Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I'm Alright, Jacques

Me at last year's Andernos-les-Bains Jazz Festival

    Well, here we are again. Once more, some shit-heads trying to make themselves right with the god of Abraham (one killing randomly and prolifically and a couple more singling out some poor old priest) because some other thugs applying the logic of the criminally religious helped them to believe it was just the thing that would please said deity. Ironically, the first poor soul, plus 30 others, run down by the not theretofore particularly observant killer in Nice turned out to be not infidels but other Muslims.

    After all of these incidents going back to Charlie Hebdo, Cynthia and I have gotten messages from friends in the States worried about us and, while I appreciate the concern, I usually respond the same way. I thank them for their concern then tell them that no matter what happens over here, we’re still probably a whole lot safer than they are considering we probably don’t have to worry about anyone nearby stockpiling weapons and ammo for future use in dealing with whatever petty grudge he’s been harboring. In any grievance related occurrence here, the worst cast scenario I anticipate is something like an old 1930s comedy - Henri the chef of the restaurant we’re patronizing, having endured his insults long enough, chases Jean-Luc the maitre d’ around the dining room with a meat cleaver until getting brained with an empty wine bottle by Geneviève the serveuse as the gendarmes arrive in time to carry his unconscious carcass into the night.  In short, I don’t plan on changing a thing about the way I go about life. This, by the way, is not false bravado but reflects the realization that, on both sides of the Atlantic, we’ve all got a better chance of being struck by lightning than becoming a victim of terrorism.

    Unfortunately, given the weak Hollande government, it looks like the French might be in the process of going sideways over this whole mess. I hope not but from now on I would implore the folks back home to stop worrying about us.  “Do nothing ’til you hear from me.” (By the way, sometimes when one thinks one is being clever one tends to run it into the ground. I’ve used that Henri the Chef bit so many times in conversation that, not only is Cynthia sick of it but I can’t remember if I’ve already used it here. So if it you think you’ve seen it before, you might have.)

    On a lighter note, I’ve had an pretty enjoyable musical summer. This is the time of year here when you can’t swing a trombone without hitting a festival somewhere. The summer festival season here was the subject of a previous post here and since that time I’ve been able to take advantage of the performance opportunities. The highlights this year were a gig for my small group (Lester’s Memories) at the annual Andernos Jazz Festival and two of my big bands putting in appearances at a couple of small local festivals around Bordeaux. As usual, the lesser venues here feature mostly community groups and enthusiastic amateurs of the inherent varying degrees of talent and abilities. But I’m here to tell you that you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced a pushing 60 French sex-bomb in her best little femme fatale dress belting out My Heart Belongs To Daddy. The community big band behind her wasn’t always in tune, in fact her own sense of pitch could be described as “idiosyncratic”, her accent was at least a close approximation of English,her performance was completely over the top camp and she was simply magnificent. For the 3 or 4 minutes the chart lasted this woman absolutely owned it.  Who knows if she understood the lyrics (I had to look up “finnan haddie" myself) but by the time she got to “Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-dad”, well, fortunately I’d already decided she was probably too much for me anyway.  All I can say is, “You shoulda been there.”

    It should be noted that previously I’ve expressed astonishment at the ability of singers here to pronounce lyrics in a language they almost never speak with any degree of proficiency. So while I might occasionally be amused by their diction, I freely admit I couldn’t hope to do the same. Once I tried to memorize the lyrics to “La Vie en Rose” but gave it up. Not only can’t I sing but the French “r” rolling thing is impossible.

    To take this out, here’s what I’m betting to be the inspiration for my now favorite French singer’s performance. I do this at great personal risk since the thing has been stuck in my head for weeks now and doesn’t seem to be giving up without a struggle. As I watched this two things occurred to me  - The split screen manner in which it was edited and uploaded is really irritating and early ‘60s drag queens everywhere must have been knocking themselves out to work this into the act.



  1. I certainly agree with you that we're in more trouble over here than you are over there. We still miss y'all.

  2. It's good to read one of these again. You blog even more rarely than I do. But I do enjoy hearing from you via these blogs. I haven't worried about you. I've been too worried about us here in the U.S. and the effect Trump is having on our country. He's bringing all the racists and idiots out of the woodwork, and even if he loses the election (which I certainly hope he will), it's going to be very hard to get the cork back in the bottle.

  3. Hello from Michigan! It's crazy how I randomly found your blog. However, I'm glad I did. It is very interesting and quite entertaining, especially your commentary on Jean-Luc. Genevieve, and the the Gendarmes. I'll continue to watch and learn about life on the other side of the Ocean.

    1. Hey, Michigan, thank for reading and taking the time to comment. Most of the comments I get are from folks who know me and I'm always surprised to find something from a stranger. I always wonder where these things go once I push "publish." Thanks again and I hope you come back. I guess I better write something for you to read.