If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I specialize in sort of “off the beaten path” travels. Places like Central & South America, Eastern Europe, Russia, Cuba, Trinidad, etc. Why? Well, you could say I’m cheap but you’d then be ignoring the fact that Moscow & St. Petersburg Russia are a lot of things, but cheap ain’t one of them.
Perhaps I like the excitement of hitting up a place that few tourists have hit. Some of my lousiest trips have been where I’ve gone thousands of miles only to be surrounded by Americans from the U.S. (South American and Canadians are “Americans’ too ya’ll.. get it right).
My first trip down to Central America was Costa Rica. I chose CR because I was so stressed out and was trying desperately to forget my problems back home. I rented a car and drove all over the country even over the dreaded montaña de la muerte (mountain of death).
At one remote but popular national park, I ended up picking up a hitchhiking tourist (not uncommon down there) who was not only from New York City, but worked for one of the very people who I not only knew in the media industry but was hoping to forget about for a few days. My nervous twitch returned while she was in the car carrying on about the guy.
Then in Machu Picchu, Peru I was surrounded by English speaking, mostly Americans who were really nice but really not what I had been going for when I booked my quick, week long trip where the idea was to escape the rigors of running my own little “company that could” in the big, bad and too often too ugly media biz.
But all in all, travel on my worst day was still better than being “home” on an average day. Not that I’m so miserable in the U.S. (“like it or leave it dude” – callate!), but I do love travel that much. Sometimes I’m more comfortable being uncomfortable. Don’t ask me why.
That is why I’ve been working for the past 24 months or so on a project called “Raw Travel”, which incorporates more than a little punk attitude in the way it approaches travel and other cultures and especially the TV biz.
Hey, I never said math was my strong suite.
And now my friends, it’s time.
I’ve been robbed (Argentina), mugged, well attempted at least (Brazil & Ecuador) and cheated (Rich Vreede/Black Cat)…I’ve been criticized, flamed, harassed, stalked and most damning of all… ignored. And for what, you might ask?
Money? Ha, ha, ha…. What short term memory problems you have. Please see above about being robbed, mugged and cheated. And besides, excuse me, everyone knows there IS a lot of money exchanging hands in punk music…. and all of it flows one way… out.. rarely in.
Recognition? Nahhh…. rarely does anyone give a shit enough for more than a few folks to even say a kind word or two (much appreciated by the way though). I’ve been “recognized” before and I can tell you it’s overrated. Like easy sex (is there such a thing?), it feels good at the moment but afterwards it’s like, did that even actually happen?
Appreciation? ha, ha… double, triple ha. I don’t know if you are aware of this but musicians can be the most narcissistic bunch in the world (second only to actors and professional athletes). Even punk musicians.
Many are like “spend your $ on me, poor musician, with no resources”, make a music video, put the music out, tell the world about them, build em a website… and get….. well on a rare occasion, like my buddy Felipe from Dorados Rockabilly Trio, I’ll get an international phone call just to say “Thank you”. Man.. that means a lot because most of the artists, whether on Punk Outlaw Records or whether we just do a little profile here with a segment, don’t even bother to grunt “thanks” when it’s all said and done and they’ve gotten what they wanted. Short term thinkers get short term rewards.
OK, maybe that’s a little overly pessimistic and exaggerated, but this Southern farm boy was taught to be gracious, to everyone for almost every possible kind thing.. and I’m amazed that at least 50% of the musicians we profile here, rarely if ever say the words “Thank you”. Many having begged me for the exposure and after the post goes up, poof! they disappear without a word. Disheartening.
So why would I do it? you ask… good question and I think the answer lies somewhere in the 50% who do show some gratitude, the 25% to the readers who show appreciation and the other 50% is my love of travel/punk aforementioned. (Once again, not good at math, I said!).
But I’ve digressed. What exactly is it time for?
It’s time, my friends, for me, the 3rd world punk rock traveler to cheap locations to do the unthinkable. To hit, one of the most expensive, oft referenced touristy places on the planet. You may have guessed it by our headline as nothing escapes your attention…. oui, oui (snicker, snicker, I said “wee, wee”).. France.
Yes, France. The city of love, wine, cheese, supposedly anti-American or anti-any non French speaking, French Fry (joking!) loving France.
“Why France? Why now?” you ask.
Do I love being condescended upon for lack of native lingual ability? Do I really want to see if croissants are better there than in Santa Monica? Do I think the U.S. media has probably done such a good job of stereotyping the French so I need to check them out for myself? Well, yes actually.
But also for two other important reasons, one relates to Raw Travel and the other Punk Music.
1) Cannes – There is a big TV Festival there twice a year called MIPCOM, which is the must go to spot for buying and selling international TV. In addition to working on a U.S. outlet for Raw Travel, we’ve had some good interest internationally (evidently there are people who like to travel more than us in the U.S. of A.), so I’m saying to hell with the jet lag, sleep deprivation and expense. I’m going. (plus a good buddy hooked me up with a pass!).
2) Paris – Who could visit France and not visit the famous “city of love”. or based on all the research I (meaning the Russian interns) could gather, where the only punk scene of note in France exist.
Am I right? Am I wrong? Do you know?
Drop me a note. I only have 2.5 days counting travel to check out Paris and as much as I love Punk music, I still would like to check out the tourist traps of Paris as I’m not sure I’ll ever be back. And just an observation after all my travels, the punk scene is rarely, ever even remotely around the nice parts of any city. Always in the shitty part of town no tourist would be caught dead in, that’s where I specialize I guess.
So I’m thinking I have 1 or maybe 2 interviews or 1 punk show at most to hit (I will be there next weekend). All in all, I prefer a good punk, or psychobilly or rockabilly show. Nothing gives insight more broadly in a short period of time than a good show.
But barring that, interviewing a couple of the bands or key fans is also on the agenda. The Russians did put together some really good research for me and I’ve got a few of the bands listed below. I’ve got to decide who to hit up soon, so I thought I might ask you, loyal reader(s) to help me choose. I’ve posted band names and links below. Got some spare time? take a listen.. tell me who you dig the most. Know someone in France? Send ’em my way (tell them I’m Canadian if you must).
But don’t dilly dally… I’ll be in Paris 10/13-10/15 only and need to start reaching out soon.
Oh and lest I forget, “merci” in advance.
Here are the bands. Click on them to go to their respective sites/pages.
Washington Dead Cats (Psychobilly)