May 10, 2017

"My dad wanted to name me Steak, the food, because he loves it so much. But my mom was never going to go for it."

Said Hopper Penn, the 22-year-old son of Sean Penn. I'm running across this today because I was looking for reviews of "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House" and stumbled into the information that HBO is turning the book into a miniseries and the role of President Jackson is played by Sean Penn. It makes sense, no?



By the way, the story as told in "American Lion" seems to be 50% about whether this one lady (Margaret Eaton) was a slut.



Anyway, I can't find much info about the HBO series. Couldn't see who was playing Eaton or anybody else except Jackson. But I did run into that fascinating factoid about Sean Penn's son's name not being Steak but Hopper. Hopper was named after Dennis Hopper, the actor, not the painter Edward Hopper.

I did find the NYT review of the book "American Lion." I especially enjoyed this:
“American Lion” is enormously entertaining, especially in the deft descriptions of Jackson’s personality and domestic life in his White House. But [the author Jon] Meacham has missed an opportunity to reflect on the nature of American populism as personified by Jackson. What does it mean to have a president who believes that the people are a unified whole whose essence can be distilled into the pronouncements of one man? Populist resentment is to democracies as air is to fire. But republics may endure best when leaders remain uncertain — as several dozen did in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 — as to whether the people can be entirely trusted with their own government. 
That was published November 14, 2008, when we'd just elected Barack Obama.

69 comments:

Fernandinande said...

So if Hopper Peen did a sex-change and married Dennis, he'd be "Hopper Hopper". That's a classy name.

Fernandinande said...

Penn, not Peen.

But Hooper Peen and Hooper Hooper are even more classier.

Chuck said...

Is this the book that Donald Trump claims to be reading?

https://www.thenation.com/article/7-things-donald-trump-gets-absolutely-wrong-about-andrew-jackson/

I can only pray, that in some upcoming sit down interview with a well-read reporter, Trump is asked, "Mr. President, can we take 15 minutes or so to discuss your reading on Andrew Jackson? You mentioned to Selena Zito back in April that you were reading a book; which one?"

Ann Althouse said...

Sticking with the meat theme, Sean could have named his son Pig. Pig Penn. That would be great!

Ann Althouse said...

I hope the reposition Penn's eyebrows for the role. That's a big difference in the expression in the 2 men. Penn's eyebrows slope down in the center, making him look mean. Jackson's eyebrows go up in the middle, making him look concerned and empathic.

Gahrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gahrie said...

Jesus fucking Christ Chuckles! Give it a rest...we get it already...Trump is evil and you're obsessed with him.

Big Mike said...

You mean Sean Penn did not name his son after the railroad car? That's a blow to train fans everywhere!

Yancey Ward said...

Also sticking to the meat theme, but combined with baseball. Bull Penn.

madAsHell said...

The wife and I tried to listen to that book while driving. We never finished. The story was not presented sequentially, and it was very tedious to listen. Of course, setting the recording aside, and then trying to recover the context 3 months later may have been part of the problem as well.

Gahrie said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but finding out I was named after Dennis Hopper might have messed me up a little, and would definitely make me lose a little respect for my parents.

Hopper was an interesting actor, but still....

Rene Saunce said...

Pig Penn. Now that's a name.

tcrosse said...

Marine Le Penn

Michael K said...

A better Jackson biography is by Remini, less politics and more facts.

It is a three volume set. Much better, if longer, than the Meacham bio.

William said...

Back in the days when Jackson was considered one of the founders of the Democratic Party, Charlton Heston played the part. Now that we have learned, Jackson didn't like Injuns and sold slaves, the role falls to Sean Penn. Jackson is lucky that SteveBuscemi was unavailable..

David Begley said...

Steak? Hopper? Moon unit? Apple?

Why?

Fernandinande said...

Gahrie said...
Hopper was an interesting actor, but still....


His guy in "Blue Velvet" was one of the creepiest EVAR.

Michael K said...

"Jackson is lucky that SteveBuscemi was unavailable.."

Or Eddie Murphy.

traditionalguy said...

Sean Penn is all an Irish tough guy brawler. The Scots-Irish Jackson had a total self confidence from his Presbyterian faith that stunned those in his presence. He fought by rules.

Old Hickory had a better educated and controlled disciple, often called the Young Hickory. Jackson picked a perfect wife for him and while on his death bed,ran a complex Democrat campaign strategy that gave Young Hickory the Presidency taking it back from the Whigs and the hated Clay.

James Knox Polk was a better populous President than Jackson. He dedicated his term to taking the American Continent on to the Pacific Ocean over the wishes of The hated British and the inept Mexicans.

Will we get both Hickorys in DJT. Stay tuned.

Michael K said...

Polk is vastly under rated.

Do you have a good biography of him ?

rcocean said...

Sean Penn? Really?

I liked Charlton Heston in the role.

buwaya said...

"What does it mean to have a president who believes that the people are a unified whole whose essence can be distilled into the pronouncements of one man? "

The General Will - Rousseau's idea. This was an essential part of the ideology of the French Revolution, in a corrupt form - well, it started corrupt and got worse.

Bay Area Guy said...

Without googling, I think Andy Jackson made one of my favorite quotes: "One man with courage makes a majority"

At least, I hope it was him.

Gahrie said...

Steve Buscemi is this generation's Jack Elam.

Discuss.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Well I won't watch it. I don't harbor any illusions that my one-man boycott will change anything in Hollywood. I just can't stand looking at Sean Penn's face for any extended period, knowing what a vile, hypocritical shitbag he is.

Then there's the near-certain reality that this is not going to be actual history, but Howard Zinn-style "history". History has to have a message, and if it is not the correct message then it is the history that must be changed-- never the message.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Robin Wright was the sensible one in that marriage, ultimately too sensible to stay with Sean. In addition to son Hopper, they have a daughter named Dylan.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Chuck is now linking to The Nation as a reliable source on Trump.
Good grief. Get a grip, Chuck.

mockturtle said...

Sticking with the meat theme, Sean could have named his son Pig. Pig Penn. That would be great!

:-D

William said...

Jackson was a competent and decisive military leader, but his great success at the Battle of New Orleans owed more to the ineptitude of the British general who commanded the forces arrayed against him. That general, Wellington's idiot brother in law, ordered his him to charge against the American breastworks, The British forces did not have scaling ladders and could only make rude faces at the Americans when they arrived at the breastworks. This did not turn the tide of battle. Behind, or rather in front of every great general, there is an inept one......Jackson, of all American presidents, had the most melodramatic and Homeric life. I definitely wouldn't want to get on his bad side. I don't think this movie will do him justice. A lot of things hinge that we now regard as vices were regarded as virtues inhis day.

YoungHegelian said...

@buwaya,

The General Will - Rousseau's idea. This was an essential part of the ideology of the French Revolution, in a corrupt form - well, it started corrupt and got worse.

Yep, & it wormed its way into both Fascism & National Socialism, which were really big on the idea that one man could be the incarnation of the national will.

"Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer!"

Comanche Voter said...

Andrew Jackson reacted with violence towards anyone who suggested that his lady friend was less than virtuous. And as long as we are on the "meat" theme, a future President--Harry Truman said that if he could get his hands on the music critic who had dissed his daughter's performance, the critic would need a steak for his eye and a truss for "down below".

They don't make Democrats like Andy and Harry anymore. We have to put up with Pelosi and groan at Chuck You Schumer's latest drivel.

traditionalguy said...
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traditionalguy said...

A good history of President Polk that is available on the Althouse portal: A Country of Vast Destiny, by Robert W. Merry.

You can get it on sale now for $1.99 Kindle, adding to that for $4.99 for the audible to it.

Enjoy.

Rene Saunce said...

I'm with Tyrone.

John said...

Michael k,

I have a terrific bio of polk iread 4 or 5 years ago.

Unfortunately I am traveling this week. Remind me next week and I will dig it up.

John Henry

Michael K said...

OK. I ordered a Kindle bio that was cheap.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Michael K

I read a good one a few years ago.. something like Polk a man who changed the presidency (or country) something like that.

The best paper I ever wrote in HAS was on Polk. Something fascinating about how effective he was.

54-40 or fight!

Michael K said...

"You can get it on sale now for $1.99 Kindle, adding to that for $4.99 for the audible to it."

That's the one I ordered.

Michael K said...

Meacham was just on TV saying Trump fired Comey because Comey could have proved he committed treason. Another reason not to read his books.

My first exposure, like many others, was Schlessinger's "Crisis of the Old Order" which libeled Coolidge. Biographies written by partisans are a waste of time. That trilogy was a slobbering love note to FDR.

I read HW Brand's biography of Roosevelt, "A Traitor to His Class, " which was pretty good in the early chapters but, once he got to the Depression, was all DNC propaganda. Needless to say, I have not read any of his other books.

YoungHegelian said...

@MK,

Meacham was just on TV saying Trump fired Comey because Comey could have proved he committed treason.

That's the sort of shit you don't say about anyone, much less a sitting president, unless you have the facts in hand to prove it, & can produce that evidence.

In a just society, if you publicly said someone was a traitor & it turned out not to be true, you would be shunned & you would end your days in a monastery after a life of penitence.

Mac McConnell said...

Sean Penn is from the wrinkled forehead school of acting.

traditionalguy said...

Correction: Merry's book on Polk was "A Country of vast DESIGNS", and the audible add on being $4.49.

Susan Petrik said...

Atlanta has a sports radio personality named Steak Shapiro. Years ago when he became a father to a baby girl his radio buddies dubbed her the petite filet. I'm sure that now qualifies as a micro-aggression of some sort (or worse), but I still think it was kind of cute and funny.

narciso said...

Robert merry wrote a really good bio of the alsops, some years back, perhaps it was that attitude that caused him to spur on the neocons some years ago. He was also one of the few historians who predicted a trump win.

You can see this going the way of the Danny strong project the butler that slime Nixon and Reagan and defied jfk

Big Mike said...

James K. Polk initiated the most unjust and unnecessary war in our history. Where is J. Farmer when you need him?

Big Mike said...

I agree with crosse. Sean should name his next kid Marine L.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger YoungHegelian said...
@MK,

"Meacham was just on TV saying Trump fired Comey because Comey could have proved he committed treason."

That's the sort of shit you don't say about anyone, much less a sitting president, unless you have the facts in hand to prove it, & can produce that evidence.


This far-gone insanity is scary. It's incoherent. You can believe:

A) Comey has the secret, unseen evidence of treasonous collusion between Trump and the Russians, but he won't release it because it's against the rules.

-or-

B) There is no secret evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians.

If someone chooses to believe "A", well, why would they not believe in ghosts? Or little green men in UFO's? Or that Trump is the pawn of Jewish conspiracy that controls history?
If you are willing to believe one thing based on no evidence, why would you refuse to believe another thing with no evidence?

I know a guy who believes that Kennedy was the victim of a CIA plot. Sort of. He believes that Oswald shot Kennedy, but only because he got the jump on CIA sharpshooting assassins that had set themselves up on the grassy knoll.
It allows this guy to admit the truth -- that the evidence shows that Kennedy was killed by a commie with a screw loose -- but still heap equal guilt on the CIA and the US "military industrial complex" without ever having to show evidence that the CIA killed Kennedy.

traditionalguy said...

Jackson was totally dedicated to his wife Rachel. Rachel was a Donelson, the granddaughter of Col. John Donelson which was from an eminent family in Virginia, and laterNorth Carolina. Like Jackson he moved to settle in wild Indian lands around Nashville, Tennessee.

One branch on my father's side of the family also goes back to Donelson family members that moved south and settled in the 1820s near the the Roswell Road/Powers Ferry Road area 10 miles north of what became called Atlanta. They were original members of Sardis Methodist Church, which is still in use there.

rcocean said...

"James K. Polk initiated the most unjust and unnecessary war in our history."

No, Polk "initiated" the most sensible and just war we ever fought. Mexico attacked us. We tried to buy California -NM - Arizona from them, but they refused. So when they started the war, because they thought they still "owned" Texas, we took the Southwest from them, and paid them FMV for it.

I'll leave "Justice" out of it. But the most "Unnecessary" war was our own Civil war which cost the live of 500,000 Americans and could have been avoided with some better statecraft and wisdom on both sides.

rcocean said...

The problem with Jon Meacham is that he's a journalist turned Historian.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Here is what U.S. Grant wrote about the Mexican-American War. And he was there:

Ostensibly we were intended to prevent filibustering into Texas, but really as a menace to Mexico in case she appeared to contemplate war. Generally the officers of the army were indifferent whether the annexation was consummated or not; but not so all of them. For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory. Texas was originally a state belonging to the republic of Mexico. It extended from the Sabine River on the east to the Rio Grande on the west, and from the Gulf of Mexico on the south and east to the territory of the United States and New Mexico—another Mexican state at that time—on the north and west. An empire in territory, it had but a very sparse population, until settled by Americans who had received authority from Mexico to colonize. These colonists paid very little attention to the supreme government, and introduced slavery into the state almost from the start, though the constitution of Mexico did not, nor does it now, sanction that institution. Soon they set up an independent government of their own, and war existed, between Texas and Mexico, in name from that time until 1836, when active hostilities very nearly ceased upon the capture of Santa Anna, the Mexican President. Before long, however, the same people—who with permission of Mexico had colonized Texas, and afterwards set up slavery there, and then seceded as soon as they felt strong enough to do so—offered themselves and the State to the United States, and in 1845 their offer was accepted. The occupation, separation and annexation were, from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4367/4367-h/4367-h.htm#ch3
I guess you can say that U.S. Grant didn't like Texans. I suppose the dislike was mutual.

Clyde said...

Given Sean Penn's penchant for supporting socialist dictatorships, he's the exact wrong person to portray Andrew Jackson.

Michael K said...

"We tried to buy California -NM - Arizona from them,"

I have a map, hanging on the wall behind me, of Utah, California and New Mexico, which does not have Arizona on it.

I like old maps and this one is a favorite. Tucson is on it. but not Phoenix.

I think the Mexican War was sketchy in terms of justice. Lincoln opposed it and was excoriated for doing so.

mockturtle said...

rcocean observes: The problem with Jon Meacham is that he's a journalist turned Historian.

A couple of years ago I read a 'biography' of Huey Long that was written by a journalist. Literally everything in the book was taken from newspaper clippings. Long's own autobiography was better--and surprisingly candid.

rcocean said...

Sorry, if Grant thought the Mexican war was one "one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation" then he was wrong.

The USA was NOT stronger then Mexico in terms of arms or in men. We beat Mexico with a smaller, but better led and better trained army.

You have to wonder why Grant fought in the war if he thought it so wrong. Or why he married into a Slave-holding family and lived in Missouri for many years. I suspect that when writing his memoirs in the 1880s, with the Mexican War long over and the Southwest ours, he didn't engage in the usual Anglo-Saxon moral superiority dance. "oh isn't it terrible that we did X, but of course now benefit from and can't undo" - I think he engaged in the "Lo, the poor Indian" nonsense too.

mockturtle said...

The Gadsden Purchase bought at least part of AZ and NM from Mexico. Ten million dollars.

rcocean said...

Many people opposed the Mexican war because they opposed the annexation of Texas, and the addition of more slave territory. IOW, since the South was for annexation and the war with Mexico, they were against it. Thoreau and Emerson took the same position as Lincoln.

Unfortunately, they didn't have the foresight to see the war was also about California, Arizona and NM.

Its too bad, we couldn't have gotten those places without Texas (since it succeeded 14 years after the Mexican War) but that wasn't possible.

rcocean said...

"The Gadsden Purchase bought at least part of AZ and NM from Mexico. Ten million dollars."

Yeah, it was a crazy amount of money for some (then) worthless desert. Any country in Europe would've taken it, and paid Mexico zero. Germany didn't "pay" France for Alsace-Lorraine in 1870, they just took it.

walter said...

Steak? Better choice: Quill

Lewis Wetzel said...

If you read the literature of the time, non-fiction especially, you find that between 1830 and 1860 slavery was the dominant political issue of the age. Not on moral grounds so much as political representation grounds. The slave states were doing everything they could to increase their representation in the federal government at the expense of the free states. The free states were against slavery because they wanted a nation based on the family farm rather than the plantation, and where there was slavery, there were no small farmers. Economically they could not compete. This fact was mentioned again and again in the memoirs of pre-war settlers in the Western Territories. They hated slavery.
The "freebooting" Grant mentions in his memoir was the practice of settling Indian or Mexican land without permission. The US did not want freebooters because, sooner or later, their existence would become a political issue and the Feds would be forced to subsidize and/or defend these rogue "colonies." If they became established it was almost impossible to bring these freebooters to heel (cf. Texas & Hawaii).
These days, I suppose, if the Feds tried to disband a freebooter settlement, the freebooters would get some federal judge to protect them.

Lewis Wetzel said...

IIRC, the Southern states wanted TX to be broken up and admitted as four or more (slave) states. The Northern states wouldn't accept that, and that is why TX is so big (again, IIRC, can't find a cite at the moment).

Clyde said...

walter said...
Steak? Better choice: Quill


Why not just skip straight to Star-Lord?

traditionalguy said...

The point is that Polk persistently and skillfully took the western half of the USA from the two European claims to occupy that land. He politically maneuvered and stood up to them and drove them out, at a time the Eastern Original coastal colonies preferred virtue signalling that they were too moral to take land from a European Empire.

It was the Revolution moved west and re-fought by a war between the British and Spanish forces and the Scots-Irish settlers who fought them for it.

The Mexican Independent State had no actual power in Texas once Houston and Travis defeated Santa Anna. All they ever had was a hope to rule it if they ever found men brave enough to conquer the Apache and Commanche Empires. Those men showed up from southwestern Virginia and Tennessee.

Quaestor said...

Given Sean Penn's penchant for supporting socialist dictatorships, he's the exact wrong person to portray Andrew Jackson.

Penn has been remarkably silent these last several years. It's as if he would rather people forget his more loquacious days as Venezuela's self-appointed ambassador-at-large.

As for Sean Penn acting the role of Andrew Jackson... leonine is not a word that freely associates with Mr. Penn, does it? Cathartine, perhaps.

Darrell said...

I hope they can fit in a scene with a red Solo plastic cup.

Michael K said...

If you read the literature of the time, non-fiction especially, you find that between 1830 and 1860 slavery was the dominant political issue of the age. Not on moral grounds so much as political representation grounds.

I think many slave owners, like Jefferson, knew that slavery was morally dubious but they needed it for economic reasons. Slavery has existed as far back in history as war. The usual fate of losers in war was slavery if not death.

The political left tries to argue that American slavery was unique and the destruction of the teaching of history helps to keep that ignorant opinion alive in the young.

That's why Lincoln thought he might be able to buy the slaves and avoid war for economic reasons.

Saint Croix said...

I don't know if Cracked is a reputable source, but it's a funny read!

Margaret "Peggy" O'Neale was a socialite in Washington, D.C. At 17, she married 39-year-old naval officer John B. Timberlake. Unfortunately, only a few years into their marriage, Timberlake went away on a ship, never to return…

Enter Senator John Eaton. He was a friend of both Timberlake and Peggy, and after John was out of the picture, Eaton fell in love with the lady and they were quickly married. The union even had the sanctioning of President Andrew Jackson…

Unfortunately, some people thought they should have waited a little longer (where "some people" in this case means "absolutely everyone"). The resulting social-scene uproar threw Washington, D.C. into chaos: Everybody who was anybody had an opinion on the marriage. At one point, the cabinet secretaries' wives got together and plotted to ostracize Peggy, in true Mean Girls fashion, and stirred up numerous rumors relative to Peggy's chastity and/or extreme lack of it...

Almost completely out of spite, Jackson inserted himself directly into the middle of the controversy by very publicly siding with Eaton and nominating him to be the secretary of war. Foolproof, right?

Having lived through seeing his own wife slandered in a similarly public manner, the paranoid and defensive Jackson vigorously defended the Eatons against the accusations of the rest of his Cabinet. Eventually, Jackson became convinced that the whole thing had been the work of his political detractors to try to destroy his presidency (he was crazy, you see). The more the press raged against the Eatons, the more paranoid Jackson got. Not wanting to look weak by asking Eaton to resign from the Cabinet, but also not wanting to get eaten alive in the press anymore, Jackson finally asked for the resignation of the entire Cabinet, figuring that he could just start over again fresh after the next election.

After the mass resignation, Samuel Ingham, the former secretary of the treasury, was pretty pissed at Eaton and sent him snarky letters. Eaton challenged Ingham to a duel, and when Ingham refused, Jackson offered Eaton the sensible and not at all insane advice, "If he won't fight, you must kill him…"

Robt C said...

@St Croix:
The story is pretty much true. I'd add a couple of things to it. O'Neal wasn't a socialite, at least in Southern Aristocracy's eyes. She was the daughter of an innkeeper, which is why Jackson defended her -- he had this thing for common folk. The leader of the cabinet wives' cabal against Peggy was VP Calhoun's wife, Floride. Calhoun, of course, sided with her. Savvy Martin Van Buren publicly took Peggy and John's side, which endeared him to Jackson. Calhoun became persona non grata in the administration and Van Buren went on to succeed Jackson as president. (Side note -- when Jackson dumped/ignored his official cabinet he took to meeting with associates in the White House kitchen -- hence the term "kitchen cabinet."

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