Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"So me and a hundred more,

To Americay sailed o'er."

But I digress. The thunder of our two brave cannon announced the Fourth of July, at daylight, to all who were awake. But many of us got our information at a later hour, from the almanac. All the flags were sent aloft, except half a dozen that were needed to decorate portions of the ship below, and in a short time the vessel assumed a holiday appearance. During the morning, meetings were held and all manner of committees set to work on the celebration ceremonies. In the afternoon, the ship’s company assemble aft, on deck, under the awnings; the flute, the asthmatic melodeon, and the consumptive clarinet crippled the Star Spangled Banner, and the choir chased it to cover, and George came in with a peculiarly lacerating screech on the final note and slaughtered it. Nobody mourned.

We carried out the corpse on three cheers (that joke was not intentional and I do not endorse it) and then the President, throned behind a cable-locker, with a national flag spread over it, announced the “Reader,” who rose up and read that same old Declaration of Independence which we have all listened to so often without paying any attention to what it said: and after that the President piped the Orator of the Day to quarters and he made that same old speech about our national greatness which we so religiously believe and so fervently applaud. Now came the choir into court again, with the complaining instruments and assaulted Hail Columbia; and when victory hung wavering in the scale, George returned with his dreadful wild-goose step turned on and the choir won of course. A minister pronounced the benediction, and the patriotic little gathering disbanded. The Fourth of July was safe, as far as the Mediterranean was concerned.

from The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain, cub-reporter, Alta California, San Francisco, 1867.

To my various email correspondents of late: it is a great honor to me to be called a “Yank,” in whatever spirit you intended, as I share this title with Mark Twain, an author whose collected works inspired not only the post-modernist masterpiece Finnegans Wake, but also the general spirit and vein of the collected works of Flann O’Brien. I only hope that I can live up to the legacy that your deep respect for my online scribbling entails.

Another perspective on the Fourth of July from Samuel Clemons.

From Flann O'Brien's Third Policeman:

'Is it about a bicycle?' he asked.

'Not that' said the Sergeant. 'This is a private visitor who says he did not arrive in the townland upon a bicycle. He has no personal name at all. His dadda is in far Amurikey.'

'Which of the two Amurikeys?' asked MacCruiskeen.

'The Unified Stations,' said the Sergeant.

'Likely he is rich by now if he is in that quarter,' said MacCruiskeen, 'because there's dollars there, dollars and bucks and nuggets in the ground and any amount of rackets and golf games and musical instruments. It is a free country too by all accounts.'

And finally:

God prosper the bold hearts on both land and ocean,
Who go in defiance of danger and scars,
And send them safe home to their wives and their sweethearts,
With the Harp of old Erin and Banner of Stars

1 comment:

Count Screwloose said...

Interestingly, I see where Ann Coulter says she thinks her work should be compared to Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken.

So, apparently, I'm freakin' Shakespeare.