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.
Curiously, while most of us spend our lives trying to avoid surgery, more than half a million women elect to go under the knife annually, all because they're unhappy with their breasts or, as one leading surgeon gracefully puts it, "two stupid mounds of flesh."
Much of my long-evaporated youth was spent in Washington, D.C.'s Savile Book Shop, situated in three adjacent Georgetown rowhouses set back from the brick sidewalk. Perhaps I should have spent more time tending to the business of adolesence, defying parental authority, hanging out with inappropriate swains, but those afternoons remain among the most idyllic and indelible of my life.
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.