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:

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