May 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
Thanks for that brilliant flash of rap lyricism, John Lajoie! (You should hear the rest of this song; this “joie boy” has evidently never never met a biatch he didn’t disrespect.)
And now that we are in the something something merry month of May, it’s time to celebrate one of the prouder moments in University of Texas at Austin – and American – history: the prosecution of German Americans for supposed disloyalty to the American cause during the first world war.
But, first, let’s talk about sex.
May is a great month for sex. It’s National Masturbation Month — for the onanist in all of us — as declared by Dr. Betty Dodson. And then there’s the Maypole — that which children so innocently dance around today — once revered as God’s sacred phallus thrust into fecund Mother Earth.
After dancing around the Maypole, celebrants would retire to the open fields where they would have sex with anyone and everyone in the plowed fields in order to ensure the fertility of the land and prosperous yield of crops. May was a month of sexual freedom throughout rural Europe up to the 16th century. Marriage bonds were suspended for the month of May, commenced again in June; hence, June weddings (source: http://www.goddess.org/religious_sex.html).
By the 1970s, in May and any other month of the year, there was a “rule of three” among sexually active University of Texas students, that if you hadn’t slept together by the third date, it was time to break off the relationship as a waste of time.
Back in the spring of 1918, the UT “rule of three” meant that boys seldom talked about love or sentimentality until the third date and then after doing nothing along that line during the first two visits, he expected the girl to immediately succumb to him with gratitude.
Now that I have sexed up your attention (hopefully), let’s get back to May 1918 and the polar opposite of love: loathing.
Anti-German sentiment was at its height in the spring of 1918, and a number of prominent Austin citizens were denounced and put on trial for disloyalty to the American cause. In May 1918, UT professor Edward Prokosch was placed under investigation by the federal Department of Justice for possible disloyalty to America. It was charge he vigorously disputed, as the 1919 UT Cactus yearbook staff noted in April 1919, in a feature page on UT’s most distinctive faculty:
“Prokosch, Eduard – Habitually appears on a bicycle and with an American flag in his button-hole. Is reputed to dislike Ambassador Gerard for several reasons. Knows all the languages of Europe, including the Wilhemstrasse, and is taking up Chinese and Sanskrit as a pastime.”
Prokosch would resign from the University of Texas on July 7, 1919, over those questions of his loyalty to the United States during the world war.
It did not help matters that Mrs. Edward Prokosch provided entertainment for a benefit for German war babies held at Scholz Garden on February 24, 1917, before American had entered the war.
In the 1960s and 1970s, America’s – and Austin’s – hatred turned to hippies, in part for their return to the free love philosophy of the Maypole days.
As America went to war in the fall of 1917, the most distinctive UT co-ed was freshman Gertrude Prokosch, Austin’s first jazz age prodigy and proto-hippie chick. She was but 14 years of age, probably the youngest university co-ed in the country at the time, and had been admitted to the University of Texas after taking examinations in English, Latin, Ancient History, German, Algebra and Geometry and making perfect grades in four of the subjects.
Her remarkable record was not due to any special training given by her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Edward Prokosch. On the contrary, her school had been often interrupted. Born in Chicago in 1903, she first attended a private school in Milwaukee, then three different schools during a year spent in Germany, finally entering the public schools of Austin when her family moved here in 1913.
Gertrude had also studied music and was an accomplished pianist. But she was unusually gifted as a dancer, interpreting the music with unerring instinct and an almost countless number of graceful movements. She was splendidly developed physically.
Best of all, she was still a child, natural and unspoiled, enjoying romps and walks outdoors, and giving doll theatre performances to her little friends, leading the dolls, speaking their parts, and often writing the plays herself.
Before entering UT, she had danced publicly in February and March 1917 in a program of folk-lore tableaux and dances given by the Mutterdank Society at the KC hall and Scholz Garden, Gertrude performed in two ensembles, Classical Dance and Fairy Dance, as Princess Ilse with the Dwarfs, and solo in Hindoo Dance. She studied artistic dancing under Miss Crosby at UT and performed original solos at campus recitals through at least February 1919.
After Gertrude and her family left Austin in 1919, she graduated from Bryn Mawr College, receiving a BA in 1922 and an MA in art history in 1928, concurrently studying music and dance in Berlin, Philadelphia, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island, from 1922-1928. She then studied music and dance at the Yale School of Drama at Yale University, from 1929-1930.
From 1923-1946 she was a teacher, performer, producer, and choreographer of modern dance.
She danced and taught professionally as “Tula” from 1922-46 before turning to the study of American Indian dance. She did extensive fieldwork and published hundreds of articles in publications like the Journal of American Folklore, Folklore Americas, and El Palacio, on Iroquois, Pueblo, Six Nations, and Great Lakes dance; she also contributed to dance theory and notation.
In 1930 she married Hans Kurath, a dialectologist and lexicographer who had studied under her father at University of Wisconsin. When Dr. Prokosch, a linguist, moved to Austin to teach German at the University of Texas in 1913, Kurath transferred to Austin to stay with his mentor and received his AB in German in 1914.
Gertrude Prokosch was a leader in organizations such as The Society for Ethnomusicology and Congress on Research in Dance. Prokosch was active in her community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she wrote for the Ann Arbor News, and founded the Dance Research Center in 1962.
Gertrude died in 1992, without ever having enjoyed the “rap genius” of Jon Lajoie, whose other works of greatness include “Fuck Everything,” “I Kill People,” and “Everyday Normal Guy.”
As did Frank Zappa, who spent his adult life fighting for First Amendment rights.
“I am as entertaining as a fuckin STD.” You better believe it, bro fo.
Is this a great country or what?