Sunday, October 18, 2020

The world outside my window is draining its colour into memory. The grass has transitioned from bold green to a defeated yellow. Most of the leaves on the trees I can see are still clinging to their autumn spectacle, but a steady breeze is pulling that glorious display down to the earth. The sky seems to have surrendered its blue boastfulness and offers only a palette of uninspiring grey. So now the colour and light in the world must be cranked up from within. We must supply the roll to move this rock. Fortunately, we are well-equipped with all of this keeping us busy yesterday:

National Edge Day

In scanning the lengthy list of potential celebrations for today, the one that was to be celebrated by not consuming alcohol did not pop out as the first one I’d want to do. We’ve done sober days before this year, and for the most part they aren’t particularly interesting. Nor are they necessarily genuine, as we are both fortunate to not have a dependency on alcohol, and we can comfortably enjoy a drink or two the day before or after.

But this one struck me as particularly inspiring in its backstory. I’m a lover of music of most genres (bro-step polka honky tonk never really hit me right), and this is tied in with a musical subculture that doesn’t get a lot of press.

Yes, I’m talking about football punk.

Ten Yard Fight was a Boston-based punk band that had a decent local run from 1995 through 1999. Their twist was that they were truly straight-edge: they shunned alcohol and recreational drugs, and promoted a clean lifestyle. Clean, and blasted with the satisfying endorphin rush of hardcore punk. Football punk. Their name was no coincidence; they were legitimately an American football-themed punk band who used to perform in a mix of football safety gear and punk clothing. Which is all well and good, except that being from Boston they were probably Patriots fans, and the Patriots are the least punk-rock franchise in the NFL. If they were from Oakland, I might be tempted to hunt them down and give them a listen. Besides, it was the 90s – what could they rhyme with “Drew Bledsoe”? Maybe “Where did all the beds go?”

Actually, I did give them a listen. I checked out “Proud To Be Straight”, which features some great work by the rhythm section and a genuine hardcore vibe that did not blend well with my Saturday afternoon post-brunch feeling of chill. I also wondered about that title – I get that they’re talking about their pride in not taking drugs or drinking booze, but it could be misconstrued in certain communities.

No matter – it was the final concert of Ten Yard Fight (October 17, 1999) that created this day, for sober punks to cheer on themselves and other sober punks. So we listened to some punk and abstained from alcohol. It was life on the edge.

Black Poetry Day

A big ol’ happy birthday to Jupiter Hammon, who would have turned 309 yesterday, though I think he has passed away by now. Jupiter is the grand-daddy of African-American literature, having had his poetry published in 1761. He was born into slavery, and spent his entire life as a slave in New York. Fortunately, the Lloyd family who owned his parents (and by extension, him) allowed him to learn to read and write. Jupiter’s writings were often about slavery, but he was clever enough to write in metaphor and symbols.

It should be no surprise to anyone that the first published black poet was a slave. It makes sense, and it sets the stage for the great black poetry to come. I haven’t done a poetry day in a few weeks, but this one was too appealing to ignore. The perspectives of black Americans in particular, who have been under the yoke of some form of oppression and strife for the entire duration of their cultural existence, are the ultimate teachers. We pasty types can never know their experience, but through poetry we can try to understand.

I also read some work by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker. I also listened to some Gil Scott-Heron and Tupac last night. This was an enlightening little celebration.

If you’re looking for a little bit of light in your day, you could do much worse than perusing this piece by Langston Hughes, a magnificent statement on the current (still today) state of America. It’s my gift to my readers today – please enjoy and share it.

National Mulligan Day

For National Mulligan Day, named after the weirdly accepted method of cheating in golf, we decided we could either go back and re-celebrate something we’d celebrated earlier in the year and do it better, or skip back to some day we’d missed and knock it off in the present. I was ready to relive National Drink A Beer Day, because obviously that’s one that deserves revisiting. But that would have messed with National Edge Day. So much conflict to balance in this mess.

So instead let’s venture back to June, back when we were still in the first wave of this pandemic and speculating how long it may last. Now, of course, we’re well into the second (or even third) wave, and still speculating how long it may last. But on June 9 we missed the opportunity to dive deep into a very special celebration: National Lettuce Day.

Yep, lettuce. The most generic and oft-forgotten vegetable on the planet. Lettuce is one of the greatest gifts bestowed upon humanity by the Egyptians. It’s the baseline of a salad, the entry point to eating something green in order to feel better about that bacon-cheddar-double-burger and fries. It’s also a decent source of vitamins A and K, as well as folic acid and iron. It’s good stuff, though the tiny leaf you spread across the mountain of bacon on that burger isn’t going to save you from anything.

I indulged in this day with some delicious lettuce wraps from the Cactus Club Café. Lettuce doesn’t have to be boring. And, thanks to National Mulligan Day, and specifically to the Mulligan it was named after (there are competing stories – I won’t get into it), for giving us the opportunity to get busy with some lettuce. This is the magic 2020 was meant to provide.

National Fetch Day

I don’t need to get into the history of the game, or its positive benefits for puppy health and puppy-human bonding. It’s fetch. If you’ve had a dog in your life, you’ve probably played it. We have with our many bulldogs, but they usually weren’t in for more than a throw or two. It’s a lot of work. Liberty, on the other hand, loves to play.

We played fetch to celebrate; it seemed the rational thing to do. And we enjoyed it – it’s great to have a dog with significantly more energy than I have.

Today is Sunday, which means it’s tune out and watch football day. If we feel so inspired, we might dive into some of this too:

  • National Chocolate Cupcake Day. I should have probably given our team baker (sorry, Mom!) more notice for this one.
  • National No Beard Day. Will I shave my beard? The one I grew for a Halloween costume back in 2013 and haven’t gotten rid of since? No, probably not.
  • World Toy Camera Day. This day is already being stretched rather thin.
  • World Menopause Day. Nope. Probably not this one either. It’ll be a light day today.

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