Pentagon Tales * Trasmissioni dal lockdown
Ben Green (CIVIL CIVIC)
I’m at home, here
Movement restrictions and business closures came into force around three weeks ago, and initially the city became a total graveyard. Nobody on the street at all. The cops busted all the street drug dealers, who stayed on their corners even though they had no customers and everything went very quiet.
But now there seems to be a lot more people walking around, despite the fact that by law only essential movement is allowed and you have to carry a completed document with you to show to the police. It seems like there is little or no enforcement. My anecdotal estimate is that around 10 – 15% of people wear a mask outside. The crisis atmosphere is wearing off fast.
I’d just finished mixing a solo record when the restrictions came down, and I had a flight to London booked and paid for, to master the album with my old buddy Aaron Cupples. It was very disappointing to cancel that trip, because I haven’t seen Aaron in two years and I miss his company. He’s still mastering the record, but by remote control.
In general I’m a pretty anti-social guy. One of the great things about touring was that it forced me to leave my apartment and meet people and be a social animal. But self-isolation is pretty much my normal routine. The only thing I really miss is bicycling. Especially now that the sun is shining and there are no fucking cars on the roads! My god.
In the last six months or so, at least three small venues closed in Lyon, and there was a lot of rumors that another two were in financial trouble. I think that live music in Lyon, at least in the metropol, might be fucking dead after all this rinses out. Fortunately there are a few unofficial/squat venues on the periphery.
France has income support programs for professional and semi-professional musicians and technicians in the industry. To qualify for those programs you need to prove that you work a certain number of days in the year in your music industry job, so I don’t know how things will work out, since the spring season is usually a busy time for these people. Venues and promoters often have a level of government funding too. I don’t know if there are any special programs proposed to mitigate the current situation.
I really don’t know what percentage of my friends are not working, because as I said before, I am anti-social.
In general, I think that what we have, up to now, considered “normal” life is finished now, or soon will be. For some time I have been expecting the social, economic and governance systems that sustain “normality” to collapse suddenly and dramatically. Something analogous to the collapse of the Soviet Union, but much worse, due to the particularities of “our” system. It’s great that some people are finding it possible to be optimistic about the obviously huge changes we will experience in the coming years, but all I see in the near future is increasing difficulty, precarity and deprivation. Sorry.
I’ve made a couple of jokes on Facebook about the coming wave of “lockdown” records that will be released over the next year, and how much I am dreading that phenomena. But when it comes down to it, on a personal level, I think using this time to make music, or art in general, is the best response. It has massive psychological benefits. I don’t want to hear your “lockdown” album, but I think you absolutely should make it, for you.
I don’t have any recommendations for books/movies/music etc. Recommendations are obviously a very personal thing. In general I think most people are perfectly capable of finding good shit to enjoy and without me arrogantly saying “you have to check this out!”. Obviously I’ve been devouring a lot of books/movies/music/internet shit, and some of it really turns me on, and if I think someone I know would really dig something I’ve found, I tell them.
But having said that, everyone in the world should watch a Neil Breen movie, right now.
Look him up and you can thank me later.
Peace and sanity to every one of you. x