Riot comme des Français

I was a kid sitting on my dad’s big shoulders during the student riots in Paris in the 60s. I don’t remember it, but dad says it was weird that it felt safe to carry a kid right down to the battlefront where carefully aimed cobblestones were flying at cops. I guess there was zero chance of a Bloody Sunday style response at that time.

The recent set of farmers’ protests (honestly, I do not know what they are protesting about, but whatever…) have been pretty impressive. Since I was a kid, I’ve tried to steer well clear of riots, anywhere.

French riots have a kind of loopy creativity. From what I understand, nobody else does anything close to like it. A scandinavian friend once said, “we don’t riot much anymore…” and I was happy to hear it. I have talked to people who have seen the huge choreographed riots in South Korea, which are kind of like a massive MMA game with some rules. And I’ve heard (from a friend who sheltered in a data center through one) that the riots in India are really something else: 300, 400 dead in a riot means a lot of injured – maybe 10:1 or 20:1? Anyhow… Since I read about the Battle of Blair Mountain, [stderr] I’ve been underwhelmed by the quantity and power of American riots. Yes, even the Jan 6 riot was pretty lame; no buildings were burned and the rioters are damn lucky about that. If it was Blair Mountain style riots, there would have been water-cooled machine guns deployed and firing. [That stupid noose thing made out of pine 2x4s was so lame, can’t MAGA make rioting great again?]

Take note:

Bring your manure shredder and sprayer and some nice manure and straw to blow over it. If you want nice, green, leafy cops you should make sure they get manure blown all over them.

In Paris, when I was a kid, the riots eventually ended when the CRS (I guess you’d call them the SWAT teams) showed up carrying submachine guns. Then, the flying cobblestones stopped. Certain niceities must be observed.

Remember: Big chisel grinds, people. I wonder how this was shaped? Probably forged rough then ground? They didn’t quite have machinist scrapers or milling machines at that time. Nowadays it’d be a good job for a CNC machine, of course.

[I don’t think the thing in the illustration is correctly rigged. There should be a ring and a few feet of chain before transitioning to a rope.]

If anyone’s looking to make a guillotine, I know someone who can do a damascus blade, but I want steel from a cop car, a russian tank, and a presidential limo. Those are my conditions. I’ll clean ’em and weld ’em up and do the chisel grind with an angle grinder.


  1. jrkrideau says

    French protests do tend to be imaginative. I was looking at some videos of German protests which looked massive but not as inspired.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    Can we feel confident that any Frenchpersons who indulge f the current protest mode of flinging food at major work of art prepare it with proper cordon bleu standards?

  3. Jazzlet says

    I’m not sure how you’d do it with out cutting yourself in half, but water powered sharpening stones etc existed in the UK long before we got steam power so I’d be surprised if the French didn’t have them.

    One of the fun things (if you find industrial history interesting) you can do in Sheffield is go to museums with water powered iron and steel handling kit, steam powered iron and steel handling kit, the bessemer era kit, etc.. Rather amazingly they continued to make scythes at the water powered one until part way through WWII when the windows of the crucible shed were blown in by a bomb, getting glass in the clay. The clay needed to be puddled before making into crucibles, and that was done by a man stomping around the clay pit in his bare feet to avoid contamination, it would have been too expensive to replace the now glass filled clay, so that was that.

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