Welcome. Here, beneath one banner lay many diversions.
Perhaps more than any other aspect of my work as an author, journalist and screenwriter on the vast array of American Culture, I derive the greatest satisfaction in retrieving the lost piece of an unfinished tale, rewarding rightful credit to an ignored hero or restoring facts to balance a biased account.
It has, over time, become a passion of assembling these discoveries into accurate yet dramatically compelling story-lines which may enlighten and inform others about their own lives while entertaining their imaginations.
Their political and cultural impact as Persona can so often be rooted in their experiences as Person. The majority of content here is drawn from that arena.
Dominating Pop Culture for over half the country’s history, Presidents and First Ladies also prove to be windows into an array of other topics: mass media, holidays, advertising, marketing, technology, food, the entertainment industry, racial issues, architecture, symbolism, and most importantly, Self-Identity.
Much of what you will therefor find here are stories on Presidents and First Ladies fused with Pop Culture (how greens Teddy Roosevelt ate, for example, influenced his national policy; how Eleanor Roosevelt helped popularize margarine or Mamie Eisenhower helped popularize the modern American Birthday Party for adults).
It’s a hybrid genre that can perhaps best be categorized as “Presidential Pop.”
Through the Presidents and First Ladies, I’ve discovered the full array of prominent Americans from widely diverse backgrounds who’ve left a legacy of their accomplishments – and their examples of overcoming adversity to make their unique perspective part of the national story.
What marks all of them, regardless of age, profession, religious or ethnic identity, or regionality is a singular commitment to their Individuality.
Whether in pursuit of a conventional goal, the manifestation of their unique vision (be it engineering or dance), or employing a specific gut instinct to retool an old system, these individuals are often unheralded heroes because they are viewed as only being significant symbols or representatives only to the demographic they’ve been identified as belonging to.
The truth is, their stories of pursuit and achievement are relevant and useful to everyone. Look beyond the most popular gadget that’s marketed to everyone or the latest trend or opinion poll and, I believe, you will find that the desire to follow one’s uniquely Individual vision is far more common than not. It’s a theme I intend to pursue here, through biographical sketches of people like this.
You will also find here Pop Culture stories which stand apart from Presidents and First Ladies that underline those contradictions, perplexities and progressions of human nature that are timeless.
Irony, paradox and myth mark our E Pluribus Unum society, from the New Amsterdam Dutch being victims of bigotry, to ogling Dallas Cowgirls while petitioning for chaste school uniforms, to the ingenious fib of Betsy Ross making the first flag, to the technically illegal act of serving original recipe Key Lime Pie.
Attempting to capture that irreverence might help maintain a lighter spirit here. Along the way, I hope that an overt appreciation for what is still the national nature to nurture individualism will poke through.
And this theme so often returns to Presidential Pop.
Rarely have a group of men and women who were first and foremost human beings been distorted, beatified, denigrated, idolized and hated for all the wrong reasons. And yet so many myths about so many Presidents and First Ladies prove resistant to the facts because these tales ultimately serve a far greater purpose than the reality of who these people were as human beings.
Taft did not get stuck in a White House bathtub. Harding was not poisoned by his wife. Reagan did not decide that ketchup should qualify as a vegetable for school lunches. Andrew Johnson was not a drunkard.
And that one about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree which we were all later told was not true?
There’s some suggestion, at least in recent findings in an article here, which suggests he may very well have!
As John F. Kennedy once aptly observed, “Emotions move people more than facts.”
I hope some of this also illustrates that History isn’t irrelevant trivia but accidental and intentional choices affecting us today, made by both the famous and the unknown, all with talents and flaws. That might help us make wise choices in our own stories.
As a political Independent influenced by Mark Twain, Voltaire, Washington Irving, William Makepeace Thackeray, Mae West (as a novelist who brilliantly observed the vagaries of human nature), and Gore Vidal, some might respond to my blog as does my iPod to my music choices, declaring it “unclassifiable.”
That said, I’m reminded of a primal truth learned from my old dog, now gone: how others label us is often arbitrary, even irrelevant to how we define ourselves.
Page around. If the stories are of interest, do subscribe.