Labor Daze

Retail prices rising. Oil hitting $50 per barrel. Health care collapsing, schools failing, politicians scheming. What's a working person to do? Work. Work overtime. Then work some more. And, should the occasion permit, party like it's 1969.

Visiting (or revisiting) the bygone provides some salve for quiet desperation. Don't go back too far, though, or you'll come full circle. Labor Day began in New York City in 1882. It became a national holiday of true import after railroad strikes in Illinois during the late 1880s.

In a nutshell, economic hard times led George Pullman to cut salaries while continuing to charge his employees the same mandatory rent at the homes he assigned them. Workers, supported by unions, faced off against Pullman and President Grover Cleveland, who sent troops to force the trains to run on time. Cleveland later tried to cover his ass by supporting the holiday -- as the presidential election neared. Hmmm. Corporate honchos and the federal government oppressing workers and then tossing them a bone? Happy days are here again!

Rock, country & ribs: Yes!
Rock, country & ribs: Yes!

Actually it's hippie days. And workers get three of them in Ribfest, a mix of live music and barbecue that will also feature cooking competitions, a watermelon-eating contest, horse and buggy rides, a car show, motorcycle rally, beer garden, horseshoe tournament, and plenty of other stuff honoring the American working class.

Launching the flashback concert will be a "classic" rock band featuring key players from Rare Earth, Sugarloaf, Blues Image, and others. The event is set in Homestead, so Southern and country sounds will follow. Sunday features Dave Mason and the Marshall Tucker Band; Monday it's Fanny Grace and John Anderson, right. Other groups are also scheduled.

This nod to grindstone nosers also marks the 75th anniversary of the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation department, which is responsible for putting on the large-scale festival. That's right, working people: Your tax funds are paying the tab, so you really should head down and enjoy the tunes, the food, the fun. After all, you've earned it.

 
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