Legible Graffiti

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Mathieu Tremblin lives and works in Rennes and Arles, France, finds graffiti and enhances them for legibility (and sometimes the taggers return).

“As if tagging the city was about freedom, and drawing decorative letters about control, I wanted to find a project to turn “ugly tags” into something “beautiful”, but preserve the subversive part of language distortion.”

I find it interesting that the vandalism in France is indistinguishable from that in the US, and I wonder why.

[More images here. Poorly translated background story here.]

Le Tunnel De Merde Des Oisaux

Le Tunnel De Merde Des Oiseaux
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brie, Francia (1968)

I bet there’s an expensive car wash at the end of that road.

[Found here.]

New Additions to the French Military – Eagles

The eagles are trained to capture small UAVs, aka “drones” that may pose a danger to aircraft or are being used for nefarious activity. They’re raised in captivity and trained as hatchlings to associate UAVs with food. The French program was adapted from one developed by the Dutch.

Royal eagles, which can hunt prey up to 25kg – the size of a deer – are often used by the programme due to their strength.

In the Netherlands, the use of eagles in police work sparked animal welfare concerns among falconers. When eagles intercept a drone, a pressure of 250kg per square centimetre is exerted on their claws.

Dutch police told the NRC daily newspaper that their eagles have so far not suffered any problems from intercepting small drones, but that larger drones may damage their claws. Eagles in the French programme wear kevlar and leather claw coverings as a protective measure.

[Story here, via here, video here, h/t Nancy H.]

El Dos de Mayo y General Grouchy

By 1808, Spain had had just about enough of French Imperialism and Napoleon‘s occupation armies, and there was a bloody rebellion in Madrid that lasted for days (and led to The Peninsula War).

Francisco Goya was commissioned for paintings to commemorate the rebellion of Dos de Mayo a few years later in 1814.

Oh, and BTW, General Grouchy was a real dickhead.

22 December 1918 Ville-sur-Cousances, France: Two letters from “Soldier Bill”

22 December 1918

Dear Mom and Dad:

Well nothing much new. Everything is about the same. Am feeling O.K. and in good health. There is really nothing worth while to relate for this place is dead as the deuce.

We have organized a Jazz band and I am playing the ukulele. Have played in several concerts and are figuring on a big one for Xmas.  The music we have is sure old but it is the latest that we have. Yaka Hula, etc.

You wrote a letter saying that you was going to make the sweater, etc. Well, I got the sweater, etc. about a week before I got the letter.

Well, this will be all for the present.

So long,


22 December 1918

Dear Mom and Dad:

Well, there is absolutely nothing new or startling but I feel like writing. Altho I wrote to you yesterday. Read a letter from you this evening and it had the Kodak pictures in it. Was glad to get them, too. I can’t think of anything to write so I am going to take one day out of my diary and give it to you in detail.

Here it is —– Sept. 26

We are in a camp near Auzeville and the big drive is to start. In fact the one that finished the “Boches”. Then the morning of the 26th dawned but dawn was preceded by a terrific barrage which was as loud as thunder and lighted up the whole skyline for miles. We were not flying ours but were held in reserve.  Hundreds of “planes” were now flying over head. One bunch had over 150 in it.  Along about 8 a.m., along comes a boche plane and he burned three of the balloons all observers landed safe but one and his parachute burned and he fell to his death.  A fellow by the name of Barnett and I started out to see the fun.  Put our guns on and started for the front line trenches which were about 5 miles north.  After a short while we hit the trenches but of course our boys had advanced and were chasing the boche for a fare you well.  We hit several mine craters where the boche had mined the roads but already our engineers had started to budge them.  After another hour’s walk and dodging a few pieces of shrapnel we hit the town of Varennes and were keen for souvenirs.  The boche were still in one side of the Varennes and we were in the other.  Machine guns were crackling with a steady roar and long streams of ambulances carrying away the wounded.  Dead Boche were laying every where.  The roads were filled with them.  Long about then a Boche 77 took my ….. but never touched us. Then we started going through the dugouts and it was there that I got the general’s helmet.  Also was almost lucky enough to capture a Jerry but a doughboy beat me to it.  He was hiding in a dug out.  Looked like he wan’t as old as “Bugs” and he was scared almost to death.  After monkeying around a while we hopped an ambulance and rode back toward Auzeville.  So that finished the day’s fun.  But you ought to have seen the dead Huns.  Some had legs blown off.  Some had their heads and shoulders off and some were in pieces only.  A great many had been burned by mustard gas and were burned to a crisp.

Well, I guess I’ll have to “fini” as it is getting late. Hope I get the Xmas box soon.


Armistice Day / Veterans Day / Remembrance Day

“One of the guns of Battery D, 105th Field Artillery, showing American flag which was hoisted after the last shot had been fired when the armistice took effect. Etraye, France., 11/11/1918”.
Sergeant First Class Morris Fineberg, Photographer.

My grand-uncle was stationed in France in the U.S. Signal Corps in WWI, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew some of the men in the photo above. On 10 November 1918, he sent this letter home:

“Mom and Dad. Well, nothing much new, only today we got the news of the peace plenipotentiaries arriving for a conference with General Foch. It sounds good to me. There is something here now that I would like to tell you but can’t, so when I return you mustn’t forget to ask me about the civilian refugees in the church. It will be some story. Not much excitement lately. We had our balloon burned by a boche plane with American insignia on it.”

Then on 14 November, this:

Dear Mom and Dad:

Well, of all the wonderful things that could ever happen. The war is “won”. As the French say, “Fini la Guerre.” Every Frenchman we meet hollers, “Fini la Guere, Merci! Beaucoup.” It means – The war is over, thank you many times. We are sure some glad bunch. I sure will have a lot of stuff to tell you when I return. And that won’t be long. We are now away from the front for the first time. I just got rid of a bunch of cooties yesterday. I hope that they will be the last, too. They are sure the cause of one hell of a feeling.

Well, this is all for the present. So long and hoping to see you soon.

Soldier Bill

May God Bless All Veterans, both past and present.

[Image from here. Related posts here and here.]

D-Day – 6 June 1944

Pure balls, guts and subterfuge displaced the Nazis, saved Europe and brought down the Reichstadt.  Here’s to those who fought to the death for freedom.

[Related posts here and here.]

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