Carnival of carnivals

“Is this legal? Maybe I should fine them all?” Paris, 1977.

I was just out of the Army, 3 weeks away from Grad school. I set out on the streets of Paris with my faithful Asahi Pentax and a few rolls of Ilford film. May have been 400 “ASA”, my ammo of choice then. Would explain the grainy shots.

“Bemvindos ao Carnaval do carnaval! 1977″. (Welcome to the Carnival of carnivals, Paris, 1977)

“A felicidade do pobre parece/ A grande ilusaõ do Carnaval…”

(The poor man’s happiness is like/ The great illusion of Carnival…)

Gilles de Binche. Those characters are called “Gilles”. (One of my cousins’ name is Gilles). Gilles is one of the most famous characters of the Carnival of Binche in Belgium. Though the origin is deemed to go back to popular theatre of the 17th century, or earlier, the first written mention of the Gilles is in 1795 as a protest to the French Directoire’s prohibition of masks… (We might have invaded Belgium a little at that time. Just a little)

Hello from Hellas (?). I think the costume is Greek. City Hall had organized a big parade (in July) of representative costumes of Carnivals with delegations for all over the world. Neat. Of course it nearly rained that day. Paris weather. Not good for light and shutter… Grain again.

“Daddy look!”

More Gilles from Binches. The legend has it that the Gilles are descendants of the Incas, first displayed in 1549 by Mary of Hungary to welcome her brother Charles the 5th, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain, the New World and what have you, who just happened to have been born in Gand, in today’s Belgium. I suspect Charles spoke better Flemish than Spanish. Yet he ruled over a good half of Europe and most of Latin America, all the way North to Califor-na-yeah.

Holding hands. (With two guys.) Just couldn’t make her mind up?

Running late. A member of the Greek delegation. (I’m sure it’s Greece. Look at the shoes)

Child labour? This little girl was probably born in 1970. A proud member of a Rio “Escola de Samba”, a Samba school, she was training for the big show in Río de Janeiro.

“A gente trabalha o ano inteiro…” People work all year long…

“Por um momento de sonho…” For a moment of dream…

The poised delegation of Bali, Indonesia. I wondered at the time: “Carnival in Indonesia? Really?” Doesn’t matter, does it? The Balinese representatives were quite elegant. And the costumes beautiful. I regretted my B&W Ilford films…

Not too sure where those guys were from. Not France or England for sure. I would say Germany, Sax? Prussia? Uniforms are from the 1700’s at a glance. A little help from our German friends? Bitte?

To serve and protect. “Officer, can you adjust my hat, please?”. The white hat wears about 6-8 pounds and is made of ostrich feathers. The Paris police officers still wore the traditional képi, which Miterrand banished in the 80’s for reasons unknown. Who can pretend to understand “Mimi”?

“Mommy? Isn’t the Lady gonna be cold?”

“Pra fazer a fantasía…” To do (live) the fantasy…

“De rei ou de pirata ou de jardineira…” Of king or pirate or gardener…

“E tudo se acaba na quarta-feira…” And all ends on Wednesday.

Obrigado, merci, ευχαριστώ, terimah kassi, thank you, viel dank und soweiter, for dancing on Equinoxio Airways. (To be continued…)

And a big round of applause to Tom Jobim for writing one of the most beautiful songs in human history: “Tristeza naõ tem fim.”

102 thoughts on “Carnival of carnivals

    • Oh yes! The headdress for some of the Braizilian dancers is very heavy. I will show more in a next post. How have you been? I must confess not visiting other blogs much lately. No excuse, just an apology.
      I hope end of year was as good as possible.
      The virus is raging in your neck of the woods. Be very careful. My brother-in-law just caught it. In a rather silly fashion. He seems to be ok, but I wish we were 2 weeks form now.
      My very best wishes to you for 2021. Stay safe. 🙏🏻😷

    • Just been to your site. Sorry to see you go. At least I caught “the last train”. The 1877 photo was superb. I have similar photos of my great-grandmother, of her mother and grandmother… Be well Val. 🙏🏻

  1. Cette année, les Gilles ne sortiront pas. Et leurs ramons non plus, ce qui est très domageable à la vie sociale … beaucoup plus que les danseuses brésiliennes de ce côté-ci de l’Atlantique.
    Bravo pour ce reportage, Brieuc.
    PS1. J’aurais juré que les Gilles ne pouvaient pas apparaître en dehors de leur province et en dehors de la période du carnaval.
    PS2. Les participants qui ont un képi (même origine que cap) sur la tête, ils tombaient de où ? La bonne humeur n’a pas l’air de les toucher !

    • Ben oui. Mais ils reviendront. Je suis convaincu qu’on tordra le coup à ce maudit virus. On l’a fait pour la peste et le choléra. (Ils ne restent que pour les choix entre polticiens) on l’aura bien. Tôt ou tard.
      Je ne savais pas ça sur les Gilles. en tout cas ils étaient bien là. C’était vraiment un super carnaval des carnavals. (Ou carnavaux?) 😉
      J’ai bcp regretté aprés coup de n’avoir emporté que des films en N&B. Quelle andouille.
      Ceux qui z’étaient habill’s en keufs de pied en cap? Y rigolent jamais ceux-là. (Les plus jeunes mataient les Brésiliennes. Sécurité rapprochée). Binche doit pas être loin de chez toi? Je vais regarder.
      A+ cher ami.

      • Annie l’a été parce qu’elle était “cas contact” proche. Elle est négative. Moi j’ai été contact mais avant les tests et contact de contact plus de fois que mes doigts peuvent compter. Pour l’instant, nous échappons à la bête à picots. Le vaccin sera bienvenu !
        Merci, Brieuc, et une belle et heureuse journée à toi.

      • Il y a des facteurs de risque, mais aussi des facteurs de chance. Mon beau-frère en Colombie vient de l’attraper. On suit ça de près mais pour le moment pas d’auters cas. touchons du bois.

    • J’ai un peu loupé mon coup sur c’t’affaire. J’ai pas pensé. J’ai pris 2-3 films qui traînaient chez moi. Je faisait bcp de N&B en c’temps-là.
      Merci Mélie. Bonne nuit. 🌙

    • Thank you. I did take a short break in December. This is only my second post this year. No, I’m not in that second picture. The photographer seldom is in the picture…
      How have you been?
      Happy new year.

  2. I love a carnival, circuit breakers of the ordinary life. I wondered if the men from Sax, were perhaps Austrian? And to the policeman, of course it’s legal, it’s essential 🙂

  3. fun post Brian 🤓☺️missing hugs and holding hands…heel erg bedankt … heerlijk om ons terug in de tijd te nemen … wat ook in mijn hoofd zit deze dagen ~ have a joyful day ~ hugs hedy 🤗💫

  4. […] in 1795 a protest to the French Directoire’s prohibition of masks […]; starting with 2020 the mask became compulsory. Took them a while but they did it. 🙄
    Anyway, that lady wasn’t gonna get cold because she was way too hot. 😉
    The képi guy seems more like asking the “ostrich” to take his hat off on account of a tip that he might be hiding “something” inside it.
    A fundamental question has been bothering me for years: “to serve and protect… who, exactly?” Last year finally provided the answer, and this year – if not many more to come too – will more likely confirm it.

    Indeed there is no end to sadness… 😦

  5. Great eye for contrasts. The Greek guard is particularly fun. Although I appreciate the fustanella, like the kilt, has a masculine quality, my social conditioning cannot get past the pompoms.

  6. I love the photos! Maybe they dropped the kepi because of Louis de Funes? 😉 😀 Unfortunately I don’t have any knowledge of uniforms whatsoever.
    I tried to find the song of Tom Jobim on YouTube, but was not successful … yet … Greetings from snowy Denmark.

    • Le Gendarme ‘a Saint-Tropez? Possibly. No Miterrand just wanted to put his imprint on everything. The képi was part of the “folklore”.
      Here’s Jobim:

      He’s the one playing the piano

      • I found a version on YouTube with a woman singing, but the song was hardly recognizable. When I hear this version from you, I am sure that I have heard it before, actually. Thank you very much for the link! It is a great piece of music!

      • It is. Wonderful. In just a few words Jobim recounts the ultimate sadness of life. The misery that can come around the most joyous moments of Carnival. Plus the sound of Brazilian. One has to speak the language to fully grasp its music. In Brazil it is a monument.
        Tristeza naõ temf im. Felicidade sim.
        Sadness never ends. Happiness does… 🙏🏻

      • Chico Buarque is one of my many Brazilian idols. He is much younger that Tom or Vinicius of course, bu has a genius of his own. You must hear “Construçao”. I learnt Portuguese (in part) listening to his songs.

      • I thought I could learn Portuguese with reading the texts of his songs while listening to him, but I soon got lost, because the pronunciation is quite different from what is written (worse than in French), I found. 😀 😀

      • Absolutely worse than French. Another advantage for me 🤣. Writing and spelling is very antiquated. Plus Brazilian accent is very different form Portuguese. I speak the language almost fluently but my spelling is atrocious… 😉

      • You do? How lovely. I have several LP’s of Chico when he was very young. He was the son of an Admiral. Didn’t go well when the military took over in Brazil. He of course opposed them (and his dad) had to leave the country for a while. “Essa moça ta…”

      • I hope the translation was reasonably good. It is a fantastic writing. Denouncing the work accidents in construction, and how he changes the ending of each verse is brilliant.

      • When I looked at the portuguese text superficially, I thought they were the same, but then I could see that he changed just a few words and gave it all a completely different meaning.

  7. Pingback: Notting Hill Carnival – derrickjknight

  8. You certainly brought old memories back, sometimes welcome, sometimes nostalgic, and not a few times making me realize I am quite old, still remember the first time I saw Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) gosh, I wanted to see it but I was no allowed because I was a child, I got to wait years later to see a re-run and instantly become one of my favorite films.
    Anyway I enjoy memories, but its weird, to realize we are now Grandparents, such is life.

    Best wishes! 🙂

  9. Hi Brian, I feel your photo pain …

    The costumes look Colone style but I am not super fit with the 5th season. Apparently the Prussians were so shocked by what they saw on Rose Monday that they tried to establish some more order. For people in the middle & south of Germany it’s quiet a thing! My I please add, this has nothing to do with my Germany 😉
    Clap on one if you like!

  10. Fabulous photographs I adore Paris. I was supposed to go on the 7th January for an audition it was sadly cancelled, not considered important work! At least I know from my test that I am covid negative. Have you considered colouring the photographs as a new hobby, just your favourite ones?

    • Sorry for Paris. It will come back. As Bergman said to Bogart…
      No. Colouring the photographs is out of the question. Too much time involved. I’m fine with B&W.
      Now, the digital colour ones, I sometimes switch to B&W when it “works” for the picture.

    • Sympa, non? J’ai retrouvé les vieilles photos dans un album, mais je n’ai plus les négatifs, ce qui m’aurait permis de faire un meilleur travail de restauration… All well with you?

      • Ah zut de flûte! On n’est pas toujours vaillants avec nos négatifs, hein? Ah well… you did well anyway!
        Yessiree.., Doing well, though looking forward to this damn lockdown being over. Je préfères travailler au bureau que chez moi. 8 février, ils disent… De plus, on a couvre-feu pendant cette période… ah la la…
        Et toi? Tout va bien?

      • Merci.
        8 Février, c’est pas trop mal. La France au rhythme où ils en sont en a jusqu’en Juillet.
        Ici, nous sommes pratiquement enfermés. On attend les vaccins. Fille #1 et gendres déjà vaccinés. patience. Quel est le planning au Canada?

      • J’avoue. Mais oh la la… que les gens bitchent! Honnêtement, je ne serais pas surprise qu’ils remettent la date plus tard. On verra.
        Concernant le vaccin, je ne porte pas vraiment attentions, sachant que je suis loin du top du totem!

      • Les gens “bitchent”? J’adore, ça doit être une expression “Tsy-pique”? 😉 Le top du totem? Autre expression sympa. Nous comme on est des “vieux” on devrait être servis un peu plus vite. On verra. Prend bien soin de toi.

      • Du bitchage c’est du pur québécois, tsé bin. (Pis y sont super bons à bitcher, en plus. Y bitchent pour toute. Et le top du totem… bin ça c’est moi tout court 😉
        OK… all jokes aside. I’m 56 and not a healthcare worker so, definitely will wait my turn 🙂
        Merci Brieuc! 🙂

      • J’adore. Les Français aussi bitchent tout l’temps.
        je réutiliserai le top du totem. With all due (c) of course. Le canada me paraît bien organisé. Ton tour viendra.
        A +

      • PS, j’imagine que vous devez tous mélanger le Français et l’anglais tout le temps? Ici dans la famille on fait ça souvent plus l’espagnol bien sûr.

      • Dans ma famille, oh que oui. Le franglais. Too bad so sad celui qui arrive dans le portrait et est unilingue. J’ai fréquenté un pure francophone, zéro anglais – never again.

  11. I’m no expert on 18th century military uniforms, but that hat is definitely a cockade with the fluffy bit on top denoting to which army you belong. Probably Prussian, but I’m going to guess it’s from Hannover and therefore part German and part British!

      • Indeed, everyone who has sat on the British throne since George I in 1714 was from Hannover (or thereabouts) or a descendent of someone who was from thereabouts right up to the modern day. Of course, thanks to good old British jingoism, they had to change their name in 1917 from Saxe-Coburg Gotha to something a bit more British.

      • Yeah. I know. Battenberg became Mountbatten… “Saxe-Cobourg” (in Frog) became Windsor. If I recall King-Emperor Wilhelm II, Nicolas of Russia and George V (or was it VI? I always get mixed up with Edward) were cousins. First or second. That bloodbath of WWI was a family feud. Haha.
        Don’t know why, thinking of Windsor, I remembered: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

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