I remember once stepping into an uptown 5 train. A man getting seated on one of the benches was sighing and saying: "Back to the old Boogiedown." My local friend had to explain to me that that was a nickname for the Bronx. I loved that. It's got to be a pretty juicy place to be named something like that.
East-side Paris, March 2009, is the old Boogiedown. We live in a house that was built by hand by an Italian documentary filmmaker along an abandoned railway-line in the 20th district. There's a burning fireplace and an old globe and lots of toys belonging to the filmmaker's two-years-old girl. Outside, wild graffiti screams across the concrete barier, seperating us from the projects. Beyond them rise old-world Housmanian rooftops dotted with little windows of chambres des bonnes. They overlook the Rue des Pyrannees as it climbs through noisy Gambetta Square, offering blood sausage and cheap wine in scratched carafes. At night elderly women rock it out with young hipsters at the bars of Oberkampf, while Congolese guys hit on pretty girls from the western quarters without much success. Don't be discouraged. Boogiedown, brothers, boogiedown.