Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bona Fide

Yesterday may be the most perfectly beautiful day I've ever seen in France.

Problem is, I only saw it for a few minutes while we packed up the van to drive to Holland.

I'm sad to be travelling this weekend, when they're having this big festival in a nearby village. It happens once every seven years, and the whole place is covered with flowers, flags and greenery. A thousand people in old-fashioned garb will walk through the streets.

Les Ostensions, it's called. I kept wondering what it meant, it sounds so much like osteoparosis. And that's not far off - it is literally a bone festival.

They carry the "real" bones of saints around for every one to marvel at.

When I was a girl in Catholic school I would have killed to be in close proximity to anything having to do with saints and martyrs. They tantalized us with all this spooky stuff when we'd drift off and look bored in class.

My school was St. Winifred and hers was one of the most outrageous stories of all - when she spurned the advances of a knight he cut off her head and because she was so pure the head reattached itself to her body. Each time we entered the church for mass, there was a statue of Winifred with a very visible scar around her throat. We'd even go hang around the statue during recess, because one time someone swore they saw it move.

So how disappointing that I'm going to miss some bona fide saint action, going on right down the street.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Les Papys Rock, Again?

We'd been wondering lately about our old rivals, Les Papys Rock. They haven't been heard from since our showdown at Fete de la Musique last year, when Eric and I kicked their ass in the parking lot of their hangout, the local bad restaurant La Cabane.

Walking by the restaurant the other day, we hoped to hear them cranking up their sorry cover versions in anticipation of June 21 or a local fete desperate enough to hire them. But the place was silent, the chalkboard still reading "Salades XXL" from the summer, the sad net curtains hanging limply in the windows.

Things were too quiet. It could only mean a reunion must be in the works. This was merely the calm before the storm.

We pictured Patrick, the drummer and local plasterer out on a job, braced on a ladder, his hands in black-leather drumming gloves gripping a trowel of plaster as he smoothes it on the ceiling overhead. A call comes in on his mobile. "Merde." He reaches down, answers - the group is getting back together and we need you - now. "Non, non et non!" He gave his all to rock and roll and here he is back doing hard labor. Never again.

"Remember the lady over in Le Puy whose cracks you spent a lot of time filling last month? Maybe Mme. Patrick would like to know about that?"

"Putain." The still wet plaster falls down on his head as he closes his mobile. One down.

Over in the lycee, the beret-wearing lead singer, the worst philosophy teacher in the region, is teaching a class of bored teenagers about Descartes. He recently got a Blackberry which he keeps on the desk next to him, and as he drones on to the students he occasionally reaches down and lovingly caresses the keypad. All of a sudden the thing starts buzzing. Un texto! He can barely contain himself. Raising a finger to tell the youngsters to hold that incomprehensible thought, he reads the message. "Every man is condemned to rock." Tears come to his eyes and he straightens up, squaring his shoulders. He stares at the back row of students, imagining they're the top tier at Bercy Arena. With shaking hands, using both thumbs, he texts back: "I'm in."

In a house next door to La Cabane, the bongo player is splayed out in front of the TV in his underpants and tan leather safari jacket, a bottle of cheap whiskey at his side, a can of half-price cassoulet heating up on the stove. The phone rings for the first time in weeks and he answers and happily says yes, grateful for something to do. Minutes later, he grabs a pair of bongoes and runs out the door, stopping in the middle of the street when he remembers he's not wearing any trousers.

The sporty bass player is pedaling his bike up a steep road somewhere in the Alps, training for the Tour de France, wearing his trademark acid wash denim knee length shorts. A faster biker overtakes him and hands him a rolled-up fax. He keeps pumping as he smoothes the paper out on the handlebars to read. Seconds later, he wheels the bike around and speeds back down the hill as the fax falls to the ground. "...AND BRING YOUR AMP" it says.

The English keyboard player with the peeling nose has moved back to Suffolk, but he's in France visiting his adult kids and their families. He only has to look at the shining eyes of his grandchildren as they listen to his tales of the concerts of yore to know he's doing the right thing by joining up again.

The other English bloke, a decent guitarist who quit in disgust after the second gig says he's on board - but only if they can get Ralph, the legendary soundman, and rumor has it he recently passed away.

But Ralph is eventually located in the retirement home, asleep in a chair next to some old ladies playing cards. A nurse taps him on the shoulder and tells him he has company. It's the Papys' lead singer, beret in hand, ready to plead his case. "We need you. We can't do it without you." Ralph turns up his hearing aid and after looking uncertain for a second or two he croaks "yes". Then he smiles a tight little smile and falls back asleep.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

One More Time

Some things have changed since our last US tour. A new president, economic crisis, the Steelers won the Super Bowl. Our record was just out then, back in September. When we come over in July we'll hopefully have our new 45 available. Here are the dates so far:

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby

Tues July 7 Club Cafe Pittsburgh PA
Wed July 8 Southgate House Newport, KY (that's just outside Cincinnati)
Thu July 9 Barley's Taproom Knoxville, TN (w/Tim Lee 3)
Fri July 10 Star Bar Atlanta, GA
Sun July 12 house concert Raleigh, NC (email me for info)
Wed July 15 Black Cat Washington, DC
Thu July 16 Asbury Lanes Asbury Park, NJ
Sat July 18 Bop Fest Rochester, NY
Tues July 21 TT the Bears Cambridge, MA (Jimmy Ryan opens!)
Wed July 22 Lakeside Lounge New York, NY
Thu July 23 Cafe Nine New Haven, CT
Sat July 25 Record Collector Bordentown, NJ
Sun July 26 XPNonential Fest Camden, NJ
Tues July 28 Beachland Tavern Cleveland, OH

It's looking like we still have a day or two open for house concerts - Friday July 17 somewhere in upstate NY would be ideal, and Fri July 24 in NJ, NY or eastern PA. Maybe you've been thinking of throwing a party? All you have to do is invite your pals, hire or borrow a small PA, lay on the food and drinks and we'll do the rest...

And just to remember the good times from last tour, here are a few photos.

We were at WXPN in Philadelphia and met up with Chrissie Hynde and her amazing guitar player James. Like a little kid in a rock n roll theme park, I am grinning like an idiot.

royale with cheese
Eric had his first Sonic drive-in experience in Virginia. This kid loved Eric's accent and was thrilled to meet someone from England. He wants to make films. When Eric said we lived in France, he said "I bet you'd like a `royale with cheese'".

We tried to pass ourselves off as a married brother/sister act. It was Alabama, after all, where that kind of thing is legal.

We formed a new group at 3 AM in Austin with Robbie & Jamie: Gordon and the Chocolate Fireguards.

We stayed in some damn swanky places...

And visited the old neighborhood.

Now we get to do it again. We're older now. But I think we can still have fun.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mom Puts Out Fresh Towels, Wipes Counter

I was in a cleaning frenzy over the weekend because company was coming. But this was no ordinary company - this was an esteemed journalist from a British newspaper.

I know I go about these things all wrong. Instead of cleaning the toilet, like the good half-Italian girl I am, I should be filling the tank with exotic fish. Why fret about the unkempt backyard - someone around here must have a few llamas we could rent?

Screw trying to look presentable - I should be popping on a turban, shoving a cigarette in a long holder, dabbing rouge onto my cheeks and pouring a tumbler of Scotch.

I mean, this guy has interviewed Hunter Thompson, Depardieu, Budd Schulberg. Eric is always entertaining but I am surely the most boring, disappointing interview around. I can't stop being a mom, making sure everyone's got a cup of juice or something. This is no way to build a myth!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

These Eyes

Still riding high from my folder triumph, I decided to tackle another pressing problem: my lousy eyesight. Over two years ago I was able to walk into an optician here, get my eyes tested and pick out a pair of glasses.

My eyes have gotten worse so a few months back I called the same optician to book an appointment. At first I thought she was telling me that I was now too old for her to look at my eyes. I eventually understood that my eyes were too bad to be properly examined there and I needed to call an ophtalmologue for an examination. Seems the first time I'd been given the French equivalent of a "get out of jail free" card - but not this time.

I got out the phone book and called a few doctors and they all said they'd be happy to see me - in eight to ten months. Apparently the doctors who accept insurance are always booked up many months in advance.

I don't think I can make it through another summer without prescription sunglasses, preferably varifocals so I can walk and drive and read road signs and maps without having to keep switching glasses. I thought of trying to wait until we go to England or the US where in any mall or city street Specsavers employees practically tackle you as you pass by to try and fit you with new glasses - but that's still two months away.

I drove to a bigger town to try to trick my way into being seen by an optician. What with the economic crisis hitting France I figured if the prospect of the sale of two pairs of glasses was right there on the doorstep, they'd probably bend the rules a little.

"Non, NON, Madame - c'est la loi!" It's the law. Coming from this optician who was about thirty it made me feel especially sleazy. It was different when the "authorities" - cops, bankers, doctors, etc all looked like grizzled veterans to me. I feel extra sheepish when slapped on the wrist by somebody a few decades younger.

But apparently there are back alley ophtalmologues around, who'll see anyone on short notice, without involving insurance. Which is fine since insurance doesn't cover eyeglasses anyway. The young optician discreetly handed me a slip of paper with a name and address and I went along in person and booked an appointment for Tuesday.

The hits just keep on coming.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Barely Legal

I scored a major triumph today - I managed to find hanging file folders that fit a rolling file cabinet a friend gave me.

Pretty sad, right? Other people are out solving crimes, curing diseases, creating beauty, while I search for office supplies.

I took this cabinet on good faith, "I could sure use something like that!" What with my seemingly unending IRS battle, the paperwork has been piling up all over the place.

Who knew that "legal size" is unheard of outside of the U.S.A.? And I thought I was something of an office supply and filing expert. How many ridiculous tests have I taken at temp agencies to prove my ability to put the letter D after C? Hell, I wrote a song called "File Clerk Blues" way back when! Sad to think I wouldn't even be qualified to do my first day job any more...

Because in all of the office supply stores in France, there is no "legal size". But before I could determine that, I had to learn what you call a hanging folder. Dossier suspendu! I love the French language.

After exhausting the French possibilities, I ended up on a UK website looking for the right size dossier suspendu or whatever they're called by the British. Again, no "legal size" - just a system of A4, A3 etc that confounds me. I kept running across this type of folder called "foolscap" and I imagined some character out of Dickens blowing dust off odd parchment folders made of the bone from a sheeps skull.

I finally did a search on the internet for the meaning of "foolscap" and whether "legal size" translates into any other kind of folder in any land. I would love the job, if there was one, of the person who reads the Google queries, those desperate pleas for some kind of understanding of the most basic elements of human life. I know from being able to see my website statistics that more than one person out there comes to my site by searching "how to have sex in the ass" - and that query's probably on the sophisticated side, in the grand scheme of Google quests.

It turned out that "foolscap" was supposedly the same size as the US legal size so I took the plunge and ordered.

The order arrived today and I was skeptical, but they are exactly the right size. Foolscap, dossier suspendu, suspended files. They are glorious! Now I can get back to doing what I do best: putting P after O...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spanish Snaps

We're on our way

the wonderful world of...dune de pyla
The Wonderful World of...Dune de Pyla

french trailer trash
French Trailer Trash?



guggenheim bilbao
Guggenheim Bilbao 9 AM

madrid cafe
Madrid Cafe