It’s American Thanksgiving today. I think I prefer the American date; Canadian Thanksgiving is too early in the season. It’s not even really fall yet. Today was definitely an autumn day. Plus, American Thanksgiving is like a shot fired from a starting pistol, signalling the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas. (Oh, Christmas, how I love you!)
Aside from making me feel all Matrix-y with Thanksgiving deja vu, the internet has totally made me crave my ideal Thanksgiving dinner: tofurkey slathered in mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, candied carrots, homemade perogis stuffed with sauerkraut and mushrooms, my mom’s terrible from-the-box stuffing (I’ll take my mom’s terrible stuffing over the proper stuff any time)… and pumpkin pie. Dear god, the pumpkin pie. The funny thing is… I don’t even really like it all that much. Once I’m two bites in, I have to force myself to finish it. Like Turkish delight and candy canes, the idea of pumpkin pie is far tastier than the actual dessert. In my mind, though, I always think of pumpkin pie as the most mouth-wateringly delicious food ever baked in a flaky pastry shell. Whatever the reality may be.
I’m also feeling a trifle maudlin, with all of the sweet, sentimental, and hilarious tributes to things people are thankful for today. There no such things as too much gratitude, right? Therefore, in honour of American Thanksgiving, I thought I’d write about something I’m (American) thankful for. What has America given me that I appreciate enough to honour with a blog post when I should be sleeping, reading, or actually doing homework?
I thought. I pondered. I puzzled. I watched some YouTube videos and then read another chapter of The Hammer and the Cross. I almost gave up. And then it hit me.
Eugene. Of course. I cannot have a blog and not devote at least one post to Eugene.
So today, on American Thanksgiving, I am (American) thankful for Eugene Hutz, lead singer of Gogol Bordello and King of the Gypsy Punks. Now, I hear a chorus of haters clamouring to point out that Eugene is a Ukrainian dude with Roma ancestry. Quiet, haters. America welcomed Eugene and his family into her flawed and complex embrace when they left Ukraine following the Chernobyl disaster, and Gogol Bordello might never have existed without the great city of New York to incubate and inspire its quick-witted, philosophical, brilliant and bacchant frontman.
And, wait for it – I can connect this to YA! I found Gogol when I was a young adult (there – connected!), and its impact on me was immeasurable. It’s hard being a half-Roma half-breed kid in the suburbs of White-by. Eugene was a hero, a role model (seriously), an inspiration, and damn fine to boot. His seemingly desultory catchphrase “Party!” is really a deliberate, meaningful exhortation to celebrate every moment in life, to be active rather than passive, to be the one to throw the party (and the after-party) instead of waiting for it to start.
The rest of the band is awesome. Especially Sergey (you’re brilliant and my violin idol), Yuri (you’re a doll), Tommy (sing more often, man), and Oren (you’re a man of mystery). But Eugene stands above them all. Eugene is, after all, the WonderLust King.
Thanks, Eugene. Thanks for making the greatest music being made today, quite literally the soundtrack of my life; for expecting people to be aware what’s going on in the world; for wearing the best outfits since David Bowie got classy; for having a mustache way before it was cool, because it’s a Roma cultural tradition (Eugene is the one who made it cool, believe it, bruv). Thanks for being a flippin’ awesome actor, too (is there anything you can’t do?); for giving me an excuse to shout “party!” fourteen times (followed by a bonus “after-party”); for hugging me, not once, but twice (twice!) on one of the greatest nights of my life (after-party!). Thanks for helping me become undestructable; for being a fire-brand rock-god poet rebel maniac; for inspiring me to pick up the violin at the ripe old age of 23. Oh, yeah, and thanks for introducing me to Gogol – Nikolai, that is, and his Overcoat, among others.
Thanks for nights like this:
Every GB concert is a transcendent experience, but that one was special. And man, that was a pit.
Happy American Thanksgiving. Wheel of Morality time (turn turn turn). Let’s appreciate how good we have it here in the true North strong and free, and spread the love.
Even Book Cat loves Eugene!
Bonus: YA Eugene!
Time to pogo to some old-school Gogol!