Paris, Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Canal de l’Ourq,  À Vélo au Bord de l’Eau, Bordeaux, Château Soulac, Château Carbonneau, Saint-Émilion, Endless Vineyards, French Wine, Belgian Beer, Happy Hour, Late Hours, Lunch in Babylone, Dinner in Odéon, Walking, Biking, Wedding, Jazzing, Jamming. Seine, Sex & Sun.

Seeing how I am about 5 Summer trips behind on that ongoing life-cataloguing project of mine, I am just giving up and posting my Europe pics with a bunch of random keywords in lieu of proper commentary.

Many fun random memories in what was supposed to be a very low-key wedding run to the south of France, including the wedding itself: much sunnier than the last one I attended there, filled with delicious wine and awesome friends I do not see often enough (most of which have been purposely excluded from the photo selection to protect the guilty).

Rest of the trip, as these things tend to be, mainly consisted in one long uninterrupted string of drinks and food, consumed at or around an eclectic array of Parisian locales. Among the more momentous episodes, perhaps: Pierre and I celebrating my last night on the continent by making our Happy Hour a tad earlier and happier than reasonable: hostess at Costes restaurant was duly unimpressed by our Arthur Miller/S Thomson duo act, indirectly leading to our sitting on a corner of Odéon, half-an-hour later, at one of the most coveted tables in the Parisian foodie world, serendipitously left empty by some last-minute cancellation a minute before we stumbled our way in. Bacchus was indeed smiling on us that night.

Unfortunately for this page’s needs, I mostly held to my general rule of not photographing the food people put in front of me: you’ll have to take my word when I say it was some of the best food I ever had, on the tail end of an already impressive week culinary-wise.

In about ten years, Halloween in Japan has gone from a small foreigner-oriented Roppongi event, to a massive country-wide phenomenon. As far as Western holidays go, there are worse ones to import: any chance to dress up in silly outfits and go party it up with friendly strangers is good to take (the whole kids&candy part hasn’t really made it with the rest).

This year’s 31st being a Friday, helped reach unseen level of costumed street craziness in Tokyo.

Taking the title over skeevy Roppongi, Shibuya has now become a much bigger epicentre for Halloween revelry: I had never seen that many people in the streets there. Not during the World Cup, not during New Year’s Eve1, not ever.

Crowd was mainly Japanese, costumes were the usual declinations of sex, blood and cute cartoon characters. Usually all at the same time: from zombie sexy snow-white, to blood-drenched sexy teddy-bear. If originality was not always at its peak, the amount of effort (/money) put into it was undeniable. The bar-counter sociologists would have also noted a huge preponderance of group costumes.

Clockwork Orange in TokyoFor once, yours truly did put some efforts into that costume thing. The end result surpassed our expectations, mainly thanks to the magic of Internet shopping and Japan’s mind-blowingly fast delivery services.

We were expecting little recognition from the average Japanese Halloween partier (hell, even from the average mid-twenties Westerner), but figured the outfits would look weird enough as a group to make for a good costume anyway…

In fact, not only does Clockwork Orange has its fans amongst young hip Tokyoites, but the ones that are into it are really into it. Which lead to an uninterrupted stream of young Japanese devotchkas in various goth-y outfits stopping us, proffering their love for 時計じかけのオレンジ with much shrieking and asking for group pictures. You know you’ve been in Japan too long when you don’t bat a (long) eyelash at repeated mentions that Alex is sooo kawaii. Because nothing says cute, like cod-piece-wearing sociopathic rapist-murderers.

I expect there are now hundreds of pictures floating out there, featuring smily blood-drenched Japanese girls surrounded by creepily-dressed foreigners in vaguely threatening (and increasingly lewd as the night went on) poses. Which I realise sounds like the exact description of a Roppongi club on a Saturday night, but was actually a lot more wholesome (and fun) than that.

After spending most of the evening in the streets (and street-side cafés) of Shibuya, the late-night clubbing at Trump Room nearly felt dull by comparison: dark confined spaces probably aren’t the best place for watching cool costumes. But what wouldn’t a true droog do to dance on some Ludvig van, or whatever closest musical approximation they can find.

A jolly night all around and an unmitigated success. Except for the abuse of Milk Plus that lead to a rather tough morning the next day.

  1. To be fair, only very clueless foreigners still regularly show up there, clinging to the hope that there will be a countdown party. []

6:24am: “Hey, you up yet?”

6:37am: “I said: ARE YOU UP?”

6:42am: “Yo, it’s like totally daylight out there! get up!”

6:45am: “Don’t mind me, I’ll be jumping up and down around the room until you get up.”

6:46am: “Oh, cool, you’re up. Let’s have breakie!”

6:52am: “Hmn, more breakie?”

6:54am: “Wow, that was nice. You should eat more, you look a bit peaky.”

[…]

8:23am: “Get the fuck AWAY FROM ME. You sweaty disgusting mess. I’ll cut you.”

9:07am: “So… you thinking of going soon? ‘Cause we would kinda like the house to ourselves.”

[…]

11:54pm: “You call THAT a time to get home?”

11:55pm: “I don’t give a rat’s arse about your boring day at work. DINNER. NOW.”

11:59pm: “Oh, you’re still here…”

[…]

3:03am: “Hey, you asleep yet?”

3:05am: “HEY!”

[…]

I am stuck in an abusive relationship with two sociopathic cats.

Before repair: looks like it was attacked by a wild beast.Cat couldn't resist the temptation of a last few scratchesBit of water...... and it comes right off!Cats: not helpingFinal result!

It’s not that the cats specifically target the shoji… It’s just that said shoji happen to be just behind their favourite indoor climbing equipment (aka “curtains”). Not that these shoji were all that intact to begin with (couple small tears and a few individually patched cells, not to mention 30+ year-old paper).

Anyway, now that the household’s feline population has been taught to (mostly) stay away from curtains, I felt it might be time to get rid of the “just-survived-a-tiger-encounter” look of the bedroom sliding screens, while partaking in the time-honoured Japanese tradition of replacing shoji paper.

This time, however, I opted for the supposedly cat-proof plastified version, which comes with the added bonus that it is heat-reactive and can be applied with a press iron, without separate glue.

French people are a strange alien species I can barely communicate with (save for the couple old high-school buddies close to my heart).

Speaking French is soon going to feel less natural than even Japanese.

And yet Paris still feels as close to a hometown as I will ever have.

A cold, rainy, dirty, grey hometown.