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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Movies, anyone? Moteur... ça tourne!

(Je vous mets la tradution en Français dans qq jours, OK? :-)

It seems that everybody in the world has seen San Francisco at least once, either on TV or at the movies. It's no suprise, actually. According to this website, a whopping 1558 movies, TV shows, etc., were made in San Francisco.

I personally walked through the making of several movies just over the last few years, the last of which was The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith. To film that one, they prepared the public ahead of time and partially blocked the area around the Bank of America building. Most of the the heavy street filming around the tower was done during the week-end when all the office workers were off. You wouldn't know it by watching the movie, though, it looks so real, so busy ... they really did an incredible job! They even got Rev. Cecil Williams to play himself!

Another time, a long time ago, I remember when the bus had to take a special detour because there was an Incredible Hulk filming and a fake cable car was stuck half-way up in mid-air in the middle of the street... Of course, I shall not reveal how they did it, but this picture (above) might give you an idea.

Let's not forget, of course, the couple hundred brides I saw descend on Columbus Street some years back (not to be confused with the Brides of March, a completely different thing altogether!) during the filming of The Bachelor. Here you can see them do the same thing through the Stockton St. tunnel. Yes, that was quite a sight!

So I wasn't exactly surprised the other day when I saw the cabins along Post Street. Apparently, these were for the crew of a TV show called Journeyman, scheduled to air on NBC in the fall of this year.

Only 3 blocks further, that very same day, I found another crew filming a Fruit of the Loom commercial, right on the steps of what used to the the Pacific Stock Exchange (now a gym).

I guess it's good thing I whipped out my camera when I did, because a few hours later, everybody was gone!

People in San Francisco seem to be quite used to seeing their city used as a giant movie set but they're always a little curious, still, and sometimes even amused.

Personally, I think it's always a pleasure having these guys around. As far as I'm concerned, they can all come and film our beautiful City every day of the week if they feel like it, as long as that the traffic isn't completely brought to a standstil, of course ... And we'll do our best to not have a power outage that day ...

* * * *

To know exactly what movies were made in San Francisco and when, check out the City's website.

Have you ever wondered how movies are made? This website will give you a basic understanding.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Earthquake Rattles Bay Area Eiffel Tower /Tremblement de terre secoue une Tour Eiffel de la Baie de San Francisco

The Bay Area woke up to another 4.2 earthquake yesterday morning, felt primarily in the East Bay (particularly in Oakland and Berekeley) but also in San Francisco, as well as other counties.

Les habitants de la Baie de San Francisco ont encore été réveillés hier matin par un tremblement de terre de magnitude 4.2, senti surtout à Oakland et Berkeley, mais aussi à San Francisco et dans certains comptés voisins.

Every time I feel one of these things in the middle of the night, my first thought is "is this IT?!!!" and then comes "where the !$@# are my clothes, my shoes, my wallet, what, when, how, what the fuck do I do now?!!!..." and then it stops. Pfewww... For now.

Chaque fois que j'en ressens un au milieu de la nuit, je pense toujours immédiatement: "Est-ce CELUI qu'on attend depuis si longtemps?!!!" ensuite ... " !$@#!$@, où sont mes chaussures, mes vêtements, mon portefeuille, quoi, que, quand, comment, merde qu'est-ce qu'on fait maintenant?!!!.." et puis ça s'arrête. Pffffff... Pour le moment.

Photograph from usgs.gov

We're long overdue for the "big one" in the Bay Area, the one that will create a ton of damage, and it's no laughing matter. This time, only my Eiffel Tower and a few knick-knacks got knocked off the top shelf in the kitchen. Next time, who knows.

Nous attendons depuis longtemps le "big one" dans la Baie, celui qui va vraiment faire des dégàts, et il faut le prendre très au serieux. Cette fois-ci, seulement ma Tour Eiffel et quelques trucs sont tombés de l'étagère d'en haut, dans la cuisine. Mais la prochaine fois, qui sait.

San Francisco's Marina District, 1989

To help you prepare for the worse, please check out the following links: This Chronicle article has listed a couple of websites where you can find information on earthquake preparedess, such as this one, for instance. Here is a couple more links in English: ABAG and SFNERT. Don't forget to also check out the links gathered by the French Consulate of San Francisco (the article is in French, but the links lead to websites written in English).

Pour vous aider à vous préparer au pire, allez voir les liens ci-dessus. La plupart des liens sont en Anglais, à part cet article du Consulat Français de San Francisco. Voici aussi un article en Français avec des liens interessants

Good luck to all and stay safe.
Bonne chance à tous.

* * * * * *
Additional links:

San Francisco Chronicle's comprehensive Earthquake Preparedness site.

Voir aussi: Se Préparer Au Désastre, de Christophe Caron (en Français)

1906 Earthquake explained by Wikipedia.

Photograph from usgs.gov. Also, see "When will it happen again?"

Additional resources about the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake at NPR's site.

Remember this? BBC article and video on the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bastille Day in San Francisco (14 Juillet à SF)

Hundreds of francophiles and partyers will probably flock to Belden Lane tonight, to celebrate the 14th of July, or what people here call "Bastille Day." Many people believe that Belden Lane is the French Quarter of San Francisco. Ahem.

Des centaines de francophiles et de fêtards vont probablement converger aux alentours de Belden Lane ce soir, pour célèbrer le 14 Juillet (que l'on appelle ici "le Jour de la Bastille"). Nombreux sont ceux qui s'imaginent que Belden Lane est le Quartier Français de San Francisco. Ha!

If you don't know any better, I should probably warn you, it really isn't. At least not to most of the long term French expats residents here. There nothing French about it and nothing much to see, not even a little shop, I mean *nothing at all* except a handful of restaurants, most of them a little too pricy for what they are... And yes, at least two of them are "French."

Pour ceux qui ne sont pas au courant, je ferais peut-être mieux de vous avertir tout de suite que ce que les gens du coins appellent le "Quartier Français" n'est pas un quartier pour Français. En tout cas, pas pour la majorité des expats qui sont ici depuis longtemps. Il n'y a absolument rien à voir, même pas une petite boutique, je veux dire *vraiment* rien à voir, à part la poignée de restaurants qui y existent, presque tous un peu trop chers pour ce qu'ils sont... Au moins deux d'entre eux font de la cuisine française.

Some of them are probably worth trying once, especially if you've never had that kind of food, like Cafe Bastille (that one actually is pretty good and relatively reasonably priced) or Plouf just for the experience.

Remarquez que si vous n'avez jamais eu l'occasion d'y aller, faut quand-même essayer au moins une fois, pour l'experience. Vous avez par exemple le Cafe Bastille (qui est d'ailleurs pas mauvais et pas trop cher) et Plouf.

Years ago, people used to be able to dance on Belden Lane, on the evening of the 14th of July; there used to be music and they'd close off both ends of the alley so people could walk around with their drink (1) and have a little fun. But things have changed over the last few years (for "security reasons," they say), and last year they only allowed people in if they were going to be seated at one of the restaurants' patios, otherwise, you had to keep moving on out of there.

Il y a des années, le soir du 14 Juillet, les gens dansaient à Belden Lane. Il y mettaient de la musique, les deux bouts de la rue étaient bloqués pour que les gens puissent s'amuser et boire(1) leur verre de vin tranquillement dans la rue, devant les restaurants. Mais les choses ont bien changé au cours des dernières années ("pour des raisons de sécurité" on nous dit), et l'an dernier, si vous n'alliez pas directement vous asseoir à la terrasse de l'un de ces restaurants, on vous disait de circuler.

Needless to say, you can't just walk into any of these places on the 14th of July if you haven't made your reservations way ahead of time, so most likely if you're ready to head out there now, you're gonna be disappointed.

Bien sûr, pour s'asseoir le soir du 14 Juillet dans un de ces restaurants, il faut avoir réservé des mois à l'avance , alors si vous vous apprêtez à y aller maintenant, vous allez êtres déçus.

I know there are other places you can hang out at, tonight in the City if you want to celebrate Bastille Day, but I didn't research them for you guys, sorry, because truthfully, I am not in the least interested in that.

Je sais qu'il y a d'autres endroit où aller faire la fête ce soir en ville pour le 14 Juillet, mais j'ai pas fait la recherche parce que franchement, c'est pas un truc qui m'intéresse énormément.

All these people running around "Frenching it up" for just one day, and all the others who pretend to like a culture they don't even have a clue about, just bore me to tears. So I have no advice for the true francophile out there wanting to know what to do tonight.

(Je vous expliquerai bien pourquoi, mais ça prendrait beaucoup de temps. Alors, Pour le moment, je n'en dis pas plus, mille excuses.)

This year, I'll be going to a private party instead, and yes, there will be French people there, but we'll be celebrating it "the American way," you know, barbecue in the back yard with a bunch of friends, no frills, no pretense, no bullshit.

Cette année, j'irai chez des gens, et oui, il y aura même des Français, mais on va faire celebrer ça "à l'Americaine," vous savez, barbecue dans le jardin, sympa, avec quelques amis, en toute simplicité, sans grandes pompes ou pretention.

In fact, I kinda have to go now, so happy 14th, everybody, and don't do anything I wouldn't do! ;)

D'ailleurs, faudrait même que je me depêche, alors bonne fête à tous et à bientôt.

(1) In California, it is usually illegal to drink alcohol in the street (yes, even if it's only a beer and it's a really really hot day).

(1) En Californie, d'habitude c'est interdit par loi de boire de l'alcool dans la rue (oui, même si c'est juste une bierre sous une chaleur à crever).

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 14 is sneaking up on us / C'est bientôt le 14 Juillet

(This post in English only)

Since I don't have anything "original" to post (it's kind of a long story but I haven't stopped working for about 10 days now), I thought I'd flag out yet another Chronicle article... why not.

This one is about Paris and was written by a Marin County expat. I can just imagine the culture shock! Seriously, though, it comes with a few pictures, even one exactly like the one on this blog, imagine that!

There are also a few events taking place in San Francisco, listed at the end of the article. If you are a Bay Area francofile,and particularly interested in Paris, or if you are from Paris and want to know what some American expats recommend, this article is written for you (and no, Rick Steves didn't write it).

* * *
Photograph of Metro sign courtesy and iStockphoto, on the Chronicle's website.

(Gay Pride post still to come)
(Le billet sur la Gay Pride toujours à venir)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

(Kentucky red, white and bluegrass: Every year for the Fourth of July, Robert Burr has a five-acre flag painted on his lawn in Bowling Green, Ky.)

Tous les ans pour le 4 Juillet, un monsieur dans le Kentucky fait peindre les 2 hectares de sa pelouse

Photograph and comment (above) from sfgate.com

(1 are (US) = 0.4 Hectare (metric))

* * *
(Gay Pride post still to come)
(Le billet sur la Gay Pride toujours à venir)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Startreck I mean ... iPhone Convention

(Click on photographs to enlarge / Photos cliquables)
(Traduction en Français dans quelques jours)

How bad do you want a product if you are willing to stand in line ... not hours, but DAYS, in order to get it? In New York, people lined up as early as Monday or Tuesday of last week in front of the Apple Store on 5th Avenue.

In San Francisco or in Bay Area in general, people didn't quite go to that extreme but still, this is what you could see in front of the Apple store, on Stockton St., San Francisco, in the morning of Friday, June 29th. And this is what you could see around the block, and probably even further, if you cared to check.

Yes, people really did spent the night in front of the store to be certain to be among the first ones to get an iPhone, and those are really tents and mattresses you see on the sidewalk.

Overall, the mood was really pretty good when I checked Friday morning. Most people appeared to be very organized and quite comfortably installed in chairs with books, music, computers, food and drinks, blankets, and games. I understand that Apple exceptionally provided these people access to their bathroom, which is probably the least they could do, if you think about it, and an anonymous benefactor even donated pizza and hot chocolate the night before.

A few young people were wearing iWait.org tee-shirts. Apparently, iWait is an organization of high school kids willing to wait online for you for a fee. If you are interested in the process, clink on this link to check out their website or click here to see the ABC 7 news' piece, complete with a short video.

No iPhones were made available until 6:00 p.m. That poor(?) guy(?) passed out under that purple blanket, sitting at the corner of Stockton and O'Farrell, was completely oblivious to the millions of cars driving by just a couple of feet away from his chair and the thousands of people walking right past him.

Around 2:00 p.m., the store kicked everybody out and closed its doors to prepare for the bIg event.

You know me, I like entertainment, so I decided to come back later and see what there was to see.

By that time, there were no more tents or chairs on the sidewalk, but the line seemed to be extending even further, now, and you could feel the electricity in the air.

I got there right around 6:00 p.m., when the Apple guys were beginning to let people in. There was a fair amount of commotion around the store (not only were there journalists and photographs - both professionals and amateurs - everywhere) but there were also curious people, some even climbing on stuff, hoping to see the inside of the store better, maybe in hopes of finding, oh, I don't know, Steve Jobs or Santa Claus or who knows... maybe even God himself!

(Yes, I know, this second picture doesn't really add anything crucial to the story, but he was *really* cute. Trust me.)

Of course, a San Francisco gathering wouldn't be complete without Frank Chu carrying his 12 Galaxies sign (which by now appear to have expanded to 800 Galaxies). But I digress.

I told you I like entertainment. So, into the Apple store I went.

The Apple guys were lined up on each side of the door, and were letting in groups of approximately 10 to 15 people at a time. Apparently they had been instructed to clap and make a bunch of cheerful noises as soon as a group of people walked in the door, because that's exactly what they were doing.

I'll tell you, it actually feels pretty good to be cheered on by a group of people you don't know, when you walk in the door somewhere! Almost like your very own little suprise party, I guess. One could totally get used to it, you know! ;)

And then again, if you consider that each of these people walking in was willing to drop between $499+tax (for one single 4 GB phone) and up to $1200+tax (for two 8GB phones) within minutes, then I guess that could explain the enthousiasm or why they were trying to make you feel like you were Paris Hilton.

Sales were ringing up fast in there, let me tell you. They even had converted the infamous (don't ask!!!) "Genious Bar" upstairs to additional cash registers (a great idea, too, because they were all busy!) and many people I saw walk into the store climbed directly up the stairs where they patiently stood online to pick up their device and pay for it without giving it a second thought. Apple allowed a maximum of 2 phones per person and a noticeable number of people did walk out with 2 little bags. Kaching!

Some were still playing with the idea ...

This guy (a software engineer, I believe, according to the Chronicle, who got much better pictures) was in a hurry to get it up and running so he set up right there in the store. According to the Chronicle, the set-up was easy and fast for him.

Of course, by now you must wonder if I got one, uh? Well, its not like I didn't copiously lust for it during the entire time I was near or at the Apple store (must be something in the air, I don't know)... or maybe it was the voice of that little kid (I mean me) who (gladly!) gave up an entire paycheck many years ago in exchange for the privilege of being one of the very first ones to own and operate one of the First Generation Sony Walkmans (remember these?), when they first came out on the European market, sooooo long ago ...

And believe me, that iPhone they got there at the Apple store is really is one sleek-looking device, let me tell you, and I'll admit the fever kinda got to me, too, for a couple of hours ... So did I end up getting one?

Well, it was tempting, but honestly, I just don't see myself commiting to dropping $3000 [count the price of the device combined with the cost of a 2-year contract with AT&T] for yet another piece of electronics AND the "privilege" of becoming Apple's beta tester on a first generation product they will undoubtedly improve in the near future.

It's not that I'm not yet sold on the "Internet in your pocket" idea because, believe me, I really am and have been ready for that for a *long* time already, but I really have my doubts as to how fast that internet connection is really gonna be, especially in San Francisco where the signal for cells is notoriously so bad and WiFi is still not available everywhere.

Anyway, since I did a little bit of research, I will try to update this post in the next few days with a couple of interesting videos I saw, and relevant links that may help you out if you're still on the fence about the iPhone.

So, was all the hoopla worth it? Well, I guess that all depends who you ask. No need to ask these two how they feel...

* * *
Additional Resources

In the meantime, you can check out the Chronicle's article with pictures and a number of links (in English)

Also there is some interesting information on this silicon valley blog I found (in English)

And then it was all over ...

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