Here is your open thread for February 24, 2020.
Wishing a happy 73rd birthday to songwriter and Tony-winning playwright Rupert Holmes:
That video, with the campy intro from the Village People, is evidence that 1980 was still part of the ’70s.
I wrote about the song above back in 2015: “(I can’t) Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” defending it as a groovy, ’70s-swinger version of “The Gift of the Magi” as recounted by an unreliable narrator who’d found the love he deserved. A few days after posting that, I received a lovely, funny, charming email from Holmes himself, in which he advised against writing songs in the first person because too many people will, forever after, just assume those songs to be autobiographical. (I’m glad, at least, that no one who heard Holmes’ earlier hit “Timothy” — also written in the first person — and assumed he’d eaten someone in a caved-in mine.)
Rupert Holmes went on to win a Tony for The Mystery of Edwin Drood and to develop a prolific and accomplished career on Broadway that ought to outweigh thinking of him as the Piña-Colada-Song-Guy. He also created the television show Remember WENN for AMC, the first original program for the network then still known as “American Movie Classics.” The success of that show is what led to AMC transforming itself into the network that gave us Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead.
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was proclaimed on February 24, 1831, officially fucking over the Choctaw Nation who naively believed that sworn treaties, legal obligations, and sacred honor were something white Americans would take seriously.
The extremely one-sided Battle of Los Angeles was “fought” on February 24, 1942, when American coastal air defenses mistook a weather balloon for a Japanese attack and spent half the night bombarding an empty sky with gunfire and heavy artillery.
British General John Burgoyne was born on February 24, 1722. Burgoyne’s contribution to history was his plan to shock and awe the rebellious colonials in North America by capturing Saratoga, where he expected to be greeted as a liberating hero. It did not work out that way. (My ancestor, Matthias Clark, was an officer at Saratoga, so he was likely present for the surrender of Burgoyne and his troops.)
Abe Vigoda was born on February 24, 1921. I’ve read that he died in 2016, but c’mon — how many times have we heard that?
It’s also the birthday of the late pop artist Richard Hamilton. Here’s a detail from perhaps his most famous work, the cover he designed for the Beatles’ 1968 album, The Beatles:
Joe Lieberman was born on February 24, 1942. Lieberman is still alive, but many of the millions of Americans he single-handedly deprived of access to health care are not.
Shoe-salesman Phil Knight — one of the billionaires not currently running for president — turns 82 today. Longtime Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman — who has single-handedly done more than almost anyone else to deprive millions of Americans of access to health care — turns 78 today.
Edward James Olmos turns 73 today. George Thorogood turns 70. Feminist theorist Judith Butler turns 64 and Titanic villain and working actor Billy Zane is 54.
The late great Mitch Hedberg would’ve been 52 today. He wrote beautifully weird jokes, delivered them with an endearing awkwardness, and almost never bothered with segues. I wish he were still here, still doing that.
February 24 is also, apparently, celebrated in Romania as Dragobete — the unofficial first day of spring and a kind of local combination of Valentine’s Day and Groundhog Day. Folklore has it that melting snow on Dragobete produces water with magical properties. There’s no snow here today, so I am unable to test this theory.
Finally, today is Shrove Monday, a day in which we Christians are supposed to start shriving ourselves so that we’ll be good and shriven come Ash Wednesday. (My Reformed friends may object that we cannot shrive ourselves and that only by God’s grace can any of us be shriven. Or one might argue that all the shriving we’ll ever require was accomplished at Calvary. Fine, then, pray that God grant the grace for your shriving, or give thanks for the work of Christ to shrive us all. Whatevs, amounts to the same thing. As much fun as the various tenses of this archaic verb may be, today is a day we Christians ponder both our need for and the possibility of our shriving. Freely, freely ye have been shrove, freely, freely shrive. Shrive unto others as ye would have them shrive unto you. Etc.)
Talk amongst yourselves.