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There's something about Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren Picture

The venerable Providence Athenaeum will be the place to be tomorrow night. Phillipe + Jorge report:

Regular Cool, Cool World readers may recall an item from a year ago in which your superior correspondents described a rather memorable night at the Providence Athenaeum, the landmark private library in the heart of Benefit Street.
 
Shouting and impassioned argument on the cusp of fisticuffs broke out at a speaking program commemorating the birthday of our eighth president, Martin Van Buren (aka, the Red Fox of Kinderhook, not to be confused with the Redd Foxx of Hollywood).
 
One would not expect this sort of display at a scholarly presentation on a one-term 19th century president, so we have to ask: was it a disparaging comment by historian (and Van Buren biographer) Ted Widmer about the current occupant of the White House that so provoked a coterie of (shall we say) right-wing nut-bags in the audience? Or is there something about Martin Van Buren? (This would be a good film title if Van Buren had just a little bit of Cameron Diaz’s visual appeal, but, sad to say, he more resembles comic/actor Kevin Pollack, with mutton chops and extra avoirdupois.)
 
You can make up your own mind on Wednesday, December 5, when the Second Annual Martin Van Buren Birthday Party busts loose at the Athenaeum. Was Marty a genius or merely a vertically challenged butt boy for Andrew Jackson? Maybe he was a pre-Marx commie (what’s with this Free Soil shit?). Or is Widmer the real commie, as some talk-radio aficionados in last year’s audience would have you believe?
 
We understand that there will be some interesting new wrinkles this year, refreshments (popular hors d’oeuvres of the 1830s — bring your own vomit bucket), and cotton swaths available for DIY sideburns. Sorry, no face painting.

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