Friday, July 01, 2005

The Ten Greatest Americans

Our fellow Americans: Happy July 4th weekend. In honor of the occasion, Cole Slaw Blog has assembled its list of the 10 greatest Americans, inspired by the Discovery Channel series that was heavily promoted earlier this month. Obviously, there have been a lot of great Americans. Of the millions of candidates, we had to name 10. Not all of you will agree, but that's the beauty of the First Amendment.

10. Ol' Dirty Bastard. May he rest in peace.

9. Jodie Sweetin. America's sweetheart -- or, as some would say, its "Sweetin" heart. As noted on the Sweet Shop at jodiesweetin.net: "From commercials with Sizzler to fame with the hit show, 'Full House,' Jodie Sweetin is and will be one of the most talented and beautiful actresses in television history." She was the last great child star, in a tradition that included Gary Coleman, Shirley Temple, and humble little Tabatha fr0m Bewitched. Born in L.A. in 1982, she starred in Full House from 1987 until 1995. It's worth noting that Jodie's fans are true patriots: the message board at a Sweetin fan website is dedicated in memory of September 11, 2001. Encouraging to know that the Sweetin fans are still enthusiastic, and that they cherish freedom.

American values embodied: cuteness; wit; style; love of celebrities.

8. Bill Veeck. Bill Veeck represents the American entrepreneurial spirit, and allows us to pay homage to our national pastime. Veeck -- who was born in 1914 and died in 1986 -- is best known for his renegade antics as owner of the Chicago White Sox. As a teenager, he sold concessions at Wrigley Field, and devised the idea to plant ivy on its outfield walls.

All of that is swell. Veeck had a long and illustrious career in Major League Baseball. The reason Bill Veeck earns a place on our list is that he's the man who gave us a midget ballplayer and Disco Demolition Night. On June 12, 1979, 90,000 people showed up at 52,000-seat Comiskey Park for an evening of crazed whitetrash anarchy, Midwest-style. Veeck owned the White Sox at the time, and greenlighted his son Mike's idea to invite all the neighbors over to destroy their disco albums. A sports riot ensued. As described by ESPN: "The White Sox wore batting helmets and hid in their dugout. ... Vinyl 45s whistled through the air. ... A crate of records was obliterated in centerfield. Fans roared." There was smoke, there were injuries (six of them) and there were arrests (39). And Bill Veeck -- baseball fan and marketing genius -- was only left to observe that sometimes, a promotion is too successful.

American values embodied: business savvy; resilience; creativity; rowdiness.

7. HMQ2K5.We fought a revolution to escape the specter of royal tyranny. In the waning years of the 20th Century and the early years of the 21st, it's become clear that America, in fact, loves royalty. How else to explain the Bush dynasty and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton? The royal bloodline is alive and well. Here at Cole Slaw Blog, we have our own kind of royalty, and her name is Her Majesty the Queen of 2005 ("HMQ2K5"). As you can see from the accompanying photo, she was formally coronated. To this day, she proudly wears the tiara. It happened shortly before the stroke of midnight on January 31, 2004, just before an apartment was trashed with silly string, long before rooftop greetings were shouted to confused pedestrians, but after plastic swords were broken amid swashbuckling adventures. HMQ2K5, if you were Queen of England in 1776, there's no way those colonists would have rebelled! To our readers, if you're walking around Brooklyn and see a cheerful young lass in a tiara, don't forget to bow or curtsy, as appropriate. God (and Slaw) save the Queen!

American values embodied: fondness for royalty; obsession with celebrity.

6. Edith Wharton. Before there was Alex Kuczynski, there was Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in literature. Born into a wealthy New York family in 1862, Wharton was educated in Europe. Wharton is most famous for her masterpiece The Age of Innocence, in which incredibly wealthy prig Newland Archer opts for a rotten marriage over the love and passion he felt for Countess Olenska. It's a book about how much it sucks to be rich, and the way rich people do stupid things in order to remain popular with their friends. Moral of the story? Don't act like stupid snob, or else your life will get messed up. Also served as an early prequel to Martin Scorsese's The Gangs of New York.

Some people claim that Wharton's other masterwork, Ethan Fromme, directly inspired the Quad City DJs song "Come 'N Ride It (The Train)."

American values embodied: good grammar; wealth.

5. Axl Rose. From the heights of "Welcome to the Jungle" to the dull, pudding-like ballad "November Rain," Mr. Rose (a distant relative of Jim) was an essential cultural bridge between Henry James and Kid Rock. As described in an article on Salon, "Axl Rose has hit his own fans with glass bottles, told Jon Bon Jovi to suck his dick, compared Indianapolis residents to 'prisoners in Auschwitz' and canceled concerts without warning. He has also paid out more than $1 million in legal settlements. Critics have labeled both him and his music racist, homophobic and asinine."

After all of that, why does Axl earn a place on our list? Because even Americans are crazy, and if you're going to be crazy, you might as well put together some kick-ass rock songs. Love it or leave it, baby. Also, his kick-ass rock songs and bad behavior gave us something to aspire to in sixth grade, back before either of us vomited in a pitcher, vomited in intersections, or learned the joys of a spontaneous monkey-clap dance party. Welcome to the jungle, indeed.

American values embodied: craziness; rock music; substance abuse; plainspoken views.

4. "Winston." Winston is the pseudonym chosen by a frequent Cole Slaw Blog poster. In reality, Winston is a chick. When you get into law school, she makes you Long Island Iced Teas and watches you eat flowers. Once, she led a conga line that disappeared up Packard Street in order to drive away a chainsmoking 16-year-old Willie Nelson fan named Scott. For a period of several weeks in 1997, she chaired an elite panel known as Executive Session, considered by some to by an early forerunner to Policy Roundtable, which was, itself, an ancestor to this humble blog. If HRHQ2K5 is Cole Slaw Blog royalty, Winston is its matron saint. Because Cole Slaw Blog loves America, Winston is, by extension, the nation's matron saint.

American values embodied: leadership; empathy; mixed drinks; college football.

3. Ulysses S. Grant.Ulysses S. Grant combines three great American traditions: war, political corruption, and alcohol abuse. If we were to rank the craziest presidents, he would come in fourth (after Andrew Jackson, Warren Harding, and George W.). Like a little warfare to go with your fireworks? Grant pretty much modernized the concept of the war of attrition. Tempted to bribe the cop when you get in trouble for setting off bottlerockets from your rooftop? You could have been in the Grant Administration! There was the Whiskey Ring scandal (Republican politicians skimmed off millions of dollars in liquor taxes), the Sanborn Incident (where the Treasuary Secretary let a tax collector keep half of his collections) and an incident when his Secretary of War took bribes for selling Native American trading posts. His private secretary was indicted in the Whiskey Ring, and Grant pardoned him, just like a good Republican.

After the presidency, Grant became president of the National Rifle Association. He died an impoverished drunk. Basically, before Grant, the Republicans were the party of Lincoln; after Grant, they were the party of corruption and sweetheart deals. Thanks, Ulysses S. Grant!

American values embodied: corruption; warfare; alcohol abuse; favoritism; guns.

2. Spuds McKenzie. The official party animal, Spuds debuted in a Bud Light beer commercial during the 1987 Super Bowl. Spuds ascended to the position of senior party consultant for Anheuser-Busch, and originated the phrase, "This Spud's for you." Hobbies included waterskiing, skateboarding, blondes, and glamor.

But scandal arose when it was revealed that Spuds was a lady dog. Confronted with the image of a bitch cavorting mischieviously with buxom babes, America's uproar over the Spuds controversy foreshadowed the 21st Century's gay marriage debate and Rick Santorum's denunciation of man-on-dog sex. Spuds became a target of mothers who worried that she promoted underage drinking. Spuds, whose real name was Honey Tree Evil Eye, died in 1993. She was 10.

American values embodied: alcohol abuse; pets; anthropomorphism; commercials; alternative lifestyles.

1. Thomas Jefferson
What did you expect? It's the Fourth of July, my peeps! Thanks for putting pen to paper 229 years ago, T.J. If it weren't for you, Bigfoot would have been in this spot.

Also receiving votes: Harry Anderson; Andre the Giant; Andrea Barber; Blog Perv Danielle; Moses Cleaveland; Cool Papa Bell; Bitey; Clarence Darrow; P. Diddy; Hugh Downs; William Faulkner; Craig Finn; Benjamin Franklin; World B. Free; Morgan Freeman; Elbridge Gerry; Evil Girl; Alexander Hamilton; Harlan Hatcher; Hiawatha; Desmond Howard; Montell Jordan; Estes Kefauver; Bernie Kosar; Abraham Lincoln; Shirley McFee; James Madison; Chief Justice John Marshall; Richard Moll; Oprah; Chris Perry; Charles P. Pierce; Markie Post; Elwood Reid; Franklin Roosevelt; Babe Ruth; Charles Sumner; Uma Thurman; Mark Twain; Marsha Warfield; Chief Justice Earl Warren; George Washington; Ralph Williams.

12 comments:

bonsai said...
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bonsai said...

while i must say i approve of the list, there are a few problems: First, bill veeck is a genius, and i love him, but he didn't give us Disco Demolition Night. His sperm, however, contributed. Bill Veeck's son, Mike, was the brains behind DDN. Second, how could the good people of Mt. Kisco be left off this list?

CrimeNotes said...

Bonsai: We give credit to Mike, but Bill had final say. As in, Cathy Moriarty was great in Raging Bull, but in the end, it was Scorsese's movie.

Because Mt. Kisco is an obscure European principality on the border of France and Germany, with a bread-based, chateau-based economy, its citizens technically are ineligible to be among the 10 Greatest Americans. As has been pointed out, the Kiscan educational model leaves its citizens with low self-esteem, so perhaps a 10 Greatest Kiscans list will be posted on Mt. Kisco Day (February 29, if I'm not mistaken).

bonsai said...

crimenotes: you're clearly overlooking the recent phenomena of Mt. Kisco granting dual citizenship to scores of American citizens in northern Westchester county, an attempt to bolster the country's population and increase its standing in the EU. So there are plenty of great Kiscans who could also qualify as great Americans.

The perfect example, I would think, is Claus von HindenSchtoople, the great breadmaker with chateaus in both the Kiscan hills and Westchester flatlands. Have we already forgotten about The Great Bagette of 2002, which brought peace between Northern and Southern Westchester?

CrimeNotes said...

From my understanding, the Kiscans residing in Northern Westchester are all former servants who were willed their late masters' homes as a reward for years of loyalty.

Nostromo said...

Harry Anderson, Richard Moll and Marsha Warfield.

Did any other Night Court castmembers receive votes? And how does Warfield beat out Markie Post?

CrimeNotes said...

Actually, Harry Anderson and Markie Post both received last-minute votes from our bureau in Carson City. Before that, it was just Richard Moll and Marsha Warfield.

HRHQ2K5 said...

I am truly touched to have been voted to such an illustrious list. My fellow honorees and those who received votes, but did not make the list, are a very special group of people. The love I am feeling from my loyal subjects overwhelms me.

evil girl said...

it's a good list, but it's not fotw.

evil girl said...

http://friendoftheweek.blogspot.com/

CrimeNotes said...

HRHQ2K5: I speak for myself and for Flop when I say that our hearts are full.

evil girl: a renewed fotw is just the ticket for someone looking to reform his or her evil ways. Looking forward to it.

evil girl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.