La Muette, a time capsule of French advertising posters

Old advertisements revealed at La Muette. (Photo: Paul Shamble. Click for more info or to read the article 'History dans le Métro'.)

Thanks to a friend who alerted me to this link posted on the AIGA site, (thanks Dave C!) I have a cool little moment in design to share here.

Like all cities, civilization and history continually build on top of itself. One really lovely case in point is the renovations as we would say in English, also known as décarrossage in French, to denote the deconstruction of a previous style or building, of parts of La Muette Metro station in Paris, where for a short time in 2009, demolished walls revealed layers upon layers of old posters and advertisements.

Lovely decay of several posters revealed at La Muette Metro station. (Photo: Paul Shamble. Click for more info or to read the article 'History dans le Métro'.)

It seems that simply pasting up new posters was so the norm when something new came along, that this system even went so far as to work for the construction of the typical Parisian white-arched tile and rather than bother to remove these posters, they were simply walled over.


These posters and ads, long since forgotten probably just a few short years, if not months, after being enclosed behind sparkling white tile walls in the 1950’s & 60’s, were a surprise to a new generation of contractors and architects (under the direction and employ of the RATP’, Paris’ transportation organization) apparently when the tiled walls were broken down and these gems from the past were revealed. At times, the layers of posters were incredibly thick, as you can see below.

Dense with poster and board and posters. (Photo: Paul Shamble. Click for more info or to read the article 'History dans le Métro'.)

The article, History dans le Métro’, written by Gene Tempest, a doctoral history student currently studying in Paris can be read in it’s entirety here. It’s a very cool read with neat clues about the ages of many of the posters based on cultural changes, such as the one-time use and eventual discarding of Parisian phone numbers having a place name prefix, a bit like old-fashioned American ones. While ours were more created out of neat sounding memes (PENNSYLVANIA 6500!), the Parisian name-number combinations were geographically linked to the subscriber’s location.

Plus, the article mentions Haussmann’s impact & influence on Paris, a force which can never be overstated nor over-discussed in any of its positive or negative aspects. These photos are really beautiful, and as a designer and history geek…it’s pretty dang neat to see two loves linked together in Paris, even if it was fleeting.

A torn ad for a modern design school sat hiding behind seats for decades. (Photo: Paul Shamble. Click for more info or to read the article 'History dans le Métro'.)

Phoenix’s magical Blogotheque Take-Away Show

Click to watch Phoenix play live, outdoors in Paris.

Un, duex, trois, quatre!

It’s not secret that I love the band Phoenix, (they’re the best) nor the fantastic paris based music blog La Blogotheque and their signature Les Concerts A Emporter, or Take-Away Shows. If you are not familiar, the basic premise is always the same, where French filmmaker Vincent Moon asks a band to play a short set, often consisting of just 2-3 songs, at an impromptu and outdoor location, usually accoutically, while he films the moment.

The Take-Away Shows are often really lovely and intimate, almost always with small surprises and little treats that can only happen with the unplanned & gentle collision of a band suddenly playing live in public spaces not typically made for such moments.

Click to watch Phoenix play live, outdoors in Paris.

A perfect case in point are the most recent 4 songs on La Blogotheque featuring the French band Phoenix, (who sing just about exclusively in English), and are perhaps better known outside of their home country than withing their native France.

In this heart melting set of 4 songs for Take-Away Shows (or more rightly Les Concerts A Emporter), quite possibly my favorite band Phoenix performs  1901 at Trocedero Square, close to the Eiffel Tower, with lots of passersby simply stopping to get an ear and eyeful of the band. There’s even a freshly married couple among the gathering crowd, and it simply couldn’t be more romantic.

Click to watch Phoenix play live, outdoors in Paris.

Phoenix then moves onto a crowded Parisian tour bus, taking seats at the back of the open upper deck and play 2 songs (Lisztomania & One Time Too Many) while the bus and it’s happily surprised tourists take a ride through Paris streets. The final show is Long Distance Call, played beautifully under a stone bridge along the Seine, complete with a sweet echos from the pigeon encrusted columns of the bridge. My favorite band + my favorite city = I’m done for.

Basically, it’s all awesome and you should watch ’em all. Click the images above or here to watch & listen as well as read a bit more about each performance. Phoenix!

Click to watch Phoenix play live, outdoors in Paris.

Fresh Del The Funky Homosapien & Sigur Ros coolness

Two cool and fresh things musically that you should be aware of this week:

Sigur Ros, performing in the small Parisian restuarant, la Closerie des Lilas

Sigur Ros, performing in the small Parisian restuarant, la Closerie des Lilas

1. The hauntingly excellent Sigur Ros‘ appearance on the Paris-based fantastic music + performance blog La Blogotheque‘s super dupes Les Concerts A Emporter, aka in English Takeaway Shows. If you are not familiar with the Takeaway Shows, well, here is your chance to get cozy with one of the most fun, creative and intimate things going on with current music. Filmmaker Vincent Moon shoots bands performing acoustically in an ever-changing array of impromptu and unexpected places from small Parisian alleys (Of Montreal vs Axe Riverboy), to hotel rooms (Tom Jones), to an abandoned turn-of-the-century exhibition hall (The Fleet Foxes) and in this case Sigur Ros sitting in booths and playing at the very small, very old, and exceptionally traditional Paris restaurant la Closerie des Lilas. Check out Sigur Ros’ Takeaway Show here.

Del The Funky Homosapiens stimulus package, Funk Man

Del The Funky Homosapien's stimulus package, Funk Man

2. Hell yes! Del The Funky Homosapien is making his new bag of tricks, Funk Man available for a free download. I’m listening to it now, and it is awesome. Click download, enter your email address and zippy little link for you to get your own free copy of funky stimulus is yours. Thanks Del! Get your Funk Man on here.