Porky’s Pulpit: Happy Labor Day 2011

“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” – Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court justice, Jewish southerner, and barbecue enthusiast.*

In honor of Labor Day, that holiday where we browse mattress sale flyers and mourn the end of the summer (while simultaneously celebrating the fact that our kids are going back to school), it’s worth taking a minute to reflect on the holiday’s serious origin. Especially in today’s political climate, where the idea of celebrating organized labor seems downright unpatriotic, please remember that America’s robber barons didn’t always have our nation’s best interests at heart; since many corporations are publicly held, nowadays we can trust their leaders fully.  Likewise, politicians weren’t always staunch advocates for the middle class and working poor like they are today.  In fact, in 1894 President Grover Cleveland dispatched thousands of troops to suppress a strike that started at the Pullman railcar company, an act that resulted in significant political fallout and lead in short order to a national Labor Day holiday.

So, when you are signing the receipt for your new mattress (made overseas at a union-free factory, presumably), pause for a moment and remember that we did not always have minimum wage standards, child labor laws, a forty hour work week and the like.  But don’t let your rememberance get in the way of a good Labor Day cookout.  I think folks of all political stripes, and captains of industry and laborers alike, can agree that firing up a grill is a worthy way to celebrate the holiday.  And I am sure the ghost of Louis Brandeis will forgive you for indulging in some pork… in solidarity with the working man, of course.

*Technically speaking, this post-Oxford comma statement is unconfirmed.  However, Brandeis grew up in Kentucky so it is at least possible that he enjoyed ‘cue.

Beer and BBQ on the 7th Day

Continuing this week’s inadvertent beer theme, I just learned of a new event taking place on Sundays in downtown Durham.  Fullsteam Brewery, purveyors of hickory-smoked Hogwash and a wide variety of other southern agriculture-focused “plow to pint” offerings, pairs up with Backyard BBQ Pit, a wood pit barbecue joint that cooks up the best ‘cue in Durham.  Each Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m.  (at least until further notice, so call ahead), the two businesses team up to bring you the succinctly named “BBQ and Beer Sundays.”  The BBQ and beer sabbath is held at 726 Rigsbee Avenue in Durham, Fullsteam Brewery’s world headquarters.