Life with Music

Around the World in Nice, France


February 2014

Feb 25 2014 – A style, a philosophy, and birds who fly together

Two people today

The first is a woman of about 70 years.  (she “has” about 70 years)
She has a rich garden on her sunny-side 3rd floor balcony (the “second” story)
about 30 or 40 feet from mine (~10 meters)

 She visits her garden periodically to eat and water, and when she leaves,
birds approach her plants, and eat something that I cannot see

The pigeons look nice here – a more smooth coat, of very light-grey (almost off-white)
it’s hard to imagine them as pests the way they land and dip their beaks calmly.

Then two cats edge towards the veranda – all at the same moment the birds fly off in a huff

but I can imagine, and in fact I saw it happen, that
one pigeon first spies the cat and identifies the threat
the brain sends a wave of electricity down its body – cell to cell
and all the pigeons’ cells are tuned into this pulse, like a radio to 88.5fm
commanding their own wings to flap before the first bird visibly reacts

 You know how birds all fly together in a flock?

I’ve been reading about the fluidity of their motion; turning angles and weaving shapes simultaneously, in synchrony.

They have a way of navigating simultaneously, imperfectly but reliably,
that scientists and traffic engineers have not yet been able to replicate,

But I have seen some musicians, in groups, weaving their way on a stage
or in a small apartment overlooking the red clay rooftops.

The other woman is a shop owner.  Today I entered the vintage clothing store
and was swiftly whisked back into the past, to that mysterious Value Village scent,

the pulsing odors; not quite cacophony, certainly not order; reminding me
of the delight in low prices, and clothing with meaning

like a beam aimed at my heart
;finding the gem amongst the ruckus, the costumes,

each of those had a story! Each of these was in vogue,
“à la mode” at some point or other.

 [insert economic/marketing perspective on the abundance of expensive, luxury clothing in Nice for contrast]

She was reading Sartre – L’Age de Raison (the age of reason)
which I spied on the table in the center of the small room.

“bon jour”
“bon jour,” as she returned to the table.

I danced around her, breathing in her particular arrangement of vêtements
We spoke briefly as I left, she has keyboard.
“back there?”  (I ask in gestures)
    I hope to hear her play it some jour


Jan 13 2014 – Food

Food here is expensive. Clothes here are expensive. Everything here is expensive.

It was nearly impossible to find peanut butter. Apparently that’s just not really a thing here. Devon and I had a friend over for breakfast, and she informed us that our peanut-butter-bananas and hummus-carrots are “quite strange.” 

It’s really fun checking out all these restaurants, and pausing in outdoor cafes between rehearsals is a lovely respite, but it sure does add up in expense. Fortunately, our arrangement with the managers puts us in quite a solid position to afford these luxuries, but I do have some internal tension going on. I’m enjoying it for now, but I think at some point when I’m more acclimated I may scale back on dining out. It’s part of the lifestyle here (at least for our band mates), so we’ll see.

We pay 3.50 euros for a box of tea at the grocery store. That’s about $4.67, Yikes! (But on the other hand, many cafes offer a single tea or coffee for the same price). All of these prices and expenses are relative.

It is quite wonderful that our management agency takes care of our rent and utilities. All I have to worry about while I’m here is feeding myself, drumming, and singing. Morale is high, prospects are good, life is dynamic and every day brings new surprises.

I’m so blessed to be here.

Jan 7 2014 = Nice is Amazing (3 days in)

Nice is amazing.

 The women are beautiful. The men are beautiful.

Les immeubles, the apartment buildings, are built on top of the ground level magasins (stores), typically 6 stories high. The cars are much thinner, as the streets are quite narrow, and the walkways are filled with folks milling about, eating and drinking, walking, biking, riding scooters and motorbikes. This place is extremely sunny, and social, even in this wintertime. I have not yet been “carded” – I don’t think that’s even a thing here, really. I’m able to freely enter bars, pubs, I can buy wine and liquors without a second glance. People drink out in the open; wine on the beach and such. The police ride segways and the only thing I’ve seen them do is ask a man to put his dog on a leash in the park.


The city is full of expensive touristy shops. There is an “old town,” called “vieux niece,” close to the beach, and a more “developed” section further north. Devon and I live in the old town in a two bedroom apartment overlooking a reasonably busy street. We walk through the alleyways of vieux nice in the direction of the beach to get to Wayne’s Bar; the english restaurant whose basement contains our rehearsal space, aptly named “the cave.”


The band is going swimmingly. Evan and Dan, our 5-years-experience proctors of the land, are really great guys. They are social and hilarious, knowledgeable and helpful, and they listen and speak openly. The four of us have a great chemistry already, freely bouncing ideas off of each other and gracefully giving and receiving feedback as it stirs.

We are learning popular music. In Europe this phrase corresponds not only to the American pop repretoire (Bruno Mars, Robin Thicke, The Beatles (yes I know they’re British) and so on)  but also a slew of international songs that quite literally everyone here sings along to. They include Volare, Besame Mucho, Champs Elysees, Sympathique, and the favorite around here, Emmenez-Moi (a song about the beauty of the southern coast of France).


Phly Boyz got their start when Evan and Dan took a summer vacation to busk (play street music) in France. They had a friend who recommended Nice as the best spot for such a business. One day they were guided into a restaurant, La Petit Maison, and were very well received. Dozens of business cards later, the Phly Boyz were a private events band with regular gigs at restaurants and dinner parties.


On Saturday night we played our first gig; 6 days after setting eyes on each other. The venue was the restaurant l’Uzine, opened last year by ex-staff members of La Petit Maison, who had saved up to start their own culinary project.

It was a blast! We went around table to table with our upright bass, tiny-drum-kit, guitar and saxophone, singing customized songs for each table. The whole restaurant was enthralled and we got some serious sweat and adrenaline going.


Now it is Monday and we leave for our first big gig on Friday, to the mountains of Switzerland. This week we are preparing more of our repertoire, getting haircuts and swanky suits, and generally chillin hard. Nights with the boyz are really enjoyable – we are a funky little bunch.


Devon and I have met a number of cool french folks. Andreas is in an electropop band called A.Jam with songs in mixed french and english. He showed us a cool music bar called Bspot, where I met a jazz singer named Lucy. Outside of Wayne’s, we met Regis and Michael who offered their advice on local bars and international travel, but who were particularly interested in informing us about the local ladies. I seem to have met a lot of people who seem vested in getting me laid.


Me? I’m more interested in making friends here. It’s a new place and I’m still straddling the language barriers. There’s a lot to take in. I’m taking my sweet time settling in and growing a network of supportive creative friends to chill with.

The people here sure are beautiful.

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