Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Not shying away from the past

Shadow of shackles prominently displayed in Musee d’Aquitaine

The collection housed in Bordeaux’s Musee d’Aquitaine covers a broad swath of the history of the region’s past 500,000 years.

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Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Lady Liberty breaks free of shackles on both sides of Atlantic

While the use of the guillotine symbolizes a reign of terror during the early days of the French Revolution, its usage was adapted in the late 1700s as a more humane way to carry out public executions. It was regarded as both efficient and fast, sparing the sentenced unnecessary pain. It is said that before it was sanctioned as the official executioner’s tool, King Louis XVI (1754-1793) suggested improving the design to utilize an angled straight blade instead of the original curved one. He himself, along with his queen, Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), benefitted from the enhanced efficiency when they were beheaded.

The tool became a hallmark of the political maneuverings carried out by one of the leaders of the revolution, Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794). Robespierre definitely established himself as a kind of “if-you’re-not-with-me-you’re-against-me” kind of guy, placing those who found themselves in that category labeled as enemies of France. He was also adept at rallying the masses, the sans-culottes tradesmen in Paris, to protest against these enemies.

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Please leave my friend Phil out of the ongoing Battle over the Alamo

There we were, sitting beside each other. Phil and I. I’m talking about Phil Collins. But I just call him Phil now. Because I sat beside him for about one minute. As you can tell this is leading to one of celebrities’ worst curses: people who don’t know them writing about them.

2013 post on this blog following that year’s San Antonio Conservation Society Publication Awards

Okay. I admit it. Phil and I scarcely could be called friends. But someone needs to rise to his defense.

In Forget the Alamo, authors Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford lay bare major flaws of men many Texans have elevated to heroic heights for their roles at the Alamo. They also illuminate less-than-noble reasons Texians were revolting against Mexico, including the preservation of slavery. This has so angered some of Texas’ leaders that their rhetoric against the book has helped it skyrocket up the bestseller list.

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