The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

27

Paris offers the tourist everything - except the sea. In this regard, Paris always loses out to Ballybunion and Bray. However, every summer the city hall tries to remedy this - et voila! The beach comes to Paris!

'Paris Plages' (now in its fifth year) is a temporary beach on the right bank of the Seine, starting below the Louvre and running upriver past Chatelet and Notre Dame as far as the Gare de Lyon. From mid-July to September a riverside road, the Voie Georges Pompidou, is closed to traffic (as it is every Sunday, to facilitate walkers and rollerbladers). Tons of sand are dumped on it, and the improvised beach is then garnished with palm trees, sun loungers and so forth. This being France, there's also pétanque, or bowling.

The beaches are enormously popular and always packed - despite the obvious drawbacks. For one thing, there is a busy road up above at street level, so there's no escape from noise and pollution. Also, there's no privacy - tourists take photos of sunbathers from above on the street and from the decks of the bateaux-mouches (river cruises). Still, some people may like having that paparazzi feeling.

Another problem is the strangeness of being on a beach but unable to swim in the nearest body of water - i.e. the Seine. Now the old river is no longer as polluted as it was centuries ago when it would actually go on fire. Your blogger lives down the river from Paris and there are anglers on our nearest bank. There was also a swimming race recently (similar to the Liffey Swim).

But despite former Paris mayor Jacques Chirac's 1987 pledge to make the Seine fit for swimming, it's still completely forbidden to swim in the central Paris stretch (there's the old joke that if you fell off a Paris bridge you'd be dead before you hit the water). The city fathers have therefore set up floating swimming pools on the river. We presume that surfing is not allowed either - sorry, Jules. However, Juliette Binoche is allowed to go waterski-ing. Who could refuse her?

'Paris Plages' really comes to life at night, when there are free events such as the 'Indétendances' series of concerts featuring new and established acts (including the fantastic psychedelic pop of Izabo, who we featured recently). One of the joys of summer in Paris is going down to the river at night and sharing wine with friends. So far the French summer has been a bit cool (still better that the Irish one, of course) but last weekend we went to the canal at La Villette, where there are also 'Paris Plages' activities. Life is good in Paris.

So that you can share some of the 'Paris Plages' vibes, here's Serge Gainsbourg singing 'Sea, Sex And Sun':


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26

"Now the greasers they tramp the streets or get busted for trying to sleep on the beach all night / Them boys in their spiked high heels ah Sandy their skins are so white /  And me I just got tired of hangin' in them dusty arcades bangin' them pleasure machines / Chasin' the factory girls underneath the boardwalk where they promise to unsnap their jeans" Copyright © 1973 Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

Immortalised in Springsteen's music, not alot of people know that Asbury Park has a workable surf break although it is illegal to surf there. According to a Surfline article on the area, you will avoid the crowds but you won't avoid the crims. I briefly passed the area once when I was visiting NYC and it kind of looked like, eh,Tramore...only cleaner.

 

Here are some dudes catching a wave down in Asbury Park.

 


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26

1) The video for 'Double Je', the first single by Christophe Willem, winner of 'Nouvelle Star' (France's version of 'Pop Idol'), comes on television and I immediately zap elsewhere before hearing a second of it. After all, no talent show winner has ever made a decent record (Girls Aloud being the exception that proves the rule), and the video - singer sings his woes to a self-help group - looks about as funny as Monday morning. Zap!

2) A wonderful cut of stomping '80s disco-pop is playing on the radio of every shop and café I visit, but I keep missing the title. 'What', I ask myself, 'is that fantastic song? Who sings it? And how come I never see it on the telly?'

Naturally, the song in question is 'Double Je', the first single by Christophe Willem, winner of 'Nouvelle Star' (France's version of etc etc). So much for your eejity blogger's pop snobbery (just to be sure, we listened again to Rhianna's 'Umbrella' - still a boring song, as we've always thought. Get over it, English-speaking world!).

Tall, gangly and square-spectacled like Jarvis, Willem is nicknamed 'La Tortue' (the turtle) for his strange way of hunching up his shoulders when he sings, often while wearing a turtle-neck sweater (i.e. a polo-neck jumper). He's clearly a Michael Jackson fan, right down to the moves and the falsetto voice - and 'Double Je' is as good a pop single as those by Justin Timberlake, that other Jackson-influenced pop idol.

The video is still crap, though, so here's Christophe Willem singing 'Double Je' on a French TV show recently. Yes, that's his real voice:

 


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25

Ok, the HBO blurb for this show is, "Set in Imperial Beach, California, the last great surf-break before Tijuana, where the U.S. meets Mexico, and water meets land, John From Cincinnati tells the story of the Yosts, a family of surfers whose awesome athletic talents have seemed for generations to come with a curse attached...The Yosts' reign and reputation, once defined in the curl of a perfect wave, have been eroded by years of bad luck, addiction and hubris. But just as things are looking like they can't get worse, a stranger named John arrives – and the Yosts' banal existence is lifted into something profound, miraculous and, possibly, universal."

Now, this show has been co-created by a guy called Kem Nunn, and this guy happened to write a novel called, "Tapping The Source" which went on to be the inspiration for 'Point Break' which, like it or not, every surfer I have ever met is able to quote at length. In fact, you could run a table quiz for surfers based entirely around trivia questions from that movie. And this is made by HBO who also made 'Six Feet Under', 'The Sopranos' and 'Rome'. Put those two things together and you have a series which although warm hearted is not going to be, exactly, family entertainment. Let's just say that the first ten minutes shows one of the main characters Butchie Yost shooting up smack and includes the line, "You just paid to see a donkey f**k a woman". In adddition, if the show is successful it will provide yet another avenue for musicians to have their music listened to since, as has been shown by Fionn Regan on 'Greys Anatomy' and by Bell X1 on 'The OC', synch licenses have become a fashionable and popular move for the artist on the up, and Kasabian's 'Sun/Rise/Light/Flies' is used over the climatic surf scene that ends Episode One. Oh yeah, and pro surfer Keala Kennelly is in the cast too.

Rather than do a long write on this I thought I would simply give you the link via i-Tunes to download the first episode, and also a couple of You Tube clips for the opening sequence and a trailer and let you make up your own mind. Comments are, as always, very welcome.

Opening Sequence

Series Promo


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25

The Ripcurl Boardmasters, Newquay is one of the big ASP events held in the UK. Combining the 5 star mens and womens WQS contests with skateboarding, BMX biking and, er, bikini contests, the 6 day event also has a two day music festival wrapped up where the bands this year include Ash, Guillemots & Funeral for a Friend. Channel 4 recently broadcast highlights from the 2006 event and it looked sick. Tickets for the Unleashed festival are £25 per day or £49.50 for both Unleashed dates and can be bought at this link. There is no onsite camping and here is the full week schedule.



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25

'Reminiscing; it ain’t what it used to be,' or so the saying goes.  I for one would like to disagree.  I was recently given a gift of The Travelling Wilburys double CD and DVD.  An unusual gift as I’d never once mentioned my deep rooted appreciation of The Wilburys to this person; but it was an inspired one.

As soon as I started listening to volume one of the CD I was instantly transported back in time to December 1988.  Don Mclean was singing about the day the music died, but, for me at least, this was the day that music was born.  It wasn’t that I had ignored music up until that stage; indeed, growing up in a house where Hendrix and Lynott shared airspace with Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury it was hard to avoid it.  But until then music had always been in the background, just extra noise distracting me from Transformers or He-Man.

However, as I've said, in December 1988 that all changed.  The start of the song didn’t even get my attention.  I’m sure if I was older George Harrison’s vocals would have raised an eyebrow or two but for me it was just another song.  Then, the man with the greatest voice I’d ever heard sang 'I’m so tired of being lonely, I still have some love to give, won’t you show me that you really care,' and I was hooked.  Who was this guy?  How did he manage to sound like ice cream?  (It was a stupid question, but that’s what he sounded like to my six [and a half] year old ears.)

He was Roy Orbison; the band was The Travelling Wilburys and I’ve been hooked on music ever since.  I’ll never get tired of hearing this song and I’ll never get sick of looking at this video, so here it is for you:

 

 


What about you; when did the music bug first bite?  Who was it that grabbed you by the ears and had you pressing the repeat button on your tape deck?  While I couldn’t agree with the truism that started this blog, I’ll end with one I can:  'You always remember your first time.'


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24

I can't imagine Renault Supremo and entrepreneur Bill Cullen being interested in the decidely non bling lifestyle of the average Irish surfer and he wouldn't be happy to hear that Renault is not a favoured brand of Irish wave riders, but it hasn't stopped Renault from bringing out a surf branded version of the Clio in association with RipCurl. I won't get all Jeremy Clarkson on this car but, lets just say, no self respecting surfer would be caught dead in one of these, although I had a Aussie mate who had to be physically restrained in a surf shop once from purchasing a pair of Billabong branded underpants, so addicted was he to buying anything with a surf brand logo on it. Even he would not part cash for this because surfers drive one of three types of automotive transport; station wagons, two seater commerical 4WDs and camper vans. I think the makers of the adverts for this car know it too as they focus on a pair of surf turkeys sitting in the car with their wetsuits on backward. I guess this car is aimed at the same people who have bought tickets for Cois Fharraige, non surfers who want to get a little of the surfer lifestyle. I have some advice for those guys (and girls). Instead of parting with your cash for something with a logo on it; simply get up at 5am with a splitting hangover, pull on some clothes you have left in the freezer overnight then get into a bath full of cold water with ice floating in it.

 

 

 

 


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24

Ok, Bundoran Ocean Festival, a long established date in the surfer's social calendar and one which is endorsed by the Irish Surfing Association. This year events include gigs by The Undertones & Gerry Fish, a surf movie festival, surf art exhibition, free surfing lessons and the Gala Ocean Ball, an event that is always a riot in the best sense of the word. For further details and full line up, click here.


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24

Lauren Guillery is from France - and don't forget it. You see, the Dublin-based singer is so fed up with people asking her where she's from that she's written a song about it. The title? 'Rude'. Hmmmm - personally (as an ex-pat too, here in Paris) it seems like a perfectly reasonable question.

In fairness to Lauren, though, if you've heard her being interviewed recently on Phantom's Access All Areas or Anna Livia's Indie Hour you'll have found that she's a lot friendlier that song's story suggests.

In any case, Irish music fans have taken a liking to Lauren and her band The Claws, who were recently voted (bizarrely) 'Best World Music Act' by viewers of Balcony TV - no doubt just pipping Panpipe Moods and the Mongolian throat-singer quartet.

Playing the sort of energetic indie rock that will always appeal to a wide audience, the three-piece band are currently looking for a fourth member. If you fancy the job, you can find out more by reading Lauren's no-nonsense Musicians Wanted ad on the CLUAS discussion board.

Lauren Guillery and the Claws will be at many of the fun-sized festivals that seem to be popping up all over cash-to-burn Ireland these days - Knockanstockan in Co. Wicklow on 28 July, Indie-pendence in Mitchelstown on 4 August and Eurocultured at Thomas Read's in Dublin on 18 August. Go on, check them out.

Over on her MySpace page you can also listen some tracks from Lauren's first EP 'Listen', as well as the aforementioned Phantom interview with Edel Coffey. Stick around here, though, and you can watch Lauren performing 'Rude' live on Balcony TV:


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23

Israeli band Izabo begin an intensive month-long French tour this week, including a semi-residency at our favourite Paris venue, La Flèche d'Or.

The Tel Aviv-based four-piece play an addictive blend of psychedelic '60s rock and idiosyncratic '90s Britpop, all sounding like a mix of Talking Heads and Space (that much-underrated Liverpool band of a decade ago), and spiced up with some distinctive Middle Eastern vibes.

Their first album, 'Fun Makers', is appropriately titled - it fizzes with energy and (as they say in these parts) joie de vivre. The band are currently preparing their second album, to be called 'Superlight'.

Izabo's French tour comes at a time of Parisian interest in modern Israeli society. Eytan Fox's movie 'The Bubble', currently showing in French cinemas, depicts the life, loves and partying of a group of Tel Aviv's bright young things. Its depiction of inter-ethnic and same-sex relationships has inspired much curiosity and comment among the French cultural media.

You won't find any overt political comment or social reflection in Izabo's music - just good-time pop that subverts the common western perception of Israel.

No news of any Irish dates for the band as yet, but you can check out some of their tracks on their MySpace page; here's the appropriately cartoon-style video for the catchy 'Morning Hero':


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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.