Monday, September 24, 2007

Him Bwana. Me not.

Coffee: Mexico FTO Chiapas (Special Lot). Home-roasted from green beans. Very nice stuff. It has a deep, velvety texture and taste. Full City Roast.

Mug: A school-bus yellow Waechtersbach mug that has been customized with a Dymo Labelmaker label featuring the single word "Bwana". If you don't know the pure delight of a German-made Waechstersbach coffee mug, I feel sorry for you.

The reference is to a Swahili word/form of address, and to Hollywood movies like "Tarzan", "Call me Bwana", and "Bwana Dik" (which was also a Frank Zappa song, and a 1960-70s "tropics themed" nightclub catering to servicemen in San Antonio).

It was also the name of an "art" magazine I published in the early 1980s. "Bwana Art" was a half-sheet tabloid that was distributed free of charge in bars, bookstores and laundromats. It featured no advertising or editorial content, and almost no oversite. Good taste was never a criteria, only lawsuits. The contributing artists paid $50 to buy a page. They were then free to show whatever they wanted, with the only provision being that it couldn't be material copyrighted by others, or material that land the publisher (me) in court or jail. It ranged from the brilliant to the obscene.

The inaugural issue featured an old line-cut of a charging Zulu warrior below the masthead "BWANA ART", with the identifying caption below the image saying "Suburban Attitudes".

My favorite issue was the individually numbered "all blank pages" issue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Battling windmills.

Mug: Another Chinese-made promotional mug in a design imitative of my beloved German Waechtersbach mugs... only not as good. For what it is (a too shiny 11 ounce mug), it's fine.

Coffee: Panama Organic Los Lajones purchased as green beans from Sweet Maria's in Oakland. I roasted the beans this past Saturday while smoking a brisket. Has a "choclatey" undertone to it (boy howdy, that DOES sound pretentious, don't it?).

"Henk's" is one of my all time favorite restaurants. Family owned and operated. Henk Winnubst immigrated to the US after WW II with his wife and infant son. Now, his two sons and daughter run the place, with Henk and his charming wife overseeing Friday night's European ex-pat get together (Dutch, Germans, and Eastern Europeans).

Henk was originally a partner at Kuby's Delicatessen. Karl Kuby was the butcher, Henk was the baker. They had a falling out over Karl's conversion Mormonism (and his funding of Morman Missionaries to Europe). Henk is a faithful Roman Catholic. When the opportunity arose, Henk forced Kuby to buy him out, and Henk bought "The Black Forest Bakery".

Henk's son, Hubertus, is a unique talent and an all-around neat guy. You'll often find him behind the counter.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor intensive.

Mug: A repeat appearance by an English-made coffee mug (tea mug?), featuring a Hardy-esque scene of laborers during the hay harvest.

Coffee: Colombian Supremo, full city roast, brewed double-strength (by American standards).

Note: Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

"Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.