Indescribable pain racked my body, shooting white-bolts of blistering agony from the low of my back down through my legs and up to the top of my skull. Each spasm caused by body to convulse, twisting like a burning scrap of paper, compounding the torment. I slowly shifted to my other side to lay panting, sweating, terrified of the next attack.

The possibility of rising from my inflatable mat was remote. Muscle contractions had left me spent, near vomiting and pissing. While there was little I could do about the former I groped behind me in the dark for my water bottle. We stared at one another in this sudden calm. I drained the last of its contents. We stared some more. I experimented with pulling myself up using the bed next to me but this sent me perilously close to another seizure. The two sleeping girls shifted under their covers. (more…)

Vingt - Dorian Wood

A preview I wrote for LA based holy water drunk, Brothers Grimm acolyte, backstreet cabaret rocker Dorian Wood. Never heard of him before either but then I checked out his music and would encourage you to do the same. Unfortunately I think I’m gonna miss his show here. (more…)

Montmartre a Nuit

I’ve moved to Paris. There’s none of the traditional reasons behind this– there was no girl, no job, no school. I basically hit a point in my life where I was sick and tired of feeling miserable and trapped in the perpetuation of existence that I’d started when I got my first shit job at the age of fifteen. There are amazing, inspiring people out in the world who find what’s important to them and pursue it, make it work, and cling to it with their very lives. I had a couple failed bands, a couple failed relationships and struggled to find the time and energy just to write little things here. My health was in decline and although I can’t say I was unhappy, really, I knew complacency was killing me.

My trip here last spring caught me at the right moment. Paris is amazing, and as inspiring as the people who I’ve been fortunate enough to know who demand the right to chase their dreams. I knew before returning home that I wanted to live here, and so I started figuring out ways to make it work. This is why I started writing articles for Wired– I asked my editor friend for advice about getting into freelance writing and he suggested I start working with him; he’s been there every step of the way so far, teaching me how to self-edit, teaching me how to develop pitches, teaching me how to become a desirable commodity. The fact that the industry is choking right now didn’t bother me any more than the fact that I can’t speak French does.

And so I’m here, a month in, trying to figure out my life. It’s been tough for the obvious reasons and thrilling for the not so obvious. Trying to get into a steady work rhythm to churn out articles for my two Wired connections and build up a good set of clipping to expand my subject field. I also started a new blog:

Je Suis Le Grand Zombie (after the Mekons) (more…)

Nuit a le Marais

Calling myself a world traveler would be a lie, but I’ve been around and seen places, hating some and liking others. Big cities, small towns, rural backwaters and the highways, byways and skyways in between have all been graced by my presence, traversing the distances by car, bus, train and plane. I’ve taken ferries but never sailed and that’s not likely to change any time soon, unless they make the oceans stop bobbing up and down. The point is that I’ve wandered the streets of Manhattan suffering the brute force of a million people hurrying to somewhere under the silent sentinels towering above, I’ve roamed the grimy arcades of Osaka grappling with a culture both foreign and familiar to me, I’ve sweltered under the Caribbean sun swimming in a sea of voices I couldn’t understand and I’ve eaten poutine out of a paper bag purchased from some roadside Quebecois shack wishing for more napkins.

Philadelphia scared me the first time I visited because I didn’t understand the vigilance and tension of the older generation until I learned a little about the past. Olympia doesn’t have a lot going for it but I always appreciated the serenity, the feeling of being on a retreat, of allowing myself to slip into a slower stream of life. Portland has always hated me but we’re working on it; I didn’t get sick until the last day when I was last there and I didn’t sleep in a park. Minneapolis? It’s been ten years since I tried to live there, or kidded myself I could try to live there when I knew there were too many things I needed to do back home. I haven’t returned, although I think of it from time to time.

Macaroon. Macaroon. No, Macaroon.

Paris impressed the hell out of me, more than any place I’ve ever been. My head was filled with horror stories of rude, snobby xenophobes making life hell for no reason. I went with only a slight skeleton of French under my belt convinced I would find myself trapped on the Metro, completely turned around and unable to find my way, babbling English to a group of smug subway employees raising their eyebrows and insisting they couldn’t understand me. There would be no bespectacled school-girl to help me in Paris, I would wander the streets too shellshocked to stop in a cafe and use the bathroom. I would find my efforts to secure a simple baguette resisted until my stomach gnawed and growled. Parisian youth would prey upon me, spitting and kicking and calling me Yankee-Doodle while they rifled through my pockets and wore tight pants. (more…)

The Big Guns

A little over a year ago I found myself surrounded by thousands of revelers parading through the streets of Fort-de-France, Martinique. Carnaval was in full swing and events were planned from Sunday through Wednesday, each day bearing a particular theme with suggested attire. My two friends and I played along, descending from the hills of Schoelcher into the capital city to walk alongside the major avenues or standing in front of our Eurocentric safe-haven Cyberdeliss which afforded us refreshment from the heat and humidity. I can’t say that it was a spiritual epiphany for me, despite my Catholic upbringing, nor was there any sort of impassioned awakening for all things culturally Caribbean, but my week-long experience on the island has left a lasting impression.

Born and raised in the heathen American West offers me no concept of what Carnaval is all about beyond the stereotypes presented on television and in movies. The trip had been planned before we knew that our schedule coincided with Martinique’s grandest celebration and learning we would be sharing our vacation with the Mardi Gras crowd invoked a nightmare of New Orleans inspired debauchery. Nothing could have surprised me more when I saw days of drinking and dancing with no fights, flashing, puking or strong police presence. The locals were genuine, nice, exceedingly polite and had discovered a way to enjoy themselves without striving for an advanced state of inebriation. My original concerns also proved to be unfounded– sticking out like a sore thumb on a Caribbean island with high unemployment and low standard of living without any grasp of the language or ability to discern a dangerous neighborhood from a quiet one did not lead to having my kidneys stolen.

The French Overseas Departments have escaped the perils of their neighbors. Crime rates are very low by any standard but especially so when compared to places like Jamaica or Haiti. The theory of my friend who lived on the island while working on research for his dissertation suggested the economic stability offered by France and the hard won rights awarded to the former colonies by entrance into the Republic as states as opposed to territories prevented a descent into chaos and violence. (more…)

Julien Coupat is all that remains, one of twenty individuals arrested in connection with co-ordinated incidents of sabotage against France’s TGV high-speed railways last November. Iron bars were used to short out the electrical systems of several lines which stranded approximately 20,000 passengers on trains and in stations, affecting departures to as far away as London. There were no injuries, no explosions, no manifestos left behind at the points of vandalism, but initial suspicion fell on striking railway workers.

Three days afterwards police held simultaneous raids in Paris, Rouen and Tarnac, netting twenty suspects, eleven of whom were soon freed. The remaining nine, now referred to as the Tarnac 9 because most were from there, remained in detention and questions for several days. Four more suspects were released while the remaining were charged with “association of wrong-doers in relation to a terrorist undertaking”. Nearly a month after the acts of sabotage three more people are released by the courts, leaving archeology student, Yidune Levy, and her “companion” Coupat. On January 16th Levy was freed after a judge’s intervention, although she may be re-incarcerated pending judicial review. Coupat was originally ordered released in December by a judge but an emergency order has kept him in jail. (more…)