The eighth day of May is the 128th day of the year, at least according to the Gregorian calendar. They have May 8th in China, but the Chinese would argue. This is the 2,017th iteration, probably. Neither the Romans nor the Greeks would have called it May 8th: the Romans would have called it “the day before nones, and the Greeks would have called it “that day we invented architecture.”
King Kamehameha I died on May 8th, back in 1819. He was the first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The Hawaiian archipelago is like any other place, and has the same history: bunch of warlords ruling little fiefdoms until one guy comes along and conquers everyone else and declares himself king. Kamehameha was basically Hawaii’s Arthur, but he actually existed. Maybe its Garibaldi, whatever. In 1789, two ships, the Fair American and the Eleanora showed up. A disagreement turned into 100 Hawaiians dead on the beach from cannon fire, and Kamehameha learned his lesson. Everything you need to make gunpowder can be found in abundance on the islands, and rifles could be purchased. His kingdom, unified, remained unconquered for a hundred years until the fair Americans came back.
V-E Day is May 8th, Victory in Europe, and V-J Day would come soon after. Harry Truman’s birthday is also the 8th; that must have cheered him, even with a fat man and little boy perched on either shoulder. (Harry Truman made some tough decisions, and mostly he chose correctly: dropping the Bomb, desegregating the Armed Forces, firing MacArthur before that nutjob started World War III.) Millions poured into Trafalgar Square, and Times Square; people just went to squares. That’s how happy they were.
Speaking of presidents, Zachary Taylor won the battle of Palo Alto today. This was 1846, and the Mexicans were fighting the Americans. (The Americans are always fighting someone, aren’t they?) Palo Alto was a few miles outside of Brownsville, Texas, and doesn’t that sound like a fun place to spend the summer in 1846? Zach would later whompinate Santa Anna and become a national hero; the (semi) modern equivalent is Norman Swarzkopf. Except, as you’ll remember, Stormin’ Norman chose not to be a terrible chief executive who inflamed the secession debate by ignoring it and died.
Edward Gibbon and Don Rickles were born on the 8th; one of those men is much more amusing than the other. Two towering figures of design were born today: Saul Bass and Tom of Finland. Thomas Pynchon and also Peter Benchley; more people pretend to have read Pynchon, but everyone knows the story Benchley told about a shark and an island town called Amity.
Theodore Sturgeon and Robert Heinlein both died on May 8th. Maurice Sendak, too. Dana Plato and George Peppard, who were on teevee in the 80’s, and Nixon’s drinking buddy Bebe Rebozo. Oswald Spengler died on this date, and he is right there next to Pynchon on the list of authors that people pretend to have read.
May 8th is the celebration of the Feast of Arsenius the Great. He was an anchorite, which means he was bricked up into the wall of the church with a just a small opening for food and water and waste. Pointing out that a feast might not be the best way to remember him is a mortal sin. Arsenius had a sister named Afrositty, which is the best name ever.
“We’re going to Afrositty!”
It got strange.
It does that.
Did you have a point, or are you avoiding writing about Cornell?
The second thing.
At least you’re honest.