Neither the storming of the Bastille, nor the Reign of Terror would restructure the French nation-state as much as the polite tennis court abdication of responsibility from Louis XVI to the tiers état—the Third Estate (representatives to 98% of the French population). Within the first few months of mostly peaceful revolution, centuries old feudal ties were outlawed, and the King plucked out of Versailles and delivered to Paris a third-rate monarch to an increasingly bold and ballsy population.
Nice. And all it took was an educated class, blocked from careerism to earn their fair share of privileges, and thousands of hungry, illiterate people, to realize the divine right pact signed by God and King could only work if November promised some bacon in the larder. Needy (greedy?) farmers and lesser bourgeoisie bought their local priest’s property at super discount, taking belief down a peg, justifying state pillage with a Jesus parable or two.
However, things got really bad when a few hundred lawyers assumed control and mass paranoia infected the people’s brains. Certainly hunger made some rats and citizens of Paris wild-eyed and fierce as starving things can get. But I believe it was a lust for self-preservation, induced by a common, group-centered fear of “Oops, we went too far. Better just keep hacking, slicing and setting heads onto a pike”, that turned the revolution into a lunatic, fear-driven killing-spree. To me it appears most of the mob were hard nosed practical types, playing along for fear of their own lives, and justified it spiritually, referencing their guilt as dues-paying members in the ancient cult of God. If they didn’t kill with a fury, then it couldn’t have been a just cause. The religious wars were recent history. Every one knew from familiar stories how gruesomely ancestor groups behaved before a common deity. Catholics were better grovelers to Jesus, so all Protestants must die, horrifyingly!
Once the cause to kill was set, the public justification was the need to keep the revolution alive ; the private one—self-preservation at any price, even absurd events of trial by execution. A fear of mortal retribution rather than heavenly judgement incited petty bourgeoisie to kill or be killed, but not eat their kill, no matter how “starving” historians claim the masses were. Just a broth of boiled heads would have gone a long way supplying protein to the emaciated. However, no evidence exists of steaming cauldrons, set guillotine-side.
So far, in my early study of the French Revolution, I hypothesize that the Terror was a speedy mass murder caused and fed by fear of mortal retribution. When things get out of control, practical people turn desperate very quickly and blindly reach for anyone or anything to scapegoat their own crimes. At one point at the height of the Terror, even the King’s first cousin (who voted and supported Louis’ execution), had these last words before offering his head to the paranoid: “Really, this seems a bit of a joke”.
Furthermore, to execute a King who claimed divine sovereignty… Ho boy! That must have made a cannon of cognitive dissonance discharge in the heads of France proper. Nothing was sacred, not even the church bells of villages ringing in the good news and bad, holiday, death-day, and the hours of school and mass. To take the life of the king put all and sundry in mortal danger. Kill or be killed, and better to do it running. Publicly support the killers who have the upper hand, or wait an extra week for a loaf of moldy bread. The same mass group guilt and fear of retribution among lawyers and merchants in Paris, I suspect, made co-conspirators of provincial altar boys and milk-maids. Fear drives all negative action. Fear made timid people outwardly vicious, if inwardly terrified.
There were those sections populated by strong-willed peasants uninterested in Republican (future communist) revolution (mass slaughter). So they rebelled.
What did they get?
Well, in Nantes (slave-trading port in western France), there poured in defeated counter-revolutionary refugees (peasants and townspeople) from the battles of Vendéen who became some gooey genocidal sport for Jean-Baptiste Carrier, one of many revolutionary psychopaths sent by Paris to the districts of France proper to punish the insurgents and influence public opinion.
“At first the victims were taken out in groups and then shot: some 2,600 died in this way. Then when that proved too slow and troublesome, Carrier instituted what became known as les noyades, ‘the drownings’, in which men and women were tied together naked, in so-called mariages républicains, and placed in barges which were towed to the middle of the river Loire and then scuttled. These killings took place mainly at night, and carrier also ‘organized nightly orgies, using women suspects from Nantes high society.’ It is estimated that between November 1793 and February 1794, 2,000 to 5,000 people were killed in these wholesale drownings. At the same time, a military committee rounded up 4,000 rebel fugitives from the defeats at Le Mans abd Savenay and had them shot. All told, Carrier may have been responsible for some 10,000 killings at Nante, population approximately 80,000 in 1790. (Italics mine)”
—from The French Revolution by Ian Davidson
Segue to hash out if these horror stories of French past apply to potential applications in modern America. We make a scapegoat of the government all the time, but kindly, gently—without worry of retribution. The United States has yet to inflict upon its citizenry a similar abrupt terror upon groups of differing political and economic philosophies. This does not count the ongoing abuses of institutional racism and class injustice which maintain suffering on a mass scale, yet kill off populations much more slowly than sinking barges filled with people. The nation has not a Civil War recollection of tying naked men and women rebels together and drowning them in the Mississippi. (The only civilian death at the Battle of Gettysburg was Jennie Wade baking bread). But we know about the living death of slavery. Certainly there are massacres a-plenty in white-supremacist riots and white-supremacist military massacring of indigenous populations. However, the American state openly killing its disaffected citizenry on a mass scale? It just hasn’t happened yet. In modern times, young men are sent overseas to satisfy blood lust (and corporate greed), as any Vietnamese or Iraqi school textbook will point out.
The Reign of Terror instructs us on how people are susceptible to delivering holocaust in a power vacuum. Imagine if these young, idealistic powder wigs had thermonuclear weapons.
Really, all life, and heaven and hell, would seem a bit of a joke.
To publish a history of the French Revolution is safe territory, as long as one doesn’t think out loud the many violent options for fast change available to us in contemporary society. In fact, it’s best to play it safe. “They were crazy to kill their king. But not us. We love his weapons of war (especially the nuclear ones) and his high tech grab bag of instruments for crowd control. We love them so much, we pay for them with our collective figurative bread and dread.” Voice any justification to behead the President, the Senator, the Congressman, or just to think out loud about it to a fair weather friend, with no intention to follow through, and the thought police will arrive at your door quicker than a Donald Trump tweet inciting violence throughout Michigan trailer parks.
I think this is a good thing. As a population of consummate complainers, doubling down on our consumption, we are fortunate to be soft, shallow, and weak of mind. Arrogant ignorance is nearly a virtue in a society that has the means to annihilate itself and everything else before the coffee is done percolating. We must keep our acceptance of superpower alive and well. Nurture it. Feed it regularly with light doses of protest and heavy iron obeyance. But please people, do not ever, ever pose a real threat. We are safe and secure as long as there are 50 brands of breakfast cereals on supermarket shelves. I no longer think we should make political enemies in a modern religious or secular world. The French Revolution shows us how aggressively well-fed lawyers destroyed their enemies and innocent nobodies just to express an idea. Today we have a faux-christian secret society of Joint Chiefs of Staff astronomically more dangerous than the Jacobins of powder puff Paris. They hold the cryptic codes to usher in doomsday. And all we must do to keep our heads is shut up and carry on. For God’s sake don’t stir the pot if the spoon splits atoms!
Thank goodness the Chinese are less free, and England and new France our puppet regimes. I’d watch out for Israel, though. Religious fanaticism and weapons of mass destruction are a marriage of inconvenience to all life on earth.
Last night I pushed the design team to finish the cover of France, my year 2000 publication of words that print of poetry, but read like inspired line cooking. This is a second edition brought back by popular cold-shoulderism, and author delusion. If you’re one to judge a book by its cover, then good for sales, but woe to literature. Thank you design team leader, Rose, for another beautiful cover to a questionable manuscript.
This month, unhappy fur farmers and oblivious minks around the world are working on a coronavirus mutation to nip the infection of humanity in the bud asap. An added touch of black humor to an already bug-eyed fearing world population. All the minks wanted to do was to live and die free in semi-aquatic paradise, and not be caged and killed to become some rich lady’s outward symbol of an inward fear of sex and happiness. Now they’re unwittingly poised to hasten a strengthening mutation to a virus that just received its first death knell from Pfizer pharmaceutical labs this week.
Not so ironic as human all too human!
Stylish mink outerwear is still being manufactured? Even after a decade or two of popular fur protest? I stopped littering the first time I saw the commercial of the crying generic Indian. I was a five year old nincompoop. Barring cigarette butts of my smoking youth, I have not missed a single garbage can in 48 years. I guess fashion has enormous power to trump reason and empathy for self-aggrandizement. To be fair, no one wanted to wear the garbage I threw away. And a fur cap can be cozy (and look good!) on a trip to the super-duper market for farm-raised meats and fish. So, although I know how to put garbage away in its proper landfill, I still hope to be cute and furry, like a little bunny, while I fan the flames of extinction’s crematorium. I can’t be blamed for my fashion. Don’t judge me!
Denmark says it will cull (euphemism for “rub out”) 17 million minks on fur farms so the rich don’t get blamed as being the sole reason for culling the human species with a mutated virus.
Of course we all need winter cover to stay warm outdoors. Coats are necessary to hold in heat. A mink is born with one. And it has a lifetime guarantee. People, however, are born bald and dangerously exposed in latitudes nearer the poles. We need artificial protection from the elements. Rich folks want a natural look (the raising, killing, and skinning of animal fur), and the poor make do with polyester facsimiles. They work fine and look just as good, even if they’re killing off species faster than farm raised slaughter.
I believe the super rich (and the waste they discard top-down) exist unnecessarily because the middle and poor all pretend to be rich, and use rich people economic devices to play the game. If the lower classes just stopped abiding, and chose to live poor, act poor, and desire poor, then innocent life (all life not human) might carry on as if the planet had another 36 million years before the next mass extinction. And meanwhile people would be manageable again, like in a Charles Dickens novel, when good and evil were kept in check naturally, even without a sanitary municipal sewer system. Oliver Twist desired second helpings of gruel, not a convertible Mazda Miata. If things got out of control, a reign of Terror might happen, but never a situation where Mr. Brownlow was responsible for extinction levels 10,000 times higher than the natural, geologic rate.
Let’s be practical. I live at the northern 43.5 parallel. This early November, it’s been 70 degrees for eight days straight. I’ve been hanging laundry out to dry, but I am the only one in my neighborhood doing so. Most are out working, but there are retired slackers too, washing all their clothes on the delicate cycle, and drying indoors on high heat, pretending to be millionaires. Even the students living next door (each with his own car or pick up truck) are stinking up my yard with scented fabric softener.
I work, but not for money. (My wife holds that honor). Unfortunately, I am still dependent on rich people economic devices in all facets of my life. So to fight the good environmental fight, I continually grind myself down as close as I can get to non-entity in semi-suburbia. Bouts of vegan and vegetarianism and new shirts purchased for solo exhibitions and weddings only, have kept my conscience stable, if not clean. I am always pushing myself to be with less than the other guy or gal, yet I am not successful like a childless hippie. I’m more like a middle class wannabe tiny-houser, though a communal community would drive me crazy after a week.
Yet at this point of hypocrisy and lack of any sustainable plan, I still feel that I can make a difference.
I feel in my bones that the secret to sustainability lies in the contemplative removal of the upper classes from our lives. Wealth runs the supply chain of trinkets sent from China, and also sets the stage of a culture where the mass slaughter of minks can be made normal like noontime. Collectively we must publicize our individual, environmental guilt, over and over, to set our minds on a sustainable path. Think and relate. Then repeat. Economic bulimia would also help millions of overstuffed moderns to break the supply chain. To eat the rich we must barf up the crap they serve us every second, every minute. Consume less often as possible. The truth is we should feel ashamed. Yet taken together, our little spit-ups of protest, no matter how insignificant they seem on an individual level, really do knock down the rich and powerful enough to notice. This year a teeny-tiny virus has cut back carbon emissions by 17% worldwide. Amazing! Yet there are still cases of Lucky Charms® arriving at every hamlet and hometown in America. It’s like everyone is just impatient to spring forward the doomsday clock.
Bake your own bread and hang your laundry out to dry. For minks crying out loud, how difficult is it for you to hang your god damn laundry?
COVID is still here, although a new President has been elected, and a vaccine is ready to stick it with a needle. They say widespread immunity by mid-summer next year, with semi-annual boosters until the end of time. Wet market beginnings. Mink farm mutations. All avoidable if we could stop the cancer of cities and globalization. During the Spring lock down I would take daily walks along the shoreline, without another soul in sight, and daydream thoughts about the French Revolution.
This morning I spoke to my wife about the lack of easy-to-read non-fiction covering the guillotine craze of the French Revolution. Not too many modern books in print about the greatest social upheaval in history. None that are fun to read, anyway. The non-scholarly prose that can flow like a good action flick from the pen of a popular author or screenwriter. Makes sense for big media not to publish good reads about real, successful popular uprisings and the filling of wood crates with human heads—readers might too easily imagine a Rupert Murdoch sneer separated from a Rupert Murdoch body.
Oh there exists a popular genre of fictional dystopian literature, where the oppressed beat back the oppressors. And these days, every third Hollywood blockbuster models some ragtag space clan defeating the evils of the universe in light speed zero-gravity flotillas manufactured by a slave society on some unnamed planet.
I am here to tell you that The French Revolution happened, and neither the Pope nor your neighbor will ever remind you. Roughly 17,000 Paris decapitations in just one year! And humanely administered with the guillotine, instead of the unpredictable hacking at the neck from an axe or a sword that was state procedure with nobles of the Ancien Régime. The poor were dung and hung.
Wow, 17,000 heads! Why so many? Did Louis XVI share the wealth and corruption more widely among the populace? I can think of thirty heads removed in America that would hasten the return of the bluebird to my back yard. (I would name them too if this were a free nation.) Honestly, I think 17,000 heads is a bit much, but a good number to aim for to save 8 billion souls, kill lethal microbes, and cut the extinction rate by half or better. Their decapitations won’t stop the ocean from climbing over Miami, but they will have Miami think twice of ever allowing itself to happen again.
Donald Trump is a bad leader of government. So was Barack Obama. And George Bush was (is) a demon war criminal. And now 4% of the world’s population that uses 26% of the world’s resources is poised to elect Joe Biden, who is further right in toothy smile policy than Ronald Reagan was in cowboy boots. Neither celebrity Joe nor celebrity Trump will set a sustainable path after the virus takes its hiatus. Kings of America are facades of popular bullshit. Louis XVI was also a stylish celebrity charlatan. However, the French knew that it was not just the unpopular King who was guilty of starvation suffering. Justice was going to be meted out against all state and private corruption. Unlike today’s corporate media, thinking people of 18th century France would not unload all of society’s faults on just one stupid old man.
So, now that the microbe has us frozen, have any of you given a passing thought about Tom Hanks? How about Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Brady, Al Roker? I know, it’s all on pause, and as soon as the microbe goes into temporary hiding, we’ll rush back into identifying our submission to authority with politically correct celebrity monikers to express our disquiet with our true selves and impending doom.
Revolution? That’s not what Jeff Bezos wants. How else am I going to get that inane birthday gift to my niece on time? NPR told me that 17 million people lost their jobs, and the stock market has never seen a better week. See, everything is a-okay as long as the virus goes away! Governor Cuomo quips with his doting brother Chris, who broadcasts chipper death propaganda down in his basement man cave. Joe Biden’s got a political army ready to rerun the “Back to Normalcy” campaign of Warren G. Harding. History repeating itself in the worst way. To implement a “Roaring Twenties” culture tomorrow, after coronavirus, and among real doom scenarios (nuclear war and climate change catastrophe) ensures for us a Great Depression untold to future generations because history stops when we do.
The microbe has given us a beautiful opportunity. The human machine has slowed as it has never done before on purpose. You can join the optimist in me, and set aside a few thousand heads for a tomorrow worth living.
Take a walk out under the star sun. Can you feel it? The earth is vibrating less. It had an itch and then a twitch and was just about going to scratch away its parasitic fleas when something wonderful happened. Capitalism got the grippe.
[Last Friday night we were Englishmen in a Paris slum. Rose singing and harmonica. Mike and I on guitar.]
Paris is cliché for romance—a simmering soup of love, lust, hope, sex and dirty dreams. Couples arrive to jump start the battery, dead from repetitive motion. The young, already at their most passionate, crave experience, however distorted. For those settled like me, we fabricate a notion of Paris to take back home to ennui and failure.
But Paris is just another modern city with old buildings and sewer history. I am reading about a Parisian, Jacques Ménétra, a glazier (glassfitter), and one of the few ordinary people to leave a memoir during the Revolution.
He was a pig mostly, a dog, boasting of his sexual exploits and affairs with many women before and after he was married. Never the type I would cross an ocean to meet—useful to history, but a waste of time. A taker. Just another coward of the guild, his compagnonnage of spoiled brats with loose fists and gonorrhea piss. His was a marriage of convenience, and he got to do whatever his heart desired, which was drink to oblivion and seek pathways to venereal disease.
No different from any nobleman or clergy member.
Boooring! Just another loud-mouthed pleasure slummer of anti-love. A minor de Sade in his own mind, but an equal pervert. Suffering falls upon us all eventually, but it comes to the boasters best. I’m sure he had a horrible death, whimpering alone in shitty sheets.
What follows is a part of an introduction to Leopold Courting Rose, a book of love letters and poems written to my wife during days of courting; edited and published for a painting exhibition to celebrate her 40th birthday. I think I was on to something. Perhaps a new literature for our Internet libraries with multitudinous volumes on love and desire might save us more time on this planet, or at least show future races how we succumbed beautifully to the time we had left.
Curse this political world! Last month I signed up for a free online course in social psychology hoping it would sedate my inner anxiety fool, and get me thinking about other stuff besides doom and gloom. Over the past ten years or so I have let the wrong people in. Unknowns, rabble-rousers, political cry-babies. So much in my mind not of the family and clan has focused its attention on strangers and their woeful struggles. I deemed myself the silent Sally Struthers spokesperson for civil liberties (of others), individualism (of others again), and freedom without war and atrocity (others again and again).
Silly me. I have always been free to speak, individualistic more so than Henry Thoreau, and anti-war with an internal, red hot passion. Seeking it for others? Why? It already exists. Don’t tick off the King in a super economy, and one will be showered with gifts and glory unbeknownst to the Gods and emperors of yesteryear. I can speak or write any blasphemy under the sun as long as I can prove no child molestation. I can walk out this door and keep walking to Utah, provided I keep myself looking a cut above meth abuser. And war? Don’t need it. Don’t have to join up. There are millions of neglected children jonesing for a chance to be loved by anyone, even a sociopath sergeant or general. I am not one of these millions of fools. So why attempt to be their social pastor? Especially if I’m not getting paid for it? Amazing freedom in the western world. But little wisdom. Even though all religions and philosophies swear the latter leads to happiness. Our freedoms are apparent, and they have made us very sick in the mind. Nero, for all the power he possessed on a diminishing empire’s credit, was just an insane freak of nature like a Rupert Murdock or Barack Obama. Not happy. Never secure in love. Yet it seems all the non-political commoners dress up to be like them, and would become them if they won the lottery. The common men who stop to admire a jet ski on display at the mall, and the women who consider purchasing the latest issue of People magazine with a dead Patrick Swayze on the cover. These folks are certainly not happy in their ignorance, which is never bliss, more than chimera. Also, wrong acceptance of careerism and its habits of middle age has blown our happiness path to smithereens. No wonder so many are plagued with regret and night sweats of bitterness.
So why did the political world move into my brain and push out the wisdom-to-be that I swear was thriving in my younger years? Maybe this course I am taking in psychology will shed light on the social/anti-social animal I have become. Maybe it will speak about first love or second love, the born again feeling that arises when energy is directed at discovery, and bliss becomes everyday reality through the auspices of blind love for another human being. Probably not. Love is never taken seriously at the college level (although every single university affiliate has fallen to its power). Still, I would think it a doctoral track more necessary to happiness that physics or English literature. What else needs to be discovered in order for the “good life” to be realized? John Donne’s snuff habit? Another dimension of reality that we’re told we can never see (perhaps heaven)? What specialization need we focus upon now that cholera can be defeated? Have we in the western nations not enough potable water, clothing, shelter and fuel? I would argue that all we lack is proper distribution of these necessities. And that can be fixed overnight by determined revolutionaries in love. Sack a congress lobbied to corruption with rotten tomatoes and “We are the World” mantras.
I think that this college course will uncover some awful truth about modern humanity. That is this: We eagerly make efforts to go against the grain of the heaven on earth existing before our very eyes. It will show by experiment that humanity has always been subject to groupthink and group censure, from caveman times to the atomic age, and that this was necessary as far as groups go. Geese form a “V” to fly south. People arrange a militia to fight other people who covet their stuff.
But we moderns have made the blunder of taking social conditioning way too far, and have ignored the wonders of love, art, and beauty, which in older times the royal classes gravitated towards in their grateful acceptance of good fortune. Who in Jacksonian Democracy could foresee an iPhone with every volume entitled “me” in its Library of Congress-sized memory reading room? What Japanese noble of the Kamakura Period would not mutilate his own bowel after realizing he forsook his only son’s wisdom education for a shiny red Ford F350?
Unfortunately my free social psychology course will not lecture me that the above modern condition is abnormal psychology chomping on steroids. It will not instruct me on wisdom, nor on how to find it, nurture it, and use it to achieve happiness in this life. No, it is a social taboo to voice a strong opinion against the mountain of crap our society drops on us day after day. Normalcy is to be authenticated after 8 years of intense tunnel vision university study before society even allows an educated guess at what might be wrong with it. And then it won’t have credence without publication, which will only come if approved by an editor, himself overeducated to the point of fearing his own vocal opinion without first undergoing five years of proper research and testing.
But love? No degree necessary. And we think we’re very good at it, yes? We have experienced it, studied it, woke up eager to practice it, mainly during the courting stages, when it was as important to life’s mission as finding a career and establishing oneself an accepted player in society. So what happened? Why no mention of love promotion in the press other than hitting the 50th anniversary mark? Awards are many but private to be sure, credentials boxed up in the basement, photographs out of sight to present-day visitors to the marital abode. Yet it was one of the three or four most significant moments in the life of every human being. It has been relegated as a social taboo to communally recollect and organize hard copies of examples of falling in love. A kind of embarrassment, almost a mild shame that prevents each and every one of us from “yawping” our love out from the rooftops.
I have a hypothesis to share with the social psychologists. By virtue of the 200,000 year old struggle for survival, modern well-fed human beings, who have no immediate threat to their existence, haven’t the slightest idea how to process the ecstasy of courting after the mate has been won. A species-wide denial of poetic joy that practically everyone has experienced pervades.
I would argue that by covering up real memories of courting happiness to the extent that they exist on par with other childhood rites of passage, like losing teeth or leaving the familial nest, we have denied ourselves and loved ones a published account of what could very well be an example of burgeoning wisdom.
So we forget about early love to make room for the tough, grown-up stuff, (ex., career, child rearing, keeping a clean house, grocery shopping, finding hobbies), and no periodic reference to the good ole days can be used to repair broken dreams. Hence dissatisfaction with our wife or husband, the seven-year-itch, and recycled ideas of how great life would be if we could just “get away”.
Separation in the mind, if not actualized, is all too common. And divorce becomes an option, since all reminders of why this girl or guy moved you in the first place, have been buried and lost to time.
I believe we all possess this poetry of love’s beginning. I think it is a course worth deep study, if only to research why its virtue has been lost to all and sundry. I have brought up these old letters and poems from our musty basement on the eve of my wife’s 40th birthday. Lately I have been feeling the overwhelming strain of practicing a repetition of days toward cliché goals. Security, conservatism, wealth, retirement—all notions I would have smirked at when I was in my twenties looking for answers to “why” and “what for?”. Then I started chasing Rose, and during the process, saw opportunities arise and abilities executed that I thought could never be. Not quite feelings of invincibility, but close. More like insight into the power of dreams to encourage positive action with another human being. That is I dreamed of a day, maybe a picnic and a movie, woke up and arranged it, and then experienced it with her. Success! Tenderness. Lovemaking. Sleep. And the promise of more. I already had a five-year-old daughter, and her well-being was much improved day-to-day as I courted Rose. The creativity, optimism, hope, excitement of new love was carried over to the nurturing of my little girl. There was no neglect, nobody pushed aside so abstracts like “job security” or “personal success” could make room.
So why did those feelings of wellness and “all is right with the world” ever fade away?
Now is when Leopold enters the concert arena.
The other night while doing dishes I made Rose laugh out loud as I explained to her my concept of Leopold. He is Bugs Bunny on the cover of this book, and can be found in action here. I told her that for once in my life (and hers too) I want the world to shower the praise on us that was given to that “wrascally wrabbit” when he was imitating some maestro of the time, real or imaginary. A necessary feeling to pull us out of the repetitive funk we find ourselves locked in. To spend it all on just one night! A suite booked at the Plaza, reservations at Daniel, a private car with driver, black disco dress with sparkles, tickets to the opera at Lincoln Center, where Rose and I conduct music for the worn and weary.
We had this feeling one time not so long ago. Every letter I sent to her was a promise for a night like this. And Rose was all about reciprocation, even if it was not literary. No doubt, we both believed wholeheartedly in each other and had faith in the future. I do not doubt that you, reader, have felt the same many times not too long ago...
So, what is the theory we can test? How do I institute this landmark study that will get the comfortable masses to recapture romantic love without relinquishing the urge to relieve social pressures in their every day lives? That is, how to find wisdom in love again, and save for retirement? Well, for starters, I wrote and edited this book. My private hope is that Leopold spends it all on one night to reinvigorate dreams which he believes were visionary in their wisdom. Of course none of this effort will matter if Rose is not convinced, and vies for austerity because the pay is never enough, just keep working. John Lennon was about forty when “Starting Over” was a popular song on the radio. Those lyrics are his poetry of what this book is trying to recapture. Also the following, written when I was feeling a little bit Leopold many years ago:
Say, What’s Cooking In Oswego?
A plate of truth and a bottle of blood?
No, no numb skull, far from that!
There used to be fishermen here
but baby perch wiggle tougher
than our men do nowadays.
I think they kept chickens
back in the 1800’s
She already had an egg
and a log on the fire
Whisk the egg with two fingers of sugar
and a dash of salt
Mix with yesterday’s milk,
pour into flour
then a pan on the fire
Eat with your hand and smell
her dirty apron and stinky toes.
There was one poet here in 1936
He went nuts
Walked up to his old Aunt Beasel
raking leaves into a pile,
and punched her square in the eye.
She kicked his ass of course
right in front of Joe and Mickey
and even their pet rabbit seemed to be laughing.
That was all of him
He took a bus to New York
Got a job washing dishes at Delmonico’s
Got rich, lived rich, died super-rich
with nothing at all.
What’s so wonderful about New York
that ain’t happening here in Oswego?
Well, now that everyone’s a sissy
(Joe was a truck driver
Mickey got a restaurant),
Now that even the cock swaggers down the street
terrifying the plump little bib drippers we’ve become
It’s nice once in a while to forget
about manhood, womanhood,
Aunt Beasel’s hairy mole next to her eye...
It’s good to forget about our legs and arms
and things like where water comes from
Now that we’re self-proclaimed half truths
and full-time lies
why not enjoy life to its fullest plate of food?
And what’s cooking in Oswego
is only fitting for what Oswego cooks up.
Our restaurants mix powdered demi-glace,
deep fry their hairy ninety-five cent broilers,
Some chefs I know
should just piss on your plate
One place thinks rigatoni in Italian means
“looks and smells like Great Nana’s big toe”
At least in New York we can still pretend
that all life left is imagination
and get a king’s meal at a fair price
and window shop and make ourselves
smell real good for dinner.
“Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Throop
May I take your coats?
Chef Beasel saved a perfect egg for you tonight
You look so good, smell so sweet
your arms are bare and beautiful,
your neck perfeect
Right this way
Right this way
Right this way
To me France is many things (not people) that I love, and French cooking is top of the list. Restaurants became fashionable in the 18th century, and were visited by nobles and common folk alike. A typical menu at a popular Parisian establishment would include a choice of 12 soups, 24 hors d’ oeuvres, 15 entrées of beef, 20 entrées of mutton, 30 entrées of fowl or game, 15 entrées of veal, 12 dishes of pâtisserie, 24 dishes of fish, 15 roasts, 50 entremets, and 50 desserts. (Gastronomique) Below are three original foodie links to put a cap on the French Revolution.
Might as well make it a night cap.
Here, where I take you to the Louvre for my solo exhibition on food.
Here, where I bake you a French Revolution sourdough bread with yeast of a tree.
And finally, here, where the last living French connection to my town and countryside, the Dubois Inn, died a horrible death from want and neglect.
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