Soirée Guerre des Etoiles au Match de Baseball

Dans la catégorie experience typique Américaine à faire au moins une fois, je vous présente le baseball. Mon premier match c’était à Fenway Park, le terrain de jeu des célèbres Red Sox de Boston, qui est aussi le stade de baseball de plus ancien encore utilisé aux U.S. Tant qu’à faire, autant choisir un stade historique et une équipe mythique non?  

Match de baseball des Washington Nationals

L’équipe de D.C. c’est les Washington Nationals et elle est plutôt nouvelle. La capitale Américaine avait été privée de son sport national pendant des années, jusqu’à ce que les Expos de Montréal débarquent sous un nouveau nom et branding en 2005, pour la plus grande joie de tout le monde. En contraste au Red Sox et à Fenway qui sont pleins d’histoire et de nostalgie, nous on a un stade et une équipe flambants neufs. En tout, j’ai dû aller à une dizaine de matchs, souvent avec le travail, car ça se fait beaucoup ici les virées organisées au match de baseball l’été quand les bureaux sont un peu plus calmes. Sinon, je préfère m’abstenir et j’ai de la chance, mon mari c’est pas son truc non plus le baseball. Sauf que hier c’était soirée Guerre des Etoiles au stade et que pour une fois j’avais vraiment envie de voir ça!! 

Soiree guerre des etoiles au match the baseball

Et oui, comme la saison de baseball dure 6 mois et que chaque team joue plus de 160 matchs, le staff marketing des équipes organisent souvent des soirées à thèmes pour égayer un peu tout ça. Souvent c’est des “Girls Night Out” ou “Bark at the Park” quand on peut amener ses copines ou son chien. Et des fois c’est un peu plus geek avec des matchs Pixar, Zombies, Star Trek, Game of Throne ou Star Wars. Pourquoi pas…? 

Comme la force était forte du côté du thermomètre (il faisait encore 35 degrès à 7 heures du soir) j’ai laissé à la maison mon costume de wookie Chewbacca  et j’ai improvisé un look princesse Leia fan des Nationals, tout en blanc avec le logo de l’équipe (et surtout des manches courtes!) et les doubles chignons macarons. Les 20,000 premiers spectateurs arrivé au stade on eut le droit à un t-shirt special, les présidents qui vont la course au quatrième inning étaient en costume aussi et un peu partout a travers le stade il y avait des photos opps avec les personages de la franchise. 

Star Wars Night at the baseball game

Star Wars Night at the Baseball Stadium

Star Wars Night at the baseball game

 

 

 

Star Wars Night at the baseball stadium

Sinon, le match… oui, j’ai pas trop regardé 😉 

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Deux trois trucs a connaitre pour voir jouer les Nationals, l’équipe de Baseball de Washington:

  • La saison de baseball c’est debut Avril a fin Septembre et les matchs se passent au Nationals Park dans le Sud Ouest de Washington, au metro Navy Yard. Y’a plein de truc à faire avant le match, comme le Bullpen at Half Street Fairgrounds, avec de la bière et des food-trucks, ou la brasserie Bluejacket. Mais il ne faut pas trop se gaver… les concessions à l’intérieur du stade valent vraiment une visite! 
  • Les billets s’achètent en ligne sur le site de l’équipe. Sinon, vous pouvez vous renseigner sur la disponibilité des places sur place au stade en vous rendant à la billetterie le jour du match. Les prix varient entre $10 pour des places plutôt basique à la Right Field Terrace et $370 dans le Delta SKY360 Club ou vous avez buffet et boissons à volonté (et une vue bien meilleure a mon avis…)

 

 

Happy Watermelon Day!

Rather than give you a French inspired recipe using summer’s most refreshing fruit, pastèque, I give you one of the most colourful house in Washington, DC and one of my favourite piece of street art in the city: the Watermelon house!!

DC's Watermelon House

The row house is located at 1112 Q Street near Logan Circle. Its exposed side has been painted in pink and green to resemble a has a watermelon slice, complete with seeds. Story has it all started with a bad paint job and since everything I know about Logan Circle’s famed Watermelon House I know from this Washington Post article, you can read all about it there too.

Oh, and if you really want some recipes, I do have two super refreshing ones for you right here.

Bonne journée de la pastèque!! Are you celebrating?

Pokéball Doughnut – Gotta Eat ‘Em All !

Have you been roaming the streets of Washington searching for Pikachu? I returned from Paris to find that Pokémon Go had taken the United States by storm (and of course promptly downloaded the app as well). Over the past week, small business owners and restaurants around the city have been trying to cash in on the popular augmented reality game, advertising their status as Poké Stops, enticing shoppers and dinners by setting up lures  and, of course, coming up with pokemon inspired drinks and food. Duffy’s Irish Pub near U Street has been particularly keen on all fronts offering Pokémangorita, lures, free wifi and phone chargers.

Duffy's Irish Pub

Meanwhile, ever one to give into fads, I made my way to Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken over the weekend to catch one of their pokéball doughnut, a vanilla based cake with a raspberry red and vanilla white glaze. It’ll be available for $2.65 in their stores (downtown DC and Falls Church) throughout the month on weekends, and, bonus, I even caught a Bulbasaur on the way there!! 

pokeball donut from Astro Doughnut in Washington DC

Now I enjoyed this donut, but you know what else is delicious and looks like a pokéball? That’s right, a macaron! I mean, you could make all sorts of pokemons too…  just saying… hint hint all you macarons shops in town 😉 

New Chinese Zodiac Sign Crosswalk in Chinatown

What’s your Chinese Zodiac sign? I’m a goat, personally, and loved spotting my sign’s symbol at the intersection of 7th and H streets NW in Chinatown. 

Goat chinese zodiac sign at the intersection of 7th & H streets in Washington, DC

Six years ago, that busy intersection got a little more interesting when it became a “barnes dance” crosswalk (also known as pedestrian scramble) meaning people could cross it in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time. Now the diagonal section of the crosswalk was just enhanced by a permanent two-dimensional artwork featuring colourful dragons — Chinese dragons of course, because the city tries *very* hard to give its Chinatown a semblance of Chinese identity 😉  

Barnes' Dance Crosswalk in DC's Chinatown

Zodiac Sign on the crosswalk in DC's Chinatown

The installation was done by Alternative Paving Concepts, based on a design by Charles Bergen, a DC-native and Yale educated architect turned full time artist who is responsible for a few public art features around town, including one of the Alphabet Animal Art Project aluminum plate in Capitol Hill (the Capitalsaurus is chasing a Falcarius across F and 1st Streets SE). He won the commission from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to paint the intersection to be more distinct and unique. The dragons allude to the Chinatown’s history of hosting an annual parade for Chinese New Year, which features a traditional Dragon Dance. What do you think of it? I’m a fan of anything that brings a little colour to the city… whether on walls on streets 😉 

Legal Eats: Justices Dish Out On Supreme Court’s Food History & Traditions

Greetings from California! Before leaving Washington Thursday morning, I attended one of those only-in-DC events that reminded me why I love living in the city so much. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat down with Catherine E. Fitts, Curator of the Supreme Court, and Clare Cushman, Director of Publications of the Supreme Court Historical Association, to dish out about their personal eating habits as well as reflect on the food traditions and culture of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sotomayor discussing food at the Legal Eats events on March 31 in Washington, DC

The panel was a part of the Smithsonian’s ongoing Food History Programs at the National Museum of American History (same as the Battle of Paris anniversary event I attended recently). Not only was it really neat to be seating less than ten feet away from two associate justices, but they were there to talk about a topic that I could actually understand: food!

Among the tidbits of Supreme Court history I learned that evening is that its history was always intertwined with food. Prior to the establishment of the Federal City, the United States government resided briefly in New York and after the first Supreme Court meeting in 1790, the Justices went to a local tavern for dinner where they made 13 different toasts, including one to the Constitution. When the capitol moved to Philadelphia, the court did too before settling in the District in 1800. Until 1810, the Court had no permanent location and eventually began to meet  in a room in the basement of the Capitol. Back then, the Justices would all live together in a boarding house, while their families stayed behind back home. They shared all of their meals together there, until the 1930s when they finally got their own building which included a cafeteria for lawyers and staff as well as a dining room for the Justices.

Today, the Justices don’t eat together as often, though they do break bread on occasion, especially when the court is in session. One rule at the lunch-table though: no discussion of ongoing cases and an avoidance of controversial topics. Instead, the 8 (for now) of them talk children/grandchildren and sports. RBG doesn’t contribute much to those discussions, she noted and Sotomayor added that she loves baseball, but that Justice Kagan was the real sports-fan of the lot. They also talk about the latest exhibit they may have seen, including many at the Smithsonian Institutions, and books. All justices are voracious readers who love discussing their latest reads. Occasionally, they’ll invite a speaker to join them for lunch and that sounded like the most awesome guest series in town with the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Alan Greenspan, the head of the National Zoo and others (occasionally Justices from foreign countries) joining them to share a meal over what I’m sure is a fascinating conversation. Justices also always get together when a former colleagues comes to town and to celebrate each other’s birthdays. In addition to being one of the nation’s top tax law professors and practitionners, Martin Ginsburg, the late husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was also a talented cook who used to bake for those occasions. Today, Chief Justice Roberts will bring the cake, as well as wine to toast the birthday guy or gal. RBG, who was elegantly dressed with purple lace gloves, joked that there would always be singing though “truth be told, most of them can’t carry a tune.” She also brought up that Justices now get together when a former colleague comes back to town and before the State of the Union. Showing that she has a great sense of humour and that she can laugh at herself, Justice Ginsburg recalled the time when Justice Kennedy brought bottles of Opus Wine to that gathering, which she really enjoyed. “It was the first time I fell asleep during the State of the Union ” she joked.

Other than wine, Justices will typically bring some treats to share with their colleagues. In the past, they would be local delicacies from their hometown or regions, like salted cod from Boston. More recently, Sandra Day O’Connor used to share the beef jerky her brother would make. “It was very spicy,” noted Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “I bet I would have liked it,” replied Justice Sotomayor. And of course, as was highlighted at the time of his death, Justice Scalia was an avid hunter who would bring back everything from fish to fowl, though Justice Breyer had a bit of a hard time introducing one of the pheasant he brought back to his grandchildren apparently…

A couple of other fun tidbits I noted: Justice Harlan Fiske Stone (1925-1946) was a big cheese fan and would bring a whole platter of his favourites to eat for lunch. This prompted Justice Sotomayor to mention that, if she could have lunch with any 2 justices from the past, she would pick him in addition to John Marshall and Thurgood Marshall… because you know he would bring good food! On her own food habits, Sotomayor appreciates Puerto Rican cuisine, mostly that of her mom and sister, but hasn’t mastered how to make it well herself. Ever the typical New Yorker, she mentioned being a big fan of food deliveries, though those are not easy to get through the Court’s security 😉 When her clerks come over, they will try to order in from different places so they can try new things and she also relies on them for restaurant recommendations. Justice Bader Ginsburg, on the other hand, relies on her daughter to eat properly now that her husband has passed away. On her husband’s culinary skills, RBG quipped that he “developed a fondness for the kitchen shortly after I made my first meal.”

This was definitely one of the best events I’ve attended recently. Check out a complete listing of upcoming event for the Smithsonian’s Food History Programs. They always have some good ones coming up! 

Weekend Highlights: Packing, Crabs & Macarons Glacés

In France, in May, it seems that every other weekend is a three day weekend (because it is). Here in the United States we get one May bank holiday for Memorial Day. I rarely get to take advantage of the time off though because my huge annual work conference always falls right around that time. This year is no exception. I’m off to Anaheim on Thursday. It’s been a while since my last trip to California, so I actually decided to stick around for a few days afterwards and I’m SO excited. Now I just need to find a place to watch the France-Romania game on June 10th in Venice! I can’t believe the Euro cup starts next week!!

So I had a pretty low-key weekend, getting everything ready for my trip including tying up some lose ends at work. But don’t worry, that’s not all I did 😉

KICKING OFF SUMMER WITH RIBS, CRABS AND FRIENDS

First blue crabs of the season

Memorial Day officially kicks off summer here in Washington and it typically means three things: most pools (including the one on my roof) open, you can white and it’s blue crabs season! Blue crabs are so different from the ones I grew up eating in France but I’ve really taken a liking to getting down and dirty with a mallet to dig into Maryland crabs, steamed with old bay seasoning. My friend Madalene went to the Maine Avenue Fish Market in Southwest DC to pick up some fresh ones. She had us over for ribs and crabs and it was a messy, but lovely affair. 

MACARONS ICE CREAM SANDWICHES AT CAFE DU PARC

It’s already really hot and humid in the district and after the crabs, the best thing I ate all weekend was a refreshing macaron glacé from the new ice cream stand outside of the Willard Hotel. At $8, they’re not cheap, but I have no regrets! 

Macaron glaces from Cafe du Parc

 

STRAWBERRY SEASON AT THE BLOOMINGDALE FARMERS MARKET

Other than the Dupont Circle Farmers’ market, which operates year round, most of the other markets here in Washington, DC are seasonal. And the season has started!! There’s three markets that I typically visit. During the week, I usually frequent the White House Farmers’ Market, which operates close to my office on Thursdays. It’s a great spot to grab lunch and take a quick break. On the weekends, I’ll go to the Freshfarm stand at City Vista for fruits, vegetables and fresh eggs. If I need a little more (or if I’m craving pies from Whisked! or kimchi from Number One Sons) I’ll head to the market in Bloomingdale, which is exactly what I did on Sunday. I didn’t pick up too much stuff since I’m going to be out of town for 10 days but couldn’t resist those beautiful strawberries. 

It's strawberry season

On my way back home, I meandered through the neighbourhood to check some of the Pow! Wow! D.C. murals that were too far to get to during our tour last week (read all about it and see the murals in progress here). Those are on the back of the Studios at 52 O Street and I obviously LOVED to Yoda one by Wooden Wave (aka Matthew and Roxanne Ortiz.)  
o street art

On Monday, I met my friend Olga of MangoTomato and Laura of The Daily Suitcase to chat food and travel over brunch at BToo. I had the lobster waffle, which was good, though a bit on a small sized so I also devoured an order of delicious frites! Since BToo is close to my office, I actually headed there for a bit afterwards to finish up a few things. Womp womp right?

Frites at BToo

So all in all, not one of my usual busy bee weekends running around the city but I still had a lot of fun, and squeezed in some good eats! Did you get around to do anything fun over the long weekend? Did you stay in town or head out somewhere?

Pow! Wow! D.C. – Murals in Progress in NoMa

Famed Los Angeles-based French street artist Mr. Brainwash recently painted an awesome mural on the wall of Union Market (read more about it here) and was quoted saying that he’d be back in the District because “Washington, D.C. needs it,” having so many “blank walls that could have messages for people to see life more beautifully.” Well, right now, a couple of blank walls in NoMa are getting some graffiti love as part of Pow! Wow! DC, a week long art festival. Most of the murals are still works in progress at this time, and Thursday night, I joined a (rather large) group of street art loving peeps for a walking tour of the neighbourhood led by local artist Kelly Towles who’s been spearheading Pow! Wow! here in the District. 

There are 17 artists currently working on 7 walls, many collaboratively. From the Lobby Project at 1200 first street NE we walked over to what looked like a shack on M to hear about how Pow! Wow! came to the city.  and to see the first piece, painted by Pow Wow Worldwide director Jeff Gress and appropriately themed for the city.

This DC themed mural is the work of Jeff Gress from Hawaii

This DC themed mural is the work of Jeff Gress from Hawaii

From there, it wasn’t far until the next wall, the  Crucible Wall by Cory Oberndorfer (a.ka. Sweet Uncle Cory) at 16 M Street NE. Why the Crucible you ask? Well, that was the name of the alternate lifestyles/BDSM Private Club that used to be in that building…  The club closed down recently (though it’s searching for a new home apparently) and the whole thing will be torn down soon so I wouldn’t wait too long to go check out Cory’s mural if I were you.

Kelly Towles explains the history behind the Crucible Wall in NoMa

Kelly Towles explains the history behind the Crucible Wall in NoMa

Just around the corner from the Crucible Wall at 42 Patterson Street NE is a large, colourful wall that was practically done by the time we saw it. Dave Persue (pictured below telling us about the piece) collaborated with Yok & Sheryo on this homage to Washington, complete with historical figures like president Lincoln and a tribute to standout D.C. graffiti artist Cool “Disco” Dan (Dan Hogg). 

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My absolute favourite wall was the absolutely trippy work done to the old Ibiza nightclub by Douglas Hoekzema aka HOXXOH. I cannot wait to see the final wall! It’s right on First Street (1222 First Street NE) and I’m petty sure that very soon it’s going to pop up ALL over my instagram feed. Check it out:

HOXXOH new mural on the old Ibiza building in Washington, DC

Douglas Hoekzema aka HOXXOH is a Miami based artist known for his striking murals that seem to mix art and science

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The next wall was just as striking but for completely different reason. It’s the tallest of all the murals that have come up as part of Pow! Wow! DC and uses a captivating bright pink-purple hue that’s impossible to miss. Drew Merritt and camera shy London based artist INSA teamed up for this beautiful large scale portrait.  

Drew Merritt and INSA collaborated on this large scale mural in North East DC

#IfIWasYourGirlfriend collaborative wall by Drew Merritt + INSA at 41 New York Ave NE

The next two walls were a little further away, closer to the tunnel you go under to get to Union Market. There’s a companion piece to the No Kings Collective mural at the Colonel apartments in Shaw, made with old go-go posters, coming up at the new Elevation @ Washington Gateway building. And then there’s a bunch of different pieces coming up on a section of the 900-foot Metro Branch Trail wall. Local artists Decoydc, Matt Corrado, OneEightyOne (pictured hard at work below) and Jacob Eveland were hard at work on different sections of the wall when we walked by. I’ll definitely go back and take more pictures of all the different parts once they are completed!

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Finally, there were a couple of smaller scale pieces that weren’t included on the walk. Puerto Rican artist Vero Rivera is working on a cool illustration behind the 52 O Street Studios. There’s also a Yoda themed garage door mural by Wooden Wave that I didn’t get to see (yet!)  We did make one last stop to see two final pieces a little tucked away from the other ones, on walls above a parking lot at 1215 3rd Street NE. 

I love a girl who can rock a wall, and Hong Kong based Caranotoes is doing just that! 

Caranotoes from Hong Kong talking about her mural at 3rd street NE

Caranotoes from Hong Kong talking about her mural at 3rd street NE

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Right next to her wall, DC-Based Artist Naturel is working on perhaps one of the most political piece of the lot. Artists participating in Pow! Wow! DC were specifically asked to refrain from controversial topics since there was quite a bureaucratic process involved in getting authorization from the city to use the walls, etc. He’s currently working on his interpretation of the upcoming Harriet Tubman $20 bill, which is more of a political statement than a political controversy. 

Are you as excited as I am about all these new murals in NoMa? Washington hasn’t had a large scale murals festival, yet, and I loved that Pow! Wow! DC brought in some international muralists from all over the world, while still showcasing some of the best local street artists from around the DMV. As I mentioned, most of the pieces I saw on Thursday, May 26, were still work in progress and if you want to check out the final works, there will be one more artist-led organized happy hour and walk on June 2nd. You can also do your own walk by using the Pow! Wow! DC map on NoMa Bid’s website. I know I will as soon as I’m back from Los Angeles in a few weeks!

 

Catch These French Films at Filmfest DC

FilmFest DC 2016

In the winter months, I try to cram in as many oscar-nominated films as I can before the awards are given out. After that movie-binge, I typically take a needed break from the cinemas. Until April and Filmfest DC

Filmfest is the District’s first, largest and only international film festival. Between April 14 and 24, 2016 Filmfest DC will celebrate 30 years of delighting Washington cinephiles with a really impressive line-up of 75 movies from 45 different countries. As always, that includes a number of films from France and Belgium. Here are some of the French(-ish) or French-language films you can look forward to this year. 

THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENTLe tout nouveau testament

The poster claims that “G-d exist… and he lives in Brussels.” Colour me intrigued, especially since the film is directed by Jaco Van Dormael who has made such great films as Toto the Hero or The Eight Day. In the story, G-d (Benoit Poelvoorde — catch him in Romantics Anonymous available on DVD on Netflix!) is alive and grumpy in the Belgian capital, where he controls the universe from his computer and torments his family, including his wife the amazing Yolande Moreau and 10 year old daughter, Ea. To get back at her dad, Ea sends everyone their death dates via SMS… and that’s just the beginning. Intrigued? You should be! The film was Belgium’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards, making the December shortlist of nine films, but falling just short of being nominated (it was nominated but didn’t win at France’s Cesars.) Watch the trailer here and catch The New Testament at AMC Mazza Gallerie on April 21 at 6:30PM or April 22 at 6:30PM. (In French with English subtitles.)

BELGIAN RHAPSODY 

Belgian rhapsody

Belgian Rhapsody illustrates the competition between the small country’s two linguistic groups – the French-speaking Walloons and the Flemish –  through the fierce battle of two brass bands vying for a European championship. The exuberant Wallo-Flemish musical comedy will be shown at Landmark’s E Street Cinema on April 18 at 8:45PM and April 23 at 5PM. (In Dutch and French with English subtitles.)

THE MEASURE OF A MANla loi du marche

I just saw posters for this film in new York City, which makes me think it has the best chance out of all the movies on this list to actually make it to theater in Washington, DC. Vincent Lindon is always superb and won awards for his performance both at Cannes and at the Cesars. This terrific drama echoes the Dardenne brothers’ “Two Days, One Night” in its exploration of what people are willing to do to keep their jobs. Here, Lindon portrays a fifty-something former factory worker, who after being unemployed for 20 months, finally accepts a soul-destroying job as a security guard for a megastore.  The movie is co-presented by the French Embassy where it will show on April 22 at 7PM. It will also show at AMC Mazza Gallerie on April 16 at 5PM. (In French with English subtitles.) The French Embassy will be screening another film, Anne Fontaine’s The Innocents, immediately following The measure of a man, at 9PM on April 22 if you feel like a French double feature. Details here

MY KING

Speaking of acting awards at Cannes, its director Emmanuelle Bercot, who also plays the tittle character in this movie (called Maiwenn in French), won that last year. Her film focuses on Maiween who tears up her knee cap skiing in the opening sequence. As her therapist hints that the whole thing was more of a cry for help than an accident she looks back at her life with her man-child partner Giorgio (swoon worthy Vincent Cassel) and remembers the highs and lows of their life together. My King is showing at AMC Mazza Gallerie on April 15 at 6:30PM and at Landmark’s E Street Cinema on April 17 at 5:30PM. (In French with English subtitles.)

My King

 

THE WHITE KNIGHTS

But back to Vincent Lindon. He leads the Move For Kids organization in this provocative Franco-Belgian drama that looks at the darker side of humanitarian assistance. Directly inspired by real events (the highly suspect story of French NGO Zoe’s Ark whose members were arrested in 2007 for illegally trafficking children they claimed to be orphans from war-torn Darfur) The White Knight raises many questions and offers no easy answers about what is wrong and what is right… what my husband would dub an excellent but infuriatingly French film 😉 Catch The White Knight at AMC Mazza Gallerie on April 15 at 9PM or at Landmark’s E Street Cinema on April 22 at 6:30PM. (In French with English Subtitles.)

The White Knights

 

LOVE & FRIENDSHIPLove and Friendship

What is this very British love satire based on Jane Austen’s never-previously-filmed novella in letters Lady Susan doing in a list of French film you ask? Well, it’s co-produced by France, the Netherlands and Ireland. So there, French enough-ish! Plus it looks really good (I always love a good period film!) Brit Kate Beckinsale plays a widow who seeks refuge with her in-laws. As rumours about her private life begin to circulate, she sets out to find a husband for a herself, and a father for her daughter, the reluctant debutante Frederica. There’s only one showing at Landmark’s E Street Cinema on April 19 at 6:30PM so don’t miss it. (In English… no subtitles.)

3000 NIGHTS

Saying that I loved Room doesn’t feel quite right because the topic the film/book dealt with is so dark. 3000 Nights feels almost like Room and is also partially based on true stories, that of Palestinian women in Israeli prisons. In the film, Layla is unaccountably thrown into a police van and convicted. She ends up pregnant and in jail and is allowed to keep the child who grows up in a grim cell, knowing nothing of the outside world, but surrounded by love from his mother and her five Palestinian cell mates. Palestinian director Mai Masri is initially a documentary filmmaker and 3000 Nights concludes with a powerful documentary.

3000 Nights

A Palestine/France/Qatar/Jordan/UAE coproduction, the film is co-presented by the Embassy of Qatar and showing at Landmark’s E Street Cinema on April 21 at 8:30PM and AMC Mazza Gallerie on April 23 at 9:30PM. That last screening will be attended by the director too. (In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.)

MY INTERNSHIP IN CANADA

The festival saved the best for last with its closing film! Academy award nominated director Philippe Falardeau, of Monsieur Balthazar and The Good Lie fame, returns with a political satire featuring Starbuck’s Patrick Huard (one of my absolute favourite in-French film currently streaming on Netflix… watch it!!) as a former pro-hockey player whose career never took off because he was afraid to get on planes. Now an independent MP and the last honest man in office, his vote can decide the fate of legislation that could send the country to war. The PM relies heavily on guidance from his Haitian intern Souverain, who seems to know more about the ins and outs of Canadian politics than he does.

My Internship in Canada

While reviews agree that My Internship in Canada (watch the trailer here) doesn’t quite live up to its potential, you won’t want to miss this screening at AMC Mazza Gallerie on April 24th, the closing night of the festival, because it will be attended by director Philippe Falardeau and followed by a reception sponsored by the Office of Quebec. (In French, Creole, with some English dialogue and English subtitles.)

Are you looking forward to Filmfest DC this year? The list above is by no means exhaustive, just some French-ish movies that I would like to see during the festival. You can see a full list of all the films shown through April 24th right here. Let me know if you see anything good!  

Postcard from the District: Mr Brainwash Mural at Union Market

You know the first lady is pretty cool when you find out about new murals from her instagram feed 😉

Michelle Obama and Mr Brainwash at Union Market

 

Michelle Obama marked International Women’s Day and the first anniversary of Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative aimed at educating girls around the world, at Union Market. She was joined by famed Los Angeles-based French street artist Mr. Brainwash, who had been commissioned by The Girls Lounge to do a mural on the theme of women education.  The murals are full of colorful hearts, similar to the bleeding hearts/love wall graffiti by James Goldcrown, portraits (including renderings of Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein) and inspiring slogans like “Life Is Beautiful,” “Follow Your Heart” and “Love Is The Answer.” 

Mr Brainwash Mural at Union Market

Laetitia Brock at the Union Market Mr Brainwash mural

Mr Brainwash Mural at Union Market

 

 

 

 

 

Union Market Celebrates International Women's Day with Michelle Obama and Street Artist Mr. Brainwash; Photo Credit: Gary Williams

Union Market Celebrates International Women’s Day with Michelle Obama and Street Artist Mr. Brainwash; Photo Credit: Gary Williams

Unfortunately, some of the art is already gone, like Einstein’s legs or the bottom half of the Life is Beautiful pink heart above.

Thierry Guetta, aka MBW, was quoted saying that he’ll be back in the District because he feels that “Washington, D.C. needs it.” I agree! Apparently, we have many “blank walls that could have messages for people to see life more beautifully.” Again, I agree and I can’t wait to see more of his murals pop up all over town!! 

So You Wanna Visit the White House…?

I’ll always remember the first time I toured the East Wing… it was the morning after I met my now husband. I told him I had to make it an early night because I was supposed to be at the White House at 8AM. You know, a typical D.C. excuse 😉 I’d only been in the U.S. and in Washington for 6 months and it was all very exciting for me.

I’ve been fortunate to go inside the White House a few more times since then. And while bowling at the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley at 1600 Penn* is still on my DC-to-list with slim to no chance ever getting crossed off, I did get to go to the West Wing once and tour the building once during the holiday season. Here what you need to know if you want to visit the White House too. 

THE WEST WING & BOWLING ALLEY

Unless you’re invited by the White House or know someone who works there (and has West Wing access, which isn’t everyone), the personal residence and the West Wing are pretty much off limit. Because they are led by staff, West Wing tours visits typically happen in the evening or on weekends, outside of office hours. If you’re lucky enough (like I was) to visit when the president is out of town, you’ll get to peak into the Oval Office. Not go into it, but peak into it. Photographs, of course, are strictly off limits except in the press room, which is why SO many people have pictures of themselves at the press secretary’s podium. Well, at least so many people in DC… If you do have the opportunity to tour the West Wing, clear your schedule and go! Ahead of time, you’ll be asked to provide your full name, birth date, social security number, and possibly other personal data so that the secret service can run a quick background check on you. Obviously, I passed the test and I wasn’t even a permanent resident back then so being foreign won’t prevent you from being able to do a West Wing tour. Bowling at the White House requires the same kind of “friends with benefits” which I clearly do not have anymore 😉 They only get to book the lanes once a quarter so again if you’re ever invited to the most exclusive bowling alley in the country, clear your schedule and make it happen! Also, don’t forget to bring your own snacks and booze… I already have my sparkly all picked out… I just need an invite now. 

THE EAST WING

white house tours are self guided

So I toured the East Wing the first time right when I met my husband, on a traditional tour that had been arranged by my graduate program at the George Washington University. I toured it a second time during the holiday season in 2011 when the White House hosted one of its first tweet up ever. Most of our time at the tweet up was spent in the basement of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where, interestingly enough for a tweet up, we couldn’t get a signal and where there was no wifi. The White House has learned a lot since then and frequently hosts tweet ups like the one recently for the arrival ceremony for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The highlight of that tweet-free tweet up for me was meeting with and getting to ask questions of White House pastry chef Bill Yosses and White House florist Laura Dowling about what it’s like to plan and prepare for Christmas at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (planning typically starts in March.) Getting to see the end result from all of their hard work during a tour of the building afterwards was really amazing. SO many Christmas trees and gingerbread houses!

Gingerbread White House

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Christmas season at the White House White house 6white house 1

There currently are no tweet up or instameet planned but you should check the White House Social website periodically and follow them on twitter and instagram to get alerts for the next one. Here as well, you also have to go through a quick background check, which non-Americans like myself can pass. The other way to get to tour the East Wing is, of course, through your congressional representatives, though that process is currently being revamped.  I will update this post as soon as the new information is official on April 18. 

THE WHITE HOUSE GARDENS

The easiest way to get inside those gates is the bi-annual White House Garden tour. No, you don’t get to go inside the residence, but you get to see Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden and take a really cool picture like this from the South Lawn: 

Laetitia Brock at the White House

White House Garden Tours happen in the fall and in the spring, and mark you calendars right now because the next ones are next week, on Saturday April 16 and Sunday April 17 2016. On either of those days, show up at the Ellipse Visitor Center (kitty corner from Pinea at the W at 15th and E NW) to get a free, timed ticket. Those are distributed on a first come first serve basis and the visit is obviously really popular so I recommend getting there at 8:30AM since tours begin at 9AM.
White house 10

The grounds will be less crowded earlier in the day. Bring as little with you as you can and selfie sticks are strictly prohibited, as are bags (small purses might be fine but play it safe. Diaper bags are not allowed), food, weapons (duh!) and animals other than service dogs. You’ll go through metal detectors but no background check or advance planning is required for those… White House Fall Garden Tour

You can read a little all about my 2010 White House Garden Tour right here and if it doesn’t make you want to get up early on Saturday or Sunday, remember that it’s one of your best shot at getting in before Obama’s term end. Another alternative for the gardens, if you have kids, is to enter the lottery for tickets to the White House Easter Eggs Roll. 

* Wondering what is it like to bowl at the White House? Check out this lucky Deutsch Art Director’s account on the agency’s blog! Wondering what it’s like to visit the White House for a special event hosted by the First Lady? My friend Olga did just that a few weeks ago.