november 21, 2002.
The other day in the metro station Saint Mandé-Tourelle I took the escalator up to the avenue de Paris.
I heard music coming in from the street. It was one of the market days.
It must be somebody playing a radio, I thought, or a CD or cassette.
It sounded exotic to me, sort of like singing in Arabic.
It was only when arriving at the street level that I realized that there wasn't anybody singing. That there was nobody playing a CD or a cassette on a ghettoblaster. What I had been hearing and continued to hear was caused by the rubbing of the black rubber handrail against metal, acting as a gigantic tapeloop. The irregular squeeking of longer and lesser duration, complete with glissandi and intriguing jumps in tone, indeed sounded to me as singing. In Arabic. But then, of course, I do not know a word of Arabic.
november 20, 2002.
Last sunday I went to the Théâtre Musical de Paris, on the place du Châtelet, to see SEtaccio,
a charming and poetic spectacle by the young Frenchman Françoise Chat, situated in the 'wasteland' bordering on
dance, mime, circus ...
'SEtaccio' was inspired by the Sicilian city of Palermo, and consist in a dozen or so very sober, but very esthetic and visually attractive, tableaus / scenes, performed by Mr. Chat, solo or together with a young girl dancer, sometimes handling one or other of a handful of simple objects.
The music for 'SEtaccio' was composed by Fred Frith, which actually was the reason that I went to see it in the first place. It were the poetry and beauty of the visuals and gestions, though, that in the end impressed me most. Not that Fred's music was not worth its while. On the contrary. It was very effective, maybe only just that little bit less original than I had expected it to be.
The music was performed by the Bartleby string quartet, and saxophonist Gianni Gebbia, who actually is from Palermo. I should also mention the field recordings, and the montages made thereof, by Fred Giuliani, which at many times acted as a second, pretty important, musical layer. I enjoyed the buzzing fly (?) sounds used in the opening a lot -- (well, you know about my weak spot for flies ...) -- which worked pretty good with the string music. At other times though (city street car sounds) I thought the interaction of sounds and music to be somewhat on the obvious side ...
Regularly also there was the low grumble of an underground train passing below, but that, of course was not intentional. Hardly as annoying though as in the lower level theaters of a certain cinema near place de la Bastille, where one experiences every film as if it were an umpteenth version of 'Earthquake' ...
november 13, 2002.
The title "Signs & Symptoms", that we gave to our 'Frippertronics' project (see earlier entry), was the returning paragraph title in a curious book for the desperate & paranoïd, by Anthony Greenbank, called 'Survival in the City'.
The 'Signs and Symptoms' were that what characterized each of the sixty distinct types of 'Big City Losers', as described by the author in his guide: "those who are the most probable victims of mugging, robbery, rape, mutilation, coshing, murder, burglary, pocket-picking, street accidents or molestation by the pervert who picks on someone to sit next to in the cinema".
The book is out of print (I have a 1974 edition, from Wolfe Publishing Limited London), but nevertheless
listed at Amazon's, where used copies can be ordered.
I enjoy browsing around Amazon's virtual mega-store, actually. The smart data-base queries are great. Sometimes they even find something useful. But often they're simply a lot of fun.
Here's what they informed me of yesterday, as I was looking for "Survival in the city":
I made a screenshot, as the results appearing on an Amazon page actually change pretty quickly.
The third time I looked, it was no longer there ...
(You can click the image, though, to see what's coming up ...)
Buy Signs & Symptoms! ; next related SB-entry: Signs/Symptoms.]
[ added jan. 9th, 2007: there's a nice collage of text and links related to Greenbank's book in the january 2nd 2007 entry of Things Magazine's blog ... linked to Signs & Symptoms' Last.fm page the blog's author observed how Greenbank's book has "even inspired some rather creepy music" ... ]