Here’s an essay I did a while ago… it still applies. Sorry I’m being lazy on this holiday…
This is the Holiday which, as far as I can tell, is designed for Car Dealers more than it is to revere the men who made our country great.
When I was growing up we had separate holidays for Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday. They first honored the man who was our first President and who led us through the military activities of the Revolution. We also remember every year that he voluntarily stepped down after two terms when he could easily have become a lifetime American King. The second holiday honored the man who kept our nation together, freed the slaves and suffered assassination.
These holidays were originally held on actual birthdates, no matter where in the week they fell (Washington on the 22nd, Lincoln on the 12th). Then, as holidays and long weekends became inextricably connected in order to satisfy labor demands, they were moved to nearest Mondays on a regular basis. When it became clear from our corporate citizens (as defined by the Supreme Court last month) that we had too many holidays throwing business off… and wanting to make room for a holiday for Martin Luther King (highly deserved, btw), the birthdays of the two Presidents were combined into President’s Day.
Without a particular focus on a particular President, the holiday was easily co-opted by automobile dealers as the big sale holiday designed to get folks to part with money in the bleak month of February, thus cleaning out inventories before the Spring announcement of new models for the coming year. And that seems to be where we have stayed.
So happy President’s Day. Take the kids who are out of school with you to run around the showrooms (that will act as necessary protective measure… salesmen will get to their price more quickly just to get the little devils out of their sales area) as you shop for new wheels.
Have a good time.
I’m getting ready for a solar energy presentation at Town Hall this evening. Actually, that’s a good way to celebrate Presidents Day… energy awareness makes the country better.
- Happy President’s Day: Do You Know Why We Celebrate President’s Day, How it Happened or Who Invented It? (thehispanicblog.com)
- Presidents Day 2012: Fly your flag today (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
- Happy Presidents’ Day (geneveith.com)
- President’s Day 2012 (hamrodallas.com)
- Historic and Fun Couples’ Getaways for Presidents Day Weekend (redenvelope.com)
- Nixon, Reagan Libraries Mark Presidents Day Holiday With Special Events (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- When Freedom’s Ring Isn’t a Cash Register’s (cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com)
Did you know when the famous Founding Fathers were selecting a National Bird and the majority were hard set on the Eagle, Franklin made his case for the Turkey:
(another great graphic design by the late Herb Lubalin.)
William Michael Harnett, 1848 – 1892
The Trompe L’Oeil (“fool the eye”) Movement of the late 19th Century produced some of the most amazing paintings in a style so realistic that the images looked like three dimensional objects waiting to be plucked off walls. Of all the painters in this movement, William Michael Harnett, whose 163d birthday is today, was undoubtedly the most accomplished.
Harnett was born in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland during the time of the potato famine. Shortly after his birth his family emigrated to America, settling in Philadelphia. Becoming a United States citizen in 1868, he made a living as a young man by engraving designs on table silver, while also taking night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and later, in New York, at Cooper Union and at the National Academy of Design. His first known oil painting, a still life, dates from 1874.
Another museum with a great Trompe LO’eil collection, including Harnett, was near my Connecticut home… the New Britain Museum. This is in its collection:
So a Happy Birthday remembrance for William Michael Harnett, one of my earliest “favorite artists.”
Last night was Al Thomas’ Birthday Party over at the Folly, the wonderful timber frame performance area he built some years ago on Bradley Sanders’ property, surrounded by talking areas and wood benches and what’s left of Al’s giant trebuchet (which he says he’s going to put back together one of these days.)
Al turned 60 this week, which makes him 5 years younger than me and a person with so much more energy and personality, able to carry on discussions with anyone and loved by everyone, that I am totally jealous.
Elly and Bud were also at the party with me ( Bud stayed there till 1:00 AM… 1:00 AM!… when his mother picked him up and the party was still going on.) We got there around quarter past five and after 2 1/2 hours I was exhausted, so I talked Elly into going home (she was going to a 10PM showing of “Paris Texas” at the Opera House with her friend Joan anyway), where I went to bed (I had been up since 4:30 in the morning and could barely keep awake.
The music was great, the food was terrific and beer and wine flowed freely. By the time I left there were easily 100 people there… from folks my age and older to the youngest of children running around and speeding through crowds on bikes… and Elly said when she picked up Bud cars will still arriving as others were leaving. How folks close to my age can keep going so far into the night is more than I can understand.
My son says I’m not “social” and that’s probably true (Elly agrees), but I think part of it is that I can never think of things to talk about unless someone else and I are involved in the same project, and I can’t remember most names… even of people I’ve met only a day or so ago. I am so embarrassed about my inability to remember names and how it makes it hard for me to introduce people to my wife and son or others, that I avoid doing it… or I do “one way” introductions, hoping the person whose name I can’t remember coughs it up when saying “nice to meet you.”
As I get older, I’m losing my memory of other things, too… events, movies I’ve seen, etc. … and my energy level is dropping like a bag of stones from a bridge. I’m having more and more trouble losing weight as I get more and more sedentary. I only sleep in 90 minute chunks, so I’m up and down all night. If it were not for this blog, my podcast, and co-hosting for John Case on the Friday morning radio show, I would probably be in a coma.
I can’t figure out who I am at this point in life. Perhaps working on the Carnival project for August at the Folly will help me see who I am (and someday I’d like to direct some theatre again… there are so many pieces I want to do and no one, so far, interested in having me do them.
At least it is Sunday and I can nap the afternoon away.
Anyhow… Happy Birthday, Al. You are one of the people whose names I CAN remember and who I really enjoy talking with.
- Birthday Party (mistresssopia.wordpress.com)
- Forever I Guess. (hakolzeletova.wordpress.com)
- Desktop trebuchets for science classrooms (boingboing.net)
- 3 More Days to Buy an Awesome Trebuchet for $30 (awesomebitch.wordpress.com)
I woke up with Ringo’s words on my mind…”Will you still need me/Will you still feed me/ When I’m 64?”
I’m not sure what the answer is, but today I’ll continue hunting for a job… and I’ll write some more commentary for this blog… and I’m seeing John Case for a cup of coffee this morning.
As a birthday, this will be a dull one.
…and we’re heading for an all-vegan Chinese Restaurant we’ve heard about to celebrate. That probably means I won’t be back to the blog until later in the day… so checkin around 6 PM (eastern) and maybe I’ll have an update for you.