a hermetically sealed universe
a hermetically sealed universe

a hermetically sealed universe

More Italian than French both in appearance and mannerisms, he had the churlish air of a tired rockstar past his prime. I had a hard time believing someone who put so much effort in his appearance would not be self-aware enough to understand how slippery he made himself look – overcalculated yet sloppy; with the effect sometimes melting beneath his toothy smile.

The unruly row of silver ornaments dotting his fingers would have given any pirate a run for their money. They gleamed and danced as he gestured, his voice barely louder than the cheesy Heart of Glass remix playing in the dive bar he’d picked for us. He prattled on about Twombly, Tzara, Takahashi or tzatziki – my contribution to the conversation so small that merely listening to him felt voyeuristic.

“Hello?,” a bemused smile as he called my attention.


“I hope I’m not boring you,” he cooed.

I had to fight a smile: was I really being made fun of by someone who played guitar in a band called Taxidermy Fox?

“How could I be bored with such an interlocutor?” There it was again, the toothy smile – seeming more sincere this time around. “I was merely musing on your curious choice of band name.”

“Well I didn’t pick it. I had no choice, see? The name picked me. We used to practice in my grandmother’s garage just south of Paris, where she keeps an old stuffed fox she bought at a flea market. We started bringing her to our concerts for luck; people liked her so much that we just had to honour her.”

“Her as in the grandma or the fox?” We shared a hearty laugh as he reached for his phone, and I wondered about which option would be more absurd. He turned his phone screen towards me and there it was, looking about as good as you’d imagine – wide glassy eyes and haphazard bald patches. Surely a stuffed fox roughed around indie concerts in Paris would fare better than a grandma in the same situation? “I’ll have to judge your merits based on the music, because the branding sure seems like it could do with a bit of polishing.”

His roaring laughter drowned disco Debbie Harris out once more, and he finished his beer in a hearty gulp. “There he is,” I thought. “Not so slippery after all.”

“So how come you’re a shoegaze fan that has never listened to My Bloody Valentine?”

I shrugged in response, and he peered outside to gentle rain descending onto the heart of the 11th arrondissement.

“Finish your wine. Let’s go for a smoke.” With a sleight of hand, he revealed a pack of Gauloises Blondes previously nestled in the inner pocket of his trucker jacket. I had to hold back a smile – a very on-brand choice of smokes from him. Not that I, American Spirit Yellow, had any right to judge.

The people at the bar nodded to us with a knowing smile as we passed on our way to the door – they had no idea they were witnessing the first chapter of an incredible story, but I still hold their faces perfectly intact in my memory.


It was the last night of January, cool and breezy. We stood under the canopy just outside the bar as Giorgio held a cigarette between his teeth, pulling a black object out of his pocket – an iPod classic!


Mais oui.”

His movement as he unwrapped the earbuds from the black monolith took me back a number of years to a much simpler time. We leaned against the window of the bar as he put his arm around me – one earbud for him, one for me.

“This one. You’re going to love this one.”


A tidal wave of warm, fuzzy, distorted noise completely overtook me – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain what I felt. Wistful yet grateful, empty yet complete, warm yet cold.

A surprising amount of people were passing by us on the street, but I barely noticed them as he pressed me against him, shielding me from the cold. The maelstrom of noise had us both enveloped and suspended in time, gently silencing my ever ruminating nature.

Everything else dissolved under the rain like cotton candy. Everything but us, protected by the canopy and the warm light of the bar.

For once, there was nothing in my head. Nothing existed outside our hermetically sealed universe.

– love, mia –

(Sometimes is still my favourite song, by the way. I will be forever grateful for this moment)