Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rock Stars In My Resistance? It's More Likely Than You Think

Rock stars and Resistants - all that different? Duran Duran (the band so nice they named it twice) and James Murphey's shortlisted essay for the 2005 Ben Pimlott Prize don't think so.

I've been reminded of the similar celebrity of covertly fighting Nazis and rocking an arena on two occasions of late. The first came last June when I came to work more nicely attired than usual only to discover that was the day for celebrating the birthdays of famous people you don't know: While I was dressed up for Jean Moulin's birthday two of my co-workers were dressed up to celebrate the birthday of Duran Duran's John Taylor. They beat my modest geekiness by even making cupcakes for the occasion. We spent the afternoon wishing each other 'Happy Jean/John Day!' in the halls.

(FYI: We work in music. You'd have to get up a lot earlier in the morning than that to be considered odd by our building's standards. Although I do get a few raised eyebrows when people learn the name for the office's pet squirrel comes from Pierre Brossolette.)

Another day, one of these two very cool ladies sent out a video link to explain the origins of the Duran Duran symbol tattooed on her arm. Can you spot the Resistance references in this music video?

Take your time. The fashions can't get any older.

The connections between the spirit of Resistance and modern rock music don't stop there. Say what you will about the political climate in America for the last six or seven years (and I could say plenty) but it sure hasn't hurt my cd collection. After Black Holes and Revelations I think Muse may even constitute their own FFI sleeper cell. Ideally, I'd play a song that speaks to a resistant spirit at the start of every episode, and end each 'cast with Invincible, but I work in royalties so I know all the many ways that'd be illegal. (Sigh.)

Work on the new 'cast has to wait until I do more with my other project, the one I cheat on with you (or on you with). This post is part of my plan for world domination making this blog useful between episodes. I hope it'll one day be a nice place for people interested in the Resistance to come for a few minutes of well-designed mayhem. I may add some rants & raves - reviews of the various places one can bump into Resistance in the greater cultural world and on this our dear interwebs. Until then remember the words of Leonard Cohen, "In every generation there is a Resistance, and in every generation it's the only place to be."

Vive la Resistance.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Show Notes - "Of the First Hour: War of the Unknown Warrior"

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and all the ships at sea!

Just when you'd thought I'd found the self-destruct button I come back. I apologize for the delay between posts, I had two trips to make and another writing project to attend to. Now on to the good stuff...

In this episode we look at the birth of the Resistance. We discuss radio speeches, the weather in Bordeaux, a terrorist cell of little old ladies, and the monster of Loch Ness. We also call Marshal Petain a tool and wonder if those people on the Ile de Seine ever got their boats back. In this episode, I start what I'm sure will be a long and inglorious tradition of mispronouncing everything that isn't nailed down.

I wasn't able to find a good place for discussing the D'Astier quote about being maladjusted, but at just under thirty minutes I hope you'll still find this worth downloading. Next episode should involve a Mousekateer roll call of all the BNRs, so that'll be a better time to explore individual psychology.

The Cutting Room Floor:

There are two notes today about individuals mentioned in the podcast.

* The gentleman sent by Edward R. Murrow to retrieve a recording of De Gaulle's first appearance on the BBC was, as mentioned, David Schoenbrun. Yes, that David Schoenbrun. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Mr. Schoenbrun wrote "Resistance," which is so far the definitive English-language over view of the Resistance in France.

* We also had an opportunity to name-check Daniel Cordier, a gentleman who was in the news since our last episode, appearing at a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of De Gaulle's call to Resistance on the BBC.

Because we are serious history buffs here at La Resistance, we won't point out that Mssr. Corider out-fashioned Mssr. Carla Bruni into next Thursday.

The interview with Mssr. Cordier mentioned in this episode can be found here. A word of warning: This cast will take every possible opportunity to mention Mssr. Cordier. Anyone who has a problem with this can write us a detailed letter explaining their concerns and hand deliver it to the bottom of the nearest lake.

* In a perfect storm of war, refugees, and fascist machinations the newly occupied found themselves desperate to communicate news with loved ones at a time when their new governments decided to crack down on communication. In order to spread word of and to loved ones on other sides of the demarcation line, one had to use a form postcard:

______ lightly/gravely - ill/wounded
______ killed/prisoner
Without news of ______

One assumes another line read "Do you like me? ___ Yes ___ No."

* Probably as a holdover from WWI, when many soldiers on each side realized they had at least as much in common with each other as they did with those they left behind, some French officers were often to be seen conversing with their fellow officers around the time of the Armistice, even if those officers were German. When Colonel Groussard observed this phenomenon he told some of the Frenchmen in question "The next one of you who talks to (them), I will knock you down." After taking a moment to recover, General Dentz pointed out that the war was over. Groussard replied "No, it's beginning."

This doesn't translate well ("Just getting started" would be a tonally perfect if liberal interpretation), but in France this story and others like it gave rise to a phrase you bump into now and then in Resistance studies: "C'est fini. Ça commence !"

* I tried to find the origins of the phrase "Make its bones" for you for these notes, but no such luck. If anyone has any info about this expression, do drop us a line!

* We limited ourselves to radio broadcasts, but another force should be singled out as being a great source of inspiration/direction: Nazi warnings and propaganda posters. They posted signs warning people of all the things they didn't want them to do:

Don't harbor English soldiers
Don't be out past curfew
Don't spread news... of a nature to provoke disquiet among the population
Listening to foreign radio stations as well as the diffusion of news from them is forbidden

One can almost picture a burgeoning resistant looking over such notices and wondering 'Do they just mean the BBC or are there more stations I should be looking for?'

There was more to the list, but it appears to be this episode's thing I find during research but can't locate again. However I can offer a special nod to whichever Vichyite or Nazi had the bright idea to give Joan of Arc her own propaganda poster, connecting her death with the English bombing of the French Navy at Mers el Kabir. True 'The criminal always returns to the scene of the crime' was a good tagline, but Joan of Arc posters? Really? Did no one on the chain of command think there was a chance they could backfire? Yes, when it came to inspiration, it must be said that Vichy and the Nazis certainly did their share.

Thank you again for sharing your time with La Resistance. I'm hesitant to give you an ETA for the next episode, but I will bring you more Resistance-related posts on this blog in the meanwhile.

Until then, vive la Resistance.