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Tag Archive for ‘France’

Cycling fans watch the opening time trial of Paris-Nice in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, 3 March 2012. Photo © 2012 Alan Miller.

Seven Ways to Improve the Tour de France

I wouldn’t go so far as the three-time world-champion Óscar Friere, who reckons that the Tour de France is “the most boring race of the year” — has he ever watched the Tour of Qatar? — but this year’s race did make me wonder how many more like it the old institution can take. Institutionalization is the Tour’s great burden, or at least its double-edged sword. For the casual fan it is the ‘race of record,’ cycling itself. Those who follow the sport more closely understand that while the Tour is undeniably the most competitive, and therefore the most prestigious, among the three Grand Tours of Italy, France and Spain, it often not the most interesting.

La France en relief at the Grand Palais (English Version)

Architecture students quickly learn the value of a good model. Although nothing expresses the true intention of a design as well as a model, especially for the general public, the life of a model is often sad and brief. After the big presentation day, the little pieces of cardboard and wood, so carefully carved during too many all-nighters, begin to deteriorate in closets and attics. Models are too delicate for a world built at 1:1. Once dust starts to appear, the garbage can soon follows.






Plan-relief de Grenoble (1839-1848)

La France en relief au Grand Palais (version française)

Les élèves d’architecture apprennent bien vite la valeur des maquettes. Quoique rien peut évoquer la vérité d’un dessin comme une maquette, surtout pour le grand public, la vie d’une maquette est souvent triste et court. Après la grande épreuve devant les profs, les morceaux de carton et de bois si précisément ciselés pendant les nuits blanches s’écroulent lentement dans les ombres des placards et des greniers. Les maquettes sont trop délicates pour un monde construit en 1:1. Après la poussière, la poubelle.






Sir John Gielgud in Alain Resnais' Providence (1977)

Some Outstanding Whites from France, Italy, Spain, and New Zealand

Sometimes I think I’m the only person in the room who likes white wine, but in this case we were outside celebrating a friend’s birthday in her charming garden on a small bluff overlooking the harbor. Someone came over and thanked me for recommending a wine to a mutual friend. “She told us about it and we’ve been drinking it ever since.” Seated in a comfortable lawn chair in that idyllic setting, watching some kayakers head toward home on the turning tide, I decided I ought to gather a list of some of my favorite white wines from this past summer before the warm weather entirely slips away.






Le Tour de France 2011 (version française)

Le Tour de France, comme un voyage à la lune ou une mission de la navette spatiale, est une espèce d’art performatif. Le parcours est dessinée, mais un scénario imprévisible se déroule toujours sur les routes de France. La plupart des Tours de France depuis j’ai commencé à faire attention en 1989 étaient dominés par les grands champions comme Miguel Indurain (cinq maillots jaunes) et Lance Armstrong (sept), avec les brefs interrègnes. Le Tour de 2011, possiblement le meilleur, est peut-être le Tour qui rompra cette modèle de “star-système.” C’est le premier Tour vraiment post-Armstrong, post-Armstrongiste.
Grace peut-être au dessin supérieur des routes français, le parcours du Tour n’est pas le plus difficile des trois grands tours (de la France, l’Italie et l’Espagne). Si le Giro d’Italia, incroyablement dur dans les années recentes (deux ascensions de Mt. Etna dans une journée!?) est une sorte de free jazz, le Tour de France est peut-être un big band de Glenn Miller: structuré, populaire, avec ses conventions familières et ses variations subtils entre les éditions qui se produit des énormes différences de scénario. Le parcours et les ambitions des 198 coureurs créent des histoires grands, petits et insolites, surtout cette année.






The Tour de France finishes in this French village. Photo © 2010 Alan Miller.

Le Tour de France 2011 (English Version)

The Tour de France, like a moon landing or shuttle mission, is a kind of performance art. The route is predetermined, but the scenario which plays out on the roads of France is always unpredictable. The majority of the Tours since I started paying attention in 1989 have been dominated by the likes of five time winner Miguel Indurain and seven time winner Lance Armstrong, interspersed with brief interregnums. If we are lucky, the 2011 edition, the greatest I have seen without a doubt, will be remembered as the Tour which broke this “star-system.” It is certainly the first truly post-Armstrong, and post-Armstrongian, race.






The Rosés of Provence

If it were possible to bottle up the spirit of a place in a wine, my vote would go to the rosés of Provence. Warm, radiant, cheerful and decorously seductive, their appearance alone sparks the thought that a few sips will transport one to a world of sunshine and tranquility. Who wouldn’t want to have […]

In hard times, a leader emerges.

The Better Part of Valour: A Movie for Tea Party Folk

The following treatment, provisionally entitled “The Better Part of Valour”, was leaked to me by a source at a major Hollywood studio. In the wake of recent controversy over “The Kennedys” it is an interesting political document. Is Hollywood responding to a change in the American psyche, or pandering to a fake demographic which lives only in the headlines in the New York Times? Will movies for Tea Party folk become the norm? The document I received was stained with pork rind grease in the lower right hand corner, leading me to believe that someone authentically conservative must be involved with the project.