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A Da-Da-Da a Doo-Doo-Doo

The DADA expo at the Centre Pompidou is amazingly the first in Paris for 40 years. It seems incredible for a movement that was so fun-loving, free and modern. Hmmm, maybe that's why didn't fit in with Paris. Remember, Duchamp de-camped to NYC. Dadaism thrived in the cities; Berlin, NYC, Amsterdam but there were also antics in Japan and all over Latin America.

It was great to see the R. Mutt's pissoir/fountain, Appolinaire's letters and the groteque Georges Grosz scenes from the Weimar republic. Take me to the Cabaret Volitaire. Now.

I sw some cool old-ish ladies who I reckoned were original dadaist chicks. Over 70's pulling off a mean cropped haircut, avant-garde plastic jewelery and Issey Miyake.

Sadly there was very little mention of Baroness Else von Freytag-Loringhosen
femaile Dadist extrodinaire. This innovator was wearing a Tomato Can bra on the sidewalks of New York city 50 years before body art and performance came into vogue.
Her sexually charged performances were legendary.

Moi, Je n'aime pas Sarko

"The France of the 21st century makes you think of the ancien régime," said Thomas Schidinger of Vienna's Institute of Political Studies. Left-wing daily Liberation added a more modern twist and published the lyrics from some French rappers which foretold of the rising temperatures in the banlieue.

I was not really surprised and I've long been shocked at the attitudes towards those originating from North Africa in particular. Even from "normal" liberal-types. I remember when I first heard about the 1961 Paris massacare of Algerians who were protesting in Paris during the War of Independance. I couldn't believe it was barely spoken about to this day - up to 200 bodies chucked in the Seine after the police opened fire.

The roots of the recent riots are complex: poverty, inequality, mass unemployment, added to police racism and repression. France’s unemployment rate of 10 per cent rises to 25 per cent amongst youth and from 30 to 50 per cent on Cité (housing estates in the in suburbs) which have become neglected ghettoes for citizens of Arab and African origins.

Be sure to understand that most are not “immigrants” - it was their parents and grandparents came to France to work in the years of the post-war boom.

Young people find it difficult or impossible to find a job, and suspect, rightly, that an Arab or African name or face dooms their application from the start. They are constantly stopped by the police and made to produce their papers, taking plenty of racist abuse in the process.

Et voila - Sarkozy, our Minister of the Interior, who is now claiming that the riots were the product of an Islamist conspiracy. Sadly, after all is said and done Sarkozy has come out of this the winner - a recent poll found 68 percent supported his hardline approach to the unrest. Yeah, thanks a bunch for your sensitive use of language Sarko, it really calmed things down. Now 90 percent of voters in the camp of the extreme-right National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen (the 2024 presidential contender - 18% of the vote) think he is doing a good job too. Bravo.

Zero-tolerance law-and-order policies means even our Metro is crawling with RATP thugs (Metro "Police"). God knows what it is like in downtown Bobigny considering the way they treated two pacifist expatriates on their way back from an Indian spiritual festival.

The power of the French Police and these RATP officials is scary. If you get on their nerves they can chuck you in jail without a paltry phonecall so shut it and hand over those "Papiers" on demand. Don't mess with La Republique.

Vintage Clothing

Paris is not in the same league as London for vintage clothing, but there are a few good shops for us fashion fanatics who prefer the genius of yester-year:

Depot Vente de Buci-Bourbon
6, rue Bourbon-le-Château 75006
01 46 34 45 05
I once found an Ossie Clark peasant shirt in here - it was too small - boo!

2 rue du regard rue du cherche-midi 75006
01 45 48 29 82
45 avenue de la bourdonnais 75007
01 47 05 70 63
Good condition - Prada etc

Aurelie Antiquaire
12 rue de l’échaudé 75006
01 46 33 59 41

10 rue dupuytren 75006 Paris
01 46 34 27 12
Bit of a jumble but nice lady in charge

6 avenue du Coq 75006
01 48 74 37 00 - by appointment only
Ex-Model Anouschka sells Cardin, Courréges and Hermès from the Twenties to the Eighties.

Didier Ludot
20-24 Galerie Montpensier, Jardins du Palais Royal 75001
01 42 96 06 56,
Vintage couture with seminal work by Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga.
No 20 for couture; No 24 for ready-to-wear

Free 'P' Star
8 rue Ste-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie 75004
01 42 76 03 72

Un vrai con

I don't swear here quite so much as I do in English. I can't stand the way most of the french curses sound - there is nothing more coarse than a deeply nasal "putainnnnnnnnnnn de mayarde".

There is one though that I really love: "Con".

You pronounce it "cone," but with a nasal "o" and without the "n." It literally means "cunt." But somehow it doesn't seem to be quite so reviled as the English word.

It's used everywhere and anywhere:

C'est un vrai con - "He's a real dick/prat/asshole."
Petit con! - "Little Prick!"
Gros con! - "Fat bastard!"
Connard - "Wanker".
Connasse - bitch.

I really hate the latter, the feminin alternative, to me it just sounds so deeply offensive. A homeless guy shouted it at me one day in St Michel but it's not generally so widely used.

My favourite is "faire une connerie" which means literally to fuck up. I was under the mistaken assumption earlier in my life here that it meant to get things a bit muddled up and until relatiively recently and was happily using it at business meetings and in "polite society".

Il fait froid - let's wear shorts!

I know that this could be construed as sour grapes but the lady who got the gig as the new EXPATICA blogger seems to be a litle askew in her take on French life. Today she is telling everybody NOT to wear shorts in Paris.

Honey, they are only one of the biggest trends this Hiver.

This really takes the (dog) biscuit

One of Paris' most ridiculous shops stopped me in my tracks on the avenue de l'Opera. If you were wondering what to get little "Saucisson" your French Bulldog this Christmas you must look no further.

A diamond encrusted collar and a lime green satin windcheater.


As Colonel Abrahams would have said.

With half an hour to spare in nipped into the Pompidou and got "lost" in Jeppe Hein's Invisible Labyrinth. With a vibrating headset I was in a completely empty room in fits of giggles with the other participants as we tried to find out way through the "maze".

You feel the "presence" of walls by vibration in your headset. Apparently it's done using infrared rays. The Labyrinth changes each day - one is "French Formal" a sort of Verailles maze - but there is no ultimate destination or centre.

Jeppe Hein's work is based on the principle that the spectator can modify the work with his/her presence. Like his "Smoking Bench" which belches said smoke as soon as you flop down in it.

The labyrinth has an interesting history from the old Minotaur in Crete, (spawn of naughty old Pasiphae who shacked up with a White Bull) but also features in many French churches as a symbol of the pilgrilms path to enlightenment.

Loved it!

Eroto - what?

Greek-Cypriot designer EROTOKRITOS makes the some of the best clothes in Paris. After capturing the Paris Trentaine style he's launching a men's label. Erotokritos studied fine art and textile design in San Francisco and fashion at Studio Berçot in Paris.

I think the best shop is the one at 99 rue Vielle-du-Temple in the 3rd, not least because you can celebrate your purchase with a "Monaco" (une demie with Cassis) a La Perle over the road on rue de la Perle. It's in the running for one of the best bars in Paris.

The owners have just taken over once troubled nite-spot La Flèche d'Or. When I first came to Paris it was one of the first places I wanted to check out but every time I trekked over to Gambetta it was during a period it had been closed down for noise, drugs or too many people with dreadlocks.

I doubt it'll be so alternative now because La Perle is a rather different type of hang-out, louche and insouciant and shall we say....metrosexual. But it's open til Dawn Wednesday thru Saturday and they have a good music policy.

New York Contemporary Art Fair

There seem to be a lot of contemporary arts fairs going on but this is the best report I've read for a long while - found on Robert Genn's artist newsletter. I got turned on to it by his daughter Sara who joined us at I V Y paris when she was here over the last few months.

"I follow a gay couple from booth to booth. They know many dealers--they give hugs, kisses. Everybody enthuses--"so much fun visiting so-and-so in Jersey last week" sort of thing--"so happy with the Tom Gregg we bought in the summer." A tall, attractive dealer suspects that I'm photographing her. A lady with square glasses has just decided on a Nathalie Forneri. A girl in black stockings tips up, reaches behind a curtain and pulls out some Peikwin Chengs. A white-haired, white-suited man crosses the aisle and asks to borrow some red dots. "We're out of red dots," he says. A coffee cup comes along: "At least it's busier than yesterday," he says. "Yesterday," the Warhol-guy says, "a woman had been to all our websites and picked out already--just went around the fair and said 'this, this and this.' Over two hundred g's all round." A striped dealer lounges, her feet up, her antennae barely out; her assistant does something on his laptop. She points to a Jennifer Garrido and he gets a stool and straightens it. Middle-aged coiffures in basic maroon, their glass-hangers merging in their bosoms, embrace in front of a Sandra Tarantino, happy in the knowledge that they both already have one. A boy-cut dealerette from London explains to me what a "Lambda on Duraflex" is. It's a high-end digital print, sharp as a tack, on polyester. A bright yellow frock is advising a blue-jeaned couple carrying a yogurt-eater in a Baby Bjorn. "You're always safe when you buy quality," she confides. The gay guys have bought a large, enhanced photo of a bee. The attractive dealer, seen before, is escorting what looks like a retired rocker to the wrapping department. It's busy. There are at least ten pieces undergoing bubble-wrap. The rocker wants "Double—bubble--it's glass." He's just leaving for LA via JFK. "It's a wrap," he says.

One hundred and fifty dealers take up most of Pier 92. There's nothing over $10,000. That's the rule at the New York Contemporary Art Fair. Most are well below five. Everybody has an eye for trends--what is selling and what's not. Dealers tend to like what people want, but many have strong ideas, exclusive interests, particular passions. What's selling is figurative, abstract, decorative, clever drawings, photos, mixed media. All over the place. Not too many landscapes. A lot of these artists must be pretty busy. The home fires burn when dealers talk. A dealer's business is sharing the magic. I tell ya, some of these folks just love what they do".

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