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Published on May 25th, 2013 | by Newt Rayburn


Towel Day Celebration at Frank & Marlee’s in Oxford, Mississippi on May 25, 2013

Towel Day Celebration today at Frank & Marlee’s starting at 5 pm. May 25 celebrates the legacy of Douglas AdamsHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.

by Rebecca Long – from The Local Voice #180

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Towel Day is celebrated annually on May 25th to pay homage to the late creative genius, Douglas Adams, and to stress the significance of towels. It was first celebrated in 2011 two weeks after his demise, May 11th. Frank & Marlee’s will be helping Oxford honor the Hitchhiker’s legacy by holding a Towel Day celebration, beginning at 5 pm on the 25th. Fellow fans can participate by showing up wearing their favorite bath robe/towel combination, reading out loud your most annoying Vogon poems, playing a game of Scrabble with white mice, or bragging about your latest “Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster” experience. Just don’t try to order one of those at the bar—we don’t serve them in this galaxy.

Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy (which consists of five books), as well as the Dirk Gently detective series, a number of the Doctor Who episodes starring Tom Baker, and a quirky video game called Starship Titanic. Published posthumously, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time includes essays by Adams on life, the universe, and everything, plus an unfinished novel intended to be part of the Dirk Gently series.

“What do towels have to do with Douglas Adams?” you might ask. The original quotation which illustrates the importance of towels is found in Chapter Three of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

I realize that if you haven’t read the Hitchhiker’s Guide books, it might all sound a little silly. But it’s summertime—the perfect time to pick up a book and read—and if you haven’t done so, I urge you to read at least the first book in the “increasingly misnamed” trilogy. Hopefully, you’ll laugh out loud by page ten, like so many millions of people before you have done, and appreciate the legacy of Douglas Adams, interstellar ink slinger.

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About the Author

Newt Rayburn founded THE LOCAL VOICE in 2006. Previously, Newt was Editor of PROFANE EXISTENCE in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Art Director for Ole Miss' LIVING BLUES magazine. Newt won a National Magazine Award in 1999 for his SOUTHERN MUSIC ISSUE with THE OXFORD AMERICAN. A seventh-generation Lafayette County, Mississippian, Newt is perhaps best known as the leader of the Mississippi RocknRoll band THE COOTERS, but he also has the Country & Southern Rock group, HAWGWASH. Newt is a Photographer, Writer, and Civil War Enthusiast.

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