Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No Country for Old Ben Franklin

Hey Homes,
As you may or may not be aware of by now, I am a huge American-o-phile. I love America and I want to groom it on the internet before going to a remote location and being caught on camera for an episode of Dateline: To Catch An America Predator. (Has anyone seen the show to which this joke is referring? It is just the worst.)

Anyway, because I am doing a quicksmart blog again today because I am SO important and BUSY, I thought I would give you a quick top 5 rad ways to immerse yourself in American history/culture:

1) HBO's John Adams starring Paul Giamatti. It is brillo and full of the sort of splendid rhetoric that is sorely missing from today's politics. It reminds you of what a genuinely brilliant idea America was at the time. It's been diluted and ripped off a bit since then, but the original idea was great. Get it on dvd and find yourself, once again, rooting for the rebel scum.

2)Battlecry of Freedom by James M. Macpherson. It's a book, sorry word-haters, all about the origins and events of the American Civil War, told with the sort of excellent writing that makes a history book a real page turner. It can be found here.

3) BASEBALL by Ken Burns. Gigantic documentary charting baseball from it's 1850s origins to the present day. It is about baseball, funnily enough, but also covers the vast spectrum of American life that is touched the national pastime which, it turns out, is EVERYTHING. This is a snippet about Lou Gehrig, of Lou Gehrig's disease fame, announcing his retirement from baseball due to his deteriorating health. Warning: Very sad.

4)The West Wing. If you haven't seen this then for God's sake do. It is the best tv show ever made I think. Inspiring, funny and heart-breaking in equal measure. The post-9/11 episode is one of the classiest episodes of any tv show ever and they knocked it together in about two days. Check. It. Out.

5) How to Train Your Dragon. This is the best film ever and as such makes it onto any list of anything I will ever write.

Right, that's your lot. Now sod off.


  1. Viva America!

    To Catch a Predator (I don't think they specify that it has to be an American...or even a human...) has been the most consistently horrible yet massively entertaining shows on NBC for about 10 years now. My favorite part is what the guys bring to meet the girls. Slurpees, Burger King, 7-11 donuts, a box of condoms. A BOX of condoms, for a 54 year old bus driver, is pretty optimistic.

    May I be so bold as to add the following immersion opportunities (which aren't nearly as high brow as yours Humphrey but will really give readers a nice, beer-jerky flavor of America)

    1 - Sopranos (HBO, 1999-2007) - Classic psychological mob story set in modern times with outstanding acting. Now airing on Sky Atlantic HD.

    2 - Saved By The Bell (1989-1993) - All of us American high school kids watched this religiously and it's now a cult hit. Great drinking games can be played watching this show.

    3 - Cheers (NBC, 1982-1993) - The greatest sitcom ever and show that spawned Frasier and won 28 Emmys, plus it's hilarious.

    4 - The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) - Outstanding portrait of America in the 20's Jazz Age.

    5 - Born in the USA (Bruce Springsteen, 1984) - There is no one that captures the American anthem more accurately, and the song Darlington County is guaranteed to make you happy in the foggy London winter.

  2. Six Feet Under...totally totally amazing.

    Dexter...if you don't know already...

    Nurse Jackie...she's a really fantastic nurse but...

    so much of what comes out of America is contrived, and with the exception of Dexter I feel I'm seeing real Americans here...

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  4. Let's not forget The Wire=Genius. Doesn't get much more Americano than MadMen.

    After a few days in the US of A, any young European feels old. He misses the ol' conversations about epicurean alienation, romantic selfishness, the 17th century...hawhaw. I call it the Disneyland effect. Yet it's artificial constructions made it the most wonderful labotory for social studies. I do agree Humphrey, America was, at the time, a grand idea.