Joyeux 14 juillet

I like France, and I like the French. Never had a problem with them! So, I want to wish my readers, who are mostly in the United States, a “Happy Bastille Day!” I should tell you, though, the French never call it “Bastille Day,” or if they do they don’t admit it. It is “National Day” or “The 14th of July.” The date does commemorate the 1789 storming of an obsolete and barely utilized arsenal and prison in central Paris, the “Bastille.” A righteously angry but very unruly mob rushed the old fortification in a quest for weapons, of which there were few. The whole thing might have ended unceremoniously, but hotheads beheaded the commander of the fortress with a pocket knife. I probably wouldn’t call it “Bastille Day” either, but one thing led to another and out of a huge and lengthy cock-up modern France emerged.

As per the current A&J strip appearing today, what does “Cinco de Mayo” have to do with “Bastille Day?” Not much, except they’re both little-understood foreign holidays here in the states. That is not to say they don’t have common elements. I have long been fascinated by the history of “Cinco de Mayo.” It is not a mayor holiday in Mexico, and it is not “Mexican Independence Day.” That would be September 16. “Cinco de Mayo” commemorates a Mexican victory over an invading French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

“The French Army?” you ask. Yes, skipping a lot of messy French history between the storming of the Bastille and the Battle of Puebla, Emperor Napoleon III, nephew of the real deal, was on the throne in 1862. He didn’t much like the United States. In fact, France had loaned money to Mexico to fight the Mexican-American War in the 1840s. Fifteen years later, Mexico had fallen a bit behind in its payments. The United States, my readers might recall, was involved in its own little imbroglio we call “The Civil War.” Nappy saw a chance to have a little fun. He foreclosed on Mexico. He sent an invading French army to take Mexico City and anything else not nailed down, and enticed an under-employed and trepidatious Austrian prince, Maximilian, to be Emperor of Mexico.

To make a long story short, the well-trained and well-equipped French army kicked a lot of Mexican booty and was making progress toward the capital city, until… the Battle of Puebla. The smaller Mexican army unexpectedly whipped the French! Huzzah! The result? Well, it slowed the French down, but they ultimately reached Mexico City and took over the country. However, it just didn’t seem like fun anymore, and the French eventually abandoned Mexico, and Maximilian, who was executed. So, that’s why “Cinco de Mayo” isn’t big in France. However, the World Cup is!!! It’s going to be a blow out of a Bastille Day in Paris this year!

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30 responses to “Joyeux 14 juillet

  1. Whatever it’s called in France, le quatorze juillet can be a pretty noisy time in Paree. We were there then in ’85 [I believe]. Helps me nail down July 13th. That afternoon, I was walking back to a now recently departed [JHS-forever] friend’s apt. when suddenly, the sky was filled w/ swarming dots. Apparently a capillary in the front of my R[?] eye had ruptured and I’d acquired hundreds of “floaters.” No harm, just annoyance. They cleared up in a few weeks.

    Another subject: Yr or 2 ago, I posted that some outfits w/ evil intentions would call and ask, “Is George Spelvin* there?”, hoping you will answer “Yes”, thereby acquiring your voice saying “Yes”, which they can then splice to ill use, claiming that you agreed to some proposal by saying, “Yes.” *URL below. Somebody, likely in this Village, suggested that was improbable, because the splice could easily be detected.

    This evening, phone rang; I answered after “2 ringy-dingies”. “Hello! Is George Spelvin there?” Me, in a less-than-friendly monotone, “That’s me.” Short silence, then, in what I believe was exactly the same [recorded?] voice, “Hello! Is George Spelvin there?” “That’s me.” They hung up. I rest my case. Inclined to believe this was from the “private sector,” but it might, of course, been from the evil gubmint.

    I’ve recorded the phone #, but will not list it here, because such callers are said to sometimes use false numbers. Peace,


  2. emb, much more likely now than ever, since digital technology does not require splices. Thank you for the warning. That scam has been used to switch people’s phone carriers, among other things. Also, the scam callers are using phone number “spoofing” which lets them show any number they like on your caller id.

  3. If you have doubts about the validity of a phone number, enter it in your internet search engine and see what comes up. There are several sites that maintain a database of comments/complaints about numbers.

  4. When this page appeared Friday evening, I was confused about the “As per the current A&J strip appearing today” statement.

    Its meaning became apparent with this a.m.’s newspaper delivery.

    Apparently WordPress posted this preset page at 00:00 GMT. (it’s always midnight somewhere.)

  5. MPR’s Steve Staruch does Friday Favorites, a mostly classical request show, 4-7 pm CDT. It may be rebroadcast on some other public radio stations at another time. Anyway, I’ve made a request for Fri. 20 July, most likely during the last half hr., in honor/memory of the mutual birthday of daughter Kathryn and wife Elaine. Kaf sang Frumah Sarah’s song in Tevye’s dream when she was in high school, in a Bemidji production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. You can, of course, watch it and also Tevye’s “If I were a rich man” on YouTube.


  6. Galliglo, and what better place to share them? This must have been an active weekend for the Village. Or everybody else is watching the World Cup.

    The heat around here has been extreme and my car’s air conditioning isn’t working so I have been staying home as much as possible. So, lots of time online. I did get out and meet up with a wargaming group yesterday and spent several hours playing out an ancient war scenario. But I’m getting that a/c fixed this week!

  7. emb
    I got a call this morning “Is this Mr Spelvin”? (MFIL)
    I just said he had the wrong number – not informing him
    that MFIL passed away 24 years ago. It would be interesting to see
    how they could have used “yes” in this case.

    The other trick they use is “Can you hear me”.

  8. Heading for the mountains soon and it occurred to me that we haven’t heard from Trapper Jean in quite a while. I hope that means she’s too busy having fun with grandkids or other adventures.

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