It's not letting me post pictures . . . as you all know Blog STORMBRINGER is driven by imagery so for today I'll paint you a word picture:
Paris, 21 July 2012
After paying my respects at Napoleon's Tomb, I inspected the incredible collection of arms in Les Invalides - which is the complex housing the cathedral in which Napoleon & several other heroes are entombed, the monument to all of France's military, and the home for Les Anciennes (disabled military veterans).
At the ticket counter I asked if there was a military discount (I always ask) and was told "only in uniform". Then I told the girl, "Mais, je suis un Ancienne," and showed her my blue ID card. Viola- instant multipass throughout the entire complex - gratis.
This is the third time I have received such treatment at the hands of the French. The first time was in a small Norman village - Ste Mere Eglise - where I was not allowed to pay for a drink for three days; the second time was at a cafe in the part of Paris where I hang out, when my credentials became known and dinner was on the house. The waiter pointed to the landlord and uttered one word: "Respect"
The collection at Les Invalides includes weapons from the Stone Age to the Space Age, suits of armor for almost every king of France, most notable Dukes and Marechals and a ton of ordinary knights. An impressive array of artifacts from the Napoleonic era - everything in remarkable condition and historical information was displayed in a logical and easy-to-digest format. I filled in the gaps of a lot of my knowledge of history, the Napoleonic era especially.
Yes, their record or recent times is ridden with scandal but there was an epoch when the French KICKED ASS all over Europe and all over the world. In fact, until an episode known as the Seven Years War (we know it as the French & Indian War) the French were THE Superpower in their day, and if it wasn't for the actions of a certain Captain George Washington (these acts would be called 'war crimes' in this day & age) we'd be having this conversation . . . in French!
Stereotypes aside, the French are an incredibly war-like race. They gave us the metric system, the five-paragraph op order format, the military mercador grid reference system, military time, modern artillery and the bayonet. Consider their activity post-WWII to this day; almost continual military adventuring. Compare this to the Germans, who despite their heroic reputation are the most effeminate race in modern Europe and the ONLY people THEY ever beat in a war are . . . the French!
At the height of recent Franco-U.S. angst, my personal boycott of all things French never extended to their women or their wines. Regarding their women, as a lifelong sufferer of "yellow fever" (there is no known cure) there is nothing hotter than a French-speaking Oriental and of course feminine shaving is not even a consideration - everybody knows that Oriental women are not only completely smooth, they are double- and triple- jointed and are raised from birth to service & pleasure the Alpha-male members of the warrior class.
Like my favorite half-American, Winston Churchill; I am a Francophile as well as an Anglophile. My open-mindedness does not extend to accordion music however - I nearly threw an accordian off a train the other day (WITH the Mime still attached).
Myself, it wasn't exactly For Whom the Bell Tolls when I went through my Channelling Ernest Hemingway moment but ... wandering around my little corner of Paris last night it occurred to me how -IF- I hadn't been married w/family; after military retirement I very well could've ended up here in Paris cooling my heels between gigs in the Sandpile and down south in the Dark Continent. The place IS restful and its quite possible to be a Big Fish in a small pond here.
"Vive la vie, et vive le guerre, et vive la vie de la mercenaire!"