Monday, February 9


Combining two words to make a new fake word in order to describe a cultural phenomenon hasn't been funny in a long time, especially after the Taco Bell ad campaign [not the one where they pretend that their steak is passable] wherein Americans slur "crunchy" with "chewy" around the office. But in Paris, outside of a handful of American Apparels, it's impossible to find a hooded sweatshirt. When I first landed here, Colby's friend Nealy told me that, instead, people regularly wear weird sweater hoodies. So, for lack of a better word, danger-seeking Parisians never leave home without their Swoodies.

A few Sundays ago, Dave brought us to a strange D-I-Y venue in Belleville that does not really have a name but hangs a giant sign that reads Chez George. [Chez George is a popular bar near the Seine river, so we theorize the sign was stolen from the bar's dumpster.] Most days they have hardcore shows [which I'd actually love to see, especially if they yell in French] but on Sundays they have free jazz shows. The shows are split into two parts; the first part is a competent group's performance, and then after a short intermission, there's a jazz open mic. Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments and join strangers on stage to jam; this portion is reliably bad.

The week we went, one of the improvised groups included a free-styler, who walked the line between embarrassing rap and embarrassing reggae. The group also included a blond, middle-aged woman in a jean skirt who had brought her saxophone, but you could hardly hear what she was playing and most of the time she bobbed her head arhythmically and pretended to smile. The free-styler looked insane, and yelled hopes of equality for random nations and ethnic groups, using English terms when he knew them. For all intensive purposes, we will assume that he was trying to look hard, or at least knowledgeable of life on the [Parisian] streets. And so, appropriately, he was wearing a Swoodie.