History’s Greatest People: They’re All Awful

February 24, 2014


Yes, that is a single tear running down statue-Cobain's cheek.  It's meant to represent the kind of maudlin, faux- sentimentality that showed up in his music never.

Yes, that is a single tear running down statue-Cobain’s cheek. It’s meant to represent the kind of maudlin, faux- sentimentality that showed up in his music never.

On Friday, the city of Aberdeen, Washington announced “Kurt Cobain Day” and unveiled a statue of the deceased rock legend.  The mayor hopes this will make Aberdeen “the next Graceland,” and I think there’s about a 100% chance of that coming true.

What was really amazing, though, was TV’s King 5 news’ hugely snide, sarcastic, and dismissive coverage of it, which began with the description of Kurt Cobain as “a famous heroin addict who shot himself.”

Hm.  Mmmm… yeah, there were those things… but… hm… I swear there was some other thing he did… some… thing… think, think, think… what was it?  Huh.  Oh, well; whatever.  Never mind.

The point is, if this is how we’re going to start remembering people now, there’s going to be a lot of history to revisit…

George Washington: A famous depressive who ate wood.

Jesus of Nazareth: Famous cult leader and convicted felon.

Salvador Dali: A renowned sexual-deviant who drank to excess.

Until he was 6, Hemingway's parents dressed him as a girl so, technically, it's true.

Until he was 6, Hemingway’s parents dressed him as a girl so, technically, it’s true.

Ernest Hemingway: An impotent cross-dresser who shot himself.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Dude in a wheelchair.

Joan of Arc: Well-known schizophrenic who convinced people to die for her.

Orson Welles: Broke, fat guy who made wine commercials.

Albert Einstein: Disheveled “one-hit wonder” of science who peaked before he was 30.

Socrates: Famous hobo and wise-ass who willingly drank poison.

Martin Luther King Jr: Womanizing criminal who was always blathering on about his dreams.

William Shakespeare: Famous plot-plagiarizer who deserted his family.

Martin Luther: Vandal.

Who else?

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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67 Comments on “History’s Greatest People: They’re All Awful”

  1. 1pointperspective Says:

    John Lennon – Lazy hippie who laid in bed for two weeks at a time with his talentless girlfriend.


  2. Kay Says:

    I’d mention Freud… But it all seems a bit obvious…


  3. Snoring Dog Studio Says:

    TV King 5 anchorperson: A nobody that opened his mouth and yapped some idiotic nonsense.


  4. Sarah Day Says:

    Vincent Van Gogh – immature artist with an inferiority complex prone to self-mutilation. Too easy?


  5. Vivien E. Zazzau Says:

    So glad I saw this because I never would have chosen to read about it anywhere else. The tear running down Kurt’s face could also be interpreted as a depiction of the Bible’s shortest verse, “Jesus wept.” I know someone who, literally, constructed a shrine to Cobain in his residence. There’s a net hanging from his wall, with pictures of Kurt hanging from it. An altar, with a candle, burns before it. Additionally, when he listens to Nirvana on YouTube, he clasps his hands, and bows his head. He’s a 35-year-old “ex” heroin addict. Finally, I’d like to add Abraham Lincoln to your list. Not that this Black woman is an ingrate, but the Emancipation Proclamation did NOT free ALL slaves. This document was little more than an opportunistic maneuver. And come to think of it, Lincoln, himself, never pretended it to be anything more than that. So, I rescind that nomination, and instead, nominate American HIS-tory…


  6. mistyslaws Says:

    “Oh well. Whatever. Nevermind.” <—- Nice.

    JFK – womanizer, adulterer, playboy

    Bill Clinton – see above


  7. becomingcliche Says:

    I laughed so loud reading this that I nearly got thrown out of the coffee shop.


  8. Twindaddy Says:

    That Elvis guy…he OD’d, right?


  9. Michael Says:

    Neil Armstrong: went on a trip and brought back some rocks. Big deal.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Have you ever seen Mr. Show? Brilliant sketch comedy who from the late 90’s. There’s a sketch about blowing up the moon, and there’s an astronaut saying, “I’ve been to the moon. I did a push up. Ate an egg. What else can you do with it?”


  10. Anka Says:

    Bob Marley: fathered eleven children and had bad hygiene.


    • Vivien E. Zazzau Says:

      @Anka: Honestly, I’ve really tried to ignore your statement, but I just can’t get around it. There’s absolutely no proof that Bob Marley was any dirtier than anyone else (hygiene-wise, anyway). I, myself, wore my hair locked for many years. Locs, dreads, or dreadlocks are often a solemn, sometimes even holy commitment to the wearers and keeping them *clean* is part of that ‘holiness,’ or commitment. Additionally, Negroid hair is very dry, delicate, and easily ‘broken.’ This is why we don’t (and usually can’t) wash it every day. If fact, we have to add oil to our scalps — our hair doesn’t get oily when we don’t wash it; therefore, our oil is ‘clean,’ not dirty. Finally, you might be interested to know that the dirtiest locs you will ever see are the ones you see on people who are of Caucasian descent — this is because unlike Black people, or people with a more ‘Negroid’ texture of hair (kinky), White people’s hair (if it’s ‘dead’ straight and naturally greasy) takes longer to loc; and the ‘violence’ of washing it before it finally locs can undue any prior progress made in loc-ing. As a result, I, who have the “Negroid-est” hair possible, actually sympathize with White folks who want to loc their hair because even for me, it felt like it took forever! That said, once my hair locked, I washed it about twice a week. So, just because *some* people *must* wash their hair every day, it doesn’t mean that people who do not have to do so are dirty! Finally, I don’t know how many baby mama’s Marley had, and I don’t care — but I will give you that…


      • Anka Says:

        Hi Vivien! I apologize if I offended you in anyway. That was not my intention. I was simply responding to another SATIRICAL piece written by The Byronic Man. He’s got a knack for employing irony and exaggeration in attempt to correct human folly.

        Ergo Kurt Kobain, “a famous heroin addict who shot himself.”

        Clearly, Kurt Kobain was MORE than just a drug addict. And so, too, was Bob Marley. He was, is, and still remains a legend.


        • Vivien E. Zazzau Says:

          Hi Anka-

          In no way did I think you meant to be offensive in your post! This was why I was, as I mentioned, hesitant to respond to it. In fact, it is precisely because of my familiarity with this genre (satire) that I was so confused by your reference to Marley’s ostensible lack of hygiene. For example, within the context of Byronic Man’s post, Einstein was, pretty much, a one-hit wonder; MLK, Jr.,apparently had some trouble ‘keeping it in his pants,’ and Jesus was a criminal. As for Marley’s hygiene, it wasn’t the general consensus that he rarely bathed; and as to his locs, they were known for their beauty, not being lice-infested. I didn’t get it when I first read it, and I still don’t. In Bob Marley’s case, filthy hair is not simply a bland (or otherwise) truism for an otherwise good man, but rather a stereotype based on some people’s ignorance.

          In my humble opinion, if hygiene had, indeed, been an issue for Marley, your statement would have been totally appropriate and acceptable because Marley was generally beloved and admired, as were MLK, Jr., Einstein, and even Cobain. And in the same vein, Salvador Dali, one of our greatest artists was, indeed, “a sexual deviant who drank to excess.” All of our ‘saints’ had their foibles. But again, Bob Marley was not known as a filthy man (though some ignorant, unread people may have thought of him as such). Consequently, your comments, in my opinion, seemed a bit off track, if not off color. And again, I probably “felt” your statement so strongly because I know, intimately, what it’s like to be a clean person, so proud of my locs, truly believing my hair was b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l, yet called, by White people, filthy, scary, and ugly, just because it was a different texture than most cover models then, or today. Just look at all the controversy over the beautiful Black actress, Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave) regarding her darkest chocolate complexion and kinky hair! Unlike Beyonce, with her blond(e) hair, it’s impossible to look at Nyong’o and pretend she’s White…

          As for Marley’s own ganja-smoking, fame-fueled man-whoring which resulted in at least 11 children with several different women, I say go for it! 🙂

          I am truly appreciative of your response, and your obvious generosity of spirit. Like you, it was not my intention to offend, but rather to provide information where it appeared to be needed. Nonetheless, I can assure you that our differences are not based on my lack of appreciation for satire, but rather, on my considering your statement, sparse as it was, from several different angles, and gradations, and having difficulty seeing how it fit the pattern I perceived.

          Deepest respect,


          • Anka Says:

            Thanks for eloquently describing what I was trying to say all along: A person who wears dreadlocks is NOT unclean. This is a GROSS GROSS stereotype.

            I was simply trying to dispel this ERRONEOUS way of thinking.

            I learned about the spirituality and power of dreadlocks years ago. I minored in African American studies and quickly discovered that dreadlocks carry a DEEPLY spiritual meaning. As you know, there are many faiths and backgrounds that incorporate locs into their path as a disregard for physical appearances and vanity.

            To that end, I want to thank you again for sharing your personal experience. Your story. Your time. I could go on for days about this subject, but I think The Byronic Man may grow tired of us taking up all his space. And, my three babies are starting to get restless. Mama needs to feed them some dinner . . .

            Have a lovely evening,


  11. Charlene Woodley Says:

    Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee, Moses (Isaac Hayes)…gonna be a long list,


  12. Blogdramedy Says:

    Interesting post. Gives one pause for thought.
    But the pause I was going to give to this got sidetracked when I saw your “comment invite.”
    I don’t often wish I’d thought of something first but this is one of those times.
    Damn you.


  13. She's a Maineiac Says:

    Elvis: really enjoyed trans fatty acids.


  14. Exile on Pain Street Says:

    Wells made HILARIOUS wine commercials, you mean.


  15. Amy Reese Says:

    Yeah, I don’t know about that tear. I don’t think Kurt would approve. I love your new tag!


  16. Every Record Tells A Story Says:

    Nelson Mandela. Jailbird, although to be fair he didn’t re-offend once let out…


  17. Torbs Says:

    Michael Jackson – Feel free to use your imagination on this one…


  18. silkpurseproductions Says:

    It’s amazing what passes for professional news reporting these days. There was probably more than one person in line to “educate” the announcer after the broadcast.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Especially considering that the report was from Washington – if it was from Oregon, I’d totally get it, because we have a complex about Washington being the prettier sister. “A statue was unveiled today of Kurt Cobain, who was in a band that was good, but was no Quarterflash…”


  19. Elyse Says:

    Eleanor Roosevelt who married her cousin.


  20. Go Jules Go Says:

    Again with the captions! You have a gift. My gift is not to one-up you with my comment reply. (I kid, I kid! Seriously, though, I got nothin’ [to add]. Well done.)


  21. Fat Bottom Girl Says:

    Hemingway was a cross-dresser? Where have I been? Nobody ever tells me anything.


  22. mid-life crisis Says:

    I hope Aberdeen benefits. Not the prettiest of towns…and Cobain was a musical genius within a tortured soul, but that didn’t make him an ‘awesome dude’…

    I guess it makes your point about how history records our heroes doesn’t it? Surprised no one jumped on you about Jesus, though. Risky move.


  23. List of X Says:

    Hitler – a vegetarian with a funny mustache.


  24. Justin Meckes Says:

    Wasn’t it the suicide and addiction that made him famous? Or am I missing something?


  25. kitchenmudge Says:

    Peter the Great: Russian industrial spy who was 6’9″ and thought he could travel incognito.


  26. Bill Carson Says:

    Julius Caesar: Headache-prone military dude with a habit for hanging out in stab circles.


  27. minefake Says:

    Jesus was a criminal how? By helping those in need? His non-violent leadership? Or trying to make sure that his followers respected government? It’s kind of hard to find a time that Jesus did something that was criminal behavior, really.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Well, most people point to his actions in the temple with the moneychangers, and there’s also idea that he broke Pharisee law by eating on the sabbath.


      • minefake Says:

        HEY! You’re back to posting! Epic! Seriously, you have no idea how happy that makes me. Anyway, I figured I should say thanks for responding to me, (Really, thanks) but I also figured I should try to explain a few of Jesus’s actions. So, without further ado…

        #1. First off, the whole moneychanger thing had to do with how the moneychanger dudes were turning a place of worship into a place of business. After seeing that they were doing this, he got angry, (Rightly so) and tried to send a message, if not a very subtle one, granted, that what they were doing was wrong. Though I do have to agree that I think he didn’t have to resort to violence to put his point out there, he was still right in his actions.

        #2. As for the thing where he broke Pharisee law, well, the Pharisees were supposed to be leading the church according to the bible, but they were taking it too far. He may have been breaking Pharisee law, but the law was wrongful. He WAS obeying the law of the bible, which trumped Pharisee law, as Pharisee law was there to support the law of the Bible in the first place.

        On a separate note, I have to say that I’m really glad that you’re back to posting stuff. I discovered your blog after you had already stopped posting, and when I figured that out, I was pretty sad, so when you made that ‘I’m back’ post today, I got a pleasant surprise from it. Well, anyway, I have to go, so, um, as the British say, Cheers!


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