Lot's of different pics of this sign.

Lot's of different pics of this sign.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Hey! It's Labor Day!

In keeping with my general upbeat theme, particularly surrounding holidays, I'll digress from my prepared remarks to share a heart-warming tale.
A story of the sort of care and compassion that human beings so naturally gravitate toward in times of crisis.
And it's about class - which anyone, who's not an idiot knows, is what labor is increasingly about.
Above, a photo from a trip to the Musée du Louvre I took with my long-departed Great-Uncle, Grover Hall.
Grover had somehow managed to "misplace" his ability to be rendered in color.
You all know of course; I just pasted him on there because I'm an immature dolt with no respect for great art - and I wanted to illustrate how big a chunk of work "The Raft of the Medusa", by Théodore Géricault, actually is - around sixteen by twenty-four feet.
It was painted, 1819ish after Ted had gotten interested in the story of the wreck of the frigate Medusa.
In the summer of 1816, the British, feeling expansive after stomping a mud hole in Napoleon's ass at Waterloo, offered the newly re-monarchized, French government a "nice gift".
The port of St. Louis in Senegal.
A nice piece of real-estate if you are prone to sail down the West Africa coast prior to rounding the Cape of Good Hope.
A fleet was put together to sail down and take possession and was put under the command of one Viscount Hugues Duroy de Chaumareys - hereafter referred to as "Hugh".
Hugh had been a relatively distinguished Naval officer.
He seems to have done a good job over his decades of service but, he was a Royalist - which is how he got the job in the first place - and he hadn't been to sea in over twenty years.
Even then, he'd never actually captained a vessel.
The sailors on board had been planning to take the customary route. That is to say; sail east into the Atlantic before heading South so as to avoid the hazards of the coast.
Hugh and his country-club buddies were having none of it.
Why should they go way out into the ocean when Senegal was just right there?
The richies blew off the advice of the folks on the boat who actually knew what was going on and followed their own course.
Time passed, the crew, noticing alarming signs such as mud and vegetation in the water, again shared their concerns with Hugh only to blown off again.
At the penultimate moment, Hugh (And I'll just bet he told everyone it was his idea) decided that maybe it was just a tad risky.
Sucks to be you, Hugh.
This was also the moment that the ocean's bottom decided that it wanted some of that Medusa.
He happened to stick it on the rocks during a high "spring tide" (Not so-called because they happen in spring) so there was no hope in hell of floating her off.
The plan became to build a raft of all the spare masts and spars, then off-load cargo onto it until the ship became light enough to float.

It wasn't a bad plan. It would have been even better had it been tried after trying something else.
Say, tossing the ship's fourteen cannon (3tons apiece) overboard.
But Hugh wasn't down with that.
Mistakes were made, a raft was constructed, named "La Machine" by the sailors.
Some stores were unloaded, then a gale came up and Hugh abandoned ship.
It was decided that the lifeboats and the ship's launch would carry Hugh and his various cronies - mostly fellow Royalists and members of the new government intended for the seaport.
All 150 of everybody else would just pile onto the raft and they, the people in the boats, would tow them the small distance to shore.
It was only fifty klicks.
The story of Hugh first:
The guy's nothing if not predicable.
First of all, rowing and towing is hard.
And the more he thought about it, the more freaked out he became over the specter of more bad weather - and the thought of those 149 pissed-off men, and one woman, hand-over-handing their way up to the boats - and Hugh.
So he cut the raft loose.
The raft was a big enough unit - twenty-four by sixty-four feet, four times as big as that monster of a painting.
Still, being sort of a floating lumber pile, it wasn't set up for passengers and, when fully loaded, everyone on it stood in seawater up to their knees.
But, since the gale and Hugh's subsequent quick thinking had interrupted the off-loading, there were some stores on the raft.
Barrels of wine and flour (packed separately I'm sure).
The sailors and soldiers all got drunk and started fighting - but things got better almost immediately as a result.
The raft was lightened considerably by the twenty of so folks who, for whatever reason, decided to go swimming the first night and not come back.
The party went on for thirteen days, by which time that troublesome 150 had been reduced to just fifteen.
Starvation, cannibalism, madness.
People can make anything sound bad.
For Andy, a scavenger hunt:
On Amazon is a book with a title similar to that of the painting.
It was written by the younger brother of a mutual friend.
Anyway, some insights may be gained by checking out that book (not buying it - just find it and read the reviews).
Some subsequent googling should turn up something interesting.

2 comments:

Andy said...

Would that be "Wreck of the Medusa" by Miles?
Fuck those mainstream shipwrecks, check out some of Hugh Edwards stuff about wrecks down under, and not just because I look like him...

Bob Brock said...

Andy,
You're not trying!
How did we run across one another?
Seems we shared a mutual disdain for one of our local officials.
E-mails were written, mistakes were made.
Cop-haters and Harclerod despisers were outed.
Our mutual friend.
Our buddy, got us togehter.
His Bro. the author.
It's a Sci-Fi book.
You may have a life.
E-mail me and I'll send you the dossier.
It'll really help my SSI claim - if you're witness to my mental decline.
Hint... Play along.

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