Today is my birthday. I am 43 today, so please put all speculation to rest, whether it be "the punkís still wet behind the ears" or "isnít he getting close to retiring yet?"
I was born in the eye of a hurricane. I guess thatís why Iíve always been partial to water, and wind, though not necessarily in combination. Iíve also felt akin to that old America tune that goes:
I understand youíve been running from the man
That goes by the name of the Sandman
He flies the sky like an eagle in the eye
Of a hurricane thatís abandoned ó
The sands of time, yes. Jean Luc Picard once said someone told him that "time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how weíve lived."
Thatís pretty much how I try to look at things. And one of the important things I plan to leave behind after I go to Happy Hunting Ground is a good collection of Christopher Columbus bashing columns.
Thank you, by the way, to all the persons who called Monday to wish me a happy Columbus Day, whether in jest or not. I was not, as some would have you believe, taking the day off in observance of Columbus Day. Maybe the day made me so deathly ill I just couldnít get out of bed all day, you ever thought of that?
Letís take a quick review of the facts, in case youíve never read one of these dribbles before:
Christopher Columbus set sail with three ships from Europe to find a trade route to the Indies. Week after week went by and the food was running low and so was the fresh water, and just as Columbusí men were about to string him from the yard-arm, seize command and turn back around, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria ran aground in Guanahani, which is what the people that lived there for thousands of years called it, but Columbus ignored this fact and named it San Salvador. He wrote in his log, "It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased."
Well, excuse me, Mr. Fancy-Pants!
Turns out Columbus wouldnít rule much of anything, and was arrested and hauled back to Europe in chains after a few more voyages to the so-called "New World." He died believing he had reached Asia.
We wonít get in depth about the atrocities Columbus and his men committed against the Indians of those islands because Iím in too good a mood to ruin it with tales of kidnapping, forcing them to search for gold and if they didnít, hands, noses and ears were cut off, they were hanged or burned to death, used for target practice and the women mercilessly raped by these devout Christians.
So you see, I have a bit of a grudge against actually celebrating Columbus Day. Perhaps we should celebrate Adolph Hitler and Robert E. Lee days as well?
What, in fact, did Columbus accomplish worthy of a "day" in his honor? He didnít discover anything ó some 150 million of us knew these two continents were here for thousands of years.
So what did Columbus accomplish? Murder, theft and torture? Destroying an entire society and its people? Founding of a slave trade?
Hmm. Deserves his name on a calendar in my book.
Now, thereís a funny side to all this, too. Hereís a true story:
"In 1990, the Berkeley City Council passed a law changing the name of Columbus Day to Native American Day because Columbus wasnít nice to the Indians. Of course, no Indians were asked if they wanted the holidayís name changed or if they wanted to be called Native Americans.
"In 1991, the Berkeley City Council changed the name again, to Indigenous People Day. A group of PC-ers argued that Indians are not native to America but to Asia, so calling them Native Americans might be insulting to Asians. Of course, neither the Indian nor Asian communities were consulted about this.
"In 1992, the Italian American Anti-Defamation League gave the City of Berkeley their Insensitivity Award. The Italian-American group said that they agreed that Indians havenít been treated well, but that the Italians werenít the ones who did it, so why take away their holiday? Nobody asked Italian-Americans how they felt about renaming Columbus Day.
"In 1994, the Berkeley City Council changed the holiday back to Columbus Day.
"In 1995, representatives of the Winnamucca Indians protested City Council meetings. They argued that Indians had never asked that Columbus day be renamed to honor Indians, since it had, the City Council couldnít take it back, less they become Ďindigenous peoples givers.í
"In 1996, the City Council changed the name to Indigenous Peoples - Columbus Day.
"Currently there are people lobbying to rename the holiday Animal Rights Day."
So there you go.
Of course, in light of ridiculous oil and gasoline prices today, I must give the old devil credit for one thing.
He was the first man who ever got roughly a thousand miles to the galleon.