it is monster/magic/mad monday at wimbledon, probably the most intense day of the fortnight. we'll have the highest potential for greatness and upsets: both williams sisters in action, and the blonde bombshells (azarenka, sharapova, wozniacki, lisicki, kvitova), plus the wild ms marion, the top 4 men, and a "deliciano"...
i want to watch them all of course--it's a good day for playing hooky.
but the only match i really care about is nadal/del potro--i'll have to set the dvr and listen live to radio wimbledon while i'm at the office. i'd like to think i'll watch the recording of all the day's matches later tonight, but then there will be more tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. there will not be enough evening hours to catch up.
but i don't mind relying on the radio commentary (alternately serious and clever, but always smart and fun. gigi salmon is my girl crush!) and of course, on steve. he's running a new feature called "keeping tabs"--a daily look at all the crazy, cheeky headlines (and some interesting tennis news bytes) from the UK. i love to make that my first read of the day with the first coffee of the day, though it's just as fun in the afternoon and evening...
here at home, i have been trying to celebrate the slam by taking advantage of some of the restaurant partnerships, sponsored by HSBC, at places like tea and sympathy.
when i dined there last week, the "andy murray chicken curry" was sold out. everyone on the bandwagon even here, i guess.
our waitress tried to hard sell the "sampras sussex chicken," but it sounded like a feast that could put me to sleep sitting upright (not unlike sampras' game). i opted for the traditional (that's the wimby spirit, isn't it?) : stilton/apple/walnut salad, bangers and mash, and the celebrated eaton mess: meringue, cream and mixed berries.
the eton mess is not on the regular menu as the meringue is a little challenging to make, especially in the humidity of the ny summer. indeed they didn't quite make or store this dish properly--parts of the meringue were chewy (one could mistake it for stale, even).
but i was in too good a mood to quibble about that. it was the thought--wimbledon specials--that counted.
tea and sympathy is at 108-110 greenwich avenue (intersected by jane street! in ny's west village)
not much there in the way of sights or monuments, but i'd read that the marché des batignolles would offer a feeling for simple, everyday parisian life, which sounded very good to me. and there were 2 small artisan shops where i hoped to do a little gift shopping.
i got a late jump on the day, though, no thanks to work. and because i'd planned to meet my friend matt in the marais in the afternoon, i had to forego the marché. buti took the 13 line to la fourche to see how much local flavor i could absorb in a couple of hours.
there was something immediately familiar about walking along avenue de clichy.
old trees canopied the blocks, giving a beautiful sun-dappled effect--i thought, the avenue was a living, shining renoir! it was easy to imagine a beautiful architectural history.
i continued my slow stroll...
racks of leather shoes
and dvd stores
and t-shirt shops
and frill-free, neon signs for quick-stop chinese, japanese, middle eastern and eastern european eateries.
even more amazing? the unmistakable, lingering aroma of rotisserie chicken, all along the avenue.
i'd found, in that little swath of the 17th, the fulton mall of paris.
as a tennis fan, i loved seeing this in the front window of a store called "edene star""
yannick noah, and his ex, the lovely heather-stewart whyte.
definitely wouldn't see this in brooklyn...
it was an unexpected scene on avenue de clichy, but it reminded me that mine had been a narrow (dreamy) view of parisian life. and i know not to define the whole 17th from what i saw that afternoon. the 17th blends upper, middle and lower classes, there's a big-business district as well as older, historic areas, and former industrial areas in various stages of gentrification. young families move in, other nationalities do, too.
there is real, every day life there, after all.
oh, i did find the wonderful french touche, full of delightfully feminine artisan creations.
it was a litle etsy emporium, and in a different way, very "brooklyn."
i hadn't planned to make the trip to paris a shopping trip, but there were definitely several stores on my hit list, a few in the marais. as my luck would have it, my friend matt was living in that neighborhood and he kindly spent a couple of days guiding me through the rues...
at the very top of my list was merci, a concept store that opened in 2009, and named by one of my long-time style icons, ines de la fressange, as one of her favorites. in the 1980s, ms. de la fressange was most famously known as the first model to sign an exclusive contract with chanel. but i have loved her for her non-chanel style: with her short brown hair, slim cut trousers and blazers, sweaters and tees and great shoes, her look was always smart, chic, and unfussy. parisian. she never really left the style pages, but she's enjoying a burst of recent fame with the publication of a parisian style book, a spread in "the selby," and recent catwalk turns for karl lagerfeld and jean-paul gaultier. anyway, i figured if she loved merci, i would too.
and i did--from the minute i entered the courtyard and saw the little red fiat.
merci is a "lofty" space, with abundant natural light to glorify everything inside. flowers greet you on the first floor, and there are different boutiques, upstairs and down. as a concept store, they sell clothing and accessories for men, women and children, and have sections devoted to seemingly every room in your home, as well as the garden, if you have one. it's the one-stop shopping of the highest order--everything is beautiful, a mix of vintage and new, a blend of easy and elegant. even the coffee bar is swank.
i spent most of my time in the gal's apparel section, where the lust factor is high--i ogled slip dresses and buttery leather coats, all manner of garments with interesting lines or special adornments--zippers, ruffles, and beads, some more subtle than others. my budget and i did little more than browse this time 'round, but the terrific thing about merci is that once the store breaks even, the proceeds are distributed to women's and children's charities in madagascar. those with a little extra spending room can feel feel doubly good about the experience.
merci's bookstore carries mostly secondhand volumes...this was my second favorite section...would have been first, maybe, if i could read french?
there were times during this vacation when i just wanted to park myself on one street corner and shoot "style."
fantastic french style would come at me all day long, but i was so often moving in the opposite direction...
this isn't really a lament--i love that there's still so much for me to discover in paris. it just means that what i'm posting here now is only one small sample of how the parisians dress for the spring sun....
la ring...everything she's got, really
her belted blue...
the color purple
i really liked this shot for the coca cola, too. i drink it rarely myself--when i do, it's also "regular," in a can. i just love to see people enjoying coca-cola all over the world...
nadal played his third round match against antonio veic on the day i was there. the seats i had brought me closer to the court than i'd ever been for a "real" nadal match. but after the first handful of games i realized that even from my very nice seats, my zoom and i were not going to get better photos than i could find online the next day, shots from the "pros." with their credentials they have a bit more freedom to roam--i was fighting gals with frizzy hair, guys with caps, taller people, who were all sneaking into the corners of the frame. i was missing shots--and the tennis.
still, i made some photos with intent--to try to catch nadal acknowledging the crowd, cleaning the baselines with his nikes, sliding, kicking up clay. but for most of the match, the camera was in my lap. i just watched the action, the playing out of every point.
i could appreciate his speed, his powerful and agile directional shifts. nadal's compact frame and his low-to-the-ground movement must give him the confidence to maintain balance on a surface that constantly pushes one off. tennis is a much more quiet, meditative game at roland garros (grunting aside)--no squeaky sneaks on the clay, just occasional long raspy slides. it was practically soothing. but the relative silence also has the effect of intensifying the tense moments, if you will. i liked the long points that showed both loft and the zip of his groundstrokes. it never seems effortless--how could it be? but it certainly is awesome.
it looks like it would be fun, too.
i like the ball boys in the photographer's pit
this one's my favorite, for the movement, the wrinkles in his shirt, and the clay kicking up.
steve wrote a really nice feature for his blog about manuela davies, a professional sports photographer, during week 2 of the open. if you're interested in tennis or sports photography, you'll appreciate the "day in the life" peek, but you might also be interested to know more about the challenges the pros have to navigate. it's a dreamy piece, but with a dose of reality.