Sunday, December 20, 2009

From the makers of Le Tour de France, I present to you Lyon




France is probably about the size of the states of Pennsylvania and New York put together, but as for culture this place is just outrageous. Much like the kinds of cultural diversity that I’ve experienced in Italy, France is just as dotted with culturally unique spots that are intimately tied to geography, resources, and just how many invading armies crashed through its gates once the Roman Empire fell; leaving most of western Europe just a bit on the unprotected side of the equation.

I don’t know, call me culturally sympathetic but I think that France took a lot of grief in the past two thousand years, but the pay off is a pretty diverse country and a bunch of culturally interesting craziness that will definitely find me back sometime in the near future. Some things, such as the realities of modernity, do catch me off guard sometimes, and Lyon made the first move.

For example, if somebody asked me the first thing that came to my mind when hearing the word France I would think, um, wine, rich foods (with lots of meat), famous artists, Le Tour de France, and stuff like that. The last thing that I would think of would be, say, vegan straight edge kids, or even vegetarian straight edge kids, but we did manage to meet some in Lyon. So, needless to say I was caught a bit off guard. But fuck my perceptions because, after all, I am writing a book about an endearing part of Punk Rock culture and not a book about French popular culture. Anyway…

Both JB and Benoit told me of these big Hardcore scenes in both Lyon and in St. Etiennne (very close by Lyon), and both had some friends in Lyon with The Bars. Lyon was not on the schedule but it found its way there very fast. With Patrick on the phone in seconds, we had our first contact there and he was going to organize his people for a noon shoot the next day, which gave us precious little time to make arrangements by train. Somehow we managed, and by noon the next day we were at least on our way to the station in Paris, thus making it necessary for us to rebook the shoot for around 2pm, which was fine by most of the Lyon folks since most of them were drinking heavily the night before.

Our train to Lyon was fast as fuck, and it only stopped in Lyon, and in one of Lyons suburban stations (which is the one where we had to depart). Upon landing I couldn’t get any of the phones that I found to accept my coins, and so I decided to catch a cab. We were told that the tattoo shop was just a short hop from the train station but it turned out to be a 10 Euro short hop (roughly two miles), which I would have had to carry my massive bags across to get to our location. Upon exiting our taxi we were greeted by a tall, handsome, clad-in-all-black Jean-Luc, the shop owner and Audrey’s grandest obsession.

Jean-Luc told us that the others would be showing up shortly so we took the time under the clear blue sky to shoot Jean-Luc outdoors. We arranged a bunch of furniture on the first floor of the studio and took one big furry black chair outside, and about the second that we finally pushed it out the door the rains came. Not one to back down in the rain, we shot Jean on a black furry chair in the middle of a rather heavily traveled street in Lyon (which is about as artsie as it has gotten thus far).

In the next few hours we became quite friendly with our host, and after shooting about 6 people that day I became quite friendly with a bottle of single malt scotch. What I love most about single malt scotch is the way that it makes me feel so good at first and, then, how god-awful it makes my stomach feel afterwards. So, after shooting we walked back to the house of a friend of a friend named Lucien where I fell to drunken sleep, and where we would prepare to shoot our final French victim IN THE NUDE.

Yup, Lucien would become our first NUDE Barred For Lifer. Not even the guy in New Orleans that had the bars on his ass was ballsey enough to be documented naked, and so Lucien made it so. It wasn’t too difficult to talk him into getting naked, and word has it from a few of his friends that he is part of a crew of kids in Lyon that gets naked at shows and dances it up in the pit. Trust me, I like fun and all but I think that I would probably stay off to the side at a show where there were sweaty naked dudes running the pit. At some point I would have a hard time enjoying myself while getting splashed with ball-sweat. Anyway, Lucien not only got naked for the camera but he drove Audrey and I to the airport at like 3am so that we could wait for three or four more hours to be processed for our flight to Rome, which would be Audrey’s last stop on the tour.

So, a few hours later we are both half sleeping on our luggage waiting for our flight, and everything goes as planned, which is quite rare for me in Europe. Comfortably on our flight (after being totally condescended by the person checking us in), the sun begins to shine for the first time in a few days.


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