When We Were Young
Serendipity has been at me again lately and who knew that technology would play a positive trick on me. It was 3 weeks since I had lost my phone somewhere in Spain and after a few admin steps I got my work phone delivered to my office that morning, after following all the plug and play process steps I ended up adding one or two apps including Facebook. Is it the magic of Windows 10 or a happy technology accident I don’t know but what was my surprise when the reboot of FB messenger pushed thru 3 messages that somehow got stuck in the app.
Two from 2013 and one from late 2015. The latter got my attention straight away as it mentioned a reunion with a bunch of friends from a period close to my heart. At first I was shocked somehow that one of them could retrace me then I fell into an almost euphoric state. Wow that’s a blast from the past alright I told myself, I had completely lost contact and at the thought of being able to reconnect nostalgia got the best out of me.
1987 or was it 1988, not sure actually and it does not really matter really. It was one of those Saturday afternoons where I was hanging out in front of La Fnac the posh equivalent of Tower Records. In those days I was lightly involved in tape trading, doing a bunch of interviews for fanzines about obscure bands from the Bay Area and was keen enough about exchanging their demos with other metal fans. We were meeting in the Montparnasse quarter every Saturday and one of those days I bumped into that dude who was selling pirated bootlegs and other live acts on K7. The chap knew a lot about music but I did not warm to him however and probably to his benefit he was somehow part of a larger circle that would have a big influence on me.
Gare De Lyon was our HQ a big transport hub combining Metro, RER (Rapid transit) and National Railway, to give you a sense about the scale of this gigantic infrastructure it handles about 90,000,000 passengers every year, making it the third busiest station of France. Every Saturday we would meet between 13.00 and 14.00 sometimes waiting until 15:00 and decide what we would do for the rest of the afternoon, it could be going to a gig on that very same night, go to a party in a squat in the north of Paris, hang out in the Halles or check the t shirts we could not afford at the flea Market. If it was February we would go to the month long fun fair in Vincennes while other times we would simply go for an improvised picnic weather permitting and providing we could buy cheap beer. There were no do’s and don’ts it was a rolling and open gathering you only had to show up no questions asked if you did not for 3 weeks.
There were probably 40 of us at any point in time with some peak up to 50 60 individuals sometimes more, some people were coming and going, some stayed and some left. I remember there was a core group of probably 15 + guys and girls who were living in the same area, I was not part of that group but would be a regular. It is probably hard to describe how this urban community was somehow ahead of its time. This was a big melting pot of personalities and characters, all social classes were represented, some were at university, some were already working, some were apprentices or following a cursus in one of those sinister Professional Schools. Most of us were from the Parisian suburbs east, west and I was from the south. No matter what was your background all our dreams, frustrations and appetite for life would converge to this railway station every Saturday.
We looked the part and I suppose from the outside we could come across as intimidating but we were a nice bunch, we loved music, we shared whatever we had in terms of money to buy a few pack of beers, we loved being together there was no questions asked anybody who was part of this understood that life had constraints personally I could be gone for the week end but the unlucky ones had to go home in the evening, some of those who lived between two homes managed to avoid the curfew as for those who had no home we never heard them saying they were homeless.
We were not adults yet but we were no longer children either, the youngest must have been 16 year old while the oldest was probably 20 or 21. The latter were pretty protective of the youngest as it was not always plain sailing, when it was not for the constant police harassment and ID checks the more mature of us always intervened when crossing the paths of other urban tribes whether it was the newly formed Hip Hop gangs, punks or the feared Skin Heads, we did not like those fascists more that they did like us and they were dangerous at the best of times, lethal if one of us got separated from the main group.
Like any group there were people shining thru the ranks, there were strong people but one particular Motorhead obsessed fan clearly stood out, he had an indestructible charisma and people really liked being around him, he was funny and caring with a Jim Morrison look alike face. (Girls loved him :-) ). We were young wild and free, this was a period in our life where constraints and commitment had not taken over yet, some of us knew they would have to join National Service soon and were doing everything to avoid it, this generated a lot of discussion among the boys as most of us did not want to have our hair cut. There were some healthy and sometimes heated debates about the best way to avoid conscription, you got to know that this was a national sport in France until the 1-year National Service got scrapped.
I am not sure how it ended, most probably as organically as it had started, personally I became a college dropout statistic, managed two bands and directed myself towards the punk hardcore community developing an hypnotic obsession for the New York Hard Core Scene and its values. I started to work in 1990 and I became an adult I suppose.
I have just been added to a closed FB page by one of the girls of the group, there are only a handful of us maybe 12 or 13, in a way nothing has changed I am almost back to the point that I left off, we are teasing each other, sharing memories, anecdotes and photos, we can still not agree on which band is the best but it is clear to me that no matter how many years have passed we are
Life & Experience
Some of the Gare de Lyon Tribe in the Metro, I am not on it maybe because I was taking it
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