Monday, May 11, 2009

Idea 34 - Polk Alive!

All those enormous presidential biographies are huge right now, like John Adams -- I think the appeal is that they let people feel smart without the threat of plot twists or an unexpected ending.

My problem is that I know almost nothing about the presidents and I'm generally opposed to research. But if I cover somebody obscure like James K. Polk, no one will know if I make it all up, right? Like so:

Polk refused to let the Whigs delay his railroad construction initiatives, and so began laying the Paramus-Waukegan line with his bare hands.

For 21 days, the President swung a sledgehammer he had fashioned from a large tree branch and a copy of Homer's collected works, driving home each spike while lecturing passersby on the virtues of temperance and women's suffrage.

On the 18th day, a young girl shyly brought "Ol' Polkie" a large bottle of ether that had been distilled by her dying schoolmarm. The sweating president was charmed to tears, and slugged down the ether in one sip -- a scene that was famously captured in Ezekiel Frome's "Ether Girl" daguerrotype, now on display in the Smithsonian's Polk Annex.

See, that's a book I'd actually read, instead of continually telling people that I soon plan to, which is normally what I do when people try to make me feel guilty for not devouring some heaping pile of old facts.

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