Thursday, December 6, 2012

OH, LA VACHE! French COWS demand the right to wed

Marguerite La Normande, President of "Oh La Vache"


On the other side of the mirror there's an inverse world,
where the insane go sane; where bones climb out of the 
earth and recede to the first slime of love.
And in the evening the sun is just rising.
Lovers cry because they are a day younger, and soon
childhood robs them of their pleasure.
In such a world there is much sadness which, of course,
is joy.    
                      --Russell Edson

Living in France is sort of like watching a French (or Italian) film:  rien ne se passe et tout se passe --
nothing happens & everything happens. 


I braved the blustery clouds & cycled to O'Sullivans in Feuillade yesterday for my ritual noisette. Haven't been back there since the sunflowers croaked.  They're all plowed under now and the fields have a "strafed" look.  I know that can't be the right word since the definition is:  attack repeatedly with bombs or machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft: military aircraft strafed the village.

The origin of strafe is worth noting:  early 20th century, humorous adaptation of the German First World War catchphrase Gott strafe England 'may God punish England'.  Those Germans, always with the humor! 

I think la willowy jolie jeune fille, Nathalie, who works at the Cafe (and is generally completely disinterested in me or my noisette needs), must have missed me.  She put an extra milk dollop flourish into my cup and the coffee was hot instead of lukewarm!  I take it business has been slow. Special tip for coffee addicts:  if you order the noisette instead of the cafe creme, it's about half the price, though admittedly half the size.

And speaking of Germans, one from Strasbourg came in while I was ever so slowly sipping my noisette; he asked about the route to Poitiers, which is about 3 hours drive north of O'Sullivans.  No problem, except that Monsieur was pedaling his velo/bike and it was 3:30 in the afternoon; pas de camping equipment nor any clue as to how to get to the bike path which would be his steady companion for the next 25 hours.  His french was reasonably good, but Nathalie just kept rolling her eyes and saying Ohhh La La, and making that little snort that the french do so well.  He was undaunted & took off into a stiff headwind. It started raining.

*The Desert of the Tartars from Museo Dei Tarocchi -- Morena Poltronieri 

For some reason, the pelting rain, the chill wind, the man from Strasbourg, and the last wisp of my cafe, made me long to be in the Roxie Theater in the Mission in San Francisco watching Valerio Furlini's Italian classic, "The Desert of the Tartars", filmed in the mid 70's.  This gem is packed with European actors.  I remember a few of them because who could forget Max Van Sydow or Vittorio Gassman as the Colonel or Jacques Perrin??!!

It was partially filmed in Iran's Kerman Province where the Bam Fortress, the world's largest adobe structure used to be before it was destroyed by the 2003 earthquake.  I can almost feel the warmth of the Persian sun on my back, the soft, pink bricks of sun dried earth and straw. 

Bam Citadel 500 B.C. - Before


"The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern, because a London cutpurse went unhung. Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time."

“O lost,
And by the wind grieved,
Come back again.”        Thomas Wolfe - Look Homeward Angel

It's a war movie with no action scenes  Perrin, as a young naive Lieutenant wanting to make his mark, has been assigned to the Fortress at the edge of an archetypal "Empire".  Gradually he meets the other soldiers who have retreated into faux ceremonies and drills, empty routines, as they all wait for an enemy they fear, but have never seen.  Gassman's Colonel is a monolith--untouchable, melancholic. The fear is so pervasive, yet undefined, that any deviation from military procedure is grounds for death.   There is waiting and more waiting which reminds me of "Waiting:  A Novel", by the Chinese writer, Ha Jin, but that's for another blog.

The waiting is punctuated by a few strange occurrences.  A white Tartar horse is spotted. An officer with a strong set of binoculars sees strange lights in the distance.  Months pass into years, the characters grow old, the endless repetition of the days grinds away at them until finally the fortress is abandoned.  "a meditation on suppressed emotion, the futility of war, the physiological effects of continuous fear and tension…" Joachim Boaz.

And if you have ever had to wait in the Prefecture's office in Angouleme for renewal of your Carte de Sejour, you'll know exactly what "The Desert of the Tartars" is trying to illustrate (minus the White Horse).

ok, ok, what about the cows getting married?   Well, while Francois Hollande has been waffling on the same sex marriage issue, the 3.5 million French dairy cows have been busy lobbying their official organization representing both France's dairy and beef herds, demanding that the draft legislation dubbed "mariage pour tous" or "Marriage for everyone" be taken literally & extended to allow cows to tie the knot. I read in a "Survive France Network" piece by Johnny Summerton, that they are hoping Holland will soon put an end to his "aimless mastication".


*"The Desert of the Tartars"  XX - Il Guidizio (The JUDGEMENT), I photographed at the Museo dei Tarocchi in Riolo (Bologna, Italy).  An earthly paradise.  You can visit there too!

I will be reading the cards at the Marche Noel in La Charrue near Brantome on Friday night and all day Sunday at Abjat-sur-Bandiat outside of Piegut.  La Charrue's event supports the "Twilight" doggie retirement home & Abjat's fete will provide funds for the Bansang Hospital. Tis the season to be jolly (and generous)...


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    1. Oh gosh so many years ago, this generous comment landed on the page and I never saw it or the cookbook - I wonder if it's too late. I would love to make something for the Cow's wedding down the road. Thanks!