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I knew Black Friday, and You Sir, are no Black Friday

Robinson Crusoe illustration by OffterdingerIf this year’s “Black Friday” fails to pull retailers out of their red ink, should the dubious protologism retire its presumption to speak for consumer confidence? I think it should. Wasn’t it really just an economist’s “for the Gipper” meme –putting the solvency of the market on the shoulders of Christmas shoppers, rallying them to pull the economy into the black, regardless if it meant spending themselves into the red? I hate it when emotion-charged phrases are usurped by pretenders. Hiroshima was “Ground Zero” before the WTC, the “Homeland” was Nazi Germany, and “Black Friday” was Robinson Crusoe’s, well, Man Friday.

“Black Friday” in general has represented whichever awful event befell that day of the week of recent memory. It may be a wonderful anti-racism step to appoint a rare positive attribution to the word “black,” but I object to its use here to exacerbate affluenza, targeted against the best efforts of sustainability educators to reframe the day-after-Thanksgiving as Buy Nothing Day. If you are a booster for consumerism, black is an accounting concept meaning profitability. But how disingenuous to expect that those outside the balance sheet should share the enthusiasm. For example, it’s not everyone’s Good Friday just because Notre Dame wins that day. Good Friday, by the way, is also called Black Friday, as is any Friday that falls on the 13th.

Below I will list history’s Black Fridays, lest nocturnal Wikipedia cobbler elves continue their PR visits to bolster the retailer claim to the term. According to “Wikipedia” the earliest citation for a shopper’s “Black Friday” is 1966. But in actuality, the expression came from Philadelphia bus drivers and policemen referring to the traffic congestion created at their city center on the busiest shopping day of the year. But Philadelphia retailers objected to the negative connotation. Perhaps as a result, the “black ink” angle surfaces, attributed to a store clerk, offering a more upbeat, chamber-of-commerce-friendly spin. Hmm.

Many people think Black Friday recalls the Stock Market Crash of 1929. It does, and they’re right to be confused about which day of the week it was in particular, because the first day of the crash became known as Black Thursday, followed by Black Friday, then the next trading days, Black Monday and Black Tuesday.

What other occasions in man’s history have warranted the dark coloration? Let’s begin with Black Sabbath:

Black Saturdays
Sept 10, 1547, disaster for Scottish defenders at Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, Scotland
Aug 6, 1621, Mass hysteria caused by dark stormy night confirming Armageddon arrived with Episcopacy, Scotland
Dec 28, 1929, Massacre of Mau demonstrators by NZ police, Samoa
June 13, 1942, Disastrous UK Battle of Gazala against German Afrika Korps
June 29, 1946, UK Operation Agatha against Zionist terrorists in Palestine
Oct 8, 1962, height of A-bomb scare, Cuban Missile Crisis
Dec 6, 1975, Beirut massacres which started Lebanese Civil War, Lebanon
July 31, 1982, worst road accident in French history, (on annual “Black Saturday” when entire of population takes to the road for vacation)
July 14, 1984, Honk Kong exchange rates fall to all time low
Aug 20, 1988, worst day of Yellowstone Fires
Jan 20, 1990, January Massacre of Azeri demonstrators by Soviet Army, Azerbaijan
Feb 7, 2009, brush fires, Victoria, Australia

Black Sundays
Feb 14, 1926, bush fires, Victoria, Australia
April 14, 1935, “Black Blizzard” over Dust Bowl, the Great Plains of US and Canada
Feb 6, 1938, fatal waves on Bondi Beach, Australia
Nov 8, 1942, Nazi extermination of Jews in Staszow, Poland
June 11, 1944, disastrous Canadian battle against German Panzers, Normandy, France
Sept 24, 1950, sunlight blocked by forest fires, Pennsylvania
Jan 2, 1955, brush fires in Southern Australia
May 2, 1982, Exxon canceled shale oil project in Parachute, Colorado
Nov 24, 1991, extreme right party ascension in Belgium
May 1, 1994, San Marino Grand Prix death of Ayrton Senna
April 26, 1998, DIA inter-terminal subway fails, Denver
Jan 21, 2001, Direct TV purged viewers who were pirating signals
Feb 18, 2001, Datona 500 death of Dale Earnhart
Dec 28, 2008, Detroit Lions finished 0-16

Black Mondays
Easter, 1209, English settlers massacred in Dublin, Ireland
April 14, 1360, Easter misfortune during Hundred Years War
Feb 8, 1886, Pall Mall Riot, London, UK
Dec 10, 1894, Newfoundland bank failure, Canada
Oct 28, 1929, Stock Market Crash, 3rd day of trading
May 27, 1935, US Supreme Court overturns National Recovery Act
Sept 19, 1977, Shutdown of Youngstown, Ohio steel mill
Nov 27, 1978, Assassination of Harvey Milk
Oct 19, 1987, global stock market crash
Oct 8, 1990, Temple Mount Massacre by Israeli IDF, Palestine

Black Tuesdays
Oct 29, 1929, Stock Market Crash
1967, brush fires in Tasmania, Australia
Oct 20, 1987, global stock market crash, because Monday is Tuesday in Australia

Black Wednesdays
Sept 16, 1992, when UK withdrew currency from European Exchange Rate Mechanism, suffering a devaluation of 3.4 billion pounds.
Nov 3, 2004, John Kerry concedes 2004 election immediately after promising to challenge polling irregularities.

Had not the US Stock Exchange been shut down on Tuesday, there would have been a Black Wednesday 1929 as well.

Black Thursdays
Feb 6, 1851, brush fires, Victoria, Australia
Oct 24, 1929, start of US Stock Market Crash
Oct 14, 1943, disastrous US-UK bombing raid over Schweinfurt, Germany
Dec 16, 1943, disastrous UK bombing raid over Berlin, Germany
Aug 24, 1995, Moscow Interbank credit market collapse, Russia
Feb 8, 1998, Black World Wide Web Protest
July 24, 2003, Guatemala City riots, Guatemala

Black Fridays
Sept 24, 1869, collapse of price of gold.
Oct 14, 1881, Eyemouth Disaster, Scotland
Nov 11, 1887, Haymarket hangings of innocent anarchists, Chicago
Nov 18, 1910, Police assault of suffragettes, London, UK
Jan 31, 1919, George Square Riot, during strike for 40hr work week, Glasgow, Scotland
Oct 25, 1929, second day of Stock Market Crash
Jan 13, 1939, bush fires in Victoria, Australia
1940 movie starring Boris Karloff
Sept 18, 1942, Bombing of Dartmouth, Devon, UK
Oct 13, 1944, Disastrous Canadian raid, Battle of the Scheldt, Belgium
Feb 9, 1945, Disastrous UK air raid, Battle of Sunnfjord, Norway
Oct 5, 1945, Hollywood Warner Brothers union riot, led to Taft-Hartley Act
May 5, 1950, Red River Flood, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Oct 7, 1977, Phillies lost to Dodgers, game 3 of National League series
Sept 8, 1978, Massacre of protesters in Tehran, led to Iranian Revolution
May 31, 1985, US-Canadian Tornado outbreak
July 31, 1987, Edmonton Tornado, Alberta Canada
March 12, 1993 Bombay Bombings
Aug 12, 2004, suppression of protests, Male, Maldives
Sept 30, 2005, Students protesters killed in Meghalaya, India
Oct 3, 2008, EESA Wall Street Bailout
–AND–
Nov 28, 2009, the first day of the Christmas shopping season, when America’s retailers balance sheets are brought out of the red.

It fits right?

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