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French Cheer British Royals on State Visit

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The First World War was an unprecedented catastrophe that killed millions and set the continent of Europe on the path to further calamity two decades later. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. With the centennial of the outbreak of hostilities coming up in August, Erik Sass will be looking back at the lead-up to the war, when seemingly minor moments of friction accumulated until the situation was ready to explode. He'll be covering those events 100 years after they occurred. This is the 114th installment in the series.

April 21–24, 1914: French Cheer British Royals on State Visit

After a millennium of rivalry, in the first years of the 20th century France and Britain put aside their age-old differences and embraced each other in the “Entente Cordiale” (friendly understanding)—less out of some newfound appreciation of each other’s qualities than their shared fear of Germany. But the friendship was real enough, as demonstrated by the rapturous welcome for King George V and Queen Mary when the royal couple paid a state visit to France from April 21 to 24, 1914.

The Anglo-French relationship had always been complicated, to say the least, characterized over the centuries by equal parts antagonism and admiration. Even when diplomatic relations were at their worst, the British elite venerated French culture and cuisine, and it was de rigueur for educated aristocrats to drop French phrases in casual conversation and have a French-speaking governess for their children. On the other side many French admired Britain’s representative government, commercial success, and world-straddling empire—and even, on occasion, English aesthetics (in the 18th century English gardens were all the craze in French landscape design).

Under the Third Republic the democratic French also displayed a certain sentimental fondness for the British royal family, especially among French monarchists nostalgic for the lost glories of their own Bourbon dynasty. This fascination with the British royals was on full display during the official state visit of George V, who was greeted by huge crowds of cheering French citizens everywhere he went during the three-day stay in France.

After crossing the English Channel in the royal yacht with an escort of British and French warships, the royal couple proceeded from Calais to Paris, where they arrived via the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne in the late afternoon, and were officially greeted by President Poincare along with other high officials including the President of the Senate, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, and all the French government ministers. After a visit to the Foreign Ministry President Poincare and the French First Lady hosted the royal couple at a state dinner at the Elysee Palace.

The following day the king and queen were accompanied by President Poincare and the First Lady to the parade ground at Vincennes, where they reviewed French troops, followed by an official reception at the Hôtel de Ville, the city hall of Paris, and then a state dinner with the President and First Lady hosted by the royal couple and foreign secretary Edward Grey at the British Embassy. The royal couple also attended the Paris Opéra, where they were received with rapturous applause. Finally the next day was filled with more informal pursuits, including a visit to the horse races at the Auteuil Hippodrome.

The royal couple made a very favorable impression with their “common touch,” which pleased the egalitarian French then just as it did four decades years later, when Roland Barthes wrote about the phenomenon of “The ‘Blue Blood’ Cruise.” Thus French newspapers reported that the king cheerfully drank a toast with everyone who approached him at the Hôtel de Ville, and L’Illustration, a weekly magazine, outdid itself with breathless praise for the king’s humility and magnanimity.

In the background was always the issue of security, meaning the German menace, as President Poincare obliquely hinted in his effusive official address on April 21: “After a long rivalry which had taught them imperishable lessons of esteem and mutual respect, France and Great Britain have learnt to be friends, to approximate their thoughts and to unite their efforts… I do not doubt that, under the auspices of your Majesty and your Government, these ties of intimacy will be daily strengthened, to the great profit of civilization and of universal peace. This is the very sincere wish I express in the name of France.”

But beneath the flowery rhetoric a great deal of ambiguity remained in the Anglo-French relationship, as there was still no formal treaty of alliance between them, leaving it to British discretion whether they would take France’s side in the event of war with Germany. It was by no means certain that they would.

A week later, on April 28, 1914, Grey seemed to throw a bucket of cold water on French hopes when a member of Parliament asked him “whether the policy of this country still remains one of freedom from all obligations to engage in military operations on the Continent.” In reply the foreign secretary coolly referred back to a statement by Prime Minister Asquith the previous year, to the effect that, “As has been repeatedly stated, this country is not under any obligation not public and known to Parliament which compels it to take part in any war.”

See the previous installment or all entries.

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Food
How to Make Miles Davis’s Famous Chili Recipe
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STF/AFP/Getty Images

Miles Davis, who was born on May 26, 1926, was one of the most important and influential musicians of the 20th century, and changed the course of jazz music more times in his life than some people change their sheets. He was also pretty handy in the kitchen.

In his autobiography, Miles, Davis wrote that in the early 1960s, “I had gotten into cooking. I just loved food and hated going out to restaurants all the time, so I taught myself how to cook by reading books and practicing, just like you do on an instrument. I could cook most of the great French dishes—because I really liked French cooking—and all the black American dishes. But my favorite was a chili dish I called Miles's South Side Chicago Chili Mack. I served it with spaghetti, grated cheese, and oyster crackers."

Davis didn’t divulge what was in the dish or how to make it, but in 2007, Best Life magazine got the recipe from his first wife, Frances, who Davis said made it better than he did.

MILES'S SOUTH SIDE CHICAGO CHILIK MACK (SERVES 6)

1/4 lb. suet (beef fat)
1 large onion
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt and pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin seed
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can beef consommé
1 drop red wine vinegar
3 lb. spaghetti
parmesan cheese
oyster crackers
Heineken beer

1. Melt suet in large heavy pot until liquid fat is about an inch high. Remove solid pieces of suet from pot and discard.
2. In same pot, sauté onion.
3. Combine meats in bowl; season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin.
4. In another bowl, season kidney beans with salt and pepper.
5. Add meat to onions; sauté until brown.
6. Add kidney beans, consommé, and vinegar; simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
7. Add more seasonings to taste, if desired.
8. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, and then divide among six plates.
9. Spoon meat mixture over each plate of spaghetti.
10. Top with Parmesan and serve oyster crackers on the side.
11. Open a Heineken.

John Szwed’s biography of Davis, So What, mentions another chili that the trumpeter’s father taught him how to make. The book includes the ingredients, but no instructions, save for serving it over pasta. Like a jazz musician, you’ll have to improvise. 

bacon grease
3 large cloves of garlic
1 green, 1 red pepper
2 pounds ground lean chuck
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 jar of mustard
1/2 shot glass of vinegar
2 teaspoons of chili powder
dashes of salt and pepper
pinto or kidney beans
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of beef broth

serve over linguine

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4 Fascinating Facts About John Wayne
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Fox Photos, Getty Images

Most people know John Wayne, who would have been 111 years old today, for his cowboy persona. But there was much more to the Duke than that famous swagger. Here are a few facts about Duke that might surprise you.

1. A BODY SURFING ACCIDENT CHANGED HIS CAREER. 

John Wayne, surfer? Yep—and if he hadn’t spent a lot of time doing it, he may never have become the legend he did. Like many USC students, Wayne (then known as Marion Morrison) spent a good deal of his extracurricular time in the ocean. After he sustained a serious shoulder injury while bodysurfing, Morrison lost his place on the football team. He also lost the football scholarship that had landed him a spot at USC in the first place. Unable to pay his fraternity for room and board, Morrison quit school and, with the help of his former football coach, found a job as the prop guy at Fox Studios in 1927. It didn’t take long for someone to realize that Morrison belonged in front of a camera; he had his first leading role in The Big Trail in 1930.

2. HE TOOK HIS NICKNAME FROM HIS BELOVED FAMILY POOCH. 

Marion Morrison had never been fond of his feminine-sounding name. He was often given a hard time about it growing up, so to combat that, he gave himself a nickname: Duke. It was his dog’s name. Morrison was so fond of his family’s Airedale Terrier when he was younger that the family took to calling the dog “Big Duke” and Marion “Little Duke,” which he quite liked. But when he was starting his Hollywood career, movie execs decided that “Duke Morrison” sounded like a stuntman, not a leading man. The head of Fox Studios was a fan of Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne, so Morrison’s new surname was quickly settled. After testing out various first names for compatibility, the group decided that “John” had a nice symmetry to it, and so John Wayne was born. Still, the man himself always preferred his original nickname. “The guy you see on the screen isn’t really me,” he once said. “I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne.”

3. HE WAS A CHESS FANATIC. 

Anyone who knew John Wayne personally knew what an avid chess player he was. He often brought a miniature board with him so he could play between scenes on set.

When Wayne accompanied his third wife, Pilar Pallete, while she played in amateur tennis tournaments, officials would stock a trailer with booze and a chess set for him. The star would hang a sign outside of the trailer that said, “Do you want to play chess with John Wayne?” and then happily spend the day drinking and trouncing his fans—for Wayne wasn’t just a fan of chess, he was good at chess. It’s said that Jimmy Grant, Wayne’s favorite screenwriter, played chess with the Duke for more than 20 years without ever winning a single match.

Other famous chess partners included Marlene Dietrich, Rock Hudson, and Robert Mitchum. During their match, Mitchum reportedly caught him cheating. Wayne's reply: "I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set 'em up, we'll play again."

4. HE COINED THE TERM "THE BIG C."

If you say you know someone battling “The Big C” these days, everyone immediately knows what you’re referring to. But no one called it that before Wayne came up with the term, evidently trying to make it less scary. Worried that Hollywood would stop hiring him if they knew how sick he was with lung cancer in the early 1960s, Wayne called a press conference in his living room shortly after an operation that removed a rib and half of one lung. “They told me to withhold my cancer operation from the public because it would hurt my image,” he told reporters. “Isn’t there a good image in John Wayne beating cancer? Sure, I licked the Big C.”

Wayne's daughter, Aissa Wayne, later said that the 1964 press conference was the one and only time she heard her father call it “cancer,” even when he developed cancer again, this time in his stomach, 15 years later. Sadly, Wayne lost his second battle with the Big C and died on June 11, 1979 at the age of 72.

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