Sunday, September 11, 2016

Smile though your heart is breaking: a history of Sept. 11

This is a somber date in American history, but elsewhere, not so much. If it is true that laughter is "good for what ails ya," as my mom says, it is in that spirit that I offer you September 11th down through history:
  • In 1390, as part of the Lithuanian Civil War, a siege of Vilnius is begun by the Teutonic Knights, who later make it to #3 on the Billboard charts with "Aš esu savo meilės ponis , ir mano meilė tau miega atsistojus." ("I am your love pony, and my love for you sleeps standing up.")
  • In 1541, indigenous warriors destroy Santiago, Chile, led by warrior Michimalonco, whose name, upon victory, is disappointingly not chanted by his troops, because of differing opinions on pronunciation.
  • In 1609, explorer Henry Hudson discovers the island of Manhattan, and by a stroke of dumb luck also invents a new river.
  • In 1714, the city of Barcelona surrenders to the Bourbon armies. The defeat goes down exceedingly smooth, with a woodsy finish and notes of apricot.
  • In 1789, Alexander Hamilton becomes the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, setting into motion a series of events which will result, 227 years later, in me waking up with these Broadway lyrics stuck in my head: “I’m past patiently waitin’ I’m passionately smashin’ every expectation. Every action’s an act of creation!" Thanks a lot, Alex.
  • In 1857, Paiute Indians and Mormons massacre 120 pioneers in Utah. But that's a different musical.
  • In 1897, Menelik II's forces capture Gaki Sherocho, the last king of Kaffa. I know what you are thinking—where's Frodo?
  • In 1922, the Treaty of Kars is signed in Armenia, swiftly followed by the Treaty of Airplanez and the Treaty of Motobykes.
  • In 1941, construction of the Pentagon begins, but costs increase exponentially when the contractor belatedly reveals that the fifth side is considered "extra."
  • In 1943, the German army occupies Kosovo-Metohija. Speaking of which, ever since an ill-advised game of trampoline basketball in the '90's, I have had a crick in my Kosovo-Metohija.
  • In 1968, the International Association of Classification Societies is formed. Several onlookers have to be rushed to the hospital with yawning injuries.
  • In 1972, the Bay Area Rapid Transit ("BART") system opens, dodging the public mockery which would have occurred if they had kept the rail service's original name, the Frisco Area Rapid Transit system.
Charlie Chaplin said it best—smile though your heart is breaking, 'cause somewhere, there's a fart joke in the making.

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