In These United States: Part 2 – Hawaii to Maryland

In my last post, I covered Alabama to Georgia on my series of US States. In this installment, I’ll cover ten more states in this great country from Hawaii to Maryland. First, we’ll go to the tropical Pacific Island of Hawaii known for its active volcanoes,Tiki luaus and hula dances, putting leas on people, Hawaiian shirts, and Pearl Harbor, a day which would live in infamy and would provide the inspiration of a Michael Bay movie destined to become an infamous craptastrophe. Second, it’s off to Idaho best known for its natural wonders and potatoes. Actually it’s better known for its potatoes, but it has a lot of great natural stuff, too. Third, we venture to the land of Lincoln Illinois, home of Chicago, deep dish pizza, an infamous reputation for political corruption, Prohibition Era gangsters, the Sears Tower, and so much more. Then we go to Indiana known as the “other land of Lincoln” as well as the site of the Indianapolis 500, the Colts, Tippecanoe, Notre Dame, Dillinger, and not much else. Seriously, there’s not a lot associated with Indiana. Next, we’re off to Iowa best known for their corn and it being the birthplace of that grossly overrated actor John Wayne (hey, call him a national treasure or cultural icon but I can’t help saying that he seriously sucks in more ways than one). After that, we go to Kansas best associated with its infamous school boards, heated political bloodbaths, Westboro Baptist Church, tornadoes, and The Wizard of Oz. Seriously, I don’t what’s the matter with Kansas these days but at least it’s not the early days when settlers were killing each other over the question of slavery. Then, it’s on to Kentucky place of bluegrass, hard liquor, and the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Next, it’s off to Louisiana famous for New Orleans home to jazz as well as nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. After that, we’re back to New England with Maine best known for beaches, lighthouses, seafood, and a setting for Stephen King novels since he’s from there. Finally, we arrive to Maryland best associated with Edgar Allan Poe, Fort McHenry, the Preakness, and anything pertaining to The Wire.

 

11. Hawaii

Hawaii has always been seen as an island paradise and an ideal vacation destination. However, keep in mind that this state is prone to stuff like tsunamis, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions. Not to mention, the local wildlife is threatened with introductions of invasive species, too.

Hawaii has always been seen as an island paradise and an ideal vacation destination. However, keep in mind that this state is prone to stuff like tsunamis, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions. Not to mention, the local wildlife is threatened with introductions of invasive species, too.

Abbreviation: HI
Nickname: “Aloha State”
Capital: Honolulu
Largest City: Same
Entered Union: August 21, 1959
Bird: Nene (Hawaiian Goose)
Flower: Pua Aloala (Yellow Hibscus)
Tree: Kukui (Candle Nut)

Celebrities: Barack Obama, Saint Damien du Veuster (or of Molokai), Daniel K. Inouye, King Kamehamha and his family, Queen Liliuokalani, Bruno Mars, Bette Midler, Roseanne Barr, Robert Ballard, Hiram Bingham III, Richard Chamberlain, Charo, Sanford B. Dole, Nicole Kidman, Ferdinand Marcos, James A. Michener, Arthur Murray, Jim Nabors, Timothy Olymphant, Troy Polamalu, the Kingston Trio, Tom Selleck, Mother Marianne Cope, Duke Kahanamoku

Sports Teams: None

Indian Tribes: Not exactly but it was inhabited by Polynesians and later became a kingdom.

Best Known Moments: Visit by James Cook in 1778, had kingdom until it was deposed by the Sanford B. Dole Fruit Company, annexed as a US territory in the 1890s, and saw the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941 leading to US entry in WWII.

Often Associated With: flower leas, Hawaiian shirts, lava spurting volcanoes, palm trees, beaches, pineapples, hula dance, grass skirts, coconut bras, Polynesian Natives, surfer dudes, coconuts, Asians, high cost of living, tiki style, roasting pigs, ukuleles, exotic birds, boats, water skiing, tsunamis, tropical climate, Hawaii Five-O, exotic flowers, macadamia nuts, The Descendants, Pro-Bowl, luaus, papayas, Honolulu, Oahu, Maui, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, poi, taro, slack-key guitar music, dolphins, sea turtles, jungle, tropical, big waves, Waikiki Beach, windsurfing, waterfalls

 

12. Idaho

Shoshone Falls is just one of Idaho's 63 named waterfalls as well as its most famous. Called "Niagra of the West" it's about 212 ft high (45 ft higher than Niagra Falls) and flows over a rim of 1,000 ft wide. Yet, just because Evel Knievel tried to jump this in 1974, doesn't mean you should.

Shoshone Falls is just one of Idaho’s 63 named waterfalls as well as its most famous. Called “Niagra of the West” it’s about 212 ft high (45 ft higher than Niagra Falls) and flows over a rim of 1,000 ft wide. Yet, just because Evel Knievel tried to jump this in 1974, doesn’t mean you should.

Abbreviation: ID
Nickname: “Gem State”
Capital: Boise
Entered Union: July 3, 1890
Largest City: Same
Bird: Mountain Bluebird
Flower: Syringa
Tree: Western White Pine

Celebrities: Lou Dobbs, Ezra Pound, Picabo Street, Lana Turner, Sacagawea, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Larry Craig, Philo Farnsworth, W. Mark Felt, Ernest Hemingway, Chief Joseph, Paul Kruger, Sarah Palin, Aaron Paul

Sports Teams: Boise State Broncos, Idaho Vandals, and Idaho State Bengals (NCAA Div. I)

Indian Tribes: Nez Perce, Shoshone, Bannock and Coeur d’Alene. May have been inhabited as early as 14,500 years.
Best Known Moments: Lewis and Clark Expedition and Oregon Trail.

Often Associated With: Rocky Mountains, potatoes, Oregon Trail, farming, mountains, snow, skiing, white supremacists, Hells Canyon, closeted senators in bathroom stalls, Shoshone Falls, Lava Hot Springs, Sun Valley, Craters of the Moon, River of No Return Wilderness Area, snowmobiles, Hagerman Fossil Beds

 

13. Illinois

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 US Senate Race marked a high point of Abraham Lincoln's career in Illinois drawing large crowds and intense news coverage. The main issue at hand was slavery and it is here in which Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Still, despite Lincoln's outstanding performance, these debates did nothing to increase his chances of being elected to the US Senate, since senators were elected by the state legislature at the time.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 US Senate Race marked a high point of Abraham Lincoln’s career in Illinois drawing large crowds and intense news coverage. The main issue at hand was slavery and it is here in which Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Still, despite Lincoln’s outstanding performance, these debates did nothing to increase his chances of being elected to the US Senate, since senators were elected by the state legislature at the time.

Abbreviation: IL
Nickname: “Prairie State”
Capital: Springfield
Largest City: Chicago
Entered Union: December 3, 1818
Bird: Northern Cardinal
Flower: Purple Violet
Tree: White Oak

Celebrities: Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Rahm and Ari Emanuel, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Ray Bradbury, Roger Ebert, Jane Addams, Saul Bellow, John Belushi, Jack Benny, Harrison Ford, John Deere, Al Capone, Betty Friedan, Benny Goodman, Ulysses S. Grant, Ernest Hemingway, Charlton Heston, Edgar Lee Masters, Bob Newhart, Elliot Ness, Cyrus McCormick, Oscar Mayer, Carl Sandburg, Shel Silverstein, Adlai E. Stevenson, Philip K. Wrigley, Ray Kroc, Mary Astor, Bill Ayers, Black Hawk, Rod Blagojevich, Robert Bloch, James Brady, Gwendolyn Brooks, William Jennings Bryan, Raymond Chandler, Leonard Chess, Chicago, Diablo Cody, Gary Coleman, Elisha Cook Jr., Sam Cooke, Michael Crichton, John and Joan Cusack, Clarence Darrow, Miles Davis, Bruce Dern, John Dewey, Milton Friedman, Bo Diddley, Philip K. Dick, John Dillinger, Walt Disney, Mike Douglas, Stephen A. Douglas, Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Buddy Ebsen, Louis Farrakhan, Enrico Fermi, Marshall Field, Bobby Fischer, Dan Fogelberg, Betty Ford, Bob Fosse, R. Buckminster Fuller, John Wayne Gacy, Jeff Garlin, Mitzi Gaynor, Stephen Glass, Edward Gorey, Billy Graham, Father Andrew Greely, Kathy Griffin, Buddy Guy, Charles J. Guiteau, Daryl Hannah, Hugh Hefner, Lorraine Hansberry, Robert Hanssen, Ben Hecht, Wild Bill Hickok, William Holden, Edwin Hubble, Rock Hudson, Jennifer Hudson, Burl Ives, Rex Ingram, Mae Jemison, Derrick Jensen, Quincy Jones, Ted Kaczynski, Florence Kelley, R. Kelly, Harvey Korman, Alison Krauss, Gene Krupa, Frankie Laine, Carl Laemmle, John Landis, Leopold and Loeb, Mary Todd Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln, John A. Logan, Bernie Mac, Fred MacMurray, Michael and Virginia Madsen, Karl Malden, Terrence Malick, Kenneth Mars, Marlee Matlin, Jenny McCarthy, Frances McDormand, Elizabeth McGovern, Roger McGuinn, Donovan McNabb, Rashard Mendenhall, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Vincente Minnelli, Bugs Moran, Bill Murray, Baby Face Nelson, Nichelle Nichols, Frank Nitti, Ted Nugent, Catherine O’Leary, Suze Orman, Louella Parsons, Deval Patrick, Mandy Patinkin, Allan Pinkerton, Jeremy Piven, Richard Pryor, George M. Pullman, Aidan Quinn, Harold Ramis, James Earl Ray, Nancy Reagan, John C. Reilly, Marcus Reno, Andy Richter, Jason Robards, Jack Ruby, Lillian Russell, Robert Ryan, Mike Shanahan, Gary Shandling, Michael Shannon, William Shockley, Nate Silver, Patti Smith, Joseph Smith Jr., Gene Siskel, Billy Sunday, Studs Terkel, Johnny Torrio, Dick Van Dyke, Vince Vaughn, Eddie Vedder, Robert Wadlow, Muddy Waters, George Wendt, Betty White, Richard Widmark, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Wilco, George Will, Frances E. Willard, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Woodward, and more than I can include.

Sports Teams: Chicago Bears (NFL), Chicago Cubs an Chicago White Sox (MLB), Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), and Chicago Bulls (NBA)

Indian Tribes: Mississippian culture and Illini Confederation. After them came Potawatomi, Miami, Sauk, Ioway, Kickapoo, Mascouten, Piankashaw, Shawnee, Wea, and Winnebago.

Best Known Moments: Northwest Territory, Abraham Lincoln’s pre-presidential career, the Chicago Fire, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Hull House, clashes with unions and police, Al Capone’s activities during Prohibition, and a lot of corruption scandals.

Often Associated With: Chicago deep dish pizza, political corruption, Sears Tower, Prohibition era gangsters, Great Lakes, Abraham Lincoln, Mississippi River, McDonalds, Oscar Mayer, Chicago Tribune, Wrigley, Sears, John Deere, snow, Chicago, blues music, The Jungle, slaughterhouses, Ohio River, Cubs fans, rudeness, jazz, swearing, Marshalls, Chicago Sun-Times, unions, police brutality, the Pinkertons, Second City, multiculturalism, intellectuals, Oprah, celebrities apparently, a lot of movies and TV shows based in Chicago, WGN, public rail system, Michael Jordan, the World’s Fair, skyscrapers, terrible winters, “Sweet Home, Chicago,” mass fires allegedly started by cows kicking lanterns, green rivers on St. Patrick’s Day, Peoria

 

14. Indiana

Every Memorial Day weekend, Indiana plays host to the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race consists of 200 laps over a 2.5 mile oval course. Though it’s not affiliated with NASCAR, you’re better off spending Memorial weekend watching grass grow, baseball, or golf.

Abbreviation: IN
Nickname: “Hoosier State”
Capital: Indianapolis
Largest City: Same
Entered Union: December 11, 1816
Bird: Cardinal
Flower: Peony
Tree: Tulip Tree

Celebrities: Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa, John Dillinger, Michael Jackson and his family, Larry Bird, Ambrose Burnside, Jim Davis, James Dean, Eugene V. Debs, Carole Lombard, David Letterman, Jeff Gordon, Jane Pauley, John Mellencamp, Dan Quayle, Booth Tarkington, Lew Wallace, Kurt Vonnegut, Ryan White, Tony Stewart, Benjamin Harrison, William Henry Harrison, Cole Porter, Ernie Pyle, Abraham Lincoln, George Rogers Clark, John Pointdexter, Little Turtle, Anne Baxter, Irene Dunne, Brendan Fraser, Karl Malden, Dolores Fuller, Steve McQueen (actor), Sydney Pollack, Twyla Tharp, Forrest Tucker, Clifton Webb, Red Skelton, Axl Rose, David Lee Roth, Hoagy Carmichael, Dick York, Jenna Fischer, Mick Foley, Jared Fogle, Colonel Sanders, Alvah Curtis Roebuck, Orville Redenbacher, John Schattner, Norman Bridwell, Will Shortz, Alfred Kinsey, James D. Watson, Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Jimmy Hoffa, Jim Jones, Johnny Ringo, Homer Van Meter
Sports Teams: Indianapolis Colts (NFL), Indiana Pacers (NBA), Indiana Hoosiers, Butler Bulldogs, Indiana State Sycamores, Purdue Boilermakers, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish (NCAA Div. I)

Indian Tribes: Mississippian culture for a long time and had been inhabited since the end of the Ice Age in 8000 BCE. Adena, Hopewell, Shawnee, Illini, and Miami

Best Known Moments: French and Indian War, Northwest Territory, saw action in the War of 1812 with Tecumseh’s rebellion, the Battle of Tippecanoe, and the Battle of Thames, and John Dillinger’s crime sprees in the 1930s.

Often Associated With: Great Lakes, Ohio River, Mississippi River, Parks and Recreation, Indianapolis 500, Indycar racing, Notre Dame, Hoosiers, farming, suburbs, Muncie, Gary, Blandness, A Christmas Story, averageness, whiteness, white basketball players, “Notre Dame Victory Song,” Papa John’s Pizza, Orville Redenbacher, not much happening, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, John Dillinger, Tippecanoe

 

15. Iowa

Iowa was home to the great Depression Era artist Grant Wood (1891-1942)  who is best known for his American Gothic painting which has become an iconic image of 20th century American Art. This is a painting of his called Arbor Day which is on its state quarter.

Iowa was home to the great Depression Era artist Grant Wood (1891-1942) who is best known for his American Gothic painting which has become an iconic image of 20th century American Art. This is a painting of his called Arbor Day which is on its state quarter.

Abbreviation: IA
Nickname: “Hawkeye State”
Capital: Des Moines
Largest City: Same
Entered Union: December 28, 1846
Bird: Eastern Goldfinch
Flower: Wild Rose
Tree: Oak

Celebrities: Bill Bryson, John Wayne, Johnny Carson, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, George Gallup, Herbert Hoover, Ashton Kutcher, Ann Landers, Abigail Van Buren, Glenn Miller, Cloris Leachman, Lillian Russell, Billy Sunday, Henry Wallace, Kurt Warner, Meredith Wilson, Elijah Wood, Grant Wood, John Wayne Gacy, Black Hawk, Michele Bachman, Bill Daily, Steve Doocy, Mamie Eisenhower, Jim Garrison, Lou Henry Hoover, Lolo Jones, the Lane Sisters, Quashquame, Donna Reed, George Reeves, Ringling Brothers, James Van Allen, Andy Williams

Sports Teams: Iowa State Cyclones and Iowa Hawkeyes (NCAA Div. I).

Indian Tribes: Mississippian culture and the Ioway, Illiniwek, Omaha, Sauk, Dakota, Otoe, Meskwai, and Ho-Chunk all have roots here. Inhabited more than 13,000 years ago. Indians were kicked out with the 1830s Indian Removal.

Best Known Moments: Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark Expedition, clashed with Indians during the War of 1812, 1830s Indian Removal, and results of the Iowa Caucus.

Often Associated With: farming, corn, Field of Dreams, Iowa Caucuses, Midwestness, Mississippi River, State fairs, swing state politics, progressive politics, James T. Kirk, blandness, whiteness, American Gothic, not much happening, Ringling Brothers, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Ames, Waterloo, wheat

 

16. Kansas

J. Steuart Curry's 1929 Tornado Over Kansas is basically a depiction of everything we tend to associate Kansas with. I mean Kansas farm families seeking shelter from a tornado during the Great Depression, we've heard that before. Of course, if this depicted the Dust Bowl, you probably would've thought of Oklahoma. Still, both states were both hit by the Dust Bowl as well as tend to get heavily hit during tornado season.

J. Steuart Curry’s 1929 Tornado Over Kansas is basically a depiction of everything we tend to associate Kansas with. I mean Kansas farm families seeking shelter from a tornado during the Great Depression, we’ve heard that before. Of course, if this depicted the Dust Bowl, you probably would’ve thought of Oklahoma. Still, both states were both hit by the Dust Bowl as well as tend to get heavily hit during tornado season.

Abbreviation: KS
Nickname: “Sunflower State”
Capital: Topeka
Largest City: Wichita
Entered Union: January 29, 1861
Bird: Western Medowlark
Flower: Sunflower
Tree: Cottonwood

Celebrities: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Amelia Earhart, Gwendolyn Brooks, Gordon Parks, Mort Walker, William Burroughs, John Brown, Ed Asner, Kirstie Alley, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Bob Dole, Melissa Etheridge, “Wild Bill” Hickok, Buster Keaton, Hattie McDaniel, Oscar Micheaux, Carrie Nation, Langston Hughes, Charlie Parker, Dennis Hopper, Linda Brown, Joe Walsh, Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders, James Naismith, the Koch Brothers, Russell Stover, Walter Chrysler, Dan and Frank Carney, Hugh Beaumont, Louise Brooks, ZaSu Pitts, Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet, Jason Sudeikis, Jim Lehrer, Robert Gates, Gary Hart, Charles Curtis, Kate Richards O’Hare, Arlen Specter, Fred Phelps and family, George Washington Carver, Erin Brockovich, Ann Dunham, Bat Masterson, Kansas

Sports Teams: Kansas State Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks (NCAA Div. I)

Indian Tribes: Wichita, Plains, Pawnee, Osage, and Otoe. Inhabited since the Ice Age.

Best Known Moments: Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark Expedition, Mexican-American War, Oregon Trail, served as dumping ground for Indian tribes during the 1830s, Bleeding Kansas, Indian Wars, Carrie Nation smashing saloons, Dust Bowl, and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Often Associated With: Political bloodbaths in both figurative and literal sense, creationist school boards, tornadoes, The Wizard of Oz, prairies, prairie dogs, Leavenworth, Dodge City, farming, Superman, flatland, cowboys, In Cold Blood, rednecks, demolished trailers, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Russell Stover Candies, Pizza Hut, Westboro Baptist Church, heartland, Plains Indians, bison, Dust Bowl, Wichita, sunflowers, wheat, farming, a lot of trails, “Home on the Range,” cattle ranching, the other Kansas City

 

17. Kentucky

Each year on the first Saturday in May since 1872, Kentucky plays host to the renown Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs which is the first of the Triple Crown Races. Unlike the Indianapolis 500, this is race is just one lap along a 1 1/4 mile long tract though the broadcast can go on for hours. Still, whoever wins this race will go on to become the horse we all root for to win the Triple Crown (not won since the 1970s) come the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

Each year on the first Saturday in May since 1872, Kentucky plays host to the renown Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs which is the first of the Triple Crown Races. Unlike the Indianapolis 500, this is race is just one lap along a 1 1/4 mile long tract though the broadcast can go on for hours. Still, whoever wins this race will go on to become the horse we all root for to win the Triple Crown (not won since the 1970s) come the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

Abbreviation: KY
Nickname: “Bluegrass State”
Capital: Frankfurt
Largest City: Louisville
Entered Union: June 1, 1792
Bird: Cardinal
Flower: Goldenrod
Tree: Tulip Poplar

Celebrities: Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, the Everly Brothers, Muhammad Ali, Louis Brandeis, Ned Beatty, John C. Breckinridge, George Clooney, Henry Clay, Rosemary Clooney, Jennifer Lawrence, George “Casey” Jones, D. W. Griffith, Mary Todd Lincoln, Carrie Nation, Diane Sawyer, Colonel Sanders, Zachary Taylor, Hunter S. Thompson, Larry Flynt, Helen Thomas, Jim Bowie, Stephen Bishop, Roy Bean, Johnny Depp, Lee Majors, Victor Mature, Patricia Neal, Rob Riggle, William Shatner, Harry Dean Stanton, Jim Varney, Charles Manson, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Merriwether Lewis Clark Jr., Thomas Merton

Sports Teams: Kentucky Wildcats, WKU Hilltoppers, and Louisville Cardinals (NCAA Div. I)

Indian Tribes: Shawnee and Cherokee. Kicked out with Indian Removal in the 1830s.

Best Known Moments: Northwest Territory, Trail of Tears, and other events.

Often Associated With: horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Appalachia, bluegrass music, rednecks, moonshine, coal mining, hillbillies, poverty, Ohio River, Lincoln Log Cabin, tobacco, whiskey, pollution, bourbon, NASCAR racing, Mammouth Cave, Cumberland Gap, Bowling Green, Churchill Downs, KFC, drugs, barbecue, Fort Knox, power outages, Cumberland Gap, Ten Commandments display debates, unusually high political candidacy age laws, a not so influential state Supreme Court, railroads, “My Old Kentucky Home,” heart attack inducing food, Lexington, Louisville, gospel music, Red River Gorge, mint juleps, big hats, Quaker State 400, blue-skinned people, pollution

 

18. Louisiana

In New Orleans, Louisiana, jazz is a music tradition that's played on all sorts of occasions. This painting depicts a New Orleans jazz funeral in which the traditional somber music is replaced with loud, upbeat, raucous music and dancing celebrating the deceased's life.  "When the Saints Go Marching In" is usually a standard tune at these.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, jazz is a music tradition that’s played on all sorts of occasions. This painting depicts a New Orleans jazz funeral in which the traditional somber music is replaced with loud, upbeat, raucous music and dancing celebrating the deceased’s life. “When the Saints Go Marching In” is usually a standard tune at these.

Abbreviation: LA
Nickname: “Pelican State”
Capital: Baton Rouge
Largest City: New Orleans
Entered Union: April 30, 1812
Bird: Brown Pelican
Flower: Magnolia
Tree: Bald Cypress

Celebrities: Huey Long, Peyton and Eli Manning, Terry Bradshaw, Dr. John, Tennessee Williams, Louie Armstrong, Judah P. Benjamin, Ellen DeGeneres, Fats Domino, Lillian Hellman, Braxton Bragg, Kate Chopin, P. G. T. Beauregard, Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis, Leonidas K. Polk, Anne Rice, Bill Russell, Tim McGraw, Britney Spears, Buddy Guy, Truman Capote, Jim Garrison, Clay Shaw, James Carville, Ryan Clark, Patricia Clarkson, David Duke, Iron Eyes Cody, Mahalia Jackson, Bobby Jindal, Jean Lafitte, Dorothy Lamour, John Larroquette, Lead Belly, Jared Leto, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lil’ Wayne, Jelly Roll Morton, Aaron Neville, Randy Newman, Lee Harvey Oswald, Sister Helen Prejean, Pee Wee Reese, Cokie Roberts, Steven Soderbergh, Kordell Stewart, Jimmy Swaggart, David Vitter, Mike Wallace (football player), Lester Young, Buckwheat Zydeco

Sports Teams: New Orleans Saints (NFL), New Orleans Pelicans (NBA), and LSU Tigers (NCAA Div. I).

Indian Tribes: Mississippian, Marksville, Baytown, Plaquemine, and Fourche Maine cultures for some time. Natchez, Natchitoches, Atchafalaya, Caddo, Choctaw, Tunica, Chitimacha, Chawash, Houma, Tangipahoa, and Avoyel.

Best Known Moments: Accepted Acadian refugees kicked out of their homeland during the French and Indian War, Louisiana Purchase, the Battle of New Orleans, Civil War New Orleans occupation, Hurricane Katrina, and BP Oil Spill as well as other disasters.

Often Associated With: hurricanes, jazz, blues, crime, poverty, Mardis Gras, Creoles, New Orleans, corruption, gumbo, Mississippi River, levees, Mississippi Delta, zydeco, Cajun, French building styles, ibis, A Streetcar Named Desire, egrets, multiculturalism, flooding, raised graves, swamp, ethnic music, Iseno, mosquitos, frogs, crocodiles, French Quarter, The Big Easy, Southern Gothic Literature, “When the Saints Go Marching In,” voodoo, bounty payments to football players, gospel music, blues

 

19. Maine

Maine is well known for its jagged rocky coastline and lighthouses that create picturesque scenery that attracts many tourists and filmmakers. A lot of movies set in New England often feature a jagged coast like Maine's.

Maine is well known for its jagged rocky coastline and lighthouses that create picturesque scenery that attracts many tourists and filmmakers. A lot of movies set in New England often feature a jagged coast like Maine’s.

Abbreviation: ME
Nickname: “Pine Tree State”
Capital: Augusta
Largest City: Portland
Entered Union: March 15, 1820
Bird: Black-Capped Chicadee
Flower: White Pine Cone and Tassle
Tree: Eastern White Pine

Celebrities: Stephen King, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, L. L. Bean, Margaret Chase Smith, Patrick Dempsey, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edmund Muskie, E. B. White, Dorthea Dix, John Ford, Gladys George, Anna Kendrick, David E. Kelley, Olympia Snowe, John O’Hurley, Nelson Rockefeller, Andrew Wyeth

Sports Teams: None

Indian Tribes: Wabanki, Abenaki, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Penobscot. Wiped out by wars and smallpox.

Best Known Moments: Part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony until statehood and home of the 20th Maine led by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who defended Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Often Associated With: lighthouses, seashores, Stephen King novels, evergreen forests, Hawkeye Pierce, L. L. Bean, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, boats, lumberjacks, snowmobiles, New England, gorgeous scenery, snow, skiing, rocky cliffs, lobster, seafood

 

20. Maryland

It was in Maryland where Francis Scott Key wrote down the words to “The Star Spangled Banner” after witnessing the battle of Fort McHenry while a prisoner on British ship during the War of 1812. In 1931, those lyrics would become the US national anthem and have been butchered at sporting events ever since.

Abbreviation: MD
Nickname: “Old Line State,” “Free State”
Capital: Annapolis
Largest City: Baltimore
Entered Union: April 28, 1788
Bird: Baltimore Oriole
Flower: Black-Eyed Susan
Tree: White Oak

Celebrities: Babe Ruth, Frederick Douglass, Michael Phelps, Edgar Allan Poe, David Simon, Barry Levinson, John Waters, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, H. L. Mencken, Ogden Nash, Francis Scott Key, Charles Wilson Peale, Upton Sinclair, Roger B. Taney, Harriet Tubman, Montel Williams, Tom Clancy, Benjamin Banneker, Bishop John Carroll, Spiro Agnew, Cal Ripken Jr., Charles Joseph Bonaparte, Thurgood Marshall, Nancy Pelosi, William Paca, Sergeant Shriver, Michael Steele, Rachel Carson, Carl Bernstein, James M. Cain, Connie Chung, Dashiell Hammett, Zora Neale Hurston, Leon Uris, Toni Braxton, Cab Calloway, Billie Holliday, Joan Jett, Frank Zappa, David Hasselhoff, Lewis Black, Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, Goldie Hawn, Divine, Kathie Lee Gifford, Ira Glass, William H. Macy, Mo’Nique Imes Jackson, Edward Norton, Spike Jonze, Martin Lawrence, Sylvester Stallone, Debra Monk, Parker Posey, Jada Pinkett Smith, Pete Sampras, Stephen Decatur, Matthew Henson, Alger Hiss, Samuel Mudd, Johns Hopkins, George Peabody, Ben Stein, Noel “Paul” Stookey

Sports Teams: Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins (NFL), and Baltimore Orioles (MLB)

Indian Tribes: Nanticoke, Piscataway, and Susquehannock.

Best Known Moments: Its founding by Lord Baltimore as a haven for English Catholics, one of the original 13 Colonies, American Revolution, Father John Carroll appointed first American Catholic Bishop, Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, early life of Frederick Douglass, Battle of Antietam during the American Civil War, and the Camp David Accords.

Often Associated With: inner city drug wars, The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street, Hairspray, crabs, Ravens fans, Chesapeake Bay, harbor, boats, inner city conditions, Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe, Camp David, beaches, Ocean City, seafood, Inner Harbor, U. S. Naval Academy, B & O Railroad, Mason-Dixon Line, The Baltimore Sun, Johns Hopkins University, Preakness Stakes, Fort McHenry

In These United States: Part 1 – Alabama to Georgia

The United States is a large country with a lot of interesting places, cultures, and people to see. Yet, what many outside the country forget that it’s a union of states each with its own history and characteristics. I mean we Americans don’t even talk or look the same way. Heck, we can’t all agree how to pronounce the word “aunt” correctly (my take: the “u” is silent.) Still, in this five part series, I’ll go over what each state has to offer, who inhabited the place before Europeans arrived, their resident sports teams, their best known moments in history, and people from there who became famous. However, here are a few pointers:

State sports teams usually consist of best known in the state everyone knows about whether they be college or professional.

Just because a celebrity is listed as being from that particular state doesn’t mean he or she was necessarily born or died there. It just means that he or she is associated with that state a lot whether they were born, died, grew up there, live there, or have a house there. Also, to be a celebrity listed one needs to achieve some sort of lasting fame or the fact everyone knows or should know about them.

Celebrities can consist of any famous person, not just the people known as “celebrities.”
State Indian Tribes usually consist of the Indian groups that inhabited the state before Europeans came along.

Best known moments include stuff that most people would know from American history from either their textbook or the media, not necessarily history just people from that state would know.

In this selection, we’ll explore what many call the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, good ol’ Alabama. However, contrary to “Sweet Home Alabama,” we must remember that the original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd are actually from Florida. Second, we venture to the great state of the North Alaska which many would associate with its diverse arctic wildlife and beautiful mountain ranges as well as its onetime bitch of a governor who could see Russia from her house. Third, we go to the desert Grand Canyon state of Arizona known for the Gunfight at the O. K. Corral as well as illegal immigration laws that encourage racial profiling. Then, we go to the Appalachian mountain state of Arkansas famous for Wal-Mart, Bill Clinton, Johnny Cash, and offensive stereotypes. Next, it’s off to the great state of California, famous for Hollywood and gorgeous scenery as well as it’s interesting vast population that many call the Cereal State because they believe consists of fruits, nuts, and flakes. Then it’s on to Colorado whose unofficial anthem seems to now be John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” partly because of it’s high elevation (hint: its lowest point is higher than the highest point of my home state Pennsylvania) and the fact that pot is basically legal making some of the song lyrics to that famed John Denver song unintentionally hilarious. Next, it’s off to Connecticut known for Yale, Mark Twain, it’s discrimination of non-WASPs in their suburban communities during the 1940s as depicted in Gentleman’s Agreement, and the fact many celebrities live there for some reason. Then there’s Delaware known for being the first state to ratify the constitution, a haven for corporations, and not much else. After that is Florida where many people either venture for vacation or to retire as well as Disney World, Miami, and racist “Stand Your Ground Laws.” Finally, we have the state of Georgia home of Ted Turner as well as where General William Tecumseh Sherman marched to the sea in Gone With the Wind.

1. Alabama

Alabama is known as the home of famous African American scientist George Washington Carver who pioneered alternative crops to cotton for poorer farms such as peanuts, potatoes, soybeans, and yams. He contributed most of his life's work while a professor at the Tuskegee Institute. Still, this doesn't help that most people know him today as

Alabama is known as the home of famous African American scientist George Washington Carver who pioneered alternative crops to cotton for poorer farms such as peanuts, potatoes, soybeans, and yams. He contributed most of his life’s work while a professor at the Tuskegee Institute. Still, this doesn’t help that most people know him today as “the peanut guy.”

Abbreviation: AL

Nickname: “Heart of Dixie,” “Camellia State”
Capital: Montgomery
Largest City: Birmingham
Entered Union: December 14, 1819
Bird: Yellowhammer, Wild Turkey
Flower: Camellia, Oak-Leaf Hydrangea
Tree: Longleaf Pine

Celebrities: Hank Aaron, Harper Lee, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, Helen Keller, George C. Wallace, Willie Mays, Hugo Black, Jesse Owens, Coretta Scott King, Hank Williams, Rosa Parks, Lionel Richie, Charles Barkley, Tallulah Bankhead, Werner von Braun, Jimmy Buffett, Truman Capote, Nat King Cole, Angela Davis, Louise Fletcher, Emmylou Harris, Evander Holyfield, Zora Neale Hurston, Bo Jackson, Mae Jemison, Martin Luther King Jr., Carl Lewis, Joe Louis, Jim Nabors, Terrell Owens, Satchel Paige, Wilson Pickett, Condoleezza Rice, Zelda Fitzgerald, Fred Thompson, Jimmy Wales,

Sports Teams: The University of Alabama Crimson Tide (NCAA Div. I)

Indian Tribes: Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Alabama, Koati, and Choctaw, according to the Spanish accounts of the early 1500s. Most of these would be forced out west by with the Indian Removal Act in the 1830s. Had Mississippian culture in most of the state for about 500 years.

Best Known Moments: The Louisiana Purchase, the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, site of the Scotsboro Boys scandal, headquarters for the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII, and the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott sparked by Rosa Parks as well as other demonstrations during the Civil Rights Movement, especially in Birmingham and Selma.

Often Associated With: cotton, slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, rednecks, Skynyrd fans, Southern Rock, “Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd (despite being from Florida), rocketry, Huntsville, Mobile, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.,” NASCAR Racing, To Kill a Mockingbird, racism, lynching, Mississippi River, Tuskegee Airmen, Montgomery, Birmingham, hogging college football state championships

2. Alaska

Alaska is renown for its gorgeous scenery and diverse wildlife now under threat by human activity and global warming. This painting depicts grizzly bears catching salmon from the river with the seagulls waiting for leftovers and a bald eagle soaring high.

Alaska is renown for its gorgeous scenery and diverse wildlife now under threat by human activity and global warming. This painting depicts grizzly bears catching salmon from the river with the seagulls waiting for leftovers and a bald eagle soaring high.

Abbreviation: AK
Nickname: “The Last Frontier”
Capital: Juneau
Largest City: Anchorage
Entered Union: January 3, 1959
Bird: Willow Ptarmigan
Flower: Forget-Me-Not
Tree: Sitka Spruce

Celebrities: Jewel (Kilcher), Sarah Palin, Valerie Plame Wilson, Bob Ross, Robert Stroud

Sports Teams: None.

Indian Tribes: Tinglit, Haida, Aleut, Inuit, Y’upik, Alutiiq, Inupiat, and Athabascan. Many of these are actually still living in their native region. Was the first stop of the Bering Strait people about 13,000 years ago.

Best Known Moments: Bering Strait Crossing 13,000 years ago, its purchase from Russia by William Seward in 1867, Klondike Gold Rush in 1896, 1925 Serum Run, Trans-Alaskan Pipeline construction during the 1970s, and Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill.

Often Associated With: Sarah Palin, oil, the Iditarod, polar bears, Northern Lights, moose, tundra and polar wilderness, wild frontiers, winter, glaciers, Totem poles, sled dog racing, Northern Exposure, caribou, Eskimos, huskies, igloos, puffins, bush pilots, aerial wolf hunting, “Bridge to Nowhere,” 24 hours of sunshine in summers, 24 hours of darkness in winters, glaciers, melting ice caps, oil spills, the Arctic, Denali, ANWAR, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Glacier Bay, hunting, weirdos, the Klondike, seals

3. Arizona

Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon which is one of the more famous national parks of the United States. It is 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide with a depth of over a mile. It's also known to be about 2 billion years old.

Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon which is one of the more famous national parks of the United States. It is 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide with a depth of over a mile. It’s also known to be about 2 billion years old.

Abbreviation: AZ
Nickname: “Grand Canyon State”
Capital: Phoenix
Largest City: Same
Entered Union: February 14, 1912
Bird: Cactus Wren
Flower: Saguaro Blossom
Tree: Palo Verde

Celebrities: Cochise, Alice Cooper, Geronimo, Gabrielle Giffords, Barry Goldwater, Zane Grey, Linda Ronstadt, John McCain, Frank Lloyd Wright, Sandra Day O’Connor, Cesar Chavez, Steven Spielberg, Stevie Nicks, Pat Tillman, Ira Hayes, Glenn Campbell, Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens, Wyatt Earp and his brothers, “Doc” Holliday, Joe Arpaio

Sports Teams: Arizona Cardinals (NFL), Phoenix Suns (NBA), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Arizona Coyotes (NHL).

Indian Tribes: Anasazi, Mogollon, and Hohokam between c. 300 BCE to 1300. Navajo and Apache in the 15th century. Sobaipuri who were there since who knows when.

Best Known Moments: Stop during the Francisco Coronado expedition in the 1500s, Mexican American War, Apache Wars, Gunfight at the O. K. Corral, site of Japanese Internment camps in WWII, and the Tucson shooting.

Often Associated With: Southwest Indians, unfair laws related to targeting Hispanics on suspicion of illegal immigration, canyons, desert, cowboys, cattle, Mexicans, country music, the Grand Canyon, cacti, mesa, Petrified Forest, coyotes, ranches, Indian ruins, Tombstone, Spanish missions, Biosphere 2, London Bridge, Tempe, Yuma, Glen Canyon, Meteor Crater at Winslow, Tuscon, controversial sheriffs with questionable ideas about law enforcement, adobes, “The Grand Canyon Waltz,” Rocky Mountains, Continental Divide

4. Arkansas

Edward Washburn's 1858 The Arkansas Traveler depicts a wealthy farmer with a family of squatters. However, this painting is an icon of how many perceive Arkansas as a bunch of shiftless hillbillies which isn't helped by the state suffering a racial stigma from the American Civil War which helped lead to the Little Rock Nine.

Edward Washburn’s 1858 The Arkansas Traveler depicts a wealthy farmer with a family of squatters. However, this painting is an icon of how many perceive Arkansas as a bunch of shiftless hillbillies which isn’t helped by the state suffering a racial stigma from the American Civil War which helped lead to the Little Rock Nine.

Abbreviation: AR
Nickname: “The Natural State,” “The Razorback State”
Capital: Little Rock
Largest City: Same
Entered Union: June 15, 1836
Bird: Mockingbird
Flower: Apple Blossom
Tree: Pine

Celebrities: Sam Walton, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Daisy Bates, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, John Grisham, Levon Helm, Douglas MacArthur, Scottie Pippen, Al Green, Billy Bob Thornton, James William Fullbright, Maya Angelou, Alan Ladd, Helen Gurley Brown, Charles Portis, Mike Huckabee, Eldridge Cleaver, Bill Hicks

Sports Teams: The University of Arkansas Razorbacks (NCAA Div. I Football)

Indian Tribes: Caddo, Quapaw, Osage, Cherokee, and Choctaw most of them forced out west by the 1830s Indian Removal Act.

Best Known Moments: Visits by Hernando de Soto, Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet, and Robert La Salle, the Louisiana Purchase, 1830s Trail of Tears, and the Little Rock Nine of 1957.

Often Associated With: Wal Mart, rednecks, bluegrass music, country music, racism, hillbillies, the Ozarks, Mississippi River, moonshine, Appalachia, Little Rock

5. California

Of course, California is a state of many diverse wealth and beauty. Yet, it's best remembered as the home of Hollywood which has been the film capital of the world for generations. Here is a painting of an assortment of iconic Old Hollywood screen legends we all knew and love throughout the ages.

Of course, California is a state of many diverse wealth and beauty. Yet, it’s best remembered as the home of Hollywood which has been the film capital of the world for generations. Here is a painting of an assortment of iconic Old Hollywood screen legends we all knew and love throughout the ages.

Abbreviation: CA
Nickname: “Golden State”
Capital: Sacramento
Largest City: Los Angeles
Entered Union: September 9, 1850
Bird: California Valley Quail
Flower: California Poppy
Tree: California Redwood

Celebrities: Gregory Peck, Clint Eastwood, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Harvey Milk, Cesar Chavez, George Takei, Tom Brady, Robert Redford, Beck, Julia Child, Carson Daly, Iva Toguri D’Aquino (a. k. a. “Tokyo Rose”), Cameron Crowe, Jeremy Renner, Keri Russell, Diane Keaton, Huey Lewis, Eva Longoria, Keb’ Mo,’ Kevin Costner, Oscar De La Hoya, Bo Derek, Laura Dern, Robert Duvall, John Cage, Ed Begley Jr., Leonardo DiCaprio, Joe DiMaggio, Tom Hanks, Jack London, Bret Harte, William Randolph Hearst, John C. Fremont, Steve Jobs, Angelina Jolie, Monica Lewinsky, Maroon 5, Will Ferrell, Mel Blanc, John Sutter, Andy Samberg, Walt Stack, Leland Stanford Jr., Gwen Stefani, Chuck Yeager, George Lucas, Jenifer Aniston, Green Day, Tyra Banks, Marilyn Monroe, John Muir, Gwenyth Paltrow, George S. Patton Jr., Nancy Pelosi, Sally Ride, William Saroyan, John Steinbeck, Levi Strauss, Phil Mickelson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Father Junipero Serra, Shirley Temple, Danielle Steele, David Strathairn, Earl Warren, the Williams Sisters, Barry Bonds, Jeff Bridges and family, Josh Brolin and dad, Lindsey Buckingham, Nicholas Cage, the Carradines, the Barrymores, Sasha Cohen, Tiger Woods, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and his brothers, Isadora Duncan, Sally Field, Sean Astin, Peggy Fleming, Jodie Foster, Tim Burton, James Franco, Cher, Robert Frost, Dian Fossey, Merle Haggard, Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket), Thomas Kinkade, Bruce Lee, Jeff Gordon, Randy Newman, Danny Glover, Jason Giambi, Margaret Cho, Bryan Cranston, James Cromwell, David Crosby, Ice Cube, Cameron Diaz, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beach Boys, O. J. Simpson, Charles R. Schwab, Darryl Strawberry, Amy Tan, Natalie Wood, Kristi Yamaguchi, Steve Wozniack, Gene Hackman, Patty Hearst, Jonah Hill, John Williams, Flogging Molly, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamil, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mark Sanchez, Jason Schwartzman, Harry Shearer, Josh Groban, Jefferson Airplane, Dr. Dre, Bob Hope, Domencio “Domingo” Ghirardelli Sr., Steve Martin, Johnny Mathis, Buck Owens, Carlos Santanna, Dustin Hoffman, the Hustons, Metallica, Mark McGwire, Helen Hunt, Etta James, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Marion Jones, Ashley Judd, Pauline Kael, Michelle Kwan, Weird Al, the Doors, Gloria Grahame, Lynn Swann, Farley Granger, Van Halen, Billie Jean King, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Yashiro Ishimoto, Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee Curtis, George Lopez, Courtney Love, Willie McCool, Audra McDonald, Robert McNamara, Liza Minnelli, Edward James Olmos, Sam Peckinpah, Sean Penn, Michael Richards, Tim Robbins, Aaron Rodgers, Pete Rozelle, Tony Romo, Jon Lovitz, the Coppolas, Rube Goldberg, the Grateful Dead, Marcus Benjamin, Michael Bay, Herb Alpert, Ansel Adams, Reggie Bush, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Jason Segel, Tupac Shakur, Richard Sherman, Robert Stack and many more I can’t include right now.

Sports Teams: Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers (NFL), Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and San Diego Padres (MLB), Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Sacramento Kings (NBA), Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks (NHL), and UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans (NCAA Div. I Football and Basketball).

Indian Tribes: Inhabited by over 70 tribes and was one of the most diverse regions of Pre-Columbian America

Best Known Moments: Mexican-American War, Fremont Expedition, California Gold Rush of 1849, Compromise of 1850, The Donner Party Incident, Asian discrimination, mass migration in the 20th century due to Hollywood and the Great Depression, San Francisco Earthquake, Japanese Interment during WWII, lots of demonstrations, and other events

Often Associated With: liberals, hippies, stoners, Hollywood, celebrities, rich people, pop culture, Valley girls, surfer dudes, burnouts, weirdos, hipsters, Silicon Valley, gays, Latinos, Spanish Missions, desert, Redwood Forests, tree huggers, intellectuals, earthquakes, New Agers, wine, LA, cowboys, gold, Yosemite National Park, Death Valley, LAPD, race riots, illegal immigrants, pot, computer geeks, Asians, prison overcrowding, multiculturalism, water shortages, wildfires, a lot of TV shows and movies I can’t even count, Los Angeles Times, the Golden Gate Bridge, beach, hipsters, suburbs, cacti, Frisco, film noir, San Francisco Bay, Berkeley, San Diego, San Andreas Fault, homeless people, traffic congestion, smog, expensive real estate, Hollywood, urban hellscapes, gorgeous scenery, yuppies, Disneyland, Mojave Desert, Sierra Nevada, Cascade Range, bikers, Alcatraz, fancy houses, San Francisco Chronicle, gang wars, ghost towns, serial killers, military bases, Sonoran Desert, Sequoia, Bristlecone Pines, the Joshua Tree, Mill Valley, Rose Bowl Parade, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Kings Canyon, Redwood National Park, Lassen Volcanic, Long Beach, Oakland, Monterrey, San Jose, volcanoes, drought, Stanford

6. Colorado

Pikes Peak is one of Colorado's best known places of natural beauty in the Rocky Mountains. Though discovered by a man named Zebulon Pike Jr. in 1806, it was this mountain that helped inspire Kathie Lee Bates to write

Pikes Peak is one of Colorado’s best known places of natural beauty in the Rocky Mountains. Though discovered by a man named Zebulon Pike Jr. in 1806, it was this mountain that helped inspire Kathie Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful.”

Abbreviation: CO
Nickname: “Centennial State”
Capital: Denver
Largest City: Same
Entered Union: August 1, 1876
Bird: Lark Bunting
Flower: Rocky Mountain Columbine
Tree: Colorado Blue Spruce

Celebrities: Tim Allen, Molly Brown, M. Scott Carpenter, Mamie Eisenhower, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Lon Chaney Sr., the South Park Guys, Don Cheadle, Antoinette Perry, Gordon Cooper, Kalpana Chawla, Jack Dempsey, John Elway, Lowell Thomas, Dalton Trumbo, Karl Rove, Adam McKay, Gary Hart, Temple Grandin , William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody

Sports Teams: Denver Broncos (NFL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Rockies (MLB), and Colorado Avalanche (NHL)

Indian Tribes: Ancient Pueblo Peoples lived between 11200 to 3000 BCE, Ute, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Apache, and Comanche.

Best Known Moments: Zebulun Pike Expedition, Mexican American War, Indian Wars, Colorado Silver Boom, and two mass shootings at Columbine and Aurora.

Often Associated With: Rocky Mountains, high elevation, pot, stoners, hipsters, health nuts, hippies, outdoors stuff, desert, wilderness, John Denver, “Rocky Mountain High,” Continental Divide, snowcap mountains, multiculturalism, weirdos, New Agers, suburbs, hipsters, canyons, Indian ruins, South Park, cowboys, pioneers, tree huggers, Pikes Peak, skiing, Denver, Red Rocks Park, Black Canyon, Colorado Springs, Mesa Verde, Aspen, Grand Mesa, Cripple Creek, getting high, Columbine, Aurora

7. Connecticut

Like a lot of places in New England Connecticut is well known for its picturesque scenery and towns with fixtures like barns and steeple churches. Kind of explains why so many celebrities tend to live there.

Like a lot of places in New England Connecticut is well known for its picturesque scenery and towns with fixtures like barns and steeple churches. Kind of explains why so many celebrities tend to live there.

Abbreviation: CT
Nickname: “Constitution State,” “Nutmeg State”
Capital: Hartford
Largest City: Bridgeport
Entered Union: January 9, 1788
Bird: American Robin
Flower: Mountain Laurel
Tree: Charter White Oak

Celebrities: Katharine Hepburn, Ethan Allen, P. T. Barnum, Mark Twain, Suzanne Collins, J. P. Morgan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Charles Dow, Jackie Robinson, Eli Whitney, Noah Webster, Ralph Nader, Norman Lear, Seth MacFarlane, Cordell Hull, Robert Mitchum, Nathan Hale, Charles Ives, Roger Sherman, Christopher Walken, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Richard Belzer, Ernest Borgnine, Kevin Bacon, Ed Begley, Art Carney, Glenn Close, Paul Giamatti, Elia Kazan, Matt Lauer, David Letterman, Christopher Lloyd, Israel Putnam, Frederick March, John Ratzenberger, Rosiland Russell, Kyra Sedgwick, Ed Sullivan, Sam Waterson, Walter Camp, Bruce Jenner, William F. Buckley Jr., Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Madeleine L’ Engle, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Philip Roth, Maurice Sendak, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Wallace Stevens, Samuel Colt, Charles Goodyear, Martha Stewart, Ann Coulter, Denis Leary, Joan Rivers, Andy Rooney, Benedict Arnold, John Brown, 50 Cent, Leonard Bernstein, Dave Brubeck, Michael Bolton, the Carpenters, Dean Acheson, Henry Kissinger, Lyman Hall, Joe Lieberman, Clare Boothe Luce, Gideon Welles, Jonathan Edwards, Helen Keller, Alfred P. Sloan, John Trumbull, Frederick Law Olmstead, Glen Beck, Phil Donahue, Igor Sikorsky, Anne Baxter, Marilyn Chambers, Michael J. Fox, Justin Long, Ted Knight, Dylan McDermott, Wally Lamb, Annie Leibowitz, Robert Ludlum, Stephanie Meyer, Arthur Miller, Ida Tarbell, Oliver Wolcott

Sports Teams: UConn Huskies (NCAA Div. I Basketball), Quinnipac University Bobcats (NCAA Div. I Basketball and Hockey), Yale Bulldogs (NCAA Div. I)

Indian Tribes: Mohegan, Pequot, Paugusetts, and others. Probably died from war and small pox.

Best Known Moments: One of the original 13 Colonies, American Revolution, Discrimination in suburban communities in the 20th century, and school shooting at Newtown.

Often Associated With: Yale, rich people, New England, intellectuals, suburbs, old money, picturesque countryside, lighthouses, seaside, sailboats, small farms, Gentlemen’s Agreement, celebrities apparently, Bridgeport, Gillette Castle, New Haven, harbors, golfing, covered bridges, Darien, Waterbury, steeple churches, spoiled prep school kids, Newtown

8. Delaware

“Recruiting Peter Stuyvesant's Army for the Recapture of Fort Casimir,” is an 1838 paining by Albertus Del Orient Browere. Of course, many don't know that Delaware used to belong to the Dutch West India Company before the Brits seized it during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Of course, Fort Casmir was later renamed New Castle and its still that way today.

“Recruiting Peter Stuyvesant’s Army for the Recapture of Fort Casimir,” is an 1838 paining by Albertus Del Orient Browere. Of course, many don’t know that Delaware used to belong to the Dutch West India Company before the Brits seized it during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Of course, Fort Casmir was later renamed New Castle and its still that way today.

Abbreviation: DE
Nickname: “First State,” “Diamond State”
Capital: Dover
Largest City: Wilmington
Entered Union: December 7, 1787
Bird: Blue Hen Chicken
Flower: Peach Blossom
Tree: American Holly

Celebrities: Joe Biden, Victor Marie DuPont, Thomas McKean, Dr. Oz, Ryan Philippe, Caesar Rodney, Aubrey Plaza, George Thorogood, Johnny Weir, John Dickinson, Anne Rogers Clark, Teri Polo, Judge Reinhold

Sports Teams: Delaware Fightn’ Blue Hens and Delaware State Hornets (NCAA Div. I)

Indian Tribes: The Lenni Lenape or the Delaware and the Nanticoke. Probably wiped out by war and smallpox

Best Known Moments: Henry Hudson expedition of 1609, one of the original 13 Colonies, the American Revolution, and once part of Pennsylvania as well as was the first state to ratify the constitution.

Often Associated With: rich people, pro-business environment, corporation haven, rail and bus transportation for senators, ferry boats, lighthouses, DuPont, Wilmington, Dover, Old Swedes Holy Trinity Church, New Castle, beaches, Delaware River, NASCAR racing, Combat Zone Wrestling, not much else

9. Florida

Florida's Everglades are tropical wetlands and the largest tropical wilderness of the US and largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi. It was made a National Park to support a fragile ecosystem that's home to 36 threatened species, 350 kinds of birds, 300 species of fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles. Yet, even its natural park status doesn't prevent this swamp of beauty from suffering environmental duress.

Florida’s Everglades are tropical wetlands and the largest tropical wilderness of the US and largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi. It was made a National Park to support a fragile ecosystem that’s home to 36 threatened species, 350 kinds of birds, 300 species of fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles. Yet, even its natural park status doesn’t prevent this swamp of beauty from suffering environmental duress.

Abbreviation: FL
Nickname: “Sunshine State”
Capital: Tallahassee
Largest City: Jacksonville
Entered Union: March 3, 1845
Bird: Northern Mockingbird
Flower: Orange Blossom
Tree: Sabal Palmetto

Celebrities: Jeb Bush, Osceola, Janet Reno, Tom Petty, Perez Hilton, Wayne Brady, Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway, Ray Charles, Sidney Poitier, Bob Ross, Mickey Rourke, Rick Sanchez, Wesley Snipes, Bob Vila, Zora Neale Hurston, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lil’ Wayne, Debbie Harry, Jim Morrison, Vanilla Ice, Enrique Inglesias, Dante Culpepper, Chris Evert, Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Ray Lewis, Chad Ochocinco, Alex Rodriguez, Deion Sanders, Maria Sharapova, Emmit Smith, Tim Tebow, Charles E. Merrill, A. Philip Randolph, William H. Macy, Daniel Tosh, Charles E. Merrill, Pat Boone, The Allman Brothers Band, Andy Garcia, Julio Inglesias, Dave Barry, Jeff Lindsay, Jimmy Wales

Sports Teams: Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Bucaneers, and Miami Dolphins (NFL), Miami Heat and Orlando Magic (NBA), Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins (MLB), Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), Florida State Seminoles, Florida Gators, and Miami Hurricanes (NCAA Div. I, particularly football)

Indian Tribes: Apalachee, Timucua, Ais, Tocobaga, Callusa, and Tequesta at least by the time Juan Ponce de Leon was there. Seminoles actually came there in the 19th century when driven off their ancestral lands.

Best Known Moments: First contact with Europeans through Juan Ponce de Leon, US clash with the Seminoles, Bush v. Gore, a series of hurricanes and a lot of crime stories including the Casey Anthony trial and the Trayvon Martin killing.

Often Associated With: swamp, Disney World, senior citizens, rednecks, weirdos, the Everglades, Miami, Dexter, psycho killers, beaches, alligators, unbearable heat, hurricanes, weirdos, old retired Jews, Cubans, mosquitoes, strip clubs, NASA, Cape Canaveral, racist “Stand Your Ground” laws, Orlando, Key West, sunshine, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, colorful houses, suburbs, Jimmy Buffet fans, NASCAR racing, swing state politics, Bush v. Gore, hippies, pro-wrestling, trailer parks, tornadoes, oranges, palm trees, marlins, manatees, motorboats, water skis, tourism, Daytona Beach, Miami Beach, Florida panther, multiculturalism, Hawaiian shirts, golfing, exotic birds, herons, tabloid magazines, Sarasota, Pensacola, St. Augustine,  Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Panama City, Tebowing, annoying Christian football players, Daytona Beach, Daytona 500, Southern Rock, St. Petersburg, Black Seminoles, subtropical to tropical settings, crocodiles, cypress trees

10. Georgia

Callaway Gardens is a family resort area in Georgia as well as a National Historic Landmark. Founded by a couple who wanted to save a rare species of Azaela as well as play host to other native plants, the gardens include a number of lakes, golf courses, scenic drive, an enclosed butterfly habitat, hiking trails, a horticultural center, a butterfly center and so much more. Pictured here is the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel which must play host to a lot of weddings.

Callaway Gardens is a family resort area in Georgia as well as a National Historic Landmark. Founded by a couple who wanted to save a rare species of Azaela as well as play host to other native plants, the gardens include a number of lakes, golf courses, scenic drive, an enclosed butterfly habitat, hiking trails, a horticultural center, a butterfly center and so much more. Pictured here is the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel which must play host to a lot of weddings.

Abbreviation: GA
Nickname: “Empire State of the South,” “Peach State”
Capital: Atlanta
Largest City: Same
Entered Union: January 2, 1788
Bird: Brown Thrasher
Flower: Cherokee Rose
Tree: Live Oak

Celebrities: Jimmy Carter, Ty Cobb, Ray Charles, Margaret Mitchell, Juliette Gordon Low, “Doc” Holliday, Gladys Knight, Little Richard, John C. Fremont, Joel Chandler Harris, Larry Holmes, Holly Hunter, Flannery O’Connor, Otis Redding, Burt Reynolds, Julia Roberts, Jackie Robinson, Ryan Seacrest, Clarence Thomas, Alice Walker, Joanne Woodward, Martin Luther King Jr., the Allman Brothers, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Lee Atwater, Andre 3000, Mary J. Blige, Mel Blount, James Brown, Reggie Brown, Luke Bryan, Rosalynn Carter, Mark David Chapman, Ossie Davis, Paula Deen, Pretty Boy Floyd, Jeff Foxworthy, Newt Gingrich, Nancy Grace, Cee Lo Green, Nathaniel Greene, Button Gwinnett, Todd Haley, Lyman Hall, Oliver Hardy, Hulk Hogan, Ed Helms, Bill Hicks, Sterling Holloway, Bobby Jones, Stacy Keach, Deforest Kelley, Spike Lee, Lil’ Jon, James Longstreet, Ludacris, William H. Macy, Jack McBrayer, Blind Willie Mc Tell, Johnny Mercer, Elijah Muhammad, Deborah Norville, Terrell Owens, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton, Kanye West, George Foster Peabody, Tyler Perry, Ma Rainey, Jeannette Rankin, Sugar Ray Robinson, Dean Rusk, Soulja Boy, Alexander Stephens, Chris Tucker, Hines Ward, Woodrow Wilson, Miriam Hopkins

Sports Teams: Atlanta Braves (MLB), Atlanta Hawks (NBA), Atlanta Falcons (NFL), Georgia Bulldogs and Georgia Yellow Jackets (NCAA Div. I)

Indian Tribes: Inhabited by Mississippian Mound Building culture. By European contact the Creek, Cherokee, and Yamasee prior to being kicked out with the Indian Removal Act in the 1830s.

Best Known Moments: Founding by James Ogelthorpe as debtor colony, one of the original 13 Colonies, American Revolution, Trail of Tears, aw Civil War battles of Chickamauga, Kenneshaw Mountain, and Atlanta as well as Sherman’s March to the Sea and Andersonville, and hosted the 1996 Olympics.

Often Associated With: slavery, cotton, Gone with the Wind, CNN, Ted Turner, “Georgia On My Mind,” rednecks, plantations, rich Southerners, Savannah, Atlanta, very loose gun laws, peaches, peanuts, Masters Tournament, The Weather Channel, TCM, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Coca-Cola, racism, lynching, Southern accents, Michael Vick, Southern Rock, “Midnight Train to Georgia,” southern belles, Southern hospitality, Appalachian Mountains, R&B music, golfing, Stone Mountain, CDC, Delta Airlines, Chick-fil-A, Warm Springs, Pine Mountains, Andersonville, Southern Gothic Literature, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,  golfing, Callaway Gardens

Bad Movie Teachers

Back to school season is upon us with parents and kids across the country scrambling for school supplies and clothes. I thought I would commemorate this occasion by doing a post on movie teachers since I can’t really find any pictures of tacky back to school stuff. Now we all are familiar with the inspirational movie teacher who makes a positive difference in his or her students’ lives as well as helps them rise up from humble circumstances. Unfortunately, these aren’t the kind of teachers I won’t be talking about. Still, a lot of us have had bad teachers at some point in our lives because even in the teaching profession, there always has to be someone who sucks at their job. And like in real life, movies have a lot of these from the downright abusive to the downright incompetent, sometimes both. So without further adieu, here is a list of movie teachers that you don’t want to have. Also, this includes principals and coaches.

1. Michel Delassalle

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From: Diabolique

The Problem: To make a long story short, he’s just an uncaring administrator who does a terrible job running his run-down, crumbling school. The grounds seem like they haven’t been tended in weeks while the teachers are incompetent time-servers while the kids smoke and harass the staff. Such terrible education environment may be excusable at a public school at an inner city neighborhood where all the kids come from families poorer than hen shit while the teachers are just too frustrated to care anymore. However, Delassalle runs a private European boarding school associated with the finest a continental education can offer whose students come from more affluent families. Not only that but Delassalle mistreats his wife and openly cheats on her with another faculty member. Yet, even this doesn’t stop the two women who are supposed to love him to get together in plotting his demise (well, seemingly at first). He’s such a terrible principal that everything at that school could only seemingly get better if he’d only disappeared, but it gets much worse.

2. Mr. Jonas

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From: How Green Was My Valley

The Problem: Let’s just say while there are the kind of inspirational teacher who’s guidance helps seemingly dead-end poor kids to achieve a better life outside the one they’re accustomed to. Unfortunately, Mr. Jonas isn’t that kind of teacher. Rather when Huw Morgan earns the right to attend his school since his scholastic abilities could be his ticket out of his dead-end Welsh mining town, he soon has the misfortune of being in Mr. Jonas’ class. Now like a lot of teachers in the Victorian Era, Mr. Jonas is a sadistic uncaring fop whose disciplinary methods basically consist of caning students to the bone. When he’s not employing corporal punishments to Huw, he’s berating him for being poor and Welsh. Sure he gets beat up by a couple of village miners but because of him, Huw has no interest to continue his education and opts for child labor in the village mine alongside his father and oldest brother who both end up dead by the film’s conclusion. Thanks to the sadistic Mr. Jonas sapping his interest to better himself, young Huw is destined for either an early death or a lifetime of respiratory disease.

3. Dolores Umbridge

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From: The Harry Potter films

The Problem: Sure she may appear as someone’s kindly aunt or grandmother who dresses in pink and decorates her office with adorable cats. Yet, be warned that she’s a vicious and ruthless woman who’s basically one of the more realistic and universally despised villains in the whole series. For one, Umbridge not only teaches a subject she’s undeniably unqualified for such as Defense Against the Dark Arts which leads to Harry and his friends teaching the subject themselves under cover of night. Second, she’s willing to punish students for simply talking out of turn and disagreeing with her. And she tends to employ rather sadistic torture methods she employes with glee such as making Harry write “I must not tell lies” with a blood quill that creates a permanent scar on his hand. Third, she uses her other job with the Ministry of Magic to turn Hogwarts into her personal totalitarian fiefdom and inflicting tyrannical laws to get her own way yet engages in activities that are considered illegal and unforgivable even by Ministry standards. Let’s just say the only way you can deal with is put her in a situation where her connections won’t help her like in a herd of centaurs.

4. Miss Jean Brodie

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From: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Problem: Though you’d more or less remember Dame Maggie Smith as the stern but ultimately competent and caring Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter series, but don’t expect her to be anything like this in her Oscar-winning role as Miss Brodie. Now as teacher of the Marcia Blaine School, Miss Brodie has less interest in encouraging her students to think for themselves and challenge the status quo (despite what she says) or actual teaching than creating her own self-centered personality cult as well as acting out her delusions of grandeur by devoting her class time with talking way too much about her personal life and romanticizing fascist leaders like Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco. She also tends to singles out a few of her pupils she calls “la creme de la creme” whose ambitions for them basically involve using them to vicariously fulfill her own psychological needs whether it’s pimping one of them for the art teacher or manipulating another into running away to fight for Franco (which gets her killed). Sure she may be a rebellious teacher at a conservative school but she has no moral compass whatsoever and shows absolutely no remorse for her irresponsible actions. Luckily thanks to Sandy betraying her to the Miss Mackay and the Board of Governors, she’s fired but her influence will have damaging effects to many of her girls in their adult lives such as disillusionment, especially since she never taught her students about pain and loss. To all principals everywhere, avoid hiring a teacher who says, “Little girls, I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the crème de la crème. Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.”

5. Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr. Ph.D. (a.k.a. Indiana Jones)

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From: The Indiana Jones series

The Problem: Sure Indy is one heck of a badass who travels the globe collecting valuable treasures that belong in a museum and kicking Nazi butt. Yet, let’s face it, how Indy manages to hold on to his job as a professor of archaeology is beyond us even if he gets a good allowance for fieldwork but even teachers don’t get that much time off in real life. Even so, he always seems to bust out on an adventure before the semester is over without giving his students any notice. Still, while Indiana Jones has inspired many people into becoming archaeologists even though those in the field might question Marshall College’s prestige in its Archaeology Department since Indy basically sucks at his job. He not only neglects his students while hunting for artifacts, shows very disrespectful behavior toward other cultures, destroying ancient buildings for gold trinkets, using no documentation at his finds, as well as doing things that archaeologists are actually supposed to do. Sure he may say, “Archaeology is about facts. Not truth. If it’s truth you’re interested in, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is down the hall. …Forget any ideas you’ve got about lost cities, exotic travel and digging up the world. We do not follow maps to buried treasure, and X never, ever marks the spot.”  Yet, this is what he basically does as far as we know, which sort of hurts his credibility. A lot of the stuff Indy does in the movies would actually get a guy in his field fired as evidenced in this article where he’s denied tenure: <www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/back-from-yet-another-globetrotting-adventure-indiana-jones-checks-his-mail-and-discovers-that-his-bid-for-tenure-has-been-denied>

6. Professor Dave Jennings

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From: Animal House

The Problem: While a lot of bad movie teachers’ list have Dean Wormer for being one mean son of a bitch who undertakes extraordinary measures to shut down a notorious frat house, his actions at the Delta Tau Chi House are pretty justifiable. I mean if a bunch of frat boys killed a horse in your office, you’d probably try doing the same if you were in his place. Still, at least he’s trying to do his job and he’s also under pressure from the town’s mayor. Disenchanted English Professor Jennings, on the other hand, should be fired since his behavior is far more objectionable for a man in his profession. Not only does he lecture his kids on radical politics instead of what he’s supposed to teach, he hangs out at their frat parties smoking joints with them as well as seduces their girlfriends. Sure he may play up as a cool hippie teacher but he’s really nothing but a worthless piece of shit.

7. Gilderoy Lockhart

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From: The Harry Potter films

The Problem: I know Severus Snape gets on many lists for worst movie teacher yet at least he has some concern about his students as well as actually quite competent even if he’s rather unpleasant in the classroom and outright loathes one particular student just simply because he’s the offspring of a man he hates and a girl he had a crush on during his teenage years. Hey, he may have killed Dumbledore, but at least he’s not known for endangering students’ lives (though it’s kind of expected at Hogwarts), which says a lot. I know Sybil Trelawney may suck as a Divination teacher sometimes but at least she tries her best and has a legitimate reason to be there. On the other hand, Lockhart views his job as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher as a way to boost his enormous narcissistic ego as a wizarding celebrity famous for defeating various magical creatures like yetis, banshees, werewolves, and trolls which he chronicled in his books. Seems like a perfect person to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, right? Wrong, he’s an utter incompetent and untalented as shown by how he leaves his second year students deal with a release of a cage full of Cornish Pixies. Also, he actually claimed other people’s exploits as his own as well as erased their memories so they wouldn’t sue. And if you’re a certain celebrity second year student known for surviving a deadly curse from the Dark Lord, then expect to have to spend your detentions having to answer his fan mail, having your bones removed after a Quidditch match, and almost having him wipe out you and your best friend’s memories when you go to the Chamber of Secrets to save the aforementioned friend’s sister. Luckily Ron’s broken wand puts Lockhart into Saint Mungo’s as a permanent resident and is replaced by a more competent Defense Against the Dark Arts professor who actually has some experience with werewolves.

8. Miss Agatha Trunchbull

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From: Matilda

The Problem: Only in the Roald Dahl universe could we have a principal like Miss Trunchbull whose sadistic antics could turn her domain into an elementary school and G-Rated version of The Shawshank Redemption. She openly dislikes and disciplines her students over relatively minor offenses (if they’re offenses at all) so she could terrorize them with her assortment of creative torture methods. Come to school in pigtails? Get thrown over a the fence. Get caught for stealing food from the kitchen? Be forced to eat a giant chocolate cake by yourself in front of the whole student body and have those peers stay 5 hours after school for cheering you on. And for offenses that would give you a verbal reprimand or a half hour of detention at recess, she has kids stand in for “the chokey” which is an improvised iron maiden bound to send any grade school child into a lifetime of therapy. Other crimes include killing her own brother-in-law, stealing all his assets from her 5-year old niece, and abusing her well into adulthood. Why no parents complain about their child’s grades suffering over the fact that they go to a school headed by someone who belongs in a maximum security prison, we’ll never know.

9. Mr. Jasper Woodcock

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From: Mr. Woodcock

The Problem: Gym teachers in movies are usually not portrayed in a good light and Mr. Woodcock is no exception. Yet, this guy is a sadistic, humorless, and militaristic middle school gym teacher who takes the cake in making boys’ gym shorts brown as well as forever diminished self-confidence that leads to a career writing touchy-feely self-help books. In his class, you will run laps as well as suffer vicious humiliation leading to a lifetime of therapy and medication. Woodcock would bully the weakest, plumpest, and least coordinated boys in the class as well as subject them to all sorts of antics like making an asthmatic kid run laps and whacking kids in the groin with a whiffleball bat. Let’s just say, seeing him dating your mom would be one of your worst nightmares. At least if you like her. Out of all the sadistic and abusive gym teachers in movies, Mr. Woodcock just tops them all.

10. Mr. Kitano

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From: Battle Royale

The Problem: We all know that teaching can sometimes be a frustrating and thankless job. Kids will not always be eager to learn and there will be some who misbehave. Yet, teaming up with your dystopian government to send his entire class on a field trip on an island to reenact The Hunger Games is not at all a good idea. In fact, it will give you a life sentence at a maximum security prison or looney bin if you’re lucky to live in a place that doesn’t have the death penalty. Yet, this is exactly what Kitano does as well as throw a knife straight at a girl in the chest for whispering during his lecture, outfitting all his former students with exploding dog collars, and others. There are safer ways to express your teaching frustrations like therapy.

11. Dean Ed Rooney

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From: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The Problem: Look, I know that truancy isn’t a good thing for a student to do and makes the school look bad. Yet, Rooney’s single minded-pursuit of a notorious truant is certainly inexcusable for any school administrator. Rooney’s hunting down Ferris has more to do with personal vendetta than actually about giving him an education. Rooney is basically Captain Ahab as a school administrator willing to let his obsession of giving a truant what he deserves that he’s willing to break into a Ferris’ house, attacks the Buellers’ dog, and completely neglects his duties as a school administrator. Sure Rooney does have every right to be concerned about Ferris skipping school nine times as well as that nobody else seems to hold him accountable. And yes, it’s Rooney’s job to enforce school regulations, especially when it comes to a student skipping school nine times as well as hacking into a computer to erase his records. But trying to enforce school regulations while being completely absent from school property and neglecting other responsibilities is taking things way too far. Ferris is only one of the hundreds of students under Rooney’s charge and devoting all his time and energy on punishing is not how a principal is supposed to act. Rooney should’ve either just hired a truant officer or at least notify Mr. and Mrs. Bueller about their son’s skipping behavior.

12. Mr. Michael “Tiger” Magrew

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From: Pretty Maids All in a Row

The Problem: Sure he may seem like the greatest teacher in the world at his Venice, CA high school. As a faculty adviser and head of coach of its football team, he’s a warm and charming man who always has an open door policy at his office and will give you private lessons on the side just because he cares. Seems like a perfect teacher, right? Wrong, despite his Rock Hudson portrayal, he’s creep who abuses his power by cheating on his wife with a long line of female students. And he sees absolutely nothing wrong with teacher/student relationships and even helps a male student put the moves on a hot young substitute teacher. Just when you think he can’t get any worse, he has taken to killing many of his underage bedmates to keep his affairs secrets and quietly dumps their bodies around campus. A true serial killer in the education system, Mr. Magrew is a teacher from hell you’d want to avoid.

13. Erika Kohut

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From: The Piano Teacher

The Problem: She’s practically a package of everything you wouldn’t want for a teacher. A passionless and frigid monster at Vienna music conservatory, Erika openly berates her students for not playing with enough emotion even though she has the emotional range of a vacuum cleaner. Yet, she’s also prone to insulting them with no helpful input at times as well as occasionally puts broken glass in their coat pockets when they’re not looking. In her private life, she’s basically a female version of Christian Grey, but not in a good way such as a controlling and psychologically messed up human being who gives S&M a bad name. Not only that, but she has an unhealthy relationship with her mother, engages in voyeurism and public urination, and has a romantic attachment to a seventeen-year-old boy. Let’s just say, you don’t want this messed up lady in a classroom or in your life for that matter.

14. Richard “Dick” Vernon

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From: The Breakfast Club

The Problem: Sure I know that being a principal is a stressful job but Vernon really takes it overboard. For one, he has five teenagers serve detention in the school library on a Saturday, orders them not to speak or move in their seats, and makes them write an essay. Second, he treats his students like garbage, verbally haranguing them every chance he gets. If it’s a student he particularly despises named Bender, then expect Vernon to assign him two months detention for talking back as well as locking him in a closet and physically threatening him. Of course, he did want an easy job where children respected him but perhaps he should seek another kind of work because school principal is anything but an easy job and lashing your frustrations against a few teenagers isn’t going to earn you any respect.

15. Mr. Jim McAllister

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From: Election

The Problem: Now I know it’s okay to be upset that his best friend got fired for having affair with a student. And it’s perfectly fine for him to dislike the girl who wrecked his friend’s life apart. Yet, even if Tracy Flick is an unbearable overachiever with a taste for older men, none of that gives Mr. McAllister any acceptable reason to rig a student election that would deny her a rightful place on student government. Sure she may be a lascivious teenage monster in her youth but what Mr. McAllister has to understand is that Dave could’ve chosen not to commit statutory rape and has pretty much nobody to blame for wrecking his life but himself. Nevertheless, rigging a student government election out of pure spite is outright deception unbecoming of any educator. Still, as an adult he should know better and his conduct won’t make the kids respect him anymore, especially if he catches them doing something out of spite. Also, he apparently sees no problem with ditching his class midday to hook up with Dave’s ex-wife while he’s still married.

16. Mr. Trevor Garfield

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From 187

The Problem: Samuel L. Jackson is known for playing a badass but unfortunately what works in Pulp Fiction doesn’t necessarily translate well in the classroom. Sure he may have a thing for “an eye for an eye” tactics after being violently attacked by a rebellious student but that doesn’t mean he should practice them on his students even if they are a bunch of little shits. I mean tranquilizing a teen with a bow and arrow and cutting off his finger is a serious breach of ethics in the classroom as well as playing the all too real game of Russian roulette. Seriously, he may say these activities are in the best interests of the “good” students at his school though any teenager with half a brain would be wise to skip his class. Even worse is that he’s depicted as a good guy in this movie despite bringing a gun into the classroom.

17. Kitty Farmer

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From: Donnie Darko

The Problem: You think an educator who actually has kids would be someone you’d want around your children right?  For someone who says to her students, “OK. Now, girls. I want you to concentrate. Failure is not an option. And Bethany? If you feel the need to vomit up there, just swallow it,” you might want to reconsider. Kitty Farmer’s students think she’s a clueless nuisance. Yet, in reality she’s basically the closest thing you can get to having Sarah Palin in the classroom, an ignorant and judgmental woman who lets her cheerily ultra right wing rhetoric rule her world. She’s prone to merrily denouncing what’s right and wrong with no gray area in between, lobbying to ban books she can’t fully understand, and fully supporting a guy who later turns out to be a pedophile to fill in as a counselor to her classes. Now this is the movie famous for having a pedophile played by Patrick Swayze and a skeleton masked doomsday rabbit who seem pretty tame by comparison alongside her.

18. Dan Dunne

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From: Half-Nelson

The Problem: You’d think someone played by Ryan Gosling would make a great teacher  since he’s quite easy on the eyes. Well, at an inner city middle school in Brooklyn it certainly appears to the be case for the 20 something teacher at first. On the surface, he’s an idealistic and smart teacher known to give inspiring lectures as well as eschewing the school curriculum in favor of dialectics. Oh, and he does a great job reaching out to his students by teaching them on how to interpret historicity as well as helping to give each of his kids a powerful analytical voice. So Dunne’s pretty awesome right? Well, unfortunately he’s a addicted to crack who gets caught getting high in a bathroom stall by one of his players from the girls basketball team. Sure they strike a friendship but he only heads deeper into addiction that he shows up to class hung over in front of his students as well as grows more cynical about his ability to shape his students’ minds. Oh, and he orders the aforementioned girl to deliver crack to him at a seedy motel, basically setting her up for expulsion and poverty-filled future. Yeah, maybe a 20 something crack addict doesn’t belong in the classroom, especially at an inner city middle school. Perhaps Dan Dunne should’ve worked for Wall Street, since he’s probably the biggest hypocrite on Red Ribbon Week.

19. Mrs. Sheba Hart

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From: Notes on a Scandal

The Problem: Well, despite being played by Cate Blanchett, she’s not the brightest bulb in the patch. For one, she’s having an affair with one of her 15 year old students. Second, she’s being emotionally manipulated by co-teacher Barbara Covett who’s blackmailing her into sharing intimate details of that said affair. Third, Covett is a lesbian who has a habit of seducing young female teachers and thinks that being Hart’s friend would make her fall in love with her. Of course, Covett is destined for the friend zone since Hart is straight, married with kids, and doesn’t seem to go for anyone over 50. Oh, and she chronicles her whole affair with student in an obsessively detailed journal. Sure Covett may be a manipulative bitch but being a 50+ lesbian who seduces young teachers is much safer around the kiddos than one who commits statutory rape with a 15 year old boy, sees nothing wrong with it, and has no common sense. I mean having sex with a minor is one thing, but discussing the matter with a colleague who wants to get in your pants is just plain dumb. I mean this is how teachers like her get fired and sent to jail dumb.

20. Reverend Henry Brocklehurst

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From: Jane Eyre

The Problem: Let’s just say he’s one of the worst principals in all of 19th century literature as well as in film. If you think Jane had it rough with her awful relatives, then it gets much worse during her days at Lowood which is pretty much a charity boarding school for poor and orphaned children. Yet, it’s also one of horrors mostly because it’s run by this man. While Delassale keeps his boarding school accommodations in terrible shape due to neglect, Mr. Brocklehurst runs his charity almost to human rights disaster area mostly because he views these girls as outright garbage. Cold rooms, thin clothing, and terrible food lead to a typhus epidemic that kills a lot of girls at Lowood. Meanwhile, he and his family live comfortably well off which makes you wonder if he’s squandering money from his donors. His punishments also border around child abuse as well. Accidentally break a slate? Well, he’ll have you stand on a stool, call you a liar, and shame you before the whole student body. Can’t straighten your naturally curly hair? Well, he order you to get a haircut since he thinks it’s such a horrific sin. Oh, and he’s a minister to boot which makes him even more of a hypocrite. Brocklehurst’s fate varies by the adaptation but in the book, he actually gets fired. Apparently the Brocklehurst was too cruel of a principal for the 19th century, even in a school for poor orphaned girls! And remember from your Dickens novels that this is a time when adults could treat any poor kid like shit and not face any legal consequences whatsoever. You can understand why Jane wanted to leave Lowood as soon as she could.

Why We Can’t End the Fed

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I haven’t written on anything political on this blog for a long time but I think a post on the Federal Reserve is a worthy topic of discussion since it’s not much understood even if what I have to say isn’t what people want to hear. I know this isn’t a favorite institution among Americans who sometimes think that it’s corrupt or doesn’t have much transparency. Some like to think that it’s been involved in a lot of conspiracies such as the Kennedy assassination (which it certainly wasn’t, nor has the CIA). Many view the Fed There are libertarians like Ron Paul and his son Rand who want to end the Fed thinking that it’s unconstitutional and that there’s no need for such system since they believe the economy could regulate itself on its own (I’ll get to this later). Then you have people in the Occupy movement who think that the Federal Reserve exists as a private corporation with too much power in the federal government and only serves the interests of large corporations led by people with too much power and too much money already (it’s actually an amalgamation of a government agency-corporation but with 12 privately owned district banks, yet all profits and central authority belongs to the federal government). However, while many of the anti-Fed movement don’t realize (or ignore) is that the Federal Reserve plays an essential role in the American economy which most Americans take for granted. And while it’s not a perfect system or one a lot of people like, we need to understand that to abolish the Federal Reserve would be absolutely insane.

Now you don’t have to be a financial genius to know that abolishing the Federal Reserve would be a catastrophically stupid idea. In the United States the Federal Reserve functions as a central bank to manage the nation’s money supply through monetary policy, deter bank panics, providing financial services for the government as well as private banks (particularly as a lender of last resort),  strike a balance between privatization and government involvement, and create a stable economic environment for businesses, investors, and consumers alike. All these are extremely important for a national economy as well as in our daily lives. Still, while many do blame the Fed for the country’s economic woes, many don’t understand that if the Fed wasn’t around in the first place, the US would’ve been in much worse economic shape than it has been since its creation in 1913. Yet, even Founding Father Alexander Hamilton knew that establishing a centralized national bank was necessary to stabilize and improve the nation’s credit as well as to improve handling of the US government’s financial business. While this idea was controversial for years (even in his own time), history would later vindicate Hamilton’s views on finance, particularly that of a centralized national bank and the Federal Reserve is living proof of this from its inception to its 100 year existence.

When it comes to understanding why we need the Federal Reserve, we need to remember that the Fed was created in 1913 after the US had spent 76 years without a central bank (giving us a good window into what would happen if we actually ended the Fed.) Now unlike what many free-market libertarians would want you to believe and Ron Paul’s gold standard nostalgia,  these weren’t great economic times to be honest. Of course, the reason why the US went through a period with no centralized banking system during this time had to do with a few factors. For one, the First and Second Banks of the United States were privately owned (and had foreigners share in the profits), shared only 20% of the nation’s currency supply while state banks accounted for the rest, and ran on 20 year charters which both expired before they could be renewed (all based on Hamilton’s ideas by the way save for the expiring bit). Nevertheless, the fatal flaw with Hamilton’s central banking system was that it provided a way for business interest and greed to usurp power from the federal government and common citizens. Second, a lot of Americans didn’t like a centralized banking system which they saw as undemocratic, corrupt, and favoring the interests of big business. They particularly distrusted centralized financial authority which undermined both banks, which was particularly personified in Andre Jackson who was more than happy to help the Second Bank of the United States along its demise in 1836 even to the point of vetoing congressional attempts to renew its charter to usher an era of laissez faire economics and de-centralized American banking. Unfortunately financial anarchy didn’t go so well.

Of course, running a country without a central bank empowered to issue paper money led to more than a few problems, well, more like large systematic financial fuck ups between 1837 and 1913. During this time the dollar supply was tied to private banks’ holdings and government bonds, which would’ve been fine if the need for dollars was fixed over time. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case. Since there was no central, government-backed bank able to create money on demand, the American banking couldn’t provide it nor was there a for a bank’s money supply to adjust with demand either. When people would try to withdraw more money from one bank that it had available, the bank would fail leading to other people trying to withdraw their funds from other banks. Such activities would create a vicious cycle later snowballing into widespread bank failures and contraction of lending across the economy resulting in economic depression. This happened every few years. Another reason for bank failures being so common before 1913 was the tendency of huge fluctuations in the money supply. Often the US economy would alternate between too much money in circulation and not enough causing all sorts of economic chaos.

The American banking system was particularly unstable during the Free Banking Era between 1837 and 1862 when banks had no federal oversight whatsoever. During this time, banks were short lived with an average lifespan of 5 years with half of them would failing (due to fraud, incompetence, or bad economic conditions) and a third going out of business because they couldn’t redeem their notes. You also have a practice called wildcat banking in which many banks would issue nearly worthless currency backed by questionable security (like bonds or mortgages) since the institution’s real value would often be lower than its face value. Some bank currency was more valuable than others depending on the bank you received the banknote and the quality of its assets, your state’s banking regulations, the quality of your state’s bonds if your state required such banknotes to be backed by them, and the likelihood of fraud. Not only that, but there was no transparency at all so you couldn’t tell whether your neighborhood bank’s assets were wildcat money. And if that weren’t enough, you had to deal with the fact that there were over 30,000 different currencies floating around in the United States at this period, which could be issued by almost anyone even drug stores and steakhouses. A lot of problems also stemmed from this including the fact that some currencies were worth more than others whether backed by silver, gold, or government bonds. Then you have the Panic of 1837 that caused a major recession that lasted until the mid-1840s, eight states either wholly or partially unable to pay their debts, and 343 of the nation’s 850 banks closing their doors resulting in a shock from which the system of state banks would never recover.

The National Bank Era of 1863-1913 was not much better. Though it did establish a uniform US banking policy, established a series of national banks with higher standards than many state ones,  created a national currency, and basically helped put an end to the wildcat banking practices. National banks were required to use government issued bills and back them with US government issued bonds as well as accept each other’s currency at par value. The federal government’s 1865 issue of a 10% tax on state bank bills would not only give rise to a uniform national currency by forcing all non-federal issued currency out of circulation but also the creation of checking accounts by the state banks which became the primary source for most banks’ revenue by the 1880s. Yet, despite the reforms, a lot of problems still remained. For one, while the US finally had a uniform currency, it was required to be backed up by treasuries. When such treasuries fluctuated in value, banks had to either recall loans or borrow from other banks or clearinghouses. Second the banking system of the National Bank Era created seasonal liquidity spikes particularly in rural areas during planting season when demand for funds was the highest. When the combined liquidity demands were too big, the bank would again have to find a lender of last resort to borrow from so it could pay its depositors and escape from financial ruin. Unfortunately, the responsibility would usually fall to other banks and financial institutions yet they weren’t always willing to bail out a troubled entity since doing so could put them in financial risk. This led to a string of financial panics which caused serious economic damage. Because there was a chance that you wouldn’t be able to access your bank account during an economic meltdown, Americans didn’t have much faith in their banking system.

The worst of the financial meltdowns to occur during the National Bank Era that helped facilitate the creation of the Federal Reserve was the series of events that helped lead to the Panic of 1907, the period’s worst. Now there are a variety of factors that contributed to this financial crisis that happened to converge all it once. It all began with the devastating San Francisco Earthquake of April 1906 not only developing an urgent need for cash to fund the recovery efforts and contributing to market instability but also made the survivors unable to access their cash for weeks mainly because it had been locked in bank vaults so hot from broken gas line fires that opening them would’ve caused their money to burst into flames. Not only that, 1906 was also a bumper year for crops which brewed a possible economic boom so companies nationwide wanted more cash to invest in new ventures like rebuilding San Francisco. Both of these events made dollar demand uncommonly high at a time when the money supply couldn’t increase much resulting in rising interest rates and withdrawals. Before long, the high number of withdrawals would soon put banks across the country on the brink of failure. In October of 1907, a copper miner turned banker F. Augustus Heinze and his stockbroker brother Otto tried to take over the United Copper Company’s market by buying up its shares. They failed and United Copper’s stock price tumbled causing investors to rush to pull any deposits out of any bank even remotely associated to F. Augustus Heinze. Banks and financial institutions began to fail, particularly the huge Knickerbocker Trust Company, the third largest trust in New York, which had its depositors withdrawing $8 million of its funds in less than 3 hours. Knickerbocker’s failure led banks and financial institutions nationwide to hoard their cash unwilling to lend to other banks, especially in New York. Though undisputed Wall Street king J. P. Morgan managed to bail out some of the troubled banks due to his immense wealth and his ability to get rich guys and bankers to do what he wished, he was unable to solve the systemic failures of the US finance system caused the crisis in the first place.  The Panic of 1907 would spark one of the worst recessions in US history as well as similar crises in much of the world as well as would lead to the creation of the Federal Reserve four years later.

Of course, the Federal Reserve doesn’t prevent bank panics it just serves as a better tool to deal with them as a lender of last resort as well as regulating money supply. Thanks to the Fed, the United States has experienced fewer major financial panics and the money supply is mostly under control with huge fluctuations being few and far between. Because of the Federal Reserve, the United States has become a much more stable economy which has helped create a better climate for capitalist enterprise than any US banking system has ever had in its existence. Sure the Federal Reserve isn’t a perfect institution and has problems that need corrected. Yet,  we need to understand that when the US tried to do without centralized banking, the economy was much less stable and much more unpredictable while banks weren’t always places you could put your money in. No American wants to live at the time when they’d have to worry whether their bank ran out of money, loan their money to someone else who didn’t pay them back, or issued currency notes of questionable value. Nor do Americans want to live at a time of dramatic fluctuations in the money supply either or frequent bank panics and financial meltdowns. Sure there have been accusations that the Fed serves the interests of wealthy bankers and corporations but it also serves in the best interests of all Americans by making sure that the public retained confidence in the nation’s money and where it’s held. It also helps keep our economy system moving and minimize financial disturbances threatening economic stability. Our ancestors in the 19th century didn’t have such system nor did they have as much trust in the American financial system as we do nowadays. While there were plenty of financial institution running to Washington for bailouts during the 2008 meltdown, there were very few Americans running to the banks to withdraw their life savings before they ran out of money. Thus, while the Federal Reserve may have its flaws and critics, at least it’s a viable system that has worked quite well in its 100 year existence playing a crucial role in the US economy and performing services the American people just can’t live without. So perhaps when people talk about possibly ending the Fed, you might want to remind them that our financial system before the Federal Reserve was much worse and much less accountable. Nevertheless, to say that the Fed does more harm than good is simply not the case at all.