January 29, 2009

El Paso in the press

photo Victor Caldaza

A very good article about our friends on Rim Road, the El Paso Petanque Club.
One of the quotes I particularly like: "We have some great trash talkers here."

El Paso Times - 25 Feb 2008

January 24, 2009

Petanque America Open 2009 ?

2003 .. 2005.. how about another one in 2009?

This past weekend I drove down to Florida to scout for a nice location for this years' event, around mid-November.

I think Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, the northernmost beach resort on Florida's Atlantic coast would be ideal.
Home of the antique cars Concours d'Elégance, the hugely popular Shrimp Festival, and numerous large golf and tennis events, it seems to have what we need.

Jacksonville airport (JAX) is a 30 min. easy drive, with reasonable shuttle fares.
Once in the historic downtown, very easy to get around.
Plenty of accommodations, for all budgets. Including affordable beach cottage rentals.
Lots of charming restaurants & bars, many with live music. Again for all tastes and budgets.
Miles of unspoiled beaches and other activities for those who don't come to play.
Mild weather in November.

Amazingly enough, even many Floridians are not familiar with Amelia Island, though they've driven past it many a time on I-95.

We'd love to get some feedback (either comment below or email) as to how that sounds to you.
Format: doubles, starting Saturday morning with finals by Sunday afternoon.
Of course, cash prizes and a nice party on Sunday night.
With the favorable US$ exchange and 9 months notice, it is highly likely several overseas teams will join in.

January 23, 2009

New club starting up in NY

Developments were expected in New York this year. With new terrains in Brooklyn's Prospect Park coming on stream soon, and the space at Bryant Park getting cramped for the ever growing number of players, there would either be a Boule NY with several venues or a second club. It will be the latter.
From what I understand the Prospect Park Club will concentrate on tournaments, and - given the ample space - large ones too, whereas La Boule NY will continue to be the jovial Manhattan meeting place and irreplaceable breeding ground for new players. Both missions are totally complementary and I can picture NY players playing at both locations throughout the year. Of course we wish both clubs the best of luck and continued growth.

Every petanque club worldwide goes through stages where some want to stress the competitive angle and others the social aspect. Some clubs have different types of membership. Other clubs split. Sometimes we forget that the sport is barely 100 years old and that growing pains are healthy.
The more clubs, the merrier. After all, NY has more inhabitants than Belgium or Holland. Each have hundreds of clubs.

Today's article in NY Magazine uses wildly exaggerated terms like "rebels" and "defectors" and highlights ethnicity and discord. That's what gossip columnists like. And surely explains the selective choice of the phrases they printed. The stock photo they used - 8 boules almost piled up - certainly was not taken in New York!

Sacré Boule! New York Pétanque Team Gets Le Divorce - NY Magazine 2009-01-23

PS: the only good part of being "gossip" news is that the article was reprinted by several blogs, like Gossipmax.com, between celebrity tidbits. You see, petanque is going places.

January 13, 2009

FPUSA Calendar 2009

FPUSA has published the calendar of tournaments for this year.

You can see it here (PDF). And read reports on past tournaments on the FPUSA blog.

A novelty for this year: 60+ mixed doubles regional tournaments. Good idea!

And here's a recap of 2008 by Ed Porto, National Sports Director.

Snow boules in Chicago

Chicago Petanque Club did it again this past Saturday:
the 2nd Annual Midwinter Freezer Boule Games.

Hats off to Dan and this hardy bunch!

Flick'r slideshow (43 pics)

French Tourist Board boules

Maison de la France, the worldwide French Tourist Board, has been running a series of short but neat video clips on their US website about different areas of France, called "Lost in Francelation".
In November it was Montpellier's turn and yep, pétanque is one of the highlights.
Well done, folks! I love the gentleman with the dark blue shirt.
If you're in a hurry, the boules part is from 2:15 to 3:30.

January 11, 2009

Petanque in Coral Springs, FL

Here's a great example of a location that screams for petanque. An old bocce court, smack in the middle of a populated neighborhood.

José, a regular player at Boca 2000, discovered it by accident when invited to a picnic in the park. Since he lives close by, he'd love to meet other players and/or teach beginners in the area.
Contact him at: nmbjoe (at) yahoo.com

The court looks a bit run down for bocce, but isn't that exactly how we like it? And look at those shade trees!
Thanks, José, for the tip. I have also marked it on the Petanque in the USA map. It cannot be stressed enough that players without a meeting place are - as they say in Belgium - like a bar without beer.

I'd love to put more and more spots like these on the map, even if today there is nobody playing. Shoot!

Wedding boules

From the prior posts, you'd think all they do in Texas is play petanque.
Not true. People there also get married.
On a pétanque court!

Nan & Jean-Claude are both enthusiastic petanque players as are most of their friends, so they decided to incorporate the wedding with petanque. On the courts of Jeanne in Spicewood, TX - a small community in the Hill Country near Austin.

I don't know if the ceremony was followed by games, but no doubt a lot of "bouchons" were popped.

'Félicitations' to the new couple, and thanks to Gary, our multi-state ambassador/reporter!

By the way, earlier this year there was another petanque wedding, in Oakhurst, CA.

Fall tournament in Lakeway

More from Texas!

On Sunday, Oct. 5 the Lakeway Petanque Players autumn tournament was held.
Under a sunny sky with a cooling breeze (anything under 90 degrees is cool in south Texas) the contestants pictured survived bad language, intemperate scoring calls, unrestrained self administrations of Pastis and rose', and the casual territorial disrespect of dogs and squirrels to end up posing before the camera.

Left to right in the back row, representing the San Antonio group, are Patrick Lanchais and Michele Costa, taking the Bronze medal. Both are restaurateurs in San Antonio, Frederick's Restaurant. It was their first visit to Lakeway for play and they quickly adapted to the piste. Taking the Silver are Louis and Jean, also chefs, from Dallas. Jean was a member of the first place team in the Dallas tournament last spring. Accepting the Gold with the beamiest of smiles was our resident magician and merry maker Arsene Dupin on the right, front row, and Amine Najah on the left. This is Amine's second victory in Lakeway, an outstanding player. Arsene represents the Heart of Texas group and the Lakeway Petanque Players and Amine represents Lakeway.

The final best of 3 rounds was a battle between two evenly matched opponents. Trailing 5-10 the first place finishers put on a determined clawing attack to prevail in a suspenseful dramatic finish of 13-12! Both teams deserve accolades for the hardest fought duel of the day.

A colorful group I think you'll agree. Trophies and medals provided by Petanque America.

Thanks to Geo, President of LakewayPetanque for the report!

Petanque in Texas

Petanque is on a roll in the Lone Star State:

In Austin our dear friend Arsene (who even dreams about petanque when he sleeps) has registered the Heart of Texas (also known as HOT) Petanque Club with FPUSA, and they already have around 40 regular players. A website is coming.

Fernando in San Antonio has re-activated the club down there as well. Hope to get some pictures soon. They drove up to Lakeway for the tournament in October (next post).

And John in Houston started a website for the Houston Petanque Club which now plays in Bear Creek Park.

Congrats to all. I haven't been to Texas for about 12 years so it's high time for another trip.

Petanque in Utah

Brett in Logan started a blog to document the travails of his new court. It looks like winter temporarily halted the fun but I'm sure there'll be many pleasant petanque parties in Logan in the spring!

This blog is about building my Petanque Piste! We've recently moved to Logan UT, where my wife is a Professor of French at Utah State University. We bought a small house, with a nice yard. On the back side of the house, there's an area where we weren't sure what we should do with. We were looking to avoid watering it, and we wanted to add something interesting to our yard, that we thought we'd actually use during those beautiful Cache Valley summer days. My wife's grandfather had a Petanque Piste in Menton where he lived before he passed away. Christa remembered many happy summer days with the adults drinking pastis and playing boule. So I told her I'd give it a try.
Read more

PS: since 2000 we have shipped to around 100 addresses in Utah. That's not bad for a state with a population of less than 3 mio.

January 9, 2009

Less - and more - boules

Every year the French boules manufacturers make some changes to their range, and 2009 is far from an exception.
Because 80 % of all boules sold are in a pretty narrow range (and inventory charges being astronomical) the sizes & weights that are considered "standard production" have been further reduced. I guess it also reflects the general tendency towards lighter boules.

A few highlights:

Obut 120RL: a lot of people love the "waffle iron" but I suspect not so much in Europe, so it's been discontinued. But we still have around 30 sets in stock and CX Cou by La Boule Noire is now available in a very "busy" pattern as well.

Only the regular Obut Match boules are still available in 740 grams. All others stop at 720 or 730. ATX and CX Cou can still be special ordered up to 800 g.

Very good news for our lady clients and for our friends in SE Asia: your numerous requests have been heard. 71 mm has become a "standard" size in Obut's Bi-pôle, Match+, 115 IT and Match. We're preparing an order to be fully stocked in 71's well before the spring.

We're updating our store and I'm preparing a downloadable PDF listing all varieties to make the choices easier. Any specific questions, do not hesitate to call!

January 7, 2009

A boule in my soup!

So sorry there are no English subtitles, but this is the story line:
The customer calls the manager to complain about a boule in his soup.
The latter immediately checks if there's also a 'cochonnet' (target ball) in the pot which he feels would be a lot more dangerous. None to be found. His dramatic description of what an ingested cochonnet can do to one's innards leads the customer to think he actually did swallow one. But the manager puts him at ease: because if that were the case, the gentleman would have had other priorities than to make a scene about a harmless boule, like a spoiled child. He carries on and on to the point where the hapless customer, relieved, turns all apologetic about having had the balls to complain about such a trivial occurrence, a harmless boule. 
He actually refuses to have the soup replaced...
Last phrase by the manager: "Quel métier!" as in "Look at what you have to endure in this profession!" 

The scene is from TV Palace, a popular 1988 comedy series on France's CanalPlus about absurd happenings in a fancy hotel.

January 6, 2009

Cannes 1962

Petanque: timeless.
Here's Elke Sommers playing during the Cannes Film Festival in May 1962.

From the LIFE archives

January 1, 2009

Warming up with zouk

It's friggin' cold throughout most of the US these days.
To warm you up, a clip of the song "Petanque" by the group "Message" from Guadeloupe, one of the French Caribbean islands. A typical example of "zouk", a rather slow but very catchy rythm that makes it impossible to just sit still.
Get a drink, turn up your speakers (subwoofer on max), watch and imagine you're on the beach with them folks having a boule!

Next Petanque America Open - wherever it's held - that'll be the theme song: "Les boules-là"

Happy New Year from La Boule Obut

Click on the image.