Saturday, June 27, 2009

This week in entertainment

Friday night after work I was craving some Mexican food so George and I headed over to El Sombrero for some fajitas and burritos. El Sombrero is not as good as Mexico Lindo (which I blogged about earlier), but it was still pretty good and had a larger selection of food.

While waiting at the counter to pay, I noticed a flyer for Les Invites de Villeurbanne, a music/theater/general entertainment festival in the Lyon suburb of Villeurbanne. Flipping thru the flyer, two things caught my eye. First, Fishbone was playing tomorrow, and second it was free! I love Fishbone, and I love free too so I knew what I would be doing Saturday night.

George and I had already had plans to see Coraline Saturday and we had other errands to run, so we got up early for the matinée showing. Coraline is Henry Selick's (the guy that did the nightmare before christmas) adaption of the Neil Gaiman novel, and as you might expect (if you are a nerd that likes graphic novels and stop motion animation) Henry Selick + Neil Gaiman = awesome. I really liked the movie and it was a great start our busy Saturday.

After the movie we had planned to get a little lunch, return some books to the library, buy some groceries, and go home a get cleaned up before meeting a friend for dinner and the Fishbone concert. Upon leaving the cinéma, however, we were greeted by thousands of provocatively dressed men and women marching thru soap bubbles to the beat of slightly too loud techno music. The Gay & Lesbian community of Lyon was parading their pride, and extremely tan buttocks, thru the neighborhood.

Nothing says Gay Pride like speedos and soap bubbles

After losing an hour enjoying the parade, we ran most of our errands and got cleaned up to meet my friend Michel for dinner at an awesome French restaurant near our house called Olivier's. I highly recommend Olivier's to anyone wanting great, and reasonably priced, french food in Lyon.

After dinner we wandered towards the Square de la Doua in Villeurbanne to catch the music. According to google maps it is only about a mile from my house, and after a couple wrong turns and two miles of wandering around, we heard the music and finally ended up there. The place was pretty packed and The Sweet Vandals from Madrid, Spain were just starting their gig. If you like Fishbone, you would probably dig The Sweet Vandals too.

All the walking around trying to find this place made me thristy, so I headed over to the beer tent to grab a beverage. In effort to reduce the massive amounts of trash, mostly empty plastic cups, generated at concerts, the organizers of this event decided not use disposable cups at all. To get a beer, you rented a hard plastic cup for 1 Euro and could refill it as much as you wanted for 2 euros per fill-up. At the end of the evening you returned the cup for your 1 euro, and the amount of trash generated was surely reduced. Bravo Villeurbanne.

Fishbone with Annette Funicello in the movie Back to the Beach

Fishbone was one of my favorite bands growing up. The band was formed in 1979 (I was 3 years old), and although only two of the original members remain those two are the lead singer (and lead saxophonist) and lead guitarist, so the music still sounds the same and still rocks. Like in the video above, the lead singer still jumps around on stage and acts a fool the entire show, despite being close to 50 by now. If you have never listened to Fishbone, you should.

The concert ended pretty late, so Sunday was a lazy day for George and I. We just laid around the park across the street from our house (Parc de la Tête d'Or) and read books and people watched.

Tuesday I had a date with some friends to see another concert in Lyon, a Japanese Drum show up in the old Roman Amphitheater on the hill overlooking the city. Unlike the Fishbone show, this one was far from free (33 Euros!) but it sounded interesting and I have wanted to see a concert in the old Roman Amphitheater since we visited Lyon 2 years ago.

George is not much of a fan of eclectic world music, and after paying 20 euros to watch a bunch of guys hum for an hour at a supposedly "Tibetan" music concert a couple weeks earlier, she decided to sit this one out.

This is where the concert was held. Look comfy?

The concert was very good. It mostly consisted of about 10 guys playing japanese drums of various sizes, but it also included dancing, a little singing, and more humor that I had expected. It was better than I thought it would be, and attending a concert in a 2000 year old ruin is pretty cool too. The ambiance was great, the acoustics were surprising good, and it is just cool to know that 2 millennia ago some Roman citizens sat here and watched gladiators fight lions or something. Sitting for 2 hours on 2000 year old stone seats, however, is pretty much exactly as you expect it to be. It was cramped, uncomfortable, and there was hardly any room to walk between the rows of seated people. The vendors did sell only Pepsi at this show though, and there is exactly one restaurant in Lyon (in a suburb of Lyon actually) that offers Pepsi, KFC, so the choice of beverage was a nice departure from the Coke dictatorship of Lyon.

Wednesday I had a date with the boss. The guy that runs the company I work for has been working in the Austin office for a couple years now, but he comes to the French office every now and then. Dinner tonight was Tunisian food. I had never had Tunisian food, but it was surprisingly non-exotic--a plate of couscous (rice) a plate of grilled meat (I had chicken) and a shared pot of vegetable stew to pour on the rice and meat. It was very good.

After dinner we went down to les berges for a drink. The river front of Lyon used to be covered with parking lots, but about 4 years ago they started removing the parking spaces and adding bike trails, benches, and open spaces and there are a lot of barge style boats tied up to the sides of the river that now serve as bars and restaurants. It is a very popular spot in Lyon, and when I left at midnight there were still many people there.

Thursday and Friday were pretty normal working days, and Saturday is going to be our normal errand running and movie watching day. We are going to meet a couple friends to watch the new Russell Crowe movie State of Play.

Tomorrow we are heading back to Île Barbe for a Salsa Festival. Ima teach George to shake it!

Next week will likely not be as eventful as this one. In our effort to experience and learn more about France, we are having dinner with a stranger Tuesday. We signed up for something called Lyon International which pairs newly arrived foreigners with Lyonnaise locals for dinner and/or other activities.

We've been keeping very busy here. Weekend trips to medieval cities, weeknight dinners with strange french people, joining local groups for welcoming foreigners, concerts, theater, etc. With the exception of the movie tickets, the concert in the Roman ruins, and the travel expenses, all of this has been free! Some people might think it wasteful or at least weird to have their tax dollars go to things such as this, but I think cultural enrichment and entertainment is a fine use of tax dollars.

No comments: