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  • Marc Johnson

Happy Labor Day


This pint of stout will soon make sense. Trust me.

But before we turn to the Irish drink, a random, regional round-up of some not very important news (including nothing whatsoever on health care reform) on the last weekend of the summer.

From Oregon: Let us acknowledge that Oregon was the first state in the nation to officially declare the first Monday in September as Labor Day. It happened, according to the Department of Labor, in 1887. Good idea, Oregon.

From Idaho: A San Diego Examiner travel writer, Gary Robinson, writes this weekend about the tiny southeastern Idaho community of Franklin, Idaho (population 673) where he grew up. Robinson notes that since the beginning of the Idaho Lottery in 1989, Franklin has been a steaming hot bed of ticket sales. The Utah state line is just beyond the southern city limits, making Franklin the “home of the Utah lottery” and the Beehive State a chief supporter of school and public building construction in Idaho. We need the help.

From Washington: The good news here is that the day after Labor Day will see the re-opening of the fabulous Seattle Public Library. Like most cities, Seattle has been struggling to close a budget gap and one tactic was to shut down the city’s libraries for a week. Budget sense, perhaps, but for bookish Seattle not an altogether popular move. As the Associated Press reported: “‘I think it’s a very sad day — week — for the city of Seattle that they can’t access their local library, which is one of the most heavily used libraries in the country,” said Nancy Pearl, the city’s ex-librarian superstar and the author of ‘Book Lust,’ a best-selling tribute to the joy of reading.'” If you get to Seattle, visit the downtown library. It’s almost always open.

And…From Montana: Another closing – the M&M Bar in Butte – made headlines all across the Big Sky state. The ancient Butte watering hole once claimed it never closed, but a dispute over a power bill had thirsty patrons looking for another venue, temporarily we can hope, at which to raise a glass. I have a feeling those in need of a pint this weekend in Butte found an acceptable alternative. There are always options in Butte. Which brings me to that pint of Guinness.

The venerable Irish Times (a great website, by the way) had as the top story on Sunday Kilkinny’s fourth consecutive All-Ireland Hurling Championship. (Click here if you feel you need the details of the game or just want to be able to drop “hurling” details into your next cocktail chat.)

Delving a bit further into the Times reveals the “news” that the country’s health service is claiming that Irish adults consume “550 pints per year.” (No statistics readily available to compare those numbers to heavily Irish Butte.)

The Irish “strategic task force on alcohol” is quoted as saying that the 550 number “is a conservative figure given that abstainers are not excluded and represent about 20% of the adult population.”

What can you possibly say after that? The only thing I can think of: Guinness – it’s good for you! True in Dublin, in Butte, Seattle, Portland, Boise…even Salt Lake City. If you’re looking for something to celebrate on Labor Day, you might celebrate all those you know who work hard, those out of staters who spend a buck on a lottery ticket once in a while, those readers who are concerned when the local library is closed and those who sip (in moderation, of course) an occasional pint. It is a great country, even without hurling.

Happy Labor Day.

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