Sunday, November 15, 2015

Paris - Les larmes de Marianne (The tears of Marianne)

Marianne, the national symbol of the French Republic is crying.  On Friday November 13, 2015, citizens of France, and visitors to France were killed, 130 so far, 349 injured - 96 critically.

It has been very painful for everyone to watch the horrendous events on television.  My heart is broken to see that so many innocent people were hurt in my beautiful city.  I was distressed to watch these areas that I know so well, being the site of such hateful acts.  What has happened to our world?  Growing up in Paris I was never scared, rarely saw policemen bearing firearms - I could come back home alone at night and not feel I was in any danger.  Paris is a city to be happy, to be alive, to love, to understand la joie de vivre and not be afraid.  Paris belongs to all of us in a way - and, as I saw in an Italian comment "Parigi è tutti noi"  (Paris is all of us) the City of Light symbol, not the city of sorrow.  It was unbearable for me to see these terrifying events in Paris last Friday night unfolding on television - to hear the shots, the screams at the Bataclan.  Here are pictures of the Bataclan, interior and exterior, below.

When I lived in Paris with my parents we did go to the Bataclan - then it was a movie theatre.  It is an historic building built in 1864 to resemble a Chinese pagoda - a large building with a cafe and a theatre.  It was named after a Chinese type operetta "Ba-Ta-Clan" by Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880.)  It had a vast hall for 2500 people but a fire in 1933 destroyed part of the building.  In 1950 it was modified to adhere to safety standards, and in 1952 became a new cinema with 1350 seats.  In 1969 the cinema closed and in 1983 it became a theatre again.  In 2005 new owners changed the Bataclan, holding now 1500 seats, with updated acoustics, showing mostly rock concerts, but also trendy comedies and variety shows.  The owners are Jewish and have received numerous threats from radical groups as the hall is also used to hold regular conferences and galas for Jewish organizations.  Well known artists have appeared there along the years, such as Edith Piaf, Cesara Evora and international rock groups with a large fan base.  Here is a vintage postcard of the Bataclan.

The Grand Chinese Cafe, attached to the Bataclan concert hall, is now the Bataclan Cafe on boulevard Voltaire, a large friendly place, serving high rated brunches, lunches and dinners.

The rock group, Eagles of Death Metal, from California, was playing there last Friday to a sold-out audience.  Unlike their name, the group does not play metal type music; they are an underground favorite, mixing 1970s type blues-rock with humor.  Their style has been described as "bluegrass slide guitar mixed with stripper drum beats and Canned Heat vocals."  They have a large following in France, and in Europe.  After the first shots were heard the band managed to escape the stage through the back of the theatre and run to a police station.  The drummer Julian Dono, an Atlanta native and UGA graduate, now based in Nashville, was able to call his wife from there.  Sadly, their merchandise manager, Nick Alexander, 36, was killed in the concert hall.  Below are pictures of their show in Paris that night, courtesy AFP Photo/Rock&Folk/MarionRuszniewski.  The band cancelled the rest of their European tour.

Francois Molins, the Paris public prosecutor, said that the attacks started at 9:15 pm on Friday, November 13, 2015, at the soccer stadium on the outskirts of Paris.  This could have been a bloodbath if the attackers had blown themselves inside the stadium, but they did it outside the gates.  Another terrorist team followed at 9:20 pm with shots to the outside table occupants of two restaurants, Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge.  At 9:22 pm shots were fired at Casa Nostra, a pizza place followed at 9:35 pm with shootings at a bar called La Belle Equipe.  At 9:43 pm a bombing killed one person at a cafe called Comptoir Voltaire.  Then at 9:45 pm the attackers went into the packed Bataclan concert hall, killing the crowd at random - 89 persons perished.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

Because of this, Marianne is crying.  We are all crying ensemble - together and grieving.

The French flag - the tricolor, as well as Marianne, embody the French Republic.  As an allegory of Liberty and the Republic, Marianne wears a Phrygian cap and first appeared during the French Revolution.  She symbolizes the triumph of the Republic and has a place of honor in town halls and law courts where she can be seen in statues all over the country, standing, sitting, as a bust or just as a head.  Marianne is a republic symbol, opposed to monarchy and any form of dictatorship.  She is an allegory for wisdom, reason, and liberty/freedom - she is the "Goddess of Liberty."  Along the years her style has changed as you can see below.

She is the official government logo of France and is engraved on French coins and French postage stamps.

Marianne has been shown on magazines, postcards, as well as on cheese packaging and ads for soaps.  Artists have painted her, such as the sad Marianne by Bernard Buffet, French (1928-1999) shown below, bottom left.

A statue of Marianne is also on Place de la Nation in Paris, shown on top below, and Place de la Republique, shown on the vintage postcard.

Thousands came on Sunday, November 15, 2015, to the Place de la Republique, to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks, to bring flowers and candles and show that they are not afraid of terrorism and stand together against it.  Parisians had been told to stay indoor (and they did not) but for a while in the evening, after a bottle exploded in a cafe, all the people around the Republique statue fled in an instant.  Photo below courtesy Julien Warmand.

I hope that these terrible events in Paris will not play in the hands of the far right French parties in the next elections, enabling them to obtain electoral benefit from this tragedy.  I also hope that governments such as France, the US, the UK and other allies will not start another large war.  It does not seem that the Iraq war brought much happiness to the inhabitants of that region.  It did not destroy Al-Qaeda which has been attacking for 17 years but has brought about the militant and ruthless ISIS (ISIL/Daech.)  The heavy military strategy from the West has not obtained good results so far against these violent groups.  I think more should be done to stop young men and women to join these radical groups.  We should address the reasons for their anger and actions.  When young people have nothing to look forward to - no job, no income, no power to change their corrupt governments, no hope whatsoever - it is easy for militant Jidahist groups to recruit them and brainwash them.  I don't see a quick resolution to this problem.  I was greatly touched though by the support for Paris from many cities across the world, as these pictures show below - at the World Trade Center in New York, in Berlin, in Canada, in London, in Shanghai, in Mexico, in San Francisco, and Sydney - courtesy CNN.

It certainly is a nice change to have our France liked here and abroad and not be the butt of jokes as the American Right loved to do, but I wish there had been no tragedy to get this result.  I was very moved to hear so many sing La Marseillaise, our national anthem, and see our flag shown in several places, such as in sport events here.  Louisiana State University team, the helicopter for the Air Force Utah State game and the Army game photos below, courtesy USA Today.

I spent much time on television and the web watching and reading on the tragic events in Paris.  One comment I read on the New York Times on Friday night by a person using the nickname Blackpoodles showed touching words of solidarity for our city -

"Blackpoodles,  Santa Barbara
France embodies everything religious zealots everywhere hate: enjoyment of life here on earth in a myriad little ways: a fragrant cup of coffee and buttery croissant in the morning, beautiful women in short dresses smiling freely on the street, the smell of warm bread, a bottle of wine shared with friends, a dab of perfume, children paying in the Luxembourg Gardens, the right not to believe in any god, not to worry about calories, to flirt and smoke and enjoy sex outside of marriage, to take vacations, to read any book you want, to go to school for free, to play, to laugh, to argue, to make fun of prelates and politicians alike, to leave worrying about the afterlife to the dead.
No country does life on earth better than the French.
Paris, we love you.  We cry for you.  You are mourning tonight and we with you.  We know you will laugh again, and sing again, and make love, and heal, because loving life is your essence.  The forces of darkness will ebb.  They will lose.  They always do."

I certainly could not add anything to these beautiful words. (Drawing below by Benjamin Regnier.)


Kay G. said...

Vive la France!

David said...

Vagabonde, Events in Paris are indeed a tragedy that impacts the whole world. Very sad and very disturbing... It won't end there, of that I'm sure. It's just a matter of time before some radicalized terrorist or terrorists strike in Great Britain, Germany, Russia and the USA. The ocean limits our risk here in North America...but it doesn't eliminate it.

I spent almost 40 years in the security industry and I've been surprised that more terrorists haven't gone the 'simple' route...just attacking with firearms. As for the right wing, they will gain traction in France and elsewhere...almost guaranteed! Fear is a great and sometimes negative motivator.

We should have left the middle east alone...other than protecting Israel. Sad to say, the dictators kept the lid on the tribal and religious divisions...although frequently at the cost of their citizens. The 'moderate' Muslim countries need to put boots on the ground with NATO and Russian support. Otherwise, we will end up with another 'Crusade', which is exactly what ISIS and their kin want to see.

Parisians will overcome...but the sadness will hang on for a long time.

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Pixel Peeper said...

My thoughts are with the people of Paris and all those whose lives were changed forever with the horrible attacks on Friday.

{{{Hugs to you}}} - what a beautiful post you've written!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

The pain has been felt worldwide. These are very bad times.

Frances said...

Thank you, dear Vagabonde, for this post. I so agree with what you've written here, and applaud you for the many beautiful photographs, too.

I worked today am now just getting caught up with world events that have taken place while I was at work. It's too soon for me to form an opinion about the retaliatary air strikes.

You and I are of an age that can remember so many folks dying for causes. Some might have believed in the causes which resulted in their deaths, I expect that most had no idea.

Your image of beautiful Marianne speaks to all of this turmoil.

Cannot the people who live on this planet find a way to stop violence? xo

Elephant's Child said...

My city, Canberra, is also lit up with France's colours.
My heart aches. For Paris, and for Beirut (attacked the day before) and for the insanity that is terrorism.
Sadly it will bring right-wing politics into prominence. Hopefully not for long.

Denise Covey said...

Vagabonde, thank you for this post and for more on the history of the Bataclan. What a tragedy. I, too, talked about it today in my post. Words are not enough. It was absolutely mortifying to see that Paris footage and see that senseless loss of precious lives. :-)

Denise Covey said...

Oh, and Brisbane's City Hall is lit up in the tricolour. Tonight I'm going to an event there on behalf of Paris. It will feel good to be doing something, anything!

Thérèse said...

J'avais lu le texte (Télérama) que tu nous as mis en français sans imaginer un instant qu'il avqit été écrit en anglais d'abord.
Tu es une vraie journaliste.
Merci pour ce billet.

PeterParis said...

Bravo and thanks for this post! Nobody could resume the situation better than what you have done here!!

Pat said...

I don't know what the answer is but there comes a time when the killing has to stop. I grieve for all those innocent people who lost their lives in such a horrible way, and worry for all those people who continue to work and live in Paris - including our son.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I thought of you, my dear Vagabonde, the moment I heard the Horrific News about the carnage in Paris......I LOVE what the man from Santa Barbara said----Beautiful and so true and deeply touching, as is your Post. Sending Big Hugs to you and all the People Of France. Madness seems to be rampant these days.....I pray we find a solution to all this before it goes beyond the point of no return.

Vive La France!!!!

DJan said...

My eyes are streaming with tears while reading this, VB. Again. I have been unable to grasp the enormity of the carnage: Beirut, the airplane that was bombed, and now this in Paris, the City of Light. I love that piece you quoted. I wish I could have written it, because every word resonates with me. Peace and love to you, and tears for all who suffer. :-(

Notes From ABroad said...

Every time I read the news ( I stopped) and read something like this lovely tribute of yours .. I weep again. The horror, the loss , the damage, is unthinkable.
As a mother , I am horrified , as a human I am devastated .
This was such an INhuman act .. there is no excuse, no possible forgiveness ..

Anonymous said...

Oh Vagabonde - what a beautifully written, researched and illustrated post. thank you for the Mariannes, the Bataclan photos - for all of it...I, too, was in tears, nearly all the way, and gone with the quote -
Thank you. Paris je t'aime!

Down by the sea said...

Blackpoodles words are wonderful in illustrating what Paris means to us all. So many innocent lives have been taken, while they were spending their spare time doing the things that we all enjoy and up to now have taken for granted. Sarah x

Nadezda said...

Dear Vagabonde!
It was the cruel and merciless act in Paris on Nov13.

Rosaria Williams said...

Oh how our hearts mourn for France, and for the families of the victims, and the trauma everyone in Paris is suffering.

Vagabonde, you illustrate so well and so clearly the many pieces of the story. We are thankful to you for doing the research and providing your knowledge to bring us the entire news cycle that exploded in Paris on the 13th.

Thanks also for including that last quote, from the gentleman from Santa Barbara. His words mirror our sentiments also.
May Paris heal; may the world find a peaceful solution.

Marja said...

The image of a crying Marianne and what happened is heart breaking. My heart goes out to Paris. Your words resonate with me and what I am struggling with at the moment is that you and my friends all say that more needs to be done then fight ISIS by providing jobs. I just wonder how this would be achievable

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Vagabonde ... thank you for this wonderful post .. reminding us of things re Paris and France - it's a great tribute and reminder of the day and aftermath ... so desperately sad and appalling.

I hadn't realised Offenbach had composed an Operetta "Ba-Ta-Clan" - nor have I heard elsewhere that the owners now were Jewish ...

Thank you for this excellent and informative post. Hilary

Shammickite said...

Such a tragedy, so many broken hearts all around the world. These people who do this, they are not people they are dirt, worse than dirt, they think they can change our lives, our hopes, our choices, our world, with hate and violence and weapons and blood, in Paris, in Beirut, in Baghdad. We cannot let them win.

Carol Crump Bryner said...

Thank you Vagabonde for this beautiful and informed post. I thought of you all weekend as we all followed the horrific events in Paris. My husband and I were just there enjoying the freedom and warmth of Paris culture, food, people, and beauty. How quickly things change. All the more reason to embrace the good every day, and to record that good so it is never forgotten.

claude said...

Quelle belle et émouvante publication, Vagabonde !
J'ai pensé à toi quand cette tragédie est arrivée, toi tout comme une grande amoureuse de Paris.
En fait ce n'est pas que Paris qui est touché, c'est la France entière et même le monde entier d'après ce qu'on peut voir et qui réchauffe le coeur.
Mes amis américains ont suspendu notre drapeau sur le mur extérieur de leur maison.
Je suis triste et en colère.

joared said...

Heartbreak for all who treasure freedom, peace and love as we cry for the lives lost in Paris. Appreciate your sharing what you've written here. As I write this I'm hearing news reports that more of the perpetrators have been eliminated. We can hope fear will not become dominate here or in France, that reason will prevail in decisions made for actions to counteract such terrorists groups., and voters in both our countries will choose rational leaders.

Mae Travels said...

You have expressed so beautifully the reasons why this event is tragic beyond other tragedies. Paris may mean many things to people whose backgrounds and experiences vary and who may only have spent a small amount of time there, but it's especially poignant to hear from you, who have such a deep connection to your native city.


Vicki Lane said...

I applaud the magnificent spirit of France in continuing to accept Syrian refugees while many in the USA cower and want to close the borders. The terrorists cannot destroy a people who will not give way to fear.

Magic Love Crow said...

So very very sad!

Jeanie said...

A beautiful and powerful post, VB. As you know, Paris holds a special spot in my heart and I have joined in the world sorrow for this beautiful city. Your words were chosen well. I'm also grateful for the clarification of the importance of Marianne. While I knew of Marianne, I knew little of her history or significance.

I hope all those you know in France were safe -- and stay safe.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, Your words always spark in me a recognition of the energy residing within us. The energy that can change the world with one action, one word, one act of kindness, one resolve. Your blog is a way of changing perceptions people may have about France. You do so much good here with this posting.

I so appreciate the feeling that we all of us are France and Beirut and Mali. All of us are one. And yet even as I say that I think of ISIS and wonder if I share Oneness with them. And so I find myself pondering what makes for One. How can one of my favorite poets say, "Everyone there is one and never two"?

I wish there were some way to truly understand the hatred of ISIS for all that is Paris. The hatred that is casting a pall over our world. And wherein am I one with them? I search within myself and find that I, too, have a darkness at the center of my being. I can choose to act on that or I can choose to live a life promoting oneness and peace. To love instead of hate. To embrace good everywhere.

Those of ISIS have made their choice. They are determined to make us one their way--to make us be one people who worship one way and live one way--the way they dictate. And that in my mind is not the Oneness that I hold on to.

Well, I just reread this comment and it's so abstract and unwieldy that it doesn't make much sense. So I will close by simply saying that I grieve for us all, especially for those the terrorists choose to kill and maim. I grieve for France and for you, too, Vagabonde because your country of birth is so dear to you. It is in your essence. Peace.

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