September 20 – Paris
There is a common saying among the poorest people who perform in the Carnivals of Brazil: “Only the rich like modesty; the poor prefer luxury.” It is said, of course, with pride because their costumes are the most glamourous and eye-catching of all.
As a kid my own nickname was Flash n Trash because I delighted in red shoes and big gold baubles and purple make up and slicked back shiny hair and all things with sequins and feathers and I enjoyed running fast and ruining everything in my wake. In fact, my mother continues to find humour in my kitsch jewelry, odd pattern matching and eye shadow choices. In my family there are certain things that “only Alexei would love.” It is said tenderly about things that are leather, things that have loud geometric motifs and things that are gold. My sister recently found giant chandelier charms and bought them for me to make giant earrings out of. My father, whose interest in fashion is relatively nil, once bought me a lime green suede mini skirt. I love shiny things, no matter how frequently I break them. Like the nearly moneyless women in Russia who dress in faux furs and bright lips and are said to “dress like prostitutes” while the well-to-do prostitutes themselves prefer business suits; and in the same vein that fake gold faucets and knock off flat screen tvs are found in favelas and slums the world over, perhaps it is because I do not actually have much money that I relish in the things that make me feel fancy. So it is with genuine pleasure that we hit the eye-candy shopping streets of Paris. And it is with even greater pleasure that, for the most part, I can stick my nose in the air at the highest of haute couture. It is with great pleasure, of course, because I would not be able to afford the fitted Gucci black suit adorning the mannequin or the mannered Prada grey sheep skin tote bag and I wouldn’t want them anyhow. Don’t get me wrong: I love fashion and frequently the pages of magazines flash with the boldness of the runway collections that do not hit the street level. I love Balmain leather jackets and Balenciagia shoes and Missoni fabrics and DVF body suits and Prada capes and Commes Des Garcons mock bonnets and everything Chloe Sevigny wears but the items that tend to make their way to the pretty boutique shops of La Belle Ville are more modestly cut and for working women “with good taste.” I do better at Korean trinket shops (rainbow coloured crystal earrings – yes please!) and second-hand shops (giant black wooden chain necklace – If I may). I’m not particularly good at fashion. If I could I would love to find the time and energy and money and skill to pursue it and maybe one day I’ll give it a go. But for the mean time, putzing around in Paris with Dan in our clothes that stink of four months of straight touring with holes in our socks and our boots and hair that needs cutting and dying and styling and jeans that are ripped (not intentionally “distressed”), I feel pretty fancy. I have my lipstick on and, because I lost my “practical” jacket, I’m also wearing a fluorescent red suit jacket meant for stage. It doesn’t cost a lot to make me feel fancy. Which is a good thing. Trust me.
P.S., Citizens of Paris, I love you. At Point Ephemere, you came in your best duds. Not the most costly ones because you looked most fabulous. And it is easier to party if you’re wearing neon and fringe and black lame tights. And you did. You were fabulously energetic and beautiful. You made me feel like the richest person on the planet. Walter, Clemence, Aymerique, the folks from Atlanta Georgia, the folks from Shanghai, our dear friends Thien and Yasuko and our new friends from Hong Kong: You gave us one unforgettable night in Paris. One amazing aspect of this band is that our crowd is increasingly multicultural – narry a show passes now without attendees from all corners of the earth. “I saw your show in Singapore xie xie, I saw your show in Cluj-Napoca multsu mesc, I saw your show in Turku kiitos ”…. It is becoming one of the things I love most: we have played in so many places that they are all becoming equally represented all over this earth.