Surviving Nice Part 2
September 13, 2009

It was 4:30 in the morning in the north of Nice when me and Nikolov started wandering towards the beach to my hostel.
I was on my guard while walking with him just in case the fucker was gonna try to mug me along the way. It was a nerve racking and helpless feeling at the same time. At any point I was ready to Usain Bolt away from the guy. He must have sensed me being unnerved, and kept saying:
“No worry, I am a good boy”
I thought what he said sounded weird coming from a fully grown fat man with a body like a giant baby.
We kept walking down a main promenade and passed a couple of thugs who, had I been walking alone, would probably enjoyed a jacking for sure. Halfway, he stopped and told me to let him carry one of my bags. My shoulders were hurting from the long walk so far so I let him carry the bag with clothes in it. If he took off I wouldn’t really be losing much so I wasn’t scared.
After some musing about rap music he began to tell me about how he used to be a boxer. He was placed to box for Yugoslavia in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games, but didn’t win any medals. He also told me about his family and his new 2 month old baby. Sometimes sharing photos of family breaks down some barriers, because family is universal.
There was a moment once we reached my hostel that I felt like I owed this man everything for walking me, a total American stranger, to a place that was across town for him. It really struck me that world is full of good people, and sometimes they come in the form of Nicolov the Dragon an ex-world class athlete turned dope smoker and new father.
Anyway, I handed him a 20 euro bill but he was really adamant about it not being about money. He then called me a good boy and we shook hands. He said his only payment was for me to send him postcards from California when I get back home. Not just any postcards, though. He wanted Tupac and Dr. Dre postcards. In my head I thought “Shit, I’m gonna send you the whole Dr. Dre and Tupac album collection my man”
Relieved, I sat in front of the hostel to wait for the owner to come and open the door so that I could check in.
It’s 6 in the morning.
I sat outside and lit a cigarette to calm the fuck down about what had just occurred and feeling my bags and my body to see if everything was all there. No knife wounds or anything missing thank god. Now I just had to stay awake for a couple more hours until the hostel opened.
Groups of loud drunk kids roam across from time to time. Some would glance for half a second then disregard me. To them I was a bum and it kinda felt that way.
A guy comes out from a nearby bar and we started talking.
He spoke English with a French accent.
“c’est mon premier soir ici, et je suis fatigue’ I said. I told him it was my first night here and I’m really tired.
He asked me where I was staying and I pointed to the hostel. He let me stay at his place to wait so I didn’t have to wait outside. I decide not to keep bumming it on the street and hang out with this guy.
We went up to the third floor of the apartment complex and there was a dude sleeping in his bed. Our entrance woke him up and we introduced himself as Antelier Pauline Nikolli. He is an artist living in Nice and crashed at Charlyes place for the night.
Charlye’s job is a film director and so after we wax poetics for a couple minutes he asked if I would like to see a short film he’s done. Now, I have time to kill so I didn’t mind checking out this dudes film. He turned on the projector and showed me the film. It was the weirdest fucking thing in the world. It’s one of those films where during the viewing you’re like what the fuck. There’s like a group of people beating up a chick, then a party scene with people dancing, then a dude and a chick making out for a whole minute, then two chicks making out for two minutes, then two dudes groping each other. Charlye explained all the symbolisms on the film and it sorta made a little sense but if nobody explained it, it woulda just seemed kooky.
He then showed me a music video he did for a band recently. More bizzaro world time ensues. When it’s all over, he asks me what I thought.
I asked a couple of questions about filming methods and art direction just to pique is interest, but in reality I was mortified as fuck these films were really kooky.
So then what always happens when you meet someone new is you talk about many things including music. Charlye is about 33 years old so he plays his favorite American songs for me. He Youtubes them and they’re the most embarrassing and awkward selections ever. Many of them are from the early 1980s and have very cheesy videos. One video was full of abstract bizzaroness just like his film.
After awhile tiredness just hits me and I can’t fake enthusiasm anymore. So I’m standing around while cheesy music is blasting from surround sound speakers. He goes for a smoke and I dump out half the sangria he poured me. There is no way I’m drinking that shit it could have been poisoned. At this point I’ve never felt so paranoid in my life.
He comes back and we start talking about the French youth and how the kids today are materialistic and hopelessly consumed by the media. It made me realize that adults always thinks the next generation is going to shits. I assure him things will be okay with the kids.
Anyway I get tired and the painter dude is up and listening to cheesy music as well. So I sit on the bed and start to doze off. Charlye says that if I’m tired he’ll turn down the music and let me rest.
It’s 7:28AM.
At the height of exhaustion, the only thing I can focus on is the digital clock across the room. I try to wait for it to get to 8:00AM so that I can leave and check in next door in my hostel. I doze off for about 10 minutes and wake myself up. I check if I’m still alive. I am. I thank Charlye for his hospitality and letting me use his internet (a valuable commodity when you’re away from home). He invites me to some artist protest against the government ban on street art. I feign interest but only so I can leave.
I walk over to the front door of my hostel. A guy steps out for a smoke. He says the owner usually gets in at 9AM and that check-in is later than that. At this point I’m expecting shitty news like this.
He let’s me inside and I crash in the kitchen. It’s a small place. The owner is in his late 20s. He taps me to wake me up. He tells me I can crash in the private room but only until noon because somebody else reserved that room. But after noon I can check into my reserved bed.
I stumble in the room. I kick off my shoes. Lay down. It’s finally safe. And think:
“Man, how am I alive….”