Removing the eels once dead

By David Grima | Oct 12, 2017

Had a conversation on Columbus Day about the various efforts to rename this holiday Indigenous Peoples Day. I think the idea is completely tone deaf.

Assuming there is good reason to no longer celebrate naughty Mr. Columbus, on account of his unkindness to the locals he met when arriving in the New World, then surely there must be a better name than Indigenous Peoples Day?

It’s such a crackpot name, something invented in a social science lab located in the People’s Republic of Dreary Thinking, (wherever that might be).

Here in the States, we tend to think of the people who met Columbus as either Indians (because of how knowledge of geography in those days was atrocious), or else as Native Americans. Up the road in Canadia, they are known as First Nations. Nobody thinks of them as Indigenous Peoples.

Another generic way these early Americans can be known is as aboriginal people, using the two Latin words that I think mean “from the beginning.” But this is how the original Australians are known worldwide, so perhaps it’s not exactly suitable up here.

I am not getting into a debate about whether we should ditch the name Columbus Day. Rather, I believe that if anybody is going to use an alternative name it should be something much warmer than Indigenous Peoples Day.

In the politically impoverished and strictly Binary America we now live in, the instinctive tendency is always to go for an either/or solution, even to more complex questions than this. The possibility of finding sensible alternatives to the extreme positions taken by opposing parties is rarely considered worthwhile anymore.

Which is to say, what if there might be more than two possible alternatives in view at any time?

For example, many Americans of Italian heritage are fondly attached to the idea of Columbus Day, even if they quietly acknowledge that Chris was a bit of a rascal; while many others are deeply opposed to this and want to convert it to a commemoration of the original people. (See above.)

To me, this is an example of Binary America at work. We keep encouraging the creation of two bitterly opposed camps over a hundred different important issues, and then we almost enjoy seeing the two parties slug it out.

This is why we all so enjoy having a slugger for president, whether we are personally appalled (as many are), or if we are more friendly to Lord Prez Trumpleton.

Tell me if this is not the America we live in right now? If I’m wrong, persuade me and I will say so.

In the comparatively less incendiary matter of this holiday, my personal instinct is to settle the question by leaving Columbus Day alone and creating a new holiday for the commemoration of the original culture and its modern expressions.

Just let’s not call it Indigenous Peoples Day, for pity’s sake.

The neat thing about this possible solution is that we would all get a new holiday, of course! I didn’t say I was entirely unselfish in coming to this moderate conclusion. Hey, even we middle-of-the-road types are human too!

However, I do understand why some people only want absolute solutions to some pressing matters. For example, the pre-Civil War political compromise that admitted certain states into the Union as slave states and others as free was no sort of intelligent third-way solution to anything. It was a political and biological abomination, rather like genetically engineering some calves to be born with two heads and others with three.

These days in Binary America we tend to see everybody else’s ideas as abominations, don’t we? It makes me wonder how we will react when somebody really does deliver a genuine abomination into the political and cultural market square. What shall we say then, when we have already been quite prepared to respond to everything in extremis?

What words will be left to us then, to name the true horror?

* * * * *

Speaking of intelligent political discourse, I am sorry to see Mac Deford has retired his weekly column from the local weekly Fried Press. I will miss him, as I already miss Terry Economy in the Courier.

* * * * *

Attending the city dump last Saturday morning, we were confronted with a vast tidal wave of cut brush and similar yard waste looming over everything. Clearly, Rockland has been doing fall tidy-up in preparation for winter.

And after Sunday’s residual hurricane-inspired blow, there were many more broken branches lying in the streets.

The Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse, the feathered monsters that inhabit the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, spent the day being blown backwards in the sky over the breakwater. They made a game of it, the nitwits.

* * * * *

I see the Lime City is preparing for Halloween, with many yards already decked out nice and hideously.

Speaking of holidays, there are some people in Binary America who view Halloween as Spawn of Satan Night, and hold Godly events for kids at certain churches in holy opposition to the main theme of the evening.

Talk about getting it all wrong.

Halloween is first and foremost an old Christian holiday of relatively minor importance, to which certain deliciously morbid folk beliefs attached by more primitive versions of our selves still loosely adhere. For most intelligent modern people, Halloween is basically a chance to live for a few hours as though they were inside a comic book.

* * * * *

Speaking of holidays, and the excesses they occasionally prompt among ordinary mortals, I picked up a few books in the city library’s free-books box last weekend. One contains Colonial-era recipes such as this one, for curing people of too-much liking of wine:

Draw off a large quantity of the wine into a container, and in it place three live eels. The condemned eels should be left in the plonk until they are quite dead, although I am not sure the recipe says anything about removing the eels once dead. I will assume it means to indicate removal of the corpses.

Give this wine to the certified lush in question, and if you can get them to drink some it will cure them of liking wine for the rest of their days.

Sounds likely to be quite effective.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 13, 2017 16:53

Always an informative tongue -  in - cheek history lesson. You make me laugh and then think. That is a good thing for me to do these days as I retired into the fog of lazy living.

Posted by: Susan Barnard | Oct 13, 2017 15:35

Hi David, The republic of Genoa was part of the Italian universe, rather like Rome was. It's probably fairly safe to call him an Italian. Certainly people of modern Italian heritage think of him as one of their own. As ever, thanks for reading! David Grima

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Oct 12, 2017 22:07

Hi there D G


1] Columbus an Italian? He was born in the Republic of Genoa, left for Portugal and Spain.


2] Columbus never set foot in North America.


3] in North America we should celebrate Leif Eriksson.

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