Serge Gainsbourg. French singer poet rebel cad. A gifted writer who grew to legend thriving off scandal and imbibing in excess. Inebriated in every public appearance he made, he slurred his syllables and sloshed in his seat like a drink overfilled until he rose to the top like ice-cube flotsam in the bottomless Pernod he never let go.
Admired by most, revered by some and despised by more than a few, France needed him to push their boundaries while they sat safely behind the lines of their TV screens. They needed him to go too far so they wouldn’t have to.
Which is why the Serge Gainsbourg Garden, planted on top of Paris’ périphérique (beltway or ring road) at the Porte des Lilas, is such a sad tribute. Tragically, none of those things Gainsbourg represented (talent, delirium, beauty, squalor, courage, danger, desire) are to be found in this sterile wasteland.
This is what I mean:
- Serge Gainsbourg’s Wikipedia page
- Serge Gainsbourg’s burning a 500 franc bill on TV (to protest high taxes)
- Serge Gainsbourg’s “Je t’aime…moi non plus” (“I Love You…Me Neither”) [Warning! Strong sexual connotation!]
- Serge Gainsbourg’s propositioning Whitney Houston on TV [Warning! Vulgar language!]