Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, and I hope it’s a fine one for anyone reading. Here’s what we’ll be offering guests at the door—a bright, fruity counterbalance to a ton of stuffing.
2 parts rosemary-infused rye (just rye and rosemary stalks left for a day or two to get to know each other, like there at the right—plain rye is just as good)
2 parts pineapple juice
1 part cranberry juice
1 part lemon juice
plum bitters to taste
Shake the base ingredients with ice and strain, then combine equal parts base and chilled sparkling wine. Garnish with a cranberry, maybe? Or an orange twist, your call.
Thanksgiving being the calendar’s main food-based holiday, I normally take the opportunity to throw a few bucks at my local food bank, and encourage everyone I know to do the same. Given that things aren’t exactly normal right now, here’s a few more worthy causes that probably would appreciate a financial vote of confidence:
One of the side benefits of a church-music gig is that you get to spend a fair amount of time living in the future. For instance, we’re only halfway through November; but, thanks to preparation needs and Thanksgiving eating a rehearsal whole, I’m already well into Advent. Here’s this year’s introit: a bright, feisty 35-second riposte to 2016. Kick it to the curb! There’s work to do.
Jean Jaurès before the storm, and Jean Jaurès after. Go back to July of 1898, the height of the Dreyfus Affair. At the end of 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an Alsatian-born, Jewish officer in the French Army, had been railroaded by a military court, convicted of passing secret information to Germany, largely on the basis of a secret dossier of letters—including some forgeries—prepared by the Army and passed on to the judges to forestall any possibility of an acquittal. For the next three years, the Dreyfus family and a band of journalists and intellectuals advocated for the decision to be overturned. Investigations by Lieutenant-Colonel Georges Picquart, head of the Army’s intelligence service, revealed the true culprit, one Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy. But the Army closed ranks: Picquart’s deputy, Major Hubert-Joseph Henry, fashioned another forgery that seemed to prove Dreyfus’s guilt. Esterhazy was, on order from the Army leadership, acquitted by another military court, while Picquart was ostracized. That led to novelist Émile Zola’s famous “J’Accuse” open letter, which (by design) led to Zola being tried and convicted for defamation, putting many of the details of the Affair in open court.
The momentum was on the side of the Dreyfusards for a new trial. But Jules Méline, the prime minister—who knew that the letter Henry produced had been forged—nonetheless declared the case closed. Then, a month after Zola’s conviction, new elections brought a new Minister of War, Godefroy Cavaignac, who in July 1898, gave a speech in the French Chamber of Deputies doubling down on Dreyfus’s guilt and the authenticity of the forged documents. The Chamber gave Cavaignac a rousing ovation, voting unanimously to post copies of the speech and the documents outside town halls across the country. Historian Barbara Tuchman, in her book The Proud Tower, picks up the story:
For the Dreyfusards it was an unbelievable blow, an “atrocious moment.” A journalist came hot from the Chamber to bring the news to Lucien Herr [a leader of the Dreyfusards], who was in his study with Léon Blum [Socialist politician, later to become prime minister of France]. They were struck mute; tears were close to the surface; they sat immobilized by consternation and despair. Suddenly the doorbell rang and Jaurès burst in, brushed aside the gesture of his friends inviting him to mourn and berated them in a tone of triumph. “What, you too?… Don’t you understand that now, now for the first time we are certain of victory? Méline was invulnerable because he said nothing. Cavaignac talks, so he will be beaten…. Now Cavaignac has named the documents and I, yes I, tell you they are false, they feel false, they smell false. They are forgeries…. I am certain of it and will prove it. The forgers have come out of their holes; we’ll have them by the throat. Forget your funeral faces. Do as I do; rejoice.”
Jaurès went out and wrote Les Preuves (The Proofs), a series of articles beginning that week in the Socialist paper, La Petite République, which stunned its readers and marked the first collaboration of Socialism with a cause of the bourgeois world. Through the Affair the bridge of class enmity was crossed.
Jaurès’s indefatigable and zealous hope (Georges Clemenceau once joked that Jaurès’s articles were easy to spot: “all the verbs are in the future tense”) is hard work. But why not? The times are dark, and with good reason. But we have everything to gain.
In defense of my tardiness, I can claim a) a crush of work, b) a three-year-old who demanded a custom-tailored Cinderella dress for Halloween (which meant a week’s battle with the sewing machine), and c) um, well, this:
My more-often-than-not forlorn fandom has been commemorated in this space at assorted past moments of temporary buoyancy, so it is not a surprise that my productivity has been utterly subverted for some weeks now. (I played “Go Cubs Go” as an organ postlude this past Sunday and I don’t think there was a soul in the congregation who had a clue what it was, which somehow made it even more fun.)
Still: slacking. So, to make it up to you, I made you a drink:
½ oz Bénédictine ½ oz lemon juice ½ oz lime juice 2-3 oz Canadian Club (or any rye-heavy whiskey; amount based on just how much time we’re trying to skip over here) a healthy 4-5 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Shake everything up with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with an orange twist.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) is election day here in the U.S. Go vote! And remember the words of that most optimistic of radicals, Jean Jaurès:
All of us forget that before everything else, we are… ephemeral beings lost in the immense universe, so full of terrors. We are inclined to neglect the search for the real meaning of life, to ignore the real goals—serenity of the spirit and sublimity of the heart … To reach them—that is the revolution.