Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Play la Marsellaise. Play it!"

Paris is one of Philadelphia’s sister cities. I’m not sure what that means other than it has the Rodin Museum which has the largest public collection of artwork produced by August Rodin outside of Paris and that it has an excuse to do quirky little things that represent that bond.

One of those things is to do a re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille which was a castle turned prison where they kept a few people behind bars. The prison was overrun by the people in Paris back at the start of the French Revolution, the prisoners were released and the building torn down. Philadelphia relives this event by having actors invade, the now defunct, Eastern State Penitentiary on the weekend before or after Bastille Day.

Eastern State, if you remember is the first state penitentiary in the United States and is the one during the 30’s that kept gangster Al Capone for a few months and bank robber "Slick" Willie Sutton for 11 years not including the time that he spent on the outside after he tunneled his way to escape. But he was gone for only about 30 or 40 minutes so it doesn’t really count. Willie is also the one incorrectly known as the man who said when asked why he robbed banks, “Because that’s where the money is.”

Anyway during this year’s re-enactment of the Bastille, they had an actress on top of the ramparts of the prison play the role of the Marie Antoinette. From there she tossed free Tastykakes to the crowd below apparently referencing the “Let them eat cake” quote that the queen is supposed to have made when told that the people didn’t have bread to eat.

I didn’t attend this year’s performance because it was raining all day and plus I think it’s kind or corny. What I should have done instead was to rent or maybe even have bought a copy of my favorite movie Casablanca to celebrate Bastille Day. There is nothing that makes you feel more alive and free and maybe even want to fight Nazi tyranny than when Rick allows a resounding rendition of the Marsellaise to be played in his club, unless of course you happen to be female, Arabic and have a certain religious penchant about clothing. But then again which country is it that you know that doesn’t have flaws somewhere?

Vive la France!


  1. Interesting, I didn't know about that re-enactment in the sister city. If I'm not mistaken they don't do it here in Paris.

    And yeah, La Marseillaise must be the most powerful national anthem ever.

    About the cake ("brioche"), I talked to a French professor about Sophia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" and what upset her the most in the movie wasn't the rock music or the All-Stars snickers, but how they presented the infamous quote as just a rumor. "She said it, she said it!", she screamed.

  2. ♫Hershey's Kiss♫ - Thanks!

    Eduardo - That professor you mention sounds scary. She of people should know that history is often written by the winners and what may be true to them may not necessarily be true to others.

  3. Let them eat brioche! It's like bread, but fancy and sweet.

    Anyway, you have have it out with Eduardo; I was just throwing my twopence worth

  4. Wow! I hadn't thought about this in quite sometime; one of my favor quotes comes from this "Let them eat cake."

    The history behind this is absolutely amazing, another great quote comes from this as well, "That's where the money is."

    Thank you Mister Historian

  5. Chet - I have always loved the money quote. It always seems to be the perfect answer for all the silly little questions that people ask you about this or that. Of course as with all legends, no one really what the true origin is. Some people people attribute it to John Dillinger but that would'nt have worked with the post.


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