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Show of Arms

by marco Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 01:12:57 PM EST

This morning I went to see my first serious "parade" since childhood.  I have never been into parades, but when you are in Paris on July 14 with nothing else to do, Paris vaut un défilé.  What's more, I'm not into militaryish stuff, but by golly, militaryish parades can be very beau indeed, bordering on moving.  Seeing the planes soar past overhead, the young (and not so young) men and women marching in unison in a panoply of uniforms, often singing in very nice voices, one could not help wonder why these shows of military, tribal pomp and circumstance made such an impression.  One also wondered why uniforms which on their own are so singularly ridiculous should look so stylish and dashing in the context of such a parade.  Is it the lockstep coordination of the marchers that evokes a feeling of community and solidarity, of hard work, training, and excellence and competencies thereby achieved?  Are we touched on some deep genetic level by these sorts of displays, as female peacocks are to their male courtiers' plumage?

I don't know, but i did enjoy the show, despite having to watch it with limited view on the Rue Royale (i.e. the end and backwater of the parade).


I thought the parade started at 10, when in fact it started at 9.  On top of that, I overslept my alarm until 9:20.

Still, made it to the Tuileries by 10, where pedestrians wanting to see the parade were ushered to by firm but polite police nationale.  Of course, the gentle policemen and women made us think we could walk through the jardins towards la Place de la Concorde, but alas, no: the gates to the gardens were closed and we were forced to stare and squint from far away at the distant obelisk and the Arc de Triomphe much farther behind it.

After some indecision, I finally told myself, "Screw this," and decided to take the rue du Faubourg St. Honoré which parallels the Tuileries, following the westward crowd of tourists who had the same thought:

Reaching the rue Royale, we saw that there was already quite a crowd along that street that goes off north perpendicular from the Place de la Concorde, a crowd patiently waiting behind metal barricades under the very professional watch of the dark-blue uniformed Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité, or CRS:

One look at these guys and you knew you'd better to be on your best behavior.

After waiting about 20 minutes, suddenly we heard the roar of jets overhead, and though I missed the first group of planes that came overby, like hundreds of other onlookers, I had my camera ready to catch what I could through the narrow patch of sky that was visible to us.  Unfortunately, my old camera has tons of dust in it, and especially with zoom, the pictures are ruined by ugly specks:

After about a dozen groups of planes had flown overhead, a few minutes later, another troupe of CRS walked by purposefully, indicating more fun to come:

Which fun came in the form of bleach-white uniform wearing Indian troops:

who were greeted with a warm round of applause from the extremely international crowd:

Then came bunch after bunch of young people, playing music or singing in impressive unison, in their finest threads, to the enthusiastic applause of us onlookers:

If I am not mistaken, this group consisted of German soldiers.  They got the second most enthusiastic round of applause of the lot:

These guys had some pretty groovy outfits:

It was the fire brigade that got the warmest and longest round of applause of them all:

Well, I could put up a lot more photos, but there are already too many.  I did want to put the following group up, though.

Can anyone say anything about them?

After all the marching troops, there were requisite military vehicles and arms, rather ugly, and so new they looked like they were made of plastic.

The show ended with about five parachutists, sporting the colors of France and Europe, dropped out of the sky and landed in the Place de la Concorde down the street:

Afterwards, I walked up to the Champs-Elysées:

and snapped a photo of a participant in the parade with his proud parents:

And here is a gratuitous photo for DoDo on the way back along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré:

The diary was rushed, as I have to catch dinner and head off to watch the fireworks at the Champs de Mars.

Display:
Merci.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 01:39:22 PM EST
The participant with happy parents looks like a student of l'X to me. Which is why the parents are (justifiably) proud. Now we must get Jerome to publish the similar picture of him he must have somewhere.

As for the bearded axe-wielders, they are probably sapeurs du génie, tasked with bridge building, road paving, etc...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 01:47:24 PM EST
Specifically, they are called "pionniers" and are from the 1er Régiment étranger de génie of the Foreign Legion.

They are a fixture of every 14 of J military parade with their traditional beards, leather apron and axe on the shoulder.

by Bernard on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 03:26:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(my bold)

Pionniers de la Légion étrangère - Wikipédia  Pioneers of the Foreign Legion - Wikipedia
barbe : comme les pionniers montaient à l'assaut en premier, leur espérance de vie était très faible. De ce fait, ils avaient le droit, lorsqu'ils partaient au combat, de ne pas se raser et revenaient barbus lorsqu'ils survivaient. Le port de la barbe est devenu obligatoire, à la Légion étrangère, en 1844[2  beard : as the Pioneers went into battle first, their hopes of survival were low. From this fact, they had the right when going into combat not to shave, and they came back with beards when they survived. Wearing a beard became obligatory in the Foreign Legion in 1844 [ 2


Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 03:48:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Photos 10 and 11 are Polytechnique students, it seems to me.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 04:09:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd really like to see a contingent of advertising art directors 'marching ' past. Or architects: black collarless suits, black turtlenecks, black Marimekko shoulder bags with pens in the front pocket and (choose one from column A and one from Column B) organic cotton or twill trousers and black clogs. An frontier-believer beard (without moustache) is also useful if you want to stress your eco-housing credentials.

Finnish architect liggers can drink for several hours talking intelligently about design before regressing in about 5 minutes to louts. It happens very fast and is your signal to leave. You can see the same sudden onset of incapacity in tequila slammer drinkers. One minute they're are at the zenith of joviality, and at the next their knees detumesce as if their CNS has shut down.

What is it about architects?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 04:30:56 PM EST
marching down Madison Avenue.  now that, ironically, would be pretty ridiculous/hilarious.

Sven Triloqvist: I'd really like to see a contingent of advertising art directors 'marching' past.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 04:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One also wondered why uniforms which on their own are so singularly ridiculous should look so stylish and dashing in the context of such a parade.

It is orderly: There is a simple pattern that is repeated many times over. Human brains find that pretty.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 05:05:19 PM EST
It's not just the matter of numbers.  I've had a few family members in the military, and while I really can't stand military symbolism - they were undeniably dashing in their formal uniforms.  Part of it might just be that we're generally a slovenly lot, and no one bothers to get that dressed up anymore.  So when a person does, it's striking.  

And it's all very methodically done, nothing left to aesthetic chance.  I'm sure century of study has gone into getting the way the hat sits on the head just right.  Into getting the uniforms to evoke the very response of "ooh" and "ahh."  Also, people's attitudes change when they get into such uniform.  They tend to psychologically project all the pomp and honor and dignity and importance the uniform conveys.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 05:20:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My wife always said she liked me (as in handsome) in my dress military uniform while I usually hated wearing the thing and thought it looked god awful. Civilians often mistook me for a bus driver and I couldn't blame them.

Each US military service branch has a "Uniform Board" that constantly tweaks the various components of the uniform (nothing better to do I guess), and makes improvements/(just changes) that cause everyone to have to buy new coats, shirts, trousers, skirts, hats, etc.

A real pain to get dressed properly. Always forgetting something, like insignia, rank, belt buckle, correct color socks etc. Though, civilian business attire is not much better - useless ties and uncomfortable jackets/coats. Jeans and a t-shirt are about my speed these days and I couldn't be happier, no matter that I look a slob most of the time.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 10:49:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Comments - Show of Arms
Which fun came in the form of bleach-white uniform wearing Indian troops:

As indicated in the Salon, Indian troops (Army, Navy and Air Force) were the guests of honor at this year's parade.

I have seen some footage during the rehearsal a few days ago where they started an impromptu dance party with the Polytechnique students (like the fellow posing with his parents); apparently they received a warm welcome.

by Bernard on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 05:18:47 PM EST
The guys in groovy outfits (#22) are "Chasseurs Alpins"

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 05:51:44 PM EST
Extremely well-known (in France) song, written and performed by Boris Vian:

Vian - Le défiléBoris Vian - The Parade
On arrive sur le boulevard sans retard
Pour voir défiler le roi de Zanzibar
Mais sur-le-champ on est refoulé par les agents alors j'ai dit:
On n'est pas là pour se faire engueuler on est là pour voir le défilé
On n'est pas là pour se faire piétiner on est là pour voir le défilé
Si tout le monde était resté chez soi ça ferait du tort à la République
Laissez-nous donc qu'on le regarde
We hurry along to the boulevard
To see the king of Zanzibar
But right away the police push us back, so I said:
We didn't come here to get yelled at, we're here to see the parade,
We didn't come here to get trampled on, we're here to see the parade,
If everyone stayed home it would be bad for the Republic
So leave us be and let us watch
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 02:14:02 AM EST
Le jour du Quatorze Juillet
Je reste dans mon lit douillet.
La musique qui marche au pas,
Cela ne me regarde pas.
Je ne fais pourtant de tort à personne,
En n'écoutant pas le clairon qui sonne.
Mais les brav's gens n'aiment pas que
L'on suive une autre route qu'eux,
Non les brav's gens n'aiment pas que
L'on suive une autre route qu'eux,
Tout le monde me montre du doigt
Sauf les manchots, ça va de soi.

Georges Brassens "La Mauvaise Réputation"



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 06:26:08 AM EST


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