Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I have been playing a lot of concerts in Paris lately. Four this past week alone. Hauling my hundred plus pounds of gear up and down 6 flights of steps, arguing with taxi drivers that yes, my keyboard will in fact fit across the back seat, dealing with bookers and sound men in a foreign language, pushing people to buy a CD to make my cab fare home in an age where very few feel purchasing music is necessary (if I had a nickel for each time someone with a 6 euro beer in their hand told me they love my music but couldn't afford to pay me anything for my CD, could I perhaps give them one instead....). I do this because I love what I do and I love the music scene. The music scene that involves the surprise of being paired with a band who blows my mind, who inspire me and who connect me to a new group of talented musicians creating beautiful songs and making the world a little bit prettier. The music scene that involves real music lovers and fans listening attentively to a live experience that cannot be copied and passed around the internet. A shared experience between audience and performer is sublime and it is this experience that keeps me coming back for more.

I treat every musician I meet with respect. I buy a CD if they have them, I listen attentively to their set no matter if I like the music or not. It's a question of community and respect for that community. I therefore pose my next question....


I ask this question honestly. For every amazing show I have (and thankfully there are many), I also encounter the following which pretty much sticks to the same formula each time...

A group of 30 something aggressive jackoffs who decided to have a band like, 5 minutes ago, blow into the club like they are reunited Led Zeppelin. They fail to introduce themselves and instead "inform me" they are taking my slot. Argument ensues. Their girlfriends and wives show up shortly after and ask me to remove my gear from the chairs so they can sit and listen to The Jackoffs make their sound check while reliving prom. The Jackoffs will usually sound check for an inordinate amount of time, hemming and hawing with the increasingly annoyed sound man. The "music" is about as bland as the midlife crisis of the bassist living out his teen dream. They chug their free beers and proceed to play way beyond their allotted time slot because they are too wrapped up in "Hey, did you notice what a sweaty JERK I am?" dreamland to recognize the following:

3. IT IS NOT 1991.

The Jackoffs will hear pretend applause in their heads that tell them "YYYYYEAHHH, keep going, this is the JAAAAAAAM" until I insist they end their now 75 minute extended set of wandering over-amped banality. Another argument ensues. They will take their time to get their shit off the stage and will knock over my gear. I will set up and play my show. The Jackoffs will stand as close to the stage as possible and talk as loudly as possible for the entirety of my set. When asked to buy a CD, they will look at me like I am the most insane nutjob on the planet and say incredulously "No way".

End of scene.

You can catch The Jackoffs playing around town pretty much any night of the week. Just follow the guy wearing his sunglasses at night, he'll know where the JAAAAAAM is at.

And if you are in town Wednesday night, go see Ottilie at Le Vieux Léon. I played a show with her last week, she's a singer from the Alps whose show had me dancing and smiling ear to ear. Her live show is amaaaaazing. Oh, and buy one of her CDs after the show so she can make her cab fare home. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009


This is the face of a legal alien in France.


This portrait of pride and jubilation in my new-found homeland was taken during my latest half day stay at a prefecture somewhere in Paris. After 15 months now of mairies, prefectures, administrative mistakes, paper shuffling, office shuffling, people shuffling, interviews, blank stares, feigned comprehension, total confusion and a new understanding of what the word "system" really means, I have received my holy grail...the carte de sejour. I'm legal, man. Before I set off on my half day adventure (for what I thought was just a chest x-ray appointment) I jokingly made a guess that I would end up having to talk to at least 12 different people in French and would most likely cry for three of them. I was off by one. It was 11 and I only cried for two.

The morning started off great. My eyes opened at 8:12AM for an 8:30AM appointment across town. Flurry of SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT, run to the metro with my giant GET LEGAL folder and off to yet another prefecture. The hives started the moment I left, by the time I got there, the tears were lined up and ready to go. French language skills out the window. Check, check and check.

DESK ONE: Sign in. Woman points to desk next to her.
DESK TWO: Two women talking animatedly with each other outside a room filled with foreigners. I step up nervously and show my convocation. She asks where I am from, after blanking I choke out "New...York"

FRENCH WOMAN: "Thank you! To enter, you have to buy my friend and I a plane ticket."
ME: (mind racing crazily....she couldn't possibly have said what I think she said) "Uh...."
FW: "Two plane tickets please!"
ME: "I.....uh...(panic panic panic) I don't understand....you want uh..my plane ticket?"

She laughs and whisks me into the room, I take a seat off to the side and look around at the 50 or so other foreigners, all speaking French. She goes to the front of room where there is a video screen set up and takes out what looks to be a remote control and announces to the class in English "WHERE IS THE NEW YORK GIRL WHO DOES NOT UNDERSTAND?" I am officially dead inside. I slowly raise my hand as all eyes are now on me, the New York girl who does not understand. She comes and gives me the remote control and tells me to push it when I see the Eiffel Tower on the video. What? Huh? Why has she given me this? Why am I the one running the video? Why do I feel special now? She starts the video, I push the green button and I jump as a loud English voice comes out of it.
Only then does it hit me.
It's a frickin' translator.
Not a remote control, you moron.
After watching a video strangely focused on "women have a right to work here", we sit waiting to be called in for interviews. No one talks to me. Quelle surprise.

DESK THREE: I am interrogated for 30 minutes by an older woman in a small office. Sweating profusely, my French is coming out in horribly spoken spurts of chewed up garbles mixed with fighting tears back. Then she pushes me over the brink when she passes over a short French test for me to take. OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD stop it OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD just read the frickin' questions OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD ok name, got it OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD lieu de naissance OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD ok birth, naissance means birth 9 juin OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD.....and so on.
I pass the paper over, she glances down over her glasses for a moment before sighing and asking...
HER: Madame Boulé, what does the word lieu mean?
ME: Um....place.
HER: And lieu de naissance means...
ME: Um...place of birth.
HER: (looking me over) Then why have you written June 9?
ME: (tears well) Um..I don't know. Sometimes I have crisis of nerve.
HER: (She looks at me) OK, you need to calm down. Breath.
ME: I know. My whole life is this since I am child.
Before I can burst into more tears and ask her to be my Mom, she gives me THREE more convocations for THREE more interviews and classes I am required to take, shuffles me out the door and walks me down to the medical office....

DESK FOUR: Sign in while crying.
The medical area waiting room is in the middle of about 8 doors which open and close in a flurry of doctors coming out, x rays being stacked, people shuffled in and out of one room after the other. In the next hour I would see five people in white labcoats. In one door, check eyes, passed to different labcoat guy, check weight and height. As he writes the numbers on my chart, I suddenly say in English loud and clear, "Wow, must be those delicious French donuts!" I realize my crisis of nerve is really kicking hard now. He doesn't even look at me as I internally chastise myself for making some sort of Turrets inspired wisecrack about French donuts. WTF IS A FRENCH DONUT?...YOU FOOL...YOU IDIOT..WHY WOULD YOU SAAAAY THAT? TO WHO? IT WASN'T EVEN FUNNY ANYWAY....WHY WOULD THAT BE FUNNY?

"OK go into the hallway and wait for one of the doors to open, go in and lock it, take your shirt off and wait for the door on the other side to open."

Uh....alrighty. But like, all these doors keep opening and closing, who is on the other side? Some dudes? I go in, lock the door, whip out camera to take a portrait of my self esteem being smashed to bits in a maze of incomprehension and crises of nerve.
Door opens as I stand there half naked with a camera in my hand.
Uh...hey guys, just uh....getting one in for the books here....heh...heh...have you heard the one about the French donuts?
I am smashed against a screen as two technicians take the chest x ray and shuffle me back into the room and out in to the waiting room.
Wait wait wait wait.
Shuffled in to see Doctor who asks a barrage of medical questions including..
DOCTOR: Are you depressed?
ME: Why? Do I look depressed?
DOCTOR: Just answer the question.

Back to DESK 4 to check out, shuffled down hall to pick up carte de sejour only to be told I have to pay 275 euro in stamps only, not money (cause that just makes soooo much more sense) and they of course only sell the stamps down the street at the Tabac but it is 1:23 and their office is closing in five minutes so if I cannot make it back in time, I will have to return later. Or tomorrow.
NO WAY, compadre.
After all this I AM walking out of here with my carte.
I race down the street again to get the stamps as I know how serious the French administration are about their lunch hour and if I come back at 1:31PM, it's game over for me. I ponder briefly the irony of how I always seem to be running somewhere for an administration that took 15 months to process me. Panting, I rush up the stairs where finally.....I receive my carte.

Next week...off to the local prefecture in my arrondisement to explain my work situation for apparently four hours. Hmmmmmmm......

Monday, March 16, 2009


Every time I see one of these advertisements around Paris (and there are lots), I think of a new pitch for them...

"Learn the language skills to destroy your own economy and possibly your entire country! Learn the word games you'll need to milk the most out of subprime mortgage backed securities and as a special bonus, you'll learn to create invisible money! In three easy steps! YES! I speak Wall Street English!"


I don't think anyone needs a class for this, it's pretty basic....

Give me your money.
Thank you.
Unregulate me.
Now go fuck yourself.
Give me my bonus.
It's not my fault.


Saturday, March 07, 2009



ME: "I'm bored."
ME: "Yeah, bored."
MFCINY: "Ok so let's make something in 5 minutes."
ME: "OK." (thinking)
MFCINY: "Ideas?"
ME: "I dunno but whatever it is, it has to have laser eyes."
MFCINY: "Of course. OK, send me a portrait."

Come here me sing tonight.....
Le Delly's
5 rue des deux Gares
10eme, PARIS (Metro Gare Du Nord)

Thursday, March 05, 2009


(photo by KDunk)

My first French review of my album came out this week. I couldn't understand the whole thing so I typed the text into freetranslation.com and what followed is now officially my favorite review of my music of all time.
(Note: I am now officially changing my name from Dana Boulé to Rolled Dana, The American One.)

"Landed to Paris by love of a French, Rolled Dana comes us from Brooklyn. To enter into the album of the American one, all clean in appearance, is to open a positive can of Pandore - therefore the whole opposite of the original can - that is not miserly some surprised, in pleasure, in fantasy, in life all simply. To the first level of reading, we find therefore a wise songwriter, well as it is necessary behind his piano and his classical formation. In opening, Go Away, elevated of ropes, would resemble itself a pop one in played laces under the boudoir boudoirs. But distrust we of the water that sleeps and the usage that done Dana of an accordion (following the example of Dawn Moors) could put us the flea to the ear: the American one leads a debauched life itself, confronts itself to more popular pleasures, surrounded by about ten musicians (with section copper) as one could do it in eastern Europe (Unforgiven). The music remains nevertheless by American gasoline but there is this same exuberance that comes gladly to hit to the door. The music of Rolled Dana is full of life, sometimes as expressive as a number of cabaret or of circus or a spectacle of Broadway (Right Place, Wrong Time). Even truly centered titles around the piano indicate a passion that asks only a thing: to exult. Natural girl of Tori Amos or of Kate Bush on the échevelé I Don't Mind (that will recall also the fleeting Suddenly Tammy), the piece is a beautiful musical rescript of the formula "storm under a crane"; it is also intoxicating as a quick turn on an old carousel. The lunar Sorry stresses the impression of a singer that puts all sound heart in his interpretation and the épanchement of its feelings, without being nevertheless clumsy or bombastic. Rolled Dana plays the tightrope walker with talent."

Yeah. Can it get any better than that? HELL NO, says the American One who leads a debauched life and walks a tightrope with talent (as opposed to the talentless/dead tightrope walker).

Opening a positive can of Pandore might be my favorite thing to say EVER so of course, I have worked it into conversations wherever and whenever possible. It makes me think of Tinkerbell dressed in rainbow spam or glittery sardines jumping out of a can and forming a chorus line.