Monday, October 31, 2011

Guillotine for Halloween

Halloween and the French Revolution would seem to be made for each other--opportunities for period costume galore and bookoo headless gore.

Except that Halloween doesn't really exist in France. And France--well, France seems not to exist either, on this side of the Atlantic (USA).

So I thought I'd try to remedy the situation by reelizing a recent lyrical effort called "Ptet ta tete," which means "maybe your head." I called it Cherokee Justice--more on that later.

The words of the chorus are in that made-up language called "French." Here they are with a translation:

Ptet ta tete, ptet ma tete, ptet on causera avec la foule [maybe your head, maybe my head, maybe we'll chat with the crowd]
Ptet ta tete, ptet ma tete, on est ici pour faire la fete [maybe your head, maybe my head, everybody's here for a party]
on est ici pour regarder la chute, toi ou moi aucune difference [they're here to see the axe fall, on you or me, it makes no difference]
la descente en panier [somebody's going down]
la descente en panier [somebody's going down]
Dame Gaga Lady Guillo Dame Gaga Lady Guillo Dame Gaga Lady Guillo [gibberish meant to conflate the guillotine and Lady Gaga. I don't have an explanation other than it felt right. But Lady Gaga uses gibberish in her own songs. And she has a guillotine in the video of one of them.]
Dame Gaga Lady Guillo Dame Gaga Lady Guillo Dame Gaga Lady Guillo [ditto]
Occupez, occupez,  [occupy, occupy--as in Wall St.]
O coupez!  [Off with their heads! As in Wall St. Haha! Just kidding!]

The guillotine was most famously the instrument of (primarily) Jacobin justice. The Jacobins were the party in power in 1792, during the French revolutionary period known as the Terror, when the Jacobins in Paris executed pretty much everybody they could get their hands on, including themselves. At the same time, they were fending off invading armies. The soldier-heroes of the day were the "sans culottes"--commoners who wore pants instead of the "culottes" or knee-breeches of the aristocracy. (Today apparently the French have decided that "culottes" are "panties," so that if you look for information on "sans culottes" on today's Internet, you will find shots of Lady Gaga in less than a complete state of wardrobery.)

But, back to the video: I wondered who might be a satisfactory target of Jacobin justice, at least theoretically speaking.

Ask yourself what single U.S. President inflicted more undeserved hardship on any group of Americans in our history? Don't have the answer? Okay, then, what President best combines the characteristics of the Ku Klux Klan and Adolf Hitler? Still don't know? Okay, then, take out your wallet and pull out a twenty. That guy.

So here's the project: remove his face and replace it with that of someone who actually did something positive, like introduce literacy to his people by inventing an alphabet to suit their language. Justice? Probably not. But sometimes even an empty gesture is better than nothing.

Happy Halloween! Bonne Guillotine! Cherokee Justice!


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