Wednesday, November 30

History, Music, and Redemption

By Grant Davies

On this day in 2011, I wrote a short commentary as a lead in to a video and posted it to my sister blog What We Think and Why. That blog isn't about history but this blog didn't exist back then. Just about every year since then it pops up on my FaceBook feed again. I always feel compelled to share it again.

Today, on the 5th anniversary of posting it, I will add it to this site because it is about history even though it's not too "cheeky."

Some of you have seen it before. Most of you haven't. If you have, you will probably enjoy watching it again. If not, you are about to learn something about History, Music, and Redemption that you might not have known. I present it here unedited. I hope you enjoy watching the video as much as I enjoy posting it.

History, Music and Redemption


Whether it's good ideas, interesting writing, witty humor, important information or videos which deliver some or all of those things, a great blog post is made from great content. On this site I do my best to deliver those things. Sometimes I even succeed.

I write about and post things that I see, hear or just think about. Things I think are important. Many of them concern ideas about freedom or people and events that somehow connect to freedom issues. Some might say this is a political site, but even though it's hard to escape from politics in these times of tumult, I hope it's more than that.

History is one of my loves. So is music. And like so many others, I'm fascinated by the battle between good and evil. So when all three of those things come together in one place, it's impossible to resist sharing them.

One of my favorite musical pieces is the hymn, Amazing Grace. And the history behind it's creation is an incredible story of good, evil and redemption. It's a story I only learned a few years back, long after I fell in love with the melody and power of the song.

The story of John Newton, who wrote the words, is as inspirational as they come. If you don't know the history, do yourself a favor and follow the link, you won't regret it. His fall from grace and final return to receive it again is classic. But as it now turns out, (and as is often the case) I only knew half the story.

The other half of the story concerns Negro Spirituals, the black keys on the piano, the "slave scales" and the writer of the music itself. Someone known only as "Unknown." I will never listen to the hymn the same way again. For me, it used to be special, now it is delicious.

After watching the video below, I can almost feel the pain and suffering of the groaning victims of slavery and the different kind of pain and ultimate redemption of one of those who perpetrated it upon them.

If you feel it too, then this will be better than the usual post on this blog. I hope it will be a great post because of the great content.



Many thanks to Bobbie Rendleman for posting the video link on Facebook.





Monday, November 21

Running Out of Beer


By Art Cashin

On this day in 1620, as we all recall from sixth grade, the Pilgrim Fathers...thankful for having safely reached their destination...and to assure no limits on their new-found freedom...gathered aboard the Mayflower to draft and sign - The Mayflower Compact.

And you probably remember your version of Sister Anesthesia telling you that was the beginning of democracy in America.

Well maybe you recall it that way because you were spending too much time trying to figure out why Mary Agnes Doyle was starting to look different than she did in fifth grade. We're sure the good Sister told you the real story. (No....not about Mary Agnes!) Sister certainly related how the Pilgrims in fact were nowhere near their destination. (Records indicate they were destined for "Northern Virginia" which according to sea charts probably was somewhere between present day Perth Amboy, N.J. and Bayonne.

If they had found their original spot....today we might speak of the thrifty reverent Pilgrims of Wall Street. They only pulled in at Massachusetts because they had run low on beer (or as they wrote in the log "beere"....oops....you heard that already).

That brings us back to the "Mayflower Compact." It seems that a significant portion of folks on the Mayflower were "strangers" - not members of the Pilgrim sect but folks who signed on in hope of land and success in the new world. They had all signed agreements to abide by the Pilgrim Fathers in this new colony of the "Virginia Company."

So, when the Pilgrim Fathers suggested putting a party ashore, "the strangers", out of beer and noting a distinct chill in the air remarked that since this place was outside the Virginia Company Grant - once ashore they were free to do as they pleased. (Now lest ye think these "strangers" a rowdy group - Verily - I point out thou mayest have heard of a few - mayhap one Miles Standish or a certain carpenter, John Alden.)

So - to keep these "strangers" from demanding freedom once they went ashore, the Pilgrims devised the Mayflower Compact - which after a quick headcount went for "majority rule." Its purpose clearly was to set a range limit on freedom of choice.

The Pilgrims spent the next 30 days, foraging, shooting crows, scaring Native Americans and their dogs (Canis Americus) and finding no beer. Finally, they landed around Plymouth and might have all died in a few months until they bumped into an Indian, named Squanto, who mysteriously spoke English (with a Portuguese accent no less) but that's a story for another day.

To mark the day, drop anchor at a place called Rocky's and have a "Mull Wine" or "clove laced hot cider." But remember what the Cheshire Cat told Alice - "If you don't know where you want to get to....it doesn't matter which way you go."

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

Thursday, March 17

The Story of St. Patrick - Cashin's Version

Editor's note:

It seems there at least as many versions of the story of Saint Patrick as there are story tellers. My story can be found here. Art's story appears below. I hope you enjoy both but please don't compare mine to his because I'm sure to lose in that comparison. If you wait to read mine until you have consumed several shots of Jamesons it will have a better chance.
Grant Davies




By Art Cashin

On this day in the year of our Lord 389, there lived a foin broth of a lad who was.... dependin' on the boyographer ye read: a Spanish peasant, a French herdschild, a Celt from Bannavem or a Gael from Dumbarton, Scotland. At any rate, at age 16 this lad was kidnapped by pirates and sold to one of the only 2500 Irish kings that were reigning at the time.

He served this King as a swineherd mucking out stys and such. For six years he labored in slavery, poorly fed; often beaten; surrounded by people in strange dress who spoke a language he couldn't understand. Then he discovered that six years of such treatment was equivalent to a parochial school education. So he became a Catholic and escaped to France to become a monk.

Upon becomin' a bishop he mistakenly perceived the French to be a bunch of snail eatin', grape juice drinkin', truffle huntin' toads. He longed for the emerald green fields of God's own land and the special amber holy water found there. He returned to Ireland, which was still under the influence of a
group of heathen English druids and a few nocturnal banshees. Nonetheless, he set about convertin' and baptizin'.

Unfortunately, Patrick was not an MBA and did not know the law of diminishin' returns. So he managed to baptize over 120,000 people, built over 300 churches, chased the snakes out of Ireland, developed the shamrock and established a factory to make pennants carryin’ the slogan "Go Notre
Dame".

To celebrate the life of this fabulous man, sing ye some sad songs, talk ye merrily of battles and take ye a wee nip of somethin' till ye might be seein' da little people.

Wednesday, January 20

The Robber Baron of Arizona

James Addison Reavis
By Art Cashin

On this day (-2) in 1896, one of the greatest schemes in American history began to come apart - just as it was on the verge of changing the future of the nation. The scheme was to lay a land grant claim on what was virtually two states - Arizona and New Mexico. But it had all started earlier and simpler.

During the Civil War, a certain James Addison Reavis was kind of the "Radar O'Reilly" of the Confederate Army. He managed to get officer's signatures on passes and requisitions without troubling the respective officers. His....er....penmanship was so good that after the war a pal took him to St. Louis where he showed some....er....interpretive creativity in the office of public deeds.

In 1871, he met George Willing who had a very creative mind but very poor "penmanship." Willing suggested "back signing" and "redrawing" old Spanish land grants. Reavis began to think Willing was thinking small. But he needn't have worried, because Willing died of poisoning shortly thereafter.

Reavis traveled to Mexico and spent some time in missions, monasteries and libraries. He mastered the language and idiom of formal documents of the 1600's and 1700's. Shortly thereafter, he emerged to lay claim to the fabulous "Peralta Grants." And fabulous they were - they showed Reavis to be the owner of nearly 19,000 square miles of Arizona and New Mexico.

Panic set in immediately. The Southern Pacific paid Reavis $50,000 good faith deposit to protect its right of way. The fabled Silver King Mine gave $25,000 as the first year's rent. And when Reavis, amid great pomp, married a "Peralta Heiress" (a poor Mexican girl he set up with phony credentials), he claimed thousands more square miles. Soon there were lines of folks waiting to give money to the "Baron of Arizona." But as your grandmother said "Pride cometh before a fall" (maybe that was my grandmother....er....and come to think of it...it was "four Manhattans cometh before a fall).

Anyway, Reavis got a case of the "haughties" and turned down a newspaper interview. The publisher decided to do a background piece anyway. It was then that he noticed the type-face on some of the documents was of rather recent origin. He then talked an official into letting him see one of the "official documents." He noticed the century old parchment paper had a watermark from a factory in Wisconsin. Since neither the King of Spain nor the original Don Diego Peralta were known to cavort with cheeseheads, an odor ensued.

On this day in 1896, the Baron of Arizona was indicted. He was quickly convicted and sent to prison. Later released, he died a pauper in 1908. There lies a lesson - forge not on recycled paper.


Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.



Thursday, December 31

Our Old Acquaintance, Bob

By Grant Davies

On this night in 1787, people in Scotland got together, lifted a glass, and sang a song. "Big deal" you say! They do that in Ireland every darn night. Come to think of it, if the joint is open long enough, they do that everywhere a glass of intoxicating beverage is to be lifted. So what makes this night special enough to make note of it?

Well, that was the year the above referenced song was first published. The guy who is credited with writing it, Rab Mossgiel, was rather famous among his fellow Scotsmen for writing other poetry. Rab was just his pseudonym. I guess he liked it better than his real name, Bob. More on that in a moment.

Anyway, the guy actually admitted that he didn't compose it himself, but merely wrote it down after hearing it from "an old man." It's pretty certain that the old man didn't write it either.

The poet's actual name was Robert Burns. And it seems the song was initially sung on January 25th - also known as "Burns Night"-  to celebrate his life and works. But it's normally sung to wave goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new, hopefully better, year.

The song has a rather weird title that is translated from old Scottish English into modern English as "Old Long Since." I guess it made more sense back then. The rest of the words are almost as difficult to piece together too. But most people over a certain age (my age) recognize them well enough.

The song asks the question, should we just forget about our old friends? Well, I guess not. So then, shall we raise a glass and toast them and all the good times we have had with them? Hell, yes!

By now you have probably guessed that the song is the well known New Year's Eve standard, Auld Lang Syne. And the "cup of kindness" is some sort of booze that is being used to toast good fellowship and not forgetting our friends no matter what happens in the new year.

To celebrate the song, go down to the "Auld Neighborhood Inn" with some friends and order "a cup of kindness" from the bartender. Just make sure "it comes to mind" to tip him well. After all, a bartender is a man's best friend and definitely should not be forgot.


  Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wandered mony a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught

For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.



Most of the information for this post was gleaned from Carols.org.

Monday, December 21

A Visit From Clem




By Art Cashin

On this day in 1823, a New York publisher issued a poem by a professor of Oriental and Greek literature.

Now, if that wasn't enough to scare most people off, the guy was also a clergyman. Several people who knew poetry told the publisher it was a terrible waste of paper and ink. Such a little trifle as Clem's poem wouldn't be remembered days later let alone years later.

But this flimsy verse which began "Twas the Night Before Christmas...." tended to hang on. And, after its author, Clement Clark Moore, died it was illustrated with drawings by Thomas Nast. Now it really took off. Not only did we know the legend of Santa, now we knew what he looked like.

To celebrate the birth of a classic, have an eggnog or two. Tell the red-faced guy, with a beard, on the next stool he can make extra Christmas money betting people they don't know the real name of the poem. ("A visit from St. Nicholas".)


Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.






Friday, November 20

The Problem With the President's Popularity

President John Tyler
By Art Cashin

On this day (-2) in 1843, a President learned that messages from the public at half term can sometimes be unfriendly. His name was John Tyler. As you recall from fourth grade, Tyler - the back half of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" - had ascended to the presidency when the front half (William H. Harrison) caught the attention of the Guinness people by dying after only thirty days in office.

Anyway, Tyler stepped in and seemed never to capture the popularity of his predecessors almost from the day he took office. Even his wife was somewhat controversial. Some thought she was a bit too pushy or up-front.

Frustrated by newly sagging polls and some Congressional election reversals, Tyler decided to take a small vacation - a little trip. He sent his son down to the railroad station to arrange a special train for the trip. The station master and his staff told the young man something like - "We don't provide special trains for politicians." Young Tyler responded by noting that the B&O had made a special train available for the corpse of the late President Harrison. The station master reportedly said - "Bring me your father in the same shape as President Harrison and we'll be glad to get him a train."

To mark how far we've come since those hostile old days go visit some affable office holders. But don’t mention anything to the folks running for President.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

Editor's Note: Here is another article about Tyler that I wrote in the past. You might enjoy re-visiting it.   Grant Davies
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