The Kentucky Derby is:
Exactly what Hunter S. Thompson said it was. It used to be just a week long. The week party that was a marathon, a balloon race, a steamboat race, a Friday party and the big shindig on Saturday. And then the corporate folks got involved. Churchill Downs entered the stock market race. And then our week to shine became a non-stop three week commercial for Kroger’s poisonous roses and an international airport that UPS uses to stage its assault on our lungs – crop dusting us all night with the fumes from the interests of some Arab’s region. The Kentucky Derby is a thunderous celebration of militaristic Chinese explosions. It is a celebration of tax breaks, good ol’ boy networks and bonded whiskey gentry politics.
It used to be my Grandma’s hard boiled eggs and a keg of beer in the backyard. A party three yards wide and all day and night long. The Derby used to be the time when us natives sang our hearts out around a basement Germantown bar and then woke up hungover to sing again at church. The greatest two minutes in sports used to be the T.V. out of place, attached to a long extension cord, outside in the backyard. It was Dad, heading over to a bar, Tim Tam’s, named for a derby horse, to take the family bets to the bookie. The Kentucky Derby was my aunts cutting out little pieces of the newspaper and us kids getting to bet two bucks on a horse.
The Kentucky Derby is a Pappy Van Winkle load of bullshit. It is what it is, just like how the corporate sponsors don’t really want to admit, that when their private jets land, they park their flying machines at the Muhammad Ali International Airport. And what most tourists don’t know, is that Col. Harland Sanders and Cassius Clay are resting in peace in the same dirt where Revolutionary war and Civil war soldiers sleep where the rich people go to die. The Derby was, because today it aint, because ain’t is a word, round here.
The Kentucky Derby is the day, I sit, and wish for the good old days to come back. Like when I got to drink my first Falls City Beer or when Grandma would have herself a highball and then dance with ol’ Grandad! Bonded in memory, his IBEW local 369 union family picnic he attended in spirit. The Derby is all that, decadent, depraved, and Hunter was right. And if he was alive, he would have loved our party. The Wright’s FREAK POWER electrician’s – German -American Club singing derby party. Y’all come! Just 3 blocks away from Mulberry Hill, George Rogers Clark Park. York and Sacajawea may be among the living!
The Kentucky Derby is a horse race, built on slavery. It’s gambling. It’s just one of those things us locals have to deal with. Because money makes the horses go round and round. The Kentucky Derby is Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys singing, Run ol’ Molly run, Run ol’ Molly run! Tenbroeck gonna beat you to the bright shining sun! And that is song about the first derby. A slave horse and Kentucky history. And I guess, this was for Ol’ Hunter, like his put himself into the story journalism. The Kentucky Derby is Gonzo!!, always will be.
The Derby is insane and whatever the hell you want it to be! The Kentucky Derby is … on Saturday, the first Saturday in May and I am a Steamboat Fireman, from the Belle of Louisville, reporting – because I am furloughed. And, that is the rest of the story … The Great Steamboat Race, didn’t happen, just like today, The Derby won’t run! It is what it is and we all know the Steamboat race is actually the race to watch, because there ain’t no rules in Steamboatin’.
And if you don’t know what I am talking about, it’s because you ain’t from around here. This is Kentucky! Just like Twain said, “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Kentucky, because everything there happens 20 years after it happens anywhere else.” And some people say he never said that, but it’s true blue, just like me, and I am John Paul Wright reporting. Amen and woymen too. And, they’re off. Covid 19 with Andy Beshear riding for the win!
John Paul Wright