Purple Magazine
— F/W 2015 issue 24


paying the rent



Permit me to make a confession. Back in the 2000s, I was an apostle of the freebie. Especially when it came to art. It was then that I founded an experimental rock band that I called Le Ballu, after the bar where the drink-sodden idea came to me. To join the band, all you had to do was write original music for a little ditty composed more or less to my own glory. Here are the lyrics:

Don’t touch yourself just yet, my sweet
John Thomas is back in the saddle
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Ain’t me who wrote this shit
It was Arnaud Viviant

To date, there are some 50 versions of this song — in French, English, Italian, Russian, German, reggae style, Cajun style, country style, industrial-rock style, indie-rock style, trip-hop style, hip hop style, and on and on. But, as I warned my friends who wanted in on the project, everything had to be free. There’d be no money-making off my name. We made a record and gave it away free with a magazine. We’ve done free concerts, with 20-odd artists and groups taking turns on stage. Interested parties can check out the following download: http://ballu.bandcamp.com/album/ballu-vol-2. “For free,” of course. It’s got to be said, though, that using the same word to describe “freedom” and “free of charge,” the way English speakers do, throws our French minds for a little loop. Gratuité, égalité, fraternité — a new motto for the République? At Le Ballu, we used to call it kolkhoz rock. We were bananas back then.

I still do the occasional freebie even now. Actually, what I do is not charge for the share of my production that I consider unsaleable. Take, for instance, the material I dare to call my poetry. I got to writing poems, and now there are plenty of them. In the words of a friend of mine who pretends to like the stuff: “No danger of getting rich off that.” Here’s a little sample. It’s a poem I’ve called “Death,” because death is both a poetic subject par excellence and no picnic to write about after centuries of poetry:

Beneath the little roof Life and Death stood waiting
For the bus — two little old ladies
“Are you waiting for the 7:52?”
Asked Life in a puny voice
Death replied with a nod — it was raining
The Bus pulled up with a screech
Death climbed aboard, punched her ticket
Life turned out her pockets — no change
The driver grumbled, and Life
Remained behind, stranded beneath the little roof

Much later we learned that the bus
Had had an accident.

Honestly now, I don’t see how I could go about selling that. So I’m giving it to you. To little poetry reviews that make believe they exist — I know not how and don’t care to find out.

Permit me to make a second confession. I came pretty close to not writing this column. To pay me for it, Olivier Zahm needed an invoice from me. But I, who have no company to my name, am barred by law from issuing invoices. Yes, I could have become what in France is known as an “auto-entrepreneur,” but the word itself makes me crack up. There’s no way I’m becoming my own boss. I’d rather stay free. On the other hand, I had no intention of publishing for free in Purple. I couldn’t see why I’d do it. Eventually, a girl who works with Olivier and is apparently called Rain — a magnificently inspired name, I think; it’d be great to do a documentary about people who name their daughter Rain — sent me this email:

Dear Arnaud,
I had a chance to ask our accountant today about your invoice.
It is illegal for us to accept invoices that are not issued by a company or a registered freelancer. What I can propose, however, is that we reimburse you for any expenses incurred while you were writing the text.
Let me know what you think!
Thank you.

I loved the idea almost right away. I imagined telling the landlord of the apartment I rent in the middle of Paris: “I’ve got an idea. What if, instead of paying you rent, I took you out to lunch several times a month for a sum equivalent to my rent? That way we could get to know each other better, eh?” So, I decided: Okay, I said to Rain. Work is such a funny game.

[Table of contents]

F/W 2015 issue 24

Table of contents

purple EDITO

purple NEWS

purple BEST of the SEASON





purple BEAUTY

purple LOVE

purple TRAVEL


purple SEX

purple NIGHT

purple STORY


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