Why we should care about Bastille Day, July 14

Tucson is nestled near Mexico, infused with the Spanish language and in the middle of the fabled Wild West. Some may wonder why we should give a hoot about Bastille Day.

Vive la France/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Vive la France/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Bastille Day, which is France’s July 14, 1789, version of our July 4, 1776, marks the day folks stormed the Bastille prison and kicked off the French Revolution.

Those who think prisons are useless, too costly or overcrowded may one day want to emulate such an event, already a reason to care about Bastille Day.

In addition to giving us a blueprint for setting a bunch of prisoners free, France’s momentous occasion should be honored because the country gave us a lot of cool things.

Wine and cheese: Gallery openings would not be possible without this French-inspired combination. Nor would we be able to enjoy soufflés, omelets, chicken cordon bleu or pate de foie gras. (Please excuse the lack of accent marks I couldn’t get that character map thing to work.)

Art and literature: Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Paul Gaugin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec rule the art end while Charles Baudelaire and Guy de Maupassant pick up the poetry and stories. One of the best stories I’ve ever read was Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace.”

Words and phrases: We are constantly using terms borrowed from the French, both in crossword puzzles and in everyday life. Soup du jour. Bon appetit. Menage a trios. L’aissez-moi tranquille vous etes un couchon.

Besides, some of us may still rue the fateful day we chose to study French over Spanish for 602 years, and Bastille Day gives us one excuse to actually use our language skills for things other than eavesdropping on the occasional tourist from Montreal.


Do you care about Bastille Day?

Do you still find it useless, even after reading this compelling argument?

What is your favorite thing borrowed from France or your favorite French author, artist or cuisine?

What is your least favorite thing about France?

About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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18 Responses to Why we should care about Bastille Day, July 14

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin Rynski! The French revolution was one of the most interesting subjects of study in my favorite subject-history. Noble at first, it evolved into a dark and bloody horror. Largely inspired by our own revolution. An excellent work on this is Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. Madame DeFarge is one mean momma.

  2. Rynski says:

    Mornin’ RadMax – That’s your BEST avatar yet! Is it in honor of the blood and guts of the French Revolution? My fave revolutionary (real-life) character is Robespierre. Glad you share my enthusiasm for the compelling chunk of history. Never read Tale of Two Cities, but it will go on my list. I have to meet this Madame DeFarge.

  3. radmax says:

    Oui-Haven’t read Tale yet?…I wish I hadn’t so I could read it for the 1st time. It’s a page turner.

  4. leftfield says:

    It was the best of times and it was the worst of times, but the “Tale of Two Cities” is definitely the best of books. 

    I would propose that we celebrate Bastille Day by collectively storming Wal-Mart, minus the head-chopping.

    • radmax says:

      Sounds like great fun…Aw c’mon Lefty-can’t we just lop off Lee Scotts’ and Mike Dukes’ noggins?

  5. Rynski says:

    Yes, I’m chagrined I missed reading Tale. No one ever forced me and then it got forgotten. If it makes you feel any better, I have read Pride and Prejudice and Moby Dick (both by force).
    I like the storming Wal-Mart idea! Let’s meet at the one on Wetmore/1st Ave. at noon. I get dibs on the spray paint section.

  6. A.Farley says:

    After reading this I have an urge to eat cake and sharpen my axe. Are you guys really going to storm the Wal-Mart? Cause if you do I want to go.

  7. Carolyn Classen says:

    Bonjour! French is spoken of course in France, in Tahiti & other colonies, in French Quebec. The French culture is  present in New Orleans and their popular French Quarter, especially eating beignets.  Having traveled a bit  in France, I know how necessary it is to know to know a little of their language.  And don’t forget those delicious crepes and quiche.
    And we musn’t forget Pierre Leroux’s famous  “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, which is now the French national motto.
    If you want your child to learn French, read my blog  today about Tucson’s International School.

    • Rynski says:

      Carolyn – Haha! Bringing up that Leroux quote reminds me of the time I mis-quoted it. On one of my college finals, I quoted it as: “Liberty, Equality, Fertility.”
      The professor wrote in red in the margin to get my mind out of the gutter.
      A. Farley – be there! Bring the cake and axe, unless you already ate it all….(the cake, not the axe).

  8. Red Star says:

    Here’s a link to some Polsh jokes:

  9. radmax says:

    Got somethin’ for you red star, right here…

  10. Red Star says:

    Daddy jokes:
    <!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>

  11. radmax says:

    Lookin for jokes red, check the mirror, or what you’re holdin’ next time you ‘tinkle’. Loser. Anytime, anyplace.

    • Red Star says:

      July 14th, 2009 on 5:06 pm
      Lookin for jokes red, check the mirror, or what you’re holdin’ next time you ‘tinkle’. Loser. Anytime, anyplace.”
      There are no “user guidelines” at the New Tucson Citizen, so you are probably on safe ground, Gannett-Style, with your comments no matter how misinformed, threatening and irrelvant they are (recognizing, of course, that they are horribly and profoundly important to you).
      What do really mean by, “Anytime, anyplace?” Do you want to get in a fight with with Red Star? What…guns? Fists, etc? Knives? Lawyers? What? What do you want to try with Red Star? And why?
      Seems you have some ‘splaining to do. But to whom? You, perhaps?
      You’re welcome…

  12. radmax says:

    Polish jokes red? Is that funny in your dank, poorly lit cubicle? Come out in the daylight, I’m sure we can work this out, if not Rynski could probably get some fine photos for her blogs. If you ever personally attack me or my friends maliciously again, I will find you, Dabil. Thats a promise. Now, get back to being the ineffectual guttersnipe we all know and love.

  13. pitchfork says:

    For me it’s all about Voltaire, Descartes JJ Rousseau.  The music blog got me doing some esprit searching and I discovered that Rousseau was also a famous composer who wrote some opera or something.  French fries are not French though…they’re Belgian! The French give us wine, the Belgians beer.  The French give us the Gauls and the Belgians give us Asterix and Tin Tin.

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