Merde in France small press book

Aside from writing Hero Culte, hero worshipping and collecting “stuff”, I sometimes have other projects on the side.  I have another blog Tinynoggin which I started recently because I’d just completed my first small press book.

Merde in France is my “learn French the pop culture way” book:

Merde in France covers

It all started years ago when I realised that the French phrase J’en ai marre was actually nothing to do with the guitarist from The Smiths.  Although, to be fair, he probably was a bit fed up from time to time…

Anyway, I taught myself French by listening to French music (anyone who regularly reads Hero Culte will know it’s my thing) and singing along with it and I still conjugate verbs and remember vocab by going through song lyrics in my head.  But not everyone would want to learn French that way.  So, if you prefer, you can learn French the Tinynoggin way and do it with word association.  What I’ve done with Merde in France  is to draw some pop culture icons who remind me of French words for one reason or another.  So if you want to say “I’m fed up”, you just think of the guitarist from The Smiths and say his name with a French accent: “J’en ai marre!”  There you go, you’ve just learnt your first French phrase.  Easy peasy.

There are 28 illustrations (or should I say drawings?  I’m not what you’d call an illustrator by any stretch of the imagination!) and here are some examples below to give you an idea of what kind of thing you can expect from Merde in France:

Merde in France samplesI have to say I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake sorting out the marketing / selling of things but it’s gradually coming together – so if you think you’d like to learn French the pop culture way you can find it here:

Tinynoggin Etsy Store (it’s £5 plus p&p from Etsy)

Orbital Comics in London (a great comic store, you should go there if you’ve never been before – if you have been before, go again anyway!)

Rough Trade website (prestigious or what?)

And if you want to buy it in person you can find me in the First Publications Corner at this year’s Takeover event, run by Alternative Press and The London Radical Bookfair, which is on 9 May at 47/49 Tanner Street, London, SE1 3PL.  For more details see their website where you can also find a list of all the exhibitors.

TakoverFlyer2015_front_a5_300dpi

They will be running workshops and holding talks, so there is plenty to do from midday to 7pm.  Being a newbie I will be in the First Publications Corner, not surprisingly with my first publication Merde in France, but I am also hoping to have at least one other item ready by then – maybe the Morrissey comic, here’s a taster image from that:

Morrissey taster image

Anyway, buy Merde in France if you like – no pressure.  That’s my little advert over.

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!

Alan VegaChristophe Alan VegaChristophe Alan Vega 3Christophe Alan Vega 2Christophe Alan Vega 4Christophe Alan Vega 5Christophe Alan Vega 6

  • 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.