Saturday, September 17, 2016

History Lessons

Constitution Day

On September 17, 1787 the delegates to the Constitutional Convention taking place in Philadelphia signed the newly-written document called the United States Constitution.

The observance now known as Constitution Day began here in Iowa in 1911. By the early 1950s most states had some version of 'I Am an American' Day, so in 1952 Congress established a fixed date for the observance and renamed it Citizens Day.
In 2004 another change renamed it Constitution Day.

In a juicy bit of irony, the most recent change also came with a Federal mandate: All educational institutions receiving even a penny of Federal money must offer instruction on the history of the American constitution on this day. Because the original date for the observance, September 17, sometimes falls on weekends, the latest Constitution Day legislation "moves" the observance to the closest available school day in order to facilitate the educational mandate. This year that meant lots of people "celebrated" Constitution Day yesterday.

Apparently, the folks who wrote that law are unaware that the Constitution's chief purpose is to restrain the power of the national government. Uncoupling the observance from the anniversary of the Constitution's signing just to make sure a Federal mandate can be carried out is precisely the sort of heavy-handed meddling the Constitution was designed to frustrate.

"Nothing says 'limited government' quite so well as an edict from Washington, am I right?"

Trust me, the typical Washington politician believes 1000-page laws prove how "free" we citizens really are...

Feast Day

Today is the feast day of Saint Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit priest and educator who rose to the position of Cardinal and who was one of the leading theologians of the Counter-Reformation.

Bellarmine was beatified in 1923 by Pope Pius XI, and canonized by him in 1930. A year later the pontiff named him Doctor of the Church.

St. Robert Bellarmine is the patron of
a number of academic institutions, several of which bear his name. He is also the patron of canon lawyers.

Pigskin Preview

There are certainly some interesting games on the schedule today involving teams for which I root.

No. 18 Notre Dame plays host to No. 12 Michigan State, in a game that is usually pretty entertaining. Iowa State hits the road to play TCU in Fort Worth, and the Cyclones are still looking for their first win of the young season.

The service academy teams are a combined 6-0 so far this year, which is fun. Today, Army is on the road to play UTEP in El Paso, while Navy plays Tulane
in New Orleans. Air Force doesn't play this weekend.

"So, the amount of cursing I have to listen to today will be...?"

I have no idea what you're talking about...I don't get emotional about sports...


From the droll comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On December 28-31, 1971 one of my favorite groups, The Band, played a series of concerts at the Academy of Music in New York City. It turned out to be one of the highlights of their touring career.

Part of what made the shows special was that the group performed with a five-piece horn section for the first (and only) time, using charts written by famed New Orleans composer and arranger Allen Toussaint. The extra musicians were all highly-regarded session artists: Joe Farrell, Howard Johnson, Earl McIntyre, J.D. Parran, and Snooky Young. For the show on New Year's Eve they were joined by Bob Dylan, for whom
The Band had once served as backing band.

In 1972 the group released a live double-album from those shows. Rock of Ages is considered one of the best live rock albums of all time, and it was quite successful commercially as well, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. It is one of my all-time favorite recordings, live or studio, and songs from it still get regularly play on various of my iTunes playlists. Due to the limitations of the vinyl format, however, fans had to settle for highlights of those shows. Our desire to hear more would take another 41 years to be satisfied.

On September 17, 2013 the group released Live At the Academy of Music 1971, a multi-CD/DVD set culled from all four of the band's concerts, including the legendary December 31 show in its entirety.

The music had all been carefully remixed and remastered, and it was
in every way a brilliant effort. Everything that made Rock of Ages so memorable was evident on the complete recordings. It captured The Band at the height of their powers, which were considerable.

"Baby Don't You Do It" was written by the famous Motown production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland for popular vocal group The Supremes, but for a variety of reasons wound up being recorded by singer Marvin Gaye instead. It was a Top 40 radio hit, peaking at No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

The Band's version of the song, featuring Levon Helm on lead vocals, never appeared on any of the group's studio albums, but became a staple of their live shows by the late '60s.

Today's send-off is the 2013 remix/remaster of the song that kicked off the show on New Year's Eve 1971. The Rock of Ages version was released as a single in August of 1972 and peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100, which as things worked out was the last time The Band would have a Top 40 hit. Enjoy...

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