Supermoon, or: fait(e)s de la musique

june 28, 2005.

In France the year's longest day, june 21st (day of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere), is dedicated to music. Since 1982 this is the day of the Fête de la Musique, the 'Feast of the Music', say, which for more than twenty years now, is a special day in France. And spreading ... "Launched in 1982 by the French Ministry for culture, the Fête de la Musique is held in more than hundred countries in Europe and over the world. [... ] Thanks to the impulse and the dynamism of the French cultural network abroad [...] the Fête has an important international growth," we read on the government web site dedicated to the event ...

sur le pont, 1

Musicians of all 'kinds and convictions', are asked (and supposed) to come out, step forward and perform on that day. And do it for free. But mind you, this is not a holiday. So most of the action starts in the evening. And as the main metro lines in Paris for the occasion run all night long, action may continue until very early in the morning of the 22nd. Now doesn't that sound like a great way to start your summer? An opportunity to attend, at a number of places, indoors and outdoors in Paris, concerts and performances by 'ensembles' and 'bands' that otherwise would have cost you some to go and listen to ... But even better: this evening and night should allow you, by simply walking through Paris, to discover all sorts of music, including those that usually you do not hear or listen to. It does seem true, though, that as far as the 'on the street' participation is concerned, over the years there has been a growing 'uniformity' of the 'styles' that are being represented. It seems that this 'once-a-year opportunity' is mainly grasped by the thousands of starting, upcoming, aspiring, just for fun, good, average, or simply bad (garage)bands roaming the French (as they do any) capital. Almost all of these are into some sort of mainstream pop or rock music. They get their gear out into the street and pour their skills'n'riffs'n'energy out onto anyone caring to wet herself ...

sur le pont, 3
sur le pont, 3

You come across 'teenage garage bands playing every 20 meters, and other music styles are barely represented outside of the official institutions,' Emmanuel Ferrand observed. A reason for him to try to do something 'different'. His idea was to 'wire' the metal pedestrian bridge over the Canal Saint-Martin, at the écluse des Récollets, play back the sounds of the people passing through a portable amp and megaphone, and use this as a basis for improvisation for anyone wanting to participate. So, we met on the bridge, around seven that evening. Apart from the captors, Emmanuel had brought his big gray plastic case filled with circuit bent toys. Eric Houzet brought similar equipment and instruments. I had decided for the evening to limit myself to using my gong ('metal against metal'); my daughter Gersande (almost 8) came along, and brought with her her cornet, on which she promised to play "n'importe quoi"... Emmanuel also brought a series of mp3's that DaveX had sent him, to use in the sessions. Central to DaveX's virtual contribution to the event was the repeated pronunciation of the word 'supermarket' ... Actually his prominent use of the word was based upon a story, a rumor he had heard ... that it is against the law, a finable offense indeed, to say "supermarket" in public in Paris. As I mailed him afterwards: in a way I wished he were right, and that it were illegal to say "supermarket". For a such 'law' surely would rank high among our times' greatest absurdities; and wouldn't many of us insist on 'living dangerously', roaming about the capital whispering - and every now and then yelling - the word ...? It would become a way to greet and recognize peers ... "Supermarket!" ... And of course we would organize ourselves, have meetings, carry banners and buttons, and regularly be dragged off by the police, handcuffed maybe, but still shouting ... "supermarket ... supermarket!" ... at the top of our lungs ... for in full view and reach of televised eyes and ears that from all over the planet came down to Paris to cover the ongoing 'supermarket riots' ...

sur le pont, 2
sur le pont, 2

But no, I'm sorry - really - to say, it is not yet against the law to do so. The story DaveX heard is a fine example of an urban legend. It must have had its origin in the (many, and some indeed boarding on the absurd) french actions intended to 'shield' french culture and language against (mainly) american/anglophonic influences (an example is what is known as the 'loi Toubon' ...) As part of DaveX's contribution, though, the word did resound an awful lot on that evening of june 21st, on the metal bridge across the écluse des Récollets. And it worked very well, indeed. We provided a rather curious sight, I'm sure, and especially the so colorful looking and funny sounding collection of circuit bent children's toys did attract quite some attention. Not in the least from children (of all ages, say) ... We did - mainly - one continuous fifty minutes long improvised session, starting around mid-evening, as we had to wait until the band playing just underneath the bridge took a break. If you want an idea of what our 'garage band' sounded like that evening, up there on that narrow bridge in Paris, do download the series of mp3-extracts from the MD-recordings I made of the event. There are seven of them, together summing up to somewhat over 30 minutes. Some of these have been edited, some are raw. Up to you to find out ...

[ The drawings (of Emmanuel and Eric playing, and children watching) were made by Marion Legouy, on the bridgde, during our performance. Actually, also DaveX's 'supermarket' - or rather: how Marion heard the word - made it onto the drawings. This is apparent from a detail in the first sketch. Because of the small size of the image above it is something that I have to tell you, but still, do have a second look ... You will notice a word being written in the middle, above the drawing. That word is: 'Supermoon' ... Thank you, Marion! ... :-) ]

[ added june 30th, 2005: Better still ... I actually have misread how Marion misheard DaveX's "supermarket" ... "Je suis ravie!" she wrote in an email. "Parce que en vrai j'ai entendu et écris Superman!" Isn't that something? When I first saw the drawing, I actually thought: 'Superman' ... but then, I clearly read: 'Supermoon' ... So 'Supermoon' it was ... Now I looked again, and again at the writing in the drawing ... and it wasn't easy to 're-see' ... but, yeah ... in the end, I admit, 'my' Supermoon did make place for 'her' Superman ... But I still can switch back, like from the rabbit to the duck -- supermarket, supermoon, superman -- DaveX, me, Marion ... :-) ]

[ Earlier related SB entry: commando AntiBruit ]

comments for « Supermoon » ::

Comments are disabled

« | »


Subscribe to the podcasts:

Raudio Podcast

[ preview the podcast feed ]