November 11th is the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. In the German Rhineland it also marks the start of Carnival Season, which officially begins at 11:11 a.m. on November11th and lasts until Ash Wednesday of the following year. Because Easter is unusually late this year, the upcoming Carnival Season, which is sometimes called the fifth season, will last 115 days, making it longer than any of the four traditional seasons.
The highlight of Carnival Season in Cologne is the parade on Rosenmontag, which falls on March 4th in 2019. Hundreds of thousands of costumed revelers fill the streets of the city, no matter how nasty the weather. The floats often feature wickedly clever and irreverent political commentary. No individual or topic is exempt from being pilloried. Needless to say, beer flows like the Rhine on this particular day.
In the United States the end of World War I led to Prohibition of beer and other alcoholic beverages. Prohibitionists capitalized on anti-German sentiment that had been fueled during the war and pushed through the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, in part to punish German-American brewery owners for their alleged disloyalty. Some supporters of Prohibition were also fervent advocates for women’s suffrage and successfully pushed for the ratification of the 19thAmendment a few months later, giving women the right to vote just in time for the presidential election of 1920. Ironically, the first election in which women temperance advocates were allowed to vote sent Warren G. Harding, a hard-drinking philanderer, to the White House.
Nearly 100 years later another milestone for women is about to be reached in St. Louis. An ownership group that is majority-female has been formed to bring a Major League Soccer team to St. Louis. This is a significant development for several reasons. First, this would be the first women-owned franchise in the MLS. Second, St. Louis has been a soccer hotbed for longer than any alert readers (ARs) can remember. It’s great to see our town’s enthusiasm for the world’s most popular sport recognized by that sport’s governing body in the U.S. Third, Schlafly is a proud sponsor of Saint Louis FC, the current professional soccer team, and we’re delighted that the proposed stadium for the new team would be a short walk from The Schlafly Tap Room. World class soccer and world class beer within a few blocks of each other. Finally, and very importantly, Stan Kroenke will have nothing to do with the new soccer team in St. Louis.
The same cannot be said of Arsenal FC, the fabled English soccer team, which is worth about $2.33 billion. As ARs who follow soccer probably know, Kroenke acquired 70 percent of Arsenal back in 2007. In August of this year he bought the remaining 30 percent from a Russian oligarch named Alisher Usmanov, thus increasing his stake to 100 percent…but not exactly. Kroenke actually increased his ownership position in Arsenal to 98.82 percent …61,484 out of 62,217 shares to be precise. The 733 shares that were still outstanding were held by ordinary fans whose families had typically owned them for generations….far longer than Kroenke or Usmanov had been involved. As was recently reported in several media outlets, Kroenke and his team of lawyers are now forcing these individuals to sell their shares to him. Not surprisingly, these longtime fans aren’t happy with this development.
While women are likely to own a professional soccer team in St. Louis in the near future, it wasn’t until January of this year that women in Saudi Arabia were even allowed into a stadium to watch a match. They are required to sit in a separate section, enter the stadium by a separate entrance and park in separate lots (assuming they’re able to drive to the stadium). Needless to say, neither they nor Saudi men are allowed to drink beer in the stadium or anywhere else in the Kingdom.
As was the case with many ARs of my generation, my first introduction to the history of Saudi Arabia came from the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. While much of the world was focused on the European Theatre in World War I, Colonel T. E. Lawrence was leading Arabs in a war for independence from the Ottoman Empire. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was finally established as an independent, sovereign nation in 1930, five years before Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident. Eighty-eight years after Saudi independence, the Kingdom and Turkey (the vestige of the Ottoman Empire) still aren’t getting along.
The most recent friction involved the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was occasionally critical of the Saudi regime. After going into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to take care of some routine paperwork he was tortured and dismembered because of his views.
I think it’s safe to say there won’t be anything like a free-spirited Carnival parade in the streets of Riyadh any time soon.
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery