samedi, février 24, 2007

Shitkatapult @ Triptyque


Like many Saturdays before, I slept in like crazy and then spent the day catching up on "paperwork." By "paperwork" I mean the surprising amount of office-like tasks that come with fieldwork: answering emails, looking up funding grants, fretting about filing my taxes from overseas, writing emails, catching up on blogs, etc. I also decided to start building a MySpace page in the Music section of things. It's become clear that most of the people I'm working with communicate through MySpace pages--I've even noticed that many big-name DJ's have their MySpace sites maintained by 3rd party professionals. So it seemed like a good idea to get myself installed in MySpace-space.

Anyway, no link to my page yet; I want to fiddle with the settings and put together a decent profile photo. Also, I started working with Ableton Live again, newly inspired to put something together to upload onto the MySpace page. I'll post a link as soon as it's ready! Come least pretend to be excited..

So, after a day of being rather busy doing small things, I started getting ready to go out. Originally, I had planned to go to the Rex to see Rex the Dog (as the link suggests, he's very electro--although I prefer his remixes of The Knife's Heartbeats ). Nonetheless, I wasn't particularly enthusiastic. On a whim, I decided to look up several of other bars I know of in town, to see what they were playing. Batofar? Trance party. Djoon? Some sort of housey thing called The Heat. Le Pulp? Girls night. Le Triptyque? Label-showcase for Shitkatapult records, featuring T. Raumschmiere, Phon.o, and Daniel Meteo.

Bingo!! I hadn't seen any of the Shitkatapult folks since I was living in Toronto, so I was very much interested. Shitkatapult is a record label based both in Germany and in Canada (but mostly in Germany, from what I gather), with an emphasis on the noisier, harder end of minimal techno. Check out their home page (previous link) or for some listening material. But, of course there will be videos below...

Shitkatapult: T. Raumschmiere, Phon.o, and Daniel Meteo @ Le Triptyque

NOTE: Normally, I would include images of the flyer for the evening, but in this case neither Triptyque nor Shitkatapult submitted flyer images to, which is where I usually get these images. I suppose this is a lesson to me to check beyond Flyerweb, eh?

0h00-1h30: Phon.o (Part 1)

click to enlarge
That's Phon.o in the back

As you might guess from the header above, Phon.o actually made two appearances that night; he opened the evening from midnight to 1h30, and then picked up at approx 4h30 and finished the night. I won't say too much about this first set, since I was less thrilled with is. Generally, it was downtempo and rather low-intensity, which I suppose is good for an opening set (i.e., sets are supposed to get more intense as the night goes, so this leaves the other DJs some headroom). Anyway, you can compare the video clip I took from his opening set (at the end of this section) with the ones I took of his closing set (last section).

I think I was misreading the clock when I headed out. Normally, I leave around 0h45 to get to the club around 1h15, which usually gets me inside before the place fills up too much. Instead, I felt compelled to leave around 23h45, which obviously got me there waaaaay to early. I took my sweet time walking from the métro station to the club, but when I got there it was still only 0h30. Nonetheless, I could see a lineup at the door, so I went ahead and waited to get in. As I got in line, I passed two men who were having some sort of argument. I couldn't decipher what they were arguing about, but the body language and tonal inflection all pointed toward fisticuffs. Thankfully, the line was short and I got in while they were still escalating.

Entry at Le Triptyque is always free, which is a significant difference from most of the other clubs in town. What's more, they don't try to hide the cover charge in the form of a mandatory coat check (like Le Pulp); the coat check is always optional. Actually, I can sort of imagine an older, burnt-out French leftist dreaming up and designing this place as her/his idea of an un-alienated night club. It's in the basement of an old (19th-c.?) building, exposed brick and exposed iron girders. Most of the adornment on the walls are concert posters for upcoming gigs, each layer piled over the previous one in tatters. Almost 50% of the club's floorspace is dedicated to a chill-out area stuffed with tables and chairs, with the music far enough away to make discussion without yelling possible. The place serves as an "alternative" rock bar between 19h00 and midnight, and as an "alternative" dance club between midnight at 6h00. A-list DJs are too expensive for the place, so you get to discover local talent and lesser-known foreign acts. There are no mirrored walls, few smooth surfaces, no neon lighting or complex décor, and a multiracial cast serving drinks.

Mind you, the place isn't entirely proletarian, either. A pint of beer still costs 7€-9€ ($9.25-12 USD). But if you're not well off, you can still get in free, elect not to check your coat (or not wear one), and buy a bottle of water and refill it at the bathroom sink. Ultimately, I did see a few differences in the crowd: the racial spectrum was more diverse, class differences were more visible (most other clubs maintain a fantasy of "classlessness" by pre-selecting their crowds)--I even saw a few football (soccer) jerseys.

Anyway, I got in and got into the rather long coat check line. As I was about halfway to the counter, I came upon a group of students from the UCParis program, who were also out tonight. Since these students weren't my students per se (i.e., I don't teach them), I suppose this doesn't count as my first time running into my students at an EDM event. It'll happen soon, no doubt! Regardless, one of the students brought me up to speed on the argument that had been going on outside; apparently it had finally escalated to punching and kicking, although I didn't get the details.

After finally checking my coat, I wandered over to the bar to get a beer and promptly ran into S., a friend of mine that I met through Greg about a month ago. After another athletic climb over the crowds around the bar, S. and I made our way over to the dance floor to check out the beginnings of Phon.o's set. S. runs off to check his coat, finds some of his friends, comes back to get me, he introduces me to his friends, and we head back over to the dance floor (yes, lots of back-and-forth). A few minutes into dancing, and toward the end of Phon.o's set, I wandered away from S. and friends and toward the front of the room, to get pictures as well as this video clip:

1h30-2h30: Daniel Meteo

As I was snapping pictures of Phon.o finishing and Meteo starting, a girl standing near me came over and said "Hey, weren't you at Le Pulp a week ago?" Indeed, I was. Then she said, "I saw you on the dancefloor there!"

I had no memory of her, and I had nothing pithy to cover over that fact, so I just said "Genial!" ("awesome!").

After an awkward moment, she acknowledged the awkwardness, saying "Yeah, I have nothing interesting to say about it, I just remember seeing you there."

Recovering I said "How was last Thursday for you?"


[the music was loud]


"Where are you from?"

"Canada originally, by way of Chicago, living in Paris since September."

As if answering another question, she said, "You know, the reason why you stuck out in my mind was because you had a certain look that was different. I mean, you have this style that is more rock'n'roll, so I wondered why you were there, but obviously you like electronic music." As I pondered this for a minute, she continued, explaining, "Yeah, maybe it's less rigid in the USA or Canada, but there are certain looks that go with certain scenes."

I replied that there are similar genre-specific style codes (thank you Dick Hebdige), but the points of reference are perhaps placed differently. In the US and Canada (generalizing chronologically and geographically from time in Ontario and the midwest US), t-shirts, wide-leg jeans, facial piercings, short hair, baseball caps and running shoes are all useful markers of EDM-lovers (and particularly techno fans), but over here in Paris the uniform is rather different. In many ways, the "look" here is closer to what we might see in a "mainstream" club in the US: designer collared shirts, fitted designer jeans, strappy tops with exposed shoulders and back (on women), long hair (on women), spikey gelled hair (on men), large earrings, expensive(-looking) shoes. Although I still go out wearing a t-shirt and jeans, I haven't worn a baseball cap since I got here, because I noticed immediately that NOBODY wears them to techno events.

The conversation lapsed for a while as we kept dancing and I kept snapping pictures. Then, out of the blue, I realize that I've lost sight of S. and his friends, so I tell my new friend that I'm going to go looking for my friends. "Me too! My friends just abandoned me a few minutes ago. Let's go find them together!"

After a bit of walking around, I found my group first. In fact, I found one of S.'s friends, who told me that they were going to a bar nearby to meet someone. Although I was sort of hoping to stay for Meteo and later T.Raumschmiere, following along seemed like the right thing to do, so I said my goodbyes and followed S.'s friend to the coat check. After waiting for my coat and eventually making it outside, we headed off to Truskel Bar/Club, which was an adventure in and of itself. But before that adventure, here's a good moment for some photos.

You see, this is a good example of the advantages and drawbacks of flash vs. no-flash (w/ high ISO) with my camera. The first image was taken with flash and a regular shutter and exposure. The second was taken without flash, but with a high ISO and a slower shutter to compensate. The first gives crisp detail, but tends to wash out colours and cancel out any effects lighting might have. The second gives much more intense colour, the club's coloured spotlights show very clearly, but everything is a bit blurry and any shift in my hand or the DJ's position creates blurring. I prefer non-flash when I can get away with it, but the camera I have (Panasonic DMC-LZ5) doesn't give me as much manual control as I would like over exposure, shutter speed, aperture, flash-timing, etc. Ah well.

click to enlarge click to enlarge

So Truskel, as S. described it to me as we walked over, was one of those places for choper (tr. nab, grab, catch; in this case, to hook up). Once we got inside, I would've compared it to a college bar (especially of the Canadian kind, considering that it was a mix of Celt-o-phile pub and rock-oriented dance club). I'm thinking of the Dance Cave in Toronto, Trasheteria in Kitchener-Waterloo, or any number of Wrigleyville club/bars in Chicago.

The lineup to get in was long and slow-moving; a group of girls cut in front of us, saying they had left something in the coat check (as if it was a good reason). We eventually got in to a pub that was PACKED with people. This was the kind of insane population density that is only possible when a crowd is not dancing. We shoved our way to the bar, got some beers, and shoved our way back to meet with S.'s friends. Apparently, the plan was to meet another friend of S.'s here, have a drink, and then head back to Le Triptyque to catch T.Raumschmiere. By 3h00, after a drink and a fair bit of crashing around in a sea of flesh, we headed back to Le Triptyque.

When we got there, we saw that were was a newly-formed lineup at the door, which we were in no mood to wait in. S. was supposed to have a friend in the line, so we waited about halfway up the line and looked up and down for her. In the meanwhile, another person in our party started sweet-talking the group of people directly in front of us, and the next thing you know we've merged with them. In an effort to make the "we know these folks" pretence a bit more real, we chatted with them. On made conversation with a girl who was working as an artist (no details on what medium or where she's showing). When she asked me where I was from and I told her "Canada," she replied "Ça se soigne." (tr. that can be cured) I would've like to have said something bitchy about my scant interest in healing if Frenchness was the cure, but she was our ticket in, so I smiled and laughed.

2h30-4h30: T.Raumschmiere

I got in, did the coat-check thing again, and then headed over to the dance floor, where I saw the "you look like a rocker" girl again. I spent some time dancing and snapping more pictures, chatted with S. a bit about the "rock" side of T.Raumschmiere's sound, and then bid S. goodbye when he tuckered out at approx 4h00. At this point, my narrative gets a bit boring; T.Raumschmiere's set was good, with an emphasis on the noisier, grittier side of minimal techno, and I spent most of it dancing. I also got this clip from about the midway point of Raumchmiere's set:

4h30-6h00: Phon.o (Part 2)

I liked this closing set a LOT. Phon.o put together a set that was an upbeat mix of ghettotech/booty house (i.e. house at hard-techno speeds, with punchy bass and rhythmic spoken-word vocals) and harder-edged microhouse. Realizing that I had done very little dancing earlier in the night, I tried to make up for lost time during this set. By this time--due to poor ventilation that reminded me of warehouse raves--the water and air pipes in the ceiling had begun to drip condensation on the floor, which gave just the right amount of slide to do the kind of dancing I really enjoy. I was having such a good time dancing, I didn't even realize that 5h30 had come around and the métro had reopened.

vendredi, février 23, 2007

Fruit Fucker and Mr. Period

So, I spent most of the morning and afternoon escorting a group of students to Versailles for a tour + lunch, which went pretty well. Nonetheless, I try to avoid posting about work, so here's some substitute material: Fruit Fucker and Mr. Period!

click to enlarge

You see, I ordered a set of t-shirts from Penny Arcade's merchandise vendor, ThinkGeek. The first t-shirt was a Merchkids t-shirt, which included a very cute image of silhouettes of kids with generic merchandised hats, balloons, etc. This t-shirt is based on a particular episode from Penny Arcade, where the economics of merchandising are distilled into its unholy essence. Click here for a whole list of Penny Arcade comics that feature the Merch character.

My second t-shirt is the Fruit Fucker shirt (I got the guy's t-shirt, but it's no longer available in the catalog). The FruitFucker was first mentioned in an early issue of Penny Arcade, which was then followed by this explanatory comic (above). Since then, Fruit Fucker has made repeat appearances, including his own story line and an appearance at thanksgiving. Check out this link for a list of Penny Arcade comics featuring this character.

click to enlarge

Mr Period! This guy was first featured in an early episode of Penny Arcade, where the authors tried to improve the level of punctuation and grammar in forum discussion boards (with all the irony/hopelessness that implies). Several years later, Mr. Period returned, with increased profanity. The t-shirt I have features the row of characters at bottom of the image above on a white background. Click here for a list of all comics with Mr. Period & Co. Oh, and here's another one that wasn't on that list.

Also, for good measure, click here for a list of all Penny Arcade comics that feature the word/theme "penis." You know you want to.


So I was supposed to go out tonight to see Adam X with Laurent and his crew, but in the end my failure to go out was overdetermined (link warning: inelegant definition). I went for dinner to a colleague's house along with DJ and several other folks. Dinner was lovely, but I had at least a litre of wine. Also, dinner ended pretty late (around midnight), so by the time I got home, changed, and got ready to go out again, I had missed the last subway into town. In addition to all of that, I just wasn't feeling well (i.e., not just tipsy), so I sent off another apologetic email, swore to myself that I would not overbook my evenings in the future, and went to bed.


Sorry! For those of you who feed on my blog (or at least lightly graze), I've been out of sync for the past few days. Things have been surprisingly busy, and I haven't had a chance to get to blogging either at work or at home since Wednesday night. I don't have to be anywhere saturday (during the day at least), so I'll catch up soon.

Tonight I'm off to see Adam X at Nouveau Casino. I haven't seen him since...well...longer than I care to admit.

jeudi, février 22, 2007

Boulot, Apéro, Dodo

Translation: "Work, Drink (aperitif), Sleep."

I was supposed to get out of work at 15h00, but there are some renovations going on at work, and we needed to relocate the entire computer lab to another room. Of course, the students were still using the computer lab en masse at 15h00, so we had to wait for a while. By the time the move was done and I could leave, it was almost 18h00. Now, this wouldn't have been a problem, were it not for the fact that I had a date for an apéro with a friend at 19h45 and I still needed to go by home and drop off some stuff. So off I went, zipping home, zipping back out, and arriving about 15mins late.

We met for beers at Bombardier Pub, which is a British ex-pat pub near the Pantheon. I usually make such an effort to drink at French bars, clubs, cafés, etc., it's always amusing to go to these places that are a combination of American/English/Canadian ex-pat havens and foreign-anglophile fantasy dens. The servers in particular (all women) did a good job of speaking French capably, but with a noticeable English accent. Anyway, we had a great time chatting and catching up (we had been trying to hang out for nearly 3 weeks without success). After he left for dinner, I stayed behind for another pint and then headed home.

I was supposed to go out again later that night to see some friends spin at a bar, but I was already feeling a bit tired. Also, I had to be up at an ungodly hour the next morning to take a group of students to Versailles, so I couldn't be out very late anyway. I stopped at the Asian traiteur (take-out) near my place and headed home; if I wasn't so tired after eating a bit of dinner, I'd go out.

I was traumatized when I walked into the take-out place and the woman at the counter sneezed into her hand, and then looked at me, saying "Can I help you?" This in and of itself wasn't a big deal (she was far away from the food), but when I made my order, she reached for the food without washing her hands. As she spoke, it was clear that her sinuses were congested and that she was ill. Thankfully, she wasn't touching my food with her hands and she "heated" everything in a microwave anyway, but I was thoroughly grossed out. In fact, I was a bit sad, because I realized at that moment that from now on, I wouldn't be able to conveniently pick up chinese take-out on those days when I'm too busy to cook. The next traiteur asiatique is several blocks away. Crap!

Anyway, after going home, eating my food, washing my hands and the containers thoroughly (and taking a vitamin C pill just in case), I decided I wasn't going out. I was tired, and even if I forced myself to go out, I would still have come home far too early to actually catch my friends' set. So I fired off an apologetic email and hit the sack.

mercredi, février 21, 2007

Indian Anus-God watches me eat

No, seriously. DJ and I went out for dinner after work to a vegetarian restaurant near La Chapelle that served South Indian fare. I had been there before with another colleague back in the fall, at which point she had pointed out one rather unusual aspect of the décor. On the wall overlooking the dining room, there's a *large* cut-out image of a god, bedecked in feminine jewlry--except she's a butt with eyes, playing the flute out of her mouth/anus. No kidding.

I really wanted to take a picture but a combination of forgetfulness and uncertainty as to how to explain my actions ("Yes, I find your pantheon amusing") prevented me from doing it. Nonetheless, I'm determined to eventually get a picture and post it. If anybody out in the blogosphere can identify what particular deity this image represents (and where s/he fits into the vedic epics), I'd be a better person for it.

Anyway, the food was great. We both had dosas, although I tried the special "ceylon dosa," which turned out to be a whole bunch of fluffy super-thin omelets with nothing inside. On the way out, the waiter stopped DJ at the door, saying he had forgotten to charge us for the gulab jamun (fried dough in syrup, pretty much); I walked over and looked at the bill and noted that he had charged us for a cardamom tea that I never got (and I had ordered mint, anyway). He blinked and said "Oh, OK" and it was over. I have that feeling that if we were in the states, he would've felt compelled to re-do the transaction, just to be accurate.

After that, we wandered over to Point Éphémère for a drink. There was some art installation in the far room that we promptly ignored, preferring to get drinks from the bar and grab a seat in the café area. The bar itself is really nice (although a bit over-lit), and entirely different from the club/theatre area that I had partied in 6 months ago for the Katapult afterparty during the Techno Parade. My only complaint was that the DJ (who was at the top of what looked like a fire escape / catwalk access) cranked up the volume as if the café were in fact a club. It became increasingly difficult to hear each other and I came close to screaming myself hoarse. On the upside, he played a few venerable electroclash tracks that really took me back to 2002-4. Sigh.

If you told me in 2004 I'd be feeling nostalgic about that moment by 2007, I'd have smacked you upside the head.

mardi, février 20, 2007

Epic Battles of Glorious Laundry

So, I had plans to do a lot of things today. Lots of small errands and tasks that needed to be wrapped up. And then I started my laundry, and suddenly my entire night evaporated. You see, there are only 3 washers and 3 dryers for a residence complex that includes 3 different towers. Add to this the fact that people tend to be slow to collect their loads of laundry when they're done. Add also the fact that the dryers are "free", which means people overload them and then keep on resetting them if their clothes aren't perfectly dry the first time.

All of this is to say that by the time I was putting my first load of clothes into a dryer, there were 4 people with loads of laundry, just standing there in the laundry room and waiting for someone to empty a washer or otherwise show weakness. The rest of the night (I had 3 more loads of laundry to do) went from worse to sucktastic, as people fought for available machines and yelled at each other for being stupid (which they were, from my perspective). So by the end of the day I had taken care of all my laundry, but I was in a foul, foul mood.

On the upside, things were going well before the whole laundry thing. I had finally gone to the butcher near my place and bought a roasted chicken. What I love about the roasted chicken here is that they're relatively small and very succulent, so one person can buy it and eat it as a main dish without feeling horribly overstuffed. I took mine home, stripped the carcass, and put the meat in a salad. It was delicious.

lundi, février 19, 2007

Store-bought bechamel and other demons

After a "meh" day at work, I headed home and occupied myself with writing up the more "theoretical" blog post for last saturday. This took a lot longer than one might expect, since I was fleshing out some ideas that will hopefully be useful in the future for my doctoral project. Also, when you're wrestling with slippery concepts like "intimacy," things can get out of hand easily.

Anyway, I knew that this was going to take most of my night, so I stopped by the Franprix near my place and bought a stack of near-ready-made food. I had missed lunch, so when I got home I fixed a sort of high tea with a baguette sandwich filled with mustard, mayo and PRECOOKED, "SLICED," AND "SEASONED" CHICKEN BITS. To the manufacturer's credit, it doesn't taste all that awful. Nonetheless, there's something really creepy about bringing home a plastic bag the size of a potato chips container and tearing it open to find random chunks of cooked chicken meat with "provençal" spices scattered around. My original plan had been to buy a freshly roasted chicken from the butcher around the corner, but he's apparently closed on Monday. Bastard.

Later that evening, I made a quick Italian salad out of tomatoes and buffala mozzarella, with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of salt. It was probably the best thing I ate all night. Late that evening, around 23h00, I was still feeling peckish, so I boiled up some rotini and poured over a box of pre-made béchamel sauce. Now, I've made lots of béchamels in my time, and I've never made anything this oddly rubbery. On the one hand, the sauce was incredibly thick. However, it was the wrong kind of thick. All the xanthan gum and whatever else they put in there made it really shiny and almost elastic, rather than flour-and-cream thick. From reading the contents on the label, it was just reconstituted whole milk with a TON of thickening agents. Bleah.

So ends my evening of culinary shame. The tomato-mozzarella salad was quite nice, but everything else was a bit embarassing. If only that butcher had been open!

dimanche, février 18, 2007


You wanna know what I did on Sunday? Really? Well, here it is:

  • Sleep
  • Blog
  • Eat
  • Blog
  • Sleep

My day was a perfect palindrome.