At midnight, Didier unceremoniously threw me out of his party. I was fifteen. Walked back home in the dark, crying and screaming bloody murder. Nowadays, neither Didier nor I remember the exact circumstances of my demise that night, but reunited two years ago after more than two decades of silence, I have more or less forgiven him and have renounced sending him my fear of rejection therapy bills for reimbursement.
Didier as Super Dupont circa 1982 at the Lycee Francais de Bruxelles
Didier now lives in Paris as many of our old schoolmates. Spending time with him, an artist, is never dull… if not downright spooky.
Didier, Pere Lachaise, May 2008
We met in the morning at one of my all time favorite cemeteries, the Pere Lachaise. Since I hadn’t had my daily five cappuccinos yet, we walked to one of his favorite hang-outs, A La Bonne Franquette, a Parisian bistrot serving wonderful berber specialties.
Ninor and Chavane, sexy brothers, owners of La Bonne Franquette
We spent quite a few hours on the terrace, I filling up on caffeine, Didier on “serre” and discussing our lives. I insisted on attempting to photograph his rapper buddy Xanax who, I’m told, lives in pajamas, but the bon-vivant would not answer his phone.
Our next move was to use the cappuccino fuel to scale the next-door six story building leading to a smoky music studio. Didier and friends are producing a very cool reggae album.
I was happy to finally meet Baco, the infamous Madacascan singer. Charming fellow. Womanizer extraordinaire. Good times!
Baco Wazi Wazi
The studio is very small, and with my 85mm lense, I find myself plastered to the walls to be able to take photographs.
View of Paris rooftops from the studio’s window
Self-portrait and portrait wrapped into one or killing two birds with one stone
After a while, we decide to move along. I propose the metro. Didier insists on taking his scooter. I am terrified BUT I am way too proud to admit it. For anyone who has had the excruciating experience of driving in Paris, being on a scooter is the next step on the dangerous slope towards premature death. As Didier wiggles the scooter keys with a stupid grin plastered on his face, I know he is enjoying the moment.
A la guerre comme a la guerre! I’ll turn myself into a Parisian paparazza and hold on to dear life discreetly while appearing very cool on the outside – well as cool as one can be wearing a helmet.
I know some of you probably think of me as a total wimp and complete sissy but I must inform you about “the special scooter lane.” The aforementioned “special scooter lane” is the tiny space between opposing lines of traffic in the middle of the street. Interestingly enough, while there is, in the best of cases, room for a single scooter on the special lane, scooters coming from facing directions borrow the narrow passage in a never-ending ballet of playing chicken with one another.
After several close calls, I start to document the last few minutes before impending doom.
S.P 98 is unleaded 98 octane gas. 1,57 euros is the price for one liter, that’s 5.96 euros a gallon, that’s $7.77 a gallon – one of the reasons why people drive small cars in Europe (the other reason being that they actually care about the environment even is China doesn’t but I digress…)
It is forbidden to photograph the French popo in Paris. This one got really irate but I love the forbidden! A little gun is not going to deter me. In contrast, when we rode right into a protest, I was not about to mess with the very impressive display of force at hand. There are no photographs of the “CRS” on this blog, but trust me, they looked quite mean and appear singularly devoid of any sense of humor.
I’m not sure what the protest was all about. Didier tells me everybody is completely blase about them. “Manifs” in Paris happen hundreds of times a year. A day in Paris without a protest just wouldn’t be a true reflection of the city.
Didier finally lets me get off the infernal machine to check out the somewhat organized chaos. I think these above protesters were trying to hijack the event for their cause, the legalization of all illegal immigrants. You’d think you were in the States!
Bus loads of cops
In the distance, the cleaning crew. It would seem that Paris has it pat down. Half hour after any protest, the place is spotless. Of course, they have ample opportunities to train.
After protesting with the people and chanting L’internationale, it was time to hang up my scooter paparazza persona and take the metro towards other adventures.
If you wish to check out the video of the first single of my friends’ reggae album, here is a link:
This song is in French, but there are songs in English too.