NOURISHMENT FOR NATIONAL JUNK FOOD DAY
Have a Taco for Taco, Wear A Sticky Bun
Happy birthday, Earnest. Apologies for the indignity that most Americans think a moveable feast is the drive-through at In-N-Out Burger. July 21st is National Junk Food Day. Known also as “Give Jenny Craig the Finger Day” and “Why Did I Buy That Damned BowFlex Day,” we observe it grudgingly. Sorry, Mr Hemingway. Let the masses hasten their CVAs in the afternoon by goring themselves on the sharp ends of a chili fries. What bull. We’ll feed with less abandon and knock back a few mojitos in your honor.
Perhaps the manliest man to ever walk this planet, Hemingway preferred to be drunk — “not drunk in any positive sense but just enough to be careless,” he explains in The Sun Also Rises.
Jeremy Glass, The Thrillist
Forget “Actively Promote Obesity Day.” Let’s look at other reasons why every July 21st is worth a celebration, a toast, or at least a thoughtful pause.
Born on this day were: under-appreciated American author Hart Crane; undercover musician Cat Stevens; cartoonist extraordinaire Gary Trudeau; dear departed Robin Williams; and goddess Juno Temple. It is the anniversary of the passing in 1796 of Robert Burns, so have a wee dram for Rabbie. If you’re Scots-American, remember your roots: have a deep-fried Mars bar.
And speaking of Juno’s hot temples, the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus – one of the Seven Wonders of the World – burned to cinders on this day in 356 BCE. We are informed by the same source that the Ephesian fire marshal said it was arson, the work of a moody attention-seeker named Herostratus. His name has since become a metonym for anyone who purposely commits a criminal act with the intention of gaining celebrity thereby. This being the case, one would therefore expect to hear his name far more often on TMZ; but Harvey Levin is a lawyer and not a historian.
Forget National Junk Food Day. The 21st of July was the day the magnificently-named Dorgon – regent of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912, China’s last dynasty) – ordered men to shave their head and wear ponytails. This infamous diktat is known as the tìfàlìng (剃髮令), and the imposition of the queue is indirectly responsible both for the eventual decline of the dynasty, and the man-bun. Both are equally unfortunate.
Twinkies, temples, and top-knots notwithstanding, July 21st is important for another reason, too. On this day in 1925, arguments began in what is now remembered as The Scopes Trial, or The Scopes Monkey Trial — which is more provocative and easier to remember than The State of Tennessee v John Thomas Scopes. This (as Wikipedia explains) was an
American legal case in July 1925 in which a substitute high school teacher, John T. Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee‘s Butler Act, which had made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school.The trial was deliberately staged in order to attract publicity to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, where it was held. Scopes was unsure whether he had ever actually taught some evolution, but he purposely incriminated himself so that the case could have a defendant…. The trial served its purpose of drawing intense national publicity, as national reporters flocked to Dayton to cover the big-name lawyers who had agreed to represent each side. William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, argued for the prosecution, while Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney, spoke for Scopes. The trial publicized the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy, which set Modernists, who said evolution was not inconsistent with religion, against Fundamentalists, who said the word of God as revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. The case was thus seen as both a theological contest and a trial on whether “modern science” should be taught in schools.
Whether Scopes is a hero or a villain, he was certainly a kind of Herostratus.
As for us, we will celebrate both the day and the virtues of constructive blasphemy by watching Juno Temple in Year One while gnawing on a few tacos. This will kill a few birds with one stone: today is the birthday of Taco (b. 1955), the (Jakarta-born) Dutch artist who in 1982 gave the world a poppy rendition of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” That’s the plan anyway. We’ll probably end up having raw swordfish on Ritz crackers and a pitcher of Bloody Mary. Papa would have wanted it that way.
Make today the day you learn how to tie a bow tie.