Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cycle of Cultural Confusion

When I'm in France, I write about being an American in Paris. And when I'm in New York, it seems logical to write about being French in New York (Time Out article to come in a few weeks). I've managed to ingratiate myself with a good number of French restaurant / shop owners in New York, and it's almost as good as being in Paris. (Except not at all).

So I don't really know where I fit, but seeing as I'm both a faux Parisian and a faux New Yorker, I have become quite comfortable faking my way on both sides of the Atlantic.

Anyway, I'm gearing up to head to Paris this week, but in the meantime, here's a recent post I wrote for Hip Paris—as usual, not to be taken too seriously.

How To Be a Parisienne: Ten Golden Rules

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nolita = Little Paris

Sea of Euros at Cafe Gitane.

I think all of New York is conspiring to send me back to Paris. It seems I can't walk five feet in this city without running into a French tourist, or a French family, or just a French person who has claimed New York as his / her own. It probably doesn't help that I spend most of my time in Nolita and the Lower East Side, where all of transplanted Europe seems to convene to walk around looking painfully stylish. Cafe Gitane has a way of making me feel like an out-of-place foreigner in my own city, so obviously I am obsessed with it and have vowed to go there as often as possible until I have sufficiently "assimilated." Plus, their avocado toast is out-of-control good.

But seriously, New York is awash with French people, and many of them are inexplicably enamored with Abercrombie & Fitch (they don't know it's not cool, which I find endearing... like the one chink in their otherwise intimidatingly sleek armor). But as I was saying, if you stand at the corner of Mott and Prince Streets, the English evaporates and you might as well be standing at the corner of rue Vieille du Temple and rue des Francs Bourgeois.

Every time I find myself next to a French speaker, I want to tell them all about how I used to live in Paris, but then I realize, they're French and they don't give a f*ck—which makes me like them even more.

But the fact that French people are as obsessed with New York as we are with Paris seems to provide some kind of cultural reckoning—or at least mutual affirmation. As maladroit as I sometimes feel when I'm in Paris, it all balances itself out when I see a perfectly nice looking French boy sporting a hideously branded A&F t-shirt here in New York. It's not OK, but since you're French, je te pardonnerai. I'll let it go.

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