Thursday, February 16, 2006

More on Things that Happen Mid Sea

Jokichiro Takimine gave D.C. and Newark the Cherry Blossoms as a gift of thanks for forcing Japan to open up when Commodore Perry's fleet flooded old Edo harbor. Say what you want, they may have been thankful. At the same time though he gave New York City, Perry's home, the Gingko Biloba tree. They're all over the city now. He told us the barks improve memory, but what New Yorker is gonna go through the trouble to brew the barks into a tea? And what was it they wanted us to remember anyhow? Didn't they know we were no good at that? They did! They laughed through the next fifty years as we failed to regard our memory. We couldn't (still can't) even remember from year to year: every spring the berries from the Gingko Biloba are one of the worst allergens in the city.
A Yank heard the snicker though. The U.S. did so much bombing damage to the Japanese countryside that post WWII the U.S. had to graft trunks from our fifty year old Cherry Blossom trees back onto the singed remains of any left standing in Japan. i.e. the Japanese Cherry Blossom saps American blood. Oh, but back to the Atlantic, that's where the "Where Cherry Blossoms Breeze..." metaphor began:
First, in the mid 1800s mildews and the insect phylloxera ruined France's Chardonnay vines. Luckily, the Francophonic Belgian Hugenots had been planting Chardonnay in the Hudson valley for two hundred years at that point and their vines developed a resistance to diseases the European vines still withered under. To save the European stock the Europeans had to make a grand concession. Americans grafted our vines back onto the same French vines they came from. i.e French Chardonnay is not only American, but Belgium too! Are there two things French loathe more?
And -- I'm glad I didn't know all of this when I wrote the song. I would have given up -- some say it was the American Steve Kaplan who while travelling through France after World War II, appalled at the state of subsistance baking had devolved to in such impoverished times, set out on a mission across France to remind them of their past bread making glory, and rebirth the baguette! Anyone know what kind of bread they eat in Madiera? I've never been.

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