The Endless Search for the 'X-Generation'

La Rotonde de Bastille
Verlaine lived over this bar in the 1880's with his mom.

New Guide Books are Popping Up
Like Spring Flowers

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 2. March 1998:- Slightly more than a year ago one of Metropole's readers wrote to ask about the 'X-Generation' scene in Paris. If I wasn't in another generation and on another continent, I would know exactly what this is - but I thought I'd take a shot at answering the question anyway, if only to find out what 'X-Generation' means.

I am no closer to finding out. However, I am slowly becoming aware that people of both sexes, between the ages of, say, 18 and 29.5, do not sit at home watching 'divertissements' on TV on weekend nights.

My TV happened to be tuned to one of these things by chance on Saturday evening, and it showed about 658 people in a TV studio, clapping their hands. There was some sort of monotonous noise which may have been machine music and when a TV camera focused for a split-second on one person, they appeared to be singing.

After quitting what I was doing and paying attention for 30 seconds, I realized they were singing in French. Okay, this was on French TV; so why, I wondered, were there subtitles?

Because, M-R explained to me, I was supposed to sing along with the people in the TV studio. There is a name for this too, but I don't know how to say it or spell it.

As they used to say, 'My Lamp is Lit;' I was watching 'interactive' TV! With the hand-clapping and the terrible music, it was impossible to figure out theClub Bar SanzSons words, so they were cleverly reproduced 'in clear' at the bottom of the screen.

It is a long time since I was an expert on bars, but like cats, they look better in the dark.

But M-R told me they wouldn't be able to hear my singing where they were, and maybe it was a taped show anyway and the studio was empty 'in real time' and all these TV studio participants - where actually out on the town, doing 'X-Generation' things 'live.'

So you see, there is a need to find out about where people are when TV stations are broadcasting junk on recorded video tape, during prime weekend time.

I asked the nice lady at my village news emporium what sort of magazines were bought by the 'X-Generationers.' She didn't say anything for a long time, so I told what I thought 'X-Generationers' might be. I think she must have had better things to do, because she kind of snapped out of it and said, oh, they read 'XXXX'* I guess.

As it is only 10 francs I bought a copy. Aside from it being printed on recycled toilet paper, it seems to be quite a good magazine and I buy it fairly regularly and read bits of it from time to time. I'd say it's a fair deal for 10 francs if anybody asked.

Not having given the Metropole reader a good answer about Paris 'X-Generation' situation is starting to wear me down. So I called up the 'XXXX's' office and asked to speak to the editor. Even though I said who I am and why I wanted to talk to him, the people at the magazine decided I should talk to the 'Big Boss' because it is not just a magazine, but a little empire with a radio station and some other vague stuff.

Although it is a monthly magazine - like me, they are always busy 'putting it together' every time I call them. I was in their neighborhood last week, so I paid them a surprise visit. It was mis-timed, because they had finally put the magazine together, and had all gone skiing.

So I went back to doing what I was in the neighborhood to do in the first place, and this is when I met a fellow named 'Black' in an alley.

We retired to a nearby rust-colored cocktail lounge called 'SanzSans' and he told me about the gypsy DJ business in Paris. In return for Black doing a half hour on 'XXXX's' radio station for free, he is supposed to get paying DJ jobs around town.

The trouble is, the law came down with a big thump on the major places late last summer - something to do with illegal substances their customers had inside themselves - and since then all places that may have DJ's, have had their noise levels cut by 90 percent.

Maybe one percent of the joints that have live or canned musiccoatroom, SanzSans are soundproofed, and there are so many Parisians living in Paris who don't like hearing loud thumping noises - that the authorities have cracked down.

Nothing wrong with this cloakroom a few hangers couldn't fix.

This is not good news if you are a gypsy DJ. Black puts on one of his favorite 'House' or 'Techno' records, and all the customers say, "Eh, what?" That is how much the sound is turned down; he can hear the customers saying, "Eh, what?"

But the real result is that there are fewer customers. Rumor has it a lot of them have abandoned their favorite disco joints in favor of bowling.

I know this isn't much of an 'X-Generation' report, but I wanted everybody to know I'm 'on the job.'

*The magazine's real name is not 'XXXX.' But until I can get them to talk to me, that is what I'm going to call it. 'X's' are what I use when I can't think up a name.

Le Bottin Gourmand - Paris

Excuse me if I seem a bit thick, but Le Parisien has made a - fairly - big thing about the publication of a new Paris guide book, called 'Le Bottin Gourmand Paris.'

Their story starts off with, "Each year, 32,000 tourists visit the capitol. Half are French and the other half are foreigners - therefore the editors have decided to create a guide for both; one which fits in a pocket.'

I have checked the calendar and it still seems to be 1998 and I seem to remember reading somewhere that Paris had about 21 million visitors last year. I also know that there are several other guides for Paris which can fit in a pocket.

On checking my antique Larousse - 'Nouveau, Petit, anno 1969' - I find that Sébastien Bottin, born in 1764 at Grimonviller, died in 1853, is known for having given his name to a commercial and industrial year-book or almanac - aha! - the 'Bottin.'

This is not a common word in the dictionary's front section, but a proper name in the back section. This clumsy way of putting it is due to the dictionary's lack of any table of contents. It took quite a bit of use before I even found the back section with the names, and it is almost the most useful part.

Back to this new guide: it has 280 pages with a few extra blank ones for notes, plus two with forms for you to fill in with your impressions; to mail to the editors.

The only clue that this may be a slightly different guide is the phrase, 'after a specific survey done in Paris in November and December 1997 by 3,000 members of the 'Bottin Gourmand Club.'' The results of the survey were verifiednew Bottin in January - and 'like all our guides, was born from the contributions of the users.'

So then, this guide is a 'user manual' for Paris, put together from information supplied by users. The other good thing about it is it costs exactly 49 francs. I bought one.

Bistro Guide: the 'Petit Lebey'

Described by Le Parisien as a little guide 'hyperpractique,' this guide to Paris bistros has just come out with its 12th edition.

The bistro, 'Père Claude' in the 15th arrondissement was judged 'Bistro of the Year' by the guide and The Association to Save the Egg-Mayonnaise, an award created by Claude Lebey, also gave this bistro the prize for, I guess, the best egg-mayo.

The guide's latest edition contains the addresses of 260 bistros, mostly in Paris. Some dishes and average prices - 68 to 200 francs - plus a detailed account of one meal are included for each establishment.

The official name of the guide is 'Le Petit Lebey 1998 des Bistrots Parisiens.' Its 184 pages fit in a pocket too, but it costs 89 francs.

From Friday's The Toqueville Connection:

In this week's issue Philippe Moreau Defarges, a senior researcher for Institut Français des Relations Internationales in Paris, writes, "We should not overestimate France's role in resolving the Iraqi weapons crisis as the French press is doing. This diplomatic coup belongs largely to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan."

In the same issue, read 'A tour, a taste, a toast - have fun with Bordeaux on-line,' a suggestion from Toqueville's 'France on the Web' department. The only thing missing, it says, is an online order form, but it gives the Web site high marks.

Only Until Next Sunday: See It Now

Paris' Salon de l'Agriculture is the salon to go to see a lot of what you eat while it is still alive. Once you've seen some of the cows and other animals you may decide to be a vegetarian, or you may want to adopt a cute cow.

It is a very big annual salon and it features all sorts of regional specialties to eat and drink, and Parisians flock to it by the hundreds of thousands. Other activities, sometimes related to the outdoors, are on display.

At Paris-Expo, Porte de Versailles
Started Sunday, 1. March and continues until Sunday, 8. March. From 9:00 to 19:00 daily. Métro: Porte de Versailles. Info. Tel.: 01 49 09 60 00.

Coming Soon: 18th Salon du Livre

French publishers put on their big annual show of new works - for a public that is interested enough in books and the world of literature, to visit this salon in great numbers. The year's 'Country of Honor' is Brazil and I for one will be interested to see what they are doing over there, besides football and carnival.

This salon is also a showcase for publishers of French titles from around the world; showing that Paris isn't the only place where French gets put into books. Away from the big stands, you'll also find the smaller stands of the independent publishers, the little houses, and the little magazines too.

Meet live authors, take part in literary discussions, or just talk about books. Or talk about comic books - which have bigger best-sellers than books - and meet some of these odd people.

This salon takes place from Friday, 20. March until Wednesday, 25. March. Monday, 23. March, is reserved for professionals. Location: at Paris-Expo - Porte de Versailles, in Hall One - all of it. Info. Tel.: 08 36 60 00 51 - warning: this is a toll number, costing twice as much as the Minitel. Organizer is Reed-OIP and their email address is

Modern Art at Louise Weiss

In an area of the 13th arrondissement which has been largely hi-jacked by the Ministry of Finance, there is a large building in which a whole series of modern art galleries are located, at ground level beneath a sort of arcade. Every once in a while they get together and have one big opening; and this time it is next Saturday.

There are six of these galleries, so it means there will be six 'vernissages' - something to drink and eat - between 16:00 and 21:00. This gives you something to do with your hands besides wave them around, while you are studying the artworks. And if you wander from gallery to gallery with a drink in your hand I don't think anybody is going to say, "Don't forget to return the plastic wine glass!"

This send off is for exhibitions which will remain on display until Saturday, 18. April. The poster I made for this - on this issue's 'Poster II' page - was made from a 'sans titre' by Jean-Luc Blanc, 1998, and is ©Art:Concept. I gave it a title called, 'Galleries Louise Weiss.'

play: Femmes de Troie

Without naming them all: Six Galleries:
20 to 34. rue Louise Weiss, Paris 13. Métro: Chevaleret, on line six. All of the galleries are closed Sundays and Mondays: otherwise they are open either from 11:00 or 14:00 until 19:00. Info. Tel.: 01 45 86 72 72, and fax.: 01 45 88 20 10.

Trojan Ladies

'The Trojan War is finished. The town is destroyed. Only the women are left.' Based on the drama by Euripides, the 'Femmes de Troie' is the third part of a Trojan War trilogy - this part directed by Matthias Langhoff, who is making his first return to Nanterre since his 1993 production of 'Désir.'

It all sounds very blood-curdling, with very tough language, in French, for those of us who don't speak antique Greek from 600 BC. This drama is already running and will continue until Saturday, 28. March.

Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers
7. avenue Pablo Picasso, in Nanterre. Info. Tel.: 01 46 14 70 00.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 2.09 - 3. March 1997 featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'Forever an Immigrant' andcount-down eiffel 'Au Bistro' had - 'Madame Mégret Tells All to Berliner Zeitung.' The articles in the issue were 'At the Salon de l'Agriculture - France's Food Chain On Parade' and 'Part of a Day at the Other Versailles - Not at Over-Splendid Palace.' Walter Conway Wrote An Email About Colors and Smells. There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was 'Agro-Mechano' or something.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 670 days left to go.

Regards, Ric
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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