Mitch Altman — Finally, I’ve finished (mostly) catching up with (enough) of my emails (for now), and have been bopping all around Paris, eating plenty of excellent examples of pain au chocolate, one of my favorite things about our universe. I’ve also been invited to plenty of peoples’ apartments, and getting to know some very interesting people. My host in Paris is an established photographer and also a well known activist that goes by the name of Charlie de Nose. Of the many interesting actions he has been involved with, one of my favorites was: putting a pirate TV transmitter on the Eiffel Tower, and broadcasting illegally from it for 6 months before getting caught. In the US Charlie and his group might have been called terrorists (a label that is way too easily bandied about over the past few years), but here in Paris, they were simply told not to do it again. (Do a search for “Zalea TV Tour Eiffel” and make use of your favorite translation medium.) He also organized an anti-war event at a community center, and somehow during the event the Coke machine they rented as the center-piece of the performance caught on fire while videos of “Dr. Strangelove” mixed with actual footage from Iraq on the floor. I met Charlie through a journalist from Libération who interviewed me in the early days of TV-B-Gone media craziness. As well as hosting me in his wonderful, government-subsidized apartment (they actually support the arts in France!), Charlie is a great connector, hosting get-togethers where journalists, film makers, artists of all sorts, many flavors of activists, and other interesting, creative, intelligent people mix and mingle in long nights of conversation and friendly debate.
The night before Charlie’s most recent get-together I gave a soldering workshop at /tmp/lab, the hacker space in Paris. Any disappointment I initially experienced at the low turnout was quickly dispelled as people successfully soldered their projects together. Making things is really fun! And it is incredibly gratifying to show people, even if they have never made anything before, that they really can make things!
Tonight I hung out with a young video maker and VJ, discussing, over some brilliant couscous, how best to touch others with our work, the nature of activism, the inherent lack of utopia on our planet, as well as the power we all have, whether we know it or not, each in our own way, to improve our lives, as well as the lives of those around us. Before we knew it the restaurant was closed, and all of the tables but ours had their chairs stacked up. We almost went to a party I was invited to, but it was time to go home and type all this up (with the sounds of Charlie and his girlfriend enjoying their company above me)