Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Veterans’ Day!  A glass of wine, well a cup of coffee anyway (sun/yardarm and all that), with all of you who serve or have served or who have family or loved ones who do or did.  Looking back, I regret that I never did.

Anyhoo, now that the Gifting Season (that is what I’m going to call it with respect to commercial matters) has set in, the catalogs have started to fill up the Port Swiller mailbox.  One of the ones that came yesterday was from the National Geographic, and I must say that it surprised me:  Since when has Nat Geo gone all Smithsonian in the stuff it flogs?  Books and maps and whatnot, I take for granted.  But fashion? Jewelry? Have I just not noticed this before or is it a new thing?  (Toys, too.  The Little Boy that still lurks within Robbo looked mighty wistfully at the working drone, the magnetic levitating globe and the laser Khet game.)

About that fashion and jewelry:  Almost all of it is “themed” – Irish, Far Eastern, African, etc.  Is this not cultural appropriation at its basest?  Is this not an outrage to our sensibilities?  Is this not a micro-aggression?

Pardon me while I assume the fetal position and let loose a cry-bully primal scream.

/logs off

/logs back on

Ah, that’s better.  I hope you learn a little lesson from this, Nat Geo.

My old grandmother used to give me a yearly subscription to National Geographic magazine when I was a kid and I must say that I really appreciated it.  No, not for the pictures of half-naked African women (at least not mostly), but because I’ve always been a nut for maps and exploration.  (For example, I’m the one driver in ten thousand who appreciates the elevation sign at the top of the pass or the announcement that one is entering or leaving the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  And I confess that Google-maps and all its little functions are like catnip to me.)

We used to get the “bonus gift” that came with the renewed subscription, too – books on the Revolutionary and Civil Wars (I’ve still got them) and several record albums.  (Anyone who doesn’t know what a “record album” is can get off my lawn right now.)  One of the albums was of Revolutionary War era songs, many of which I still sing to myself.  Another was of Mississippi steamboat songs, the only one of which I can recall being Stephen Foster’s “The Glendy Burk“.  (I still sing the first verse and teh chorus.)

I remember that latter album mostly because it had a painting of a big paddle-wheeler on the cover that I used as a model to draw a cover for a 7th grade book report I did on Tom Sawyer.  When Mr. Richter looked at my report – clear plastic binder, elaborate cover art, neat handwriting – I recall him saying, “Now this is a typical Robbo the Swiller effort.”  I’m sure it was part of the reason that he recommended I move up to advanced English in 8th grade.  (Why I had been placed in regular English for 7th, I never learned.)  From there, the rest was history – English major and law school.

Funny how life works out.

 

 

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