Thursday, May 30, 2013

Coucou, coucou.

When someone makes an improbable shot, one often hears "Ho, le cocu!" which literally means "oh, the cuckold" which as you may know is a reference to the cuckoo bird which notoriously dupes other species of bird to care for its young by laying eggs in their nests.

Why this expression?  It was explained to me that when something really lucky happens to a man, other men gibe him by saying that it means that his woman is surely being fucked by another man... cosmically all lucky and unlucky events must balance out, you see?

I'm not sure of the accuracy of this account etymologically speaking, but it seems to make sense. I'm sure they rarely think of the literal meaning of the phrase.  It's just something you say.  When a guy gets lucky, we say "ho, le cocu!" perhaps subliminally tapping into a funny male superstition that whenever things are too good to be true, the chances are someone is fucking your wife.

I asked my French interlocutor if he thought that French people were superstitious, and he responded, "No, we just understand women."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Some times I feel real down. Yet when I think of the stars, I feel joyful.  I imagine this feeling might be similar to the way religious folk do sometimes.  My god is a gay god, in the strictest sense of the word.

I feel myself slipping into a sort of archetypical priest or shaman persona.  I can't be bothered by worldly contrivances.  I prefer to look at the moon - really examine it - and try to feel its gravitational pull.  I unabashedly worship the sun - the giver of all life as we know it.  That wonderful miasma of plasma has allowed a thin film of goo to form on the surface of a large rock.

My ex didn't like thinking about all this.  Space scared her. The evolution of man (my specialty) bored her.  No wonder it didn't work out!  Just thinking about the immensity of the galaxy was perturbing to her.  I agree that it's a strange feeling, but it always was a positive one for me oddly enough.  I'm somehow comforted by the appalling, suffocating insignificance of me.

But not enjoying the understanding of human evolution is something I will never understand.  These are the questions we all want answered!  Who am I, and why am I?  I admit we answer these questions poorly and only provisionally, but we do our damnedest!  Damnedest?

That reminds me that I was going to try to remove any language related to religion or superstition from my vocabulary.  Damnation is impossible, and is a sloppy approximation for what I'm trying to say.  There are no gods damning anyone.  No need to yell Jesus Christ!  Blasphemy is wrong on all counts.  Nothing is a "sin." Nobody is "blessed."  All of these references are obfuscating and baloney.

I know it can be taken too far.  I know language is ever evolving, and meanings are meaningful no matter where they originate.  But language is powerful, and I believe not using certain stupid words can help us psychically.  I think a good analogy is my use of the word "gay" in highschool.  Throughout my life I was never against homosexuality, yet for an embarrassing amount of time in my formative years, "gay" was the go-to word to mean anything negative.  You're gay, that's gay, this's gay, school's gay, we're all gay.  Part of me still wants to defend the use of the word... getting so upset about it would be pretty gay, right? But another part wants to banish the word forever.  A meaning borne out of an idiotic intolerance of a sexual lifestyle has no merit in my eyes.  If it could simply go back to where it was before then I would be, well, gay.

Le Vilain Petit Canard

Yesterday I went to an "open mic" (though there is no microphone). It's a nice little place that recalls and older, Frencher France. Most everyone seems to know one another, but they are kind enough to make an awkward American feel welcome. The owner is a solid man whose no-nonsense demeanor is leavened by flashes of a kindly smile. His wife animates the circle of guitar players and flautists and occasionally accompanies old ballads with her beautiful voice.

I like listening to the old guys sing Brassens, politically charged laments, and Gaelic tunes. An Argentine was there last night, and sang some really beautiful songs... I forgot to ask the titles. Then a young m'as-tu vu came in and sang John Mayer, and "un chanson que j'ai écrit (je me fais de la pub)" which sounded suspiciously like something John Mayer would've come up with. He was technically good.

I was definitely in the lowest quartile talent-wise, but I rapped "Loose Lips" by Kimya Dawson and sang a goofy version of "I Threw It All Away" by Dylan. I did an earnest "Hard To Be A Girl" by Adam Green and "Gut Feeling" by Devo. I think people appreciated the otherness of it at least.

People I meet are always interested in finding out what I think about Marseille. I had to mention that I was assaulted on my way to the bar. A vagrant scurried up to me yelling "M'sieuh! M'sieuh!" then tried to grab me with his filthy hands. I esquived him, and informed him that he should not lay hands on me under any circumstances. He then lifted his 1664 bottle over his head as a threat. I brandished my pool cue bag (which is truly a shit weapon) but it scared him off. Little dumb piece of shit.

But Marseille is a great place. I'm going to miss the sea. I'll miss the Calanques. The boats, the fish. The spices of Africa. Les arabes! I mean, those lucky bastards that have a nice little place between centreville and the Calanques... maybe a little sloop to take out on the weekends. They have a nice set-up. I can dream.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Impromptu street art

Last night I got good seats at a Quai Rive Neuve Improv Comedy show.  It featured flying leaps, karate kicks, chair throwing, girl slapping, and it rolled up and down the sidewalk for a good 10 minutes.  We were kept on the edge of our seats as the drunken slurs would tumble off stage right, only to surprise us with an encore performance even better than the last.  When the curtain fell a few of the players were so exhausted and emotionally spent that they decided to take a short nap on the pavement.  Twas a splendid evening indeed!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


A few days ago I was playing against some aixois who didn't know a pool stick from a tapir dick.  One was having problems shooting, and I told him that in a pinch rubbing the blue chalk on your hand can reduce friction.

"But then your hand will be all dirty!"

How do I describe this guy without offending various genders and/or sexual orientations?

Monday, May 6, 2013


Sautéed asparagus and garlic with smoked salmon, comté and carrots for the hell of it.  Basic basalmic dressing.  Brut chardonnay mousseux.  Obrigod Shabim.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The (Recent) Human Evolution Project

The year is 2013, and we know more than ever about human evolution.  Most recently, technological breakthroughs in the analysis of ancient DNA (aDNA) has given us fascinating new insights into how we came to be, and has illuminated our controversial relationship with Neanderthals.  It is an exciting time to study human evolution by all accounts.

But during my 21st century odyssey to study the fossil record, I ran head-long into a frustrating 19th century problem - data from fossil finds are guarded jealously by academics instead of being rendered public for all to see and interpret.

These days human fossils are increasingly being repatriated to their countries of origin on the basis that they are a rightful part of a nations patrimony.  While a noble effort, this too can have the effect of further reducing access to fossil data.  (Can afford a trip to East Africa?  Great!  Hope they're not having a civil war now!) Let's take this idea one step further: human fossils are undeniably the patrimony of all of humanity, and should therefore be "repatriated" to a place where everyone can see/study/marvel at/ all of the relevant data. 

Let's create a website that has 3D scans, photographs, drawings, and interpretations of all of the human fossils discovered in the last 150 years. Current technology would make this a relatively easy task.  All that is needed is a genuine desire to share knowledge. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Un rat!

I saw my fair share of rats in NYC. Hell, one even died in some unreachable place in my wall. For a month we just waited out the decomposition process - we didn't dare take a hammer to the place. But now that it's gotten warmer in Marseille, even I am shocked by the number of rodents scurrying in the streets. I see at least 5 whoppers a day. Just now as I was walking home I saw a big'un hauling half a baguette down the street.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I listened to this song throughout my childhood. It was on one of me and Alida's favorite LPs when we spent the weekends at my dad's. Being a kid I just liked the sound, but now the lyrics have some impact on me. It's a weird feeling. I'm having a sort of delayed pubescence where love songs (i.e. all songs) have actual meaning for me.

I also just realized that the Flying Pickets LP we played nonstop came out the year of my birth. I guess my parents must have listened to it when I was a little red ball of shit tears and piss. My mom has largely evacuated her life of any music from that era. My dad, a more sentimental person, maybe took more pleasure in reliving that time.

EDIT: I just noticed they're clearly lipsynching the album version of the song.  Nice invisible microphones!