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French Culture Explained from an American perspective.

Culture of France

The culture of France and of the French people has been shaped by geography, by profound historical events, and by foreign and internal forces and groups. France, and in particular Paris, has played an important role as a center of high culture and of decorative arts since the 17th century, first in Europe, and from the 19th century on, world wide. From the late 19th century, France has also played an important role in cinema, fashion and cuisine. The importance of French culture has waxed and waned over the centuries, depending on its economic, political and military importance. French culture today is marked both by great regional and socioeconomic differences and by strong unifying tendencies.

Problems in defining “French” culture:

Wherever one comes from, “culture” consists of beliefs and values learned through the socialization process as well as material artifacts. “Culture is the learned set of beliefs, values, norms and material goods shared by group members. Culture consists of everything we learn in groups during the life course-from infancy to old age.”

The conception of “French” culture however poses certain difficulties and presupposes a series of assumptions about what precisely the expression “French” means. Whereas American culture posits the notion of the “melting-pot” and cultural diversity, the expression “French culture” tends to refer implicitly to a specific geographical entity (as, say, “metropolitan France”, generally excluding its overseas departments) or to a specific historico-sociological group defined by ethnicity, language, religion and geography. The realities of “Frenchness” however, are extremely complicated. Even before the late 18th-19th century, “metropolitan France” was largely a patchwork of local customs and regional differences that the unifying aims of the Ancien Régime and the French Revolution had only begun to work against, and today’s France remains a nation of numerous indigenous and foreign languages, of multiple ethnicities and religions, and of regional diversity that includes French citizens in Corsica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and elsewhere around the globe.

The creation of some sort of typical or shared French culture or “cultural identity”, despite this vast heterogeneity, is the result of powerful internal forces — such as the French educational system, mandatory military service, state linguistic and cultural policies — and by profound historic events — such as the Franco-Prussian war and the two World Wars — which have forged a sense of national identity over the last 200 years. However, despite these unifying forces, France today still remains marked by social class and by important regional differences in culture (cuisine, dialect/accent, local traditions) that many fear will be unable to withstand contemporary social forces (depopulation of the countryside, immigration, centralization, market forces and the world economy).

In recent years, to fight the loss of regional diversity, many in France have promoted forms of multiculturalism and encouraged cultural enclaves (communautarisme), including reforms on the preservation of regional languages and the decentralization of certain government functions, but French multiculturalism has had a harder time of accepting, or of integrating into the collective identity, the large non-Christian and immigrant communities and groups that have come to France since the 1960s.

The last 50 years has also seen French cultural identity “threatened” by global market forces and by American “cultural hegemony”. Since its dealings with the 1993 GATT free trade negotiations, France has fought for what it calls the exception culturelle, meaning the right to subsidize or treat favorably domestic cultural production and to limit or control foreign cultural products (as seen in public funding for French cinema or the lower VAT accorded to books). The notion of an explicit exception française however has angered many of France’s critics.

The French are often perceived as taking a great pride in national identity and the positive achievements of France (the expression “chauvinism” is of French origin) and cultural issues are more integrated in the body of the politics than elsewhere (see “The Role of the State”, below). The French Revolution claimed universalism for the democratic principles of the Republic. Charles de Gaulle actively promoted a notion of French “grandeur” (“greatness”). Perceived declines in cultural status are a matter of national concern and have generated national debates, both from the left (as seen in the anti-globalism of José Bové) and from the right and far right (as in the discourses of the National Front).

According to Hofstede’s Framework for Assessing Culture, the culture of France is moderately individualistic and high Power Distance Index.

Now, the interracial blending of some native French and newcomers stands as a vibrant and boasted feature of French culture, from popular music to movies and literature. Therefore, alongside mixing of populations, exists also a cultural blending (le métissage culturel) that is present in France. It may be compared to the traditional US conception of the melting-pot. The French culture might have been already blended in from other races and ethnicities, in cases of some biographical research on the possibility of African ancestry on a small number of famous French citizens. Author Alexandre Dumas, père possessed one-fourth black Haitian descent, and Empress Josephine Napoleon who was born and raised in the French West Indies from a plantation estate family. We can mention as well, the most famous French singer Edith Piaf whose grandmother was a North African from Kabylie.

For a long time, the only objection to such outcomes predictably came from the far-right schools of thought. In the past few years, other unexpected voices are however beginning to question what they interpret, as the new philosopher Alain Finkielkraut coined the term, as an “Ideology of miscegenation” (une idéologie du métissage) that may come from what one other philosopher, Pascal Bruckner, defined as the “Sob of the White man” (le sanglot de l’homme blanc). These critics have been dismissed by the mainstream and their propagators have been labelled as new reactionaries (les nouveaux réactionnaires), even if racist and anti-immigration sentiment has recently been documented to be increasing in France at least according to one poll.

Language:

The Académie française sets an official standard of language “purity”; however, this standard, which is not mandatory, is often ignored by the government itself: for instance, the left-wing government of Lionel Jospin pushed for the feminization of the names of some functions (madame la ministre) while the Académie pushed for some more traditional madame le ministre.

Some action has been taken by the government in order to promote French culture and the French language. For instance, there exists a system of subsidies and preferential loans for supporting French cinema. The Toubon law, from the name of the conservative culture minister who promoted it, makes it mandatory to use French in advertisements directed to the general public. Note that contrary to some misconception sometimes found in the Anglophone media, the French government neither regulates the language used by private parties in non-commercial settings, nor makes it compulsory that France-based WWW sites should be in French.

France counts many regional languages, some of them being very different from standard French such as Breton and Alsatian. Some regional languages are Roman, like French, such as Occitan. The Basque language is completely unrelated to French and, indeed, to any other language in the world; its area straddles the border between the south west of France and the north of Spain. Many of those languages have enthusiastic advocates; however, the real importance of local languages remains subject to debate. In April 2001, the Minister of Education, Jack Lang, admitted formally that for more than two centuries, the political powers of the French government had repressed regional languages, and announced that bilingual education would, for the first time, be recognized, and bilingual teachers recruited in French public schools. English is taught in schools as a second language.

A revision of the French constitution creating official recognition of regional languages was implemented by the Parliament in Congress at Versailles in July 2008.

Religion:

France is a secular country where freedom of thought and of religion is preserved, by virtue of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The Republic is based on the principle of laïcité, that is of freedom of religion (including of agnosticism and atheism) enforced by the Jules Ferry laws and the 1905 law on the separation of the State and the Church, enacted at the beginning of the Third Republic (1871–1940). A January 2007 poll found that 61% of the French population describe themselves as Roman Catholics, 21% as Atheists, 4% as Muslims, 3% as Protestants, 1% as Buddhists, and 1% as Jews. France guarantees freedom of religion as a constitutional right and the government generally respects this right in practice. A long history of violent conflict between groups led the state to break its ties to the Catholic Church early in the last century and adopt a strong commitment to maintaining a totally secular public sector.

Catholicism:

The Roman Catholic Church has always played a significant role in French culture and in French life. Most French people are Roman Catholic Christians, however many of them are secular but still place high value on Catholicism.

The Roman Catholic faith is no longer considered the state religion, as it was before the 1789 Revolution and throughout the various, non-republican regimes of the 19th century (the Restoration, the July Monarchy and the Second Empire). The Official split of Catholic Church and State (“Séparation de l’Eglise et de l’Etat”) took place in 1905, and this major reform emphazises the Laicist and anti-clericalist mood of French Radical Republicans in this period.

At the beginning of the 20th century, France was a largely rural country with conservative Catholic mores, but in the hundred years since then, the countryside has become depopulated, and the population has largely become more secular. A December 2006 poll by Harris Interactive, published in The Financial Times, found that 32% of the French population described themselves as agnostic, a further 32% as atheist and only 27% believed in any type of God or supreme being.

Islam:

After Catholicism, Islam is the second largest faith in France today, and the country has the largest Muslim population (in percentage) of any Western European country. This is a result of immigration and permanent family settlement in France, from the 1960s on, of groups from, principally, North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia) and, to a lesser extent, other areas such as Turkey and West Africa. While it is prohibited in France for the government census to collect data on religious beliefs, estimates and polls place the percentage of Muslims at between 4% and 7%.

Judaism:

The current Jewish community in France numbers around 600,000, according to the World Jewish Congress and 500,000 according to the Appel Unifié Juif de France, and is found mainly in the metropolitan areas of Paris, Marseille and Strasbourg.

The history of the Jews in France dates back over 2,000 years. In the early Middle Ages, France was a center of Jewish learning, but persecution increased as the Middle Ages wore on. France was the first country in Europe to emancipate its Jewish population during the French Revolution, but despite legal equality anti-Semitism remained an issue, as illustrated in the Dreyfus affair of the late 19th century. However, through the 1870 Décret Crémieux, France secured full citizenship for the Jews in then French-ruled Algeria. Despite the death of a quarter of all French Jews during the Holocaust, France currently has the largest Jewish population in Europe.

French Jews are mostly Sephardic and span a range of religious affiliations, from the ultra-Orthodox Haredi communities to the large segment of Jews who are entirely secular.

Buddhism:

Buddhism is widely reported to be the fourth largest religion in France, after Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. France has over two hundred Buddhist meditation centers, including about twenty sizable retreat centers in rural areas. The Buddhist population mainly consists of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants, with a substantial minority of native French converts and “sympathizers”. The rising popularity of Buddhism in France has been the subject of considerable discussion in the French media and academy in recent years.

Cults and new religious movements:

France created in 2006 the first French parliamentary commission on cult activities which led to a report registering a number of cults considered as dangerous. Supporters of such movements have criticized the report on the grounds of the respect of religious freedom. Proponents of the measure contend that only dangerous cults have been listed as such, and state secularism ensures religious freedom in France.

Regional customs and traditions:

Modern France is the result of centuries of nation building and the acquisition and incorporation of a number of historical provinces and overseas colonies into its geographical and political structure. These regions all evolved with their own specific cultural and linguistic traditions in fashion, religious observance, regional language and accent, family structure, cuisine, leisure activities, industry, etc.

The evolution of the French state and culture, from the Renaissance to today, has however promoted a centralization of politics, media and cultural production in and around Paris (and, to a lesser extent, around the other major urban centers), and the industrialization of the country in the 20th century has led to a massive move of French people from the countryside to urban areas. At the end of the 19th century, around 50% of the French depended on the land for a living; today French farmers only make up 6-7%, while 73% live in cities. Nineteenth century French literature abounds in scenes of provincial youth “coming up” to Paris to “make it” in the cultural, political or social scene of the capital (this scheme is frequent in the novels of Balzac). Policies enacted by the French Third Republic also encouraged this displacement through mandatory military service, a centralized national educational system, and suppression of regional languages. While government policy and public debate in France in recent years has returned to a valorization of regional differences and a call for decentralization of certain aspects of the public sphere (sometimes with ethnic, racial or reactionary overtones), the history of regional displacement and the nature of the modern urban environment and of mass media and culture have made the preservation of a regional “sense of place or culture” in today’s France extremely difficult.

The names of the historical French provinces — such as Brittany (Bretagne), Berry, Orléanais, Normandy (Normandie), Languedoc, Lyonnais, Dauphiné, Champagne, Poitou, Guyenne and Gascony (Gascogne), Burgundy (Bourgogne), Picardy (Picardie), Provence, Touraine, Limousin, Auvergne, Béarn, Alsace, Flanders, Lorraine, Corsica (Corse), Savoy (Savoie) — are still used to designate natural, historical and cultural regions, and many of them appear in modern région or département names. These names are also used by the French in their self-identification of family origin.

Regional identification is most pronounced today in cultures linked to regional languages and non-French-speaking traditions – French language itself being only a dialect of Langue d’oïl, the mother language of many of the languages to-be-mentioned, which became a national vehicular language, like (in alphabetical order): Alsatian, Arpitan, Basque, Brezhoneg (Breton), Burgundian, Corsu (Corsican), Català (Catalan), Francique, Gallo, Lorrain, Norman, Occitan, Picard, Poitevin, Saintongeais,etc., and some of these regions have promoted movements calling for some degree of regional autonomy, and, occasionally, national independence.

There are huge differences in life style, socioeconomic status and world view between Paris and the provinces. The French often use the expression “la France profonde” (“Deep France”, similar to “heartland”) to designate the profoundly “French” aspects of provincial towns, village life and rural agricultural culture, which escape the hegemony of Paris. The expression can however have a pejorative meaning, similar to the expression “le désert français” (“the French desert”) used to describe a lack of acculturation of the provinces. Another expression, “terroir” is a French term originally used for wine and coffee to denote the special characteristics that geography bestowed upon these products. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place” which is embodied in certain qualities, and the sum of the effects that the local environment (especially the “soil”) has had on the growth of the product. The use of the term has since been generalized to talk about many cultural products.

In addition to its metropolitan territory, France also consists of overseas departments made up of its former colonies of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana in the Caribbean, and Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. (There also exist a number of “overseas collectivities” and “overseas territories”. For a full discussion, see administrative divisions of France. Since 1982, following the French government’s policy of decentralisation, overseas departments have elected regional councils with powers similar to those of the regions of metropolitan France. As a result of a constitutional revision which occurred in 2003, these regions are now to be called overseas regions.) These overseas departments have the same political status as metropolitan departments and are integral parts of France, (similar to the way in which Hawaii is a state and an integral part of the United States), yet they also have specific cultural and linguistic traditions which set them apart. Certain elements of overseas culture have also been introduced to metropolitan culture (as, for example, the musical form the biguine).

Industrialization, immigration and urbanization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have also created new socioeconomic regional communities in France, both urban (like Paris, Lyon, Villeurbanne, Lille, Marseille, etc.) and the suburban and working class hinterlands (like Seine-Saint-Denis) of urban agglomerations (called variously banlieues (“suburbs”, sometimes qualified as “chic” or “pauvres”) or les cités (“housing projects”) which have developed their own “sense of place” and local culture (much like the various boroughs of New York City or suburbs of Los Angeles), as well as cultural identity.

Other specific communities:

Paris has traditionally been associated with alternative, artistic or intellectual subcultures, many of which involved american foreigners. Such subcultures include the “Bohemians” of the mid-nineteenth century, the Impressionists, artistic circles of the Belle époque (around such artists as Picasso and Alfred Jarry), the Dadaists, Surrealists, the “Lost Generation” (Hemingway, Gertrude Stein) and the post-war “intellectuals” associated with Montparnasse (Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir).

France has an estimated 280,000-340,000 Roma, generally known as Gitans, Tsiganes, Romanichels (slightly pejorative), Bohémiens, or Gens du voyage (“travellers”).

There are gay and lesbian communities in the cities, particularly in the Paris metropolitan area (such as in Le Marais district of the capital). Although homosexuality is perhaps not as well tolerated in France as in American, Canada, Spain, Scandinavia, and the Benelux nations, surveys of the French public reveal a considerable shift in attitudes comparable to other Western European nations. As of 2001, 55% of the French consider homosexuality “an acceptable lifestyle.” The current mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, is gay. In 2006, an Ipsos survey shows that 62% support same-sex marriage, while 37% were opposed. 55% believed gay and lesbian couples should not have parenting rights, while 44% believe same-sex couples should be able to adopt.

Social class:

Despite the egalitarian aspects of French society, French culture remains marked by social-economic class and by many class distinctions.

Household structure:

Growing out of the values of the Catholic Church and rural communities, the basic unit of French society was traditionally held to be the family. Over the twentieth century, the “traditional” family structure in France has evolved from extended families to, after World War II, nuclear families. Since the 1960s, marriages have decreased and divorces have increased in France, and divorce law and legal family status have evolved to reflect these social changes.

According to INSEE figures, household and family composition in metropolitan France continues to evolve. Most significantly, from 1982 to 1999, single parent families have increased from 3.6% to 7.4%; there have also been increases in the number of unmarried couples, childless couples, and single men (from 8.5% to 12.5) and women (from 16.0% to 18.5%). Their analysis indicates that “one in three dwellings are occupied by a person living alone; one in four dwellings are occupied by a childless couple..”

Voted by the French Parliament in November 1999 following some controversy, the pacte civil de solidarité (“civil pact of solidarity”) commonly known as a PACS, is a form of civil union between two adults (same-sex or opposite-sex) for organizing their joint life. It brings rights and responsibilities, but less so than marriage. From a legal standpoint, a PACS is a “contract” drawn up between the two individuals, which is stamped and registered by the clerk of the court. Individuals who have registered a PACS are still considered “single” with regard to family status for some purposes, while they are increasingly considered in the same way as married couples are for other purposes. While it was pushed by the government of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 1998, it was also opposed, mostly by people on the right-wing who support traditionalist family values and who argued that PACS and the recognition of homosexual unions would be disastrous for French society.

Currently, same-sex marriage is legally recognized in France. However, same sex marriage was a large contributing factor in the presidential election of 2012 between Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy, who represents the right-wing UMP party opposed gay marriage, while Francois Hollande, of the left wing socialist party (France) supported it. Hollande was elected in May 2012 and the French legislative branch is currently in the process of writing and enacting a law for same-sex marriage.

Role of the State:

The French state has traditionally played an important role in promoting and supporting culture through the educational, linguistic, cultural and economic policies of the government and through its promotion of national identity. Because of the closeness of this relationship, cultural changes in France are often linked to, or produce, political crisis.

The relationship between the French state and culture is an old one. Under Louis XIII’s minister Richelieu, the independent Académie française came under state supervision and became an official organ of control over the French language and seventeenth-century literature. During Louis XIV’s reign, his minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert brought French luxury industries, like textile and porcelain, under royal control and the architecture, furniture, fashion and etiquette of the royal court (particularly at the Château de Versailles) became the preeminent model of noble culture in France (and, to a great degree, throughout Europe) during the latter half of the seventeenth century.

At times, French state policies have sought to unify the country around certain cultural norms, while at other times they have promoted regional differences within a heterogeneous French identity. The unifying effect was particularly true of the “radical period”” of the French Third Republic which fought regionalisms (including regional languages), supported anti-clericalism and a strict separation of church from state (including education) and actively promoted national identity, thus converting (as the historian Eugen Weber has put it) a “country of peasants into a nation of Frenchmen”. The Vichy Regime, on the other hand, promoted regional “folk” traditions.

The cultural policies of the (current) French Fifth Republic have been varied, but a consensus seems to exist around the need for preservation of French regionalisms (such as food and language) as long as these don’t undermine national identity. Meanwhile, the French state remains ambivalent over the integration into “French” culture of cultural traditions from recent immigrant groups and from foreign cultures, particularly American culture (movies, music, fashion, fast food, language, etc.). There also exists a certain fear over the perceived loss of French identity and culture in the European system and under American “cultural hegemony”.

Education:

The French educational system is highly centralised. It is divided into three different stages: primary education, or enseignement primaire, corresponding to grade school in the United States; secondary education, or collège and lycée, corresponding to middle and high school in the United States; and higher education (l’université or les Grandes écoles).

Primary and secondary education is predominantly public (private schools also exist, in particular a strong nationwide network of primary and secondary Catholic education), while higher education has both public and private elements. At the end of secondary education, students take the baccalauréat exam, which allows them to pursue higher education. The baccalauréat pass rate in 2012 was 84.5%.

In 1999–2000, educational spending amounted to 7% of the French GDP and 37% of the national budget.

France’s performance in math and science at the middle school level was ranked 23 in the 1995 Trends in International Math and Science Study.

Since the Jules Ferry laws of 1881-2, named after the then Minister of Public Instruction, all state-funded schools, including universities, are independent from the (Roman Catholic) Church. Education in these institutions is free. Non-secular institutions are allowed to organize education as well. The French educational system differs strongly from Northern-European and American systems in that it stresses the importance of partaking in a society as opposed to being responsibly independent.

Secular educational policy has become critical in recent issues of French multiculturalism, as in the “affair of the Islamic headscarf”.

Minister of Culture:

The Minister of Culture is in the Government of France, the cabinet member in charge of national museums and monuments; promoting and protecting the arts (visual, plastic, theatrical, musical, dance, architectural, literary, televisual and cinematographic) in France and abroad; and managing the national archives and regional “maisons de culture” (culture centres). The Ministry of Culture is located on the Palais Royal in Paris.

The modern post of Minister of Culture was created by Charles de Gaulle in 1959 and the first Minister was the writer André Malraux. Malraux was responsible for realizing the goals of the “droit à la culture” (“the right to culture”) — an idea which had been incorporated in the French constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) — by democratizing access to culture, while also achieving the Gaullist aim of elevating the “grandeur” (“greatness”) of post-war France. To this end, he created numerous regional cultural centres throughout France and actively sponsored the arts. Malraux’s artistic tastes included the modern arts and the avant-garde, but on the whole he remained conservative.

The Ministry of Jacques Toubon was notable for a number of laws (the “Toubon Laws”) enacted for the preservation of the French language, both in advertisements (all ads must include a French translation of foreign words) and on the radio (40% of songs on French radio stations must be in French), ostensibly in reaction to the presence of English.

Académie française:

The Académie française, or the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte (the Académie considers itself having been suspended, not suppressed, during the revolution). It is the oldest of the five académies of the Institut de France.

The Académie consists of forty members, known as immortels (immortals). New members are elected by the members of the Académie itself. Académicians hold office for life, but they may be removed for misconduct. The body has the task of acting as an official authority on the language; it is charged with publishing an official dictionary of the language. Its rulings, however, are only advisory; not binding on either the public or the government.

Military service:

Until 1996, France had compulsory military service of young men. This has been credited by historians for further promoting a unified national identity and by breaking down regional isolationism.

Labor and employment policy:

In France, the first labour laws were Waldeck Rousseau’s laws passed in 1884. Between 1936 and 1938 the Popular Front enacted a law mandating 12 days (2 weeks) each year of paid vacation for workers, and a law limiting the work week to 40 hours, excluding overtime. The Grenelle accords negotiated on May 25 and 26th in the middle of the May 1968 crisis, reduced the working week to 44 hours and created trade union sections in each enterprise. The minimum wage was also increased by 25%. In 2000 Lionel Jospin’s government then enacted the 35-hour workweek, down from 39 hours. Five years later, conservative prime minister Dominique de Villepin enacted the New Employment Contract (CNE). Addressing the demands of employers asking for more flexibility in French labour laws, the CNE sparked criticism from trade unions and opponents claiming it was lending favour to contingent work. In 2006 he then attempted to pass the First Employment Contract (CPE) through a vote by emergency procedure, but that it was met by students and unions’ protests. President Jacques Chirac finally had no choice but to repeal it.

Healthcare and social welfare:

The French are profoundly committed to the public healthcare system (called “sécurité sociale”) and to their “pay-as-you-go” social welfare system.

In 1998, 75% of health payments in France were paid through the public healthcare system. Since 27 July 1999, France has a universal medical coverage for permanent residents in France (stable residence for more than three months). Using five performance indicators to measure health systems in 191 member states, it finds that France provides the best overall health care followed among major countries by Italy, Spain, Oman, Austria and Japan (The World Health Report).

Lifestyle:

Traditional French culture places a high priority on the enjoyment of food, while not actually eating a sustaining portion. French cuisine was codified in the 20th century by Georges Auguste Escoffier to become the modern version of haute cuisine. Escoffier’s major work, however, left out much of the regional character to be found in the provinces of France. Gastro-tourism and the Guide Michelin helped to bring people to the countryside during the 20th century and beyond, to sample this rich bourgeois and peasant cuisine of France. Basque cuisine has also been a great influence over the cuisine in the southwest of France.

Ingredients and dishes vary by region. There are many significant regional dishes that have become both national and regional. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated in different variations across the country in the present day. Cheese and wine are also a major part of the cuisine, playing different roles both regionally and nationally with their many variations and Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) (regulated appellation) laws, (lentils from Le Puy-en-Velay also have an AOC status). Another French product of special note is the Charolais cattle.

The French typically eat only a simple breakfast (“petit déjeuner”) which consists of coffee or tea, served traditionally in a large handleless “bol” (bowl) and bread or breakfast pastries (croissants). Lunch (“déjeuner”) and dinner (“dîner”) are the main meals of the day. Formal four course meals consist of a starter course (“entrée”), a salad, a main course (“plat principal”), and finally a cheese or dessert course. While French cuisine is often associated with rich desserts, in most homes dessert consists of only fruit and / or yogurt.

Food shopping in France was formerly done almost daily in small local shops and markets, but the arrival of the supermarket and the even larger “hypermarchés” (large-surface distributors) in France have disrupted this tradition. With depopulation of the countryside, many towns have been forced to close shops and markets.

Rates of obesity and heart disease in France have traditionally been lower than in other north-western European countries. This is sometimes called the French paradox. French cuisine and eating habits have however come under great pressure in recent years from modern fast food, American products and the new global agricultural industry. While French youth culture has gravitated toward fast food and American eating habits (with an attendant rise in obesity), the French in general have remained committed to preserving certain elements of their food culture through such activities as including programs of taste acquisition in their public schools, by the use of the appellation d’origine contrôlée laws, and by state and European subsides to the French agricultural industry. Emblematic of these tensions is the work of José Bové, who founded in 1987, the Confédération Paysanne, an agricultural union that places its highest political values on humans and the environment, promotes organic farming and opposes genetically modified organisms; Bové’s most famous protest was the dismantling of a McDonald’s franchise in Millau (Aveyron), in 1999.

In France, cutlery is used in the continental manner (with the fork in the left hand, prongs facing down and the knife in the right hand). French etiquette prohibits the placing of hands below the table and the placing of elbows on it.

The legal drinking age is officially 18 .

France is one of the oldest wine producing regions of Europe. France now produces the most wine by value in the world (although Italy rivals it by volume and Spain has more land under cultivation for wine grapes). Bordeaux wine, Bourgogne wine and Champagne are important agricultural products.

Tobacco and drugs:

The cigarette smoking age is 18 years. According to a widespread cliché, smoking has been part of French culture — actually figures indicate that in terms of consumption per capita, France is only the 60th country out of 121.

France, from 1 February 2007, tightened the existing ban on smoking in public places found in the 1991 (although you couldn’t tell by visiting) Évin law: Law n°91-32 of 10 January, 1991, containing a variety of measures against alcoholism and tobacco consumption.

Smoking is now banned in all public places (stations, museums, etc.); an exception exists for special smoking rooms fulfilling drastic conditions, see below. A special exemption was made for cafés and restaurants, clubs, casinos, bars, etc. which ended, 1 January 2008. Opinion polls suggest 70% of people support the ban.Previously, under the former implementation rules of the 1991 Évin law, restaurants, cafés etc. just had to provide smoking and non-smoking sections, which in practice were often not well separated.

Under the new regulations, smoking rooms are allowed, but are subjected to very strict conditions: they may occupy at most 20% of the total floor space of the establishment and their size may not be more than 35 m²; they need to be equipped with separate ventilation which replaces the full volume of air ten times per hour; the air pressure of the smoking room must constantly be lower than the pressure in the contiguous rooms; they have doors that close automatically; no service can be provided in the smoking rooms; cleaning and maintenance personnel may enter the room only one hour after it was last used for smoking.

Popular French cigarette brands include Gauloises and Gitanes.

The possession, sale and use of cannabis (predominantly Moroccan hashish) is illegal in France. Since 1 March 1994, the penalties for cannabis use are from two months to a year and/or a fine, while possession, cultivation or trafficking of the drug can be punished much more severely, up to ten years. According to a 1992 survey by SOFRES, 4.7 million French people ages 12–44 have smoked cannabis at least once in their lives.

Sports and hobbies:

Football (French: Le Foot) is the most popular sport in France. Other popular sports played in France are rugby union, cycling, tennis, handball, basketball and sailing. France is notable for holding and winning the FIFA World Cup in 1998, and holding the annual cycling race Tour de France, and the tennis Grand Slam tournament the French Open. Sport is encouraged in school, and local sports clubs receive financial support from the local governments. While football is definitely the most popular, rugby union and rugby league takes dominance in the southwest, especially around the city of Toulouse.

The modern Olympics was invented in France, in 1894 by Pierre de Coubertin.

Professional sailing in France is centred on singlehanded and shorthanded ocean racing with the pinnacle of this branch of the sport being the Vendee Globe singlehanded around the world race which starts every 4 years from the French Atlantic coast. Other significant events include the Solitaire du Figaro, Mini Transat 6.50, Tour de France a Voile and Route du Rhum transatlantic race. France has been a regular competitor in the America’s Cup since the 1970s.

Important sports include:

24 Hours of Le Mans – The world’s oldest sports car race.
Skiing – France has an extensive number of ski resorts in the French alps such as Tignes. Ski resorts are also located in the Pyrénées and Vosges mountain chains.
Pétanque – The international federation is recognized by the IOC.
Fencing – Fencing leads the list of sports for which gold medals were won for France at the Summer Olympics (see: France at the Olympics).
Parkour – Developed in France, Parkour is a training discipline with similarities to self-defense or martial arts.
Babyfoot (table football) – A very popular pastime in bars and homes in France, and the French are the predominant winners of worldwide table football competitions.
Kitesurfing
Like other cultural areas in France, sport is overseen by a government ministry, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports (France) which is in charge of national and public sport associations, youth affairs, public sports centers and national stadia (like the Stade de France).

Fashion:

Paris is the leading capital of fashion and design. Along with Milan, London and New York, Paris is center of an important number of fashion shows. Some of the world’s biggest fashion houses (ex: Chanel) have their headquarters in France.

The association of France with fashion (French: la mode) dates largely to the reign of Louis XIV when the luxury goods industries in France came increasingly under royal control and the French royal court became, arguably, the arbiter of taste and style in Europe.

France renewed its dominance of the high fashion (French: couture or haute couture) industry in the years 1860–1960 through the establishing of the great couturier houses, the fashion press (Vogue was founded in 1892; Elle was founded in 1945) and fashion shows. The first modern Parisian couturier house is generally considered the work of the Englishman Charles Frederick Worth who dominated the industry from 1858-1895. In the early twentieth century, the industry expanded through such Parisian fashion houses as the house of Chanel (which first came to prominence in 1925) and Balenciaga (founded by a Spaniard in 1937). In the post war year, fashion returned to prominence through Christian Dior’s famous “new look” in 1947, and through the houses of Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy (opened in 1952). In the 1960s, “high fashion” came under criticism from France’s youth culture while designers like Yves Saint Laurent broke with established high fashion norms by launching prêt-à-porter (“ready to wear”) lines and expanding French fashion into mass manufacturing and marketing. Further innovations were carried out by Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin. With a greater focus on marketing and manufacturing, new trends were established in the 70s and 80s by Sonia Rykiel, Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix. The 1990s saw a conglomeration of many French couture houses under luxury giants and multinationals such as LVMH.

Since the 1960s, France’s fashion industry has come under increasing competition from London, New York, Milan and Tokyo, and the French have increasingly adopted foreign (particularly American) fashions (such as jeans, tennis shoes). Nevertheless, many foreign designers still seek to make their careers in France.

Pets:

In 2006, 52% of French households had at least one pet: In total, 9.7 million cats, 8.8 million dogs, 2.3 million rodents, 8 million birds, and 28 million fish were kept as pets in France during this year.

Art and museums:

The first paintings of France are those that are from prehistoric times, painted in the caves of Lascaux well over 10,000 years ago. The arts were already flourishing 1,200 years ago, at the time of Charlemagne, as can be seen in many hand made and hand illustrated books of that time.

Classic painters of the 17th century in France are Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. During the 18th century the Rococo style emerged as a frivolous continuation of the Baroque style. The most famous painters of the era were Antoine Watteau, François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. At the end of the century, Jacques-Louis David and Dominique Ingres were the most influential painters of the Neoclassicism.

Géricault and Delacroix were the most important painters of the Romanticism. Afterwards, the painters were more realistic, describing nature (Barbizon school). The realistic movement was led by Courbet and Honoré Daumier. Impressionism was developed in France by artists such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro. At the turn of the century, France had become more than ever the center of innovative art. The Spaniard Pablo Picasso came to France, like many other foreign artists, to deploy his talents there for decades to come. Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin and Cézanne were painting then. Cubism is an avant-garde movement born in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Louvre in Paris is one of the most famous and the largest art museums in the world, created by the new revolutionary regime in 1793 in the former royal palace. It holds a vast amount of art of French and other artists, e.g. the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, and classical Greek Venus de Milo and ancient works of culture and art from Egypt and the Middle East.

Music:

France boasts a wide variety of indigenous folk music, as well as styles played by immigrants from Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the field of classical music, France has produced a number of legendary composers, like Gabriel Faure, while modern pop music has seen the rise of popular French hip hop, French rock, techno/funk, and turntablists/djs.

The Fête de la Musique was created in France (first held in 1982), a music festival, which has since become worldwide. It takes place every June 21, on the first day of summer.

Cinema:

France is the birthplace of cinema and was responsible for many of its early significant contributions. Several important cinematic movements, including the Nouvelle Vague, began in the country, long ago.

Additionally, France is an important Francophone film production country. A certain amount of the movies created share international distribution in the western hemisphere thanks to Unifrance. Although French cinema industry is rather small in terms of budget and revenues, it enjoys qualitative screenplay, cast and story telling. French Cinema is often portrayed as more liberal in terms of subjects (Sex, Society, Politics, Historical) and therefore often gets critical acclaim. Within the domestic market, French movies are ranked through n° of entries. Movies are premiered on Wednesdays.

Most famous genres are:

– Romantic Drama Heartbreaker (l’Arnacoeur)
– Comedy Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (les Visiteurs) (la Cité de la Peur) (La grande Vadrouille)
– Society La Haine
– Historical Cyrano de Bergerac
– Political / Animation: Persepolis
French actors appear and star in Hollywood productions, such as Vincent Cassel and Marion Cotillard.

“Going to the movies” is a popular activity within metropolitan areas. Many cinema operators offer a “flat-rate pass” for approx. 30€ per month. Prices per movie range Between 5€50 to 10€.

French major cinema operators are UGC and Pathé, mainly located in city suburbs due to the number of screens and seating capacity.

Within France many “small” cinemas are located in the downtown parts of a city, resisting the big cinema operators nationwide. Another element is that Paris has the highest density of cinemas (movie theaters) in the world: biggest number of movie theaters per inhabitants, and that in most “downtown Paris” movie theaters, foreign movies which would be secluded to “art houses” cinemas in other places, are shown alongside “mainstream” works as Parisians are avid movie-goers. Proximity of restaurants, accessibility, ambiance and the showing of alternative foreign movies is often cited as being the advantage of these small theaters.

The Cinémathèque Française holds one of the largest archives of films, movie documents and film-related objects in the world. Located in Paris, the Cinémathèque holds daily screenings of films unrestricted by country of origin.

Books, newspapers and magazines:

France has the reputation of being a “literary culture”, and this image is reinforced by such things as the importance of French literature in the French educational system, the attention paid by the French media to French book fairs and book prizes (like the Prix Goncourt, Prix Renaudot or Prix Femina) and by the popular success of the (former) literary television show “Apostrophes” (hosted by Bernard Pivot).

Although the official literacy rate of France is 99%, some estimates have placed functional illiteracy at between 10% and 20% of the adult population (and higher in the prison population).

While reading remains a favorite pastime of French youth today, surveys show that it has decreased in importance compared to music, television, sports and other activities. The crisis of academic publishing has also hit France (see, for example, the financial difficulties of the Presses universitaires de France (PUF), France’s premier academic publishing house, in the 1990s).

Literary taste in France remains centered on the novel (26.4% of book sales in 1997), although the French read more non-fiction essays and books on current affairs than the British or Americans. Contemporary novels, including French translations of foreign novels, lead the list (13% of total books sold), followed by sentimental novels (4.1%), detective and spy fiction (3.7%), “classic” literature (3.5%), science fiction and horror (1.3%) and erotic fiction (0.2%). About 30% of all fiction sold in France today is translated from English (authors such as William Boyd, John le Carré, Ian McEwan, Paul Auster and Douglas Kennedy are well received).

An important subset of book sales is comic books (typically Franco-Belgian comics like Tintin and Astérix) which are published in a large hardback format; comic books represented 4% of total book sales in 1997. French artists have made the country a leader in the graphic novel genre and France hosts the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Europe’s preeminent comics festival.

Like other areas of French culture, book culture is influenced, in part, by the state, in particular by the “Direction du livre et de la lecture” of the Ministry of Culture, which oversees the “Centre national du livre” (National Book Center). The French Ministry of Industry also plays a role in price control. Finally, the VAT for books and other cultural products in France is at the reduced rate of 5.5%, which is also that of food and other necessities.

In terms of journalism in France, the regional press (see list of newspapers in France) has become more important than national dailies (such as Le Monde and Le Figaro) over the past century: in 1939, national dailies were 2/3 of the dailies market, while today they are less than 1/4. The magazine market is currently dominated by TV listings magazines followed by news magazines such as Le Nouvel Observateur, L’Express and Le Point.

Architecture and housing:

There are significant differences in lifestyles with respect to transportation between very urbanized regions such as Paris, and smaller towns and rural areas. In Paris, and to a lesser extent in other major cities, many households do not own an automobile and simply use mass transportation.The cliché about the parisien is rush hour in the Métro subway. However, outside of such areas, ownership of one or more cars is standard, especially for households with children.

The TGV high speed rail network, train à grande vitesse is a fast rail transport which serves several areas of the country and is self-financing. There are plans to reach most parts of France and many other destinations in Europe in coming years. Rail services to major destinations are punctual and frequent.

Holidays:

Despite the principles of laïcité and the separation of church from state, public and school holidays in France generally follow the Roman Catholic religious calendar (including Easter, Christmas, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Assumption of Mary, All Saints Day, etc.). Labor Day and the National Holiday are the only business holidays determined by government statute; the other holidays are granted by convention collective (agreement between employers’ and employees’ unions) or by agreement of the employer.

The five holiday periods of the public school year are:

the vacances de la Toussaint (All Saints Day) – one and a half weeks starting near the end of October.
the vacances de Noël (Christmas) – two weeks, ending after New Years.
the vacances d’hiver (winter) – two weeks in February and March.
the vacances de printemps (spring), formerly vacances de Pâques (Easter) – two weeks in April and May.
the vacances d’été (summer), or grandes vacances (literally: big holidays) – two months in July and August.
On May 1, Labour Day (La Fête du Travail) the French give flowers of Lily of the Valley (Le Muguet) to one another.

The National holiday (called Bastille Day in English) is on the 14 of July. Military parades, called Défilés du 14 juillet, are held, the largest on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic.

On November 2, All Souls Day (La Fête des morts), the French traditionally bring chrysanthemums to the tombs of departed family members.

On November 11, Remembrance Day (Le Jour de la Commémoration or L’ Armistice) is an official holiday.

Christmas is generally celebrated in France on Christmas Eve by a traditional meal (typical dishes include oysters, boudin blanc and the bûche de Noël), by opening presents and by attending the midnight mass (even among Catholics who do not attend church at other times of the year).

Candlemas (La Chandeleur) is celebrated with crêpes. The popular saying is that if the cook can flip a crêpe singlehandedly with a coin in the other hand, the family is assured of prosperity throughout the coming year.

The Anglo-Saxon and American holiday Halloween has grown in popularity following its introduction in the mid-1990s by the trade associations. The growth seems to have stalled during the following decade.

Conventions:

France is the home of the International System of Units (the metric system). Some pre-metric units are still used, essentially the livre (a unit of weight equal to half a kilogram) and the quintal (a unit of weight equal to 100 kilograms).
In mathematics, France uses the infix notation like most countries. For large numbers the long scale is used. Thus, the French use the word billion for the number 1,000,000,000,000, which in countries using short scale is called a trillion. However, there exists a French word, milliard, for the number 1,000,000,000, which in countries using the short scale is called a billion. Thus, despite the use of the long scale, one billion is called un milliard (“one milliard”) in French, and not mille millions (“one thousand million”). It should also be noted that names of numbers above the milliard are rarely used. Thus, one trillion will most often be called mille milliards (“one thousand milliard”) in French, and rarely un billion.
In the French numeral notation, the comma (,) is the decimal separator, whereas a space is used between each group of three digits (fifteen million five hundred thousand and thirty-two should be written as 15 500 032). In finance, the currency symbol is used as a decimal separator or put after the number. For example, €25,048.05 is written either 25 048€05 or 25 048,05 € (always with an extra space between the figure and the currency symbol).
In computing, a bit is called a bit yet a byte is called an octet[44] (from the Latin root octo, meaning “8”). SI prefixes are used.
24-hour clock time is used, with h being the separator between hours and minutes (for example 2:30 pm is 14h30).
The all-numeric form for dates is in the order day-month-year, using a slash as the separator (example: 31/12/1992 or 31/12/92).

Architecture of Normandy
Catherinettes
Demographics of France
Remarkable Gardens of France
List of French people
List of World Heritage Sites in France

References / sources:

Bernstein, Richard. Fragile Glory: A Portrait of France and the French. Plume, 1991.
Carroll, Raymonde. Carol Volk, translator. Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience. University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Darnton, Robert. The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History. Vintage, 1984. ISBN 0-394-72927-7
Dauncey, Hugh, ed. French Popular Culture: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2003.
DeJean, Joan. The Essence of Style: How The French INvented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour. New York: Free Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7432-6413-6
Forbes, Jill and Michael Kelly, eds. French Cultural Studies: An Introduction. Clarendon Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-871501-3
Girod, André. ” French-American class: It’s a long way to France” Redleadbooks
Gopnik, Adam. Paris to the Moon. Random House, 2001.
Hall, Edward Twitchell and Mildred Reed Hall. Understanding Cultural Differences: Germans, French and Americans. Intercultural Press, 1990.
Howarth, David and Georgios Varouzakis. Contemporary France: An Introduction to French Politics and Society. New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2003. ISBN 0-340-74187-2
Kelly, Michael. French Culture and Society: The Essentials. New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2001. (A Reference Guide)
Kidd, William and Siân Reynolds, eds. Contemporary French Cultural Studies. Arnold Publishers, 2000. ISBN 0-340-74050-7
Marmer, Nancy, “Out of Paris: Decentralizing French Art,” Art in America, September 1986, pp. 124–137, 155-157.
Nadeau, Jean-Benoît and Julie Barlow. Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France But Not The French. Sourcebooks Trade, 2003. ISBN 1-4022-0045-5
Robb, Graham. The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, from the Revolution to the First World War. New York: Norton, 2007. ISBN 978-0-393-05973-1
(French) Wylie, Laurence and Jean-François Brière. Les Français. 3rd edition. Prentice Hall, 2001.
Zedlin, Theodore and Philippe Turner, eds. The French. Kodansha International, 1996.
Notes[edit]|]edit source]

Jary, D. and J. Jary. 1991. The HarperCollins Dictionary of Sociology, page 101.
Hoult, T. F, ed. 1969. Dictionary of Modern Sociology, p. 93.
Thompson, William; Joseph Hickey (2005). Society in Focus’. Boston, MA: Pearson. ISBN 0-205-41365-X.
see, for example, Jonathan Fenby: On the Brink; the Trouble with France Warner Books London, 1998
Aïcha Saïd Ben Mohamed (1876 – 1930) was born in Kabylie, Généalogie Magazine, N° 233, p. 30/36
Le Point, February 8, 2007
“One in three French ‘are racist'”. BBC News. 2006-03-22. Retrieved 2006-05-03.
Article 75-1: (a new article): “Les langues régionales appartiennent au patrimoine de la France” (“Regional languages belong to the patrimony of France”). See Loi constitutionnelle du 23 juillet 2008.
(Romanian) Franţa nu mai e o ţară catolică (France is no longer a Catholic country), Cotidianul, 2007-01-11; “France ‘no longer a Catholic country'”, Daily Telegraph, 10 January 2007
Religion Important for Americans, Italians, Angus Reid Global Monitor, December 30, 2006
Kidd and Reynolds, 104-5.
Kidd and Reynolds, for example, give a figure of 4 million Muslims, or 6.9%, based on sources dated 1993, 1994, 1999. (102). See Islam in France for more on recent estimates.
Kidd and Reynolds, 30-31.
Embassy of France in the US – The PACS – A civil solidarity pact
Gay News From 365Gay.com
Kelley, “Family”, 100.
Ibid.
http://www.insee.fr/en/ffc/chifcle_fiche.asp?ref_id=NATTEF02313&tab_id=31
Kelley, 246-7.
TIMSS 1995 Highlights of Results for the Middle School Years [1]. France has not participated in later TIMSS studies. [2]
fr:section syndicale d’entreprise December 27, 1968 law
fr:SMIG
Decree n°2006-1386 over 15th November, 2006 taken as application of article L3511-7 of the Public Health Code, banning smoking in public places.
“France to ban smoking in public”. BBC News. 2006-10-08. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/boekhout.france.html
Kelly, 101. DeJean, chapters 2-4.
Kelly, 101.
Dauncey, 195.
Le marché des aliments pour chiens et chats en Belgique. Mission Economique de Bruxelles, 2006. Read this document (in French) PDF
The best of French Music from Famous French Music
Alan Riding (February 28, 1995). “The Birthplace Celebrates Film’s Big 1-0-0”. The New York Times.
20 questions about studying in France |url=http://old.campusfrance.org/en/a-etudier/faq.htm
Theodore Zedlin, quoted in Kidd and Reynolds, 266
^ a b Kidd and Reynolds, 261.
Kidd and Reynolds, 266.
Kidd and Reynolds, 258 and 264.
Kidd and Reynolds, 265.
^ a b Donald Morrison, “The Death of French Culture”, Time, Wednesday Nov. 21, 2007. {http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1686532,00.html}
Kidd and Reynolds, 264.
Kidd and Reynolds, 232.
Kidd and Reynolds, 236
French schoolyear calendar {fr}[3]
International System of Units (SI) – Physics Laboratory
English translation of “Octet” on Reverso
Frenchculture.org
Frenchcultureguide.com – French culture news website
France in Brief / France From A to Z – Embassy of France in the US
National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE)
French Music Culture, the best of French Music from Famous French Music.
Morrison, Don. “The Death of French Culture,” TIME
Chardin’s paintings are just an example of the importance of the French culture in the history of art
French Painters who contributed to the Rococo and Neoclassical period are Boucher, Bouguereau and Jean-Léome Gérôme famous forgotten artists
The French Culture in Lyon

By: Josh Martin

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“The Girl” by “City and Colour” – Video Blog


Thanks to everyone for the help in putting this together

More About “City and Colour”

the city and colourCity and Colour is the recording alias for Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green, who was also the guitarist and vocalist of the post-hardcore band Alexisonfire from 2001 to 2012. He plays melodic acoustic and folk music and is often accompanied by a rotating number of Canadian indie rock musicians, such as Daniel Romano and Spencer Burton of Attack in Black. The name City and Colour comes from his own name: Dallas, a city, and Green, a colour. His reasoning for the name was that he felt queasy “putting the album out under the name Dallas Green”. Green said that he had been writing material since he was around the age of 14. Regarding the songs released on his first album, Sometimes, Green said that he had been writing material for it as early as when he was 16 years old, and finished writing songs for it in 2005.

Sometimes (2005–2007)

Green began releasing City and Colour songs on the Internet for fans to download. Eventually, he compiled and rewrote several of these songs to make his first album, Sometimes. The full length debut was released on November 1, 2005 to a good reception, described by one reviewer as “dynamically gentle and vulnerable”. The cover art was designed by Scott McEwan, in a tattoo-esque style; Green “still may decide to have some of them inked at a later point in time”.

Green indicated that his view that the “best music for [him] is sad music”, influenced the type of songs he created. He also said that he “love[s] music to sort of escape to” and the idea of sad music that people could identify with. Green said of the album that, “a lot of those songs are written on some of the experiences I’ve been through and stuff and that’s just how I deal with it. I just write songs when I’m bummed out and I feel happier.” Sometimes was re-released on Vagrant Records on January 13, 2009, which was the first time the album was available in physical form in the United States.

Bring Me Your Love (2008–2009)

Bring Me Your Love is Dallas’ second full-length album. It was released on February 12, 2008 and features a wide array of instruments not used on his previous recordings (such as harmonica, banjo, drums and lap steel) giving it a more folk-influenced sound. The album also features collaborations with other musicians, such as Canadian musician Gordon Downie of Tragically Hip on the track “Sleeping Sickness“, and additional instrumentals done by Matt Sullivan and the members of Attack in Black. The lead single, “Waiting…“, was released on Green’s official MySpace page for the first time featuring a “making of” video.

The album is named after a short story by Charles Bukowski. It is also a line sung in the closing track, “As Much As I Ever Could.” Green has stated in interviews that he has troubles writing a lot of his lyrics and he saw Charles Bukowski‘s book in a book store while on tour with Alexisonfire and adopted the title for his new album.

On September 26, 2008, City and Colour embarked on their first American tour, in support of Bring Me Your Love. On the tour, the band supported Tegan and Sara along with Girl in a Coma. This tour was followed by a headlining tour of the US in January 2009, with support from William Elliott Whitmore. In October 2008, Dine Alone Records announced a special 2-disc limited edition of Bring Me Your Love to be released on December 2, 2008. Only 6,000 copies are available; 5,000 in North America and 1,000 in Australia. In Canada, when the record label put up the album on pre-sale on November 20, 2008, so many fans tried to pre-order it that the store’s website crashed.

Little Hell (2010–2012)

city and colourIn January 2010, City and Colour embarked on an additional US headlining tour, again supporting Bring Me Your Love, with supporting act Lissie, and an additional UK tour in June 2010, supporting P!nk, along with Butch Walker, along with a few headlining dates. On these tours, Dallas Green has performed two new songs by the titles of “Silver and Gold” and “Oh Sister”, as well as a couple of never-played-before covers – “Murderer“, originally by Low, and “Grinnin’ In Your Face”, originally by Son House. In an interview with Alter the Press, Green has revealed that he has written a bunch of new songs and he just needs to record them for his next record, hinting on a possible early 2011 release date for his third studio album. He said that there are 15 songs that he really likes and he expects around 10 to appear on his next album.

On September 2, 2010, it was announced on MTV News Canada that Dallas had been in the studio with Polaris Prize nominee Shad working on a remix of a Shad song as well as an original song to be released as a 12″ vinyl single. Dallas was quoted as saying “I’ve always wanted to be the Mary J. Blige to somebody’s Method Man“. The remix is to Shad’s song “Listen” from his latest album TSOL, and the new song that Dallas co-wrote is entitled “Live Forever”. On September 30, 2010, it was announced that Dallas Green planned to start recording his third studio album in January 2011, after demoing 14 songs. “There are a lot of musically unusual songs.” Green has said about the record, “There’s a lot more piano on these songs, keyboards and stuff. And there are a couple of songs almost I would say a bit rockin’, if that makes any sense, not in a heavy metal kind of way, but just a little bit more upbeat than what you’re used to hearing from me.”

On November 9, 2010, Dallas announced via Twitter that he would be releasing a new single on iTunes called “At the Bird’s Foot” which will be on a compilation album called Gasoline Rainbows, which also features new songs by such artists as Damien Rice and Amy Kuney. The song was written by Dallas in response to the oil spill in the Gulf. All proceeds from the album will go directly to Global Green USA. “At the Bird’s Foot” was first made available for 48-hour streaming on the Gasoline Rainbows Myspace page on November 23, 2010, and features Amanda Zelina of the band The Coppertone on vocals. In an interview with Reverb Magazine’s Sean Frazer, Green spilled news of an upcoming 2011 album release, saying “Hopefully I am going to start recording in January so I’m hoping that there will be another album by next Summer/Spring.”

On February 15, 2011 Green performed a specially recorded version of “Northern Wind” on the Valentine’s Day episode of One Tree Hill. On February 23, 2011, it was officially announced on the Dine Alone Records website that City and Colour’s third album will be titled Little Hell and is set for release in June 2011.On March 23, 2011, the official track listing was posted on City and Colour’s official website. Release date for the album was set to June 7, 2011. In an interview with Radar Radio’s Reegan McLaughlin, Green said ‘I look at people like Bob Dylan back in the day and he’d have pages of lyrics and would have to decide out of seven, eight of nine verses which three were the best. I think to myself, I have to struggle to get two verses I am happy with in a song’ Green also said ‘I think melodies come relatively easy to me because I’ve been singing so long but lyrics, it’s a battle to get to a point when I am happy with a song.’

1On March 27, 2011, City and Colour performed Neil Young‘s “Old Man” as part of the four song tribute to Toronto during the Juno Awards of 2011. On April 5, 2011, “Fragile Bird”, the first single off Little Hell was released to the radio. The song had its world premiere on Australian radio station Triple J, where the band was touring a sold out tour at the time. The single became City and Colour’s highest charting single, reaching No. 1 on the Canadian rock/alternative chart.City and Colour has been announced to be performing as part of The Voodoo Experience 2011, which is held at City Park in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 28–30. On August 5, 2011, Alexisonfire announced their break-up. George Pettit wrote a message on the band’s official website saying Dallas had been planning to leave to focus on City and Colour, as balancing the two bands had become too difficult.

As of November 2012, Green is back in the studio recording the follow up to Little Hell.

On December 17, Biffy Clyro announced that City and Colour would be the main support on their massive 2013 arena tour, in support of their new album.

The Hurry and the Harm (2013)

City and Colour announced the release of the new album entitled The Hurry and the Harm to be released on June 4, 2013. The song “Of Space and Time” was released on March 11, 2013 prior to the announcement of the new album. The track listing includes 12 songs; the special iTunes deluxe version, available for pre-order in April, will include 3 extra tracks for a total of 15 new songs. The song “Thirst” was released on April 1, 2013 on City and Colour’s Soundcloud page. The album was unofficially leaked on May 22, 2013.

Source: Wikipedia

Biography:

“I just wanted to make an honest record.”

So says Dallas Green, otherwise known as City and Colour. He’s not really talking about confessionals (though that might happen, too) but truthfully incarnated music: organic songwriting, natural process and sincere moments captured in the studio. Captured—not manipulated. For his fourth LP, The Hurry and The Harm, Green not only wanted to present an honest album, but an honest version of himself. To do so, he had to leave some things behind, confront others and let the rest simmer.

Green wasn’t quite prepared to make another album so soon. On tour to support his last album, Little Hell (2011), he couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something was unbalanced, uneasy. “I was being pulled in two different directions,” Green recalls. He was mentally near the end of the road with his former band, Alexisonfire, but couldn’t yet share the news with his fans. “I wanted to be in one place, but I didn’t want to let my friends down.” He started reading poetry— specifically the Kentucky-born author Wendell Berry, and his work “The Peace of Wild Things.” “I come into the peace of wild things, who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water,” it goes. Those lines made Green “excited about words again,” and comforted him in a time when things didn’t seem too peaceful. The songs came—quickly, even.

It’s no surprise, really. City and Colour’s music is exactly that: peace, in wild things. There’s a calm, dulcet tone to the songs, the melodies crafted to provide restlessness amidst a sonically complex journey that both soothes and rustles. The record’s first leaked track, “Of Space and Time,” showcases Green’s voice as it dangles in his own special kind of falsetto, set to a chugging drumbeat and subtle strum. “I’m roaming through the hills all alone,” he sings. “I’m trying to find my direction home.” Maybe he didn’t know it at the time, but home is City and Colour—it’s not simply a “solo” project from an otherwise accounted-for band member, but is Green, his primary entity, and his honesty.

The Hurry and The Harm is the first City and Colour album recorded outside of Canada—Green took his process this time to Nashville, Tennessee’s Blackbird Studios. “I’ve never gone anywhere else to make a record,” Green recalls. “I think it worked out, and it was a wonderful experience.” He recruited an excellent team of players to round out the songs, including Jack Lawrence on bass (The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather), Bo Koster on keys (My Morning Jacket), Spencer Cullum (Caitlin Rose) on pedal steel and both Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam, Fiona Apple) and James Gadson (Bill Withers, BB King) on drums. Green once again found great kinship in producer Alex Newport, who has worked with such varied and dynamic artists as At The Drive-In, Death Cab for Cutie, Bloc Party and The Mars Votla (and more notably with Green on Little Hell).

The resulting album is a journey through a state of mind, exploring everything from Green’s struggles to leave his previous band (“Of Space and Time”) to his distaste for gossip media (“Commentators”). Musically, the artful evolution can be felt in the crushing, sweeping rush of the first single, “Thirst,” with its aggressive vamp and both acid instrumentals and tongue: “after I’m gone / once I finally leave / you will be left alone to the wolves and the thieves.” There is a longing in the words but a certain direction in the songs, such as on “Two Coins” which balances a quiet folkiness with an unexpected guitar solo, searching through the play in his voice and the introspection of the ironically upbeat strums of “Harder Than Stone.” “Lyrically, now that I look back at the record as a whole, there are a lot of songs that deal with me searching for something,” he says. “And I know now that I wrote those songs near the end of Alexisonfire.”

“I don’t have a lot of faith in myself, so it is hard for me to have a lot of faith in something I have created,” Green says. “But I’ve never been happier or prouder about something that I have done.”

Green began recording as City and Colour in 2005, with Sometimes, followed by 2008’s Bring Me Your Love and 2011’s Little Hell and has experienced huge success both on the charts and the road. All three previous studio albums have achieved platinum status in Canada, while Little Hell is also now Gold in Australia. Additionally, Little Hell debuted at #1 on Canada’s Top 200 Chart, #28 in the U.S., #2 in Australia and top 40 in the U.K. Moreover, almost every show in 2011 and 2012 sold out (including the famed Royal Albert Hall, a two night stay at the Roundhouse in London and New York’s Terminal 5). In support of The Hurry and The Harm, City and Colour will once again embark on a wide-ranging set of dates across North American and the world. The tour will feature a brand new touring band including Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, Dead Weather) on bass, Dante Schwebel (Hacienda, Dan Auerbach) on guitar, Doug MacGregor (Constantines) on drums and Matt Kelly on pedal steel guitar and keys.

Playing guitar since age eight and crafting songs since his teenage years, Green has always known he wanted to write music and sing: mostly for himself, to find peace and clarity amongst the chaos. He thinks it’s kismet that others happen to like to listen. “At the end of the day, when I write a song, it has to make me happy,” he says. “I have to want to sing it again. And then the hope after that is that somebody else will like it.”

And they do, because it’s the peace of wild things.

Source: City and Colour.com
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in art, Music, Music Video, Video Blog

 

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All About Louis Ortiz, the “Bronx Obama” – Video Blog (The Audacity of Louis Ortiz)


What if one day you looked in the mirror and saw the most powerful man in the world staring back at you? In this Op-Doc video, we meet Louis Ortiz, an unemployed Puerto Rican man from the Bronx, whose life turned upside down when he discovered his uncanny resemblance to President Obama.

tempThe first time I talked to Mr. Ortiz on the phone he said, “I’m so glad you called. I’ve been living in the Twilight Zone for the past three years.” That was the spring of 2011. In the week between that call and when we met in person, Osama bin Laden was killed. When I went to the Bronx to meet Mr. Ortiz, people were high-fiving and congratulating him. I knew instantly I had to drop everything else and follow him around.

Mr. Ortiz is a walking, talking image of Barack Obama. When people encounter him, they see the version of Mr. Obama they want to see. And when Mr. Ortiz looks in the mirror, so does he.

Ryan Murdock is a filmmaker who has produced for PBS’s show “Nova” and recorded more than 300 oral histories for NPR’s StoryCorps. This video is adapted from his forthcoming documentary “The Audacity of Louis Ortiz” and a recent episode of “This American Life.”

Source: New York Times

President Obama Impersonator Inspires Kickstarter ‘The Audacity of Louis Ortiz’ Project VIDEO)

While Democrats across the country are hoping for another White House victory in 2012, come November there will be one man from the Bronx hoping to see Obama keep his job even more, as his own livelihood directly depends on it.

Without a steady job and no health insurance to help with his multiple sclerosis, Louis Ortiz is “that guy” politicians are always promising to help find a better life.temp

But as filmmaker Ryan Murdock puts it, Ortiz also just happens to look like the most powerful person on the planet, President Obama, and since 2008 he’s been making the most of what he has to get the bills paid as a professional impersonator.

This American Life featured Oritz’s journey, which began with a young man floundering in mounting bills and playing in neighborhood pool tournaments to try and make ends meet. Then one day, friends pointed to a Daily News cover with Obama on the front, or as Ortiz describes a “dude with big ears” and suggested Ortiz capitalize on his uncanny resemblance to the presidential hopeful. After much contemplation, Ortiz shaved off his facial hair and coveted goatee and his extraordinary story took off.

As the one-time former field technician for Verizon who was struggling to find work, Ortiz told The New York Post, “Never in a million years could I imagine I could look like not just someone famous, but THE someone. It’s Obama. It’s history. The first African American president of the United States – and I’m a part of it.”

Murdock has been filming Ortiz’s story since May 2011 and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finance his film, “The Audacity Of Louis Oritz” to document Ortiz’s unique story of what it’s like to struggle in America, as he continues to parallel the real Obama’s battle for the White House in the crucial months ahead.

Watch for the striking resemblance below:

Source: Huffington Post
For a full transcript from this american life click here

 
 

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A Breif History of Roller Coasters – Video Blog

As summer quickly approaches we though we would get into the theme park spirit. Enjoy our modern coasters, because it was a bumpy ride to create todays theme parks.

popular-mecanics-roller-costersImage Source: Popular Mechanics

Beginnings

Thompson’s Switchback Railway, 1884.

The oldest roller coasters descended from the so-called “Russian Mountains,” which were specially constructed hills of ice located especially around Saint Petersburg, Russia. Built in the 17th century, the slides were built to a height of between 70 feet (21 m) and 80 feet (24 m), consisted of a 50 degree drop, and were reinforced by wooden supports. These slides became popular with the Russian upper class. Catherine II of Russia was such a fan of these attractions that she had a few of these slides built on her own property. “Russian mountains” remains the term for roller coasters in many languages, such as Spanish (la montaña rusa), Italian (montagne russe), French (les montagnes russes) and Portuguese (montanha-russa). Ironically, the Russian term for roller coaster, американские горки (amerikanskie gorki), translates literally as “American mountains.”

There is some dispute as to who was the first to put this operation on wheels. Some historians say the first real roller coaster was built under the orders of James the 3rd in the Gardens of Oreinbaum in St. Petersburg in the year 1784. (The lawn where Catherine’s roller coaster once stood, at the Sliding Hill Pavilion, now sits vacant.). Other historians believe that the first roller coaster was built by the French. The Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville) constructed in Paris in 1812 and the Promenades Aeriennes both featured wheeled cars securely locked to the track, guide rails to keep them on course, and higher speeds.The first permanent loop track was probably also built in Paris from an English design in 1846, with a single-person wheeled sled running through a 13-foot (4 m) diameter vertical loop. These early single loop designs were called Centrifugal Railways.

Scenic Railways

In the 1850s, a mining company in Summit Hill, Pennsylvania constructed the Mauch Chunk gravity railroad, a brakeman-controlled, 8.7 mile (14 km) downhill track used to deliver coal to Mauch Chunk (now known as Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania. By 1872, the “Gravity Road” (as it became known) was providing rides to thrill-seekers for 50 cents a ride. Railway companies used similar tracks to provide amusement on days when ridership was low.

Using this idea as a basis, LaMarcus Adna Thompson began work on a gravity Switchback Railway that opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York in 1884. Passengers climbed to the top of a platform and rode a bench-like car down the 600 ft (180 m) track up to the top of another tower where the vehicle was switched to a return track and the passengers took the return trip. This track design was soon replaced with an oval complete circuit.[5] In 1885, Phillip Hinkle introduced the first complete-circuit coaster with a lift hill, the Gravity Pleasure Road, which was soon the most popular attraction at Coney Island.Not to be outdone, in 1886 LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented his design of roller coaster that included dark tunnels with painted scenery. “Scenic Railways” were to be found in amusement parks across the county.

Growing popularity and innovations

As it grew in popularity, experimentation in coaster dynamics took off. In the 1880s the concept of a vertical loop was again explored, and in 1895 the concept came into fruition with The Flip Flap, located at Sea Lion Park in Brooklyn, and shortly afterward with Loop-the-Loop at Olentangy Park near Columbus, Ohio. The rides were incredibly dangerous, and many passengers suffered whiplash. Both were soon dismantled, and looping coasters had to wait for over a half century before making a reappearance.

By 1912, the first underfriction roller coaster was developed by John Miller. Soon, roller coasters spread to amusement parks all around the world. Perhaps the best known historical roller coaster, The Cyclone, was opened at Coney Island in 1927. Like The Cyclone, all early roller coasters were made of wood. Many old wooden roller coasters are still operational, at parks such as Kennywood near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Pleasure Beach Blackpool, England. The oldest operating roller coaster is Leap-The-Dips at Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania, a side friction roller coaster built in 1902. The oldest wooden roller coaster in the United Kingdom is the Scenic Railway at Dreamland Amusement Park in Margate, Kent and features a system where the brakeman rides the car with wheels. It was severely damaged by fire on 7 April 2008. Scenic Railway at Melbourne’s Luna Park built in 1912, is the world’s oldest continually-operating roller coaster, and it also still features a system where the brakeman rides the car with wheels. One of only 13 remaining examples of John Miller’s work worldwide is the wooden roller coaster at Lagoon in Utah. The coaster opened in 1921 and is the 6th oldest coaster in the world.

The Great Depression marked the end of the first golden age of roller coasters, and theme parks in general went into decline. This lasted until 1972, when The Racer was built at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio (near Cincinnati). Designed by John Allen, the instant success of The Racer began a second golden age, which has continued to this day.

Steel roller coasters

Matterhorn Bobsleds, the world’s first tubular steel roller coaster.

In 1959, the Disneyland theme park introduced a new design breakthrough in roller coasters with the Matterhorn Bobsleds. This was the first roller coaster to use a tubular steel track. Unlike conventional wooden rails, tubular steel can be bent in any direction, which allows designers to incorporate loops, corkscrews, and many other maneuvers into their designs. Most modern roller coasters are made of steel, although wooden roller coasters are still being built.

In 1975 the first modern-day roller coaster to perform an inverting element opened: Corkscrew, located at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. In 1976 the vertical loop made a permanent comeback with the Great American Revolution at Magic Mountain in Valencia, California.

New designs and technologies are pushing the limits of what can be experienced on the newest coasters. Flying coasters like Tatsu and electromagnetically-launched coasters like Maverick are examples of the latest generation of technologically advanced coasters.

Timeline of notable roller coasters

The roller coasters mentioned here are significant for their role in the amusement industry. They were notable for specific reasons, including:

  • First coaster of a specific kind, style, manufacturing material or unique technology; ground-breaking
  • First time a particular record-breaking threshold was crossed
  • Historical significance

1800 to 1899

1817
  • First coaster featuring cars that locked onto track: Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (Russian Mountains of Belleville), Paris, France.
  • First coaster to feature two cars racing each other: Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville.
  • First complete-circuit coaster: Promenades Aériennes (The Aerial Walk), Paris.
1827
1846
  • First looping coaster (non-circuit): Centrifugal Railway, Frascati Garden, Paris.
1885

1900 to 1969

1902
1907
  • First use of lapbar: Drop-The-Dips, Coney Island.
1912
1913
1925
  • First coaster to reach 100 feet: Cyclone, Revere Beach, Revere, Massachusetts, United States.
1930
1959
1966

1970 to 1979

1972
1975
1976

1977
1979
  • The Beast: opened as the tallest, fastest and longest wooden coaster. Today it is still the longest wooden roller coaster in the world.

1980 to 1989

1980
1981
1982

  • First coaster to operate vehicles in reverse: Racer, Kings Island.
  • First coaster to run stand-up trains: Dangai, Thrill Valley, Gotemba, Shizuoka, Japan.
1985
1987
  • First coaster with six inversions: Vortex, Kings Island.
1988
1989

1990 to 1999

1992

Dragon Khan at PortAventura, the first roller coaster with eight inversions

1995
1996
1997
1998
1999

2000 to 2009

2000

Millennium Force at Cedar Point, the first roller coaster to exceed 300 feet (91 m) in height and the first to use an elevator cable lift.

2001
2002
2003
  • First complete-circuit coaster to exceed 400 feet (120 m) in height: Top Thrill Dragster, Cedar Point.
  • First coaster with a more than 90° vertical drop (97°): Vild-Svinet, BonBon-Land, Zealand, Denmark.
  • First coaster to utilize a vertical lift (not considered an elevator lift): Vild-Svinet, BonBon-Land.
2004
2008
2009

2010 to 2019

2010
 

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Pirates Steal ‘Game Of Thrones’: Why HBO Doesn’t Mind? – Audio Blog

April 7, 2013
Original Aired on: All Things Considered

More than 1 million fans illegally downloaded the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 3 this week, within 24 hours of its premiere.

That set a record, according to TorrentFreak, a blog that reports the latest trends on file-sharing. The blog also named the popular HBO series the most illegally downloaded television show of 2012.

The illicit popularity of the show, based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy books, has wider implications for the future of TV. Wired.com writer Graeme McMillan tells NPR’s Jacki Lyden how online piracy is shaping what we watch.

Interview game-of-thrones.jpgHighlights:

Who are the Game of Thrones pirates?

“They’re international. The majority of people for this particular episode were actually American, which is a first. Previously they have been predominantly Australian, oddly enough. But this time Australia was the third most popular country for piracy. It was U.S., U.K. and then Australia.”

On how HBO’s surprising reaction to the piracy

“Traditionally, studios and networks are very much on the line of ‘Downloading is bad, illegal piracy is bad, we do not support this at all.’ HBO has been surprisingly polite if not kind about the illegal downloads. You had HBO’s programming chief, Michael Lombardo, saying a couple weeks ago that his bigger concern wasn’t the people who were downloading, but that by downloading they’d get an inferior product.”

On not giving fans what they want

“Currently if you want to stream HBO content online, you have to sign up for the cable channel. There was an online campaign called ‘Take My Money, HBO’ that was essentially, ‘We’d love to stream the shows, we’d like to pay for this, but we don’t want to sign up for a cable subscription. Can you offer something else?’ And HBO has teased the option. Before, they’ve said, ‘Maybe, if we can get the math correct,’ but they’ve never really come out and said, ‘This is something we’re interested in.’

20130411-110701.jpg
“Their concern is in order to stay competitive with other streaming services, they would have to have a low price point for streaming, which would undercut the cable subscription.”

On whether online piracy of Game of Thrones hurts HBO

“I’m not sure it does. I think it really raises the profile of the show and raises the profile of HBO in general. One of the HBO directors for Game of Thrones, a guy called David Petrarca, actually said, ‘No, it’s great. It really helps the show’s cultural buzz, and it does not impact the bottom line because HBO has more than enough money to keep making the show.’

“So what this is, is, this makes HBO the center of a cultural conversation about illegal downloading, about streaming content, about the production of content and distribution of content, which is probably somewhere they really want to be.”

On the future of online TV

“Television is heading online. It is just something that, at this point, is going to happen. There was a Deloitte report that came out last month that said in 2012, tablet ownership exploded. It went up significantly from previous years. Tablet owners watch far more television than people who do not own tablets. So as that grows, the amount of television grows, it’s just that they’re watching it online.”

Source: NPR news
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 
 

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The Wonderful World Of Whisky Art – Video Blog

Video Produced By: Ernie Button from Slideluck on Vimeo.

The Wonderful World Of Whisky Art

by: Audrey Carlsen of NPR News
March 27, 201311:11 AM
Photos Courtesy of Ernie Button

temp

Ernie Button was putting a Scotch glass left out overnight into the dishwasher when he noticed something — a white, chalky film on the bottom of the glass. He held it up to the light and, upon closer inspection, could see a series of fine, lacy lines running along the inside of the glass.

As a hobbyist photographer whose work often focuses on showcasing the beauty of everyday objects, Button was intrigued by this discovery. “Wow, there’s something to that,” he recalls thinking.

And thus was born Vanishing Spirits: The Dried Remains of Single Malt Scotch, an ongoing photographic project Button has created to highlight the beautiful but often overlooked science of how liquids dry.

After first noticing the patterns left behind in his glass, Button began experimenting with other Scotch residues, shining different colored lights on them and photographing them up close. The results were strangely beautiful. “A little celestial, or extraterrestrial, almost,” says Button.
Aberlour 108
Courtesy of Ernie Button

That was six years ago. Since then, Button, who lives in Phoenix, Ariz., has captured upward of 75 photographs of whisky residues that he considers good enough to share with the public.

Some of his images will even be making their way over to Scotland in May for an exhibition at the Islay Festival of Music and Malt.

And Button doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. “I’m trying to let the work just kind of grow organically and see where it takes me,” he says.

He recently started experimenting with manipulating the whisky as it dries — moving the liquid around to create different deposit patterns.

He has also begun to wonder about the science behind his images. “I find them fascinating in a weird kind of way,” he says. “I think it’s a perfect blend between science and creativity.”

According to Howard Stone, head researcher at Princeton University’s Complex Fluids Group, the rings and waves seen in Button’s images are probably the result of particles that are left behind once the alcohol has evaporated.

These particles, which give the liquor its flavor and color, are present in “very, very small quantities,” says Stone, and can create an “imprint of what the [whisky] was doing when it was trying to evaporate.”

Research has shown that aqueous films tend to form ringlike patterns as they dry. This is because evaporation occurs more quickly at the edges of a liquid, thus drawing particles in the liquid outward.

Inspired by Button’s artwork, Stone is now conducting research with two of his postdocs, Ian Jacobi and Eujin Um, to further investigate the properties of dried whisky residues. In particular, they are looking into why different types of whisky produce subtly different patterns.

Button has noticed this as well — that using different types of whisky makes a difference. “It seems like the Scotches that are more inland, like a Glenlivet … tend to produce finer lines,” he says.

But even as he tries to better understand how these patterns are formed, Button never loses sight of why he felt compelled to photograph them in the first place.

“I’m a big admirer of finding the beauty in the normal or the sometimes overlooked,” he says. “Take time and observe. … There’s a lot of beauty out there, if you just look.”

aberlour-108

Compiled By: Josh Martin

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in art, Uncategorized

 

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Cinema Studio Illuminates the World with Modern Gesture Technology

Experiencing the 2014 Mazda6 in Lights created by “Cinema Studio”

Mazda6 Light Moves

cinimod studio mazda 6 lightsCinimod Studio created a memorable interactive lighting installation to mark the launch of the new Mazda 6.  Using innovative software and hardware, the car’s sculptural form was explored and revealed by visitors.  For every hand gesture a new intimate detail was exposed.

Delfina restaurant and bar, in the heart of the popular Bermondsey Street in London’s city centre, became host to this big reveal.  Opening its doors to the public, the essence of Mazda was presented in a way never experienced before.  The clean white gallery space provided a perfect canvas for a beautiful play with light against the car’s contours.  Cinimod Studio allowed the visitor to search the lines and form of the car’s body by designing a motion tracking system that allows individual exploration.

With the use of six moving head narrow beam lights controlled by an array of 3D and thermal cameras, each visitor is able to highlight spots of light on the car, discovering and highlighting details of the surface with small movements of the hand.  Via larger gestures, light sweeps across, illuminating and revealing a larger surface area.  As each visitor explores a different aspect of the car, the underlying philosophy of KODO form language is translated; depicting the feral curves of motion.  It is the ultimate exploration of a car’s reveal.

About Cinimod:

Cinimod Studio is a cross-discipline practice based in London specializing in the fusion of architecture and lighting design. It was started by the architect Dominic Harris, whose passion for interactive art and lighting design has produced built projects now found across the international art and architecture scene.cinimod studio mazda 6 lights

The ongoing work of Cinimod Studio is both visually stunning and technologically advanced. A dedication to research and development ensures that the studio stays abreast of the latest technologies and fabrication techniques. The studio is currently involved in several projects in both the UK and abroad, and has designed bespoke lighting products that are now in production.

It is a fundamental belief of the studio that we should design the experience first and then use our best technologies and techniques for making it a reality.

Credits

Client: Mazda UK
Creative Agency: Redwood

Design and Production:

Cinimod Studio – Lead Design and Production
Dominic Harris – Director
Claudia White – Producer
Christian Dennis – Production
Joseph Mounsey – Software
Tom Czapka – Lighting

SXS Events:
Rehearsal Production

Dumpling Productions
Film and photography
Dan Froude – photographs

Blog Compiled By: Josh Martin
Blog Source: Cinimod Studio

 

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