Note to self, as a future historical-figure-ghost: If Sarah Palin and Paul Revere are any indication, the best way to trend on Twitter 200 years after your death is to have someone controversial give a particularly strange recounting of your life's work, as informed by his or her favorite amendment. (As an F. Scott Fitzgerald fan I plan on getting his name back into the news by writing about his classic The Great Gunsby, not to mention This Side of Paradise, Quartering is Also Prohibited. But more on that later.)
As best as I can tell, the ingredients for a historical-figure-awakening at this juncture are a source text, in this case Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride"; a particularly memorable way of speaking and understanding the world, in this case Sarah Palin's stream-of-consciousness public speaking; and a particular constitutional amendment to overemphasize, in this case the second one.
While I eagerly await the YouTube Hive Mind's mash-up of Sarah Palin's Paul Revere with the Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere," which is about the time Paul Revere's guns were stolen by a sheriff after he besmirched the honor of that sheriff's daughter, I have three songs to offer for your own misinterpreting pleasure, and some amendments that go particularly well with their stars.
Song: They Might Be Giants, "James K. Polk" Voice: The guy who typewrites letters to the editor of your local newspaper Amendment: The Twenty-second, about term limits The history of James K. Polk: "Dear Sir I read your article the other day about Presidents the other Day and I was interested in if you knew the Story about James K. Polk----our 11th President----who Ran on the Platform what if he choose to run for more than 1 4-Year Term he would be Executed by a Large Rock atop Jefferson Pier and his Term ended and he stepped down and that's the Story of James K. Polk our 11th and Greatest President."
Song: Sufjan Stevens, "Saul Bellow" Voice: Someone who's just read The Adventures of Augie March and liked it, really liked it. Amendment: The Eleventh, about sovereign immunity. The history of Saul Bellow: "Saul Bellow, that somber fellow--going about things as he taught himself, allegory style, made a stirring defense of sovereign immunity in his own way: Writing about Augie, who moves all over the place, outside Chicago, his native home, or non-native, as it were; and nevertheless with his shabby unbowed individualism gets ahead in life and moves to motion-pictures France without bringing suit against Illinois, whether a citizen there or not as the rulings in Bellow's dotage, when he remained bad-church-choir sharp, would confirm after those many years."
Song: Billy Joel, "We Didn't Start The Fire" Voice: Nervous high-school valedictorian Amendment: The Twenty-eighth, currently unratified pending my election to congress, providing for an immediate federal investigation into the identity of the firestarter. The history of 1949-1989: "What is fire? Webster's Dictionary defines fire as 'the phenomenon of combustion manifested in light, flame and heat.'
"Lots of people haven't started the fire, including Harry Truman, Doris Day, Johnnie Ray, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio, Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Marilyn Monroe, the Rosenbergs, Sugar Ray, Marlon Brando, Holden Caulfield, Dwight Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth II, Rocky Marciano, Liberace, George Santayana, Stalin, Georgi Malenkov, Gamel Abdel Nasser, Sergey Prokofiev, Nelson Rockefeller, Roy Campanella, Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Albert Einstein, James Dean, Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Brigitte Bardot, Nikita Khrushchev, Grace Kelly, Boris Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Jack Kerouac, Zhou Enlai, Charles de Gaulle, Buddy Holly, Judah Ben-Hur, Fidel Castro, Edsel Ford, Syngman Rhee, John F. Kennedy, Chubby Checker, Ernest Hemingway, Adolf Eichmann, Bob Dylan, T.E. Lawrence, any of the Beatles, John Glenn, Sonny Liston or Floyd Patterson, most of the Popes, Malcolm X, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon again, Ronald Reagan, the Ayatollah, Sally Ride, Bernie Goetz, and any of the rock-and-roller veterans of the Great Cola Wars of 1989.
"But who did start the fire, and why is it still burning? On the road of the future I know Valley High '89 will be driving the 'car of knowledge.' Thank you!"
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.