Tag Archives: Angry Town

A pretty good week in Angry Town

You haven’t heard much from me this week. Is it because
(a) the internet has been even more infuriating than usual,
(b) I’ve actually been doing stuff,
(c) I found Season 1 of The L Word in the bargain bin at the video store, tried to make it a productive exercise by watching it in French, but couldn’t stand the dubbing, so I gave up on the French part and just let my addition spiral out of control, or
(d) all of the above.

Last Saturday, Abby and I went to the Angers Tattoo Show. “Angry Town Tattoo Show?!” you ask, perplexed by what seems to be an oxymoron. We were rather surprised ourselves. But indeed, there was a big convention of tattoo artists right outside this un-inked town. Booth after booth of tattoo artists at work, people walking around with bandages on their freshest ink, and a delightful parade of subcultures we didn’t even know existed in France, all set to the constant buzz of tattoo pens.

Abby's face pretty accurately sums up our excitement.

On Monday, I stumbled upon this concert in the big square.

Piano dans la place

The banner says “United in diversity.” My first thought was, “Really? In Europe, a white guy playing piano counts as diverse?” The occasion was legit, though. A speaker explained that May 9 would have been the 200th birthday of Franz Lizt, who purportedly visited and loved Angers.

As my attempt to watch The L Word dubbed in French suggests, I’ve been making an effort to watch more TV and movies unsubtitled while I have the chance. Tuesday night, I watched a thoroughly delightful film called Le Petit Nicolas, based upon a beloved series of books. An English-subtitled version exists, though sadly, it has yet to be released in the U.S. After you watch this trailer, you will want to join me when I sit in Hollywood with a sign until they release it in the Land of the Free.

On Wednesday, a colleague invited me to see a film called Tomboy. I adored it, and I hope it gets released in the U.S. and if it doesn’t, I may have to personally procure pirated Region 1 copies to share it with the queer theory and film theory professors I had at Macalester who would gobble it up and immediately add it to their syllabus. You should watch this trailer even if you don’t speak French. The premise, just to help you out, is that a kid who’s new to the neighborhood introduces himself as Mikael and proceeds to have a delightful summer. The twist at the end of the trailer is when the mom asks, “You told everyone you’re a boy? Why did you do that?”

On Thursday, my now constant partner in crime Abby and I attended one of Angry Town’s best events yet: a night of electronic music and video games! They set up arcade games and consoles in a classy theater, and the place filled up with that rare elusive species of Angry Town ‘ipsterz.

Is it me, or does the forum of the theater look like a red version of the room in The Matrix with the drawers?

The bartenders dressed to match the theme of the night.

Last night, Abby gave me a new ‘do for a night out on the town.

Ta-do!

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Evidence that people in Angry Town don’t know how to have fun

Last night, I passed by this giant box full of bubble wrap just sitting on the sidewalk. Because I am human and have normal human impulses, I crossed the street, popped some, and then took half of the bubble wrap home to stomp on later. I considered taking all of it to carpet my stairs in a most satisfying fashion (we’ve discussed how I like to decorate my home with packing materials…), but no, I thought, I’ll leave it for child passersby.

This afternoon, however, I passed by the same spot and the bubble wrap remains. I ask you, I beg of you, what kind of person leaves free bubble wrap just sitting there unpopped?!?!

This is the saddest thing I've ever seen.

Edit: The story gets even better. When I passed by a third time and popped some more bubbles with relish, I looked up and saw one of my students staring at me from inside the house that had thrown out the offending bubble wrap.

Loire by bike

I’m currently on spring break, which is a mixed blessing. It should be wonderful to have two weeks of vacation with all of Europe at my fingertips. Oh but wait. I ran out of money last month, so I couldn’t book tickets anywhere, and the places I’m most excited to visit are all (a) prohibitively expensive during vacation periods and/or (b) no fun to visit alone, and my friends in France are dropping like flies (that is, leaving).

I realize that someday (with any luck, soon), I will wish I could have two weeks of vacation in France with absolutely no responsibilities. On that day, EJ, please remind yourself that vacation is no fun when you’re alone in Angry Town with an extremely limited budget. First World Problems, right?

Trying to make the best of a bittersweet situation—and battle my pastry belly, you know, two birds, one stone style—I made a resolution to avail myself of the extensive Loire by Bike path that runs from the Atlantic all the way to Germany.

Like most things in this country and life, my opinion of it vacillates rapidly from high to low.

I’ve passed through some scenery lovely enough to inspire me to become an Impressionist painter, if only I had paints and a canvas and knew how to paint.

A village dripping in wisteria, for instance,

the convergence of the Maine and Loire rivers,

and this lovely lane that made me gush like Anne of Green Gables.

As wonderful as it is of France to provide such an extensive bike path, however, I’m afraid I must look a gift horse in the mouth for a moment. What kind of bike path has stairs? Only a slick, squillion-dollar mountain bike could charge up and down them safely. I have to climb off my clunky three-speed and drag it up and down steps and sharp bumps. (If I do that section of the path again, I’ll get a picture of it.)

Even more frustrating, most of the path isn’t easily accessible to me, and in addition to the ridiculous stairs, the closest segment is, frankly, not that interesting. Technically, I’m not supposed to take my municipal-issue bike out of Angers. I think it’s fair for me to take the bike as far as I can ride it, but my dear bike is kind of a fattie. She’s just not cut out for a very long trip. I like her as a friend and all, but I get irritated because she just can’t move very fast.

But she does look pretty cute against the backdrop of the Loire, doesn't she?

Why I call it Angry Town

Because Americans imagine France as a magical wonderland where buttery pastries grow on trees, Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg wander around singing, and smoking is actually good for you, I’ve probably come across as a privileged brat for having so many complaints lately.

Allow me to explain.

When I arrived seven months ago, I had a predictable-but-satisfying honeymoon period. Angers came off really nice at first, like the popular girl who just pretends to befriend the new kid at school. I hadn’t spent time anywhere else in France, so I didn’t really know any better.

That changed after my magical trip with Jeffrey, when I realized that the handful of things I like about Angers—bakeries, speaking French, and the farmer’s market—were things I could find anywhere and everywhere in France, without the side dish of snottiness Angers serves ice cold. I was particularly dazzled with Rennes and Lyon. Granted, spending a night somewhere is entirely different from living there, but I believe there’s a lot to be said for the je ne sais quoi feeling you get in a place. In Angers, je sais exactly the quoi: constantly feeling that I’m being scorned because I whistle while I bike and don’t carry a Longchamp bag.

Angers is thoroughly straight, white, preppy, Catholic, and socially and politically conservative.

Exhibit A: Last Friday, a group of young people wearing pig masks barged into a city council meeting to protest the building of a mosque. (News brief in French here.)

Exhibit B: Their protest was fairly commonplace for this area, because Angers is a stronghold of the Front National, which is essentially France’s Tea Party. Check out their terrifying anti-choice, pro-capital punishment, anti-immigrant platform here.

Exhibit C: About a week ago, the dog poop problem reached unprecedented levels of foul. I counted 12 piles on my walk to work, less than half a mile away.

Does that clear things up a bit?