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Opinion – Zeca Camargo: I discovered a new Paris with the book ‘Daft’


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You know when a book shows you a city you know well, only in a different way? That’s exactly what happened when I started reading “Daft”. By Pauline Guena and Anne-Sophie Jahn.

No, it’s not about that well-known lode. You know which one: just go into a bookstore specializing in travel (the few that survive) or even an ordinary one, in the travel section, and there are always those titles that promise alternative itineraries for a famous city.

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I’ve bought several guides like this. I’ve also downloaded several travel apps that offer “secret” attractions in addition to postcards. And I found some very interesting things.

For the most part, however, the tips are of such specific interest that they are unlikely to appeal to most tourists. There is also no lack of silly curiosities that do not even deserve mention. I stopped looking for literature like that. Then I found “Daft” in a bookshop over there in the Marais, in Paris itself, and I was introduced to a city scene that I really didn’t know, maybe I’ll never know, but that left me fascinated.

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If you have the slightest connection with pop music, you’ve already suspected that a book called “Daft” has to do with a certain band called Daft Punk. If by chance her name still doesn’t tell you anything, look for the track ” ” in the streaming. Saw?

The duo formed by the Frenchmen Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Cristo —better known as Guy-Man— is the result of an unlikely Parisian electronic scene, which ended up happening due to the fascination of the two boys, still in their teens, in the first half of the 90s, for the music that sprouted from Chicago (USA) at that time.

I don’t want to review the book here, which I strongly recommend, by the way, to any fan of music, not just electronic music. Collecting vignettes of Parisian nightlife 30 years ago, “Daft” is a delightful read. And nostalgic.

I want to seduce you with this nostalgia. When I said that the book led to an unknown Paris, I was referring less to a place than to a time.

Between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, I didn’t go to the French capital as much as, let’s say, in the last ten years. But from afar I followed what was happening there, especially through the magazines that arrived in Brazil.

I still have a collection of one of them, an icon from the 80s. It’s called “Actuel” and I usually say that it was one of the inspirations for me to become a journalist. Hugely influential on the Parisian alternative scene, she makes a mere appearance in “Daft” before the book dives into a truly alternative and surprising music scene.

Thomas and Guy-Man wandered through stores selling imported records, rarities in their day; parties in Beaubourg; independent radio programs; and microclubs where talent scouts from recording companies circulated.

It was a scene that, three decades ago, I could only dream of. Almost all the places the authors mention in “Daft” no longer exist, starting with the “Actuel” editorial office itself, in Faubourg Saint-Antoine. (Radio Nova, the magazine’s former neighbor, still exists, strong and influential, at another address). And that today I can even visit, but no longer experience. Except, of course, for literature.

With the book in hand, this last time I was in the city, I walked around the places mentioned in the work. On iPods, the Daft Punk discography. And I invented a script that mixed recent history, memory and music. There were days exploring this unique itinerary. Did I take advantage? I’m going to use a hit from the band to answer: “One more time”!

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