Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Scandal.

It’s a movie about politics. And there’s a scandal. OOPS, SPOILER, SORRY.

Salut mes amis! That’s French for, “Happy Election Day America!!!!1!” We here at For Shame!, as avid followers of that perennially absurd circus known as the United States political system, feel that “today”, “November 6th”, might be maybe kind of a little bit of possibly a big deal.*

*Part of this post may have been written a few days ago but publishing was held up because somebody (LHB) couldn’t get her s-h-i-t together.

We are a scandal blog, and from where do more scandals emerge than behind the pressconference podium? We all know that a high pressure job in the political ring can lead to more than one job out of it. Who among us hasn’t snuggled down on the couch some dreary evening with a bowl of popcorn and a bottle of Jack to watch the Reps and Dems make eyes at each other on CSPAN? I mean, The Floor has nothing on PM Question Time, but the Brits are like our older, droller brother who grudgingly gives us alcohol and sometimes lets us hang out with his friends. And no matter how cool they are, those sorts of brothers generally never set very good examples.

So in honor of the past excruciatingly passive-agressive year and a half, filled with fliers, billboards, TV slots, editorials, woefully ill-organized campus rallies, and just constant sensory bombardment, MRG, LHB, and JAF bring you not one, not two, but THREE (count ’em THREE. onetwoTHREE. ’cause there’s THREE of us. …THREE) historical, sexual, political scandals, from that ever-generous vault of Americana, Wikipedia.

Settle in and exercise your democratic right to be titillated by reading our tales of a scandalous First Lady, Vice President, and President. For your consideration:

1. FLORENCE MABEL KLING DEWOLFE HARDING, FIRST LADY (March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923).

FloHard, 29th First Lady of the US and owner of an excellent portmanteau.

Guys, remember that time I wrote a post about Warren G. Harding, his eyebrows, and all the extramarital fucking he did in White House? Well color me embarrassed, because turns out that in neglecting to check out what was a-happening on the other side of the Lincoln Bedroom, I deprived you of a class-A, non-partisan scandal. That’s right, Americans. Florence Harding pulled a pre-term Schwarzenegger.

When she was in her late teens, well before she met ol’ Warren, Florence Mabel Kling was Marion, Ohio’s #1 Most Covetable Babe. She was beautiful and her dad was a powerful banker. I imagine her to have been the Cher Horowitz of her little town. But unfortunately, Henry Athenton DeWolfe, her childhood best friend and next-door neighbor, was no Ex-Stepbrother Josh……………….BECAUSE HE TOTALLY KNOCKED HER UP, WAY THE FUCK OUT OF WEDLOCK.

This was the 1880s! Florence was only 19! Her dad was HELLA mad! By all accounts, Henry should have immediately and discreetly put a ring on it. BUT historians can’t find any official records anywhere in Ohio regarding their marital status. After their son, Marshall, was born, they moved to the nearby town of Galion, where Henry got work at a skating rink and they pretended they were married until common law applied to them. Can’t fight a love like that.

What Florence/Cher said when she considered Marshall’s potential effect on her climb to the top.

Henry turned out to be a big ol’ alcoholic and spent ALL the money he made at the Skate Palace on liquor and curly fries from the snack bar (probably), but Flo stuck it out for six long years until she just couldn’t stand the mess she was in. She was Cher Horowitz, remember? And Flo was totally buggin’ when she saw that her life had become a cautionary tale. So in 1896, she common law divorced Henry and his sloe gin, changed her name back to Florence Kling, and refused financial help from her extremely wealthy parents. Sister was going to do it for herself, because civil rights. In this way, she became the paradigm of another seminal 1990s film character: Dorothy Boyd. And Dorothy/Florence met her Jerry Maguire/Warren Harding in 1890. He had her at hello, she completed him, etc., and the rest is history. Or at least a semi-factual blog post.

But whatever happened to li’l Marshall? Well I’m so glad you asked. Yeah, she just gave him to her parents to raise right before Warren Maguired her, because fuck all those previously held moral convictions, right? Right. And Marshall made things really easy on Warren’s political career by dying of alcoholism and/or tuberculosis five years before the Stepdad-in-Chief took office. Marshall’s kids, the “Harding grandchildren,” were mentioned in the press in the weeks leading up to the 1920 election, but not enough to affect the outcome.

So God Bless America, land o’ the free, home o’ the brave, where a pseudo-marriage and illegitimate, living, breathing child need not impede your path to the top. 

MRG

Admittedly, I don’t hate this….. yet.

2) RICHARD MENTOR JOHNSON, VICE PRESIDENT (MARCH 4, 1837 – MARCH 4, 1841).

The tale I’m about to weave for you is much like our current election—it started out fun and lively, with high dreams and hope and other horseshit like that. We had genuine affection for this election oh so many distant months ago, but now it is a bitter taste in our collective mouth, waiting to be washed away by the dawn of November 7th and gallons of celebratory/consoling liquor.

This election is how I feel about Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson. I mean, it should tell you something that the man has not one, but two euphemisms in his formal name for penis. That’s 2/3. That’s a majority. Look at that topical math.

Johnson started out his career in 1802 promisingly enough as a “good person” or whatever, passing the Kentucky Bar and opening and office in which he often did pro bono work for the plebs. When his father died he inherited an quadroon slave named Julia Chinn and started a relationship with her. Nothing big, nothing new, just a white dude banging his maid.

EXCEPT!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!1 Johnson totally flaunted social mores of the time and told everyone that he was having the secks with Julia, and that he viewed her as his wife. IT WAS LIKE HE PUT A RING ON IT BUT HE COULDN’T PUT A RING ON IT BECAUSE THAT WAS ILLEGAL BUT HE TOTALLY WANTED TO PUT A RING ON IT. It’s unclear how long he was with Julia, but he mos def was chillin’ with his bi-racial biddy for the duration of his time as Senator to Kentucky (1819-1829), until her death in 1833. They had two daughters, to whom Johnson both tried to give full legal status as heirs (didn’t work, but he gave them lots of property and stuff so it was cool), and full educations. He married ’em off to white dudes and they all lived happily ever after.

FALSE. THIS IS WHERE IT GETS SHITTY. ALL THOSE WARM FEELINGS YOU JUST GOT FROM READING ABOUT DICK PENIS? GONE. THEY’RE ALL GOING TO BE GONE IN SECONDS.

Beeeecccccccaaaaauuuse, after Julia died, Johnson started a relationship with another one of his slaves, and when she ran away with another man, he hunted her down and sold her at auction. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! And then he started banging her sister. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH! That’s great, that’s really great, guys. So so great.

This is what Richard Johnson now sees EVERY. DAY.

He was Martin Van Buren’s veep from 1837 to 1841. After that he burned in hell for being the world’s biggest craphole.*

JAF

*Unconfirmed.

3) JOHN QUINCY ADAMS ; A PRESIDENT WHO LIKED WEARING HIS NUDDY PANTS

First of all, I’d just like to say that the reason we didn’t publish this baby on election day is because I was the one who didn’t get their shit written in time.  So I’m SORRY ok.  But I did get the idea to write about JQA’s butt from a friend of a friend at the returns party I went to, so I think we can all agree that all in all I’m doing you a favor, right?  

I would also like to add, before we get started, that the above “blurbs” by my co-writers are bu’shit, because we were supposed to be write A paragraph each.  Rude.  So, that’s what you’ll be getting from me.  Dealwidit:

Bet you wouldn’t not want to see what’s under those pantaloons.

On what I imagine to be a crisp fall day sometime between 1794 and 1797, Quincy threw on his flippy floppies and ran across his back lawn.  He found himself on the banks of his favorite watering hole, the Potomac river.  It was to these shores that he walked at 5:00am every morning in order to partake in his morning skinny dip.  A lady reporter named Ann Royall found out about his morning swim.  She had been snubbed by him before (I imagine at a press conference, but I don’t really think they let ladies into press conferences in the late 18th century), so she snuck into the white house lawn (probably they didn’t have the secret service yet) and down to the Potomac and sat her little ass down right on top of Quincy’s clothes.  I imagine she was sipping on a bloody mary or something, wearing sunglasses and tanning oil.  Ms. Royall said to the naked commander in chief, “Bro, there is no way I’m giving you your long johns…UNLESS you agree to let me interview you.” Mr. Adams did NOT want to let a madam interview him, but what he REALLy didn’t want, was for a lady to see his ding-dong.  Because, you know, he’s a gentleman AND a scholar.  So, he relents.  And THAT, my friends, is the story of how skinny dipping led to the very first interview of a president by a female journalist ever in the history of these United States.

LHB

Happy two days after election day, fellow Americans.  To this sweet land of liberty, we sing.*

*Drink.


A Good Round of Heavy Petrarching.

But really.

Hey guys. Hey. It’s me. JAF. I’m not dead. I’m not even critically injured, horrifically maimed, or otherwise physically incapacitated. I’m just lazy. So incredibly, amazingly, astoundingly, mind-bendingly lazy.

I last appeared as a blip on the proverbial blogosphere radar 6 months ago, and I genuinely have no adequate reason for my absence from this, my internet baby. So I’ll just put it out there that MRG, LHB and KAB are the best (and most forgiving) minds of my generation and thankfully they have not been destroyed by the madness of my Chris McCandlessian self-indulgence. Thank you, bless you, I’m sorry, let’s move on.

As it so happens, I am currently back in the Old Country, from whence the germ of this blog was first conceived, studying the things I study the best—whiskey, unfiltered cigarettes, odd sleeping hours, and Medieval Literature. So as a “welcome back, old bean” sort of post, I’d like to introduce you to a dear, dear frienemy of mine, Petrarch.

I often ask myself hypothetical questions to while away the hours in between my various pretentious activities, and I have pondered on more than one occasion, “Can I have a deep and completely only somewhat irrational antipathy towards someone that I have not only never met, but who died approximately 600 years ago?” When it comes to Petrarch, the answer is absofuckinglutely.

You see, Francesco Petrarca, as the Eyetalyuns knew him, was the first to call that roughly thousand year period between the Fall of Rome and the beginnings of the European Renaissance, “The Dark Ages.”

What an utter bastard he was.

I mean, I dunno about you guys, but Petrarch looks like a pretty fun dude.

As a member of the Italian intellectual class, and an early Renaissance humanist, Petrarch didn’t cast too kindly an eye upon the lives and times of his forefathers—and who can blame him, really? The oceanic-trench of a chip on my shoulder about how people don’t “appreciate” the “cultural” “flowering” of the medieval period is my cross to bear, and hopefully some day I’ll be able to hear that most well-meaning of phrases, “Oh, you study the Middle Ages? So you like Ren Faires, right?” without weeping. So, as a staunch defender of my world lit only by fire, I fundamentally despise Petrarch in the same way that popular fiction tells us dogs fundamentally have to pee on fire hydrants.

But I also feel bad for Petrarch. You see, among all his genuine achievements—like collecting, preserving and translating a multitude of Classical writings that would most likely been lost without his efforts, and various original writings on Christian philosophy, diplomacy and the usage of the Latin language—Petrarch is, and probably will only ever be, remembered best for his incredibly passionate, declarative poems to a woman he met once.

There’s a certain type of sympathy (alright, it’s actually pity) I reserve for men who spend their lives writing reams to a slampiece they’ll never have. Everyone knows this is a wellhonored literary tradition—Petrarch was by no means the first sad sonovabitch to lust after that (always) perfect and (always, for some unfathomable reason) unobtainable poon, nor will he be the last. But thank Jesus for those men down the ages who have tried to come to terms with their goshdarned unfortunate sexual frustration through painfully personal verse, and, either because of shamelessness or on the “advice” of vindictive friends, have decided to let the world in on their emotional constipation and published that shit. Well, thank Jesus for the talented ones, anyway.

Hey, I’d hit that.

Petrarch’s muse was a lady named Laura. They supposedly met in church in 1327, and for the next forty years, almost to Petrarch’s death, he put pen to parchment in her imaginary honor. The collection of his 366 poems is called Il Canzoniere, and is perhaps the biggest influence on love poetry in Europe for the next 300 years. Divided into two sections, “in vita,” and “in morte” by Laura’s death in 1348, Petrarch deals largely with the fact that no matter how much he loves Laura (which makes him happy), he can never have her (which makes him sad), so he refuses to pursue her (since that would be sinful, and sin makes him sad), and just has to deal with loving her passionately from a distance (which makes him sad-happy). (s’dappy).

It all sounds very “dear diary,” since, well, you know, it is, but Petrarch can be forgiven for all the sex he ensured he was not having, because his poetry is so stupidly, asininely, heartbreakingly beautiful. Goddammit I just want to hate him, but he hurts my heart too much:

“If it, indeed, must be my fate,

and Heaven works its ways,

that Love close up these eyes while they still weep,

let grace see my poor body

be buried there among you

and let my soul return to its home naked;

then death would be less harsh

if I could bear this hope

unto that fearful crossing,

because the weary soul

could never in a more secluded port,

in a more tranquil grave,

flee from my poor belabored flesh and bones.”

Fuck that.

So while it’s not a particularly scandalous return, I stick by my choice. Because, like that other great Latin poet of libidinal verse said, “I hate and I love.” So here’s to you, Petrarch—you’re too talented to join the great and ever-growing pantheon of pseudo-intellectuals which contains my other nemesi, but I can still have my revenge and tell the readership of this mildly popular blog the world about how you spent your life alternating between verbally crying and masturbating over The Pussy on a Corinthian Column.

“Fortune and Love, and my own mind, which shuns

what it sees now and turns back to the past,

afflict me so that there are times I feel

envy for those who’ve reached the other shore.

While Love wears out my heart, Fortune deprives it

of any comfort, and my foolish mind

gets angry and it weeps—so in great pain

forever I must live and fight this way.

Nor can I hope the sweet days will return,

I see what’s left me go from bad to worse,

and I’ve already run half of my course.

Alas, not made of diamond but of glass

all of my hope I see slip from my hands

and every thought of mine split down the middle.”

What an utter bastard he was.

JAF.