The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Presidents Day’

Reagan the Joker; Reagan the Joke

February 17, 2014 | by

Reagan_train_tour600

Ronald Reagan on a whistle-stop train tour, 1984

BLOOM

Not long ago President Reagan, who should be remembered only for his jokes because his jokes I think are really very good, was asked how it was he could have managed eight years as president and still look so wonderful. Did you see this?

INTERVIEWER

No.

BLOOM

It was in the Times. He said, “Let me tell you the story about the old psychiatrist being admired by a young psychiatrist who asks, ‘How come you still look so fresh, so free of anxiety, so little worn by care, when you’ve spent your entire life sitting as I do every day, getting worn out listening to the miseries of your patients?’ To which the older psychiatrist replies, ‘It’s very simple, young man. I never listen.’ ” Such sublime, wonderful, and sincere self-revelation on the part of Reagan! In spite of all one’s horror at what he has done or failed to do as President, it takes one’s breath away with admiration.

—Harold Bloom, the Art of Criticism No. 1

* * *

TRILLIN

I’ve often said that someone trying to write satirically in this country faces the problem of writing something sufficiently bizarre so that it might not come true while his article is on the presses. The Reagan Administration was difficult that way. Once, at a reception for big-city mayors in Washington, President Reagan was approached by his own Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and the president said, Hello, Mr. Mayor, how are things in your city? Now, what does that leave for me?

—Calvin Trillin, the Art of Humor No. 3

7 COMMENTS

American History X

February 17, 2014 | by

warren harding600

Warren G. Harding, c. 1923; oil on canvas, by Margaret Lindsay Williams.

My dad is a man who likes to make time. Forget roadside attractions, lingering meals, and charming scenic routes: when we traveled as a family, speed was our goal. He especially liked to break previous records; I remember trying to see how many exits we could pass on the Long Island Expressway before the end of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” (To this day, hearing the opening chords of “Here Comes the Sun” stress me out.)

The one exception to this rule was presidential homes. And in the late nineties, my father was going through a major Warren G. Harding phase. So, when my parents drove me out to Chicago to start college, there was no question but that we would detour off the I-90 to Marion, Ohio, to visit the Harding house.

With all due respect to Monticello and Lincoln’s cabin, there is a particular charm to what I hesitate to call “minor” presidential homes. Lindenwald, the Martin Van Buren house in Kinderhook; Springfield, the Louisville boyhood home of Zachary Taylor; Lancaster, PA’s Wheatland, where Buchanan lived out his final years. These places are important to their communities. Taken together, they make up a bigger proportion of the country’s history than Hyde Park or the Hermitage, and they are sustained purely on the strength of the enthusiasm of volunteers.

Said volunteers are rarely prepared for my dad. His knowledge is vast, his ardor unwavering, his memory for presidential trivia intimidating. I have seen guides delighted by such an attentive visitor. Others recoil in fear and uncertainty. I was concerned as we approached 380 Mt. Vernon Avenue in the charming town of Marion, because I knew full well that in this instance, he had an agenda. Read More »

Comments Off

A Frock of Luxurious Distinction, and Other News

February 17, 2014 | by

New-York-Styles-Perry-Dame-600

Image via Retronaut

  • It’s Presidents Day, and surely you’re looking to relax with a presidential biography. There have been roughly fifteen thousand books written about Abraham Lincoln. These are the ones worth reading.
  • New York Fashion Week is over, but it’s never too late to scrutinize these 1919 advertisements for “New York styles”: “a frock of luxurious distinction,” a “wool chiffon panama skirt,” a “bewitching little turban.”
  • “Signifying nothing is harder than it looks.” “At Starbucks I order under the name Godot. Then leave.” Behind the Adorno-esque Twitter presence of @NeinQuarterly, one of the medium’s finest aphorists.
  • Now that Valentine’s Day is behind us, let’s take a hard look at the history of divorce.
  • At last, scientific evidence that those who troll the Internet—lurking in comments sections and hurling epithets like so much feces—are sadistic and psychopathic.

 

NO COMMENTS