SEPTEMBER – Month Review
If you’re like me, you’re the type of person that follows the Gregorian Solar Calendar to plan events and monitor your own decay. It seems every year we, as humans, are treated to the same twelve months over and over. For whatever reason, the blogosphere and even terrestrial journalism has put these twelve annual overseers on a pedestal that’s somehow above criticism. In the interest of fairness, I’m going to venture into uncharted territory and begin reviewing months of the year and I’m starting with the month that’s been on everybody’s lips – September.
September originated sometime after August 31st. It has a long and storied history of being one of the more polarizing months, as well as representing great change in the environment and television schedules. Different cultures have designated it both a time for clear thinking and a time for reflection. But it’s these differing perspectives and the month’s own penchant for ups and downs that render it painfully average.
For Patriotic Americans like myself, the first thing that springs to mind when the topic comes up is, of course, Labor Day. Growing up a product of the Reagan/Bush/Clinton years, the first Monday of the month was always designated the dreaded dreadful final day of summer. With school starting bright and early on Tuesday, you had to cram those final lazy afternoon and evening hours with enough sunscreen and tom-foolery to last you until Christmas break when you could once again soak in the beautiful marsh of apathy and atrophy. Sure, you could make the argument that this allowed you to see all your schoolyard chums again, but if you’ve ever taken the time to talk to anyone between the ages of 3rd and 8th grade, you’ll find that they’re among the most overrated mean-spirited wretches alive. However, things were not a total waste as the following day promised an entirely new afternoon cartoon lineup to look forward to. In the 90s, we didn’t have the luxury of a 24-hour cartoon network on the internet to give us a constant source of pretty colors, violence, and loud noises. With Nickelodeon’s afternoon lineup largely consisting of British (re: boring) dramas that nobody cared about or wacky (re: boring) sports shows that nobody cared about, you had to choose between the soft batch Disney Afternoon or the brass knuckle brutality of the Fox Kids line-up. When you’re young, these are the decisions you make and they affect you the rest of your life.
Growing up, September becomes a month of migration. Young adults return to college, the rich return to their west coast offices and carnies return to the boardwalk. This can be a time of either spiritual rebirth and a fresh start, or tremendous stress and frustration as moving is unquestionably the single absolute worst ordeal that we voluntarily choose to undertake. Whether dorming, subletting, pulling items out of storage or having to maneuver around others moving in or out of your environment, it’s often a time of great deception and malice. This cavalcade of lies can be traced back to the name of the month itself. Septum the Latin word that “September” is drawn from, means “Seven.” Yet, it’s the ninth month of the year. There’s also SEVEN deadly sins, SEVEN things the Lord hates, and SEVEN players needed for Ultimate Frisbee. COINCIDENCE? Of course, there’s also the Seven Wonders of the World, Seven Sacraments and the always refreshing 7-Up. Once again, September breaks even.
As a journalist, it would be irresponsible to not mention how September has now permeated modern American society through the events of September 11th. It was here a few years back that rappers 50 Cent and Kanye West released albums on the same day. Our nation banded together to choose sides in a feud that was ultimately won by Kanye’s album “Graduation” having higher first week sales. This happened exactly one year after my friend Neil and I couldn’t get tickets to an event at Madison Square Garden and shared a awful plate of nachos at Chevy’s on what became known as “the worst 9/11 ever.” Never forget.
Despite those tragedies, or perhaps in light of them, September has become a month of constant inspiration for the arts. Woody Allen’s intentionally unfunny drama September ironically takes place in September, as does Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” and the American pop standard “September Song” by Kurt Weill. My personal favorite of these is James Brown’s rendition of the Weill song on his under appreciated 1970 orchestral-backed album “Soul on Top.” It’s a cover just good enough to swing the month back into a favorable light. Behold:
Still, the fact that the best thing you could say about a month is a cover song is further evidence that it suffers from being stuck in the past. It’s home to Japan’s “Respect for the Aged Day,” Germany and South Africa’s “Heritage Day,” and even America’s “Grandparents’ Day.” For a month that’s supposed to signal a new start, it’s painfully derivative. Even the month’s flowers are Forget-Me-Nots, but at this redundant rate, who could? But while the month is a repetitive one-trick pony, that one trick remains a welcome familiarity.
We give September a 3 Out of 5
Until next time, Let’s Agree to Agree!