Fed up with the horrific discrimination and violence against his community, Don Jackson had a plan: turn a remote spot in Northern California into the world’s first gay-majority county. Their ultimate obstacle would come from the least expected enemy.

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One night Don Jackson, 38, had a dream that changed everything.

In the dream he was approached by a man he recognized, a doctor who had killed himself after losing his medical license for coming out as gay. The doctor held out his hand, and Jackson took it.

“Come, I will show you a place,” the doctor said.

A place. So simple, but it sounded majestic and urgent.

Jackson had long been outraged by discrimination he and others felt for being gay, which had pushed him into activism and journalism. …

I’m currently researching an article for White House History Quarterly about the day Harry Truman went sightseeing with Pablo Picasso on the French Riviera in 1958. It was an improbable rendezvous. After all, Harry hated modern art, which he called “ham and eggs art” because he thought most of it looked like it belonged on a breakfast plate instead of a museum wall. He also hated communists—and Picasso was one of the most famous communists in the world at the time.

When Harry met Pablo, Vallauris, France, June 11, 1958 (Truman Library)

The back story behind the meeting is fascinating. I’ll save that for the article, but my research got me…

How Former Commanders in Chief Cash In

by Matthew Algeo

When he leaves office kicking and screaming at noon on January 20, President Trump will join one of the most exclusive clubs in the world: the ex-presidents of the United States of America. Membership has fluctuated over the past fifty years, from zero (1973–1974) to five (most recently 2017–2018 with Carter, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama). But one thing has remained constant: the perks are good.

Image of Donald Trump superimposed on a twenty-dollar bill.
Trump is sure to cash in on his status as a former president.

Exes are entitled to a generous government pension package: about $210,000 a year plus allowances for staff, travel, expenses, and office space — for life. It can easily add…

My best friend John P. was visiting his family back in Montana a few years ago when he happened upon his grandfather’s diary. The grandfather was a farmer during the Great Depression, so John blew the dust off the cover and cracked open the old book, eager to learn more about his long-dead ancestor’s thoughts on the New Deal, the Roosevelt administration, and the ominous storm clouds in Europe.

But all he found was a dry recitation of daily weather reports and crop prices.

After reading Steve Howe’s deeply uninteresting new autobiography All My Yesterdays, I now know exactly how…

How a Jewish Kid from Long Island and a Priest Named Joe DiMaggio Forced Robert F. Kennedy to Confront the Abortion Issue

On Friday, February 17, 1967, Senator Robert F. Kennedy visited Syosset High School on Long Island, where he addressed an assembly of some 2,200 students and teachers in the school gymnasium. The New York Times reported that he was greeted with “the kind of girlish squeals usually associated with the Beatles.” After brief opening remarks, the senator opened the floor to questions.

Following queries about The Death of a President, William Manchester’s book about his brother’s assassination (he said he hadn’t read it), and the resumption of the bombing of North Vietnam (he said he opposed it), Kennedy called on…

Buffalo Jones (Source: Kansas Historical Society)

Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones despised hunting, and he was unusually outspoken about it, especially for an old cowboy. “Man was made to rule over animals,” he liked to say, “not exterminate them.”

He didn’t always think that way. As a young man in the 1860s, he made his living hunting buffalo. But when he realized the animals were in danger of disappearing from the Plains altogether, he had a change of heart and began working to save them (hence his nickname). Jones rounded up as many buffalo as he could find, herded them to his farm in Kansas, and bred…

“Let’s stand there.” Yes in Baltimore, June 22, 2019: (from left) Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, Jay Schellen, Alan White, Jon Davison, and Billy Sherwood. (Photo © Matthew Algeo)

Yes pulled into Baltimore Saturday night for the eighth date on their U.S. summer tour, accompanied this year by Carl Palmer’s band (including, on vocals, Arthur Brown, the excessively eccentric Brit of “Fire” fame), Moody Blues bassist John Lodge, and the latest iteration of the ’80s prog supergroup Asia (now fronted by an engaging and talented singer-guitarist named Bumblefoot).

I’ve been a Yes fan since the Christmas of 1981, when I was fifteen and my older sister bought me a copy of the “Classic Yes” LP. It was not a propitious time to be indoctrinated into the cult of progressive…

John and Bobby Kennedy and the Fad for 50-Mile Walks

In the first half of 1963, thousands of Americans of all ages and abilities attempted to walk 50 miles in 20 hours — and many of them succeeded. Of the eras many fads — the hula hoop, the twist, phone booth stuffing — long-distance walking was the most unlikely, the most demanding, and, in the end, the most poignant.

It all began when President John F. Kennedy came across an old executive order issued in 1908 by one of his predecessors, Theodore Roosevelt. The order required all U.S. Marines to be fit enough to march 50 miles in less than…

Matthew Algeo

Husband, father, writer. I have a degree in folklore! Unlicensed historian. Known to dabble in public radio. https://www.buymeacoffee.com/malgeo

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