Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two Kingman Eighth Graders Finally Learn World History

October 13, 2010
Childhood friend and Kingman comrade, Charlie Waters and his wife Linda joined us in Versailles today to take in the apex of French decadence. We paid for a private tour of Marie Antoinette's private quarters and in the process of traipsing through the narrow stairwells ("Marie ran through this corridor when the peasants broke in the palace.") we got an earful.

With my Kingman education, I never knew that the French have had five different goes at being a Republic. I am going to mangle this pretty good, but here's what I learned today: after we had our go with the British and won (thanks to massive French help), the French jumped on the freedom bandwagon and chopped off all those nobles' heads with the newest "humane" invention, the guillotine. Marie A. was among them (and her famous quote, "Let them eat cake," is apocryphal according to our tour guide, although another source claims "cake" was the burnt crusts from the oven normally fed to cattle). The powerful elites who didn't lose their heads, and there were plenty, fled to other European countries where they encouraged and financed other monarchies to put this uprising out of business.

Which the rich bastards basically did and then there was a power vacuum so they went back to a monarchy (also England didn't cotton to the idea of a Republic in Europe, especially after the U.S. had just fought and won independence). Then comes Napoleon and his crazy B.S. and a couple more Napoleons (never have quite got that part straight) then they try the Republic thing again, then you get the Nazis for four years until you arrive at the ideal form of government where you go with a hipster leader who is married to a former porn star. It's a dizzying process which the two-Kingman-eighth-grade-boys admitted they knew nothing about. Very humbling but kind of sexy in a French O.K. Corral kind of way.

Somehow, all these twists and turns lead to great bread.

"Throughout history, democracy has been a bonzai tree in the house of the powerful—it looks nice, and when it grows too big you simply cut it back."

—Rick Steves, Rick Steve's Europe 101

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