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“Thoughts About the Most Absurd Place”

May 27, 2014

© Leigh O'Gorman.

© Leigh O’Gorman.

It is incredibly difficult to describe or pinpoint where or how exactly, but I have little doubt that Monaco is an extraordinarily absurd place.

Yet when one hobbles {note 1} around the principality, focus does not necessarily linger upon the beauty of it all as such, but rather the trash that passes for glamour, titillation and exclusivity for five days at the end of May.

On one hand, these famed streets of Monte Carlo play the grande host to Formula One, although from what I am led to believe, only Singapore comes close to the challenge and the glamour – and in recent years, it has been suggested that Marina Bay may be edging ahead in the latter’s stakes.

There is little doubt that the Grand Prix of Monte Carlo is a stunning event where drivers are tested to the limits, with the threshold of physical and mental agility pushed well beyond the norms of a standard Grand Prix weekend.

The entry into the Nouvelle Chicane. © Leigh O'Gorman.

The entry into the Nouvelle Chicane. © Leigh O’Gorman.

Bobbling along on a breezy Friday evening, a walk from La Rascasse; around the swimming pool section; by Tabac; through the tunnel and up to Portier provided some astonishing sequences as the Mediterranean blends with the harbour, beach and adjoining rocks.
It also becomes abundantly clear for the first time just how narrow these streets genuinely are and brings into further focus the incredible skills on display when the Grand Prix comes to town.

The adrenaline rush and excitement the Monaco Grand Prix is quite unlike any other that I have worked at, but as a venue and a place, it has its drawbacks too.
In part, Monaco feels a touch gaudy, old and worn down. Across many sectors of Monte Carlo there are some scenes that appear to be smothered in layers of tainted gold – so many areas that merely leave one feeling uneasy.
Out on the race track, bars and parties emerge in the evening shadows, as drunks pour yet more excess down already jagged throats.

Along the testing final sector of the lap, unnecessarily large yachts prick the line of the harbour in a manner that represents anything other but beauty. An exercise in showing off, the “captains” may as well be displaying their penises to the world while comparing size and matter – it’s all bollocks, of course, in relative terms.
These are the scenes that transpire when one becomes so wealthy, that chancing upon the back of a boat with a sunburnt leatherette lovely becomes an indicator of success; a trophy upon which to hang one’s dignity – I worry for the people who pine for this empty nonsense.

© Leigh O'Gorman.

© Leigh O’Gorman.

Like the precious, dull, soft safety net that is West London, this feels like the kind of place where fat, leery men go to die, poisoned by the strength of their own bullshit.
Never has glamour looked so cheap.

On the far side, one moves up to the Monte Carlo Country Club where the Formula Renault paddock is hosted. This brings a new meaning to plush, which is emphasised further when one noted the servant whose job, it seems, is purely to put cushions under the plump buttocks of the members.
Upon all this wealth, a precious nothing happens, as defined by the intellectualism that is washed away with the hit of every preened tennis ball.

Alas for some, this is a lifestyle. For me, it’s tired and boring – a nothing within the boundaries of a nothing. This is Las Vegas on a shore in Europe and precious little is more tasteless and tat than Las Vegas.

© Leigh O'Gorman.

© Leigh O’Gorman.

When wandering around the harbour on Friday, it was difficult to ignore the drooling Jabba the Hutt-alikes and their convulsing loins, as they licked their lips when chancing upon scantily clad promo girls handing out flyers to some party or other in a bar {note 2} that will offer none of the glamour and all of the rip-off.
The sleazy catcalls, pursed kisses and inelegant whispers of “hello darling” only serve to make one feel as if the gates of hell are opening up around thee. There’s not an ounce of exclusivity here – it will be just another bar drawing in sun-blunted punters all too keen to knock back €8 pints of Heineken in the hope said girls will arrive to rough up their red raw purulent flesh.

Were the fetish-like slobbering not so ugly, it would be truly beautiful art. But it is not; it’s just a dim reflection of the vacuous tendencies that litter Monaco during the Grand Prix’s visitation.

A quick train back to Nice and a beer before going to the hotel, passing – along the way – numerous prostitutes looking to score, while the desperate and homeless route through bins for food. This is the other side that you will never see.

Will I do it again? Yes, but then again, I’m a racer. It was simply the most exhausting race weekend that I have ever worked. But give me the cars any day – the rest is merely noise pulverising the senses.

{note 1}
It transpired that I had broken my foot one day before leaving for Monaco, but only found out when in an Accident & Emergency ward six days later, hence the “hobbling” and “bobbling” was quite literal, very real and astonishingly painful.

{note 2}
As someone who spent several years as a live music promoter, the “art” of using scantily clad promo girls to “pump up your night” was a facet of the industry that I hated – and I refused to do it.
Realistically, if your business is so decrepit that one feels it needs sex to sell it, then the business is probably rank to start with, but that is a personal view.

© Leigh O'Gorman.

© Leigh O’Gorman.

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9 Comments
  1. Peter Scandlyn permalink

    That was a very interesting insight, thanks Leigh, on a place and event I’ll certainly never experience in my lifetime.
    As to “mental agility”, well notwithstanding the on track aspect there’s certainly plenty on display off track…..words, words and more words.

    • Leigh O'Gorman permalink

      Absolutely. I’m certainly glad to have finally experienced it, but the non-motorsport aspect of it will never be for me.

  2. couldn’t you find the negative parts of any sporting event? its like when they call New Year’s Eve amateur hour here in the States, the folks that head to Monaco are literally there to watch the train crash- and probably complain about the noise during the race (although this year they had every right)

    • Leigh O'Gorman permalink

      Yes, I could find negative elements to other sporting events (in this instance, I only cover motorsport, so am limited to that), but Monaco does stand out as an event on the Formula One calendar and as such, am judging on that basis.
      In saying that, these are still personal opinions and not a declaration of fact. Nothing wrong, nothing right, just an opinion.

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