Friday, February 02, 2007

Thomas Paine and William McKinley

Two inappropriate bedfellows here: Thomas Paine (1737 — 1809, at top), 18th century radical, author of Common Sense, an idealist who rejected all religion as 'fabulous inventions' and who wrote what amounted to a policy paper advocating social security, in which he also called for a capital fund to help young people get a start in life. The house where he died at 59 Grove Street in Manhattan is today a wonderfully seedy little gay bar called Marie's Crisis Cafe.

William McKinley (1843 — 1901): 25th U.S. President, he annexed the Philippines and Guam in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, when, it has been argued, he either saved these islands from the chains of Spanish Imperialism or instead threw fresh American chains around them. He was famously assassinated in Buffalo by an anarchist. The mountain you see in some movies during the opening credits with the word 'Paramount' is Mount McKinley, named in his honor.

January 29th was my birthday — same day as Tom Paine and William McKinley, but, as I always add when I tell anyone this, "but we weren't all born in the same year, obviously."

For all you dwarf-swallowing fetishists