Topic: History

Such desiderata of desiderata. Many antiquary. So curiosa. Wow.

Francis Peck - Desiderata Curiosa

Desiderata Curiosa: Or, A Collection of Divers Scarce and Curious Pieces Relating Chiefly to Matters of English History. By Francis Peck, M.A., 1779. Thomas Evans, London

Or, what do an 18th Century English antiquarian, an early 20th Century Indiana lawyer, Adlai Stevenson, Commander Spock and an obscure 1970s singer have in common?

Apologies for invoking the faddish Doge meme in the title of this piece, but it seemed oddly and counter-intuitively appropriate for a discussion of desiderata, a strange English word from from the Latin desideratum (plural desiderata), meaning: something that is wished for, or considered desirable. According to the OED, the first appearance of the word “desiderata” in the English language was in 1651 in the religious treatise Act of Oblivion, by English theologian Nathanael Culverwell. Culverwell employs a “book of life” metaphor for good Christians achieving the perfection of divine grace (emphasis mine):

Whereas a Christian’s life shall be set out in a new edition; for all errata shall be corrected. Every iniquity shall be blotted out, and all desiderata shall be supplied; the book shall become perfect, and be looked on as a fair object to all eternity

This is basically the same sentiment that returns nearly three hundred years later in the song “When You Wish upon a Star,” written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney’s 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio:

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

But let’s back up a bit. Francis Peck (1692–1743) was an English antiquary who published the book pictured above, Desiderata Curiosa, in 1779. An “antiquary” is itself a nice piece of antiquarian language, defined by Wikipedia like this: »»»

Vic Chesnutt performing his song, “Woodrow Wilson”

Picking up on the Woodrow Wilson theme from Martin’s recent post about Arthur Samuel Mole’s living photographs, here is a performance of what must be the funniest and most unusual song “about” the 28th President of the United States, by the late, great Vic Chesnutt. The song begins about 2:42 into the video. This performance was from September 15, 2008, in Castellón, Spain.

A beautiful recorded version of this spare song appeared on Chesnutt’s 2007 album, The Salesman and Bernadette, and features Emmylou Harris on background vocals. Incidentally, Woody Guthrie’s full given name is Woodrow Wilson Guthrie. So that’s another interesting Woodrow Wilson reference to contemplate.

Woodrow Wilson
By Vic Chesnutt

She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson
She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson
Presiding from behind prescription lenses
She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson

She said her mother act like a first lady
She said her mother act like a first lady
She’d been having those problems lately
She said she’s going to the clinic on Wednesday

She said her brother wished he was a negro
She said her brother wished he was a negro
Went to school in African-american studies
Once he had a picture taken with Adam Clayton Powell

She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson
She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson
I saw him once and thought he looked just a little bit like Truman
I know for a fact he has an Eisenhower ashtray


See a “living photograph” portrait of Woodrow Wilson: Crowdsourced imagery: Arthur Samuel Mole’s living photographs

Crowdsourced imagery: Arthur Samuel Mole’s living photographs

Mole&Thomas_Woodrow_Wilson

Arthur Samuel Mole and his partner John D. Thomas were commercial photographers who made a mark for themselves during World War I by creating a series of “living photographs.” These original “crowdsourced” images required tens of thousands of soldiers arranged to form massive compositions that when photographed from an 80-foot viewing tower revealed various patriotic images. Images includes the American eagle, the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. Army Shield and, as seen here, President Woodrow Wilson. The Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago has a nice set of Mole & Thomas’ work online including a pretty incredible print of “The Living Uncle Sam” from 1919. While there, check out the marvelous text paintings of Jesse Howard.


See also: Wikipedia: Arthur Samuel Mole

And: Vic Chesnutt performing his song, “Woodrow Wilson”

Diogenes, the original punk/Dadaist/Cynic, meets Alvin Lustig

Diogenes #3 cover - Alvin Lustig

Diogenes No.3, Summer 1953. Cover art by Alvin Lustig.

Diogenes is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers four times a year in the field of Philosophy and the Humanities. It has been publishing since 1953, when issue No. 3, above, was published, with a great cover by famed modernist designer Alvin Lustig  (1915-1955), who trained at the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles and briefly studied with Frank Lloyd Wright. Sadly, they no longer hire great designers to make interesting covers, as you can see on their website at the link above.

The journal is named after Diogenes of Sinope (412/404-323 BC), an ancient Greek philosopher also known as Diogenes the Cynic, and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy:

Diogenes of Sinope was a controversial figure. His father minted coins for a living, and when Diogenes took to “defacement of the currency,” he was banished from Sinope. After being exiled, he moved to Athens to debunk cultural conventions. Diogenes modelled himself on the example of Hercules. He believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his simple lifestyle and behaviour to criticise the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society. He declared himself a cosmopolitan. There are many tales about him dogging Antisthenes’ footsteps and becoming his faithful hound, but it is by no means certain that the two men ever met. Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace. He became notorious for his philosophical stunts such as carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. He embarrassed Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates and sabotaged his lectures. Diogenes was also responsible for publicly mocking Alexander the Great.

After being captured by pirates and sold into slavery, Diogenes eventually settled in Corinth. There he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates, who taught it to Zeno of Citium, who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism, one of the most enduring schools of Greek philosophy. None of Diogenes’ many writings has survived, but details of his life come in the form of anecdotes (chreia), especially from Diogenes Laërtius, in his book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. All we have is a number of anecdotes concerning his life and sayings attributed to him in a number of scattered classical sources, none of them definitive. [Wikipedia: Diogenes of Sinope]

Here is a cool (and funny) video — made by a “professional philosopher” — that provides a good overview of the life and philosophy of Diogenes:

Cynical fun with etymology

Because Diogenes believed that dogs were prefect beings, faithful and honest, always living in the moment without pretense, he earned the nickname “Diogenes the Dog.” The Greek word for dog is “kyon,” with the adjective form “kyonikos” (“dog-like”), which is the root for the modern name of his philosophy, Cynicism. Does that mean your dog is cynical? Yes, but not in the modern meaning of the word:

Cynicism, in its original form, refers to the beliefs of an ancient school of Greek philosophers known as the Cynics. Their philosophy was that the purpose of life was to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature. This meant rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex, and fame, and by living a simple life free from all possessions. As reasoning creatures, people could gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which was natural for humans. The first philosopher to outline these themes was Antisthenes, who had been a pupil of Socrates in the late 5th century BCE. He was followed by Diogenes of Sinope, who lived in a tub on the streets of Athens. Diogenes took Cynicism to its logical extremes, and came to be seen as the archetypal Cynic philosopher. He was followed by Crates of Thebes who gave away a large fortune so he could live a life of Cynic poverty in Athens. Cynicism spread with the rise of Imperial Rome in the 1st century, and Cynics could be found begging and preaching throughout the cities of the Empire. It finally disappeared in the late 5th century, although some have claimed that early Christianity adopted many of its ascetic and rhetorical ideas.

By the 19th century, emphasis on the negative aspects of Cynic philosophy led to the modern understanding of cynicism to mean a disposition of disbelief in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions. [Wikipedia: Cynicism (philosophy)]

So your loyal dog is a Cynic philosopher, but not a cynic. “Diogenes” would be a good name for him. Or “Alvin.”

Muse: Elizabeth “Lee” Miller, Surreal War Correspondent & Poughkeepsian

Lee_Miller_Dec_30_1942

Muse. 60 years ago today Lee Miller was issued her US War Correspondence I.D. Card from the United States War Department, The Adjutant General’s Office, Washington DC.

Lee Miller was born in 1907 in Poughkeepsie, New York USA and first entered the world of photography in New York as a model to the great photographers of the day such as Edward Steichen, Hoyningen-Huene and Arnold Genthe.

In 1929 she went to Paris and worked with the well known Surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray, and succeeded in establishing her own studio. She became known as a portraitist and fashion photographer, but her most enduring body of work is that of her Surrealist images. She returned to New York in 1932, and again set up her own studio which ran for 2 years and was highly successful. It closed when she married a wealthy Egyptian businessman Aziz Eloui Bey and went to live with him in Cairo, Egypt.

She became fascinated by long range desert travel and photographed desert villages and ruins. During a visit to Paris in 1937 she met Roland Penrose, the Surrealist artist who was to become her second husband, and travelled with him to Greece and Romania. In 1939 she left Egypt for London shortly before World War II broke out. She moved in with Roland Penrose and defying orders from the US Embassy to return to America she took a job as a freelance photographer on Vogue.

In 1944 she became a correspondent accredited to the US Army, and teamed up with Time Life photographer David E. Scherman. She followed the US troops overseas on ‘D’ Day + 20. She was probably the only woman combat photo-journalist to cover the war in Europe and among her many exploits she witnessed the siege of St Malo, the Liberation of Paris, the fighting in Luxembourg and Alsace, the Russian/American link up at Torgau, the liberation of Buchenwald and Dachau. She billeted in both Hitler and Eva Braun’s houses in Munich, and photographed Hitler’s house Wachenfeld at Berchtesgaden in flames on the eve of Germany’s surrender. Penetrating deep into Eastern Europe, she covered harrowing scenes of children dying in Vienna, peasant life in post war Hungary and finally the execution of Prime Minister Lazlo Bardossy.

After the war she continued to work for Vogue for a further 2 years, covering fashion and celebrities. In 1947 she married Roland Penrose and contributed to his biographies of Picasso, Miro, Man Ray and Tapies. Some of her portraits of famous artists like Picasso are the most powerful portraits of the individuals ever produced, but it is mainly for the witty Surrealist images which permeate all her work that she is best remembered. Lee Miller died at Farley Farm House in 1977.


Source: Lee Miller Archives

Muse: Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier, needlepoint enthusiast and fearsome foursomer

Fearsome_Foursome

The Fearsome Foursome: Merlin Olsen, David “Deacon” Jones, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier make their singing debut on “Shindig,” 1965. Los Angeles Times file photo.

Debunking Henry Ford’s “faster horse” quote

Henry Ford vs. Alexander Winton car race - 1901

Ten Mile Race between Henry Ford (in No.4) and Alexander Winton at Old Blue Ribbon Race Track, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, 1901.

Henry Ford’s most famous quote is often used to bolster the argument that innovation cannot be focus-grouped:

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

It’s a wonderful quote. But unfortunately, there’s no evidence that Henry Ford actually uttered those famous words. Patrick Vlaskovits, in a great Harvard Business Review blog post — Henry Ford, Innovation, and That “Faster Horse” Quote — does the due diligence to track down the source of this quote and determine its veracity, which he was unable to do. He also offers a brilliant lesson for innovators and entrepreneurs in finding the right balance between not allowing yourself to be dictated to by the potentially unthinking masses, and ignoring your customers completely. Vlaskovits advocates “continually testing your vision against reality,” something Mr. Ford failed to do.

Back to that photograph up top, that’s Henry Ford himself on the left, in is first and only automobile race, against Alexender Winton, in 1901. Here’s what the label says, and what’s written on the back of the photo:

Printed on photograph: “By W.D. Benham, Detroit, 1918.”Label on front: “Ten Mile Race between Henry Ford (in No.4) and Alexander Winton at Old Blue Ribbon Race Track, East Jefferson Avenue opposite present site of Hudson Motor Car Company. October 10th 1901. Time 13 minutes, 23 4/5 seconds, 45.33 miles per hour. Ford won. Lee Cuson, mechanic. 999 built 2 years later.” Handwritten on back: “Henry Ford, Alexander Winton, 10 Mile Race, Gr. Pointe Track, Ford won in 13-23 4/5, Oct. 10, 1901. For full details see evening papers of above date or morning papers of Oct. 11, 1901.” [Source: Detroit Yes!]

For Ford, wining this race “won him $1,000 and a cut glass bowl that he kept in his home as a trophy. Upon Ford’s death in 1947 the bowl was inadvertently shipped out and sold. When knowledgeable officials realized the tragic error, they successfully tried to track it down, but it was lost forever.” [Source: Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame]

A “tragic error” indeed. Who knows if somebody out there will drink holiday punch this season from a bowl that ‘Ol Henry Ford won in his first car race in 1901. He never raced again. Apparently, he found the experience of traveling that fast “terrifying.”

The Henry Ford Museum has a richly detailed history of this race and the car Ford build for it, which he named Sweepstakes: 1901 Ford Sweepstakes – The Race Car That Changed Everything.

Presidential Nicknames 1789 to Present

His_Little_Majesty_James_Madison

Villains, Steeds, Studs, Mobsters and Zeroes

Presidential Nicknames 1789 to Present is our follow-up to last week’s post, United States Presidential Pet Names 1789 to Present. With the election over we thought it would be a good time to get back to work on a long overdue project. That being finding an alternative to President Obama’s current nickname. Because, let’s face it, “No Drama Obama” is not really serving him or the country very well. So we spent an evening rooting around in the musty-dusty-attic of history in our favorite burgundy silk smoking jacket searching for the proper inspiration, direction and guidance to move this Obama brand forward to the next level of data-driven-win-win-best-of-breed-boots-on-the-ground-viral-customer-focused-next-gen-turn-key-plug-n-play-right-sized-piece of creative destruction.

After our research was complete we realized that most of the existing Presidential Nicknames fall into five conceptual buckets. They are:

  1. Less-Than-Convincing Superhero Names: Cautious Cal, Honest Abe, Mr. Nice Guy, No Drama Obama,The Liberator, The Trust Buster and The Phrasemaker.
  2. Less-Than-Awe-Inspiring Comic Book Villain Names: The Big Lub, Landslide Lyndon, Martin Van Ruin, The Rutherfraud, The Ancient One, The Decider, The Enchanter, The Gipper, The Human Iceberg, The Schoolmaster and The Walrus.
  3. Less-Than-A-Sure-Bet-Sounding Racehorse Names: Boatman Jim, Cool Cal, General Mum, Give ‘Em Hell Harry, His Fraudulency, Napoleon of the Stump, Stuffed Prophet, The Comeback Kid, Tennessee Tailor, Tycoon, Tippecanoe, Unconditional Surrender, Old Man Eloquent, Old Rough and Ready, Old Sink or Swim, and Poppy.
  4. Less-Than-Fear-Inspiring Gangster Names: Big Chief, Bullshit Johnson, Dutch, Gentleman Boss Arthur, Handsome Frank, Teddy, and The Rail-Splitter.
  5. Less-Than-Savory-Adult-Film-Stars-of-Yesteryear Names: Slick Willie, Tricky Dick, Uncle Jumbo, His Little Majesty, The Dude, The Era of Good Feelings, The Careful Dutchman, Young Hickory, and of course Old Hickory.

Here now is the full list of Presidential nicknames. Enjoy.

Nicknames of United States Presidents 1789 to Present

41 – President George Herbert Walker Bush.

43 — President George Walker Bush. Used to differentiate him from his father.

Accidency — President John Tyler, Jr. Tyler was the first president to be elevated to the Presidency by the death of his predecessor.

Big Chief — President William Howard Taft.

Big Lub — President William Howard Taft. Boyhood nickname.

Boatman Jim — President James Abram Garfield, Referencing his work on the Ohio canals in his youth.

Bubba — President William Jefferson Clinton. Common nickname in the Southern US.

Bullshit Johnson – President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Bull Johnson in public) Lyndon Johnson had a reputation for boasting at San Marcos College.

Cautious Cal — President John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

Chet — President Chester Alan Arthur shortened version of his name used by publications of that era.

Cool Cal – President John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. His reelection campaign used the slogan, “Keep It Cool With Coolidge”.

Dubya — President George Walker Bush. Based on a Texas pronunciation of “W”

Dutch — President Ronald Wilson Reagan Shortly after his birth, his father said he looked like a “fat little Dutchman”.

Father of the Constitution — President James Madison.

FDR — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

General Mum – President William Henry Harrison. As in the expression, “keep it mum”. Because of his avoidance of speaking out on controversial issues.

Gentleman Boss Arthur– President Chester Alan. The dapper leader of New York State’s Republican party.

Give ‘Em Hell Harry — President Harry S. Truman (also a campaign slogan)

Handsome Frank — President Franklin Pierce

His Fraudulency — President Rutherford Birchard Hayes. Because after the disputed results of the 1876 Election.

His Little Majesty – President James Madison. At only 5′ 4″, he is the shortest person to serve as president.

His Obstinacy — President Stephen Grover Cleveland. He vetoed more bills than the first 21 presidents combined

His Rotundity — President John Adams.

Honest Abe — President Abraham Lincoln.

Ike -- President Dwight David Eisenhower. Known for being in his campaign slogan “I like Ike”

Jack — President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Kennedy was usually referred to as either “John F. Kennedy” or “Jack Kennedy”, only very rarely as “John Kennedy”

Jerry — President Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.

JFK — President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Most prominent nickname and abbreviation of his full name.

Jimmy — President James Earl Carter, Jr. He was the first President to use his nickname in an official capacity.

Landslide Lyndon — President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Sarcastic reference to the hotly-disputed 87-vote win that took him to the Senate in 1949.

LBJ – President Lyndon Baines Johnson. He liked to be known by this abbreviation, which was used in the slogan, “All the way with LBJ”

Light-Bulb Lyndon — President Lyndon Baines Johnson. He hated wasting electricity, and would often storm around the White House shutting off unnecessary lights.

Martin Van Ruin — President Martin Van Buren.

Matty Van – President Martin Van Buren.  From “Tippecanoe Songs of 1840″

Mr. Nice Guy — President Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. Because of his clean-cut and non-partisan image.

Napoleon of the Stump – President James Knox Polk. Because of his potent oratory during his campaign for the Tennessee state legislature.

No Drama Obama — President Barack Hussein Obama II. For his perceived cool demeanor.

Old Hickory –President Andrew Jackson. Allegedly given to him by his soldiers for being as “tough as old hickory.”

Old Kinderhook — President Martin Van Buren. A reference to his hometown.

Old Man Eloquent — President James Monroe

Old Public Functionary – President James Buchanan, Jr.

Old Rough and Ready — President Zachary Taylor

Old Sink or Swim — President John Adams. For the speech in which he vowed “To sink or swim; to live or die; survive or perish with my country”

Papa Bush — President George Herbert Walker Bush. Used after his son George Walker Bush became the 43rd president, to differentiate between the two.

Poppy — President George Herbert Walker Bush. A nickname used from childhood on.

Prince Arthur – President Chester Alan Arthur. For his indulgence in extravagant luxury.

Rutherfraud — President Rutherford Birchard Hayes. Many Democrats did not consider him to legitimately to be president.

Silent Cal — President John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

Slick Willie — President William Jefferson Clinton.

Teddy — President Theodore Roosevelt. In the New York Times at least as early as 1900.

The Abolitionist — President James Monroe, For routinely bringing up the slavery issue against Congressional rules.

The American Cincinnatus — President George Washington. Like the famous Roman, he won a war, became a private citizen instead of seeking power or riches.

The American Fabius — President George Washington. For his Fabian military strategy during the Revolutionary War.

The American Louis Philippe — President Millard Fillmore

The American Talleyrand — President Martin Van Buren.

The Ancient One — President Abraham Lincoln. A nickname favored by White House insiders because of his “ancient wisdom”

The Apostle of Democracy — President Thomas Jefferson.

The Careful Dutchman — President Martin Van Buren. Van Buren’s first language was Dutch.

The Chief — President Herbert Clark Hoover This was a nickname picked up at 23 as a geologist surveying in the Australian Outback, but it stuck for the rest of his life.

The Colossus of Independence — President John Adams. Given to him by Thomas Jefferson for his leadership in Congress in 1776.

The Comeback Kid – President William Jefferson Clinton. Coined by press after strong second place showing in 1992 New Hampshire primary, following polling slump.

The Decider — President George Walker Bush

The Dude President — President Chester Alan Arthur He was renowned for his fancy attire.

The Elephantine Economist — President Stephen Grover Cleveland. Given to him by hostile newspapers during the 1892 race, by which time his weight had gone up to 250 pounds

The Enchanter — President Martin Van Buren.

The Era of Good Feelings President — President James Monroe. “The Era of Good Feelings” was the period following the War of 1812.

The First Black President -- President William Jefferson Clinton. Used by Toni Morrison in reference to the African Americans tropes surrounding Clinton’s candidacy.

The Front Porch Campaigner -- President of the United States Benjamin Harrison. During the 1888 election, he gave nearly ninety speeches from his front porch.

The Gipper -- President Ronald Wilson Reagan. After his role as George “The Gipper” Gipp in the film Knute Rockne, All American. “Win one for the Gipper”.

The Great Communicator – President Ronald Wilson ReaganIn reference to Reagan’s ability to communicate.

The Great Emancipator — President Abraham Lincoln. For the emancipation of the slaves.

The Great Engineer — President Herbert Clark HooverHe was a civil engineer of some distinction

The Great Humanitarian — President Herbert Clark Hoover. When the Mississippi flooded in 1927, he volunteered his services and did extensive flood control work.

The Great Manager — President Martin Van Buren.

The Hero of New Orleans — President Andrew Jackson. For his military victory in the Battle of New Orleans

The Hero of San Juan Hill — President Theodore Roosevelt. He led his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba in 1898.

The Human Iceberg — President of the United States Benjamin Harrison. He was cold and detached when speaking with people on an individual basis.

The Last Cocked Hat — President James Monroe. Because of his favour of the old-fashioned style of the 18th century.

The Liberator — President Abraham Lincoln. For the emancipation of the slaves.

The Lion — President Theodore Roosevelt

The Man of the People — President Thomas Jefferson.

The Master Spirit — President Martin Van Buren.

The Mistletoe Politician — President Martin Van Buren.

The Napoleon of Protection — President William McKinley, Jr. “Protection” meant high tariffs, like the one McKinley wrote in 1890.

The Peanut Farmer — President James Earl Carter, Jr. He owned a peanut farm and fostered this image in his early campaigns, as a contrast to elite Washington insiders.

The Phrasemaker — President Thomas Woodrow Wilson. Wilson had no need of speech-writers to supply his oratorical eloquence.

The Rail-Splitter – President Abraham Lincoln.

The Sage of Monticello — President Thomas Jefferson.

The Schoolmaster — President Thomas Woodrow Wilson. He was a bespectacled academic who lectured his visitors.

The Stuffed Prophet — President Stephen Grover Cleveland.

The Tennessee Tailor — President Andrew Johnson. He worked as a tailor before going into politics.

The Trust Buster — President Theodore Roosevelt. So called as a pioneer of busting business trusts.

The Tycoon — President Abraham Lincoln. For the energetic and ambitious conduct of his Civil War administration.

Tippecanoe — President William Henry Harrison. A reference to Harrison’s victory at the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe.

TR — President Theodore Roosevelt. He liked to sign communications this way. The first president to be known by his initials.

Tricky Dick – President Richard Milhous Nixon. From a Democratic Party ad leading up to the 1950 U.S. Senate election in California saying “Look at ‘Tricky Dick‘ Nixon’s Republican Record.”

Uncle Abe — President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a kind and friendly man who in his later years came across as avuncular

Uncle Jumbo — President Stephen Grover Cleveland.

Unconditional Surrender Grant — President Ulysses Simpson Grant. For his uncompromising demand for unconditional surrender during the Battle of Fort Donelson

Walrus — President Chester Alan Arthur. For having strange looking facial hair (mostly used or teased by children).

Washington of the West — President William Henry Harrison. A reference to Harrison’s victories at the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe and 1813 Battle of the Thames.

Young Hickory of the Granite Hills — President Franklin Pierce. “Young Hickory” compared his military deeds (in the Mexican-American War) with those of Andrew Jackson.

Young Hickory– President James Knox Polk. Because he was a particular protégé of “Old Hickory” – Andrew Jackson

Sources / Resources

Video: The PBS / American Exprience Presidents Collection

 

United States Presidential Pet Names 1789 to Present

President Gerald Ford and Liberty in the Oval Office in 1974

Silkworms, Tiger Cubs and Fighting Cocks 1789 to Present

With the 2012 presidential campaign winding down and election eve looming, we are all by now (save perhaps those mysterious remaining undecided voters) acquainted with the issues facing our country: jobs (the wonks suggest we need more of them), balancing the budget, foreign policy, immigration reform, healthcare reform, marriage (the pundits suggest we need less of them), Supreme Court appointments, energy policy, education and the very role of government.

But there has been one very important issue that has not received as much as attention as it deserves in either the “liberal-biased media” or “the right wing echo chamber” AKA “the friends of Fox & Friends,” and that is the all-important issue of which direction this country will go in selecting its next Presidential Pet. Will it be another four years of freewheeling “Bo the Portuguese Water Dog”? Or will we “Take A New Path Of Bold, Aggressive Change” and consider an American Bison, Boar, Bush Baby, Chimpanzee, Cobra, Cormorant, Dolphin, Echidna, Emu, Flamingo, Gnat, Hedgehog, Hyena, Jackal, Jellyfish, Lapwing, Lemur, Llama, Loris, Mallard, Narwhal, Oryx, Ostrich, Partridge, Platypus, Reindeer, Sand Dollar, Sardine, Shrew, Stinkbug, Termite, Vulture, Walrus, Woodpecker, Wren or perhaps a Yak for our nation’s new “First Pet.”

Such strangeness has happened before. Surfing the historical record, I discovered John Quincy Adams’ “First Silkworm,” Martin Van Buren’s “First Tiger Cub,” Andrew Jackson’s “First Fighting Cock,” Andrew Johnson’s “First White Mouse,” Grover Cleveland’s “First Mockingbirds,” Benjamin Harrison’s “First Opossum,” Theodore Roosevelt’s “First Garter Snake,” Woodrow Wilson’s “First Ram,” Calvin Coolidge’s “First Pygmy Hippo,” Herbert Hoover’s “First Crocodile” and George W. Bush’s “First Longhorn.”

And once our leadership has decided on a creature worthy of such a station, there will always be the name to consider. So, we have taken this opportunity to provide the next President with some historical context. Happy naming. »»»

Ngram slam: the Detroit Tigers beat the San Francisco Giants after all!

Detroit Tigers vs. San Francisco Giants ngram

Take heart all ye wounded Detroit Tigers fans: sweet revenge is at hand! In the truest measure of immortal greatness, the “Motor City Kitties” have trounced “The G-Men” by being mentioned much more in books of all stripes. The stark evidence is seen in the above Google Ngram of all mentions appearing in books in the Google Books corpus (over 5.2 million books digitized by Google) from 1958, the year the New York Giants became the San Francisco Giants, until 2008, the most recent year available.

So while us stunned San Franciscans do our best to keep chins up and host a “victory” parade and celebration tomorrow, Hurricane Sandy-splashed Tigers fans can rejoice in this more powerful n-gram victory. Oh well, at least we took the World Series, with whatever small consolation that brings.

Nicknames and slang of the Detroit Tigers

Detroit_Tiger_Paul_Dizzy_Trout.

Paul Howard “Dizzy” Trout (June 29, 1915 – February 28, 1972) played for the Detroit Tigers for fourteen seasons, appearing in two World Series, in 1940 and 1945 (in which he had an ERA of 0.66 in the Series).

I heard on the radio this morning an appropriate turn of phrase in lieu of  Justin Verlander’s (“The Monarch”) performance in yesterday’s Game 1 of the World Series, and it goes something like this: The are two types of ball players. Humble ones and those preparing themselves to be humbled.

Origins of the Detroit Tigers name:

There are various legends about how the Tigers got their nickname. One involves the orange stripes they wore on their black stockings. Tigers manager George Stallings took credit for the name; however, the name appeared in newspapers before Stallings was manager. Another legend concerns a sportswriter equating the 1901 team’s opening day victory with the ferocity of his alma mater, the Princeton Tigers. The earliest known use of the name “Tigers” in the news was in the Detroit Free Press on April 16, 1895.

The truth is revealed in Richard Bak’s 1998 book, A Place for Summer: A Narrative History of Tiger Stadium. In the 19th century, the city of Detroit had a military unit called the Detroit Light Guard, who were known as “The Tigers”. They had played significant roles in certain Civil War battles and in the 1899 Spanish-American War. The baseball team was still informally called both “Wolverines” and “Tigers” in the news. Upon entry into the majors the ballclub sought and received formal permission from the Light Guard to use its trademark and from that day forth it is officially the Tigers. In short, the Tigers most likely wore stripes because they were already Tigers, rather than the other way around which is the conventional story.

The “Tigers” name originates from the 19th century military unit that was based in the city and held the same name. They are nicknamed “the Motor City Kitties”, “the Bengals”, and “the Tigs.” (Via Answers.com)

Nicknames, slang and mottoes of the Detroit Tigers

AJax Austin Jackson

“Always a Tiger” — Team motto

Babe — Woodrow Wilson Davis

Battleship — Lorenzo Edward Gremminger

Bennett Park — Tigers ballpark (1896–1911)

Big Daddy — Cecil Fielder (1st base, 1990–1996)

Big Sam — Sam Thompson (outfilder 1885-1906)

Big Wheel — Lance Parrish (catcher, 1977–1986)

Bip — Leon Joseph Roberts (1998)

Birdie — George Robert Tebbetts

Blackie — James Francis O’Rourke

Black Mike — Gordon Stanley “Mickey” Cochrane (catcher 1937)

“Bless You Boys” — Rally cry coined (in sarcasm) by Al Ackerman, a Detroit sports anchor legend.

Bobo — Lewis Norman Newsom

Boob  — Donald Eric McNair

Boomer — David Wells (pitcher, 1993–1995)

Boots — Cletus Poffenberger

Boulevard Park — Tigers ballpark (1901–1902)

Briggs Stadium — Tigers ballpark (1938–1960) named after plumbing fixture manufacturer Walter Briggs, Sr.

Bucketfoot  — Al Aloysius Harry Simmons

Bumpus  — Elijah Albert Jones

Burns Park  — Tigers ballpark (1901–1902)

Butch  — Donald Martin Kolloway

Chick— Charles King (outfield, 1954–1956)

Chief — Elon Chester Hogsett (pitcher, 1929–1936)

Corktown — is the oldest neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

“Deee-troit Base-ball!” — A popular rally cry for the Detroit Pistons has also been adapted for the Tigers

Denny — Dennis Dale McLain (the last pitcher in Major League Baseball to win 30 or more games during a season)

Dingle  — Frank Donald Croucher

Dizzy — Paul Howard Trout (pitcher)

“Eat ‘Em Up Tigers! Eat ‘Em Up!” — 1968 rally cry when the Tigers won their third World Series

“Ee-Yah”  — Third base coach Hughie Jennings’ famous saying/shout

Fire Trucks  — Virgil Trucks (pitcher, 1941–1943, 1945–1952, 1956)

Firpo — Frederick Marberry (pitcher, 1933–1935)

Flea — Herman Clifton (infield, 1934–1937)

Gates — William James Brown (outfielder, 1963–1975)

Gee — Gerald Holmes Walker (outfield)

Gonzo — Luis Gonzalez (outfield, 1998)

Goose — Leon Allen Goslin (left field, 1934–1937)

Grandy — Curtis Granderson (outfielder 2005–2009)

Hammerin’ Hank — Hank Greenberg (1st base, outfiled, 1930–1946)

Happy  — Archie Richard McKain

Heini — Henry Emmett Manush (outfield, 1923–1927)

Heinie — George Schuble

Hippity  — John Leonard Hopp

Honolulu  — Johnnie John Brodie Williams

Hook —  Kenneth Wandersee Johnson

Hoot — Walter Evers (outfield, 1941–1952, 1954)

Horse Belly  — Joseph Alexander Sargent

Hotshot  — Edward Joseph Mayo

Hub — Harry Walker

Hurricane  —  Robert Sidney Hazle

Icehouse — George Peacock Wilson

“It’s Gum Time” — 1996 season late-innings rally cry

Jack — John Scott Morris (pitcher)

Jeep  — Donald Henry Heffner

Jo-Jo — Joyner Clifford White

Juan Gone — Juan González (outfield, 2000)

Kickapoo Ed  — Oron Edgar Summers

Kid Rick  —  Rick Porcello

King Kong  — Charles Ernest Keller

King Tut  — Guy Isbell Tutwiler

Legs — Richard Henry Weik

Lima Time — Jose Lima (pitcher, 1994–1996, 2001–2002)

Liz — Elias Funk (infielder, 1930)

Mad Max — Max Scherzer

Miggy, Cabby and or the Big Cat — Miguel Cabrera (infielder, 2007-present)

Mr. Tiger, The Line, 6, Big Al, Mr Perfect, Salty — Al Kaline (outfield, 1953-1974)

Navin Field — Tigers ballpark (1912–1938) named after Francis Joseph Navin principal owner of the Detroit Tigers in Major League Baseball for 27 years, from 1909 to 1935. He also served as vice president and acting president of the American League.

Nook— Exavier Prente Logan (outfield, 2004–2005)

Nubbin — Wayne Gaffney McLeland

Papa Grande (Spanish for Big Potato) — José Valverde (relief pitcher 2010-present)

Paws — The Tigers mascot

Phoenix  — Joaquin Benoit

Piano Legs — Charles Taylor Hickman

Pichardo — Osvaldo José Virgil (1958, 1960–61)

Pinky — Michael Franklin Higgins (3rd base, 1939–1946)

Plowboy — Tom Stephen Morgan

Prince — Henry Oana (pitcher, 1943–45)

Prince Hal — Hal Newhouser (pitcher 1939-1955)

Pudg or I-Rod — Iván Rodríguez (catcher, 2004–2008)

Red — Jerome Downs

Red — Robert James Wilson

Rip — Raymond Allen Radcliff

Rocky — Everett Lamar Bridges (infield (1959–1960)

Rocky Rocco —  Domenico Colavito (outfield, 1960–1963)

Rowdy Richard — Richard William Bartell

Roxie — Alfred Lawson (pitcher, 1933, 1935–1939)

Rufe — James Ruffus Gentry (pitcher, 1943–48)

Rusty — Daniel Joseph Staub

Sassafras — George Lovington Winter

Satchelfoot — Edwin Lee Wells

Scat — Frank Joseph Metha

Schoolboy — Lynnwood Rowe (pitcher)

Señor Smoke — Aurelio Lopez (pitcher, 1978-1985)

Shoddy — Alfred Shaw

Shotgun — John William Peters

Silver Fox  — Jim Northrup (outfielder, 1964–1974)

Skeeter — William Henry Barnes (infield, outfield, 1983–1994)

Skids — John Joseph Lipon

Sleepy Bill — William Thomas Burns

Slick — George Coffman (pitcher)

Slug — Harry Heilmann (outfielder, 1914, 1916–1929)

Sniper  — Doug Fister

“Sock It To ‘Em, Tigers!” — Rally cry used during the 1968 season

Sparky  — George Lee Anderson (manager, 1979–1995)

Stinky — Harry Albert Davis

Storm — George Earl Davis (pitcher, 1993–1994)

Stormin Norman — Norm Cash

Stubby — Frank Overmire

Submarine — Elden Le Roy Auker

Sweet Lou — Lou Whitaker

The Barranquilla Baby  — Edgar Rentería (2008)

The Bird — Mark Fidrych (pitcher, 1976–1980)

The Chosen One — Drew Smyly

The D-Train — Dontrelle Willis (2008–2010)

The Earl Of Snohomish — Clifford Earl Torgeson

The Georgia Peach  — Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb (outfielder, 1905-1928)

The Mayor — Sean Casey (1st base, 2006–2007)

The Mechanical Man — Charles Leonard Gehringer (second baseman (1924–1942)

The Monarch —  Justin Verlander

The Monster — Richard Raymond Radatz

The Pig — Henry Franklin House

The Roar Of 84 — 1984 World Series Champions

The Tabasco Kid — Norman Arthur Elberfeld

Tiger Stadium — Tigers ballpark (1912–1999)

Tigers — Established in 1894. They are the oldest continuous one-name, one-city franchise in the American League

Tigertown — was the first made-for-TV movie produced for the Disney Channel, produced in 1983 staring Roy Scheider as an aging baseball player for the Detroit Tigers

Tram — Alan Trammell (shortstop, manager, 1977-1996)

Tubby — Frank Bernard Reiber

Twilight Ed — Edwin Henry Killian

UUU — Ugueth Urtaín Urbina Villarreal (2004–2005)

V-Mart — Víctor Martínez (designated hitter, 2011-present)

Whit — John Witlow Wyatt

Wheels — Frank Willis Carswell

“Who’s your Tiger?” — Rally cry (2006–2008)

Wolverines — The Detroit Wolverines were a 19th century baseball team that played in the National League from 1881 to 1888

Yats — George Wuestling (shortstop, 1929–30)

 

 

Nicknames and slang of the San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants logo

In honor of our local team, the San Francisco Giants, and their amazing run to the 2012 World Series beginning tonight in San Francisco, I’ve put together an extensive list of Giants team nicknames, player nicknames and slang, past and present. (And to Martin, Zinzin’s resident Detroiter: the gauntlet has been thrown, in case you’d like to follow with a post of Detroit Tigers nomenclature).

  • Ancient Mariner — Gaylord Perry (1962–1971)
  • Baby Giraffe — Brandon Belt (2011–Present)
  • Baby Giraffe — Brandon Belt, Giant first baseman who sports a long neck
  • “Beat LA” — “As common a term as you’ll hear at AT&T park when the Dodgers are in town, the statement refers to the long standing rivalry between the Giants & Dodgers.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Beauty — Dave Bancroft (1920–1923, 1930)
  • Big Daddy — Rick Reuschel (1987–1991)
  • Big Jawn — Johnny Mize (1942, 1946–1949)
  • Big Mac — Willie McCovey (1959–80)
  • Big Six — Christopher “Christy” Mathewson (1900-1916)
  • Big Time Timmy Jim — Tim Lincecum (2006–Present)
  • Blackbeard — Brian Wilson (2006–Present)
  • Blockbuster — Marco Scutaro (2012–Present)
  • Bochy Ball — “Term associated with Giants Manager Bruce Bochy’s style of managing a team.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Buster — Gerald Dempsey Posey III (2009–Present)
  • “Bye Bye, Baby” — “The home run call of famous Giants announcer, Russ Hodges. Also referenced in the Giants fight song of the 60s, ‘BYE BYE BABY’”. ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Candy — Candido Maldonado Guadarrama (1986–1989)
  • Captain Quirk — Barry Zito (2007–Present)
  • Chief — John Tortes Meyers (1909-1915)
  • Chili — Charles Theodore Davis (1981–99)
  • Crawbaby — Brandon Crawford (2011–Present)
  • Crazy Crab — “During the early 80′s a mascot craze swept the world of professional sports. In 1984 The Giants joined in with a unique “anti-mascot”, Crazy Crab, whose presence was meant to mock the mascot craze by encouraging fans to boo every time Crazy Crab appeared. Although Crazy Crab only lasted for one year, he is infamous among Giants fans.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Croix De Candlestick — “Pins that were given out only to fans who stayed for extra-inning night games in Candlestick Park. Pins were seen as proof of being a die-hard fan.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • El Divino Loco (“The Divine Madman”) — Ruben Gomez (1953–1958)
  • El Gran Gato (“The Big Cat”) — Andrés Galarraga (2003)
  • El Tiburón Blanco (The White Shark) — Gregor Blanco (2012–present)
  • “Eliminate me” — “The term used when Kruk & Kuip use the tele-strator to scratch out a fan or something they disapprove of on Giants telecasts.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Fadeaway — A new pitch invented by Christy Mathewson (1900-1916), which later became known as the screwball.
  • Flakey / Flake — Jackie Brandt (1956, 1958-1959)
  • “Got Heeem’” — An expression coined by Giants pitcher Brian Wilson, employed, for instance, when an opposing baserunner is caught stealing.
  • “Grab Some Pine, Meat” — “Popularized by Giants announcer and former Giants starting pitcher, Mike Krukow. It is used as a way of telling a player to go sit on the bench after striking out.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • HacMan / Hackman — Jeffrey Leonard (1977–90)
  • Hendu — Dave Henderson (1981–94)
  • “Hey, Meat” — “A term for a ballplayer, shortened from ‘Grab some pine, meat’ [above].” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Hillbilly Machiavelli — Roger Craig (1985–1992)
  • “Humm Baby” — “The Rally cry of former Giants Manger Roger Craig, originated in the 1987 season, leading the Giants to a NL West Division Crown.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Iron Man — Joe McGinnity (1902–1908)
  • King Carl — Carl Hubbell (1928-193)
  • Kung Fu Panda — Pablo Sandoval (2008–Present); named by teammate Barry Zito for his rotund build and loveable nature.
  • Los Gigantes — Spanish for Giants. Used on the team’s uniform on Cinco de Mayo of 2007.
  • Mac — Willie McCovey (1959–80)
  • Mandrake the Magician — Don Mueller (1948–1957)
  • Master Melvin — Melvin Thomas Ott (1926–1947)
  • Matt the Bat — Matt Williams (1987–1996)
  • McCovey Cove — The unofficial name of “the body of water beyond the right field wall of AT&T Park. Named after Giants Hall of Fame 1st Baseman, Willie McCovey, who was one of the most feared left-handed power hitters of all time.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • McCovey Point — At the northeastern portion of the China Basin Park, San Francisco, overlooking McCovey Cove.
  • Moon Man — Greg Minton (1975–1987)
  • Nenth Inning — When closer Robb “The Terminator” Nen (1998–2002) entered the game
  • One Flap Down — “Nickname for former Giant Jeffrey Leonard originating from his home run trot where he would leave one arm hanging downward as if motionless.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Orange Friday — “Giants fans wear orange on Fridays during the season to show support for their Giants. You can see orange throughout the city of San Francisco on Friday, whether the team is home or away.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Orator Jim — James Henry O’Rourke (1885 – 1892, 1904)
  • Pat The Bat — Pat Burrell (2010–2011)
  • Patty Baseball — Pat Burrell (2010–2011)
  • Penitentiary Face — Jeffrey Leonard (1977–90)
  • Planet Zito — Barry Zito (2007–Present)
  • Rags — Dave Righetti (1979–95, coach 2000–present)
  • Red Ass — Gaylord Perry (1962–1971)
  • REDACTED — All slang related to disgraced performance-enhancing drug-using Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera: “Got Melk?” has become “Got Juice?,” “Bad Melk” or “Spoiled Melk.”
  • Rube — Richard William Marquard (1908-1915)
  • Sarge — Gary Matthews (1972–87)
  • Shooter — Rodney Roy “Rod” Beck (1991–1997)
  • Shotgun — Matt Cain (2005–present)
  • Silent Mike — Mike Tiernan (1887–1899)
  • Smiling Mickey — Michael Francis Welch (1883-1892)
  • Splash Hit — “Name for a home run that lands into McCovey Cove.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Stamos — Brandon Crawford (2011–Present)
  • Stonewall — Travis Jackson (1922–1936)
  • Stretch — “Nickname for Giants Willie McCovey [1959–80] earned because of his ability to catch hide and wide throws to first baseman.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • The Baby Bull — Orlando Cepeda (1958–1966)
  • The Barry Shift — “A common sight when Barry Bonds [was] at bat, it is when the opposing team shifts its defensive allingment so that the shortstop and center fielder are playing on the right half of the field, the third baseman is playing near shortstop and the left fielder is almost in center field.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • The Bay Bombers — A geographic nickname, alluding to San Francisco, which is situated by the SF Bay.
  • The Bays — Short version of The Bay Bombers.
  • The Count of Montefusco — John Montefusco (1974–1980)
  • The Fordham Flash — Frankie Frisch (1919–1926)
  • The Franchise — Tim Lincecum (2006–Present)
  • The Freak — Tim Lincecum (2006–Present)
  • The G-Men — A Giants team nickname and reference to nickname for a government agent.
  • The Gnats — Used by Giants detractors, especially Dodgers and Athletics fans.
  • The Gyros — A Giants team nickname
  • The Horse — Matt Cain (2005–present)
  • The Jints (rhymes with “pints”, not “mints”) — Slang version of “Giants”
  • The Lord / The Lord Voldemort — Barry Bonds (1993-2007)
  • The Machine — Pat Burrell (2010–2011) and Brian Wilson (2006–Present)
  • The Meal Ticket — Carl Hubbell (1928-193)
  • The Old Flash — Frankie Frisch (1919–1926)
  • The Orange and Black — Reference to the team’s colors.
  • The Orange Giants — Reference to the team’s colors.
  • The Orange Nation — Reference to the team’s colors.
  • The Rajah — Rogers Hornsby (1927)
  • The Say Hey Kid — “Nickname for Giants legend Willie Mays [1951–73] originated because when he first came up to the Majors he didn’t know everyone’s name so he always used to call out ‘say hey’ to everyone.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • The Staten Island Scot — Bobby Thomson (1957) (Hitter of “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” the most famous single hit in Baseball history)
  • The Stick — Candlestick, in San Francisco, home of the SF 49ers and Giants.
  • The Terminator — Robb Nen (1998–2002)
  • The Willie — “Nickname for the statue of Willie Mays found in Willie Mays Plaza. A popular meeting destination before and after Giants games.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • The Year of the Fox — “The nickname refers to the 1971 team that, after finishing in 3rd place the year before, surprised the baseball world and unexpectedly captured the Western Division Title. Led by manager Charlie Fox, the mix of aging stars and rising youngsters snuck up on the baseball world, much like a fox.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • Tito — Rigoberto (Peat) Fuentes (1965–78)
  • Triples Alley — “The large gap in right center field as formed by the sharp deepening of the fence wall. When a ball is hit in this area it usually results in a triple for the batter.” ~Giants Speakipedia
  • “UUUU – RIBE!” — Chant by Giants fans for Jose Uribe (1985-1992)
  • Will The Thrill — Will Clark (1986–2000)
  • Woody — Kirk Rueter (1996–2005)

Lemay, Hound Dogs and Buff

Sterling Hayden as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper

Sterling Hayden as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper. From Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, commonly known as Dr. Strangelove. Directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick.

When I was in grade school I would occasionally present my father opportunities to practice parental discipline, typically as a result of my poor behavior at school. My father never used a probation, curfew or belt in any effort to correct my conduct. Instead, his Red Right Hand would point to the array of thick ivory, green and gold volumes of The World Book Encyclopedia and request a three-page-single-spaced-to-be-reviewed-prior-to-bedtime “book report.” The topic of this report would be of my own choosing. I think my father preferred that I develop a skill for self-administered discipline / self-flagellation, and this way he could never be called-out as the bad guy, and I recall learning a great deal about everything from flesh-preserving mummification to the flesh-eating Piranha as a result of these reports.

One report was administered for forging my mother’s signature on a note to her from my teacher requiring her acknowledgement that I had been a disturbance in class. My mother, I reasoned, had no time to waste on such trivial matters, so I took it upon my self to deal with this on my own. This second grade forgery was less than convincing, and as a result I needed to face the family magistrate.

Not a lot of thought usually went into picking a topic for such reports. I was a curious kid and everything was pretty much a mystery. But I had a particular fascination with flight and aviation at that stage of my life. My father was in the Air Force during the tail end of Korean War and I recall him spinning tales about his exploits serving as a hydraulic mechanic at Wheelus Air Base in Libya and later at Castle Air Force Base in California. At Castle, according to my father, he was personally picked off the flight line by the commander of The 93d Bombardment Wing to work on a classified top-secret Strategic Air Command (SAC) project involving the Boeing B-52 bomber.

The following is a dramatic re-enactment: Cut to long shot of an USAF airfield. A VIP Jeep adorned with four-star flags comes racing toward a group of airman working on a parked jet. The Jeep slams on its breaks in-front of saluting airmen. From the backseat of the Jeep a cigar-chomping general barks, “Which one of you knows how to draw pretty pictures?” My father drops a greasy rag and steps forward, “That would be me sir.” “Fine” snorts the general. (Casting suggestion/note: see attached photo of General Curtis E. LeMay, father of the Strategic Air Command, for reference. I think Stanley Kubrick did a great job of casting Sterling Hayden as Lemay’s stand-in in Dr.Strangelove.) “I guess you will do, jump in….” The jeep lunges forward and races across the tarmac as a gaggle of fighter jets climb sharply on takeoff overhead.

More accurately I believe my father was reassigned to the air force equivalent of the AV Dept (audio visual department). His “classified” assignment was to render overhead slide presentations for public relations purposes. The Boeing B-52 bomber was first deployed to Castle AFB in 1956. Ten years later it was supporting ground combat operations in Vietnam, appearing as a graphic for the nightly news, and serving as a convenient topic for a three-page-single-spaced-to-be-reviewed-prior-to-bedtime “book report.”

I still can recall a few facts from that report. Official USAF nickname: Stratofortress. Role: Strategic bomber. Engine type: Pratt & Whitney JT3D. Flyway cost: 10 Million each. Armament: 500 lb. bombs or Hound Dog missiles. Produced from 1952 to 1962. But what is truly amazing is that in age when technology has a shelf life of months or weeks, here is an exemplary airframe that has been soldiering-on for over sixty years. In fact, after planned upgrades for the current fleet, the USAF intends to keep the B-52H in service until 2045, which is nearly 90 years of military service! How may Model T’s do you see on the road today?

Something I learned today about the B-52: “Its Stratofortress name is rarely used outside of official contexts; it has been referred to by Air Force personnel as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat/Flying Fucker/Fellow)” (Wikipedia B-52 page).

Happy 100th birthday, Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie birthplace - Okemah, Oklahoma

Woody Guthrie’s birthplace, Okemah, Oklahoma. Photograph by Walter Smalling, October 1979.

The great American folk singer Woody Guthrie was born 100 years ago today, on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma. He was named Woodrow Wilson Guthrie after the President, nearly eight months before Woodrow Wilson was sworn into office. Woody was always a little ahead of his time, but also very much of it. Here is a video of Woody Guthrie performing–and being recorded directly to vinyl–the song Ranger’s Command in 1945, one of only two purported surviving film clips of Woody Guthrie performing:

The Atlantic published an article this week, Why Woody Guthrie Endures, that provides a good synopsis of the singer, his life, music, and legacy. Guthrie died in 1967 after a 15-year battle with Huntington’s Disease, but not before he passed his legacy onto a new generation, led by Bob Dylan, who visited Guthrie many times in the hospital where Woody lived most of those last fifteen years. Their meetings were faithfully reproduced on Saturday Night Live, seen here and helpfully subtitled in Spanish:

Happy birthday, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie. This land is your land.

Neil Young’s Americana: God Save The Queen / My Country Tis of Thee

This song is from Neil Young’s new album, Americana, which just came out this week. It features Neil Young and Crazy Horse cover versions of 11 classic Americana folk songs that many of us grew up singing: Oh Susannah, Clementine, Tom Dula, Gallows Pole, Get A Job, Travel On, High Flyin’ Bird, Jesus’ Chariot, This Land Is Your Land, Wayfarin’ Stranger, and God Save The Queen. Or, I should say, we grew up singing the sanitized versions of many of these songs, which are considerably richer and darker in their original lyrics, as Young sings them.

You might wonder why an album of Americana includes “God Save The Queen,” the national anthem of the country whose yoke the United States threw off over 200 years ago. Well, for one thing, “Americana” as an idea or regional identifier includes all of North America, not just the U.S., and as a Canadian Young grew up singing “God Save the Queen” every day in school. In the U.S., of course, our national anthem is “The Star Spangled Banner,” but prior to 1931 the national anthem of the United States was “My Country Tis of Thee,” sung to the tune of, you guessed it, “God Save The Queen.” Neil Young ends Americana with his version of  “God Save The Queen,” seen above, which morphs half way through into “My Country Tis of Thee,” the vintage footage along with the lyrics shifting to a decidedly different set of national archetypes. For England, the images are about authority, tradition, pomp and circumstance; for the Americas, they are about freedom, liberty, manifest destiny, and rugged individualism. Together, song + video, it makes a wonderful backhanded compliment our British cousins, a  fitting American tribute song for the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee this week, celebrating her 60th year as reigning monarch of Britain.

You can watch a long video on the home page of the Neil Young website that features all the songs on the album, with fantastic vintage film footage used throughout. And check out the Fresh Air interview with Neil Young that aired yesterday.

Here’s a little background history of these two famous songs, from Wikipedia, followed by the lyrics to the two songs presented side-by-side, so you can sing along at home and compare and contrast:

God Save the Queen

“God Save the Queen” (alternatively “God Save the King”) is an anthem used in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown Dependencies. The words and title are adapted to the gender of the current monarch, e.g. replacing “King” with “Queen”, “he” with “she”, and so forth when a queen reigns. It is the de facto British national anthem and of some British territories.

My Country, ‘Tis of Thee

“My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” also known as “America,” is an American patriotic song, whose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith. The melody used is the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen,” arranged by Thomas Arne and used by many members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The song served as a de facto national anthem of the United States before the adoption of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the official anthem in 1931.

Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” in 1831, while a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. His friend Lowell Mason had asked him to translate the lyrics in some German school songbooks or to write new lyrics. A melody in Muzio Clementi’s Symphony No. 3 caught his attention. Rather than translating the lyrics from German, Smith wrote his own American patriotic hymn to the melody completing the lyrics in thirty minutes.

Smith gave Mason the lyrics he had written and the song was first performed in public on July 4, 1831, at a children’s Independence Day celebration at Park Street Church in Boston. First publication of “America” was in 1832.

God Save the Queen My Country Tis of Thee
1
God save our gracious Queen
Long live our noble Queen
God save the Queen
Send her victorious
Happy and glorious
Long to reign over us
God save the Queen

2
O Lord our God arise
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall
Confound their politics
Frustrate their knavish tricks
On Thee our hopes we fix
God save us all

3
Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour
Long may she reign
May she defend our laws
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen

4
Not in this land alone
But be God’s mercies known
From shore to shore
Lord make the nations see
That men should brothers be
And form one family
The wide world over

5
From every latent foe
From the assassins blow
God save the Queen
O’er her thine arm extend
For Britain’s sake defend
Our mother, prince, and friend
God save the Queen

1
My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!

2
My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

3
Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

4
Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

Additional verse to celebrate Washington’s Centennial:

5
Our joyful hearts today,
Their grateful tribute pay,
Happy and free,
After our toils and fears,
After our blood and tears,
Strong with our hundred years,
O God, to Thee.

Additional verses by Henry van Dyke

6
We love thine inland seas,
Thy groves and giant trees,
Thy rolling plains;
Thy rivers’ mighty sweep,
Thy mystic canyons deep,
Thy mountains wild and steep,–
All thy domains.

7
Thy silver Eastern strands,
Thy Golden Gate that stands
Fronting the West;
Thy flowery Southland fair,
Thy North’s sweet, crystal air:
O Land beyond compare,
We love thee best!

Additional Abolitionist verses, 1843, A. G. Duncan

8
My country, ’tis of thee,
Stronghold of slavery, of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Where men man’s rights deride,
From every mountainside thy deeds shall ring!

9
My native country, thee,
Where all men are born free, if white’s their skin;
I love thy hills and dales,
Thy mounts and pleasant vales;
But hate thy negro sales, as foulest sin.

10
Let wailing swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees the black man’s wrong;
Let every tongue awake;
Let bond and free partake;
Let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

11
Our father’s God! to thee,
Author of Liberty, to thee we sing;
Soon may our land be bright,
With holy freedom’s right,
Protect us by thy might, Great God, our King.

12
It comes, the joyful day,
When tyranny’s proud sway, stern as the grave,
Shall to the ground be hurl’d,
And freedom’s flag, unfurl’d,
Shall wave throughout the world, O’er every slave.

13
Trump of glad jubilee!
Echo o’er land and sea freedom for all.
Let the glad tidings fly,
And every tribe reply,
“Glory to God on high,” at Slavery’s fall.

Like most folk music, “My Country Tis of Thee,” as seen in the lyrics above, has been readily adapted to express new sentiments, viewpoints and causes. The same with “God Save the Queen,” which was completely re-imagined from an aggressive, counterpoint Punk perspective by the Sex Pistols:

God Save the Queen
by the Sex Pistols

God save the Queen
the fascist regime,
they made you a moron
a potential H-bomb.

God save the Queen
she ain’t no human being.
There is no future
in England’s dreaming

Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need.
There’s no future
there’s no future
there’s no future for you

God save the Queen
we mean it man
we love our queen
God saves

God save the Queen
‘cos tourists are money
and our figurehead
is not what she seems

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
all crimes are paid.

When there’s no future
how can there be sin
we’re the flowers
in the dustbin
we’re the poison
in your human machine
we’re the future
you’re future

God save the Queen
we mean it man
we love our queen
God saves

God save the Queen
we mean it man
there is no future
in England’s dreaming

No future
no future for you
no fufure for me

Reduced Ceiling and Visibility / Atmospheric Conditions That Strangle Up My Mind

Steamer W.E. Fitzgerald

Image courtesy of the The Marine Historical Society of Detroit and the Matt Miner Collection.

A bright (bright), bright (bright) sun-shiny summer day in San Francisco and my mind is back aboard a 400 foot frozen in lake boat (For example: The obstinate, stubborn and defiant W. E. Fitzgerald 1906 – 1971 stoically portrayed above). This account of Ernest (“so here’s to you you articulate dead fisherman”) Hemingway writing about Paris when in Michigan and writing about Michigan when in Paris always strikes a chord with me. Is there a word, name, term or phrase for this phenomena other than homesickness? Or as Dylan wrote “to be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again.”

Writing about Michigan

Hemingway would for the rest of his life make references to Michigan and his youth. In A Moveable Feast he describes writing about Michigan while sitting in Paris cafes in the twenties. In True at First Light he remembers from Africa the sweet taste of cider pressed at Horton Bay and in Islands in the Stream the lead character is asked when he had been most happy. He recounted days at the lake as a boy. Clearly Hemingway might have physically left Michigan but its memories never left him.

Source: Clarke Historical Library
Image Source: The Marine Historical Society of Detroit