The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly
According to some eminent historians of rock ‘n’ roll, the so-called “British Invasion” began 50 years ago on Sunday, February 9, 1964 when the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. From February 1st of 1964 until the end of the year six different songs by the Lads from Liverpool were number one atop the Billboard Magazine charts for a total of 18 weeks. Alert Readers (ARs) of a certain age may recall listening to these songs on their transistor radios: “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Love Me Do,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” and “I Feel Fine.”
While American teenagers, of which I was one, were great aficionados of the Beatles, Nikita Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was definitely not a fan. Khrushchev, who had previously achieved notoriety for banging his shoe on the lectern while addressing the United Nations, said of the Beatles, “Soviet youth do not need this cacophonous rubbish. It’s just a small step from saxophones to switchblades.” Within months of making this statement, Khrushchev was deposed on October 15, 1964, the same day the St. Louis Cardinals became World Champions by beating the New York Yankees in the seventh game of the World Series.
Five days after the Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show the City of St. Louis celebrated its bicentennial. My high school marked the occasion with a contest on St. Louis history, trivia, facts and figures. A half-century later I’m proud to say that I won the contest with considerable help from my mother and the St. Louis Public Library. I recall that one of the questions was: What nations’ flags have flown over St. Louis? The obvious answer was: France from 1764 to 1769; Spain from 1769 to 1804; France again for 24 hours in 1804; then the United States. I’m indebted to my mother for pointing out that the first French flag to fly over St. Louis was the Fleur de Lis of Louis XVI, while the French flag that was raised for 24 hours under Napoleon in 1804 would have been the tri-color adopted after the French Revolution. In other words there were four different national flags, not three.
Fifty years later St. Louis is celebrating the 250th anniversary of its founding, which some ARs call our sestercentennial and others call our semiquincentennial. While 250 birthday candles are blazing in St. Louis, the Olympic Flame will be burning in Sochi, Russia, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. St. Louisans wishing to toast the occasion with a local beer have multiple options including Schlafly, which is brewed by the oldest and largest American brewery in Missouri. Beer drinkers at the Olympics, on the other hand, have only one option, namely Baltika Beer, which paid a lot of rubles for the right to be the exclusive sponsor of the Games.
As most ARs undoubtedly know, the Summer Olympics were held in St. Louis 110 years ago. The man most responsible for bringing the Olympics to St. Louis was David R. Francis, the only American ever to open the Games who never served either as President or Vice President of the United States. He was, however, the last American Ambassador to Czarist Russia.
It was while Francis was serving in this capacity that the Russian Revolution of 1917 took place, eventually transforming the Russian Empire into the USSR. Fifty-one years later the Beatles released a musical tribute to the USSR that included a reference to the mountainous region around Sochi:
Oh, show me round your snow peaked mountains way down south.
Take me to your daddy’s farm.
Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out.
Come and keep your comrade warm.
I’m back in the USSR.
Hey, you don’t know how lucky you are, boy.
Back in the USSR.
While it’s absolutely certain that Schlafly Beer won’t be served at the Sochi Olympics, at least not officially, the status of gay men and lesbians is less clear. Homophobic laws remain on the books, but the Putin regime may not be enforcing them too rigorously, at least not while the eyes of the world are focused on Sochi. Some observers have suggested that this new-found tolerance may be part of a program of presenting a kinder and gentler face to the world during the Olympics. Other examples of Putin’s lip service to human rights include freeing such high-profile political prisoners as oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, environmental activists from Greenpeace, and members of the punk band Pussy Riot.
It’s also possible that Vladimir Putin learned a lesson from Nikita Khrushchev. Russian youth may actually like “cacophonous rubbish.”