12 Reasons to Love Christophe (Daniel Bevilacqua)

As if you need to be given reasons to love Christophe, but for those who have not yet been won over by his many charms here’s a few reasons why I love him:

  • TROUSERS – This is a twofer reason.  It’s 1966 and there’s handsome Christophe having his photo taken for the cover of his J’ai entendu la mer EP, get this, with writing all over his trousers. So punk *before punk*!  He’s got the names of his favourite musicians scribbled in thick black pen all over his legs – Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Charles Mingus, etc  But if you think he’s too “dangerous” with his little leather jacket and his anarchistic legwear, he’s petting a tiny puppy dog to show his gentle side.  What’s not to love?  The two-for-one bit, I’ve not forgotten – the second part of this is that he used to sell Levi’s jeans from the back of his car (when he was allowed to drive, he’s had his licence withdrawn – probably speeding, he likes to drive fast), even though he wasn’t short of a bob or two at all, but lately he has started selling his old jeans (the ones that don’t fit him anymore) at flea markets in the south of France. Who’s ever heard of their favourite pop star selling their jeans on the market?!! I really want some, so long as he writes all over them!

Christophe j'ai entendu la mer

  • DA-DA SONG / GELSOMINA – This track is mental, it’s 1969 and it’s not long ago that Christophe was singing popular songs on TV for the masses, but he’s doing his own thing now.  It’s psychedelic, it’s soundtracky, it’s crazy – I love it! La la la la!

Christophe Gelsomina

  • LA PETITE FILLE DU 3E – 1970, the year I was born, and Christophe releases this little gem.  This is a song about a custodian, who minds his own business when looking after the building, he sees and hears everything but he never says anything.  There’s the little girl from the 3rd floor who’s always got problems; the old lady from the 5th floor who reads the tarot cards and told the man from the 8th floor that he’s going to die tomorrow. A veritable drama in “pop”

Christophe Petite fille 3e

  • ROCK MONSIEUR – Jump forward a bit to 1973 and Christophe is sounding all Suicide-like before he even knows who Suicide are.  A bit of wordplay – Rock Monsieur, Rock c’est mieux – Rock, it’s better.  Lots of repetition musically – that’s not a bad thing, I could listen to this track on a loop; sometimes I do.  Sounds like an average evening in Christophe’s life – some poker, get in the car, some hedgehopping, drinking too much, having a hard time etc  He’s not kidding either, even with the facial hair he is a “joli garçon“, look!

Christophe Belle

  • ALAN VEGA – Yes, talking of Suicide, as I was, this leads me on to the next reason.  Christophe, yes, the same Christophe who sang songs about puppets and girls called Aline (nothing wrong with any of this) is, believe it or not, a massive fan of Suicide and Alan Vega.  He got into Suicide in 1979 and he’s not turned back since.  So, is it any surprise he actually got together with Alan Vega, no, but to see him meeting Alan Vega and asking for a photo together as a souvenir and asking him if he would like to listen to some of his songs, “Because I know you but you don’t know me.  I know you very well”, it makes your heart swell – you can watch the video here.  Then he turns up at an Alan Vega gig in 2011 and joins him for a rendition of Saturn Drive Duplex  – god knows what Christophe is singing but it doesn’t matter, look out at the end as he kneels in front of Alan Vega in deference and Vega kisses him on the head. Brings a tear to your eye!

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  • EXCUSEZ-MOI MONSIEUR LE PROFESSEUR – Jumping back a bit, my favourite track from the Salut Les Copains years is this one from 1966.  It tells you a lot of what you need to know about Christophe – at school he’s always in trouble because his mind is elsewhere, his pages are all blank in his notebook as he prefers climbing trees instead of doing his work, because he has been told he’s not allowed to climb trees; if he’s absent when they take the register it’s because he got lost on the way to school and he’s been looking everywhere for it through a thousand fields, he’ll try and find it again tomorrow.  You’ve got to love him for that, he’s supposed to be a positive role model to the SLC kids and he’s saying lessons aren’t the most important thing in life.  He’s a rebel in a little checked shirt, sigh!

Christophe Excusez moi M le Professeur

  • DENNIS HOPPER – You probably don’t agree but I still reckon that young Christophe looks like a young Dennis Hopper, which makes him seem even more edgy as far as I’m concerned.  Anyway, I can’t find a picture where he looks anything like Dennis Hopper right now… This is a rubbish reason, right?  Well, here’s a nice picture anyway…

Christophe 1

  • FILMS – Talking of Dennis Hopper, Christophe is film crazy.  So film crazy that he doesn’t just collect DVDs of films, he collects original 35mm film prints and projects them himself.  He has good taste too.  On his 2013 album of previously unreleased tracks, Paradis retrouvé, he included a song called Silence on meurt, which had a sample from a film – I understand it’s from Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (the French language version).  It’s a brilliant electronic track but nobody seems to have uploaded it anywhere, so you’ll just have to buy the album to listen to it instead.  Christophe’s own music has also been used in films…
  • ROAD TO SALINA – Check out this film from 1970 just for Christophe’s soundtrack, especially the beautiful Girl from Salina – don’t forget the song, never try to!  Don’t worry, you won’t be able to forget it anyway, one listen and it will be in your heart forever

Christophe Girl from Salina

  • COLLECTIONS – Christophe is a fan of “stuff” and he collects loads of things.  He loves jukeboxes and even had his own exhibition of jukeboxes once; he’s a specialist and a connoisseur.  He used to import jukeboxes for his friends from the music industry.  He’s an all-round “hawker”.  He also collects 78 records, which he trades with other collectors, and he used to collect expensive cars too.  I believe he has a fabulous robot, which I want to see.  I want an invite over to his apartment to check out his stuff.  Ideally he would screen a film too and make me some food, but maybe I’m pushing it for a first visit, ha ha!

Christophe Jukebox 2 Christophe Jukebox

  • DANDY – In the early 70s Christophe grew his moustache and changed his image a bit, turning himself in a bit of a dandy.  I really admire him for this, when Michel Polnareff was singing Je suis un homme because he was upset when people said he looked gay in a lady’s blouse or sequinned trousers, Christophe was just getting on with it and not giving a damn.  What would Christophe care if you pointed out he had eyeliner on and his hair’s long like a girls?  What would Christophe care if you laughed at his soft velvet suit and his purple neck scarf and flower in his lapel?  What would Christophe care if you said he was channelling Peter Wyngarde/Jason King with his new look?  He wouldn’t care one little bit because Christophe rocks and you can go suck a big fat one!  A dandy, a bit accursed, a bit aged, talking of crumbling luxury, singing sophisticated rock, it’s a vision – a vision Christophe created around himself

Christophe Les Mots BleusChristophe Paradis perdus

  • SAD EYES – Just look at these sad eyes, so sad that he even has a permanent line between them from scrunching up his brow.  These are the sad eyes of a man who has seen too much and he’s hurting inside.  Hear him singing Les mots bleus and look into those eyes, how could you not want to at least give him a pat on the back and say, “Everything’s going to be alright, Christophe, it’s okay, it’s okay…”

Christophe Sad Eyes 2Christophe Sad Eyes

Christophe, you have to love him – you just have to…

If you want to know anything more about Christophe, I recommend that you read the fabulous biography by Christian Eudeline – Portrait du dernier dandy.  It’s one of the best biographies I have ever read.

 

Jane Birkin in Women of Troy, London Royal National Theatre

Jane Birkin appeared as Andromache in Annie Castledine’s theatrical production of Women of Troy in 1995.  Although I obviously recall meeting Jane twice at the theatre whilst the show was on, I recall very little about the play itself except that one of the characters said “We shall go to Argos!”, which I guess is only funny if you’re childish and if you happen to have a catalogue retailer of that name in your country.  I didn’t even recall that Peter McEnery was in it, so it shows you how bad my memory is these days.

A few bits from the programme:

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My ticket:

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A Royal National Theatre promo photo from rehearsals, by photographer Simon Annand – this is Jane with Rosemary Harris:

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A pictured I purchased from a photographer (name unknown/forgotten) who had taken photos of Jane outside the theatre:

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Jane Birkin and Peter Ustinov at a Royal Charity Premiere

Now, this photo from collection, I think this is from the Death on the Nile Royal Charity Premiere in London, but I can’t be 100% sure.  I think it’s I.S. Johar, Jane and Peter Ustinov.  If so, it was at the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue, 23 October 1978.

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Serge Gainsbourg Related: Game of Love promo leaflet

It’s pretty hard to find British promo materials for Serge Gainsbourg related films, but from time to time something crops up.  I’ve had this promo brochure for Jacques Doniol-Valcroze’s L’Eau à la Bouche (known as The Game of Love in the UK) since the early 1990s but just thought I’d finally share it.  Interesting to note that it was sold over here as a “sexy” film – “It’s strip tease all the way” – I don’t recall it being that bad, but this was the late 1950s after all.  AND, it was X rated for some reason or other, so maybe I blinked during the naughty bits.  Serge gets his mention for the music and, surprisingly, his name is spelt correctly.

Game of Love 1 Game of Love 8 Game of Love 9Game of Love 2Game of Love 3Game of Love 4Game of Love 5Game of Love 6Game of Love 7

There were other British promotional materials available, although I’ve not found any yet:

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My Favourite Stuff: Serge and Jane behind the scenes on Cannabis

Pierre Koralnik’s film Cannabis is hard to define – it doesn’t really fit into any genre, in fact it even says during the opening credits that Cannabis is not a film about drugs but it’s the pretext of a film about love and action.  It’s an interesting film but it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do or be, in some ways it’s even confusing – what’s this about the Carbonas and their gang of deaf mutes?!  But maybe that’s just me and it’s a language problem.  Ho hum.

*SPOILER ALERT*

For me Cannabis is a film about leaving or wanting to leave.  Jane Swenson (daughter of an ambassador) is always leaving, she just ups and goes wherever she wants, whenever she wants, flying around the world.  Serge Morgan (not a very Russian surname for the Russian hitman) has to leave his best friend Paul behind in New York when he is sent to Paris to do a job.  Paul is annoyed that Serge says he wants to leave him, New York and the mafia (Paul said he and Serge were “inseparable, undiscoverable, unbeatable”) and he blames Jane for this; mainly because Serge has announced that he is leaving for Neuilly to go and stay with Jane and her aunt and then they will go off somewhere together and leave it all behind.  Another thing about Paul is that he is obsessed with “always moving” – he can’t stay still for one moment.  Paul, the sneak, calls the mafia to tell them that Serge is going to leave – Paul too wants to leave, he wants to go back to New York straightaway but the mafia tell him he can’t leave until he has killed Serge.  Henri Emery (a made up name if ever I’ve heard one!), the drug baron, is now fed up of it all and says he just wants to leave – he tells the police that he wants to leave but they won’t let him because they want him to set up a meeting with Serge.  When Serge shoots him and people come to help him, Emery just says: “Leave me alone.  Everything is okay.  Leave me alone.”  Serge finally leaves Jane – and Paul – when Paul shoots him.  Some of the cinematography is excellent, it has its moments but it’s not quite as stylish and accomplished as Anna.  The music, of course, is excellent.  Serge and Jane are excellent.  Paul Nicholas is excellent as a deranged hit man – if you fancy seeing him on his hands and knees barking like a dog (hey, I won’t judge you for that if you do!), then Cannabis is the film for you.

Anyway, here are two photographs from my Serge & Jane collection – Serge & Jane behind the scenes on Cannabis:

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My Favourite Stuff: Jane Birkin and Michael Dunn behind the scenes on Trop Petit Mon Ami

I’m so pleased to have this photograph in my Jane Birkin collection.  Not quite sure what they’re laughing about, but you can’t help but smile when you look at this picture.  Who’d have thought that you’d find Dr. Miguelito Loveless in a film with our Jane?  I can thoroughly recommend it though, Trop petit mon ami (dir Eddy Matalon, 1970) is a great film if you can find a copy.

Trop Petit Mon Ami001

Happy birthday, Evariste

Today is Évariste’s birthday – by coincidence this past week I bought a fabulous collection of original press photos of him, so it seems somehow befitting that I should be posting them today.  I already had one press photo of Évariste in my small but growing Évariste collection – see it here – but here are 8 more.  Happy birthday, Évariste!

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Postscript  Évariste sent some comments on the photos, which I thought I would share here:

E:  Some photos made by Paul Slade (Paris Match photographer) at Princeton’s “thé des mathématiciens”, others by Araldo di Crollalanza…

HC:  It’s true, quite a few of these were actually from the Paris Match archives, which means that they were the ones they used in their Évariste article; the one on the statue, the one with the girls and the one below that with Évariste in front of the board explaining something to his colleagues

E: Formulas written on the blackboard of this photograph may be found in http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k4015m/f535.image where the first paragraph described for the first time (in 1964) Moshé Flato’s basic idea of correcting the squared mass operator, to feature additional dimensions where quantum waves should propagate.  

HC:  What were you doing in the photograph at the top with the equipment and the cables?

E:  Posing for photographer… as if I was doing data collecting from an experiment. But the (improvised) speech in mathematician’s tearoom, where I explained mass formulas, was genuine.  In Princeton, where these photographs were taken in 1967, the distinction between “experimentalists” and “theoreticians” had more than a taste of Huxley’ s “Brave new world”: really two categories. It has taken the discovery of proteodies — those melodies which may not only be conceptualized, but tremendously experienced by the body — to blow away this distinction for me.

A Night with Michel Houellebecq

I guess it’s some people’s idea of a nightmare – not me, personally I’m a big fan – yes, a night with Michel Houellebecq; the TV show I recently saw on that theme definitely made it look like a nightmarish prospect though.  Well, let’s say it was a little uncomfortable at least…

If you’ve not already seen my post from last week – A couple of things about Michel Houellebecq – that’s also from the same show Durch die Nacht mit…  This is the more in-depth post about the show that I promised/threatened.  Here you go:

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So, the concept is that the show matches up two “celebrities” and they spend an evening in each other’s company with the cameras following them on their night out.  They matched up Michel Houellebecq – a very misunderstood and talented writer, in my opinion, and not so much an enfant terrible as a (sometimes) badly behaved adult on self-destruct who wants to épater le bourgeois in his own sweet way – with the Spanish theatre director Calixto Bieito, who makes “sexy”, violent, contemporary versions of operas and classical theatre pieces.

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I don’t want to disrespect Calixto Bieito because he seemed like such a lovely man throughout this show – even when having to babysit Houellebecq, who seemed highly disinterested in the entire process – but, firstly, I can’t stand opera anyway and, secondly, the one thing worse than opera to me is contemporary opera.  They showed some clips of the lovely Mr Bieito’s work on the show and, god, it made me want to spit up blood.  I have coined my own term for his type of opera, let’s see if it takes on: wheelybag opera.  Yes, wheelybags are despicable but wheelybags + opera = a pile of w***.  Speaking of which, here are some clips of Calixto Bieito’s work:

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During the show you see a clip of a very posh gentleman running out of one of Bieito’s shows to be sick – or to spit up blood? – a kindred spirit maybe!  Anyway, that’s all I shall say on this because I really did like this man Calixto Bieito.

The reason the show hooked up Houellebecq with Bieito was, no doubt, because they both do work that upsets certain people and also because Bieito was, at that point (2006), adapting Platform for the theatre to put on a show at the Edinburgh Festival.  Perhaps Houellebecq could offer him some advice?  Erm… All in good time!

Let’s run through the evening, what happens and what we learn:

  • Houellebecq believes it’s very important that people like him because he feels it’s the only thing that saves him from being locked up – good luck with that, Michel, I like you but somehow not everyone manages to see the good in you

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  • Bieito really admires Houellebecq and thinks he’s “a great visionary and above all a great humanist” – he identifies with his work and sees him as “a Romantic of the 21st century” (I have to chip in here and say I totally agree with Bieito on all of this – I think Houellebecq is a visionary who sees far too much and this is part of the problem for some people; Houellebecq offers up visions of a world that people find hard to stomach, but sadly it’s a future that’s far more believable than most would like to admit)
  • Bieito has to make all the effort with the conversation, when he doesn’t he and Houellebecq both sit in silence in uncomfortable “tumbleweed moments” – it’s a shame because Bieito is such a warm person, whilst Houellebecq finds it hard to hold a conversation.  At one point, whilst Houellebecq is having one of many cigarettes, a clock chiming across from the theatre only serves to indicate the length of time they have been stood next to each other in silence on the balcony

Tumbleweed moments with…

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Tumbleweed moments without…

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  • Bieito tries to make a nice gesture to Houellebecq – he takes him to a bookshop to buy him a book (which Houellebecq accepts – a bit ungraciously) and some music (which Houellebecq refuses – very ungraciously) – “I have no room in my pocket, it’s only a pocket book…” and he doesn’t really like Wagner anyway (he likes Bach’s Mass in B Minor), so he tells Bieito to buy himself some Ligeti instead “I will wait for you. Yes, do it.  The book is enough.”
  • Bieito refers to the theatre as “his” – in what sounds like a tense moment, although it’s possibly just a language problem, Houellebecq asks him “What do you mean when you say it’s your theatre?  Why is it yours?” Bieito is the Artistic Director of the theatre he’s talking about. Ah! The penny drops!
  • When Bieito tells Houellebecq he has a bar at “his” theatre, Houellebecq’s eyes light up, until he sees the bar then he immediately says, “You need to decorate”

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  • The most excrutiating tumbleweed moment ensues when Bieito asks Houellebecq for advice on Platform and if he could maybe stay for 3 or 4 days to help him with the text.  Instead of answering the question, after a long and painful silence he finally says what he thinks Bieito needs to bear in mind about how to portray Valerie – “You have to imagine what a woman wants to be according to women’s magazines.  Very good in everything.  I mean – a good worker, a good mother, a very horny slut and everything at the same time.”  He thinks Jade Jagger would make a good Valerie, but here’s what he thinks about Valerie:  “Valerie is a fantasy.  It’s a modern fantasy.  To have success in everything.  In a job, in sex, everything.  And she’s good too.  Morally.  In moral terms.”

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  • Houellebecq (regarding the Jade Jagger idea) says, “Sometimes I have good ideas.  Not very often but sometimes.  I don’t have a lot of bad ideas.  I have a few ideas.  I have one idea in two years maybe.  It’s a very slow process.”  Here’s one of my diagrams for you, I’ve got into doing them since the Kaurismäki post:
  • Houellebecq ideas diagramMH21MH22Houellebecq is a bit nonplussed when a guy in the bar asks him to sign an autograph in turquoise pen – “You like to write in turquoise?  It’s strange to write in turquoise.  It’s a beautiful colour really.”  He then scribbles in the guy’s book just so he can admire the colour of the pen

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  • Bieito asks Houellebecq if he would like to test out the acoustics on the stage by saying something – he firmly declines
  • Bieito introduces Houellebecq to a famous Spanish actor called Josep Maria Pou, who is a big fan of Houellebecq’s and declares himself capable of playing any of his characters when Houellebecq asks him which of his characters he would like to play.  Considering Josep Maria Pou was at that time playing a man who has sexual relations with a goat (in an Edward Albee play – The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?), it’s always possible
  • When Josep Maria Pou tells Houellebecq, “I can’t speak French”, Houellebecq replies, “You should”!

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  • Because Josep Maria Pou has been bragging (sort of) about being able to “play anything”, Houellebecq tells him that he can “play nothing” and a debate ensues wherein Bieito and Pou (ha ha, I just said poo!) try as they might to get Houellebecq to appreciate that it is impossible to play nothing – “Just a man only on the stage thinking is playing”.  Houellebecq just looks bored  (I sympathise with Houellebecq here, they’re taking things too literally and their “craft” too seriously)

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  • Bieito takes Houellebecq out to dine at Casa Leopoldo and they have a conversation about relaxing and the pressures of work – Houellebecq’s thoughts on it all:  “There’s not a lot of pressure but it’s a strange life.  I’m not sure I want a life more intense.  But myself I’m not a happy person.  So I like to be in a place where people are sad sometimes.  I couldn’t live in Ibiza…”
  • Does Houellebecq think he could be happier?  “Maybe it is better if you try to have less money and less problems.  Become more modest with ambitions.”
  • Somehow the conversation turns to the question of whether or not all Latinos are macho, believe it or not.  Houellebecq is uncertain but Bieito is firm on this one – “No, don’t piss me off!  Don Juan doesn’t exist anymore.  No.  Only in pieces of theatre.”  Whatever…

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  • Steering Houellebecq away from any further racial stereotypes, Bieito opts for something more lighthearted – an easy, fun (two-part) question like “What is your role in this huge masquerade? What is your mask?”  That’s when Houellebecq tells him he knows two things: he is a good writer and he is going to die.  A two-part answer with an unhappy ending.  Although he does concede, surprisingly, that “I think maybe I am simple because to be famous is very good”
  • In the car on their way to the next venue, Bieito and Houellebecq discuss good parenting skills.  Bieito admits he is a softie with his kids but Houellebecq says he was able to discipline his son because he was shocked at his ego and you have to do it because the ego is unlimited.  “You are not the only person in the world.  Slap!  I exist too!”

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  • Bieito tries to round off the evening with one of those media events that he doesn’t like going to (which surprises me somewhat) – so they head off to MACBA (the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona) where Houellebecq tells him that he likes these parties because “It’s very easy to have a drink”
  • At the MACBA party Houellebecq perks up a bit (for a short time at least) because he gets talking to a female – his face lights up when he meets ladies, look

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The best picture to sum it all up is this one – Houellebecq smiles for the lady, ignores Bieito and Bieito looks sad and lonely:MH43

  • Bear in mind, right, that earlier in the evening Houellebecq had told Bieito that he thinks he could do contemporary art himself because “it’s easy”, but he’s not sure why – how do you think their visit to the contemporary art gallery will go?

MH39Houellebecq somehow finds a nudie lady…

MH40And so does Bieito

  • Bieito tries to get things back on track with Houellebecq by forcing him to accept a hug and then suggesting that they link arms

MH41Houellebecq’s approach to hugging – “look, mom, no hands!”

MH42Aw! Friends forever?  What do you reckon?

  • By the end of the evening, Houellebecq is a bit worse for wear.  Bieito puts him in a car and tells him, “I’m very happy you were here.”  There is no response from Houellebecq.  So poor old Bieito, who has soldiered on all evening, says, “Take care of yourself.  Or not.”

MH7Take care of your blue eyes.

No doubt Bieito needed a hug from his wife when he got home.  You have to hope he managed to get over the experience somehow.  Still, I’d like to meet Houellebecq myself.  Not sure what I would say to him, maybe I’d just ask him to sign an autograph for me.  In turquoise pen.

Here’s a few more Houellebecq pics:

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This episode of Durch die Nacht mit was directed by Hasko Baumann.

A couple of things about Michel Houellebecq

I’ve obviously spent a lot of time watching TV lately – I saw this great but slightly uncomfortable TV show about the time Michel Houellebecq met the Spanish theatrical director Calixto Bieito (who specialises in modern interpretations of opera and theatrical pieces, involving mainly sex and violence.  Or so it seems…).

Anyway, I’ll write more on this another time because it’s worth a good write-up but in the meantime, here are two things Michel Houellebecq said he could tell Calixto Bieito:

MH33I’m a good writer.

MH34I write good books.  Yes, that’s true.

MH35I write very good books.  But it’s very good for my ego.

MH36I can tell you two things:

MH37That I’m a good writer.

MH38One of the best maybe, if you want.  Anyway, I will die.

What’s this strange preoccupation that Michel Houellebecq has with death these days?  First, he has himself brutally murdered in his own novel The Map and the Territory; then he is kidnapped in The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq (read more about that here on Hero Culte); and then he contemplates suicide in Near Death Experience, which (no pun intended) I am dying to see.  At least he is still among the living for the time being.  We should be grateful for that.  Well, I am, at least.

I’ll write more about this TV show Durch die Nacht mit… / Au coeur de la nuit shortly.  That’s a promise.