Almost a century ago, a pair of clever British writers published a send-up of history-as-memory titled 1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England, Comprising All the Parts You Can Remember, Including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings, and 2 Genuine Dates. Since then, I'm sorry to report, things have gone precipitously downhill.
Ben Franklin is the best. He is a man of firsts for the state and the nation, and he's ours, despite his birth in Boston. Franklin is, by far, the most fun Founding Father, the revolutionary figure with whom you would most want to share that proverbial tankard of ale.
Pennsylvania, we can do so much better. A new academic study ranks the commonwealth as the nation's fifth most corrupt state based on convictions of elected public officials and misappropriation of public funds for private gain, a Harrisburg specialty. (New Jersey secured amateur status at 20th most corrupt.)
Karen Heller has interviewed Philip Roth and Zsa Zsa Gabor, spent time with Pink and the Philadelphia Orchestra, the celebrated and the exemplary unsung. She's covered Miss America and political conventions. She's been a provocative voice at The Inquirer for nearly 20 years, garnering awards for criticism, feature writing and investigative reporting, and was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in commentary.