BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO THE GREAT, NOT-SO-GREAT AND DOWNRIGHT ABOMINABLE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS

  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO THE GREAT, NOT-S0-GREAT AND DOWNRIGHT ABOMINABLE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS

    8) MARTIN VAN BUREN

    President from 1837-41

    A widower, he had no First Lady. The position was filled by his daughter, Angelica.

    Claimed to find slavery immoral but fought steadfastly against abolition.

    Fought against bringing Texas into the Union.

    Was nicknamed Old Kinderhook which, some claim, to be the origin of the acronym OK.

    Imposed sanctions on the nation's banks resulting in thousands of nervous customers withdrawing their money and causing mass unemployment among the banking community. This outbreak of financial ruin was known as the Panic of 1837. Van Buren was bitterly dubbed Van Ruin.

    Inspired the Seinfeld episode where Kramer meets a gang called the Van Buren Boys and accidentally flashes their gang sign-eight fingers aloft--thus saving himself from a VB beatdown.

     

  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO BOY BANDS

    98 DEGREES

    You may think of them as saps and perennial second-tier,also-rans bringing up the rear in the boy band pantheon, but to author, journalist, broadcaster and overall friend of the blog, Lori Majewski, 98 Degrees were gods made flesh. Let her explain...

    Backstreet versus ‘NSYNC. Justin Timberlake or Nick Carter? Which is better: No Strings Attached  or Millennium? As the 20th Century turned into the 21st, boy band fans partook in these battles. While neither of Lou Pearlman’s chart-topping fab fives edged out the other in my eyes (while Backstreet had the better songs, ‘NSYNC bested them as overall entertainers), it was another vocal combo altogether that had my heart from the very start: 98 Degrees. 

    They’d yet to sign their first record deal when I first met them at the All-Star Cafe in Times Square. “You look like you should be a singing group,” I told the four of them, who were similarly outfitted in sports jerseys (though none of them matched).   

    The very next day, the quartet — Jeff Timmons, Justin Jeffre, Nick Lachey and Drew Lachey (the “Baby Spice,” he wore a backwards baseball cap) — crashed my office at teen-magazine YM. On bended knees, they presented me a dozen red roses and serenaded me with a few acapella songs. They explained that they were going to be the next Boyz to Men, not the next New Kids on the Block. Indeed, although Drew’s future-wife had been a Rockette, and he’d go on to win Dancing With the Stars, they were pretty useless when it came to choreography. But, boy, could they harmonize! Not long after, I asked them to be the featured attraction at the launch party for my new venture: Teen People. The opening act? A group no one had ever heard of…yet: ‘NSYNC! 

    Soon after, 98 Degrees became the first white group to sign with Motown, and their first single, “The Invisible Man,” remains one of my favorite songs from the pop 90s. They went on to sell more 10 million records, but they never forgot one of their earliest champions — they even allowed this Star Wars fanatic to tag along when they got invited to George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch!  

    Last summer I got to see 98 Degrees in concert on their sold out My2K tour. It’s been more than two decades since I first heard them sing, and they were as unjaded as ever. They aren’t even bitter that about not being included in the Backstreet-versus-‘NSYNC face-off. In fact, 98 Degrees delighted the 6,000-plus crowd — the biggest bachelorette party I’d ever been to — with their own take on those groups’ biggest hits, “Bye Bye Bye” and “I Want It That Way.” But my favorite moment of the night? When they covered the Purple One’s turn-of-the-millennial jam, giving it a totally different meaning. Oh, how I loved partying like it was 1999 again with 98!

     

     

  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO THE GREAT, NOT-S0-GREAT AND DOWNRIGHT ABOMINABLE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS

    7) ANDREW JACKSON

    President from 1829-37

    Founder of the Democratic Party.

    The first Irish-American President.

    Saw himself as a man of the people rather than an intellectual elite.

    Filled his cabinet with businessmen, most of whom he would later dismiss.

    Invited the public to the White House for his inauguration ball. So many tuned up that fights broke out.

    Tried on several occasions to abolish the Electoral College.

    Jackson and his wife Rachel had no biological children but adopted three boys, two of whom were infant native American infants.

    Jackson was the target of the first attempt to assassinate an American president on january 30, 1835 when Richard Lawrence, an unemployed English housepainter, tried and failed to shoot him twice. An enraged Jackson chased after Larence and beat him with his cane. Two years earlier, Robert Randolph, who had been drummed out of the US Navy for embezzlment, managed to punch Jackson in the face.

    His portrait appears on the $20 bill, even though Jackson himself distrusted paper money, preferring the reassuring feel of gold and silver coins.

     

  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO BOY BANDS

    BIG BANG

    Imagine if there was a sell-by date for your pop star crush, not because you have fickle tastes, not because of maturity, but because you know there will come a point in time they have to stop singing and dancing and start assembling rifles. Such is the case for artists hailing from South Korea. On the one hand, no nation in the world boasts an industry so intent on continually manufacturing fresh boy bands, and no nation boasts an audience so willing to accept them. On the other hand-the less good hand--South Korea has compulsory military conscription which means the members of these endless bands only have a short window to become famous before they depart for two years of military service.

    This year, one of K-Pop's most durable outfits, BIGBANG, starts to lose members to the army. TOP and G-Dragon are first to hang up their glittery costumes, with the other three members to follow next year.

    Let's wish these guys a safe couple of years out of the spotlight and let's hope they sytill have an audience when they get back.

     

     

  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO THE GREAT, NOT-S0-GREAT AND DOWNRIGHT ABOMINABLE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS

    6) JOHN QUINCY ADAMS

    President from 1825-29

    The son of President John Adams

    First US minister to Russia

    He became a lawyer without attending law school

    He was the brains behind James Monroe's eponymous Doctrine

    Spent much of his presidency at war with his VP, John C. Calhoun, who undermined him  at every opportunity

    He argued in the Supreme Court for the slaves who seized the ship, The Amistad, overthrew the crew and tried to sail back to Africa. The court ruled in their favor.

     

  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO BOY BANDS

    TAKE THAT

    If you're an American person, your familiarity with Britain's Take That begins and ends with Back For Good. But by the time, that sumptuous song had crossed the Atlantic, Take That's glory days were already behind them.

    The group had scored handfuls of hits in their homeland, the majority of which were written by  founder Gary Barlow, ironically their least scream-worthy member. The more scream-worthy members, two of whom were employed for their diligence at the gym and their ability to rip off their shirts in time to the beat rather than any kind of singing ability, had whipped the UK  into a molten hysteria. And the bad boy of the group, Robbie Williams, was about to sensationally quit the band in a Zayn-like grasp for independence.

    Soon after Back For Good, Take That called it a day causing British suicide hotlines to draft in small armies of volunteers to cope with the outpourings of grief from devastated fans.

    Over the next decade, Robbie Williams would ascend to superstardom. Gary barlow's attempt at launching a solo career would sputter and fade. One of the other ex-members would devote his time to building a garden shed.

    And then they got back together. Unlike most reunions, it was a triumph. They had not lost a single fan. More than that, they found a way to pull off the trick that eludes most boy bands: they were able to grow up.

    Robbie Williams, who had used his stardom to openly mock the decline of his former colleagues, now found himself eclipsed by the return of Take That. So he did the one thing he swore he'd never do: he got back together with the band for a new--and fantastic -- album, and a blockbusting tour.

    Post-Williams, the bloom went off the Take That rose. Another member left, reducing them to a three-piece. Their next album was a snooze. Currently,  Gary Barlow is hosting a  show on British TV designed to find five singing actors talented enough to play Take That in an upcoming West End musical based on their rise, fall, rise and current position which is neither a rise or a fall.

     

     

     

  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO THE GREAT, NOT-S0-GREAT AND DOWNRIGHT ABOMINABLE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS

    5) JAMES MONROE

    President from 1816-1825

    Last of the Founding Fathers to serve as President.

    Author of the Monroe Doctrine which proclaimed that America should be free from European colonization and free from European interference. It further said that America should stay in neutral in European wars.

    When he ran for re-election in 1820 he had no opponent and received all electoral votes but one(New Hampshire was the holdout). His second term was known as the Era Of Good Feelings.

    The city of Monrovia in Liberia was named after him. It was a destination for freed Ameican slaves. Of course, Monroe was an unrepentant slave owner who feared that if they were frred, laves would rise up against their oppressors so he went along with the decision to ship them back to Africa.

    The White House was first painted white during Monroe's occupancy.

    He bought Florida from Spain for $5 million.

    Like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams before him, Monroe died on the fourth of July.

     

  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO BOY BANDS!

    NEW EDITION

    Are the they most influential boy band of all time? No, they wouldn't have existed without the Jackson Five, but do they have the most influence on the modern-day boy band phenomenon as we know it? YES! Without the Boston quintet, there would be no Boys II Men. Without Boys II Men, there would be no Backstreet Boys or N Sync. No N Sync, no Timberlake. It's a whole butterfly effect.

    Not only did New Edition record a song called Boys To Men--on their classic Heart Break album-- not only did NE member Michael Bivins put BIIM together, but they laid down a blueprint of how a boy group could successfully age into maturity without losing their original fanbase.

    They also accomplished something no boy band has ever achieved--although One Direction are putting up a convincing fight-- they all went on to solo careers of at least some level of success. Bobby Brown. Bell Biv Devoe. Ralph Tresvant. Latterday member Johnny Gill already had a solo career but went back to it when New Edition went on hiatus.

    Their three-part biopic  rceently shown on BET is filled with arguments, fistfights, bad record deals and inflated egos. It's well worth watching, not just to discover how they started to but to marvel at how long they've lasted.

     

     

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  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO THE GREAT, NOT-S0-GREAT AND DOWNRIGHT ABOMINABLE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS

    4) JAMES MADISON

    President from 1809-17

    Known as the father of the Bill of Rights

    Staunch supporter of the right of American citizens to a civil jury trial

    At 5'4", he is, to date, the shortest President. At 100 pounds, he also weighed less than the average teenage girl of the time.

    His First Lady was the much-loved Dolley Madison whose favorite ice cream flavor was oyster.

     

    In 1814, the British forces invaded and burned down Madison's White House but not before eating his dinner.

    Up until 1945, the Treasury issued $5000 bills and Madison's face was on them.

    Madison and previous president Thomas Jefferson were arrested together for the crime of taking a carriage ride in Vermont on a Sunday, which was against the law of that state.

    On his deathbed, his last words were, "I always talk better lying down"

  • BRIDGET'S GUIDE TO THE GREAT, NOT-S0-GREAT AND DOWNRIGHT ABOMINABLE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS

    3) THOMAS JEFFERSON

    Best known for his role in writing the Declaration of Independence and for having his face on the nickel.

    Jefferson was a well-rounded man of varying interests. He was a voracious reader owning 6,487 books, a musician, an astronomer, a paleontologist obsessed with mammoth fossils, an agriculturist, a wine snob, a food snob and an architecture snob.

    He designed his own house in Charlottesville, Virginia, which he called Monticello(little mountain in Italian.

    The good news: Jefferson did not believe in owning slaves. The bad news: Monticello was built by the slaves he owned. He bore five children with one of them, Sally Hemings.

    He discovered vanilla ice cream in France and brought the recipe back to America.

    Jefferson was the first president to shake the hands of his constituents rather than bowing to them, which gave him the reputation as a man of the people.

    He wrote 18,000 letters but feared public speaking. He delivered his State of the Union address in writing.

    He was a vegetarian or as close to it as you could get in the 1800s, favoring peas, lettuce and fruit over animal flesh.

    He helped to invent the swivel chair.

    He introduced the french fry to America!