Rabu, 07 Desember 2011

Faster Than Hell

Back in 1984 a Paris friend bought a fiendishly fast KZ 1100 cc bike. Our connection was drugs. One evening we were sitting at La Savanne, an African bar serving the last dregs of the night. Cocaine and Heroin. On night sitting at an African transvestite after-hour bar in Les Halles, le Savanne, Francois dangled the keys in front of my face, “How you like to take the monster for a ride?”

I had a Vespa. Its top speed was 120 kph downhill. Francois' bike was out of my league, however my survival instinct had been rendered to zero by a speedball and I grabbed his keys. The bike felt big between my legs. I turned on the engine. It growled with more power than all the horses in BEN HUR's chariot race. I goosed the throttle. The bike asked for more. The pre-dawn streets were slick with winter rain. Countdown engine's on.I screeched down the street. My wrist flicked through the gears and I entered the tunnel system beneath Les Halles in 3rd. Its maze of parking garages has been featured in many films and an hour before dawn the subterranean passages were devoid of traffic. I leaned forward atop the gas tank. The RPMs coasted at 3000. A twist of the wrist redlined the dial. 160 in a second. The flesh was peeled from my face. The KZ hit 200 kph on a straight-away. My death wish competed with the desire to live and I returned to the bar at a conservative 40 kph. I had been gone three minutes. Francois asked with a junkie smile, “Fast?”

“Very.” My eyes were wet wind wind tears

My assault on the Paris speed record was a good effort, however nothing in comparison to C'ETAIT UN RENDEZVOUS.On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9. A professional Formula 1 racer drove at breakneck speed through the heart of Paris to meet a beautiful blonde. The film was limited for technical reasons to 10 minutes; the course was from Porte Dauphine, through the Louvre, to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur.

No streets were closed, since Lelouch was unable to obtain a permit for the film.

The driver completed the course in about 9 minutes, reaching nearly 140 MPH in some stretches. The Benz was an automatic. Lelouch added the sound from a Ferrari to pump up the adrenalin. The driver ran about 12 red lights, nearly hit a few delivery trucks and pedestrians, and drove the wrong way up one-way streets without any hesitation.

Upon showing the film in public for the first time, Lelouch was supposedly arrested for speeding, although critics have calculated that the top speed never broke 160. The same as me underneath Les Halles. The director has never revealed the identity of the driver, and the film went underground until a DVD release a few years ago.

I remember seeing the short film in Paris.

Damn they were fast.

But few people drive as fast as drunk Thai boys on their little scooters. No helmets. No lights. Death wish 2011.



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