September 7, 2014
Passing through an indiscernible hiatus our cruise vessel steams quietly into the safe harbor of routine activity. Yes, folks, it’s September. If you didn’t notice any major change of key it’s probably because the start of any month is kind of arbitrary. It’s the job of bloggers everywhere to chronicle these passages, holding them out for everyone’s attention just for a moment so that we can savor them, battle against them. If they generally fail to notice these transitions explicitly that’s just because they are appropriately engaged with the natural shifts in subject matter that go along for the ride.
Which is why I probably should have just launched into a discussion of an Iriving Berlin song from the 1932 Broadway musical Face the Music. It winds up with this refrain:
Mister Herbert Hoover
Says that now’s the time to buy
So let’s have another cup o’ coffee
And let’s have another piece o’ pie!
Both of my regular readers can probably remember another President who offered similar advice in the face of an economic collapse second only to the one that dear Irving was having his cast sing about in 1932. But that would be a tangent, and we never indulge ourselves with tangents in the Thornapple blog.
No, the point is that we have rolled around to that month of the year when we consider songs that celebrate food. I’ll admit that this theme may be getting a bit long in the tooth. I gave some serious thought to abandoning the whole idea this time around. Okay, okay—the thought crossed my mind as I was sitting in an airport lounge yesterday after having been prevented from getting home on Friday as planned due to the round of thunderstorms that swept through mid-Michigan. I was finishing a cup of coffee when the fact that I would need to be writing a blog today crossed my mind. Of course since this was yesterday, what crossed my mind was not the thought that I would need to be writing a blog today, but that I would need to be writing a blog tomorrow. But as there is virtually any time that you, dear reader, might be working your way through this temporally tortuous labyrinth of logic, I can’t speculate on what sense you will make of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow was the title of a wonderful Vittorio de Sica movie from the 60s. Yesterday and Today (but no tomorrow) was the title of a compilation album of Beatles songs released exclusively in the U.S., also in the 60s, but later. Neither of them had anything to do with food, so there really wouldn’t be any reason to mention them in today’s blog even if you are reading it at some time tomorrow. We are masters of space and time here in the Thornapple Blog.
So after finishing my coffee (or my pumpkin spice macchiato, as the case may be) I was wondering whether I should have another one, and “Bingo!” I had the topic for yet another blog on food songs. I Googled the song and found out it was by Berlin, and that it was set in an automat based on the Horn & Hardart chains of yore. I’ve never seen a production of Face the Music but I have eaten at a Horn & Hardart’s (which is just another way of saying “I’m as old as dirt,” I’m afraid). Horn & Hardart’s once had iconic status amongst foodies, so this is not really as tangential as it might appear at first. But more pertinent to the thread of our cruise into autumn, we will in plain fact be doing another month of food songs this September. More to come.
Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University