“Hey! Where do you come from?”
“I’m a Sartrouvillois baby!”
I represent the west suburbs of Paris, it’s been that way since I was a kid. I’ve had time to witness the suburb’s many codes and changes in the past 34 years.I’m not from Paris, I’m a “banlieusard” (guy from the hood) and I wear that label like nobles wear their family crest…with pride and honor. I’m a true product of the suburbs, I was born in an exotic land just outside the gates of Paris, right after the “périph” (highway belt). The R.E.R. (regional train) is my Benz, while the 272 or 9 bus’ are my Beamers. It’s a guaranteed change of scenery between the countryside and the concrete tiles. There’s nothing sad about the suburbs, I come from a place where diversity is king. Like a saturday afternoon in Châtelet – it’s all about bling bling and color… every possible color! There’s nothing sad about the suburbs, ghettos are named after flowers and we burn cars on saturday night and call it a block party. There’s nothing sad about the suburbs, you become sensitive to the broken glass of bus shelters, scattered on the asphalt like thousands of diamonds, and the barbed wire protecting the postal services warehouses like hundreds of stars, twinkling in the milky streetlight glare. Undeniably, the suburb is also about poetry : “fuk”, “nik”, or “tamer” are tagged on project walls and bus seats. There’s nothing sad about the suburbs, Because there’s so much fantasy, just check out the fashion! A mix of english “chav” and french “rudeboy” : a David Beckham haircut, italian jeans and vintage sneakers for the younger generation… Old school tattoos and white socks under flannel trousers for the elders. There’s nothing sad about the suburbs, spontaneous “decoration workshops” take place in the staircase where suburban poets use a lighter’s flame to lay down their ryhmes on ceilings and walls. There’s nothing sad about the suburbs, There’s a project called “Les Indes” (The Indies) right next to where I live, and although it might not be much of a kodak moment : no Taj Mahal or Maharadjas, no sacred cows or screaming monkeys… There’s nothing sad about the suburbs, a nice merry-go-round just settled next to the old farm right along the railway track… Although the only way to have a real ride in this place, the ultimate rodeo, takes a big rock and a little “savoir-faire” in hotwiring. I’m proud of my hood, a true supporter of my “Villa Daumier”. Concrete’s my life, and even if it’s a love & hate relationship, I claim it, protect it, and I’m ready to fight for it. My tower’s like a Nike Town : you have to be impeccably dressed on every occasion: a piece of “walking fashion” from head to toe, there’s sportswear, logos and swooshes on every floor. The local shopping mall sells us cheap dreams : the illusion of escaping the daily grind won’t cost you a buck. It’s the ultimate sight : people come here to walk the walk and talk the talk. There’s also the workers allotment gardens where you can enjoy a long and sunny bucolic sunday afternoon. There’s nothing sad about the suburbs, maybe just a load of clichés that give it a bad rep’ and a feeling of neglect for those who live on the other side of those invisible city gates.