BEAUTIFUL ON THE INSIDE
BEAUTIFUL ON THE INSIDE
I’ve been on the road now for roughly two-and-one-half months, and in that time I have learned many things that I was not so apt to believe beforehand. One of the most important things that I learned was that nothing works out exactly how you would like for it to work out no matter how hard you try. It is possible to wish your life away hoping that everybody likes what you are doing but inevitably there are some people, and often this constitutes a massive majority, that just don’t seem to get it even though they should get it. However, it is not in my place to force feed onto others what they choose not to believe, and so I just keep on doing what I am doing and hoping that those that do get it really do get it, get it.(?)
It would be impossible for me to name everybody that so believes that certain aspects of the Punk Rock saga need to be documented because it just seems so logical not to let these aspects become subjects of revisionist histories (like that of the beats and proto hippies), and so no matter how much I like or dislike what others have written about the culture of which I chose to take part for so long, I am simply happy that they took the time to do so.
I could comment that Get In the Van is a bit on the uber-dramatic side, and that I know a few people that attended one of the Baltimore shows where the light that fell and hit Henry on the head was written in GITV as him being beaten up by skinheads (nice), but it presented information for a comparison of what some witnessed and what Henry revised as “truth.”
I could comment that in American Hardcore many aspects of the East Coast scene were deleted in order to make California look that much more powerful in shaping the future aspects of “American Hardcore.” But in failing to research the smaller scenes, Mr. Blush simply gave room for others to document it more fully (and that was pretty cool of him; now who wants to pick up the torch???).
Over the past few years a lot of books and a lot of documentaries have found their way to the shelves of my favorite book stores and my favorite movie rental houses, and I have tried to watch them all in a way that was, shall we say, most objective (meaning not allowing my scene affiliations to effect how I felt about the information being presented). The one thing that I found to be true in most instances is that (drum role) PUNK ROCK EXISTED. Not only did Punk Rock exist, it thrived. Not only did it thrive, there were people there who were so possessed by what it had to offer that they felt compelled to document it so that I could watch it. Not that they documented it specifically for me, but they documented it so that me and all of the other people that wanted to know how it existed for those other than ourselves could check it out.
I’ve watched movies about African Americans in the Punk Rock scene, women in the scene (specifically Riot Grrrls), about disparate scenes, about punks in England, Germany, Japan, and the like. I’ve seen interviews with people I’ve always wanted to see interviewed, and with people I didn’t even know existed (but had an opinion and wanted it to be voiced). As well I’d seen some friends interviewed, and I’d seen some of my former enemies interviewed (though I don’t really keep enemies alive any longer, so that is sort of a misnomer I guess).
Anyway, what I am saying is that I am quite happy that Barred For Life is following a similar track to a certain end. For those of you who don’t know the philosophy of my effort, it is that there exists this symbol that once belonged exclusively to the efforts of one very important hardcore band called Black Flag. The logo, called The Bars (a creation of Raymond Pettibone) have now transcended the band by a factor of almost 30 years, and while they still do wholly represent the band Black Flag, they more-or-less now represent a sort of Washington Monument of Punk Rock (specifically American Hardcore). Now, this logo, in basically an unaltered state (though I have found other examples to discount the word “unaltered”) been communicated through about three generations of Punk Rockers and is now been imbued with more positive attributes than the band surely ever intended. In fact, in some of the interviews I’ve conducted I’ve found that people use the bars to denote everything from “destroying everything” to “building a better future” and everything in between. And, as you might guess, I find this to be quite awesome. Even in death Black Flag is as misunderstood as a cultural phenomenon as it was in life.
So what does all of this have to do with PARIS…? Well, everything, really. Many of you that know me, or have recently met me, know that I quit my job, gave up my apartment, and have disconnected from all things stable to pursue a 4 month trip across the US, some of Canada, and a bunch of places in Europe, just to document this phenomenon. So, while I was working my mind-dulling job with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Recreation, and simultaneously booking the BFL tour, I stumbled on to a Face Book page called, oddly, PEOPLE WITH BLACK FLAG TATTOOS. It was there that I think that I found a man named Patrick Waterpeach from Paris, and he had stated that he had the bars in an unfinished mode. From the information that I gathered I had asked him to take the people that I had found from France and invite them over for dinner and host a shoot if he thought this was appropriate.
Patrick, like most of my European hosts, went to it with the fervor of a saint. He put up a FB page and handed out fliers at gigs, and did what he could only to find that there were just three (or possibly four) people in all of Paris with The Bars. He seemed saddened by the lack of enthusiasm of his compatriots, but I assured him of two things: (1) Maybe there were only two or three people in Paris with The Bars, and (2) It didn’t matter because I was planning to come to Paris if it was just Patrick with The Bars and nobody else. I am not sure but I think those statements made him feel better because when he picked up Audrey and me at the airport he was 100% FUCKING GO.
We arrived on a late flight into Paris, so to make things work properly, and so that we could shoot JB (in from Avignon in southern France) before he left early the next morning, Patrick arranged everything with military precision. He picked us up, dropped us at his home, left to pick up JB, and returned moments later and ready for action. Dinner on the table, we ate, drank some wine, and set up shop. Moments into setting up my lighting I soon realized that my Amero/European adaptor was not working (more electrical problems, ugh!!!). 2 minutes later Patrick arrives on the scene with a halogen work light and we were back in business. I shot JB and Patrick on Patrick’s leather couch (individually, obviously) and soon JB was being ushered back to his home with Audrey and myself in tow; through the streets of Paris at night. It was fucking amazing if I must say so. In under 24 hours we’d seen the birthplace of the Smiths, then the birthplace of the Beatles, then the birthplace of the authentic French Kiss, and Air (French Band). And then it was off to bed.
The next day Patrick took the day off of work to show us around Paris before going to the home of Benoit to shoot another set of Bars. Benoit lives in the Bastille-section of Paris, which is a very artsie place indeed. Benoit works on a magazine called Maelstrom and lives in a really cool flat with a really cool girlfriend and some really cool furniture. We showed up, ate some candy, drank some water, and shot Benoit in his leather chair near his record collection. With my lighting up and running we took another few shots of Patrick, which turned out to be slightly more flattering than those taken at his house, and then we exchanged information.
Benoit suggested that we drop off in Lyon to photograph some old bandmates with the Bars. He gave us phone numbers and locations, and off we went back to Patrick’s home. In a strange twist of fate, Patrick’s son was not going to be returning until the next day so Patrick invited us to stay another day in order that we see more of Paris and to properly organize our trip to Lyon, and then to Rome. So we accepted. The next day was spent sight seeing, eating, chilling, and organizing our trip, and then our last dinner with Patrick and his lovely girlfriend Carol.
Our train left at noon the next day and by some strange occurrence we managed to find yet another Barred individual that lived very close to the train station. Making the proper arrangements we found ourselves at the home of our last Parisian participant in time to photograph/interview him on the street, and then to the train station with enough time to easily make our train.
Having coffee in one of the most posh cafes I’ve ever been in, we bid our hosts a final farewell, and then boarded the train to Lyon (Obviously I will get more into Lyon next time). My heart sank because in Patrick I met yet another kindred spirit that I had to leave in order to finish my book. Knowing, however, that I will meet up with him again is an amazing feeling, but for now I just don’t even know how to settle down enough to build a lasting friendship. While I am focused on Barred For Life, the project and the end-product, I am afraid that I just cannot be anybody’s friend right now. It is a sad fact but I will have plenty of time to cultivate these friendships in a few months, once I am a bit more stabilized back in my country of origin.
So, to me it would not have mattered whether we only photographed Patrick, or Patrick and 100 other Parisians. What is important is that he did everything in his power to make the stay in Paris one of the most amazing of the trip, and I hope that I can do the same for him when he comes to stay in America (along with all of our hosts) sometime in the future.