leighreyes.com – that’s it. Okay? Okay. Cool.

And here we go, my first wordpress.com via Twitter API entry. 🙂

Redirect yourselves to my new home.

Je suis Nano.

Where the dickens am I?
Ah. Judging by the strap with the plastic doodad, I am in someone’s carry-on luggage, and will soon be hurtling through the atmosphere at an altitude of 35,000 feet, at the mercy of prosaic flight attendants.

It is quite hospitable of Cannes to provide me with the perfect vantage point from which I can reflect upon the sky, the sea, the vast potential of life, and Frenchwomen without bikini tops.

I am here for the Cannes Advertising Festival. It is not as salacious or perverted as they make it out to be. Or perhaps my assigned human is not visiting the right places. Instead of bringing me to the Gutter Bar, she totes me along to talks in the Grand Palais. What need have I for the latest trends in digital engagement? I require inspiration! Someone hand me a glass of rosé!

There is too much bread here.

Humans of all stripes keep stealing glances at me in the auditorium. This would not happen at the Gutter Bar.

After many such days, we are outdoors. The carousel near the Palais is a welcome sight for an inspiration-starved poet such as myself.

The muse comes in many forms. Here she is a horse with too much makeup.

But we must take what we are given.
“Forsooth! It is in the grace of sunlight
that we forsake our boots too tight.”
Yes, I know it needs more work.

It is our last day. My sister will surely appreciate the picturesque landscape behind me.

In fact, I do believe she will be positively bilious with envy when next we meet. I must savor these last moments of self-indulgence! Everything is mere material for my poetry, of course. Until the next journey, mes amis. Au’voir.

Droplets of stories.


Next door to Puyricard, purveyors of Provençal chocolate on Rue Belges, in between the Croisette and Rue d’Antibes, is Maison Franco, a well-stocked art supplies shop. Of interest to aspiring calligraphers would be an assortment of nibs, nib holders, notebooks with fine-grade paper (such as the Essential Notebook by L’Atelier du Papier), and Talens’ Ecoline liquid watercolors. I bought a Winsor & Newton traveling set with a built-in water container. Failing to produce anything that could remotely be called art, I can at least fill it with single-malt Scotch and behave like an artist.

A couple of minutes’ walk from Maison Franco is a French bookstore, with notebooks and pens on the upper floor. They have a selection of Moleskines, Habana, and Paperblanks, plus Rhodia and Clairefontaine pads and notebooks. There’s an itty-bitty Parker and Waterman booth. In the back of the same floor is art supplies (including calligraphy brushes), G. Lalo correspondence paper, and the last dregs of tester ink in three J. Herbin bottles.

Monoprix, my savior (they were open until 7:30!), had the Forever Forest line of recycled paper notebooks and pads, in addition to the Clairefontaine Triomphe line. I found a cute Pilot Pluminix, which is like a Pilot calligraphy pen made stubbier to appeal to a younger market.

Cannes is not a place to buy pens.

Unless you really really really want a Lamy or an Omas Briarwood. Then head to Graphein. It’s one of Les Boutiques de Gray Street, a row of indoor shops beside the Gray d’Albion hotel, where I spent two weeks of my life. It’s a good thing I only found it on my second to the last day in Cannes. Otherwise the salesperson and I would have been great friends. I bought three bottles of ink (branded Bethge, but manufactured by J. Herbin) and a leather-covered notebook.


Styl’Honoré is on Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré. They have a wide merchandise mix, from school ballpoints to Taccia. What I really wanted to buy was their Cocktail ink. I chose Noir diamant, Coucher de Soleil, Poudre d’Iris and Velours Blue. They come in 75 ml bottles, and can be diluted with water.

Mora Stylos is on Rue de Tournon, which is a short walk from the Odeon Metro stop. (For people with blisters, it’s closer to a death march.) When I went in, I almost stumbled on a huge vacuum cleaner in the middle of the shop. I was that early. The Oldwins were to my left, and I didn’t even bother to look at the other modern pens they had in stock. I spared long looks for the vintage pen selection. They had a delicious Waterman safety. And a pre-owned Sailor Susutake Ito Maki, which used to be my holy grail pen but has fallen from its pedestal because it is simply too huge for my hand. But self-discipline carried the day.

I tried several Oldwin models, picked the Classic in red ebonite, and paid for it with a gulp and a prayer.

On the way back to the Metro stop I passed by Duriez and came away with even more notebooks. So the night before I left Paris, I jettisoned two pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans and a lot of tops to stay under the 30 kg baggage allowance. Notebooks and ink are more important than silly old clothes.

Oh, and just in case you think I’m insane, there are other people like me in Manila. In fact, we’re having a pen meet this Saturday. Do email me for details if you want to come along.

Schtuck in Schiphol.

They didn’t book me straight through to Manila at CDG. I should have panicked right then and there. I figured it was just because I’d checked in early.

At the transfer counter in Schiphol, a helpful lady with teal eyeliner informed me there were no more seats left on the Amsterdam-Manila flight. Blink. Blink. What? Shu had checked in online the night before and had a sure seat, so she ran to board the flight. She was lucky. The lady told me 180 passengers had been bumped off, because the original aircraft had “technical problems” and it had been replaced with a smaller one. (I would like to think technical problems are easier to deal with than human problems, e.g. the chief steward in a deathmatch with the purser over who gets to draw the curtains closed between business and cattle class.)

So off I go to Beijing. Then Manila after a layover. Three airports in one day! I feel so temporary.

Almost home.

Farewell, land of wheat products and cold food.

I can’t believe how much I’ve missed food, my food, not these yes-beautiful-but-hollow sandwiches and salads and strips of pancetta on pasta. I want spicy peanuts, adobo and the rogan josh across the street from the office. I want sinigang and green papaya salad and the buta kakuni at Shinjuku.

I am wanting all these while munching on yet another variation on the croissant.

I fly out from Paris tomorrow, connect to Amsterdam then take the lights-out-everyone-sleep flight to Manila. It will be the morning of the 26th when I arrive, many Euros poorer but richer in so many other ways that count aside from money.

One era at a time.

I am always overwhelmed at the Louvre. I can’t do what the other tourists do, take in everything in one day and have a sandwich in between halls. For me, the Louvre is best in bite-sized pieces.

So yesterday, I went straight to the Egyptian Antiquities section in Sully. Who knew hieroglyphics came in cursive? I spent a lot of time in front of the papyrus displays. What I thought were incense sticks were actually writing sticks on ink boards. I didn’t bother to rent the digital guides, instead preferring to stare at objects and teasing out meaning from the French descriptions.

Taking pictures and video distracts me. I don’t like the feeling of recording the experience just as I’m experiencing it. I took most of these pictures going through the exhibition again on my way out. My first real mummy! Kohl and unguent pots! No wonder I missed lunch.

I need a title. Help.

I wrote this poem in 1996, put it up on my old blog, and rereading it now, eyelids heavy with a week’s worth of sleep, I realized it had no title.

Who abandons these cars
and allows them to live anew:
cat motels, dust magnets,
flutes when the city’s hot winds

go through one cracked window
then another:
who? And who smears hasty hearts
on all those windshields,

made-to-fade messages of love
to Veronica or just anyone
passing by? Take a number,
then any street,

find that door and knock on it.
Whoever answers can be
the woman who is always the question,
freshly arrived from the airport,

smelling of lavender and
sex on the beach.
“Who are you?” she asks, and
dizzy with love, you can’t answer.

Was it Robert Frost who said the title is the clasp that holds the necklace together?

you’re sideswiped by possibility?


See you next year.

Nano the Tourist

Joni, Jody and I took a cardiovascularly challenging stroll to Musée de la Castre yesterday afternoon, before the Film, Titanium and Integrated Awards night. Nano insisted on the more typical tourist shots, and I obliged.

The bar is so high my neck hurts peering up at it. But if there’s one thing Cannes teaches you, it’s how to jump in stilettos, preferably in silver-finished leather.

My next stop is Paris for a couple of days. Let’s see what happens.

Le Pink.

After overdosing on fresh seafood (escargots rock) at Brun, thanks to Pepito, several of us landed in Le Pink, a couple of doors down. Le Pink is a little bar packed with personality, a lot of it gay. We had rosé and laughter and Herbert’s scarf.

Peter and Merlee:
Peter and Merlee

Les Young Lions:
Young Lions

Noel and Nandy:
Noel and Nandy

The DM9 gang on the way to the DDB party:

Good night, Cannes!

Winding down Cannes.

Y&R has a new logo? Where was the memo?

Walking to the Y&R party on the Carlton beachfront, I realized the logo on the backdrop of the Y&R-sponsored Rupert Murdoch talk was not a glitch in the matrix. From 100% cyan, it is now white with a thick dark blue outline. It looks like a cross between a ballet dancer and a bouncer. I’m sure it will grow on me. Like mushrooms on a log. (Okay, I’m being tetchy and uncharitable.)

I overslept and missed the Crispin talk. I made sure not to miss Jonah Bloom with Maurice Levy, and David Droga and Unicef for the Tap Project.

Angel asked me, how would you describe Maurice’s hair? I said, “Leonine.” It matches the Publicis lion logo. That made me think about how hair can be such a signature for ad people. There’s Bob Isherwood’s platinum shocker, Bob Greenberg’s not-quite-tonsure and the BBDO guy who keeps going up the stage for HBO Voyeur with the if-Farrah-Fawcett-had-a-mullet. (Every time he’s gone up on stage I find myself applauding his look as well as his work.)

Back home there’s Merlee’s unflappable bob, Kat’s non-hair and Ompong’s boucles. Boucles, I have deciphered from the intensive study of Garnier hair products at Monoprix, is curls.

I’m sure I’ll see more hair – and more great work – tomorrow night at the Film, Titanium and Integrated Awards. A big shoutout to DM9 and TBWA for getting into the film shortlist, not a small feat considering the others on the list. I’d like to see Tan Hong Ming get metal. Previous Grand Prix winners Times of India (direct) and HBO Voyeur (Outdoor) are also in contention for Titanium, as well as big Clio winner Halo 3/Believe.

The queue stretched up three stories. No one complained about missing lunch.

The show opened with Bob Isherwood apologizing for the delay, but I would have waited for as long as it took. Even the theatrical introduction to the directors’ reel was a grand display of stage technique and how a live performance and video feed can work together to deliver an extraordinary experience, one in which emotion sharpens the intellectual appreciation of technique. It began simply, with the spotlight on a man (the “director” persona) walking on an elevated treadmill, and escalated to fake blood, flying styrofoam beans and gigantic cardboard walls.

I am a huge fan of the Arcade Fire and REM, and absolutely loved the last director on the reel, Vincent Moon. CNN has an article on his Take Away Shows. Watch Arcade Fire doing Neon Bible in an elevator. Michael Stipe laughing at the end of Living Well’s the Best Revenge. All the Take Away Shows are here. Scroll down for Andrew Bird, Xiu Xiu, Elysian Fields, and more.

The full reel isn’t up yet on heresanidea.com, but it should be soon. Watch. Take away an idea or two.