Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Aerosmith – "Toys in the Attic" (1975)

Toys, toys, toys
In the attic

Did you ever own “The Game of Cootie”?

If you did, check your mother's attic the next time you visit her – it might still be up there.

The Game of Cootie
I hadn’t thought about The Game of Cootie in at least 50 years.  But then I stumbled across a piece of clickbait titled “What Was The Most Popular Toy The Year You Were Born?”

The Game of Cootie was invented in 1949.  In 1950, only about 5600 units were sold, but sales jumped to a million-plus in 1952 – the year i was born.  By 2005, sales of The Game of Cootie totaled 50 million units.

The Game of Cootie's game pieces
To win The Game of Cootie, you have be the first player to assemble the game pieces required to build a complete “cootie” – a body, a head, two antennae, two eyes, a proboscis, and six legs – by rolling certain numbers with a die.

I remember exactly what the cootie’s proboscis looked like:

Three proboscises
*     *     *     *     *

“What Was The Most Popular Toy The Year You Were Born?” can be found on the Dusty Old Things website.

Dusty Old Things is one of a number of websites that belongs to Great Life Publishing, which sees the glass as half full, not half empty:

At Great Life, our goal is to focus on the stories that remind us that life is in fact great.  You won’t find negativity.  You won’t find divisiveness.  You won’t find gloom, doom or fear.  We proudly serve up nothing but daily inspiration.  After all . . . LIFE IS GREAT!

A year ago, I might have dismissed that mission statement as hopelessly corny and naive.  But after a year of seeking shelter from the storm of vituperation that’s been generated by the zillions of people who lost their everlovin’ minds over Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Great Life sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

*     *     *     *     *

“What Was The Most Popular Toy The Year You Were Born?” covers 1930 to 1980.  (I don’t think that title is strictly accurate.  I have a feeling that the title should be “What Was The Most Popular Toy That Was Invented In The Year You Were Born?” because some of the listed toys – like The Game of Cootie – were not immediate best-sellers.)

I was born in 1952, which was the year that “Mr. Potato Head” was introduced.

Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television.  Over a million units of the toy – which contained hands, feet, ears, eyes, mouths, noses, hats, eyeglasses and a pipe, and retailed for 98 cents – were sold in 1952.  Later versions of the toy came with plastic bodies, but the original Mr. Potato Head required you to use a real potato.

The most popular toy of 1953 was the Wiffle ball, which is still popular.  I have to believe that every male baby boomer in the United States owned a Wiffle ball and the skinny yellow plastic bat that was sold with it.

The big seller in 1954 was the Mattel “Shootin’ Shell” cap pistol, which also fired small plastic bullets.  I would have traded a kidney for one of those bad boys when I was a kid.

Here’s a TV commercial for the Shootin’ Shell pistol, which would be viewed by modern bureaucrats and parents alike as horribly dangerous:  

Here’s what Dusty Old Things says were the most popular toys from 1955 to 1964:

1955 – Betsy Wetsy doll
1956 – Play-Doh
1957 – Silly Putty
1958 – Colorforms
1959 – Barbie doll
1960 – Legos
1961 – Etch-A-Sketch
1962 – Lincoln Logs
1963 – Duncan Yo-Yos
1964 – G.I. Joe

I’ll stop there because I turned 12 years old in 1964, and stopped paying much attention to toys.

Click here to read “What Was The Most Popular Toy The Year You Were Born?” in its entirety.  It’s may be clickbait, but it’s worthwhile clickbait.

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Aerosmith’s third studio album, Toys in the Attic, was released in 1975.  I played it a lot when I was in law school.

Toys in the Attic sold over eight million copies, and included the band’s two most famous singles – “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.”  Its title track isn’t quite as good as those two songs, but it comes pretty close.

Here’s “Toys in the Attic”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

New Colony Six – "Things I'd Like to Say" (1968)

Baby, is he looking after you?
Is he showing you the same love, the warm love
Just like we knew?

In May 2015, Beau Biden – the 46-year-old eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden – died after a long battle with brain cancer.  

Biden’s other son, Hunter – who was born exactly one year and a day after his brother – and his wife Kathleen separated in October of the same year but didn’t get divorced until last month.  (Their six-bedroom, 5 1/2-bath home in Washington is up for sale, with an asking price is $1.85 million.)

In March of this year, Joe Biden confirmed to the New York Post that Hunter and Beau’s widow, Hallie, have been a couple for some time.

The former Veep and his wife Jill have blessed the romance.  “We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness,” Biden told the Post.  “They have mine and Jill’s full and complete support and we are happy for them.”

Joe and Hunter Biden
It's not surprising that Hunter and Hallie don't have Kathleen’s full and complete support and that she isn't happy for them.

Kathleen went ballistic when Hunter allegedly cut off most of the money he had been sending to her and their kids after the couple separated so he could spend more on wine, women, and lap dances for himself.

“Throughout the parties’ separation Mr. Biden has created financial concerns for the family by spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations), while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills,” Kathleen’s lawyers said in the divorce papers they filed on her behalf.

The once and future Mrs. Hunter Biden?
(Kathleen's on the left, Hallie's on the right)

*     *     *     *     *

If Hunter and Hallie get married, their union will be an example of levirate marriage . . . sort of.

Levirate marriage – a marriage between a widow and her dead husband’s brother – is dictated in certain circumstances by Deuteronomy 25:5, which says:

If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies, and has no child, the wife of the dead shall not be married to one not of his kin; her husband's brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her.

If you read the following verse from Deuteronomy, the reasoning behind levirate marriage – the name comes from the Latin word levir, which mean’s “husband’s brother” – becomes apparent:

And it shall be, that the first-born that she bears [to her new husband] shall succeed in the name of his brother that is dead, that his name be not blotted out of Israel. 

In other words, the first son born to the widow and her dead husband’s brother is legally the heir of the deceased brother, and so inherits any land that belongs to the deceased brother at the time of his death, or that the deceased brother would have inherited if he had not died.  (If the deceased brother dies without an heir, land that he owns or would have inherited might end up in the hands of someone other than a close relative.)

Deuteronomy doesn’t explicitly say what the rules are if the surviving brother is already married, but I’m guessing that levirate marriage doesn’t require bigamy.

*     *     *     *     *

Levirate marriage is not the same thing as “ghost marriage,” which is relatively common among certain tribes living in South Sudan.

In a ghost marriage, a deceased groom is replaced by his brother.  Any children that are produced as a result of the stand-in groom’s efforts are considered to be children of the deceased man.

Dancers at a Nuer wedding
Female members of the Nuer tribe participate in ghost marriages because any wealth a woman brings to a Nuer marriage becomes the property of the husband.  By marrying a dead man, a Nuer wife can retain control over her wealth.

*     *     *     *     *

Levirate marriage was not practiced simply by Old Testament Jews and primitive African tribes.  Several years after Arthur, Prince of Wales – the eldest son and heir apparent to King Henry VII of England – died when he was just 16 years old, his younger brother, King Henry VIII, married his widow, Catherine of Aragon.

King Henry VIII
This was not a true levirate marriage.  It was permitted only because Catherine swore that Prince Arthur had not consummated their marriage.  That enabled Henry VIII to legally marry, but caused considerable inconvenience when the King later decided that the 32-year-old Anne Boleyn was a better bet to give him a male heir than his 47-year-old wife.

So Henry took the position that Arthur and Catherine’s marriage had been consummated after all, and sought an annulment on the grounds that it had not been lawful for him to marry his brother’s widow.  

Henry cited Leviticus 20:21, which says:

And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he has uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.

That is clearly inconsistent with Deuteronomy 25:5, which allows – or even requires – a brother to marry his deceased brother’s widow.  

Henry sent his men to Venice to consult with Rabbi Isaac Halfon, who opined that the Old Testament no longer sanctioned levirate marriage, and that Henry’s marriage to his brother’s widow violated Jewish law whether or not Arthur had gotten his ashes hauled.  

The Pope consulted some other rabbis, who said just the opposite, and he refused to give his blessing to Henry’s marriage to Anne.  So Henry told the Pope to take a long walk off a short pier and founded the Church of England, which said that it was fine and dandy for Henry and Anne to wed.

Click here if you’d like to read more about all this.

By the way, another British king participated in a near-levirate marriage.  Prince Albert Victor, the oldest grandson of Queen Victoria, became engaged to Princess Mary of Teck, his second cousin once removed.  But Albert Victor died of influenza only six weeks later.

King George V and his wife, Queen Mary
A year and a half later, Albert Victor’s younger brother George married Mary in London.  George was crowned King George V in 1910, and he and Queen Mary reigned until his death in 1936.  (Yes, the famous ocean liner was named after her.)

*     *      *     *     *

Every time I hear “Things I’d Like to Say” on the radio, I make a mental note to feature it on 2 or 3 lines.  Then I’d promptly forget it.

I’m trying to think of a more beautiful 1960s love song, and I can’t.  I wouldn’t change a thing about it – not the added strings, not the march-like drum part, and especially not the solo piano coda.    

I’m just glad I didn’t own this record when it was released in 1968, when I was 16 years old and prone to bouts of unrequited love and teenage angst.  If I had owned “Things I’d Like to Say” back then, I probably would have play it over and over and over while lying with my head under our Magnavox console stereo.  (I hate to think how many times I listened to Pet Sounds – especially “Caroline, No” – while doing just that.)

The sheet music for today's featured song
The New Colony Six – who performed in Paul Revere and the Raiders-esque Revolutionary War outfits – were a Chicago band that recorded ten singles that made it into the Billboard “Hot 100.”  But only “Things I’d Like to Say” made it into the top twenty.

The song was written by band members Ronnie Rice and Les Kummel (who died in an automobile accident in 1978, when he was 33).  

Here’s “Things I’d Like to Say”:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Holly Cahill – "You Still Put the Uniform On" (2016)

They call you names and spit in your face
But if you weren’t there
Who would take your place?

On October 8, 2016, Officers Jose “Gil” Vega and Lesley Zerebny of the Palm Springs (CA) Police Department were shot and killed when they responded to a domestic violence call.

Officers Vega and Zerebny
Officer Vega, a 63-year-old father of eight, was a 35-year veteran of the Palm Springs Police Department who had used CPR to save the life of a two-month-old baby girl in 2012.  

Vega had told his chief that he was planning to retire in December of last year.  (He had been eligible to retire for several years, but had chosen to stay on the force.) 

Officer Zerebny, who was 27, had joined the Palm Springs police force less than two years before she was killed.  

Zerebny and her husband, who is a sheriff’s deputy in Riverside County, were the parents of a four-month-old baby.  She had only recently returned to work after giving birth to her child.

*     *     *     *     *

To pay tribute to Vega and Zerebny, the Palm Springs Police Department sent the door from one of its patrol cars – signed by their fellow PSPD officers – to be displayed at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC:

Each year, thousands of law enforcement officers come to our nation’s capital on National Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15) to honor their comrades who have died in the line of duty.  The event is also attended by many family members of those fallen officers.

Police honor guards from around the United States take turns standing vigil at the Memorial on that day:

The most notable features of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial are two 300-foot-long, curved stone walls that bear the names of more than 20,000 officers who have been killed in the line of duty.  New names are added to the walls every year during National Police Week.

Those who visited the Memorial this week placed hundreds of handmade tributes to slain police officers on those walls: 

Here’s a very personal memorial to Sergeant Gregory Hunter of the Grand Prairie (TX) police department, who was gunned down by a fugitive from justice in 2004:

(I'm sure many of you are familiar with John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”)

The Palm Springs Police Department was not the only law enforcement agency to commemorate fallen officers by sending a patrol car door to be displayed.  Here’s one from the Harford County (MD) Sheriff’s Department:

There were also several tributes to police dogs at the Memorial:

*     *     *     *     *

Holly Cahill was a 17-year-old high school student when she wrote and recorded “You Still Put the Uniform On.”

It pays tribute to her father, who’s a deputy chief in the Anaheim (CA) Police Department.

Here's a photo of Holly watching her mother pin her father's deputy chief badge on him in 2015:

Here’s “You Still Put the Uniform On”:

Click here to buy the song from iTunes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ID16 ft. Fanny Andersen – "Hundremeterskogen" (2013)

We make fantasy a reality
Our bus is really bold . . .
Our bus is a well-traveled beast

(You’re going to think I made up all the stuff in this post, but I swear to God I didn’t – there's no fake news here!)

Last year, my fellow blogger (and fellow parent) Brienne Walsh Zipperer recommend that I read Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume My Struggle, which is roughly 3600 pages long.  (Thanks, Brienne . . . I think.)

Karl Ove Knausgaard
I’m just starting the fifth volume of My Struggle, which is ostensibly fiction but which reads like autobiography.  

Critic James Wood had this to say about Knausgaard’s magnum opus:  

Many writers strive to give you the effect, the illusion, of reality.  Knausgaard seems to want to give his readers the reality of reality – to strip away the literary tricks, to burst through language, to explode the artifice.  And he achieves this.  You read Knausgaard almost as if in real time.

Wood goes on to say that “even when I was bored, I was interested,” which is exactly right.  

My Struggle cover
My Struggle is both compelling and boring, and what makes it compelling is the same thing that makes it boring.  The book doesn’t just appear to be about real life — it is about real life.  

*     *     *     *     *

In volume four of My Struggle, Knausgaard describes his participation in russefeiring, a coming-of-age celebration for Norwegian students in their final semester of high school.  

Russefeiring celebrants
Russefeiring, which is several weeks long, ends on May 17 – Constitution Day (which is the Norwegian equivalent of July 4th).  Funny coincidence . . . that's tomorrow.

The students who participate in the celebration – who are known as russ – are finishing up their compulsory schooling.  Some of them will go on to universities, others will get jobs or join the military.    Most of them are 18 years old, which is important because you have to be 18 to drive a car or buy alcohol in Norway.

Graduating from high school is a significant rite of passage for American teenagers as well, but we nothing to compare to russefeiring.  I’m not going to attempt to provide a comprehensive discussion of all the many aspects of russefeiring.  instead, I’m going to discuss three aspects of the celebration.

Drunken russ participant
First, there’s alcohol.  Most russ are drunk for the better part of the russ celebration.  And I don’t mean slightly tipsy – I’m talking about pass-out-and-choke-on-your-own-vomit drunk.

Second, there are the russ vans and busses.  Groups of students go together, buy a van or a bus, and customize it.  The russ celebrants invest in crazy paint jobs and elaborate stereo systems, which blast out russ songs at ear-splitting volume as the vehicle travel from celebration to celebration.

Russ bus
Traditionally, students would buy beat-up old vans or busses that barely ran.  But today, each student in a group may invest as much as $30,000 apiece to buy and equip a russ bus.  ($2000 to $6000 represents a more typical student investment.)

Another russ bus
When you combine large and unwieldy vans and busses with scores of drunken teenagers, you’ve surely got trouble . . . with a capital ’T,” and that rhymes with “P,” and so on and so forth.  So the law now requires russ bus owners to hire a professional driver.  (Those with vans can get by if they give the keys to an older sibling or a teetotaling russ celebrant.)

Yet another russ bus
My favorite russ bus is this one, which is covered with tennis balls:

A tennis-ball-covered russ bus
But I really like this one, too:

The Candyfornia russ bus
Third, there are russ knots.  The russ caps worn by students have string hanging down from them, and celebrants who accomplish certain feats are entitled to tie distinctive knots indicative of those feats in those strings – or perhaps attach small tokens representing different accomplishments.

Some of the russ knot acts are fairly benign.  For example, if you spend a night in a tree, you can tie a twig from that tree to the string on your russ hat.  (The string is similar to the tassel on American academic caps.)  If you ask random people in a mall to give you a condom and one of them finally gives you one, you tie that condom to the string.  And if you crawl through a supermarket while barking and biting shoppers on their legs, you get a dog biscuit to tie on your string.

Russ hat with random
stuff tied to its string
Other knots require unsafe or unhealthy actions.  For example, you can win a knot by drinking an entire bottle of wine in 20 minutes or less, or consuming 24 beers in 12 hours or less.  (Girls are allowed 24 hours to drink the 24 beers.)  

There are a lot of sex-related knots.  If you have sex outdoors, or sex with seven different people in seven days, or sex with two different people with the same first name on the same day, you’ll win a knot.  Those knots don’t sound to bad, but remember that all knots have to be witnessed and confirmed by fellow russ celebrants.

There’s much more information about russ customs out there if you’re interested.  You can click here or click here or click here to learn more.

Personally, I have only one question about russefeiring: how in the hell did Norwegian parents get so stupid as to allow this insanity?

Drink up, kids!  It's almost May 17!
American parents go bonkers over proms – we spend way too much money to buy fancy prom dresses for our daughters and rent limos for the kids to ride to prom in, and we mostly turn a blind eye to the drinking and drug use and sex that goes on.  But Norwegian parents are far more irresponsible.

Just imagine if russefeiring was an American, or German, or Japanese, or Russian phenomenon.  The whole world would be scandalized.

But when’s the last time you paid any attention whatsoever to anything that happened in Norway?  After all, Norway’s population is barely 5 million people.  (I live in Maryland, which is a very insignificant state.  But Maryland – which is responsible for less than 2% of the population of the United States – has about a million more residents than Norway.)

*     *     *     *     *

“Hundremeterskogen” is Norwegian for “Hundred Acre Wood,” which is where Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends lived.  

Actually, I believe that the literal translation of “Hundremeterskogen” is “Hundred Meters Forest,” which is not the same thing as “Hundred Acre Wood” at all.  

In fact, a patch of forest that measures 100 meters by 100 meters covers about 2 1/2 acres – which is a far cry from 100 acres.

But our featured song mentions Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet, so it’s clear that its title is a reference to the Hundred Acre Wood.

“Hundredmeterskogen” was a popular russesang (“russ song”) in 2012.  Some russ songs are written especially for russ, while others are simply pop songs that the students celebrating russ like.

ID16 – a group of three young Oslo DJs – and Norwegian pop singer and blogger Fanny Andersen have teamed up on several popular russ songs.

Here’s “Hundremeterskogen”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Alicia Keys – "Like You'll Never See Me Again" (2007)

If I had no more time
No more time left to be here
Would you cherish what we had?
Was it everything that you were looking for?

We haven’t heard much from Derek Jeter since he retired in 2014 after playing 2905 games for the New York Yankees.

But we heard from him tonight, when the New York Yankees retired his number 2 in a letter-perfect ceremony at Yankee Stadium.

Jeter speaking to Yankee Stadium crowd
Jeter spoke for just over three minutes – without notes.  He began by wishing a happy Mother’s Day to his grandmother, his mother, his sister, and his very pregnant wife – all of whom stood nearby as he spoke.

Click here to watch his speech.

As wonderful as it would have been to be Derek Jeter tonight, I think it would have been even better to be his father, Charles Jeter.  

Derek Jeter with his father, mother, wife,
grandmother, sister, and nephew
Mr. Jeter was no doubt filled with pride and joy tonight.  But his son has filled him with pride and joy many other times in his life.  

Many of those proud and joyous moments were the result of something Jeter did while wearing his Yankees uniform.  But many of them had nothing to do with baseball.

I’m guessing that his feelings tonight will pale in comparison to what he will feel when he sees Derek in the role of father to his newborn daughter. 

*     *     *     *     *

I have to admit that I didn’t get Derek Jeter at first.  It took me several years to realize he was a one-of-a-kind figure – the ne plus ultra of all the legends who played for the New York Yankees.  (Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not saying he was the best player who ever wore pinstripes.  But he is the greatest Yankee . . . which is something entirely different.)

Jeter was overcome with emotion after
his last Yankee Stadium game
To say that he was everything that Yankees fans were looking for in a player is an understatement.  He was much more than that.

On the field and off, Jeter not only exceeded your expectations, he exceeded your wildest imaginings.  

Twenty years ago, it was absolutely inconceivable to me that I would ever feel about an athlete – or about anyone other than a member of my family – the way I came to feel about Derek Jeter.

I can’t explain those feelings in words.  But I don’t need to.  You either get what made Derek Jeter so special, or you don’t.  Either way, nothing I write here is going to change that.

*     *     *     *     *

Tonight’s Yankee Stadium ceremony – which lasted almost an hour – was perfect.  (ESPN paid Jeter the ultimate tribute by broadcasting the whole thing without commercial interruption.)  

The Yankees have retired more numbers than any other major-league baseball team.  That is exactly as it should be, of course – they’ve had many more players who deserve that honor than any other team.  (I’m sorry if you’re a Cardinals fan, or a Dodgers fan, or a Red Sox fan, or a fan of some other team and you don’t want to hear that BUT YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART THAT IT’S TRUE!)

Jeter is a member of an even more select group.  He’s one of the 14 Yankees with retired numbers who spent their entire major-league careers as Yankees.  

Jeter mural outside Yankee Stadium
(The others are Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Thurman Munson, Whitey Ford, Jorge Posada, Don Mattingly, Mariano Rivera, Ron Guidry, and Bernie Williams.  Most of those players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and every single one of them deserves to be there.)

*     *     *     *     *

“Like You’ll Never See Me Again” was released in 2007 on Alicia Keys’ As I Am album.

I’ll never forget seeing Keys and Jay-Z perform “Empire State of Mind” live at Yankee Stadium before the second game of the 2009 World Series:

The good guys eventually prevailed in six games.  Jeter played every inning and hit .407 in what turned out to be his final World Series.

Here’s “Like You’ll Never See Me Again”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, May 12, 2017

Ice Cube – "It Was a Good Day" (1993)

Today I didn't even have to use my AK
I got to say it was a good day

Reno, Nevada – “The Biggest Little City in the World” – was named after Major General Jesse Lee Reno, who was killed by friendly fire on September 14, 1862, during the Battle of South Mountain, which was fought a few days before the Battle of Antietam.

General Jesse Lee Reno (1823-1862)
In 1889, veterans of the Union Army’s IX Corps, which Reno commanded at South Mountain, erected a monument to him at the spot where he was killed when shot by a young Union soldier who thought he was a Confederate cavalryman.  That monument – which located on the Frederick County–Washington County line near Middletown, MD – is adjacent to the Appalachian Trail.  

The Reno monument
Reno graduated from West Point in 1846 – fellow Civil War generals George B. McClellan, A. P. Hill, George Pickett, and Stonewall Jackson were among his 58 classmates. 

He fought in a number of Mexican-American War battles as a young artillery officer.  One side of his monument lists those battles as well as the Civil War battles where he saw action:

Reno was appointed brigadier general of volunteers when the Civil War broke out, and eventually was promoted to command of the 8500 soldiers of the Army of the Potomac’s IX Corps.

I parked near the Reno monument when I played hooky from work a couple of days ago and took a long hike on the Appalachian Trail just west of Frederick, Maryland.

The Appalachian Trail is
marked with white blazes
I hiked south on the trail until I reached Lamb’s Knoll, which is 1758 feet above sea level.  That makes it the second highest peak on South Mountain.

Lamb’s Knoll is the site of a microwave communications tower (which is now used by the Federal Aviation Administration) and an old fire observation tower (which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934).

The Lamb's Knoll microwave tower
There’s some kind of secret government facility on Lamb’s Knoll as well.  Some say it was one of several emergency shelters built where the President and other government officials could hide in case of a national emergency:

“U.S. Property: NO Trespassing”
It was a little early for the numerous mountain laurels on the Appalachian Trail to be in bloom, but the pinxter flowers (which are a wild azalea) were everywhere:

A pinxter bush
Here's a closeup of a pinxter flower cluster:

*     *     *     *     *

After my two-and-a-half hour hike, I dropped by Steinhardt Brewing and visited with brewer Jim Steinhardt.

The Steinhardt brewery is located in the garage of Steinhardt’s handsome home, which is located in Braddock Heights, Maryland, an unincorporated community just east of South Mountain and the Reno monument.

Brewer Jim Steinhardt, hard at work
Jim was busy sanitizing empty kegs, but he kindly took the time to answer my questions and pour me samples of two of his Belgian-style ales – a dubbel made with candi sugar and a dark strong ale he calls “Black Abbey.”  

Both were tasty and well-balanced.  The dubbel exhibited the banana/clove flavors characteristic of beers made with Belgian yeast, but those favors were relatively subtle compared to other Belgian beers I’ve tasted. 

The “Black Abbey” ale was potent but smooth and drinkable despite its high alcohol content.  

Both of the ales I sampled are available at the nearby Braddock Inn, a 1903-vintage restaurant that serves as an unofficial tasting room for Steinhardt’s beers.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Steinhart’s “Imperial Tupelo Stout” (flavored with vanilla and Tupelo honey) at the nearby Brew’d Pub restaurant later that evening.

The Brew’d Pub, which has 20-plus craft beers on tap, is located in a building that dates back to 1783:

The Brew'd Pub
While I was there, I struck up a conversation with Chris Turner, whose Backup Beverage LLC distributes a number of craft beers and ciders.  

Chris had brought along sample bottles of several beers he distributes for the Brew’d Pub proprietor to try – including a French country ale from Two Brothers Brewing in Illinois and a mango wheat beer from Free Will Brewing in Pennsylvania – and he graciously offered me a taste of each.

*     *     *     *     *

Let’s review the bidding:

Instead of wasting the day in the office, I hiked the Appalachian Trail on a perfect spring day, then enjoyed free samples of several delicious craft beers courtesy of a brewer and a craft-beer distributor.

To quote Ice Cube, “I got to say it was a good day.”

*     *     *     *     *

Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” was released in 1993.

Ice Cube was one of the original members of N.W.A., who put the “gangsta” in gangsta rap.  

After leaving N.W.A., he starred in a number of movies, including the three Barbershop comedies.  And in 2014, he appeared with Elmo on Sesame Street.  

Sesame Street is a long way from Straight Outta Compton.

Here’s “It Was a Good Day”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: