Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Wandering thoughts... #5

Restif de la Bretonne used to walk a lot through Paris at night and wrote things on the walls, on the bridges, wherever some available spot was identified.. He was some kind of XVIII century tagger.
He called himself "le spectateur nocturne" and eventually wrote a book about these tags and their locations ("Mes inscriptions"). For years I have been wanderinf on his tracks trying deperately to find some remaining of what he had written with a chalk, as I had read that someone in 1923 had managed to locate one of these tags. Of course I never found anything up to this day, pollution and revamping of old buildings having been there before me. But I am still walking alone along the streets of Paris at night, letting my mind ramble as I see the surroundings.
Rue Delambre, I used to live there, I remember the porno cinema just opposite to my flat, the whores going up and down the street.. the Dome cafe where Modigliani used to sit, l'hotel Delambre where Andre Breton and Tristan Tzara stayed for a while. Two cafes are there also, one is called "Smoke", this is where I took Turquoise when she came to Paris, we had some cocktail drinks and talked a lot the whole night long, Turquoise was wearing a blue angora jumper, a leather skirt and black stockings. The other cafe has been a famous spot for writers and actors since the 50's. Marguerite Duras, Albert Camus, Francois Truffaut, Jean Pierre Leaud were among the usual patrons, not forgetting Orson Welles, the name of this cafe is actually "Rosebud". I had a delicious chili con carne there as they do also serve meals. La rue Delambre s'etend entre le boulevard du Montparnasse ou la nuee de voitures maintient son flot infernal et le boulevard Edgar Quinet ou rayonne dans la nuit ce bistrot qui a traverse les ans sans changer d'effigie, il a un nom qui me fait me redresser a chaque fois que je le rencontre, un nom ultime et sans ambiguite, ...La Liberte.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Rock as a minor art #4

This is the cover of the fabulous Flamin Groovies' "Teenage Head" album. It was released in 72 and was for me the best album of the decade. In those vinyl times the cover shot was as important as the music. Here is a perfect example, as this picture is as cleverly composed as an old master painting.
One can imagine transverse lines guiding the eye to the crucial element, the plexyglass see-through Dan Armstrong guitar which Cyril Jordan holds on his lap. The music on that album is a true tribute to that awesome instrument (so difficult to keep tuned...). then notice the quasi Vermeerian background, those nuances of greenish grey which unfortunately were less obvious on the tiny cd cover. Same difference as between an actual painting and a postcard reproduction.The reddish colours spread over the scene is an indication of difficult love. Inside that New York city recording studio, the Flamin Groovies are looking at the outer world the same way as Van Eyck's "Arnolfinis portrait" characters.A certain way to tell us life is a becoming process.

Tenage Head, originally uploaded by zapcomix.

Of course listening to the record is not as important once the fascination for the cover has started to work on you. Though from "teenage Head" to "yesterday's numbers" the songs are flawless and out of time...

Sunday, August 29, 2004

About mod-ism #3

Having read an interview with Paul Weller in "Mojo"'s last issue, I have back these memories from my youth, 1965 ..67 . I had been in England around those times through school exchange programs. I was based the first time in Slough (Bucks), then Reading (Berks) . The mods were so coooool, in their immaculate green parkas covered with buttons and riding those customized scooters.

When was it ? 67 in London, I recognized Procol Harum musicians in a street of Soho, they were dressed in the same eccentric clothes as on the picture of the French single I had at home (Whiter..). They were not mods, just Euro flower children.
To stay tuned with those mods which fascinated me, I was listening to the Action, to Creation, and obviously to the Who ..did not see them live before 68, but when I did ..was flabbergasted by Moon's way of drumming.. it was around "Pictures of Lily" . That year the shock for me had been Hendrix in his Dharma gipsy outfit .. I had stayed deaf the two days following the concert. I remember a girl looking at me in a way I had never experienced before, I was feeling so bizarre with those heart speeding feelings.

The well respected mods always were the Kinks anyway...

"As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I feel in Paradise" (Ray Davies)

Friday, August 27, 2004

A Physicist's life #2

Being the Polarized Target week coordinator in Geneva,I have to make sure
everything is going on correctly with the target shifters, I am on call
whenever a serious problem occurs and have to fix it.. Last week-end the
shifters were mostly untrained Russians and I did run from North tho
south... To start with one did not show up at 8 am when his shift started.
I had to replace him as the previous shifter had been spending the whole
night. I tried to find the missing guy by phone, sent him emails, asked
his colleagues.. nobody knew where he was.. eventually he showed up at 3pm
one hour before the end of his shift very sorry and apologetic.. He had
just forgotten about his shift. Then we started to polarize and I had to
stay as an expert to start the process..I was expecting the midnight
shifter was planned to be a young Czech student , a clever and smart guy.
So I was happy I would be able to relax then as I knew he could handle the
polarization build up. But at midnight, the missing shifter of the morning
re appeared telling me that feeling guilty he had arranged to swap shifts
with the young student. This was another story for me ! I had to prepare
the follow up of the polarization by myself because this guy was not able
to touch anything. So I worked until 2 am and went to sleep then. But at 3:30 am
my mobile phone wakes me up.. the same guy , usually lazy and now totally
dedicated to the work tells me that there has been no change of the
polarization during the last hour.. I have to go there again to retune the
frequency of the microwave generator. In fact all the computers had
crashed and communications between them were lost. I had to reboot all of
them , it took me one hour.. then restart the programs , the slow controls
but there was still an important communication link which I could not
re-establish. I stayed there trying and trying until 6:30 am and left the
guy knowing another expert would come around 7. I tried to sleep again at
8am, at 11 am my mobile phone rings again. One of my French colleagues
wants me to attend a meeting about some work to do in three months from
now. I tell him I have just been sleeping for three hours and he
apologizes but I cannot go to sleep anymore and finally take a shower and
go to the meeting where I am sort of losing my temper saying to people
that the meeting is not well organized and that I am wasting my time and
have to go back to real world when they are in dreamland.
I go back to the experiment where I find another Russian doing
crosswords instead of working, I call the computer center to tell them my
problem of communication between computers. They send two technicians who
find out in five minutes that the hotlink internet cable on which there is
a label "do not unplug" was not correctly plugged.. and I remember that
the now "famous" missing russian shifter had brought his laptop during the
night and had probably tried to hook it to the internet killing by doing this
the communications needed for our equipment.. This was confirmed when I
asked him a few hours later.. I told him it was written "do not unplug",
he did not understand the word "unplug".. I can tell you they have
selected world champions in Russia, just for me !!
As he was on shift next night he called me again around 3am for a minor
thing and I had another short night.. ..Today was a bit better, what will
be tomorrow ..I never mentionned it but the guys were smelling as
usually..oh dear...staly marinated onions and vodka..cheers !

Tonight I am going to catch the night train to Paris listening to Jonathan's Acetate demos on my walkman, then I will dive into Bach's "l'art de la fugue".

Thursday, August 26, 2004


" This a song of rememberance for old girlfriends.... " was composed in the early days of Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers. This Blog is going to be about nostalgia and other weather forecasts.

Arto, originally uploaded by zapcomix.

Because we do need poetry in those times of cruelty, I will refer to Antonin Artaud. I went to the theatre where he had played on stage 70 years ago in a surrealist drama of his. This was rue de la Croix-Nivert and had been transformed in a cinema playing avant garde movies. So Antonin's memory was still present in its way.Artaud-le-Momo was thinking he was the alter ego of Van Gogh in litterature.Sometimes life smells like rock'n'roll ...

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