What exactly are we celebrating on Presidents’ Day – other than it being a Federal holiday?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When it comes to celebrating birthdays, Red thinks of cakes and gifts, but obviously, that doesn’t apply to dead presidents; while Black, who barely tolerates birthdays (hers or anyone else’s), wishes we’d celebrate Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays by honoring who they were.
Red used to love both George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays when she was in elementary school (back in the 1960s) and not just because they’d have off from school on each of their respective birthdays. (Although only Washington’s birthday was a Federal holiday.) She loved that the holidays prompted learning about each president and even now, decades later, thought of each of them as true heroes of American democracy – Washington as one of the Founding Fathers and Lincoln as the creator of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Black could relate to Washington, who supposedly worked on his birthday, but always thought turning it into a “shared” Presidents' Day diluted the meaning of each. But understood the “logic” (and politics) of creating it, and ultimately making it part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act in order to create more three-day weekends. Her concern, though, is how historical figures, including presidents, are being judged based on current standards vs. the times that they lived in,
Context is everything. Does the fact Washington had slaves (12 of our first 18 presidents did) and did not make sure his wife, Martha, would be allowed to vote, negate that he was instrumental to the United States getting its independence from Britain and our first president (FYI, he warned against political parties)?
That got Red thinking as she’s always loved history and strongly believes one of the most critical roles that history plays is to help us learn from the past and, hopefully, not repeat mistakes. But that shouldn’t mean forgetting to acknowledge what was accomplished, even if “new” facts come to light,
I’ve always loved movies, and being a theater major, I know it’s critical that the story be told so that you understand the time period in which it takes place and how that influences the character’s decisions, and often, their dilemmas. But it’s that “character” development that shows you whether they were just lucky in life or deserved to be called heroes. The same with historical figures.
So, today’s the perfect day to celebrate Washington, Lincoln, and all the other presidents. They may not have been perfect, but they stood up for what they believed and worked hard to make changes they thought important. And even using today’s standards … doesn’t that represent ideals and actions that we can all learn from and emulate?
It’s hard to believe the topic of the Supreme Court and abortion could become any more controversial or dramatic. But there was no way to know a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade would be leaked to the press. A situation so shocking, it’s being compared to the "Pentagon Papers" leak.
Yes, leaks happen all the time in politics – at the campaign level, sometimes from Congress, and even on occasion from the executive branch. But from the Supreme Court of the United States??? Yet as Black said to Red just after it happened,
Nowadays, it is just too easy to have a “leak” as almost everything is just a “click away” from being shared or printed. No clandestine nights at the copy machine are required.
There’s an expression … throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Well, Supreme Court decisions on “babies” (well, technically fetuses) may also impact its integrity.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There’s no question the recent Supreme Court cases involving abortion are controversial and may have a major impact on Roe v. Wade; something that both Red (as a mom to two daughters) and Black (as a highly independent woman who made the conscious decision not to have children) have strong feelings about, albeit focused on two very different aspects.
If you’re like Red, you may be wondering, besides whether you’re for or against abortion, what else is there to consider? Which is why Red initially didn’t want abortion to be the basis of a post.(We try to remain neutral and generate food-for-thought, and given the personal, religious, scientific, legislative, judicial, and practical aspects of abortion, wouldn’t even know where to start.) And is why she thought Black would agree with her.
Which made Black’s response such a shock, but for reasons that even Red never saw coming. And although by the end, it made perfect sense, there’s no better way to summarize what Black had to say than to “borrow” some of her beloved bullet points.
- IS THIS ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION? OR POLITICS? – This should be a constitutional issue, not a political one. The constitutionality of Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973 and reaffirmed in 1992. What new “facts” have been identified?
- IS EVERYTHING UP FOR GRABS? – Would the Supreme Court overruling itself (granted, decades later) put everything established at the federal level at risk of being re-evaluated (the right to bear arms, women’s right to vote, Civil Rights legislation), or only those items ruled upon by the Supreme Court?
- REMEMBER CHECKS & BALANCES? – The Supreme Court, besides being the highest court in the land, is part of the judicial branch of government and is tasked with interpreting the laws made by the legislative branch and enforced by the executive branch. The logic behind having three branches is to have checks and balances so that no one branch becomes too powerful.
And Red’s response? Besides now realizing the potential Pandora’s Box that overturning Roe v. Wade could open in so many ways,
This is why you should’ve been a lawyer. And probably would’ve been, except Mom kept saying that you should be …
If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.
As soon as Black mentioned pole dancing, Red, a lover of movies, immediately thought of “Hustlers.” No, not “The Hustler,” the 1961 classic with Paul Newman as a small-time pool hustler. Instead, “Hustlers,” the 2019 release with Jennifer Lopez about pole dancing hustlers that showed it took more than a desire to make money, but skill and athleticism.
But Red had no idea the significance of May Day Maypole dancing. When she lived in England, May Day was a bank holiday, and she knew it had a long history that went back to the Celts, but that’s all she knew. Until recently, when she learned it’s an ancient and festive holiday filled with history and folklore, started by the Celts who thought May 1st was the most important day of the year as it separated the year into light and dark.
Which explains the beginning of a celebration of spring with singing, dancing, and bonfires that still continues. However, it doesn’t explain how in the late 19th century, May Day became known as International Workers’ Day to celebrate workers and promote labor rights.
And what about the Maypoles? Well, as Red discovered,
It was during the Middle Ages when the now famous Maypoles were believed to become popular, not only to welcome in spring but as a symbol of fertility, as the pole symbolized male fertility, with baskets and wreaths symbolizing female fertility.
When Red felt the need to share all this history with Black, her sister couldn’t help but respond with,
Although this has nothing to do with May Day, all I can say is “Mayday. Mayday.” Which, if you do not speak French, is based on m’aider and means “Help me.”
To quote the lyrics from "West Side Story," “Could be … who knows …”
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, the theater major and lover of Broadway musicals, has loved "West Side Story" for as long as she can remember, so imagine her surprise when Black, usually only interested in the business aspects of the entertainment world, shared a “new” fact (at least, new to Red) about one of the most popular musicals ever produced.
For Red, "West Side Story" comes close to being a perfect musical (as a theater major, she doesn’t think there’s such a thing as a “perfect” musical), combining a brilliant musical score and incredibly poignant and powerful lyrics with groundbreaking choreography. And although she didn’t see it on Broadway, the original movie and the recent remake had iconic cinematography and extraordinary performances. Especially by Rita Moreno, who appeared in both movies and was an executive producer on the remake.
But like most people, Red never thought much about the backstory, as she always accepted that it was a modern day “Romeo and Juliet” about forbidden love based on people’s backgrounds, made more extreme by constant feuding between the sides, resulting in violence and death. With the final heartbreaking scene being a painful realization that it took death to find a way to reconcile their differences.
Black believes we can look at today’s newspapers (or even history books) and easily recast the story, which is exactly what happened,
Originally, the characters were envisioned as a Jewish girl and an Italian Catholic boy, with the story taking place in the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the Easter-Passover season. But when the Chicano American street riots in Los Angeles became headline news, it changed everything, and turned the storyline into a classic that has stood the test of time.
Although this was the first Red had heard of the original storyline, it made her smile as it brought back a recent memory,
When I first saw that clever and captivating “West Side Story Chanukah” video, I was amused. But now it makes me wonder … were the creators intentionally coming full circle?