WTM #1072: Paris is Turning

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies


09 November 2009 // 16.30-18.30

ESS > 2Kilos&More [Entre3villes / Optical Sound]
ARK > 2Kilos&More [Entre3villes / Optical Sound]
Falling Free > Curve vs Aphex Twin [26 Mixes for Cash / Warp]
Paris Paris > Catherine Deneuve & Malcolm McLaren [Paris / No!Gee]
Blouse Societe Secrete > DJ Chienloup
Je T’Aime… Moi non Plus > Malcolm McLaren [Paris / No!Gee]
L’Alcool > Serge Gainsbourg [Le Poinconneur des Lilas / MCPS]
Dance With Me > Nouvelle Vague [Bande a Part / PIAS]
Du Jazz dans le Ravin > Serge Gainsbourg [available on numerous CDs and Youtube]
Paris Un > Malcolm McLaren [Paris / No!Gee]
Les Clochards sont les Millionnaires du Soleil > Norscq [Gelatinosa Substancia / Staubgold
Paris Deux > Malcolm McLaren [Paris / No!Gee]
Il est cinq heures, Paris s’eveille > Jacques Dutronc [Vive la France / Circle vinyl]
Les yeux des Calamars Avaient quelque Chose > Norscq [Gelatinosa Substancia / Staubgold]
Paris Trois > Malcolm McLaren [Paris / No!Gee]
ICH > 2Kilos&More [Entre3villes / Optical Sound]
+ Debate on Squatting in de Tweede Kamer [2nd Chamber (Congress)] of the Netherlands
Nordique > Mankind [Ice Machine / Ambiences Magnetiques]
ZWI > 2Kilos&More [Entre3villes / Optical Sound]
Repressed Love > Mankind [Ice Machine / Ambiences Magnetiques ]
Heart of Glass > Nouvelle Vague [Bande a Part / PIAS ]
OUT > Black Sifichi + 2Kilos&More [Entre3villes / Optical Sound www.optical-sound.com]
Space Station Blues > Mankind [Ice Machine / Ambiences Magnetiques ]
Bye Baj > Pascal Comelade, Pierre Bastien, Jac Berrocal & Jaki Liebezeit [Oblique Sessions / Disques de Soleil et Acier]
Blue Monday > Nouvelle Vague [Bande a Part / PIAS]

I went to Paris like I do every autumn full of anticipation on many sensory levels. I sought out a great roundtrip on the Thalys for 61 euros; this train takes you from 5 minutes walk from house in Amsterdam to Gare du Nord in Paris in 4 hours [and since dec, in 3 hrs and 20 mins]. This makes it almost seem like a commute, you barely crack a book open and your already approaching Paris at 300 km per hour. This is great because 2 of my best friends still live there [Black Sifichi and Brad Lay] and this year I was able to take an old friend [Zuade – see her Truthdig] up on her offer to stay in her apartment in Paris. This worked out perfect.

I would go a week in advance to write alone – and in the late afternoon wander around in the dream world of Paris in the 20th arr. – and then meet the family for a week of romping around Paris and then finish off with a few days more writing, wander-dreaming and research [at the Bibliotheque Nationale].

The time passed dreamily but much too quickly. This is a phenomenon that one experiences with age; you realize there can be no god for many reasons [or he’s incredibly cruel] because with age you want the days to last longer or feel that way because your time on the planet begins to feel limited and you have increasingly more projects that you want to work on and increasingly less time to fulfill them. Meanwhile, my daughter Paloma experiences the passage of time totally differently and totally not in a way a just god would arrange it. If Paloma has to wait for 15 minutes it seems like an eternity. For me a day passes as quickly as a quarter hour.

Anyway, despite the acceleration of the passage of time I did manage to find my old hermetic [pre-Nina/Paloma] writing rhythm and wrote a lot on my new YODEL IN HIFI book and also managed to further tinker with my novel BEER MYSTIC and again think of finishing my Paris novel called PARIS SEX TETE.

The time was divided into writing/research, tourist-like activities, and rediscovering Paris on my own terms, which included doing a radio show with my old comrade at Radio Libertaire, Laurent.

843 WTM AMSTERDAM —> WTM PARIS [12H30/14H30 MARDI 13/10/09] S.E.T.I. – Sylana Idio Sua / KELPE – Under / SAVANT – Sensible Music / S.E.T.I. – Phosphorest / RMSONCE – Reflections / KELPE – Sunken Center / ISRAEL M – Mitah / RAYMOND SCOTT – Bendix… / MATHEW ADKINS – Ambient Instrumental / NED BOUHALASSA – Train Stn. Alexanderplatz / ISRAEL M – Dunhia / Riaiah / MANKIND – Mile End throat Singers / ROBERT HAMPSON – Ahead – Only The Stars / LA SONORITE JAUNE – My Dream… / PUSSY GALORE – Sine Wave Assassin / RICHARD PINHAS & MERZBOW – Ikebukuro : Tout Le Monde Descend! / L+R – I Could Never Make That Music Again / VOODOOISTS – Psychoceremonial / MANKIND – Space Station / ERIK FRIEDLANDER – Warm Leatherette / RFCL – Real / ILLUSION OF SAFETY – Xtreme State Of Fear / Quick Fix / MANKIND – Repressed Love / ZONK’T – War / MANKIND – Chamring / RED SAHDOW – Labor is Love / SCANNER + TONNE – London (ICA Installation mix) / AFUA COOPER – Christopher Columbus

This has become an annual affair, a kind of dialogue-dialectic carried out and onward in musical choices, which are mostly haphazard, improv and ad hoc but usually lead to an interesting show where both of us are forced out of our usual dj routines.

Afterwards, we usually try to communicate a year’s worth of music/political/social observations in a strange mix of hand signs, visual props, and Franglais.

While in Paris I listen to Paris radio in the background and spent time not writing but – like I mentioned – staring out the window at the way the sun hit the old brick walls or going out on random dérives through the 20th, 19th, 10th and 11th arr. Led by the sun, a sound, my dreams, a memory, a pair of beautiful legs, whatever.

Paris is beautiful but not like a museum it is very vibrant and, especially in the 20th, lively in a street/cafe way that other cities I know like NY and amsterdam aren’t. There are just a lot of people hanging out a lot, enjoying conversation and just not going anywhere.

I did some research at the Bibliotheque Nationale with the help of my able guide-archivist Bertrand BONNIEUX who led me through the amazing details of accessing the archives in this astonishing piece of architecture – better that a library is awesome than yet another church. Anyway, what I was researching is the little known corner of yodeling known as French yodeling, which rose to some prominence and significance during the 1860s through to the 1920s and even beyond. This took place mostly in the Folies Bergeres and cafe-bar concert scene. Nocturnal music halls that presented a variety of circus, cabaret and burlesque acts including a lot of proficient and even inspired yodeling. Anyway, I founda LOT of great material including the chanteuse Theresa who must have been a kind of 1860s Nina Hagen except she could really yodel and sometimes dressed in a feathered bird costume to perform her Tyroliennes and her light opera and biting politiaclly-tinged songs.

One of the highlights other than the research, the WTM radio, wandering about with Paloma and Nina, having dinner with Black Sifichi, Roma Napoli [from whom i bought an artwork at the 10/10 “ultratopie aventure” show in the Bastille i could ill afford but could not afford not to buy] and Laurent at ‘our’ place with a dinner made by Nina [“the Nigella Lawson of the Lowlands”] and served by Paloma Jet, was my final full day in Paris, spent for the most part with Black Sifichi.

I had been invited to meet him at the Pompidou Center to help with and witness his performance there as part of the Optical Sound label curated evenings where soundmakers are closed in a glass box to make sound and an audience of 30+ people wearing headphones are able to witness the performance. I arrived early at the Pompidou but noticed immediately that something was not right. A line about a km long leading in for another exposition in the Pompidou. I called Black and he got me in through the artist entrance and that was a huge relief because other than the increased acceleration of time I have also noticed that with the years comes an increasing inability or unwillingness to wait in lines and to participate in events that lead to overcrowding, which will feed my increasing feelings of claustrophobia. The Optical Sound events were highly conceptual but this did not hinder their effectiveness or their value as entertainment, curiosity or art. Quite a nice and successful concept then. People arrived as Black Sifichi crawled into the glass case equipped with a paw full of texts ranging from personal narrative to political tirades. His other equipment included a mixing board with a variety of sound samples and soundtracks that he mixed to create a variable ambiance that fluctuated between meditative and relaxing to rousing/edge of annoying political texts and stimulating beats. Most of those with headphones lay down on the smooth wooden floor, head on their rucksacks and chilled, some lasted only minutes while most stayed for the entire hour.

What happened afterwards was just as amazing: we all decamped, helped Sifichi close up shop and we departed for a nearby café where many drinks were poured and much conversation took place. Present were some of the biggest names in French avant electronica including Norscq, both members of the current Wild Shores [Evelyn & Fred], Roma Napoli, Pierre, the producer-musician of Optical Sound and various other artists and musicians.

History oppresses us was a thought that went through my head as a I listened to the animated conversation. It oppresses because we have come to Paris [or NY or Vienna or Tokyo] with a googleplex of pre-ordained info, cultural bias, and literary history. Each corner of Paris is already familiar to us through a Doisneau photo or an early Truffaut film. You almost expect to be seeing a rapid fire of stills shot in b&w by Cartier-Bresson but instead you see a 21st century city living in the historic shell of a centuries old fortress.

This is what I was thinking: you read about all these amazing gatherings of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Lost Generation souls, or the Beatniks or the Cobra movement types or the circles around Toulouse Lautrec in Pigalle or Picasso and his comrades and consorts or the Situationists/Lettrists. All very inspiring but also sometimes oppressively awesome if you believe that that was then and now is different as in impoverished as if none of this is going on any more and here we were festively celebrating Sifichi and Optical Sound and I was suddenly aware I was in the company of some of France’s most interesting sonic/musical talents. So impressed that after numerous adieus [I remember how long evening good-byes can be in Paris] I walked all the way ‘home’ magically led from one neon delight to another from the Pompidou Center in the 2nd arr. up hill to the 20th arr., passing the lively night cafe full of a grand mix of locals and artists, the Aux Folies, a cafe that was every bit as lively as back then when I sometimes found myself there late at night with Zuade and/or other friends…

3 thoughts on “WTM #1072: Paris is Turning

  1. bart thankyou so much for sharing these thoughts about your trip. So great to spend time with you. I must get up to Amdam this year. Love Sifichi

  2. eh eh eh… ! wreck un jour, mess toujours !!! laurent (wtm-paris) / 1/2 panou

  3. Dag Bart, mooi verhaal over Parijs. Ik woon er sinds tweeënhalf jaar, in het tiende. Geef een seintje, komende herfst. Misschien kunnen we wat afspreken.
    Hartelijke groet
    Ariejan (Volkskrant)

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