07 February, 2010

Back-B-Log: 1990: Cannes - Dread And Victory (I.c.)

[From the 2nd and final issue of the Tuesday Express/American Voyeur Paris/Cannes Issue! 1990 Part I. Early hours of Thursday 17th May, homeless, wandering through Cannes nightlife, continued]

{The snack bar - Petit Carlton. }
We walk back down the Croissette. I'm talking to Colin, this photographer who Barrett obviously has something going on with, but which she won't let on to. He seems likeable enough, which makes this puzzling. She grabs him, my buddy, she says. He has a room to himself, but he can't offer me any space because he has to dash back there by 2 or 3 to develop the nights pics for tomorrows issue.

He's the only one who seems to know where we're going, we turn up this street, he remembers because there's the bar with the transvestite hookers out front. And sure enough one is standing in the middle of the street, looking desperate for curb crawls, forming a landmark which we navigate by. We turn parallel to Croissette, we ascend a few streets until we get to a seedy, bar-bistro, cranked up with festival people, spilling out onto the street, an international sprawl on the pavements. The sign reads SNACK BAR PETIT CARLTON. Obviously the French have no infringement laws, as the use of the Carlton's name is disastrously out of place here. From what Barrett says, this is the late-night place of the festival workers, low profile insiders, those who don't get to the big studio exec parties, or those who are slumming after dealing.

We have a few drinks, and the atmosphere is at once festive and dire, vetoing dodging the broken glass on the pavement we stay inside the bar, its beginning to get chilly outside. We run into an American guy working on the boat next to hers, whose name is something like Brad. She tries dropping me onto a greasy black haired lesbian friend of hers, who nods knowingly as if I chased down here to see Barrett and not the festival. We talk about movies for a while before she drifts off.

Barrett is dozing off standing up. A few guys hit on her, she seems utterly defenceless in this condition, perversely I begin to feel concerned for her. She occasionally recalls her absurd sense of mission to introduce me to someone who will offer me a place to stay, a cause I have considered long lost. I'm not drunk. I can see their eyes glaze over, nod their pities, shrug shoulders. She leerily says if she can't find me a place, she'll join me on the beach. I take this as joking, as much as wishfully thinking on my part, I don't detect a hint of anything from her except a self-induced guilt play.

Suddenly she realizes that she left something undone in the office-suite in the Carlton, that she MUST check on before going back. The guy from the boat-next-door and I decide to use this opportunity to steer her back to the boat. I've been trying to tell her that at least she should get some sleep, she'll be no help to me, or anyone else for that matter if she doesn't. That Bradley from the boat and I both insist on accompanying her, its really 50's like we're assuring each other of our 'honourable intentions'.

{The Carlton, counting the steps.}
We half run through the barely lit streets, drunk on moonlight etc. The Carlton security is really blasé at this hour, here we are in this palace/hotel, Barrett, being the tippler trying to keep her voice down, but it comes out as a loud stage whisper. We count the steps going up in French. She goes into the rooms being used as offices, there is no point even asking to stay on the floor there, she would get fired.... She has more or less forgotten her reason for coming there. We count the steps going down in German, slowly, as Barrett remembers how. Somehow the number of steps up and down are not equivalent in any language.

{The boat. The cafe. The snack bar 2.}
Brad and I get her back on to her boat. She suggests I sneak on, crash on the floor and sneak off again, but I think that it is unlikely that I will be able to sleep less than four hours, and I dread getting caught out pathologically, and that seems childishly worse than staying up all night. Also, I don't want Barrett in any more trouble, though at this point she doesn't seem to care.

Then Bradley wishes me luck and goes back to his boat. I wander back down the jetee. By the small 'place' across from the Palais, there's a café-Restaurant, obligatory snotty waiters, brightly lit, the atmosphere puts me off, I try to go to the one next door, but they're shutting down, its 3 A.M.-abouts. I sit down, order my café-crème. I can't sleep, in the parks, on the beach, on the street - I'll probably be attacked, robbed, or arrested. Make the most of the situation. See what happens.

I decide to wander back to the Petit Carlton to watch the nightlife. I'm not sure of my way, as I go down the Croissette, there are a few sleek long stemmed prostitutes leaning over cruising limousines (should I go with them, just for a place to doze? no, they have no place, they get in the cars that stop for them). I walk quickly up the street where I spot the transvestites, but at least I think I'm going in the right direction. The hotels have all darkened, noise and light both sparse, I'm not sure I've turned up the right street, nothing looks the same as an hour before, but I stumble onwards. And there it is, affirming my sense of direction even in my present state.

Even more of the crowd has spilled onto the street. There is a sort of a waiting-for-the-end-of-the-world mood. I'm feeling too tired to mingle, observe like a mutated wall-flower, avoiding the gazes of all around. I run into the lesbian again, she seems more sympathetic, but no more helpful. Dreadfully loud German demanding his beer in English, over and over again, as the staff slowly get through to him. The actually attractive people are dwindling, leaving a layer of desperation over the remaining population. I decide, for once not to be the last to leave. I head out.

{The Restaurant. Coffee 1. Writing. Soup. Coffee 2.}
Nearby, I turn down a relatively well lit side street, cobbled pavement, probably blocked to traffic. There is a very ordinary little restaurant, seemingly normal sane and french, like the little places in Paris. Its tables litter the street, annexing the areas that belong to the other shops and cafés, hastily scribbled sign promises longer festival hours.

I collapse, I have my café-crème. I need to stay awake. I need to write this down, if I have to go through this, I can at least use it to write. My notebook is back in my pack on the boat. I finally go to the toilet. I think of moving on, but I feel comfortable here. I order soup, it is the lovely soupe-de-poisson, with cheese and croutons and sauce all on the side, the first time I've had it. It restores me. One of the trees has large cardboard ad for the pre-Cannes issue of the French Premiere - I free it from the tree, and start writing on the back the bracketed text that begins, and pervades this story. But the notes are not enough, after my second café-crème the restaurant finally closes, and I move on my way.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

{Orange half moon like a croissant (over the croisette). Blue 5:30 AM mediterranean blue cloud covers white moon (not light or dark enough to distinguish cloud from sky, the moon dissolving, a small miracle). }
I am walking around the park and the place deGaulle. In fluorescent reflective uniforms, the street-cleaners appear. The gnomes of our world, unseen normally, but I have the magic of insomnia.

{The chime of the park sweepers - broken glass. The unseen sleeper on the next bench. 5 45 the streetlights go out. I realize I should attempt to watch the sunrise. }
I drag myself towards the beach looking upwards at the moon. It seems like the sun has already risen, or it's just that the brightness of the haze on the horizon obscures the sun.

{Beach cleaner (Lucinda).}
There is a fleet of beach cleaners going to and fro. I think of the Randy Newman blues song about a woman getting ploughed under after falling asleep on the beach. No wonder I didn't trust sleeping here.

Also, I see, out at the very tip of the jetty, where last night there only seemed to be the lights of an ordinary group of yachts, a life-size galleon.

{A fucking Galleon.}
It just seems to absurd that such a thing should exist here, as if it sailed out of the all-night-long-mare that I've just walked through waking. Nothing can hurt me, you wake up just before you get killed in your dreams.

{6 05 nearly fell asleep watching the faraway static of ripples to hum of beach cleaner and the insistent coo of pigeons. }

[end of Part I. To be continued in II. Thursday, May 17th: To Juan Les Pins....]

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