HarSMedia

the sound of almost-no-more words

september 05, 2006.

waiting Many of the tape clods and broken cassettes that I recently 'processed' and which by now have found a spot in the found tapes exhibition, were picked up during january and february of this year, at the end of the 'black-market' (puces sauvages) that extends the Montreuil flea market taking place every saturday, sunday and monday along the périphérique, the ring way around Paris. The 'black marketeers' line up on the pavements along the avenue de Gallieni. Apart from the ambulant vendors of tax free (smuggled and/or stolen) cigarettes and a handful of criminals peddling rolex watches, stolen laptops and other hi-tech toys, most of them are honest but poor immigrants and sans-papiers, selling to survive. They usually arrive with a sholley and display their goods on spread out blankets that demarcate their stall. Almost always these are small thingies, that they got from god knows where and sell to god knows who for next to nothing : yesterday's cell phones, cd's, bad quality batteries, telephone answering machines, broken pc's, floppy discs, hard discs, packs of kleenex, plastic and/or glass jewelry, toys, vinyl records, clothes, dvd's, vhs cassettes, watches, shoes, camera's, games, cables of all sorts, books ... and audio cassettes ...

selling selling
avenue de gallieni


The puces sauvages are more or less tolerated by the authorities. Being pretty much harmless as well as near impossible to regulate, those selling there have gained some sort of a 'right by tradition'. But 'rights by tradition' are pretty volatile. Again and again certain local politicians do call out for an umpteenth ultimate clean-up of the avenue, and a riddance of all non-regulated and non-taxed selling. With as an 'excuse' for their taking on some of the city's most vulnerable inhabitants, that this will be the sole way to put an end to the ongoing pollution of street and neighborhood, and stop crooks, thieves and receivers from mingling with the biffins. As a result temporarily police controls intensify. Every now and then the legal forces even perform veritable razzia's, like the one of this year's saturday january 7th, when early morning some fifteen CRS cars cut off the avenue de Gallieni at both ends, confiscated all goods, and gathered the vendors at the parking lot of the 'Saint Maclou' ( * ) for an identity control. All sans-papiers were arrested. As silly an action as it has been costly ; sheer monkey business, obviously ... Sad for those that got into some trouble, but my guess is that most of them long since have returned 'safely' back in the avenue de Gallieni ... And these days, like always, there's but a handful of police officers strolling along the avenue on market days around four in the afternoon to summon the vendors to pack their stuff and leave ...
And when they leave, they leave behind ...

avenue de Gallieni


This wrapping up time for me is the best time ... And every now and then - when I'm around, free and the weather is fine - between 4pm (when the sellers start leaving) and about 6pm (about the moment that the municipal cleaning forces in general have finished the cleaning up), I walk along the avenue de Gallieni to look what's among the stuff left behind. There's lots of it, lying in heaps on the pavement, and in the gutters, under parked cars. Left behind because damaged or broken, or because even the vendeurs à la sauvette could not be bothered any more to pick the stuff up, and take it along 'for later'. Among the things I'm most fond of are photographs, old scratchy vinyl records ... and compact cassettes.

Like that Bangles tape I spotted just under a car parked near nr. 125 yesterday afternoon.
There was this young algerian guy leaning against the car.
He saw me pick up the tape.
- "Oh, these damned chinese, they leave everything behind ! They go and just leave everything, everything ...!" he said. "Just like that ... and now they left six cassettes ... six !"
- "Oh ..." I answered, "You sure ? Six ? I see only one ...."
arabian dagger - "No, no, there's six ...!" ... He laid down on his stomach on the pavement and started to grab wildly with his arms under the car, behind the tires. When he got up again after a minute or so he did not have any other cassettes, though ... "Strange ...," he murmured. But he did hold an old and very rusty arabian dagger in his hands. He gave it to me. "Here you go," he said. "You take it ..." Then he leaned back against the car again, folded his arms and closed his eyes.
It was a very sunny afternoon.

chinese cassettesBut indeed it sometimes does happen that I find a whole lot of cassettes in the gutter at 'wrap up time' on the avenue de Gallieni. Like the five cassettes that together comprise find #309, and which is part of the 55th acquisition of the Found Tapes Exhibition ... And four of them were chinese ...
Most of the cassettes left behind have been stepped upon, or are otherwise broken. Some of them already turned into tape salad. But all of them would have become such very soon, hadn't I picked them up.
And indeed it is only very, very rarely that I do not return with any tape or tape salad after passing along the avenue de Gallieni on market days and strolling on the parking lot that houses the 'official flea market', around the time that the venders are packing their cars and leave.

The two latest additions to the Found Tapes Exhibition - #54 and #55 - give a good impression of what it is that one may pick up there. The finds making up these exhibits date from the 26th and 27th of january of this year. Especially interesting are #303, #308 and #310 ...
#303 starts out like does your average mix tape, with a someone's personal choice of favorite pop tunes. Until at some point a track starts to 'flutter' ... At first I just thought this to be a defect of the tape, but then the speed variations - up and down - get ever more drastic, and it becomes clear that someone has intentionally been manipulating the tracks. Just three or four of them ; after that tracks play 'normally' again ...
On #308 we hear a guy reading a geography lesson, in french - with a lot of microphone feedback. He recorded his lesson on a C90 tape with recordings of Deep Purple albums. The tape must have been put into a cassette that itself originally was the housing of the cassette edition of the Deep Purple album Made in Europe.
On #310 there are several bits and pieces of recordings of what seem to be french and franco-arabian radio programs. During the last couple of minutes on the A side of the tape - a TDK SA C60 cassette - one hears, at very low level and barely audible, a woman that is singing ... sweet, melancholic, softly and intimate. It's a singing that sooths. I like her voice. Then she starts reading what seems to be a letter. A cassette letter - in english with an accent. Who is she talking to ? An absent husband, lover, friend ? A savior ?

" ... [...] and I wrote you a letter, because I love you so. Every minute, every day I [think(?)] you ... because I love you ... love you ... love you ... [...]... I want to tell you [where is my(?)] sister now [...] her husband [...] [there is the sound of several small children talking and screaming] ... bye bye [doctor Benoit(?)] [...] you stay good [...] you stay good ... if all goes well with God's help then we'll see you [back(?)] again ... [...] ... bye bye [doctor Benoit(?)], I love you ... bye bye doctor, I love you [...] ... goodbye ... stay good ... goodbye ... bye bye ..."

This is what amidst and within the noise I heard she said.
But few words, that were almost there no more.
The sound of almost-no-more words.

[ ft54 ___ fotex54 (mp3, 6.6 Mb) || ft55 ___ fotex55 (mp3, 17.9 Mb]

[ Earlier related SB-entry : fotex #49-51 :: Next related SB-entry : jenny likes poets ]

notes __ ::
(*) Saint-Maclou is a large national chain of carpet shops in France. [ ^ ]

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