Posts Tagged ‘texture’

SCOTCH and SODA Sweat, and other things

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Catie, Emma, and I all wanted to make the most of our time in Marseille, so we spent the majority of not only the days but also the evenings walking around the city. I’ve talked before about my affection for night photography, and the winding streets of Marseille offered plenty of good new content. I could ramble on for a little while now about some of the things we saw, or the pleasant taste of the nighttime sea air coming off the Mediterranean, but frankly I need to cut straight to the point of this post; while we were walking along some random street in a city in France, we glanced at a small clothing store display window and saw a BRONXVILLE sweatshirt for sale.

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)

Photo taken in Marseille, France on November 12, 2010.

Before we go any further, be sure to take a good close look at that picture. Everything about the display of that sweatshirt in a shop in the middle of Marseille is so incredibly bizarre, that I don’t even know where to begin. For anyone totally clueless, Bronxville is a very wealthy self-proclaimed ‘village’ with approximately 6500 residents about 15 miles north of Manhattan in New York State. (According to Wikipedia, it is actually one of the places in the country with the most affluent households and the highest average incomes.) Sarah Lawrence College (from which both Catie and I graduated) happens to be located in Bronxville. Actually, to be more precise, SLC sits mostly in the much less prestigious city of Yonkers, but the college is very careful about associating itself (including its postal code) instead with Bronxville as much as possible since it has such a nice (and did I mention wealthy?) high-class reputation.

OK, so the obvious general question is – how did a Bronxville sweatshirt end up in Marseille? Who knows. And why did someone put it there? Well, it does also say “NEW YORK” underneath, and it seems like no matter where you go in the world, there will always be people who want to associate themselves with New York. That’s fine! I’m not judging! New York is a great place. I love it there!

The next weirdest part of the display is the listed price of the sweatshirt. Over the course of my last three months living and squandering money in France, I have become intimately familiar with the exchange rate between the Euro and the American dollar. It has remained fairly consistently at a rate of at least $1.33 for every €1.00. (In other words, for whatever price you see in France, add on an extra third of that to get the true cost for us American suckers. After you do that, feel free to cry a little before paying the probably egregious sum.) That means that this Bronxville sweatshirt – which in my opinion is rather old and ratty-looking, not to mention just plain boring – is being sold in a French shop for almost $45. I don’t think even the swindlers who work at the Sarah Lawrence College bookstore would try to charge that much for such a sweatshirt. Who is buying this for $45? I honestly can’t imagine.

Finally, we get to what I think is easily the strangest part of this enigma. Why is it labeled as a “SCOTCH and SODA” sweatshirt? Is it because this is the type of article of clothing that you would only want to wear while lounging about, drinking scotch and soda? (For that matter, do people lounge about, drinking scotch and soda? I haven’t the foggiest.)

EDIT: I did some research, and I found out that Scotch & Soda is actually the name of an “Amsterdam Couture” fashion design house, specializing in very expensive clothes. I can’t actually find the Bronxville sweat anywhere on their website or store, but let us assume that it is indeed designed and distributed by this company. I have to say, I think this makes it even weirder! What is expensive and fashionable about a shabby blue Bronxville sweatshirt!? Who in Amsterdam decided this was a chic idea?! Have they been to Bronxville before? Were they trying to make a BRONX sweatshirt instead, and just got confused? (Not that I would consider a Bronx sweatshirt particularly “chic” by any regard, but it would at least be more imaginable than Bronxville!)

I am sure this mystery will never be solved. Maybe if I had stayed in France long enough, I would have started seeing fashionable young ladies wearing black tights, tall boots, and sweatshirts featuring the names of other somewhat obscure locales in Westchester County. Who’s to say, really…

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 12-13, 2010.

Weekend spontaneity

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

We went to Marseille! (I just had to blurt it out!) Spurred greatly by Emma’s enthusiasm to take a weekend trip somewhere outside of Lyon (no offense intended to our great French city), we all headed south for 48 hours of delicious warm Mediterranean air. The venture was a great success. Marseille is a beautiful seaside city, and the weather could not have been better. We all abandoned our jackets at some point (as well as most of our remaining layers), and the two Alaskans in our party probably risked a bit of sunburn. (OK, perhaps the Minnesotan did as well.)

Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photo taken in Marseille, France on November 13, 2010.

We ate as much delicious food as we could handle in such a short period of time, and we even stumbled upon a crêperie that would rival my favorite back in Lyon. (In fact, we ate there twice and devoured a collective eight crêpes in the span of 18 hours.) Thank you so much to Emma for kicking our slightly domestic butts into gear and getting us to Marseille!

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 14, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 14, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 14, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 12-14, 2010.

The day I realized I would like to live in Scotland

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Catie and I are living in Lyon, France for three months this Fall. Cat is studying French at the local chapter of Alliance Française, taking classes every weekday for the entirety of our stay. She gets a break for a few days between each monthlong session however, and we took advantage of this by jetting (easyJetting, in fact) up to Scotland for five days to visit a couple of Cate’s Alaskan brethren. Her friend Hilary has been living in Edinburgh for several years, and her friend Adriane just moved up to Glasgow for the year to study at the Glasgow School of Art. Neither Catie nor I had ever been to Scotland before, so we were quick to jump at the opportunity to go and also visit close friends at the same time.

Heading into the trip, I did not really have any particular expectations. Catie and I were both looking forward to a vacation (away from our horribly stressful lives residing in a beautiful French city), and I was excited about reacquainting myself with my camera (something that I still don’t feel like I’ve done very often since Nepal in January of 2010) as well as getting away from my computer and programming iPhone apps for a few days. (I admit, I did bring my iPod Touch, but I left the laptop and iPad at home. I feign that the iPod was merely to keep in touch with worrisome parents and assure them that no Loch Ness -related incidents had occurred.)

Catie and I arrived fairly late Tuesday night, and despite Catie accidentally misinforming Hilary as to the time of our flight, we were successfully retrieved (in not too much rain) and brought back to a lovely apartment that Hilary shares with her boyfriend. (Oh, to have a one-bedroom living space with real furniture again… Catie and I are surviving together in our French studio apartment with futon bed, but just barely. In fact, we both felt like we were staying at some sort of luxe hotel while sleeping on Hilary and Phil’s air mattress with four pillows and large white duvet.)

Hilary luckily could (and was willing to!) take a couple days off work, so she was able to hang out and be our unpaid tour guide starting in the morning. We woke up fairly early, had a bowl of Rice Krispies (point, Scotland – I have had some serious beef with France on its lack of cereal selection), and set out onto the drippy streets of Edinburgh. I can’t say that I knew it instantly, but it did not take long for me to start feeling that we were walking through a truly magical place. I laugh at myself typing that word – magical – especially in light of how much I detested and made fun of Apple’s iPad marketing campaign centered on the very same, but I cannot think of a better way to describe it. I love the architecture and the unbelievable age of so many of the buildings. I love that you can see that age embedded in the stone with its dark striations that are probably due to years of pollution but have become a beautiful urban paint job. I love the texture of the materials all over the city – the rock, iron, and glass – along with the natural landscape into which they are embedded, and I love the fact that all of the associated colors and resulting patterns and contrasts become even more brilliant when they get wet from the common rain. And on top of all that, the cathedrals are as old and magnificent as any I have seen in Europe (although France may technically retain a bit of an edge in this category), the parks are beautiful, the food is generally delicious (including – for some reason yet to be discovered – a plethora of Indian, Nepalese, and even Bangladeshi restaurants), the accents are simply delightful, and if you spit, your chances of hitting a golf course are fairly high. (In fact, I believe there are over twenty courses in and around Edinburgh alone.)

So, while I was lying comfortably in bed at night after our first day of exploration, I started researching art schools in Edinburgh on my iPod. (And I found out later that after I went to sleep, Catie had done the very same thing, investigating social anthropology programs at the University of Edinburgh.) My dad did tell me before I left that we actually had a fairly significant family history going back to Scotland. Maybe it is that buried connection that I found while walking the streets of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 29, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 30, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 30, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 30, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 30, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 30, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 30, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 30, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 30, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sep 30, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Oct 2, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Oct 2, 2010)
Edinburgh, Scotland (Oct 2, 2010)

Photos taken in Edinburgh, Scotland between September 29 and October 2, 2010.