In case you missed yesterday today is the observance of Veterans Day, the American version of Armistice Day, it is a day in which we honor all those who have served in the military. If you know anyone who have served go and thank them for their service and remember that their families also deserve some of this thanks as well since no one serves alone. Sure this day gets lost in calendar and that is a shame if we as a nation could do something about that it would be wonderful. However I have little faith that members of Congress would do anything to make this a big day, it is nice that the NFL and other sporting leagues get behind this and take some time to honor the military. If one of the Air Force/Army or Navy football games took place on this day perhaps the general American public would make a bigger deal about it except for those wonderful mattress sales. Or even make it a day to reflect on how we can achieve peace as it was originally celebrated, or even create a Remembrance Day on the Sunday nearest the 11th like our neighbors in the Commonwealth. Sure we do this back in May with Memorial Day where Summer unofficially kicks off, but why not have a second day to honor them.
I just finished re-reading one of Tom Wolfe’s seminal works The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test which chronicles Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. It is recognized today as an essential book about the roots and development of the hippie movement. I was first introduced to this book in a seminar class in college where we were reading a book a week so my first read through wasn’t as in depth as this one, as I kept a book with me listing all the things and people to look up that I didn’t know about. ‘The book is a deep dive into the Pranksters life and mindset.
If you are a huge fan of American History this is a must read at least once, there is so much to learn in one book sure we know the overarching things the hippies existed and did LSD, but there is more to it than just that. The 60s were a complicated era and this is just a tiny look into but a piece of the San Francisco based counterculture group lead by novelist Ken Kesey.
Today June 12th is the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states. This happened only 50 years and that seems like a long time ago but it isn’t especially with the current state of things in the United States. The Loving’s story was most recently told in the 2016 film Loving. A simple outline of their story which takes place in Virginia Richard Loving, a white guy, falls in love with Mildred Jeter, a black lady, after learning that Mildred is pregnant they decide to marry. However, this is illegal in Virginia so they go to DC to get married. Returning to Virginia their home was raided Richard and Mildred were charged and sent to jail for a year, yet the sentence would be suspended if they left Virginia and not return for 25 year. From here the moved to DC but that didn’t last long as in 1964 Mildred wrote to Bobby Kennedy in protest of this, he directer her to the ACLU and as the rest is history.
It is a real shame that these individuals (Mildred and Richard Loving), this day or event doesn’t get remembered as well as other Supreme Court decisions. I grew up in Virginia and didn’t really hear about the Loving case until the film came out, so this needs to be remembered more than it currently is. Sure it’s great to celebrate multiracial marriages and everything that goes along with this but we all could do better
I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary film about the African American Experience in America. It is based on the James Baldwin unfinished novel, Remember This House, which was a manuscript which contained the personal recollections of Baldwin on civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. Now this should be a film that everyone goes out and watch or it should be added to like high school history classes. It could help kids figure out how broken the world still is even though “we solved racism” by electing President Obama. Racism will exist for awhile longer, but I believe that Rodgers and Hammerstein were right in their song You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught “that it’s not born in you, it happens after you’re born.”
The film itself was rather interesting as in most history classes that I’ve taken you hardly get to the Civil Rights era or they gloss over it talking about Martin Luther King and Civil Rights Act of 1964 in like the final weeks of class. So it was nice to learn a bit more about these figures Evers, Malcolm X and MLK. It is available to watch on PBS until the end of the month so make some time to watch it.
We already knew this was going to happen at some point as the Diet passed a one time bill that would allow Akihito to abdicate in June, but the Imperial Household Council has met and picked a date for the transition. Some time last week it was announced that Emperor Akihito will be stepping down and his son Naruhito will be become the new Emperor of Japan. Thus a new era will begin for the Chrysanthemum Throne. The Heisei period will end on 30 April 2019 and on 1 May 2019 the new period will begin. Akihito will be the first Emperor to abdicate since the Emperor Kokaku in 1817, Akihito will be known as Jōkō which is short for Daijō-tennō or retired Emperor. It will be interesting since it would be the first new Emperor that I will actually remember and perhaps with all the 24 hour news channels out now we should be able to watch it. Sure, Akihito’s enthronement was televised in 1990 but I was five and it would see like something that would be a must see event I mean they’ve televised several Papal events JPII’s funeral and both Inaugurations (Ben XVI and Francis) so it seems like this is something they will be going all out in covering. It will be an interesting period.
With Ken Burns and Lynn Novak’s new documentary miniseries The Vietnam War. I though it was the perfect time to re-read the seminal memoir of Vietnam. It was written by Phillip J. Caputo that came out at the time at the right time when America was turning the tide on how they thought about Vietnam. Rumor of War has been published in 15 languages and has sold over 2 million copies. When I first read it it was for school I took a class on the US in the 60s each week we were to read and bring in a book review on the book for the week and we’d discuss what them in class. So when I first read it I mostly skimmed it so to get through it in a week and wrote up a book review on it that way. However this time I got around to actually going through and read it, it was a plus to have all the knowledge from the miniseries fresh in my mind as well as some of the things I didn’t understand as well when I first read it. If you were intrigued to go any deeper into The Vietnam War A Rumor of War is the classic solider memoir and provides a unique perspective to the conflict.
Recently, I’ve been getting more into podcasts, sure I’ve been listening to Radiolab, Hardcore History and the Folger Library’s Shakespeare podcast for awhile now but I’ve added quite a few recently. First off is LeVar Burton Reads, in which LeVar Burton reads us a short story. People have described it as an adult Reading Rainbow, so take a chance and listen to it. I’ve added WTF with Marc Maron and it is pretty great as well. Maron talks with celebrities about a wide variety of topics it is sort of like a talk show interview but a whole lot better since it isn’t just a 5 minute segment plugging something new coming out. The ESPN 30 for 30 podcast looks interesting I’ve found many of the documentaries to be pretty good so I’ve added this as well but haven’t gotten around to listening to it yet. Also the Smithsonian has a podcast Sidedoor about different objects in their collection I’ve listened to most of these and it’s pretty great.
Any other great podcast to checkout and listen to?
ABC has a great article up about the meaning of Memorial Day, for many Americans it marks the beginning of the Summer with a cookout but that is not what the Day is intended to be. The Day began in earnest after the Civil War although there were local Decoration Days where people went and decorated soldiers’ graves with flowers. In 1882, the name what changed to Memorial Day it until 1968 it was on May 30th. In 1968 it moved to the last Monday in May. This has caused some issues for servicemen and women who believe that changing the date has undermined the very meaning of the day and caused it to be looked at by the general public lack of real observance of the day. This is a day to remember those who have died in service of our nation.
Last year we looked at Longfellow’s poem that remembered the day, this time around it Charles Ives. Ives was a modernist composer who I’ve never heard of before but in his four movement symphony A Symphony: New England Holidays the second movement is Decoration Day.
This past weekend we remembered the tenth year since the tragedy at Virginia Tech. It was a horrific day across the State of Virginia that day and in the weeks that followed. We were all Virginia Tech. One of the most remarkable things that happened this weekend was that the Yankees payed their respects on Sunday as did the Nationals, with a moment of silence before their games. There were small remembrances around the country but has anything really been done to make schools a safer place or get guns out of peoples homes. The answer to that is an emphatic no. There has actually be an increase in shootings at schools, gun manufacturing has doubled and we currently have a Secretary of Education in favor of guns in school for the oft chance of grizzly bear.
It was a horrible event and sure we all mourned for a couple weeks or a month and forgot about it, just like we Americans always do. I mean just look at the Sandy Hook shooting you’d have thought if something was going to be done it would have happened after this but nothing came of it. No real change has happened sure Campus Security has been increased where everyone now has their own alert program that sends out a blast via text and email about what’s happening on or around campus. Yes, this is a good thing but when will we ever take the time and ask ourselves do we really need more guns than people in our country. However, it doesn’t look like anything will be coming in Gun Control over the next 4 years at the national level.
Deadspin, the sports site offers lists every now and then the most recent one is about knifes, and it led me to their ranking of Popes and it is pretty interesting sure it’s an old list from back in 2013 after Benedict XVI abdicated but it is still an interesting read and I even had to go look up some of these Popes like Conon, Sergius III and Deusdedit. If you feel like wasting several hours on Wikipedia this weekend take a gander at this list.