Friday 19 February 2010

A Candy Coloured Clown They Call The Soundman

I've finally figured out why the terms competant sound engineer and French are generally a contradiction. This might seem harsh but having had the displeasure of playing in a few officially sanctioned French rock clubs I've met some of the most arrogant, pompous and basically inept technicians of any country I've ever played in. Indeed, the French themselves have an expression for these twerps, and the expression is tete a claque, literally a head for hitting. (Excuse the lack of accents - the blog thing was having trouble with them.)
These people have the status of intermittent de spectacle. An intermittent de spectacle is someone who works on a self-employed or intermittent basis in any branch of show business - musician, TV technician, sound engineer...
If you can weave your way through the complex maze of idiotic and mind-numbing bureaucracy that goes into achieving this hallowed status the state pays you a sum equivalent to sixty percent of your earnings for the the days when you're being er... intermittent.
What a fantastic fucking opportunity! Amy and I have been trying for it but we're lacking the fascistic mind set that might help us to wade through the apparently baffling steps. Other people who have managed this have been helping us along and who knows, we might actually get there with it. But last night, blundering through yet another crassly put together French website, I turned to Amy with tears in my eyes.
'This is going to put me in a cancer ward,' I said.
I don't mean to say that you have to be a fascist to sort it all out, I certainly don't think the people who have been guiding us through this are anything of the sort, but I can see how it might help. The French authorities obviously make it as difficult as they can because they've sort of boxed themselves into a corner that they can't get out of. They can't really pull the plug on paying old Johnny Hallyday sixty percent of the already grossly inflated income he makes for being crap singer and all round retard. Neither could they cut the income of everyone who works in the TV and radio because they'd have another revolution on their hands - and the opposition would be in control of the media.
France used to be a socialist country - socialist in the best sense. The vestiges manifest themselves in every part of daily life. The overwhelming bureaucracy came as a result of making a society for everyone - actors, poets, factory workers, cheese makers, musicians... No one was going to slip through the net. But the socialism is long gone, eaten away by the cancer of bureaucracy and corruption.
It's all a matter of job creation. There's this Societies or that Association - Asso for short which is so comfortably near to asshole as to make me wonder. They have cute names like Allo Jazz and Le Guso and they s'occupe or occupy themselves with the processing of the necessary documentation pursuant in the work of the intermittent de spectacle. Looking at these websites has me convinced, in an unfortunately fascistic moment, that the French should never have been allowed to have the internet, they should have stuck to growing vegetables. At least they were good at that. Now they import vegetables from countries with polytunnels and clutter up the interweb with their rubbish.
I don't need to have every tedious point illustrated by a coquettish little mime artist arseclown doing an I've got a good idea pose.
If you don't believe me here's a link:
They call it informatique - that's their word for all things to do with computers and the internet. Their mania for information gets in the way of giving out information. I'm drowning in a mire of useless information here.
And reading this I expect you are too.
It's like an architect designed house that's been added on to, piece meal by a crazed DIY enthusiast. It doesn't make any sense and it's close to uninhabitable. It should be condemned, it should be pulled down. It seems to me at the moment that a good half of this country has a job on the back of other people having jobs.

But back to those sound engineer intermittents - in future, when I meet one of those smug, swaggering, pony-tailed, fuckwits in their para-military apparel - combats tucked into twenty-one hole Doc Martens, bomber jacket, walkie talkie, maglite, access all areas pass on lanyard... I'll understand why he's like he is. He's no sound engineer, he just has a knack for dealing with bureaucracy.


  1. I heard a man (scientist? Dunno.) saying on the radio that what he termed 'static', meaning an abundance of useless and/or conflicting information, or even repetitive information - like most bureaucratic forms, instructions, requirements, etc - actually make the brain shut down.
    Hard not to think it's done on purpose.
    The same thing happens here with 'arts grants'. About every second person in our village is an artist, apparently but you'd be hard pressed to find any art lying about the joint.

  2. that mime is a wanker. insightful, i know...

  3. My doctor said that if I wanted to understand how the French beaurocratic mind worked, then just think of it as being run by Stalinists exiled from Russia by Stalin for being too Stalinist.