The Butcher Comes Home!

The Butcher comes home from his exciting adventure today. He said he was going to Vegas, but when he got there, he texted me that he was on his way to Utah. And then the pictures he sent were all of grand canyons and, well, I think the literal Grand Canyon. So, I will wait for the Butcher to get home to hear where he’s actually been.

It’s one of my favorite things about the Butcher. Well, I have lots of favorite things about him. But I love that he is not afraid of the big world. That’s not something I can say about myself.

Also, I was reminded yesterday of the not-so-illustrious career of the pirate Captain John Phillips, whose pirate captain years were fairly short and unsuccessful, what with his crew of eight guys (eleven at the height of his power). I mean, I’m sorry, but a pirate ship with nine crew members is just an angry canoe. He’s only well-known because his was an angry canoe with a surviving list of things the pirates could and could not do.

Here’s the thing. I found some Phillipses in Connecticut who had his stuff. A woman had some gold rings of his. A man had a letter he’d written (this would be in the mid-1700s and he was a pirate a little earlier than that). And the family lore seemed to be that John Phillips was these Phillipses’ either father or grandfather by way of his second wife.

But I couldn’t find anything on my brief internet search about whether his family ended up in Massachusetts.

Still, of course, I am dying to be related to him. We are related to a lot of scoundrels on my dad’s side (and a lot of ministers, with some overlap)–Lizzie Borden, Johnathan Moulton, Mary Sibly and Mary Wolcott. Why can’t we have a pirate in the mix?

If it turns out we are related, my first act will be to capture eight people, put them in a canoe, and force them to listen to things I’ve written!

Don’t ask me, “B. why are you mean?”

“Why do you write stuff?”

“Why do you get angry when I spit out my snuff?

Stop and think it over. Try to put yourself in my unique position.

If I get mean and read you stuff against your will and make you steal from other people, I’m just carrying on an old family tradition.

It almost works.


8 thoughts on “The Butcher Comes Home!

  1. If being related to Captain John Phillips doesn’t work out for you, I have also written about a different pirate named John Phillips in one of my recent papers on pirates as non-state nations. He was one of the Dread Pirate Roberts’ crew and was hung by the British Admiralty off the coast of Africa after a prefunctory trial, but not before he provided some choice quotes for historians. (And of course, he swore he was innocent of all piratical behaviors, never fired his gun and couldn’t even figure out how to bring it to bear on the opposing vessels, only ransacked ships because he was forced to do so.)

  2. I just sent you the paper via email. Pirates are surprisingly useful to think about the evolution of the modern state and what makes a nation a nation. It was easy to think of ethnic entities whose states existed transnationally or internationally (Jamaican maroons, the Six Nations) but all of those have/had/would like to exert sovereignty over a specific place even if that place or places don’t have geographic continguity or map inconveniently over other national boundaries. I started to wonder if it was possible to divorce the idea of a nation from terrestrial boundaries and came up with Golden Age pirates. Basically I’m playing around with 18th century notions of nationhood and subjectship (and pirates, being very bad…indeed, the worst…subjects…the extreme outer limits of these concepts). My current research — if I ever can stop grading long enough to do it — is about the (rumored) pirate families of Madagascar and how early 18th century English legal experts attempted to argue that these bi-racial non-resident non-English speaking sons and daughters of freebooters were still…somehow…English subjects and a potential important source of revenue for the British Crown if only they could be taxed. (Takes me into some very interesting discussions of reproductive labor and nationhood…)

  3. Ha ha ha. When you put it that way, it makes me want to chuck everything else I’m working on and just write about the Angry Canoe of Forced Storytime.

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