Dave's 2016 European Grand (sales) Tour
Welcome back, dear readers. This is my 10th trip in 11 years (last year we were too busy for me to leave the ship). It's good to know Heinrich and Clay have everything under control.
I can't promise the most action-packed story you'll ever read (I'm 55 now and not as inclined to engage in the irresponsible shenanigans of a 50 year old) but I hope you'll enjoy following along if only for purely educational reasons.
When I left MOP had 5 shoots scheduled for late Feb/early March and more than 20 jobs bidding. Oh my. Massive volume for this time of year. I think I have to thank fracking.
Here's a hint:
Yes, I lucked out again (with a little help from Visa) and found myself in the gentle embrace of Air Canada Business Class with Mr. Hawkswoth supposedly sweating away in the galley. This is a standard I'm no longer sure I can avoid. Where will it all lead? Pedicures (I'm looking at you, Nathan)?
After a scrumptious meal (Mr. Hawksworth's 'signature dish', chicken, did not tempt me, I must confess; Business Class chicken though it was) I settled in to watch Daniel Barber's Civil War victory "The Keeping Room" (carefully filed away by Air Canada under "Avante Garde" next to international classics exploring the life of faded Bulgarian hippy taxi drivers and documentaries about the origins of milk carton design).
Then it was "push to recline" and off to sleepy land. Yes, I'm afraid I have no unbelievable tale to tell about the Flight Attendants refusing me more cognac. Nothing about trying to get the wine stains off my white shirt using the toothpaste found in my Business Class toilet kit. No one asked to change seats. My hands and feat remained untied. Security was not waiting for me on landing. Ho-hum I hear you say: what's the point of reading further? Well, at least I can share this with my mother.
DAY ONE, LONDON
It was clear and crisp in Kensington Park where cockatiels sang of love and Canada Geese attacked you from behind. I found a quaint Bangladeshi/Somalian restaurant (where I was suspiciously the only customer). Tasty. Happily bringing new smells to the room and unable to watch the newest installment of "House of Cards" (WiFi is extra) I spent a fitful night adjusting to the time zone. Tomorrow is Saturday so I have a couple days to acclimatize, take in a museum or two, meet with dear friends, and find some powerful air freshener.
My London meeting schedule was packed full. Probably my most heavily booked visit ever. Over the two days I visited Stephen Brierley and Sophie from Park Pictures (such nice people!), had drinks and a snack at SOHO House with the very impressive Anna Smith (from Iconoclast) and the indomitable (not that I tried) Charlotte Woodhead, met the welcoming Jane Lloyd from Pulse, the famous Orlando at Biscuit, the very kind Chris and Nick at 2am, the soon to be formidable Kate Taylor, had lunch at the Grouch Club with Adrian Harrison (want to know what really happened with Jeremy Clarkson, ask me!), finally had a chat with Bona from Feel, stopped by Knucklehead and saw Matthew, Tim, and Francis (first London, then the world!), had a glass of wine with Tess Mitchell (now at Rattling Stick and 4 months pregnant with her second - hoorah!), and ended with a few beers at the Lyric with Jeremy Goold (now owner of You Are Here) where I also met one of his directors, Joe, formerly a mimish clown (or clownish mime, can't recall) and now hoping to shoot a feature in Canada set in the Arctic (NOT the Franklin Expedition, thank goodness). What a whirlwind!
I got in around 3:00 pm and went for a walk. That church in the middle photo below? St. Vincent de Pauls. When we were 19 my friend Paul and I once gave chase to two South American drug dealers through the sewers of Paris on this very spot. It's true! But I can't share all the details on this blog for national security reasons. Better ask me in person. Tarot cards played an important role.
I liked "Bob". And the Francois' where very nice, too. But I don't recommend the cooking. I suspect that's not what the great chefs of Paris come for. It's the kind of food your brother used to make.
What a day! I saw Gaëlle at Insurrection (formerly Les Télécréateurs - they told me they're changing the name because no one can spell it), lunch with Sylvaine from Stink (she's such a great person and the meal was amazing), and a delicious dinner with Genevieve from Carnibird (her son Gaspard joined us and her friend Anne-Sophie who's an AD in features, came too). The restaurant was near Genevieve's apartment and just one block from the Bataclan. Lucky for her she and her family were out of town that terrible night).
Off to bed. Friday will be even busier.
Meetings don't start until 10 today so I took an hour to do my laundry. I know: thanks for telling us, Dave. Fascinating. But you never know who might study my every move in the future to write a sociological study (do you?). An old man helped me buy the soap.
I have been blessed in my life with the friendship of La Famille Farges. Originally from Lyon they decamped to Vancouver (via Carracas) and I've known them since childhood. They've taught me a lot about the finer things. Without them I'd still think ketchup and pickle sandwiches was as good as it gets. So before leaving home I asked Yves Farges for some suggestions on where I might get a decent meal in fabulous Paris. Knowing Yves that meant any answer would require a bank loan so used his advice carefully (at first). The Train Bleu (above) at the Gare de Lyon is, clearly, bloody amazing. The French Empire in one room! I only had an appetizer (€800) as I had bigger things planned for the evening. But what a place. Go!
I spent most of Saturday combing the city for presents for my nearest and dearest (with some success). The results will have to await until my return. But now, my soon to be jealous dear readers, the main event.
On the way back to the hotel I did a little window shopping for presents for Barb and checked out Harry's American Bar to try one of their martinis. So-so.
DAY NINE, PARIS THEN BERLIN
Juri from Cobblestone was my first meeting. They're on Karl-Marx-Allee in the former East Berlin (where the Workers used to have some real control over the means of production). Super cool office, too. We did O2 with them in Toronto and Juri told me "it was the best shoot any of us had ever been on". Wow. I think we have Dennis Beier and his team to thank for that. Thanks, Dennis!
After a delicious Italian dinner in the Kreuzberg area (I think) we mosied off to one of those unique, Berlin-only, bars where everyone is from everywhere and it feels like anything can happen (however all that really happened is we added four more types of alcohol to our blood stream). Then it was "last call" (and anyone that's been to Berlin knows what time that is) and a mad taxi ride to Manu's (bye!) then, after a long conversation about contemporary symphony composers with my taxi driver, Carsten, back to a deep sleep.
DAY TWELVE - HAMBURG
Later we were joined by some acquaintances of Daniel: a German English student (Sam), her teacher from Ontario (Natasha), and their friend Taler (a Cherokee Floridian alligator hunter). Really! The beer and Helbing flowed and once again I was walking the dark, lonely streets of a foreign city listening to this English lady try to pronounce German street names and guide me home to Marc's while a British psychologist discussed the sex life of handicapped people in 18th century Coventry (Ask me for the link!).
That night I took the U-Bahn to meet my old friends Dominik and Sandra at our favorite restaurant, Il Vagabando. It was really great to see them both as it's been too long. Dominik is now advancing the vision (and profits) at Marmalade and Sandra was jetting off to Munich at dawn the next day producing for Markenfilm. I may have said it before but let me say it again: I love the people I get to work with!
Innes, Marc and I started our day with a tasty breakfast al fresco ('out in the bloody freezing cold' in English). Then it was off to find more presents for the family. Thank you, Innes!
We all agreed that a dinner at home would be a good idea. So off to the grocery store. There's a fitness craze sweeping Germany right now. After slipping into your best excercize clothes (lime green and black for men, pink with black and white tiger stripes for women) you get in your Mercedes SUV and drive to the nearest grocery store. There you purchase a 24 of beer and, careful to avoid back strain, we don't want you to over-do it (and be unable to shop), carry the beer to your car (if you're just starting it's OK to use a cart). I can see the results everywhere.
Marc made curry (the best thing I've eaten since Paris) and I made a butter lettuce salad (everyone said it was "good" but dumped the remaining dressing down the sink. Marc said this was his "normal practice". Hmmmm.)
DAY FOURTEEN - SYLT!
Usually when I get back home I'm a bit of a wreck. So this time I added a couple of days with the idea of slipping in a little tourism to help me recuperate from my "meetings". I asked everyone in Germany where I should go and most recommended "The Hamptons of Hamburg" otherwise known as the island of Sylt in the North Atlantic.
And the good news is Nicki agreed to come along! What fun we will have! How relaxing it will be. I will be so rested at the end of our visit (if you know Nicki you're probably shaking your head).
After untying the tin cans from our bumper and combing the rice out of our hair we waived farewell to Marc and Innes and Nicki and I set off on our grand adventure together.
To get to Sylt you drive a bit and then put your car on a train. Cool! Nicki didn't want to miss the train so he drove at a hasty but relaxing 200 kph in his Mercedes Benz Limousine.
It was raining when we left Hamburg but gradually the clouds parted and by the time we got off the train on Sylt the sky was entirely blue. Lucky us!
It's really hard to see them in this photo but there were two people walking naked on the beach in the distance. If you squint you can just make out that they're Beerzercize practitioners.
We went for long walks on the beaches, stopped at cafés, and reviewed our restaurant options. I shopped for rocking horses (only sold in the men's room).
Hmmm. Maybe this honeymoon joke is starting to look and sound a little bit creepy. For the record we're just friends!