Updated: Feb 8, 2020
By Elizabeth Gracen:
Will Bellaimey and I took a lovely stroll in Descanso Gardens not long ago to talk about history, Gen Z, and Will’s new podcast, All The Presidents, Man, produced and directed by his friend, Bianca Giaever. Will is a history teacher at a prestigious private school in Southern California. I met him over a year ago when we were both part of the Lineage Performing Arts Center production of Pippin, where we played mother and son, my conniving Fastrada to his ambitious Lewis. We had a blast and formed a fast friendship. During the production, he told me about his upcoming podcast, but I honestly wasn’t prepared for such an in-depth, entertaining listening experience when it finally launched late in 2019. Not only is the podcast incredibly funny, but Will’s ability to describe the presidents of the United States with such insightful detail and interesting slices of trivia provides a window into the zeitgeist of each era and an overall “big picture” of American history.
With no written notes to reference chronology or detail, Will begins All the Presidents, Man starting with good ‘ole George Washington and ending with Donald Trump. Bianca recorded over eleven hours and eventually cut the session down to eight hours to produce an informative and highly entertaining podcast, which is available on Spotify, iTunes or Pocket Casts.
Please Meet Will Bellaimey!
EG: So, Will, I’m in the process of listening to All the Presidents, Man and I just listened to Andrew Johnson, and I was like, "Oh my God. When you talk about Andrew Johnson, you’re talking about impeachment." And at this very moment in time, we’re right in the middle of an impeachment trial. Listening to the podcast, I immediately note that everything in history is just so repetitive. I mean, it's like we don't learn a damned thing from our mistakes.
WB: Sure. It happens again and again and again. You've just started, and you’ve got a wild ride ahead of you still.
EG: I haven't listened to all of it, but I’m wondering if there has ever been a period of time where it was just like kind of chill, when things weren’t that bad. Is that even possible in a complicated society?
WB: I think the short answer to that is “no.” The longer answer involves “chill for whom?” Because I think there have been long periods of time; for instance, there’s a whole myth about the 1950s being chill. Eisenhower being chill is based on a narrative whose focus is on the Don Drapers of the world.
EG: For white men.
WB: For white men the 1950s were pretty chill. But for everybody? It's never been chill.
EG: Right, of course it hasn't. Okay, tell me a little bit about yourself. You were a Political Science major. Where did you go to school?
WB: I grew up in Minnesota. My mom was very politically active and taught me a lot about politics growing up. A friend of ours ran for mayor. He was a journalist who was running a long-shot campaign. It was my mom's job to drive him to debates, and I used to sit in the backseat. He won and became the mayor. So that made me feel connected to politics. But also I was fascinated with the presidents, for some reason, in fourth grade.
EG: So, that's when your passion began.