The Unknown Hipster

Housse de Racket at Silencio

Posted in Music by unknownhipster on September 30, 2011

Housse de Racket on stage

This was last Monday night, at Silencio, David Lynch’s new club.

The metal stairs that lead you down at least 3 stories underground seem never to end.  And as a matter of fact, as you go down there’s a profound, gravely silence.

The club is a succession of small mirrored rooms, with the overall feeling of being lost in the secret chambers of a pyramid. I even found myself walking like an Egyptian.

One of the redesigned caves is a low lit lounge called the Art Library. David Lynch selected a small number of monolith books to decorate the 2 glossy shelves that run along the curved walls. Waiting for Housse de Racket to play, and surrounded by young couples kissing, I picked up one of the coffin-entombed coffee table books, only to realize it was too dark to see.

I thought I would be more into Housse de Racket’s name (it’s better than Housse de Couette, but not as poetic as Uneven Dusk, my former band’s name) than their music, but they were damn good live, they  really shaked the Silencio. And now, I can’t get their hit number « Château » out of my head, while I would normally have preferred the more psychedelic « Empire ».

 Pierre jumped of the stage in his boat shoes.

Maison Kitsuné

Posted in Drawing & Music & Clothes by unknownhipster on September 24, 2011

I was walking down rue de Richelieu in Paris recently when I stopped by Kitsuné, the music label and clothing company created by Gildas and Masaya. By coincidence they were showing some drawings from their collaboration with Jean-Philippe Delhomme.

Gildas Loaec and Masaya Kuroki

Gildas just returned from deejaying in some distant location of the world. It’s always difficult to figure out what time it is for him. He ends his email conversations with phrases like « I’ve to work now » and it’s 2 am In Kyoto or Bangkok. I’m always trying to learn the secrets of his trade when we have lunch, in case one day somebody asks me to play my box of psychedelic records in front of a roaring crowd.

Masaya gave me a plaid shirt from their autumn collection, which would nicely replaced mine from the Brooklyn Flea, and a new Guards 7 inch. He guessed Guards was more down my alley than Housse de Racket (although I love their name). And he is right, play “don’t wake the dead“, and the world is yours. At least, temporary.

Two examples of the works shown:

« Neville thought the three men will be great on his Fashion blog. »

« Man, have you ever thought of doing jazz album covers ? »

“Stop me if this poem is too long.”

Until October 5th, 52 rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris

An installation by Andy Spade

Posted in Art by unknownhipster on September 23, 2011

On September 9th Andy did a one day installation at the Half Gallery.

In a work entitled « Casa Grande AZ 1972-1975 » 30 cacti of various shapes were arrayed on the floor, while black ballons floated above, up against the ceiling.

As the gallery text said : « Andy Spade’s first solo show offers a glimpse into his youth growing up in a small town Arizona town. In a household with a new stepfather, he and his brothers felt the tension between his fits of rage and depression and his mother’s blind, yet always sunny disposition. This installation represents the sublimation of childhood disenfranchisement. »

The deflating balloons exploded when low enough to touch the cacti, and their number gradually diminished.

This slow but inevitable process went on all night behind the gallery’s closed door.

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A few things I saw on the 9/11 Anniversary

Posted in Life by unknownhipster on September 12, 2011

In Battery Park, a man shadow boxing as the fireboat slowly passed by with its hoses turned on.

A man looking like Jeff Bridges in a rescue team movie, except this was the real thing.

Paul Simon sings « The Sound of Silence »

A police officer wipes his eyes at the end of the song.

A thundering biker stopped for photos.

An Ironing Class at Colette

Posted in Household by unknownhipster on September 6, 2011

It’s one thing to be possessed by clothes, it’s another to own them.

This is why Colette, during this last July Men Shows in Paris, held an ironing class, exclusively for men, in its basement Water bar.

It is no irony to think that this would prevent some Fashion-obsessed among us running their shirts to the nearest cleaner (if not their mum) likely to return a Junya Watanabe in the state of a stretch of toilet paper.

A customer puzzled by the scene

A dozen ironing tables had been installed like in a classroom, all equiped with Rowenta steam power stations which were as intimidating as a Hummer for those who have never driven before.

Jocelyne proudly wearing her medal of « Meilleure Ouvrière de France »

Jocelyne, a professor at the École de Gouvernantes et Majordomes, started by teaching us the meaning of washing instructions icons. For some, it was already too late, their shirt had probably shrunk 3 sizes. A student raised his arm in alarm that a symbol inside his shirt was not mentioned in Jocelyn’s exhaustive list.

« Is it Japanese ? … » she asked, raising her eyebrows. The dude confirmed : it was a Tsumori Chisato. « Well, if it’s Japanese… », and she shrugged, with a smile.

A participant discovers the complexity of ironing.

Several unexperienced scenesters, in fear of being unsubscribed from the newsletter by bringing the wrong shirt had brought their best attire, all fresh from the washing machine, crumbled like a handkerchief long forgotten in a back pocket.

For my part, I had brought one of my signature worn out flea market plaid shirts. Some of the dudes glanced over at it with envy, thinking it was an advance sample from Maison Kitsuné’s «Brokeback Mountain » new collection.

In fact, I had just got it back from the cleaner, and had to pull it into a ball and sit on it during my Metro ride over, so it would be wrinkled enough to be ironed.

Jocelyne looked over my shoulder while I was passing over a part of the collar that had stayed flat from the cleaner, and congratulated me.

Writer and blogger Borey meticulously working his shirt

When we finally came to the folding lesson, how keeping our folds symetrical that one shoulder is not twice as wide as the other, there were very little time left for the pants.

This saved me from the dilemma of having to ridiculously iron my jeans, or confess Jocelyn I never wear any other sort of pants.

In fact, it took so much time to perfect the shirt, that none was left for ironing the torn jeans I had brought in a plastic bag.

The Selby is in the Unknown’s pad

Posted in Dwelling by unknownhipster on June 28, 2011

When The Selby called to ask whether he could photograph my place, it was a nice surprise, of course, but I  thought I should warn him :

-You know, it’s kind of small…

-Don’t tell me it’s smaller than Rockaway Taco ! Don’t be shy, I’m sure it’s wonderful!

But then I completely forgot all about it, and suddenly, on a stormy afternoon, it was Todd knocking on my door.

The bed was unmade since I was taking a little nap, and the kitchen was cluttered with the remains of yesterday’s spaghetti Bolognese (one day I’ll post my recipe, learned from an Italian grandmother). But what the hell, I thought, Todd is cool, he has done a lot of artists and bohemians.  I don’t think he was expecting my pad to be as slick as Pharrell Williams’ home.

Welcome to the secluded home of a poet !

But when he walked in, I could see disappointment and a little bit of anxiety on his face.

-What’s that funny smell…he said.

True, I just had a new goatskin shipped from Morocco for my tambourine, and since it’s 100% organic, it exudes a bit of an odor when the weather is hot and humid, but no big deal, one quickly gets used to it.

I used to grow pot on the fire escape, but the plants died while I was out at  Fashion Week last year. All I could offer him was a nice cup of Nescafé, straight out of the hot water tab.

Todd is a warm and sweet character, with a great sense of humor, and he knows immediately how to make you feel at ease in your own place. I was amazed, though, by his way of working. I was imagining him firing detail shots with the Eos. On the contrary, he was carefully looking at my stacks of cassettes tapes and my second-hand Beat Reader from The Strand.

I suggested that I play the guitar on my bed, thinking it would make a great wide angle panoramic shot for the opening.

Thanks, said Todd, but let me just do a quick close-up, and I’ll do a little water color from home. And he off, running down the stairs, forgetting to hand me his questionnaire.

Questionnaires, even from friends, are always a pain for me. I admire the spontaneity of most people when it comes to this. I studied the answers of my friends, Glenn, Andy, Xavier, and Pierre, how did they manage to do it ? Finally, it took me 4 weeks to fill it out. Hope it’s okay.

Royal Wedding

Posted in People by unknownhipster on May 2, 2011

I was in London the other day, just walking away from Mr Bongo where I had scored some vinyls when I was caught in a huge gathering. The crowd seemed to have been staking out positions on the sidewalk for at least a day or two, with camping chairs and sleeping bags. I stopped by a group holding British flags and asked them what was going on. Troops in period costume and horse carriages passed by at that moment,  and I wondered whether they were shooting some Hollywood film, or maybe even a Fashion event, as I heard people saying that Sarah Burton at Alexander Mc Queen had designed the royal wedding dress.

All of a sudden, there was a deep silence, followed by a giant roar from the crowd as the Queen carriage passed by. I couldn’t help but shed a tear of emotion when I saw her waving a hand in our direction.

Uninvited, I tried to make myself discreet.

I was just following some fellows who seemed to know where they were going.

To be of some use, I joined the choir. 

Seeing my embarrassment, the Queen mercifullly asked me what kind of records I had bought at Mr Bongo.   

A tribute to Japan, and an anti-nuclear hipster memory.

Posted in Planet by unknownhipster on April 25, 2011

In 1975, word came to the late hippies of the small town I was living in Normandy  that a nuclear plant was to be built nearby. When the news was announced, the idea was immediatedly associated with unfeeling technocrats of exact  science, if not of corruption, greed and selfishness. The suits who ran the programme evoked the senile and narrow-minded film generals who are inevitably in the wrong, herding their troops into disaster. Although this would have been enough for revolt, what upset me the most was that the plans were to annex the most beautiful stretch of landscape, building the plant right on the sea, at the foot of wild, dark stone cliffs where I loved to hang out, thinking I was Lautreamont, or where I took girls to kiss. I was still a kid then, and although I was not yet able to grow a full beard, I had hair long enough for two. With my best pal, we made a plywood sign, drew an anti-nuclear cartoon on it, and joined the demonstration. We had also taken a guitar. As with the beard, I couldn’t afford a real folk guitar, but only a «classic Spanish », with nylon strings.

Then we went marching. Thousands of older long haired bearded men and their girlfriends in oversized knitted sweaters were walking under the pouring rain down the narrow winding roads that lead to the future plant. Once the heavy smoke of grilled sausages at the meeting point was dissipated, I remember looking at every single blade of grass like it was to never be seen again. Meanwhile, our cartoon sign didn’t made the impact we thought it would, and was even considered skeptically by the most serious activists we hoped to befriend.

Of course, they built it. And even extended it. And everybody forgot about it, just like the hundreds of others everywhere else. It seemed unfair that some countries wouldn’t have their own. Hey, aren’t you happy to play the turntables? Or write your blogs all night ?

Nearby, there was already a treatment plant for used fuel. It was a quintessential late sixties idea, along with speed trains on air cushion or electric knives. Used fuel was shipped in from various parts of the world to be buried in the landscape, or dumped into sea into concrete, or then later more resistant glass containers. Over years, I saw this plant constantly growing, and it’s as luminescent at night as a city. When the Tchernobyl disaster was reported to the Western world, we went sailing for 2 days, and I remember the orange glow of La Hague that can be seen from halfway across the Channel. Most outrageous was when used fuel started to be shipped in from Japan in the 80’s. By then I had my own folk guitar, and could grow a beard, but I didn’t make a new sign, or participated to the demonstrations that greeted the Japanese cargo ship on its first trips.

A week before the Fukushima accident unfolded, I met a sweet old man at a Parisian dinner, while glancing at his Légion d’Honneur, I asked him what he was up to, since the decoration is frequently worn by people who happily won it on the battlefields of Fashion or decorating. He told me that, as a major executive, he had been fighting all his life for nuclear energy, to the point, he and his family had miraculously escaped a bombing by an anti-nuclear activist group who blew up the staircase of the building while they were asleep.

The man seemed so reasonnable that I had to smile to myself, the foolish hipster I was, walking with my guitar and the anti-nuclear cartoon sign under the misty rain.

Tokyo +81 Magazine is launching Creators Aid for Japan digital book for iPad & iPhone

“Opération 100 Masques pour le Japon” by Minimix

Martha Graham Dance Company, « Snow on the Mesa »

Posted in Art by unknownhipster on March 10, 2011

In the midst of the winter I was invited to a preview of the Martha Graham Dance Company’s 85th Anniversary season.

It was cold and lightly snowing the night I went up to the Martha Graham School  of Contemporary Dance on East 63rd Street.

In a basement rehearsal room folding chairs had been set up along the walls. A school bench placed in the middle of the floor was being used as prop, and a dancer was waiting against an exercise bar.

The calm assembly of dance scholars and serious writers made me feel slightly out of place : not only do I know very little about dance, but I’m always in fear that a live performance will extend to an inhuman length of time, like contemporary art videos almost always do.

But I was struck by the beauty of the piece, and hypnotized by the grace and intensity of the dancers.

They performed excerpts from « Snow on the Mesa »,  a dance choreographed by Bob Wilson and premiered in 1995 after Martha Graham death, and originally subtitled « A Portrait of Martha ».

It turns out to be no time at all when I had to extract myself from this « Cave of the Heart », to return home, enlightened, by the subway.

Xiaochuan Xie and Ben Schultz in « Shaker Interior » (« Snow on the Mesa »)

Carrie Ellmore Tallitsch in « Navaho Rug » (« Snow on the Mesa »)

Martha Graham Dance Company 85th Anniversary Season at the Rose Theater, Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, NY, from March 15–20, 2011

Fashion Week Preview

Posted in Fashion by unknownhipster on February 5, 2011

This is the time of the year in New York when you see them returning.

The tall, thin, black silhouettes navigating the slush in their cheap Rock boots.

They announce the coming of Fashion Week like quails announce the end of summer.

I was inspired to write them a poem :

I see you, all pale faced and sad eyes, standing at the corner

« Don’t look at me unless you’re Vinoodh and Inez

My boyfriend he will get you

Dump you in a trash bin somewhere

Daddy will drown you in a pond behind the factory »

I saw you walking fast

Holding tight the frozen plastic of the lookbooks

And now in the middle of the night

I hear you giggling in the hotel rooms

I often see this guy at the airport.

He chaperones the girls trans-Atlantic.

I think he figures out the passports, waits for the bags,

Makes sure some jerk doesn’t snap some photos of them in their sleep.

The girls look bored while they wait.

No friends but a cellphone.