From the MASSACHUSETTS-ANNEXED FRONTIER TERRITORY OF MAINE...
Once again, we celebrate America---despite absolutely everything, still a great nation after all these years. Happy birthday to us.Yup. Happy 238th Birthday, America. We The People are still kinda sweet on ya. Especially the parts of you that are made of pie.
Yet again, we rejoice not so much in what makes America great, as in what makes it really peculiar. This is in the belief that one of America's finest traits is that it is a blissfully funny place to live. …Lynne Cheney, the veeper's wife, has formed the Committee to Protect American Civilization, which is publishing 100 examples of allegedly unpatriotic assertions by professors in our nation. For example: If all Lynne Cheney's brains were dynamite, she couldn't blow her nose? …
We continue our charmingly eccentric habit of polling ourselves to find out how ignorant we are. Then we all slap our foreheads in dismay over the national dumbness. This particular oddity yields such nuggets as: 37.2 percent of us think the Mexican border should pay rent. …
All this and so much more make America the country we love. Anyone who is blase, jaundiced, bored or seldom-startled just isn't paying attention. So here's to all of us who make this a great nation, including the school-crossing guards, the people who line up hundreds of dominos to fall over on other dominos and the bingo players who carry their little plastic chips in blue velvet Crown Royal scotch bags.
And here's to all the angry liberals and to all the angry conservatives---take the day off, and enjoy the hot dogs and the fireworks. And try to remember when we come back to normal partisan warfare that all of us do, actually, love this ridiculous, wonderful place.
Our annual posting of the original Cheers and Jeers from July 4, 1776---discovered gathering dust and mold behind some rotten drywall at the farm of Phinneas Pawpatch on July 5, 1776---starts in the Commonwealth of Billeh... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
Cheers and Cheers for July 4, 1776
Note: Whomever used mine only copy of Common Sense to wipe their hiney in yon shitehouse this morning shall be punished by the switch. Wretched cur.
By thy Numbers:
Days `til the official reading of the Declaration in Philadelphia: 4
Weight, in pounds, of the "old [Liberty] bell" that will be rung to gather Philadelphia residents for the first reading of the Declaration: 2,080
Number of Declaration signers: 56
Number of quills that practical-joker delegates stuck in William Whipple's wig before he noticed and threw a continental hissy fit: 16
Ben Franklin's age at the time of signing: 70
Number of signers nicknamed "Old Bacon Face": 1 (Samuel Chase)
Number of Dunlap Broadsides (copies of the Declaration) that will be made tonight by John Dunlap: 200
Number of people currently living in the colonies: 2.5 million
Number of times John Adams stepped on Thomas Jefferson’s foot during the signing: 1
Number of letters in “Hey! Watch it, Masshole!”: 18
Thy Puppy Pic of thine Day: General Washington is an avid fox hunter, and his canine of choice is the tireless foxhound. The reason they sleep in the stable and not the master’s manse can be summed up thusly: foxhound SBDs.
CHEERS to the Declaration. The boys in Congress took a deep breath and drew one helluva line in the sand today. Britain: You're fired. So...what do we do now? Anyone up for brunch?
JEERS to the first draft. Thank goodness "The King may dine on mine knickers..." ended up in ye olde trashcan. Good decision to lay off the hard cider, Jefferson.
CHEERS to Caesar Rodney. Hearing that the Delaware delegation was deadlocked, he rode 80 miles in wind and rain to reach Philadelphia in time to cast his crucial vote in favor of independence. We say his horse deserves to have his hoof print on the document, too.
CHEERS to niggling editors. Thanks to the bone-headed delegates from South Carolina and Georgia (who want to continue importing slaves), and the New England delegates (whose merchants still want to make money importing them from Africa), language slamming the King for the slave trade was deleted. C&J disagrees. But we're sure it will all be solved amicably by, well, certainly no later than next weekend.
CHEERS to Mr. Loud and Proud. Rumor has it that Continental Congress president John Hancock was the only delegate who actually signed the document. The rest will do so after the "engrossed prints" are ready next month. The real reason: his signature was such a behemoth they ran out of ink.
JEERS to the Hessians. For signing on with King George III and committing troops to do his dirty work fighting us. Fair warning, Heinrich...our bayonets'll turn your bellies into beer taps. To coin a phrase: ”Prosit, Schweinhund!”
CHEERS to John Adams: "I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance." Now c'mere and pull my finger.
CHEERS to good eatin'. Yummy yum yum. Never will there be a time like the present when the food upon which we feast could be more fabulous:
Generally speaking, the food scene in 1776 was built around just a few staples: fat, meat, salt, bread and alcohol. (There's a good reason all the wealthy founding fathers look so plump in those old portraits.) Fresh vegetables were seasonal, and shellfish---including lobster---was considered "pig food." ...Does it get any better than that? I should say not. At least, not unless they perfect the syrup of the corn and the fat of trans. Fat chance!
Colonial cuisine was based on the English model, which meant lots of boiled food and puddings, including pigeon pudding. Yes, you read that right. Pigeon pudding.
JEERS to the apple falling far from the tree. William Franklin, illegitimate son of Benjamin and former Royal Governor of New Jersey, was little more than a lap dog for the King. He's currently under house arrest. They should paper his walls with the Declaration just to rub it in. Memo to dad: see what happens when you think with the wrong head?
JEERS to wigs. In this summer heat, they itch like burlap on buttock. Can we declare independence from these smelly things, too?
CHEERS to the women. Not only are they keeping our homesteads maintained in our absence, they're also pretty good in a skirmish. And there even seems to be a certain time of the month when they can heave cannonballs with bare hands at great velocity. Amazing. Perhaps we should grant them a right or two one day. Perhaps.
CHEERS to beating back the skeptics. Worrywart delegate John Dickinson says independence is premature: "It'll be like destroying our house in winter and exposing a growing family before we have got another shelter." Yeah, well, the current landlord is a petulant loopdie-doo so...potato puhtahto.
JEERS to the Grand Union Flag. Look, I'm not saying it's bad or anything. The 13 stripes are creative---one for each colony an' all that. But the British emblem sticks in my craw. Whaddya all think about maybe some stars? I know a good seamstress in town who can churn 'em out with a single snip. (But rumors that she can tie a cherry stem with her tongue are completely unfounded, so shame on you.)
CHEERS to the music makers. It takes a lot 'o guts for our regiment musicians to walk around the field of battle tootin' and tappin' while hot lead is whizzing by their heads. Yankee Doodle always rallies the troops, although I'm partial to the lesser known…
Jingle bells, King George SmellsJust one minor quibble. Love the fife…love the drum. But would you mind adding a little more cowbell?
Burgoyne laid an egg
Cornwallis took a piss
And sprayed it on Howe's leg.
JEERS to "Female Combatants." This British political cartoon actually says, "I'll force you to obedience, you rebellious slut" and features womanly nakedness. Can the "lamethstreameth" media possibly sink any lower?
CHEERS to Market and Seventh Streets. The brick house on this corner is where Delegate Jefferson spent most of his time writing the Declaration. When he moved out, the maids were cleaning his room for days. (His way with words is as precise as his aim around a piss bucket is not.)
CHEERS to the bottom line. Hancock: "We must be unanimous; there must be no pulling different ways; we must hang together." Franklin: "Yes. We must all hang together or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Us: Gulp!
One Year Ago in C&J: July 4, 1775:
CHEERS to the new ass-kickers. General Washington officially formed a new Continental Army today. Remember...no swearing or drunkenness, guys. And clean behind those ears!
CHEERS to foiled birthday plans. Patriots in Savannah spiked cannons intended to salute King George "Dick" III on his birthday. Instead of "Boom!" they got a taste of what the Brits will soon do against our guys: sputter and fizzle.
And just one more...
CHEERS to going out together. On July 4, 1826---50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration---John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died within hours of each other (Jefferson went first, thus making Adams' final words---"Jefferson survives!"---sound kinda silly). Pay your respects to J.A. here and to T.J. here. And pray that one day we're fortunate enough to have statesmen like them running this place again. (Minus the slaveholding and Alien & Sedition Acts. Ahem...)
Yon creaky floorboards be open...What are ye cheering and jeering about today?