Alert readers (ARs) who follow politics will be aware that the 118th Congress of the United States convened in January of this year. What most ARs may not recall is that one of the first priorities of the new Congress was the availability of tickets for concerts on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. I am not making this up. Instead of focusing on the war in Ukraine, COVID, climate change, raising the federal debt ceiling or thousands of other pressing issues, members of Congress spent hours grilling executives from Ticketmaster demanding to know why their constituents couldn’t get tickets to concerts on Taylor’s tour. These televised hearings were so urgent that they were held before President Biden laid out his agenda in his State of the Union address to the new Congress. Because the Eras Tour did not include a stop in St. Louis, many ARs may not have regarded the ticket SNAFU as the crisis that was perceived in other parts of the country.
I encountered the phenomenon of Taylor Swift Mania first hand in early May when I attended the Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville and found myself in the midst of over 400,000 Swifties who were in town for a series of three outdoor concerts at Nissan Stadium. A torrential downpour that delayed the start of the Sunday concert by several hours failed to dampen the spirits of Taylor’s devoted fans.
Taylor Alison Swift was born in West Reading, PA on December 13, 1989, five months after I incorporated The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc. and two years before The Schlafly Tap Room opened for business. When I was the age of most Swifties the Swift of whom I was most aware was a fictional character named Tom Swift, who was featured in a series of adventure novels by various authors starting in 1910 and continuing to the present day. The term “Swifty” then meant a saying fictitiously ascribed to Tom Swift with an adverbial or adjectival pun.
“I need a pencil sharpener,” Tom said bluntly.
“I only have diamonds, clubs and spades,” Tom said heartlessly.
“I dropped my toothpaste, “ Tom said crestfallen.
At the same time I was delighting in Swifties like these, like many ARs my age I developed an appreciation for satire and parody by reading Mad Magazine. This led to a lifelong habit of satirical writing that I practiced in law school by writing for a humor magazine called The Georgetown Law Revue (not to be confused with the far more serious Georgetown Law Journal) and later by writing song parodies for The Courthouse Steps, a troupe of singing lawyers whom some ARs have seen perform at The Tap Room and elsewhere.
In college I was introduced to a more sophisticated form of satire with the writings of Jonathan Swift, who for all I know may have been an ancestor of Taylor. Some ARs may be familiar with A Modest Proposal, in which Swift sarcastically suggested that a solution to the problems of poverty and starvation in Ireland could involve poor people selling their malnourished children to feed the wealthy Irish and English.
Somewhat better known is Gulliver’s Travels, which was published in 1726 and is rife with comedy and satire skewering contemporary politicians among others. One of Gulliver’s memorable fictional voyages was to the Land of the Houyhnhnms, governed by creatures who looked like horses. (Their name sounded like a horse’s whinny.) The Houyhnhnms ruled over a race of disgusting creatures who looked like humans and were called “Yahoos” because of the sound they emitted.
Three centuries later the term Yahoos survives in English and is used to describe boorish, vulgarian brutes, perhaps best exemplified by English football hooligans, who are infamous throughout Europe for their violent, drunken and disorderly conduct. As has been previously noted in this column, fans of St. Louis City SC chose the name Saint Louligans to express their enthusiasm for their team; but their behavior is definitely not that of yahoos or hooligans. On the contrary, they are great ambassadors for our city, our team and Schlafly Beer. I’m honored that they have chosen The Schlafly Tap Room as their headquarters on game days.
Perhaps Taylor Swift will choose not to snub St. Louis on her next tour. If she does come to town, her entourage of Swifties, and perhaps Taylor herself, might want to visit The Tap Room, where they would note the inscription over the now-closed entrance on Locust Street: John S. Swift Company. Who knows? Our building could be named for one of Taylor’s relatives. I can imagine a scenario in which Taylor orders her first cask-conditioned ale.
“This beer isn’t carbonated,” Taylor said flatly
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery