Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! Don’t try going out to eat tonight—it’s going to be a mad house. Sensible couples will probably wait and dine out on a less sexy night, like Tuesday, or pick up Taco Bell.
We’re in the midst of a glorious four-day “Winter Break.” The great thing about teaching is all the bogus holidays. Valentine’s Day and President’s Day just happen to bookend the weekend, so why not turn it into a slightly-extended holiday?
In the spirit of Jay Nordlinger, today’s post is going to be a series of barely-related reflections, as well as some links to the stuff you should read or watch. Speaking of Nordlinger, how do I land a gig getting paid to write about classical music in exotic parts of the world?
But I digress. Here are some reflections on this Day of Love:
“The Future of Barbecue” – The inspiration for this post was a piece at the Abbeville Institute, which detailed the deleterious effect of “mass,” or mass-market, barbecue chains on mom and pop barbecue joints, as well as the tradition of community barbecue. It’s one of the many interesting chapters in the negative consequences of unbridled economic growth and efficiency at the cost of tradition and community.
“Shrinkflation” – Another SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive, this piece examines the shrinking size of beloved foodstuffs. Did you know a two-liter Coke isn’t really two-liters anymore? Ever noticed how Twinkies don’t seem as big as they used to appear? Well, in an effort to cut cost (and, presumably, to bamboozle consumers), many food processors cut the sizes of their products in order to hide cost increases from customers. I’ve had the gnawing feeling lately that the future we live in is far less amazing than it’s supposed to be; here’s another example of reality disappointing us yet again.
“Bologna” – I was really stretching when I wrote this post (just this past Friday), but, well, I love bologna. In our current age of hyper-politicization, even the sandwich meat we consume says something about socio-economic status and our outlook on life. Bologna is the humble mystery meat of the workingman, and I cherish its delicious, cost-effective flavor.
That’s it! I’m looking forward to stuffing my face with gleeful abandon over the next few days (you know, to celebrate the Birth of Jesus). Then I’ve got to reverse course; my jeans are ever-snugger, and my double-chin has slowly made a comeback. Yikes!
It’s been an eventful week. As the House was fulminating about Trump’s alleged “crimes,” I was playing a gig with our community jazz band. I play second alto sax with the group, but I asked to sing a song on this concert.
It’s long been a dream of mine to sing with a full jazz swing band behind me, and that dream came true Wednesday evening. I sang Andy Williams’s “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and was a nervous wreck (if you’ve seen the lyrics to that tune, you’ll understand why—what a mouthful!). But I got through it admirably enough, even with a low-grade sinus infection.
The gig was during the dinner hour at a large church in town. The first alto player indicated how hungry he was, and wondered if he could get a plate. I told him (unhelpfully) that I’d eaten a bologna sandwich in my car before coming in (which sounds like a joke and/or the most mundane, pathetic detail in the world, but it was true). All the old guys in the band—it’s a swing band, so there are a lot of them—expressed their enthusiasm for bologna sandwiches, and asked how it was prepared: did I use mustard? “Nope, Duke’s mayonnaise, with cheese.” Murmurs of approval followed.
The vicious plague that has swept through my family—and to which I succumbed late Tuesday night—seems finally to have run its wicked course. After being unable to keep down even water, I am finally getting back to normal thanks to plenty of rest and ginger ale.
Being sick makes me appreciate my health even more. It also helps me realize how much abuse I put this portly frame through—the bad diet, the long hours, the endless sitting.
But I’m sure all of that hard-won wisdom will dissipate by the end of the weekend, and I’ll be back to eating Wendy’s 4 for $4 meals and staying up too late. Oh, well—at least today the blog reaches 300 days of posts!
This fall, I’ve been hitting up a number of small-town festivals in an attempt to get out more to see the forgotten by-ways of rural South Carolina. I work pretty hard during the week (indeed, most of today will dedicated to finalizing first quarter report grades), so I’m making a point of enjoying my weekends more.
“Aiken Amblings” – This piece detailed my trip to my hometown for Aiken’s Makin’, a sprawling, two-day crafts festival that brings vendors from all over the Southeast to ply their wares. I have fond memories of this festival from my childhood, and it’s still a major fall event.
“Yemassee Shrimp Festival 2019” – This post is all about a long day trip to tiny Yemassee, South Carolina, for the Yemassee Shrimp Festival. The trip also included stops at the historic Old Sheldon Church ruins and St. James the Greater Catholic Church in Ritter, South Carolina.
“Candy Apples” – My paean to a typically autumnal fair food, the sticky, tart candy apple. We had some good ones last weekend.
In case you missed anything from #MAGAWeek2019, this week’s edition of Lazy Sunday is dedicated to catching you up on what you missed. But remember, you only get a teaser of each post; to read the full posts, you have to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1/month or more. That includes exclusive content every Saturday, too, like yesterday’s review of my trip to New Jersey and Coney Island, NYC, “Mid-Atlantic Musings.”
But enough sales pitches. Here were the highlights from #MAGAWeek2019:
“Alexander Hamilton” – Hamilton engenders a great deal of debate between decentralist Jeffersonians (such as myself) and centralists, but his influence on and importance to America’s early political and financial formation cannot be denied—indeed, it should be celebrated. Jefferson and Madison were probably correct, constitutionally, on the issue of the national bank—Congress had no explicit constitutional authority to create such an institution—but Hamilton’s financial reforms placed the nation on solid financial footing, ensuring the United States had the financial infrastructure in place for explosive growth and expansion.
“John Adams” – John Adams is an unappreciated Founder and Framer, though David McCullough’s magisterial biography of the second President of the United States has done much to lift Adams’s profile. Adams served the United States ably as our Commander in Chief during his single term, staving off a full-blown war with France while protecting American mercantile shipping on the high seas.
“President Trump’s Independence Day Speech” – On a particularly star-spangled Fourth of July, President Trump delivered a powerhouse of an Independence Day speech. Not only were the multiple flyovers of military aircraft impressive (ending, of course, with the Blue Angels soaring majestically over the National Mall), the speech itself was a masterclass in what I dub “old, patriotic American history.” It’s well worth watching—and reading my full analysis on my SubscribeStar page.
I’ve been writing all this week from central New Jersey. Other than a brief stay in Jersey City on a school trip to New York City in 2014, I’ve never really been to New Jersey. Contrary to my assumptions, New Jersey is not a dystopian nightmare covered in asphalt and broken dreams (although I’m told Newark is).
It’s Independence Day in the United States! God Bless America!
I hope everyone has been enjoying #MAGAWeek2019. Remember, you can read those full entries only on SubscribeStar with a $1/mo. or higher subscription. Your subscription also includes exclusive access to new content every Saturday, as well as other goodies from time to time.
I’m happy to announce, too, that I have my first subscriber. You, too, can support my work for just $1 a month (or more). That’s the price of a large pizza if you paid for it over the course of an entire year—you can’t beat that!
It’s finally here—#MAGAWeek2019! It’s the week of the year that we celebrate our great country’s birth, and I honor it with a daily post about a person, place, or idea that has, in its own way, made America great.
I’m writing this week’s posts from New Jersey, where I’m spending a week with my girlfriend’s family. Contrary to my expectations, the entire State is not a dystopian, concrete-encrusted urban hellscape. Its nickname, the “Garden State,” is apt: it’s quite lush, and there are horses—horses! It feels like South Carolina with less humidity and more crime and corruption.