Thursday, April 20, 2017

Three takes on 4/20 revisited


In the midst of a change in the national mood, and anticipating the next wave of entrepreneurial masters of herb, the term "4/20" has truly attained the, uh, high ground in benevolent public perception. This in the face of the rise of a wannabe emperor of a president, and a presumably renascent white supremacist movement. A lot can go down in seven years. It's all different from 2010, when I wrote the piece that follows, and much the same. The time seems right to bring it back; it's here with its historical ironies intact (with a tweak here and there):


What the hell is it about the twentieth of April anyway. For generations now the 110th day of the year has been a source of fascination bordering on … well, not bordering on anything so much as tipped over into obsession.

For numerologists, the number 420 has meant deception, fraud and subterfuge. Fans of nursery rhymes point to the line in “Sing a Song of Sixpence” (four and twenty black birds baked in a pie”). Fans of rock point to Stephen Stills plaintive “4+20,” what you get when you multiply the numbers in the title of Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.”

For the rest of us, the calendrical variation of the number 420 — the date April 20th — usually, or at least often, comes to three things:

There’s Adolf’s birthday. Yes, even demons have birthdays. The enduring symbol of how the cult of personality can be twisted into monumental evil was born this day in 1889, in what was then Austria-Hungary. The rest is history more ably recounted elsewhere, and lived, to one degree or another, everywhere.

It’s a comforting idea, the idea that by common consent any associations between Adolf Hitler and April 20 could be expunged from the record of our collective memory, the better to reinforce his expulsion from the garden of humanity. ...

Read the full 2010 post here

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