"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." The Statue of Liberty (P.S. Please be so kind as to enter through the proper channels and in an orderly fashion)

Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple-Pie, And...Beer?


Homer Simpson

In the commentary section of the last post, Republicus assured Kelly that his chugging of tankards of heady green beer and his horizontal rowing of the elbows while ho-ho-ho-ing and his stumbling, slipping, sliding, and ka-splattering attempts at performing nimble step-dancing jigs on St. Patrick's Day were the "Patrickotic" (patriotic, get it? Yeah, ha ha) thing to do.

Indeed, what does an indisputable American patriot and arbiter of early American values--and virtues-- have to say about fermented barley?

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Benjamin Franklin
Yes. And speaking of the Greeks and Irish (as mentioned in the spoofing March 17 "Happy Saint Patrick's Day!" post), what do you get, after all, when you cross a Baltimore brewery, an ancient Greek bard of wine, women, and song, and an Irish poet?

You get the National Anthem of the United States of America!

"What?" you ask, "Is Republicus still drunk?"

Heavens, no!

To wit:

During the War of 1812 (which went on for a couple of years after 1812), Baltimore seamstress Mary Pickersgill was commissioned to make a flag for Fort McHenry (in 1813).

Her house, however, was not large enough for what would be a 42' by 30' flag, and Mrs. Pickersgill asked for permission to assemble the material on the spacious floor of a neighboring establishment after business-hours.

And thus the Star-Spangled Banner itself was born, but not in a Town Hall, or church, or even a farmhouse.

It was birthed in a brewery.

But wait, there's more!

That flag was delivered to General Armistead at Fort McHenry on August 19, 1813, where it was raised high in full view to greet the inevitable arrival of the British armada.

By the next year, on August 24, 1814, the British army invaded Washington and set fire to the city, torching the White House, the Capital Building, and the environs.

President James Madison, First Lady Dolley, and the cabinet were on the run as the city was set ablaze.

The flames could be seen from Baltimore.

But lo! Behold a definitive Act of God with a timing that could only make one wonder about the ways of Providence, Intelligent Design, and America's special place in it:

Just when it seemed that the Revolutionary War was not won, after all, but was merely Round One in a bout that was to end in a K.O. for the United States in a scorcher of Round Two that was the War of 1812, the weather suddenly changed:

It began to rain, and rain hard.

It became a torrential downpour, and the fires were put out.

Then came the lightning and thunder.

Lots of it. The kind that rips apart the sky and makes you flinch, and feel fear.

There was a guardian angel watching over the city, it appeared, and it must have been the apotheosized lightning-wielder Ben Franklin himself telling them to get out.

In case they couldn't take the hint, a tornado appeared.

In Washinton D.C.

During an invasion.

And before they could come near to fully carrying out a scorched-earth policy, they panicked, and got out.

That's Old Testament stuff, ladies and gentleman.

It's also American History.

The gods watch over fools, drunkards, children, and the United States of America.

Otto Von Bismarck

Onwards to Baltimore.

The British armada filled its opponents with dread. It had a rocket vessel named Erebus (named after the dark region of the underworld the dead had to pass before reaching Hades), and bomb vessels named Terror, Volcano, Meteor, Devastation, and Aetna.

On September 13, the fearless and widely-feared armada sighted Fort McHenry, and saw the flag waving over it defiantly.

It could just as well had been a giant, red, white, & blue middle finger reminding them that every word written in the Declaration of Independence was bloody-well meant.

Right. Commence firing, lads.

And a ferocious cannonading was directed at the fort that lasted through the night, determined to wipe the red and blue off that flag and just leave it a white one in the morning.

Shocked and awed by the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air, 35-year-old Irish-American Georgetown lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key saw it all from offshore on a British ship (where he was appealing for the release of a prisoner), and he penned in anapestic tetrameter what would become the United States of America's National Anthem (made official by Congress in 1931--after it was already made the anthem of the army and navy).

Key wrote a note on one of the two extant copies: "To be sung to the tune of 'Anacreon in Heaven.'"

Anacreon was an ancient Greek who is on the canonical list of nine lyric poets.

The melody of "Anacreon in Heaven" (and now of the National Anthem) was first published in England ca. 1780, probably written by British composer John Stafford Smith. The lyrics were certainly written by Ralph Tomlinson.

Both were members of the Anacreontic Club of London, and "To Anacreon in Heaven" was their theme song.

The Anacreontic Club was comprised of a group of wealthy men who met to celebrate music, food and drink.

i.e. Epicurianism/Hedonism.

The poetry of Anacreon itself emphasized love, revelry, and drinking.

i.e. Epicurianism/Hedonism.

Yes, good people, the tune of the American National Anthem is the very same as that of what was popularly known as a (British!) drinking song that celebrated hedonism!

Is it any wonder that Wahabbists in places like alcohol-banned Saudi Arabia view the alcohol-friendly--if not engendered-- United States (and now their ally, Britain) as decadent and/or wicked?

To them, Republicus can only, once again, quote this:


Homer Simpson


Blogger Kelly said...

Yes, our National anthum is a drinking song...sure beats having to sing Waltzing Matilda!

10:15 PM  
Blogger John said...

There's actually petitioning people who don't like the war-time imagery (because it glorifies war, supposedly, though it sounds more like endurance and courage under fire to me) and the fact that the tune is from a British drinking song (which the British sailors may have been singing on the way to Baltimore, though changing the words to glorify the enemy they attacked sounds like poetic justice to me).

Okay, so the army and navy sang it as a national anthem before Congress made it official, but that doesn't mean it's some militaristic, jingoistic hurrah towards imperialism (or whatever the hell the problem is).

They think "America the Beautiful" would be a much better anthem--except for the stuff about "God," which just might be worse than militarism.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

The Anthem, to me, sounds more like endurance under fire (as you say). Our country was born through war. The price paid for Independence was through war.

FS Key wrote the lyrics to a song that was familiar at the time. Who hasn't ever heard lyrics put to tunes we are familiar with? How many songs have we sung to the Yankee Doodle Dandy or Twinkle Twinkle little star or the Battle Hymn of the Republic?

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
But his soul goes marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah,
Glory, glory, hallelujah,
His soul goes marching on.

Most people don't even pay attention to more than the first verse. Our National Anthem already has the stuff about "God".

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

7:07 AM  
Blogger John said...

"Our National Anthem already has the stuff about 'God.'"

You're right, Kelly. Originally, it did, but several lines have been redacted out.

9:57 AM  
Blogger John said...

Thank you for my next post! :)

9:58 AM  
Blogger John said...

Correction: Not "several lines" redacted out, but the last three of four stanzas were clipped for the sake of brevity.

(and for the sake of the honor of our English uncles, the British)

12:37 PM  
Blogger John said...

P.S. Francis Scott Key was a devout Episcopalian, and probably disapproved of drunkeness.

Ben Franklin, on the other hand...

11:17 PM  
Blogger John said...

P.P.S. Francis Scott Key's relative--F. Scott Fitzgerald--also, on the other hand...

2:54 PM  

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