Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Cultures all ‘round the world will be celebrating the Solstice, as they have since time immemorial. In so many of these celebrations, the sun is born and the days lengthen as the sun grows and matures. Apollo, Mithras, Horus, even Dionysus, sun gods all, were born on the Winter Solstice. The Romans celebrated the state holiday of Dies Natalis Invictis Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, on the Winter Solstice. December 25th, a familiar date to us, was the date of the Winter Solstice in the old Roman Julian Calendar.
Early this morning, in a rare occurrence, a total lunar eclipse, happened on the Winter Solstice. Ah what a day this must have been at one time. Imagine the portents that people must have drawn from it. What actions, what nightmares, what dreams, were fuelled by a red moon. Perhaps the best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity. Even now, though we know and understand an eclipse, it is an awe-inspiring sight. What must it have been to those in the past? Click here for some very different pics of our familiar grey white satellite.
Today is the anniversary of the death of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s death, possibly the most influential 20th century American writer. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, he wrote The Great Gatsby, which was later made into the movie of the same name starring Redford. Still later, The Great Gatsby was a café/restaurant on Front in downtown Santa Cruz about where the St George and Bookshop Santa Cruz are now. The café was in the old Catalyst space after the legendary Randall Kane moved it to its current location on Pacific in an old bowling alley.
Because of or maybe in spite of nine bucks an hour, I labored long and at times hard at the Cat door for much of my twenties. Now it is a dirty janky hole with suspect pizza and an aura of degeneration, but at one time the Cat was the jewel in the crown of Santa Cruz nightlife. A dubious crown perhaps, but royal nonetheless. The stage there boasted an unbelievably eclectic and world famous resume, and I was lucky enough to catch the tail of its heyday.
A decade of armlocks, chokes, sweeps, elbows, more chokes, and other excitement saw me seek medical help just once, when I caught a old drunk falling down a steel staircase. His beer bottle clipped my mouth and chipped my front tooth like a glacier calving. Randall paid for it twice after the fake replacement chip came off as I bit into a bagel at the Bagelry. This was before the Paleolithic Diet, but a long time after the Paleolithic Era.
I have always been biased against Fitzgerald because of the line in Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man. I know that it is irrational, but I just can’t help it. Due to that one line and the weight of Dylan’s influence, I have resisted reading Fitzgerald’s books my entire life, although I once started Gatsby in a beach house on the Sea of Japan and guiltily liked it.
Fitzgerald was part of the Lost Generation, that generation that had come of age during the Great War and saw the world through different eyes. The Roaring Twenties; what a time to be alive! One of the times I would most like to have been alive. Sidewalk cafes in Paris with Stein and Hemingway, flappers and jazz atop skyscrapers and in hidden cellars in NYC, Mayakovsky (Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind) and Malevich and so many other geniuses seeking to escape the ideological corral of the infant Soviet Union, booze running in caravans down from Canada, Carter at the Valley of the Kings (Yes, wonderful things.) What a time!
The Roaring Twenties were the collective exultation before the deep dark descent, the horrors of Verdun and Gallipoli (O hell of ships and cities/Hell of men like me/Fatal second Helen/Why must I follow thee?) a nightmare memory and a green scar deep in the soil, kept alive in the eyes of those who had dug the Race to the Sea. Fitzgerald barely saw the beginning of that descent, dying at a mere 44 years of age seventy years ago in 1940, never seeing the grotesque elevation of the Greek word ‘holokauston’ to the capitalized English word ‘Holocaust’. Would that we could all be so lucky to never know that word.
Thoughts? Fitzgerald aficionados? Please post to Comments.
Friday Dec 24th–9am, 10am, noon classes only
Saturday Dec 25th-NO CLASS
Sunday-normal schedule resumes
5 Power Cleans-go heavy
15 Box Jumps