Pole Dance International 2011 : Laurence Hilsum and the blue ribbon
 
 
Numéro 1 17/10 au 30/10

LACKING OXYGEN

  • 01-Respect

Old and young, rich and poor, men, women, drivers and walkers, families and singletons, French and foreign. All together at the Paris motor show. Is the car the great leveller?

Well, not for much longer. The car has a rough ride ahead. There’s the recession obviously, and the price of petrol doesn’t help, but above all there is the discourse. Guilt-ridden, contradictory, compelling. Yes, cars pollute, yes, cars are dangerous. But that’s nothing new despite what one might gather from the proposals to solve the problem. Do-gooder solutions that do no good. As a result, the car is being turned into a dirty, unfit, superfluous object. A whim. The driver is becoming the selfish, unthinking bad guy.

The thing is, it is still a practical invention that improves the lives of many people and that can, in addition, be a real treat for the eyes and mind through its design or functions. Therein lies the strength of the car. In the way it blends utility and futility for once without shame or conflict. Why break that? A car is a slice of life itself. Cars are where we share emotions, journeys, memories. You can sleep in them, make love in them. Their bodywork or engine can be a source of conversation between total strangers. Cars represent the possibility of all kinds of adventure and escape. Even the smallest of vehicles can be a source of extreme pleasure. No need to go to the top of the range. Remember the 2CV, the Fiat 500, the Volkswagen Beetle? Apparently we remember them so well that they are still used as inspiration for new models.

 An attempt perhaps to bring back the dream? Perhaps all it needs is a bit of air. Even if it is polluted.

 Marie Veyrier