November 21, 2017

The Star-Spangled Banner.

The Star Spangled Banner is not a waltz. It’s not a pop tune peppered with screaming and “runs”, it’s not a ballad and it’s not some smaltzy jazz tune. You will not find it in any hymnal. To be honest, it’s a reworking of an English drinking song about alcohol and sex called “To Anacreon in Heaven”. It is meant to be sung at a fairly lively tempo and military bands still play it this way. Stop behaving like it’s gospel. It’s not. A performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” is not a religious experience in any way. Performers didn’t really start smaltzing out on it until Whitney Houston turned it into a hit record during the first Gulf War. The song, and what we do during its performance, is a symbol of pride. And for a country that prides itself on Freedom of Expression, we must remember that people express pride in different ways and for different reasons. The cool thing about the good ol’ USA is that no one has the right to dictate how we express ourselves. We bang our chests about our freedom, so it’s important that we respect the freedom of expression of every citizen. No president has the power to contradict that, not even an Orange-Tinted Julius Caesar wannabe that wants to control the masses down to a very narrow scope of what we should all be. Honestly, I grit my teeth through every hackneyed “jazzed-up” performance of the song but I still tear up. I find the meaning. I tear up because of what we have, what we had and what we’ve become. Not all these tears are of pride. We can do better. Anyone that thinks these are the greatest days of the USA must suffer from the Opioid Epidemic. Get help. But more importantly, make the country, and more importantly the WORLD, a better place. Skin color, race, sexual orientation, religious choices, abilities, disabilities: they’re all insignificant. It’s not difficult: work hard, give more to the community than you receive, love and do good things. No citizen of the United States is a dictator. And no true patriot would ever aspire to be.


Our local Mariano’s (supermarket) has a grand piano near the checkout lanes. When I first heard the piano music on our way into the store, I assumed it was some automated thing plunking out the holiday music the weekend before Thanksgiving, which in itself is an irksome thing because the hordes of people at Mariano’s at the time were clearly there purchasing food for their upcoming Thanksgiving Feast, not items for the frenetic exercise we call “The Christmas Holiday”.

I tuned out the piano.

As Earl and I made our way to register six, I noticed that the grand piano actually had an elderly gentleman installed on the bench and while he appeared to be three months away from becoming a Disney Animatronic Amusement, he was actually playing the piano and had apparently been hired to do so by the fine folks at Mariano’s. By the way, Mariano’s is nice but it ain’t Wegmans. Just sayin’.

So as we are standing there in line at register six, the guy is playing lively Christmas tunes on this grand piano, while I’m staring at our impending Thanksgiving dinner and hauling it out of the cart and up onto the conveyor belt. I’m not a fan of Christmas music to begin with but it makes me especially surly before the Thanksgiving holiday. Honestly, early Christmas music is a constant reminder that the joyous time of the year is now force fed to the masses through ads, sales, and constant reminders that you are a bad Christian if you don’t abandon your family at 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving to head out to the mall to buy lots and lots of idiotic things for your loved ones.

As we waited our turn for our impending Thanksgiving dinner to be whipped across laser beams and into bags, the elderly Billy Joel then crossed a line, a very deep line in the white sand, because we don’t have snow yet. He started playing “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music”.

I nearly leaped over registers six through ten and slammed the grand piano cover on his bony little fingers. “My Favorite Things” Is. Not. A. Christmas. Song. Yes, it has been performed as a holiday treasure (not buried, but it should be) for the past couple of decades because it talks about woolen mittens and brown paper packages. Yes, Barbra Streisand croaked it out on a holiday album. Yes, Julie Andrews sang it once with a Christmas Tree in the background on a kinescope black and white variety show in the early 1960s. But the fact of the matter is, everyone knows the song from the movie version of “The Sound of Music” and it’s used to calm a bunch a sea urchins down during a thunderstorm, which is wild in itself because I doubt that thunderstorm was the first thunderstorm to pass through Austria in the 1940s.

It irks me enough to make quote the Reverend Mother, “What is it, you cuntface”.

Do people really enjoy listening to holiday music before its time? I guess I shouldn’t expect anything less, after all, the National Anthem that we are all so worked up about lately is actually a drinking song called “To Anacreon In Heaven”. Said song is about consuming alcohol and sex. I’ve seen brides and grooms slow dance to Whitney Houston warbling out “I Will Always Love You”, a song about ending a relationship. “Born In The U.S.A.” is about the Vietnam War.

A song about calming down during a thunderstorm repurposed to be about the birth of Jesus? Why not.