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 diferent 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.'


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