Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Tamborrada......


Here is the ultimate in old people grappling with new technology. I have a film-maker son Conall in Prague....and I am here in Cachagua screwing around with Windows Movie Maker.

This is as if Conall were posting recipes on-line......

I apologize to one and all in advance for my well meaning incompetence in the whole video world.....

I promise to do better. Conall: : Help!

Amanda and I love the town of San Sebastian in Spain.....consisting of somewhat less than 200,000 folks on the northwest corner of the country.....kind of like the Seattle of there.

Every year we go in the winter.....because there is nothing else to do in winter in Cachagua......and also because as social-phobics and tourist-haters we love to see a town with just the locals.

Hey, we live in Cachagua! We do not GET tourists!

Anyway, every January 20th, San Sebastian celebrates....through an amazing depth of irony and bitterness....the fact of their having been conquered by Napoleon in 1808.

They have another option...the day that they were rescued by the British in 1813.....but they do not celebrate that one.

You see, they actually got along with Napoleon.....and the Brits, in the throes of joy of having liberated San Sebastian....burned down the town, raped all the women, and killed all the men. These were the Liberators......

Typical Brit behavior.....

The occupiers were much better received.

See....Napoleon invaded with a bunch of incompetent yahoos who loved to march around in fancy uniforms. They had great cooks, and a great supply line back to France....and life in San Sabby changed very little.

The locals had been trained to hate the French as incompetent fishing usurpers for a thousand years.....or perhaps 100,000 years (the Basques go back to the Cro Magnons, you see....) and went on about their business. When the Frogs would march down in formation from their Fortress on the mountain to get water, the locals would line up behind them and march along behind mocking them.

At this time, Napoleon was so feared and his armies were so awesome that they had evolved a technique that basically eliminated the need for actual fighting on the battlefield.

France had an all conscription army, and therefore masses of dumbfuck troops. In battle after battle, Napoleon would simply mass together battalions of dumbfucks and slowly march towards the enemy. The troops were driven on by masses of drummers......huge tympanies and little drummer boys as well....all beating the "Pas de Charge".

France at this time was the world....well, the non Arab world.....center of mathematics. Napoleon and his math guys.....Think Ree-shard Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz of then.......... had figured out that a certain number of dumbfucks marching directly into massed musket fire of the enemy would eventually overwhelm the ability of the opposing musket guys to kill the assembled dumbfucks fast enough to stop them......and Napoleon would win.

Every time.

And since Social Security in France had been privatised....and since no one gave a shit about the wounded and scarred dumbfucks lost in battle...or their widows or their orphans.....all was good!

Remind you of anything?


Just like with Cesar Millan.....Europe became trained to the point that if a bunch of nicely uniformed and nicely fed dumbfucks showed up marching to the beat of the "Pas de Charge"......everyone would beat feet and yield the field of battle with nary a shot of the old musket having to be fired.

Until the French met the Basques.

The Basques were not really impressed with the Pas de Charge. Rather than defend against mass attacks by dumbfucks, they adopted small, individual attacks that would annoy and harrass the Napoleonic infrastructure and gain PR points with the locals.

The small attacks, the small and personal war it implied.........they called guerilla warfare.

The small war.

The French could not deal with anything but massive warfare. Shock and Awe of the 1800's.

In San Sebastian, meanwhile....... there was business to be done. No one really gave a shit who was in charge, just so the boats could sail, and the sheep could be sheared, and the cows milked and all that.

When the French marched each morning to get the water at the San Telmo well, they went in formation with all their nice tailoring and the Pas de Charge to indimidate the locals.

The locals thought the tailoring was hysterical, and music lame. So, they got flour barrels for drums and random uniforms and marched along behind the Frogs, mocking their every move.

The technique, and the irony....have been preserved as a local custom......and every Jan 20th, the locals dress up in all the various costumes to relive the irony of the indigenous local culture mocking and eventually destroying the occupying power of the day.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

So.....here is my video of that festival day last year: Tamborrada Donosti 2007

I promise to to better in 2008


Blogger roddy said...

back in 2004 my friend and I stopped by San Sebastian on route to Madrid. we rented a room from an awesome old Basque lady, met a couple "rastas" on the hill up to the statue, and decided to stick around for a bit...a few days later terrorists bombed the shit out of the Madrid metro system.

good karma in that place, so it would seem.

2:55 PM  

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