The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun.
Most alert readers (ARs) of my generation will recognize these lyrics from Carly Simon’s 1972 hit “You’re So Vain.” These same ARs will also be aware of the decades of speculation that ensued as to the identity of Ms. Simon’s vain inamorato. Among the potential paramours whose names have been mentioned are Warren Beatty, David Bowie, David Cassidy, Mick Jagger and Cat Stevens (FKA Steven Demetre Georgiou, NKA Yusuf Islam). A couple of years ago, upon turning 70, Ms. Simon said that the second verse of the song was in fact about Beatty, but two other verses, respectively involving a yacht and a Lear jet, were about two other gentlemen whom she declined to name.
For all of the uncertainty as to who was in fact so vain that he probably thought the song was about him, there’s little doubt as to which solar eclipse was referenced in the song. Because the song was written in 1971, the eclipse was almost certainly the one that occurred on March 7, 1970. ARs who are familiar with Hindu mythology probably know that solar eclipses often portend catastrophes, when the demons Rahu and Kefu swallow the sun. ARs who dismiss this myth as unfounded superstition might want to reflect on what happened in the immediate aftermath of the 1970 eclipse.
Eleven days later, on March 18, 1970, the Cambodian National Assembly unanimously voted to remove Prince Sihanouk from power. Six weeks after that, on April 30, 1970, President Richard Nixon announced an invasion of Cambodia, which he euphemistically called an “incursion.” At the same time he announced a plan to draft an additional 150,000 troops to support the “incursion.” Angry protests erupted on hundreds of college campuses across America, most famously at Kent State, where national guardsmen killed four students and wounded nine others. The “incursion” led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea, and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
I was at Fort Gordon, Georgia for army military police training when the Kent State shootings occurred. Several of our instructors praised the guardsmen for their fortitude in shooting the students. During the eclipse, I had been nearby for basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, which was close to the path of the totality for the eclipse. As trainees we were not allowed to leave the post to see it.
It was in the midst of all this post-eclipse turmoil, on April 22, 1970 to be precise, that the very first Earth Day was celebrated in the United States. At the time it was overshadowed by the anti-war protests that engulfed the nation; but it is the legacy of Earth Day that endures 47 years later. In St. Louis, Earth Day not only endures, but has expanded into programs throughout the year, culminating in a two-day festival in Forest Park over the weekend of April 22-23. More information can be found at www.stlouisearthday.org.
Schlafly has been a longtime supporter of Earth Day and we are once again proud to be the exclusive beer sponsor in 2017. We even brewed a special organic IPA for the festival. Last month we showcased ROG (Recycling On The Go) at our Stout and Oyster Festival, where the shells from 70,000 oysters were among the items recycled. We have been handing out seed packets at our restaurants. And, thanks in part to the solar panels on our roof at Bottleworks, we helped Maplewood win the EPA Green Power Community of the Year Award for 2016.
Speaking of solar, a solar eclipse is coming our way this summer, specifically on Monday, August 21, 2017. It will be the first coast-to-coast eclipse in the United States since 1918. It will be the first total eclipse in the St. Louis area since 1442. I am not making this up. The last time there was a total eclipse around here was a half-century before Columbus sailed to America. The Hundred Years’ War between England and France was still raging, and the War of the Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York had not yet started. Martin Luther would not be born for another 41 years.
When the eclipse occurs, temperatures could drop as much as five degrees Fahrenheit. Animals and insects could behave as if night has fallen. Stars and planets could be visible in the middle of the day. The partial eclipse will start around 11:50 a.m. Totality will begin around 1:17 p.m. and will last two minutes and 40 seconds, the longest duration of totality near any major city in The United States.
At Schlafly we’ll be celebrating the eclipse in several ways. The label of our Helles (which means “light” in German) Lager will go dark, and packages will include a free pair of solar glasses for viewing the eclipse. We’ll also be organizing a special expedition for ARs and others to the center of the path of totality. It’s less than an hour from The Tap Room, meaning you won’t have to go to Nova Scotia and won’t need a Lear jet to get there.