Category Archives: thoughts

Before I die, I want to…

Nola, New Orleans. At first sight and from a distance, this looks like an abandoned house. Nothing to do there. It’s deserted & empty, it’s spoiling the urban space and reminding people that everything, with time, passes.

But a public installation artist, Candy Chan, saw it in an inspiring different way and turned it into a giant chalk board where people could write what they want to do before they die.

“One month later and seven hours of stenciling today, and it’s up! With a lot of help and support from old and new friends, I turned the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood into a giant chalkboard where residents can fill in the blank and remember what is important to them in life. It’s also about turning a neglected space into a constructive one where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us.”

What do YOU want to do before you die?

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where shall I even begin?

As Kenneth Koch once said: It seems everything is so full of possibilities one can hardly take it all in. What an inspired poet, how true are his words!

After 5 days of cutting loose with my internet ties and hence my Google Reader, I came back tonight to almost a thousand unread posts… Oh the cruelty of the situation! Oh the cornelian choice! Oh the terrible feeling to know that someone, somewhere has been incredibly creative and I am not going to have the time to marvel at it!

How am I to choose which news I am going to read? Which pictures I am going to wonder at? Short films I am going to laugh at? Texts and quotes I am going to relish? The list of potentialities is head-spinning and I’m feeling dizzy with possibilities…

And here we come to what I love most (and equally hate) about the internet: the endless opportunities to learn, and share, the so many ways to be aware, connected and inspired. Being by your computer screen connects you to the world’s pulse while sometimes dragging you away from its beating heart.

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London is…


London is an old lady with yellow-fluo hair and a tweed-jacketed husband elbowing their way through Oxford Street.

London is a monocycle speeding up on a Camden curb. A man and a bowler hat on it.

London is merry men peeing and singing God Save The Queen at a Vauxhall Pub’s urinals and guide scouts with neon accessories squealing on Trafalgar Square.

London is an grey-haired Russian man with a pink lace umbrella at Charing Cross station and three teenage girls sharing two I-pods and a baby-blue nail polish in the tube

London is old people stretching their bodies in the sun by St Martin’s in the Field church listening to smooth Asian music. A mesmerizing and mystical experience.

London is buying 9 books for 19£ in dusty charity shops in Notting Hill, black cabs rainbowing away in a multitude of colorful ads, vintage shops at real vintage price, tea and beer in the pub anytime you please.

London is embroidered cowboy boots, skull-adorned cupcakes and licensed sex shops in Soho, hearing pop music everywhere and feeling rock’n’roll all the time, wearing weird animal hats and not caring, flaunting orange lipstick on a pale skin complexion with a blond bleached crop and looking fabulous, eating fish’n’chips and feeling glamorous.

London is free newspaper with crappy sensational non-news, London is retro-outfitted policemen, blue sky sometimes and red buses always, improbable accents by store attendants and fresh milk for breakfast.

London is lots of walking, finding Oscar Wilde books in the street, taking the double-decker home on the top floor at its very front and getting a panoramic view of the London Eye at night.

London is the smell of food in the streets, London is wide parks and squirrels, London is chav’ attitude at Primark and trying on Louboutins at Selfridges.  London is strolling along the river and feeling afloat, is getting lost and feeling home, is slaloming in the crowd and feeling alive.

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Paris is

Paris is a city that smells of chic dust, rare trees and fresh baguette. Whiffs of the underground’s digestive system are sometimes burped back to the surface, skimming up the dirty stairs of the many stations into your streets, meddling with your expensive perfumes.

Paris is a city that sticks to your hands and shoes. The sugar beads of your morning patisserie, the other commuter’s sweat on the pole you hold yourself onto and the violet ink of your newspaper will remain on your palms. The hobo’s night toilet was your hallway and it sticks to your feet, the romantic paved streets they break your heels and the underground running beneath you and the road work next to you they  increase the quivering of your pace as you slalom your way through the crowd.

Paris is a city your eyes can’t get enough of. The grandiose white monuments and their slate roofs is the background of your day-dreaming fantasies while the Seine aloofly and invitingly blocks your way so that you cross over on its jewel-bridges and admire her even more. The shapely city skyline draws the curves of a city desired by many and owned by few.

Paris is a city bustling with sounds. The aggressive horns of angry drivers will cover a bird’s brief twitter, waiters’ change tinkles in their apron’s front pocket, café cups are dropped and their porcelain thud ripples on the bar marble. Women’s heels clank, scooters roar and buses’ bells jingle.

Paris is a city who tastes of love, bread and cheese and the bitterness of loneliness. It’s a city whose promises of eternal beauty sweetens you up then gulps your down and spits you back. A city for romantic, lunatic and artistic souls in the quest of a scornful but handsome lover, a city for the thrill of her experience and the occasional rush of emotions when walking her streets. Paris is a city who gives herself to many but gives away nothing until the very last minutes, when she thinks she might lose you.

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a radio gem

‘Emotions are intuition of the absolute’.

The person who was interviewed on France Culture this morning said something very beautiful: ‘I am not an intellectual but one thing I remember is that emotions are intuition of the absolute.’
It seems like it was JP Sartre who once wrote:

‘Il faut parler d’un monde de l’émotion comme on parle d’un monde du rêve ou des mondes de la folie.. elle n’est pas un banal épisode de notre vie quotidienne, elle est intuition de l’absolu.’

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a morning slide?

Something good about the constant marketing race and the social media boom of the past years is that interaction with people has become key to companies today. Thinking with the postulate that Customers don’t come to you, you have to go to them, it has become essential for marketing teams to be active and creative. And that is what interests me today: we have been witnessing the rise of guerilla marketing actions where we, potential clients, are part of the whole product promotion process, tools in marketing campaign maybe, but happy ones it seems.

Let’s have a look of three striking examples.

The first one I feel unsure about. Unilever has created this clever ice cream vending machine that dispenses free ice cream if your smile is big enough. It works thanks to some technological smart I can’t explain in details but let’s say there are captors that will validate whether you look happy enough to be rewarded with a treat. The Slogan is SHARE HAPPY and you’re of course invited to share your experience through Facebook, twitter etc via the magic machine.It all could be very nice and friendly – their mission is to encourage people everywhere to share life’s small moments of happiness – if it wouldn’t ask you for some many details about yourself that really feels like another way to get to you and your personal information…

The second one is, I believe, much more fun. Volkswagen has installed a slide in Berlin’s tube to encourage people to use a fast lane. I know this kind of experience would definitely brighten my day so I give it thumbs up!

And last but not least, the very famous T.Mobile campaign, their brilliant flash dance mob in Liverpool Street Station AND so cool massive Trafalgar Square karaoke stunt to be seen below.

So if companies new marketing means manage to bring people together for a laugh, a dance or a sing-along, then I’m all up for it! Bring on shared happiness!

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And I’m still wrapped in the velvet of his voice…

Yesterday evening, Paris’ smelly underground, a heated crowded carriage and the unnerving impression that if people do live together, sometimes, it’s not meant to be. Old people were standing by seated teenagers who didn’t acknowledge them, couples were arguing and some kid wailing. There couldn’t have been a worse timing  for a – probably homeless – street musician to get in the carriage with his guitar. You could feel people’s anger, like electricity in the air, ready to be redirected to the cumbersome intruder.

And then something happened.

Like a little miracle, a breath of air, a moment of peace… From within the pack of sweaty people, a velvety, soul-y, mellow voice rose. The man had started to sing. I couldn’t see him but people had suddenly stopped to be noisy, stopped to be angry and had started to listen and to look around to see where the beautiful voice came from.

It lasted for 10 minutes, 3 songs and 5 stations. The sound of his voice was comforting and the strumming of his guitar slightly melancholic although warm enough to stir commuters’ lips into smiles. The carriage was suddenly like a little haven with people nodding knowingly as if they were friends with a secret.

When the singing was over, nobody hid in a book or turned its gaze away to avoid having to fork out a couple of coins. No, people went to him with change and compliments. For it felt good to be thankful to a stranger,  unexpectedly grateful to a hobo, suddenly happy in the tube.

…And I’m still wrapped in the velvet of his voice…

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