Friday, November 8, 2013

O Llama, Where Art Thou.

            Well, things are finally getting back to normal here in Bordeaux.  You might be aware that last week 5 fêtards ivre (drunk party animals), as Le Parisien called them, made off with a llama from a travelling circus and took it for a ride on the tram. English language accounts passed on just the basic story, plus a few of the photos and videos. They generally maintained the French media's lighthearted attitude with only the CBC using the word "hooligans" and mentioning calls for punishment. So Canadians have little tolerance for drunken debauchery and boorish behavior, unless, of course, you're the mayor of Toronto. The past week here it's been all Serge, all the time and yesterday was the first day he was missing from the local newspaper, Sud-Ouest, website. He will, however, be making a personal appearance at Le Girondins soccer match on Sunday so Sergermania might not have abated.
Serge is interviewed.
           If you've missed all the fuss, the facts are these: On the night of Thursday, the 31st of October, 5 Bordelais youths, the ages of whom were not provided but are believed to be late teens, early twenties, met for an evening of "fun and drinking." The subjects stated that they were all previously known to each other and described themselves as friends. They proceeded to the iBoat, a local nightclub and discotheque fashioned from a large watercraft and located at an area of Bordeaux known as the Bassin à Flot. This area consisted of a number of former warehouses, docks and other structure including a former submarine base constructed during World War II by visiting Germans.

            An indeterminate number of hours later, the subjects exited the discotheque in, by their own admission, a state of extreme intoxication. As they departed the area of the discotheque, they happened upon the tents and vehicles of the "Cirque Franco-Italien", a travelling circus that had established a temporary place of business also located at the Bassin à Flot. Taking advantage of the absence of security personnel, the subjects entered the premises. They stated that, in their impaired condition, the presence of circus animals had stimulated memories of their childhood and they determined to depart  in the company of a zebra with which they had formed an emotional attachment. This zebra exhibited a low tolerance for being fucked with and their effort to take possession proved futile. They then directed their attention to a nearby llama, which one of the subjects stated reminded him of a childhood toy. This animal proved more amenable to human contact and the subjects then exited the area with the llama. As they departed, they also took possession of a trombone, which they felt would ensure the festive atmosphere of the incident. It is the opinion of the writer that this is a true statement, due to the nature of the instrument, as contrasted to the more sinister and malevolent purposes of instruments such as the trumpet or soprano saxophone.

            The group eventually made their way to a stop of the Bordeaux tramway, where they entered a tram in the company of the llama. The conductor of this tram, who observed the youths and llama board, became suspicious and alerted authorities, who, upon arrival, took the subjects and llama into custody. The subjects were then transported to the Hôtel de Police and the llama, which had been temporarily secured to a nearby lamppost, was returned to the circus. The subjects were released on their own recognizance. Damn, it's been a long time since I've written anything like that. It's just like riding a bike.

            The next morning, after the story, with pictures and video of the kids and llama (whose name turned out to be "Serge") appeared in Sud-Ouest, it got picked up by a few national news outlets and went viral. A Facebook page was set up to "Support the 5 Bordelais" and it got a couple hundred thousand "likes" in a few hours. Parodies started showing up all over the web and YouTube, one of which now stands at 2.5 millions views (I'll explain it in a minute). The owner of the circus had not been amused at first, but people starting coming around, and buying tickets, to get pictures of the llama.  A bunch of extra euros in the till softened his mood and he dropped all charges against the "kidnappers".  In fact, they were all invited to a "reunion" with Serge, who now has his own Facebook page, too.

            Why this became such a big deal is something that is probably being examined, bisected and analyzed ad nauseum. It's pretty simple, really. For one thing, France is in the doldrums right now, especially for kids the age of the Bordeaux 5. The economy is still in bad shape and jobs for young people are particularly hard to find. They went with something cute and cuddly, nobody got hurt so it made for a nice diversion.

            One of our friends here, a woman, says it must also have been a guy thing since neither she nor Cynthia thought it was as funny as her mate and I did. This is also a slam-dunk to explain. It was no coincidence that this was an all-male cast and they were simply carrying on the proud male tradition of doing something remarkably stupid while juiced up and sloppy. After all, before the year 2000, this was a large part of the decision making process leading to tattoos.  And let ye who are without sin and all that. Plus, swiping the trombone hooked it for me.

            Another aspect of this is a French pop singer, born in Bordeaux, whose stage name, honest to god, is Serge Lama, the French spelling for the animal. I think he can be described as obscure even here so this was an added bonus for him and the joke. Needless to say, like the circus, he's enjoying the jolt to his career and led the calls to "Free the Bordeaux 5."  Now there's Serge Lama and Serge le lama.

             A couple of days after this all hit the paper, some enterprising local kids threw together a video that's been my favorite part of all this and needs some explaining. Last summer, the number 1 pop song in France was by a Belgian called Stromae, and titled, "Papaoutai." This is a phonetic spelling for, "Papa, où t'es?" and means, Papa, where are you? The tune's about an absent father and "Lamaoutai" parodies this theme. Lamaoutai is, in a word, stupid and therein is its charm. When I was a teenager, my friends and I spent an inordinate amount of time coming up with usually obscene lyrics for hits of the day, with special emphasis on those we hated. As I watched this thing I couldn't help wondering what we could have done ourselves with a little software. Probably this:

1 comment:

  1. ah Bruce! Too funny!! The trombone made it all just so sympathetic ...ha!!