Archive for the Frenchy Category

Gay’s Paree

Posted in CRITICISM/ REVIEWS, Frenchy, Singers, Women with tags , , , , , on November 10, 2016 by travsd


Yesterday was one of America’s darkest days, and like many of you all I spent most of it immobilized, prostrate, occasionally mustering the energy to rail or theorize or eulogize or diagnose or plan or marvel or worry aloud or curse or console someone. When the day started I couldn’t image moving a muscle, possibly for days. But I had committed myself to seeing someone’s show weeks ago, and having had to postpone a couple of times, and this being the last night of the run, I dragged my butt to the club to see it.

As it happens (as she informed us halfway through the set) the performer was in the same boat; in shock and had to drag her ass there. Of course she was. It’s not commonly known, but that’s just about the hardest thing a performer has to do: rise to the occasion, put her heart into it, even when (for whatever reason) she doesn’t feel like it. People think show folks have it easy, but that is one area where they don’t. When you’re sick as a dog — you go on. When you’re in the middle of a breakup — you go on. When a loved one has died — you go on. Last night at Pangea, with America in ashes at our feet, Gay Marshall went on.

And if I had to see a show that night, this was a good one to see. Not just because Gay’s a highly professional singer with a winning personality (we’ll get to that) but because of the show’s content.  One is tempted to call her a Woman Without a Country, but really she’s a Woman with Two Countries. And I’m glad the other one is France. There’s only a couple of nation-sized shoulders out there America can REALLY cry on, and one of them is France’s. Lafayette? Franklin and Jefferson and Adams in Paris? The Statue of Liberty? The World Wars? “Je Suis Charlie”? We’ve bled and cried and been there for each other many a time. And the people of Paris understand the concept of a liberty loving nation being taken over by hostile Right Wing Forces. Yesterday, my friend Alyssa Simon shared this famous photo of “The Weeping Frenchman”, taken in 1940 as the French army was being disbanded at Marseilles and the Nazis were marching in. This is how many of us are feeling:


So, if anything, I had a fear of being overwhelmed by TOO much feeling, a sort of “La Marseillaise”-in-Casablanca moment and it would be unbearable. But, nah, the show was touching and romantic and moving and light and even irreverent. She loves her adopted second country, but not blindly. She has enough detachment to kvetch about the homesickness she had for America while she was there, and her exasperation at Parisian snobbery.  And, ya know how it is: I’m mourning my country at the moment, but I’m not exactly crazy about it right now either. So this was kind of perfect.

Gay’s backstory is that she’s a Cleveland native who had been singing a French repertoire for a while (Edith Piaf a specialty) and she went over to Paris to study the language, fell in love (with a man and with the city) and just stayed. She starred in the French production of Cats, playing Grizabella (the one who sings “Memories”, the Betty Buckley role, which is funny, because unbidden, I would have volunteered that Gay reminds me a bit of Betty Buckley even if I didn’t know that). And it seems like she has sung everywhere else in Paris:  from L’Olympia to the Folies Bergère to the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées to events in the Louvre to a sidewalk on a bridge over the Seine (just so she could say she did). And her show is presented as a travelogue. She has little wooden toy Eiffel Towers and Notre Dame Cathedrals etc and takes us on a musical tour of the city, interspersed with funny, vivid anecdotes about her experiences there.

Like many a French entertainer, she sports a cocked chapeau, a gesture that reminds us of what Americans are inclined to forget (if most of them even ever knew): despite our stereotype of the French as serious and sad intellectuals, as I wrote in both No Applause and Chain of Fools not only are they capable of having fun — as far as western culture is concerned they kind of INVENTED it. (Vaudeville, burlesque, cabaret — the very WORDS we use for show biz are French, because that is where show biz COMES from). So, though some of her numbers are sentimental and melancholy, some are just funny. She opens her set with one of these; “Another Song About Paris” by Dave Frishberg, the only totally English language song in her set. (Most of her numbers are French songs, half of which she’ll sing in the original, completing the song in her own English translations — a wonderfully vaudevillian technique, it makes the material accessible for those of us who love the culture but don’t have the language. It’s just good horse sense to meet us halfway).

Of the half dozen or so singers I’ve seen at Pangea over the past year of so, Marshall is the most technically accomplished, I think, negotiating some pretty tricky ground with seeming effortlessness.  At times it was as though she were pouring herself out to us like table wine. Numbers in the set included the boogie-woogie flavored “Les Grands Boulevards” (a number she first copped off an old Yves Montand record — phonetically — when she was ten years old); the funny “J’Suis Snob” by Jimmy Walter and Boris Vian; the patriotic medley “Les Grognards/La Colombe/Sons Of”, and ending her set on the heartfelt and timely plea for love “Quand On n’a Que L’amour” by Jacquel Brel, Eric Blau and Mort Shuman (it shouldn’t surprise you to know there were several Jacques Brel songs in the set). Then for an encore, the much more upbeat “Mon manège à moi”, also associated with Piaf, by Norbert Glanzberg and Jean Constanin. 

Sadly the present run is done, but I’m told a new show is coming up in the spring, and when it does, I’ll spread the word. As for my little vacation in the City of Light last night:  je ne regrette rien.

Repose en Paix, Pierre Étaix

Posted in Clown, Comedy, Frenchy, Movies (Contemporary), OBITS with tags , , , , , , on October 14, 2016 by travsd

Something fitting about Dario Fo and Pierre Etaix passing away within hours of each other. French clown, actor and comedy film-maker Etaix (1928-2016) was one of the happy discoveries I learned about when researching my book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to YoutubeI seem to recall first hearing about the artist from Steve Massa, and there was a big screening of his films (which had long been unavailable) at the Film Forum a couple of years ago.

Etaix is often associated with Jacques Tati (for whom he assistant directed, and with whom he got his start) but his character and his style are very different. He was also in the Jerry Lewis movie The Day the Clown Cried (1972), which it looks like we’ll all finally get to see at some point in the not too distant future. Etaix had many more screen credits as an actor than as a director. He only directed a few films; most of them are available on Youtube. I watched ’em all. This one is probably my favorite, and how perfectly timed for Hallowe’en (there’s more than a little Hammer Horror parody in the fantasy sequences here–very well done) . The film is called Insomnia (1961).  Even so, I hope you sleep well, grand-père drôle!

On Some Heroic Huguenots

Posted in AMERICANA, CULTURE & POLITICS, Frenchy, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, ME, My Family History with tags , , , , , , on August 23, 2016 by travsd
A painting of the Massacre by the Huguenot Francois Dubois

A painting of the Massacre by the Huguenot Francois Dubois

Today is St. Bartholomew’s Eve.

Funny — despite having worked on this post for several days, I was thinking to myself only yesterday that August doesn’t really have a holiday and that the calendar is a sort of desert between Independence Day and Labor Day. Yet, here we are. From the time of the Middle Ages, the Feast of the Apostle St. Bartholomew was celebrated on August 24, and it was a day with many happy associations. Traditionally, a late summer fair was celebrated in London on the day, from 1133 to 1855 — it was even the title and the setting of a play by Ben JonsonBartholomew Fair.

In modern times, the positive side of St. Bartholomew’s Day has been largely forgotten due to the Massacre that happened on this day in France in 1572. There were many wars of religion during the period of the Protestant Reformation, but for some reason the St. Bartholomew’s Massacre particularly captures the modern imagination. It may be that, unlike many or most such events in Western Europe, this persecution resembles recent atrocities that strike close to home, such as the Holocaust. You have a large majority (Catholic France) persecuting a small minority (the Huguenots, or French Protestants, who made up 10% of the country) strictly on the basis of religion. And you have the official sanction of wiping them out. The word genocidal is wrong in this case, since they were the same people ethnically, but it’s a similar concept. The people of France were whipped up into a frenzy of hatred, and the Huguenots who did not convert and betray their faith were either killed or otherwise mistreated or harassed. Many chose to leave. Historians differ widely in their estimates of the number killed in the actual Massacre, ranging from 5,000 to ten times that. In its wake, the number of Huguenots in France was drastically reduced. Future events (below) would reduce it still further, eventually finishing them as a cultural force in France. The carnage actually began on St. Bartholomew’s Eve (Aug. 23) which is why we post this today rather than tomorrow.


Ironically, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre happened at a time of official tolerance for the minority, and a wedding between both forces (the Protestant Henry III of Navarre and the Catholic Princess Margot, sister of King Charles IX) was still being celebrated. You can read a romanticized version of the court intrigues that led to the violence in Dumas’ novel Queen Margot, though as usual with him it is better entertainment than it is history. Likewise, the event is one of the story threads in D.W. Griffth’s Intolerance (1916), which I think is where I first became interested. This is one reason I so vehemently insist that I am not a historian (though no one listens). My main interest is stories.


Still from Griffith’s “Intolerance”

At any rate: what’s it to me? My recent casual research has uncovered many Huguenots in my ancestry, one of the most surprising revelations of my exploration. They are a tiny but real part of my background, and also an illuminating new way to look at the familiar American story. For, like Puritans, Quakers, Jews and (ironically) Catholics, Huguenots came to America to flee religious persecution. Wonderfully the stories of these ancestors are quite well known, and have been ferreted out by others over the years. There is no single profile that fits all of them. They came at different times, under different circumstances, and settled in different parts of America.


Nathaniel Basse (circa 1589-1654) was of a Huguenot family which had moved to England a generation or two before his birth. His father Humphrey was a stockholder in the Virginia Company. Nathaniel made his first voyage to the colony in 1619 and moved the rest of his family there in 1621 on a 400 acre spread on the James River he called Basse’s Choyce Plantation. Basse served in Virginia’s General Assembly, the Governor’s Council, and as a justice in the courts. My (9th) great grandmother Genevieve Knight is said by many sources to be one of his ten children, but accounts differ and it is admittedly somewhat murky. Other sources say all of Basse’s children but one, named John, were killed in an Indian massacre, and other sources say he “died without issue” (although the latter source is a contested will). John’s tale, if true, is a ripping yarn, for he is said to have been raised among the Nansemond Indians as one of their own.

All of the folks described in this post are ancestors on my dad’s side of the family, except for one. John Paddoc (1550-1603) left Nord-Pas-de-Calais in 1580 and moved to Tullygovan, Ireland. Ireland was to be a refuge to many Huguenots. My (9th) great grandfather Robert Paddock born there in 1584. He emigrated to the Plymouth colony with his wife and family somewhere between 1631 and 1634. A line runs all the way from him to my mom, and then to me.

My (10th) great grandfather Robert Brasseur (ca 1597-1665) emigrated from Avignon to England around 1630. He shows up in Maryland land records in 1635, having arrived with his wife and seven children.  As is well known, Maryland was a Catholic colony; Brasseur (sometimes Anglicized to “Brashear” and a dozen other spellings) moved to Virginia, where my (9th) great grandmother Margaret was born.  She was to marry into an English family, the Jordans, and convert to Quakerism.

Line DividingEastWestJersey

One of the most important guys on this page: my (11th) great grandfather Robert Vanquellin (1607-1698), from the Normandy region. After spending time on the Isle of Jersey, in January, 1665 he went to England. In April he departed for America in Philip Carteret’s ship, ”Philip,” with about thirty passengers. Robert then settled in northeastern New Jersey, under British rule (since Sept. 1664) of this part of New Netherland as it was in dispute for the next decade until full Dutch capitulation. (Contemporary New Yorkers may be aware of New Netherland’s openness to the Huguenots from certain nearby place names still in use. e.g., New Rochelle, NY and Huguenot, Staten Island).  Carteret was to become Governor of New Jersey. Vanquellin was to be its Surveyor General. His daughter Anne married James Bollen (1629-1682), Secretary of the Province of New Jersey, my (10th) great grandfather.

Jesus Wept

Jesus Wept

Now we come to another phase. In 1685, Louis XIV issued the Edict of Fontainebleau, a decree which revoked the 1598 Edict of Nantes, which had declared a policy of relative tolerance for the Huguenots. Thus a new period of persecution began, resulting in a new wave of Huguenot immigration to the American colonies.

Virginia was to be an early focal point during this phase. In 1698, a settlement with the hilarious name of Manikintown (which would be an excellent title for a Twilight Zone episode) was founded on the James River west of what is now Richmond. Several of my ancestors moved here.


My (7th) great grandfather Pierre LeGrand arrived there from Normandy with his wife and five children in September 1700 on the second shipload of emigrants aboard the galley ‘Peter and Anthony’ of London. LeGrand was a land surveyor. 

(10th) great grandfather Isaac LaFuitte arrived in Virginia from France in 1705. Little is known about him other than that he was a French protestant refugee.

My (8th) great grandfather Francois Benin (1679-1710) is stated by some sources to have been born in Tartigne. Purportedly a Huguenot, he is said to have fled to the Dutch-Belgium border, and from there to Bristol, England where he married Ann Elizabeth Debonette, another French Huguenot exile in 1704.  The Benin (Benning) family migrated to Virginia with the Guerrant family. Francois is believed to have died around 1710; his son, Antoin (Anthony) was born around 1705 and is believed to have been orphaned while a small child.  He is described in some documents as an “unlearned and tyrannical man”.


Another (7th) great-grandfather Abraham Michaux (1672-1717) came from the Ardennes region. His wife Suzanne Rochet Micheaux was the youngest of the three daughters of Jean Rochet to be smuggled out of France and into Amsterdam, Holland following the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685. According to one story, “she, her two sisters, a cousin and her baby were trying to escape when the baby began to cry and the guards were alerted and found the young women. The three Rochet sisters were returned to their father, but the Church took a very hard stance on the daughter’s education and Jean Rochet feared they would be removed from his home and sent to live with the nuns. Before too long the two older daughters made successful escapes to Amsterdam, but fearing the climate was still too dangerous, they had left Suzanne behind. Before they left France, however, the sisters and their father had determined that they would send for Suzanne when they felt the time was right, but fearing the letter would fall in the wrong hands, they had worked out a code. They would tell their father that they thought ‘it would be perfectly fine to send the little nightcap which we had left behind.’ Finally, the letter arrived. After several unsuccessful attempts to get Suzanne out of France, her father had her hidden in a large cask, or hogshead, which was entrusted to friendly sea-captain, who had the cask placed on board the ship. When the ship had sailed and they were safety past the guards, the cask was opened and Suzanne was lifted out of her narrow, dark, chamber and was brought to safety in Amsterdam. She is still known in the annuals of French Huguenot history as ‘Little Nightcap.'”

Micheaux married Suzanne on 13 Jul 1692 in the French Church in Amsterdam. On 20 August 1702 Suzanne Rochet Michaux became a member of the Huguenot Church of Treadneedle Street, London, England. They pressed on to Manikintown a few years after that. 

The last of Huguenot ancestors (and I believe the last of my French ancestors) to arrive was my (7th)great grandfather John Noblett (1690-1748). Like most of these stories, his journey embraces several countries and more than one generation. His father Peter Noblett (1677-1719). moved first to England from France his with parents around 1684, joining distant relatives. Then they moved to Ireland, to a Huguenot community near Dublin. He married Marie Godfrey in 1698.  In 1721 John and his brothers left Ireland with a group of Quakers to settle in York, Pennsylvania. They arrived on the ship Querrier (or Gauffier,) at Grandy’s Point located on Cape May below Philadelphia. It was there they indentured to work for someone to pay for their passage. John, the oldest of the brothers, upon disbarking was informed that William Plumstead of Sugartown had paid his passage. He was obligated to work for three years before he could claim any land of his own. His term of indenture to Plumstead ended in 1725. Noblett first appeared on the tax rolls as a resident citizen of Newton Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, during the tax year of 1729. He married Ann Brereton, another child of Huguenot exiles who’d come over from from Dublin. Their daughter Mary (1746-1811) is my last full French ancestor (that I know of). She married into a Quaker family, the Stouts, whom we wrote about here, and moved with a large group to North Carolina.

The only Huguenot Church left in America. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, it was built in 1844 for a congregation that had been founded two centuries earlier.

The only Huguenot Church left in America. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, it was built in 1844 for a congregation that had been founded two centuries earlier.

The Huguenots assimilated more completely than nearly every other America immigrant group to the us, including other French immigrant groups like the Acadians/Cajuns and the Quebecois. Even relatively assimilated immigrant groups like the Germans had retained their own church denominations and culture. By contrast, after about a century, the Huguenots ceased having a separate church (with the exception noted above). Most converted to other faiths. In some ways, their only footprint here became certain French surnames that continue to pop up, especially in the South. I’m a “Never Forget” kind of guy, so today I choose to remember them.


Stars of Vaudeville #992: Odette Myrtil

Posted in Frenchy, Hollywood (History), Music, Singers, Vaudeville etc., Women with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2016 by travsd


Today is the birthday of Odette Myrtil (Odette Quignard, 1898-1978).

Odette (that was often her entire billing) was a second generation stage performer. She was born in Paris and attended a boarding school in Brussels, where she studied voice and violin. By age 13, she was already playing professionally, and for the next several years she divided her time between European variety halls and stage revues. In 1916 her career took off when she starred in one of London’s biggest stage hits of the World War One era The Bing Boys Are Here.

Success came to her in America in 1923 when she played the Palace, a venue to which she returned many times over the ensuing decade. The following year she appeared in The Vogues of 1924. Her Broadway career reached its pinnacle when she starred in The Cat and the Fiddle (1931-1932), with songs by Jerome Kern and which played for nearly a year during the depths of the Great Depression. She next went out to Hollywood where she played bit roles and small supporting parts for a couple of decades. You can see her in such films as Dodsworth (1936), Kitty Foyle (1940), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), The Palm Beach Story (1942), Rhapsody in Blue (1945), The Fighting Kentuckian (1949), Strangers on a Train (1951), and The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954). In 1959 she returned to Broadway one last time to appear in the musical Saratoga. 

For more on Odette: go here. 

To learn more about vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


Stars of Vaudeville #919: Armand Kaliz

Posted in Broadway, Frenchy, Hollywood (History), Jews/ Show Biz, Movies, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2015 by travsd


Today is the birthday of Armand Kaliz (Armand Kalisz, 1887-1941). Kaliz was born in Paris; of Polish Jewish parentage.

By 1907 Kaliz was in New York appearing in both vaudeville and the Broadway musical The Hoyden. One finds constant references to Kaliz appearing in vaudeville at least through 1919. He appears to have worked most consistently in dramatic and comedy sketches with a a partner named Amelia Stone, sometimes managed by Alf T. Wilton. At least one of these sketches was written by Edgar Allan Woolf. He also appears to have had a fine singing voice and appeared in musical sketches in vaudeville, and one later Broadway musical The Kiss Burglar (1918), although an arch review of that show by Dorothy Parker might explain why he didn’t do more Broadway work (she made fun of his accent (Found that in the indispensable Dorothy Parker: Complete Broadway 1918-1923 — thank you, Kevin Fitzpatrick!). He appeared on more on Broadway, in the hit revue Spice of 1922, which he also produced (it ran for four months, which isn’t too shabby).

By that point, Kaliz had also been a film actor for several years. It was for the cinema that he removed the troublesome, unnecessary “s” from his last name. He began his film career in 1917, still very much the silent era, and there he found his accent to be no encumbrance to his success. Films included The Siren (1917), Let’s Get a Divorce (1918) and The Stolen Bride (1927). He also had good roles in the earliest years of talkies including Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929), The Aviator (1929), The Unholy Three (1930), Little Caesar (1931), and the Frank Fay comedy  God’s Gift to Women (1931). But his accent does seem to have caused him trouble in sound pictures and he quickly slid down the pecking order to walk-ons. By Flying Down to Rio (1933), his character is “One of Three Greeks”. Almost of his role from the end of the ’30s to his death in 1941 were uncredited.

To learn more about early film history don’t miss my book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from etc etc etc. For more on vaudeville historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

Louis Gasnier: From the Champs-Élysées to Poverty Row

Posted in Comedy, Frenchy, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2015 by travsd


Today is the birthday of Louis Gasnier (1875-1963). Fairly or unfairly, I mentally associate Gasnier with a handful of other directors (William Beaudine, Jean Yarbrough, Norman Taurog) who started out in silent comedy and distinguished themselves in the field, but ended their career at the psychotronic end of the spectrum.

“Max Takes Tonics”, 1911

The French born Gasnier was a stage actor and director who was hired by Pathé Frères around the turn of the century. In 1905 he discovered cabaret performer Max Linder, the world’s first international comedy star, directing or co-directing in scores of films from 1905 through 1913. This puts Gasnier on a par with people like Mack Sennett and Charlie Chaplin as a pioneer of early film comedy. This alone would be enough to merit his inclusion in the history books, but he then went on to even greater success in America.


n 1913, he came to the U.S. to head up Pathé Frères’ new American division. It was there that he he co-directed and produced one of the most successful movie serials of all time The Perils of Pauline (1914) starring Pearl White. This was followed up with another serial The Exploits of Elaine (1915, also with White), and then a great many popular features, usually adventure stories with exotic locales, including The Corsican Brothers (1920), Kismet (1920), Poisoned Paradise (1924), and The Parasite (1925). He also directed Stan Laurel’s last comedy short without Oliver HardyShould Tall Men Marry (1928).


As the sound era came in, for a while he directed for Paramount, usually helming their foreign language films. Paramount let him go in 1935, however. Desperate for a job, in 1937 he directed what has now (sadly) become his most famous film — the unintentional camp classic Tell Your Children better known today under its alternative title Reefer Madness (1937). This anti-marijuana instructional film was to be revived on college campuses starting in 1972, subsequently becoming one of the great cult films of all time,. Today his earlier triumphs  are largely forgotten and he is better known by far for this absurd exercise in misinformation and paranoid melodrama.

Gasnier retired from directing in 1940, spending the next 18 years in retirement.

To learn more about early film history history please check out my book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from etc etc etc


Bon Anniversaire, Lafayette!

Posted in AMERICANA, Frenchy, ME, My Family History with tags , , , , , , on September 6, 2015 by travsd


Today is the birthday of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette (1757 – 1834), hero of the American Revolution and two separate revolutions in his native France. I’ll forgive you if you’re not as interested in him as I am at the moment. Everywhere I turn I seem to bump into him. Actually, you do too, only you may not have realized it. Here in New York we have this, for example:


As well as this:


And two blocks from my house in Brooklyn, there’s this:

I made a kid get out of the way so I could take this shot but I forgot to tell him to move his scooter

I made a kid get out of the way so I could take this shot but I forgot to tell him to move his scooter

Ah, that's more like it!

Ah, that’s more like it!

As we’ve blogged here, this part of Brooklyn was the site of a major Revolutionary War battle.

And as we’ve blogged here, many of my ancestors and relatives fought in the Revolution, which is why it is prominent in my mind at the moment.

And all my family research has uncovered more related stuff. For example, I learned that my father’s hometown Fayetteville, Tennessee is named after….Fayetteville, North Carolina, which is named after…the Marquis de Lafayette. (Duh! It never occurred to me. But take the French article “La” off the front of his name, and there you have it). And my (3rd) great uncle is one Polk Lafeyette Stewart (1845-1924). They know how to honor their heroes down there.

Of course, Lafayette is second only to the Statue of Liberty in symbolizing Franco-American amity. (Don’t bother making a joke about canned spaghetti. It is beneath us both). One of the most surprising (and welcome) discoveries of all my recent family research is the amount of French ancestry I have. I had known about the usual Medieval Bretons, Normans and Franks — most people of English and Scottish ancestry have a great many of those in their lineage. What I hadn’t known about was that I have modern French forbears who came to America. I thought I had none, but it turns out I have tons on my Southern side, many or most of them (presumably) Huguenots. Those who have observed a certain Gallic arrogance and predisposition to rationalism in my character can look to the surnames Vanquellin, Noblett, Brereton, Bertrand, D’Aubigne,  DeConde, Benin, DeBonnette, Jouany, LaFuite, LeGrand, Dubois, Michaux, Broucard, LeFevre, RochetBrasseure, Buschier, Mahieu, Lobel, Lessard, Rochet, Laigniez, Coulliard, Paddoc and Traillour,  (all names in my family tree) for an explanation.

And the final reason why Lafayette is on my radar, and will be even more so in a few weeks? One of my favorite contemporary writers Sara Vowell is coming out with a new book about him! The pub date is October 20 and rest assured I’ll be reading that and blogging about it — si vous me passez l’expression — tout suite. Pre-order it here. 



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