06 February, 2010

Back-B-Log: 1990: Cannes - Dread And Victory (I.b. Finding The Boat)

[From the 2nd and final issue of the Tuesday Express/American Voyeur Paris/Cannes Issue! 1990 Part I. Wednesday May 16th, lost and homeless, looking for the boat, continued...]

{Finding the boat, dumping my stuff. Finding Barrett.}
I wandered back down the Croissette, toward the Grand Palais where the official part of the festival is held. I divert along the beachside promenade, this goes behind the Palais, there are a few pavilions set up, with catered affairs going on inside, it's like a Long Island community with a triple Bar-Mitzvah, barely anyone outside, except the security wearing the international dresscode of bouncers.

At this point I have absolutely no hope. At the farthest point that the promenade reaches out on the quay a small marina begins, just a set of tying up points along the promenade on the other side of the Palais. there are obviously a few parties going on on some of the boats, little catering huts dot the shore, more goons on gangplanks, but it seems fairly low key. I work up the nerve and start talking to a few catering people, there is a lot of English being spoken here, so I don't even bother with the French. I am talking to a Japanese man, who I at first assume is a caterer, but it turns out he owns one of the boats, his English and French both leave something to be desired. I ask him if he might know where the Screen International boat might be, he shrugs, and asks the name of the boat, I misunderstand, I just said THE SCREEN INTERNATIONAL BOAT, but he means the 'name' like, 'Fred', 'Autumn Insomnia', 'Filthy Rich', or 'Satanic Film Producer' (we all know that Rich people should be barred from naming boats, horses and children). Unfortunately, I gather from this question, that without this vital piece of information I have no chance of getting directions to the boat. Some English speaking woman stops in on the conversation, she's been party hopping, avers that the boat is around somewhere. Finding, this rather more discouraging than useful, I trudge on.

I do not go very far before I miraculously see a banner on the back of one of the smaller yachts, Screen International. This makes me really doubt the intelligence of the guy, who along the same stretch didn't even know this boat was a distant neighbour. There doesn't seem to be any activity, the party I heard on the phone has since dispersed, probably to other parties.

I timidly walk across the short gangplank, I stand at the edge of the boat, peering into the cabin. The captain comes up from below, eyes me suspiciously, I ask about Barrett, this or my manner put him at ease. He says she's probably at the party in the American Pavilion. I wander off in the direction he points.

There seems to be many parties down here, I'm not sure if this is the right place, there are security goons looking at invitations. I turn back to the boat. I tell the captain that Barrett said she might have a friend put me up, I ask to leave my pack until I find her.

Back at the party, a good deal more presentable, I try to crash in. Goons adamant about invites. I ask if I can get a message in to someone. They don't buy. I hang around the outside for ten or twenty minutes, the fence is easily climbable, but what do I do once inside? I try talking to the goons again, but its the same story. Just as I'm about to give up, I turn around and there is Barrett and some young woman, laughing, walking into the party.

I grab Barrett, she says she is glad to see me, she was worried. It was someone's birthday party on the boat, some guy who was drunk hung up the phone. She brings me into the party. She'll talk to me in a moment, she has to 'work' some of the advertiser clients at the party. She circulates, I descend on the buffet, which has already been gutted, just some baked potatoes and coleslaw left, I crouch in darkness under a tree and shamelessly devour the potato and an apple, I have no appetite after this.

{The other side of tipsy. The explanation.} {The Party.}
Barrett gets back to me. The story is this: A month before the festival, the original publisher and half the staff split and left their magazine conglomerate to form a rival publication, Moving Pictures International. They pirated clients, sources, and resources. Her boss is somewhat inexperienced and under a lot of pressure to bring things up to speed for their Festival issues. She has turned dictator and under her auspices, and the general crazy pressure of the Festival business, everyone is at each others throats.

This is what I've stepped in.

Under the circumstances, people aren't talking to each other, Barrett confesses she almost quit the previous day and spent half the time on a crying jag, it's unlikely that she can convince anyone to put me up for the night. She feels bad, but she suggests that I could sleep on the floor of her cabin on the boat. This would be O.K., but I don't want to get her into trouble, I suggest we would really need her boss's permission. Barrett says just tell her and tells me to go back to the boat to ask. After some cajoling, I get her to scrawl a note to give some credence to my request.

Back at the boat, boss lady(rather heavy set, on the young svelte side of what any year now will be instantly corpulent) and a woman friend of hers are sitting on deck. I approach, and after introducing myself, just as I'm saying what I'm about, I sense that it is already a mistake. I hand her the awfully scrawled note as if it is some absurd talisman that could defend me. Boss lady is none too happy about my request, which I couldn't imagine putting her out. It just seems like I'm the Nth person to ask her for a favour that day, and N is the number just past her tolerance.

She is angry, she demands to speak to Barrett about this, she points out that Barrett is here to WORK not to holiday. I know all this, but boss lady has already made up her mind. I'm not sure who or what she thinks I am, but obviously I can't stay. She insists I go get Barrett out of the party, she HAS to speak with her. I don't want to get Barrett into trouble, but I don't seem to be able to deflect the anger, except to generate more of a sense of strange distaste for me.

Back at the Party, after more hassle getting back in, though it's obviously winding down, Barrett at first makes light of the situation, I describe her bosses demeanour again, and she gets it this time. She introduces me to some arty friends of hers. And goes back to the boat.

I converse with the crowd, they are trendy English people working the fest as reporters, freelance photographers, and minor staff at the Brit Pavilion. I tell them my tale of woe, which makes me an instant curiosity, an object of pity, yet not actual sympathy, no one actually offers to help me, but they all wish me luck.

I spot Danny Aiello again, for a second, I get this strange feeling, like he saw me, thinking suspiciously of me, having remembered me from the crowd at the Carlton. These paranoid film actors.

Barrett returns. She got torn apart. I can't stay on the boat. No kidding. She has a mission to help me find a place. But she also wants to keep partying. The live pseudo-American band has wound down (Born-in-the-USA, and La Bamba). We've all dived on the free bar as it shuts down. I carry Barrett's extra beer as we leave.

[to be continued...]

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