Pink Trash Travels

The Night the Lights Went Out in Paris

Thursday is a busy day in Paris. Not only does smoking officially become a nasty habit, saving the planet takes fronter stage as well. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris this week, scientists and officials hope that by giving the Eiffel Tower a five-minute black out they'll draw attention to energy waste. Apparently the monument's lights account for about 9% of the beacon's total energy consumption of 7K megawatt hours per year. Sure, that will make a difference. If anything, I foresee crazed tourists wondering what happened. "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

Take That Smokers!

This Thursday, part one of French's smoking ban hits public places. Unfortunately for us, the first wave is limited only to workplaces, schools and hospitals - areas I'm not planning on loitering in any time soon. It's not until next year that the ban affects restaurants, bars and nightclubs. And by then, we'll be living in Munich where to my knowledge they haven't begun to address the issue.

I still can't imagine France without smoke. With one in three adults lighting up, where will they go? It's not as though one business will lose revenue over another. I envision the streets overrun with nicotine-addicted patrons - puffing a cigarette in between their appetizer and main course eventually returning before dessert.

As Health Minister Xavier Bertrand stated last week, " one should be forced to breathe other people's smoke." I've been saying this all along. My solution was requiring smokers to wear giant plastic bags around their head - encompassing the smoke in their space only. Since that idea hasn't taken hold, banning smoking is the next best thing. Here's to hoping the law quickly migrates to Munich.

French Kissing in the U.S.A.

Ever since returning from Chicago, I've been sick. First it was the flu - an explosive affair that lasted for almost two weeks. This past weekend, I caught a cold. My post nasal drip is now accompanied by a cough and sinus pressure. I blame it on the American gay man's way of saying hello (as demonstrated by kiss after kiss after kiss on New Year's Eve).

Unlike in Paris where you kiss to the left and right to say hello, in America most gay men go "straight" for the lips. Some avoid it - but then receive comical taunts for sidestepping the issue. Here's the deal: don't take it personally. We just don't want to share the bugs you've been passing between friends for the past 24 hours.

So here's to bringing "French Kissing" to the U.S.A. Left cheek. Right cheek. No germs. Spread the word.

Lost in Translation

Tonight, we went to the movies. We thought we were seeing Children of Men - a futuristic tale starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore where women no longer can conceive. What we ended up watching was Little Children - a penetrating look at suburbia starring Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson. Somehow, we got the two confused. We assumed Little Children was a translation of Children of Men - even the dark movie posters for both supported our thought process.

As we sat watching the dysfunctional drama, I kept waiting for it to flash forward 30 years. I tried anticipating how the story set in the present would impact the future. When a dark haired boy talked of his father who died in Iraq, I thought, "That must be Clive Owen" as a child. One hour into the movie, I turned to Chris and said, "This is the longest first act in cinematic history!"

After we realized our mistake, the movie took on new meaning. I could now assess the characters and the storyline without having to second guess their direction. Fortunately Little Children wasn't a bad movie (especially because of Patrick Wilson's good looks) - just not what we had in mind. I was seeking action and adventure not lonely care givers and pedophiles - two genres that aren't really interchangeable. Where's Moviefone when you need it?

Who's Who on American Idol?

Sure, my commentary is a few days late. But since we don't get American Idol until Friday on our UK satellite, it's better late than never. And some bits of the show need to be reviewed including the hiring of Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter to guest judge this week. Who knew she had time to write songs and criticize singers in between corporate takeovers and fights in swimming pools with Krystal? Who's next? Sammy Jo?

It's Pigeon Cold!

When the pigeons start hunting for heat, you know it's cold. With temperatures falling near freezing, the spring like weather in Paris has retreated to the South. If only we could follow. But with Puerto Vallarta on the horizon, fun in the sun is just four weeks away.

On a Serious Note

Everyday on our way to the gym we pass by a nook where a homeless man lives. He sleeps in a door frame. He stock piles unwanted fruits and vegetables, wine bottles and home accessories. Chris has even seen him catch pigeons - most likely for dinner. It's sad but a way of life for quite a few in Paris.

Amazingly, the police don't interfere. You see many like the one described above throughout the city - and suprisingly with high concentrations around tourist attractions. They sleep above street grates where warm air blows continuously throughout the night. Many have tents. It looks like summer camp but obviously not as fun.

I know the situation exists back home in New York, Chicago and other large and small cities across America. Yet, I don't remember the homeless settling in destination zones - especially near landmarks with high foot traffic. They nestle themselves in lower Wacker where the police still ask them to leave. I suppose it says something about the state of affairs in Paris. They don't try to hide the problem because everyone knows it exists. Does that mean in America we try to avoid reality by cloaking the issue?

Big Shuffle - UK Charts

This week, it's out with the old and in with the new. And with this change comes big expectations for those artists holding down the top three positions.

Even though the single is available only as a download, Mika's Grace Kelly jumps two spots to #1. And, with his first big hit comes news that Tommy Mottola has signed him in America. Just Jack also moves two positions to land at #2 with Starz in Their Eyes. The View has the biggest move in the top 10 as Same Jeans leaps from #11 to #3. JoJo, whose Too Little Too Late hit it big stateside, finally sees her efforts carry her into the top five in the UK - resting at #4. The Eric Prydz mash-up Proper Education falls three to #5.

And since I've already featured Mika as "New & Noteworthy" last week, the video spotlight falls on another mash-up making waves in Europe. Mason vs. Princess Superstar combines the techno sound of Mason's Exceeder with the campy sound of Princess Superstar's Perfect. The resulting Perfect (Exceeder) is dancefloor fun and draq queen ready. Take a listen below.

My Little Pony Couture

As I learned a few months back, Paris' Haute Couture fashion shows aren't about showcasing wearable ensembles. Rather, it's more about pushing the envelope to get magazine covers in hopes of selling a purse or enhancing your image. Usually, the outfits border the extreme - as demonstrated by Portuguese fashion designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista whose models prance down the runway in horsehead attire earlier today. Giddy up!


We all know how open Europeans are to nudity. After all, we see them running around naked at beaches - or almost naked with their skimpy speedos and micro string bikinis barely covering anything. Yet I still find it intriguing that marketers splash boobies in our faces throughout Paris promoting everything from books to movies. Where's equal opportunity for the men - hot ones of course!

Madonna's First Live Performance

This is something to behold. Go here to see Madonna's first live performance as a Sire recording artist - dating back to 1982! And as much as critics attacked her voice, she carries the tune quite nicely (especially when you consider how horrible today's artists sound outside of the studio). Even more amazing is the fact that she's still around - almost 25 years later. Truly a genius. But what's up with the back-up dancers? First, they look like they lost their pants. Second, who choreographed the number? YIKES!

Wall of Dairy

I've never been a fan of yogurt. I only ate it out of necessity. But when we moved to France, the wall of dairy at the local grocery store won me over. Not only is there a wide selection of yogurts with fruit, grains or chocolate, there's an endless supply of whipped cheeses (the French's idea of cottage cheese), puddings and mousses. They come in plastic, glass and ceramic ornamentals perfect for displaying yard cut daisies in window sills back home. I'm not saying the assortment is healthy. But with some having digestive enzymes and others dark chocolate, it's easy to find a balance. Our favorite? Danette dark chocolate pudding. Um, um good.

New and Noteworthy

Knowing how mundane American radio is right now, you'll definitely welcome Mika's Grace Kelly. It's a smooth blend of pop, funk, dance and jazz. Take a listen and get on board with the buying public in the UK who propelled this song to number three on downloads only!

Twist of Fate at Chez Omar

Last night, while Chris was in London, my friend Joel and I met one of two Doug Smiths from Chicago along with his friend Kevin. And because the Windy City boys were looking for something hip and trendy, I selected Chez Omar in Paris for dinner. Known for its clientele ranging from Naomi Cambpell (in between fits with telephones) to Herb Ritts, the North African restaurant that accepts no reservations has quite a following. But because of assumptions made by our server, our evening quickly morphed into unexpected territory.

We anticipated spending at least two hours feasting on Chez Omar's famous couscous. We hoped eye candy would entertain us with their fashionista ensembles and prima donna behaviors. Instead, the only attitude we received was from a waiter who acted as though my French was complete gibberish. As a result, he set our menu without any input from the table. Ten minutes later, our four top next to the front door was quickly covered with pots of chickpeas, semolina and a meat platter the size of Texas.

We would have ordered the tender lamb and beef skewers. Both were delicious. But the Flinstone ribs and monkey sausages were a bit much - and not tasty. And where was the chicken? You'd think Omar would include the white meat on what they call a "Royale Plate."

Finally, when the somewhat inexpensive bill (for Parisian standards) arrived at our table and we replied with three credit cards, the waiter shut us down (with a smile) by saying they don't accept plastic. "Excuse me?" we said. He responded by showing us on a handwritten note in the menu that states they don't take Visa, American Express, MasterCard, etc. We chuckled and answered back, "How could we know when we didn't even see the menu?" By then it was too late.

But even though the waiter shifted our evening's course of events, it turned out to be quiet nice. We shared stories - maybe too much. We gawked at an attractive blonde who resembled Olivia Newton-John from Xanadu. And in the end, we laughed. Would chicken have made the night any better? I doubt it.

Quelle Surprise!

You never know what you'll find walking the streets of Paris. Last night, as my friend Joel and I returned from a movie, we stumbled across a special outdoor showing of Comedie Francais' Malade imaginaire de Moliere. The live play was being telecast outdoors along with free hot chocolate. It was a bit difficult to hear. Then again, considering it was in French, the reverberation may not have been the real problem.

New Acts Take Charge - UK Charts

Two new singles storm the top five while the two biggest sellers remain unchanged. Leona holds back a surging Proper Education by Eric Prydz with A Moment Like This staying at number one for a fourth week. Mika jumps into the top five at #3 with Grace Kelly, a slick combination of pop and funk, while Just Jack and their somewhat bitter take on life, Starz in their Eyes, debuts at #4. Take That completes the top five with Patience - a single unwilling to quicky exit the charts.

Most noteworthy add of the week is Sophie Ellis-Bextor's new rock tinged single, Catch You. It's not as dancefloor friendly as her past hits, but it's catchy none-the-less. Check it out below.

Disturbing Smokefree

When it comes to driving home a message, the UK isn't afraid to make you squirm. A new stop smoking campaign recently hit the airwaves - and it's disturbing. My question: if you're a smoker, does it make you want to quit or just turn off the television? It makes me never want to eat fish again. You decide by watching below.

Global Warming

With it 57 degrees and sunny in Paris today (continuing the trend of above average temperatures so far this season), the trees are starting to bloom. Honestly, if this is global warming, I'm all for it!

Paula Addul says, "Good Morning Seattle!"

Sometimes, I have to comment. Do publicists believe we're stupid enough to buy this outlandish explanation for Paula Abdul's tragic yet hilarious interview a few days back? It amazes me how Hollywood tries to spin this repetitive and crazy behavior. Simply put, we're not that stupid (well I hope not anyway).

Boo the Flu

Upon returning from Chicago, I thought jet lag was bringing me down. For almost a week, I had nausea accompanied by headaches. But after an explosive night on Wednesday, I realized it was either food poisoning from the California Rolls I consumed a few hours earlier or the flu. I've since deducted it has nothing to do with Sushi but rather a bug that's nestled in my internal organs.

So not only am I queasy, I'm now irritated beyond belief. I can't entertain our friend Joel who arrived on Thursday. Fortunately, he's self-sufficient. I can't work-out. I tried today for the first time in three days but couldn't make it past the lockers. I'm starving which makes me nauseous yet I can't eat anything substantial or it makes my stomach turn. In short, being sick sucks.

And as I sit here and complain about not being 100%, it makes me wonder what I'll do when I old age starts settling in and I everyday I wake-up with pains and aches that no medicine can cure. Will a bitter old man emerge - one that nibbles his upper lip as he shakes his fist in the air at young and fit hooligans taunting him from afar? Or, will I learn to slowly adjust my daily expectations to include some ups and mostly downs? Here's to looking at the glass half full.

Beckham's Fly the Coop

I'm not sure if it's the flu bug I've been fighting over the past 12 hours, but reading today that David Beckham is moving to L.A.'s Galaxy soccer team for $250 million somewhat makes my head spin. $1 million a week for the next five years? Is anybody worth that much money? Then again, it's not really about the cash. I'd say most would agree it's Victoria's way of finally nesting in Hollywood where she thinks she belongs.

With the Beckham's arrival comes an expected onslaught of paparazzi. As a result, maybe Britney and her "panty escapades" will be pushed to page two. Because if I had to chose, a shirtless David (or any David) would win everytime!

Let the Soldes Begin!

Tonight, as I was walking to find flowers for our guest arriving Thursday, there was a sense of Christmas Eve in the air. With the bi-annual sales beginning tomorrow, stores were closing early and changing window displays in anticipation of the onslaught of bargain shoppers - many of which would compare the feeling to Christmas morning. Chris and I will join the masses beginning at 10 a.m. with scheduled stops at Hugo, Diesel, Printemps and Thomas Pink. With discounts of anywhere from 30% - 70%, how can we say no?

Spinning the French

French tourism is trying to spin the rude attitude the country has towards visitors. They're claiming it's part of France's charm. With a 1% decline in British visitors (France's biggest source of tourism dollars), the move seems to be one out of desperation. Do they really think educating people on how to "act" like a Frenchman is going to move people to ignore the indifferent attitude the French have towards not only the British - but everyone? I think not. You either take it or leave it. And as indicated above, many are leaving it!

A New Beginning - UK Charts

Most of you probably don't care how the charts are compiled. But some of you might. On that note, you'll be intrigued to learn that starting this week, the UK singles chart now incorporates every way a single is purchased. In the past, the chart was based purely on physical sales alone. Over the past few months, it grew to include digital sales a week prior to the physical release. Now, a single can chart at any time it has sales. The UK finally has caught up with how Billboard in America compiles their information.

So, for week number one, Leona remains in the pole position with A Moment Like This. With three weeks at the top, most expect the single to fall next week. New at #2 is Eric Prydz vs. Pink Floyd with Proper Education. More than two years ago, Eric hit the charts with Call on Me, a song combining the main lyrics of Steve Winwood's Valerie with a dance beat. The result was a mega-hit and initiated an onslaught of 80's mash-ups to follow. Proper Education follows a similar format with interesting results. Listen to the single below. You'll be ahead of the curve once it hits America within four to six months. Take That drops from #2 to #3 with Patience - a song that doesn't want to go away. U2 premieres at #4 with Window in the Skies. Pulled from their "Best of" collection, the unreleased live tracks are available in various formats - thus allowing it to chart. Rounding out the top five is Akon's Smack That. Would someone please find a way to "smack" that song off the charts?

Riddle Me This

With the temperatures hovering around 55 degrees, it's quite pleasant in Paris. Yet you look around and everyone is bundled-up like it was the depths of winter. But when the temperature drops to near freezing, people walk around with less clothing. Riddle me this: why does a Parisians outerwear never sync with the weather? More strangely, even though they find it uncomfortably cold, they'll sit or drink outside under scattered heat lamps. Go figure.

Ellen in Paris!

Sure, it might be via our UK satellite, but I'm not complaining. Starting this month, Sky is showing two episodes per day. The programs date back to the first of the season, so I'm not sure what will happen once they catch-up. It's hard to say. But for now, I'm in Ellen heaven!

Crowe's Expected Bomb

The film bombed in America. And if the reviews this week in Paris are any indication, it's set for a disastrous run in France as well. According to the daily Liberation, "The film is appaling from start to finish." Critics pan the film for its apparent stereotyped portrayal of France. Le Parisien sourly noted, "Everyone knows the French are grumpy and dirty, wear espadrilles and drive Renault 4s." Interesting. Seems to me the critic, though being sarcastic, wasn't far off. Grumpy? Yes. There's a manifestation every other week. Dirty? At times. Many smell like vegetable soup. As for the espadrilles and Renault 4s, I can't comment. I don't know what they are.

Pink Opinion

When I went home to Chicago last week, I mentioned to Chris and a few others that it seemed a bit boring. Not in the sense of being surounded by my best friends - I would love to have them near me 24/7. But rather, the overall ambience was mundane. Today, while talking to Chris about our move to Munich, I realized why: when living abroad, new stimulus constantly bonks you over the head.

Everyday, you learn a new word, you see a new fixture, you experience a new activity. In contrast, back home, everything is familar. It's not as though we're running about on a daily basis bettering ourselves with visits to museums and cultural events. But again, just walking to the gym reading billboards provides us with brain food.

As someone who's lived here for 10 years said, "When you go back, find a hobby. You'll be bored to death." I now can relate to her comment. So when we do return to Chicago, I'm already contemplating my garden and koi pond - both should keep me busy.

Words of Gym Wisdom

Originally I created this blog to keep those back home informed of our adventures in Paris. Over the past year, it's morphed into something a bit more - filled with travel stories, pop tidbits and some general and random thoughts on anything and everything. In addition, its intentions are also to make you giggle, laugh and enjoy life from a Pink Trash perspective. But sometimes, I find it necessary to use this outlet to educate. So as the New Year begins and countless newbies and veterans pour into fitness centers around the world, please absorb and pay forward a few words of gym wisdom:

1) Rerack your weights: You use them. You put them away. If you're old enough to pay for a membership, you're old enough to clean up after yourself. We're not your mama.

2) Share the machines: Unless you rent the gym space, you have no business hogging the equipment. So don't get "bitchy" when asked to rotate.

3) Stop reading: In conjunction with #2 above, others most likely are waiting their turn. So save the newspaper for those private times in the comfort of your own bathroom.

4) Take your towel: Placing your sweat rag on a machine while you walk away for five minutes doesn't guarantee your place once you return. Machines aren't parking spaces.

5) Wash your gym clothes: Don't shove them in a locker and use them again, and again, and again. Simple fact: if you sweat, you smell. We don't expect the gym to smell like a cherry blossoms. But we also don't want sour clothes stinking up the joint.

6) Use deodorant: Again, simple fact: if you sweat, you smell. Deodrant controls the funk. Do your neighbor a favor and use it.

7) Use blowdryers accordingly: Blowdryers are for the hair on your head, not the hair on your butt or in your crotch. Use a towel to dry your private parts. I don't want pubes flying around me as I'm moisturizing my face.

Something to Talk About

When planning a party, you try to anticipate every twist and possible turn throughout the evening. You overload on meat trays, purchase excessive amounts of vodka and arrange furniture for easy flow and socializing. Yet, with all this preparation, there never fails to be one event that creeeps into the evening - one moment that defines the party. On New Year's Eve, it wasn't the birthday boy or the countdown, but rather the swaying chandelier and its ability to withstand a gust of wind that eventually ripped the canapy from the back porch.

I found myself on the outdoor landing quite often throughout the evening. With its canvas covered roofline overhead, it was a cool oasis from the heat indoors. I never should have worn a black turtleneck and wool jacket, but with my options limited, it saved me from spending hours shopping amongst the gift card redeemers throughout the city. So there I sat in the corner with a rotation of friends, watching the wind whip the canapy and dangling chandelier.

It gave people something to discuss. So with those useless conversations of "one year catch-up," you had a topic, focal point, and shared experience to lessen the burden of finding an out such as going to the bathroom or grabbing another drink. But it wasn't until a gust of wind tore away the flapping roof that the quintessential moment had arrived - cementing its place in future conversations for years to come.

Fortunately I was in place to capture the event. With my camera above the crowd, I raced to the patio entrance behind my friend Mel. As "girls" shrieked in amazement, I snapped away as the canvas thrashed about. Amazingly, the chandelier remained in tact. So as most had predicted a "Phantom of the Opera" moment with the light fixture crashing to the ground, it demonstrated its tenacity by withstanding the elements and ear piercing gasps from the crowd below.

With the destruction of the patio environment came a gust of wind indoors to cool us off. Unfortunately, it was short lived. The staff quickly stepped into action to relocate the bar - thereby closing the deck only for desperate smokers. And though I detest the toxic smoke, I found myself frequently joining them outside. I didn't want to shine or sweat. But when I did, at least I had a starter converstion. "My, look at that chandelier."

Metal Returns - UK Charts

With Leona remaining #1 with A Moment Like This, Take That holding #2 with Patience, Akon returning to the top 5 with Smack That at #4 and Cascada not budging at #5 with Truly, Madly, Deeply, the only real new entry at the top of the chart is Iron Maiden with Different World. Yes, metal found its way back home where it held steady occupency back in the 80s. And speaking of the "greed decade," Sharam leaps from #36 to #8 with his remixing of Eddie Murphy's Party All The Time. Check it out below! It's totally awesome!

Wham! Bam! Thank You Mam!

George Michael ran away with almost 3 million dollars for performing at a New Year's Eve bash in Russia. An unnamed businessman paid George to warble for his 300 guests - and only for an hour! As a result, it's believed that George is now the highest paid entertainer in modern Russian history. With all that money, here's to hoping he finally hires a driver.

Tired in Paris

Now that I'm back in Paris, I'm tired. The return trip is a sleep killer. I tried to rest on the plane but turbulence overload kept me awake. So as I sit here typing, I'm trying not to fall asleep. I did go "ladywalking" at the gym to give me a boost of energy, but it's quickly fading.

If I can keep my eyes open through tonight's episode of season two's Grey's Anatomy, I'll post pictures from New Year's Eve. Though it wasn't an intimate affair with Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve on ABC, I did have a great time spending the night with some sober friends, sloshy friends and a swaying chandelier.