Well the My Fellow Americans book launch was a roaring success. The Cross Kings played host to four great bands, two great DJs, and a veritable hive of celebrations and political discussion. There were people in Obama t-shirts, fellow US elections bloggers, Brits who’d volunteered in the primaries earlier in the year, and a smattering of Americans who had voted themselves – either in absentia by postal vote or at a caucus.
We sold a ridiculous number of (deep breath) signed, individually-numbered, limited edition first print-run copies of the book, and the ongoing success of our project is attributable, I think, to two main factors:
1) British people don’t fully understand how the American primary system works, or why it’s so insane
2) British people are fascinated by the American primary system, because it’s so insane
The glitz, glamour, controversy and grand-standing rhetoric are, shall we say, somewhat lacking from our own political lives. So if you’d like a taste of My Fellow Americans, our gloriously-designed book of first-hand reportage and live sketches – the very best bits of our 9000-mile trip around the primaries – for the first time you can now BUY IT ONLINE.
For those of you without PayPal accounts, send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you details on how to pay by cheque.
If you are based in London, there are copies available to buy in Orbital Comics on Charing Cross Road. Further retailers will be stocking My Fellow Americans soon and we’ll post an extensive list of them on the blog over the coming weeks.
Just a quick post to thank to everyone who followed our blog. We hope to return to the campaign trail in August for the DNC, but for now…
We are pleased to present My Fellow Americans, the book of the blog, and the first book published about the election, which will be available to buy for the first time on Wednesday 28 May at our launch party in The Cross Kings in (you guessed it) King’s Cross:
My Fellow Americans Book Launch
Wednesday 28th May from 7pm
The Cross Kings, 126 York Way, Kings Cross, London
Live music from: Le Tetsuo, Plug, Beacons, Left With pictures
Click here for a pdf of the flyer.
Click here for a pdf of the press release.
The book will be available to buy online from here and www.ventedspleen.com after the launch party. Selected stores in the UK will also distribute the limited edition first printing but if you would like to pre-order and reserve a copy please contact us at email@example.com.
DATELINE: London, England
So Obama and Clinton are duking it out in Ohio and Texas as I type, McCain is now Officially The Republican Candidate, and we are back home in London; alas, alack. The show will go on – keep watching this space for more My Fellow Americans activity – and for now it’s time for the My Fellow Americans awards, drawn from 24 states over seven frenetic weeks. So without further ado, let the magic commence with the most coveted award of all…
*The Rocky steps (Museum of Art, Philadelphia)
*The Lincoln steps (Lincoln Monument, Washington DC)
*The Untouchables steps (Union Station, Chicago)
*Tumbleweed (Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oregon, randomly)
*The lockers and drinking fountains in Winnacunnet High School. It was like being in a American high-school movie. In fact, Tim Robbins was there, but he’s 7ft tall and greying so his speech wasn’t quite as Breakfast Club as we’d hoped (New Hampshire)
The And-This-Is-The-Home-Of-Capitalism? Award For A Ridiculous Or Uninspiring Store Name
*Dress Barn. Would you buy your dresses from a barn? And this is a successful chain store!
*Linen ‘n’ things. Um, vague much? Linen ‘n’ what?
*Jiffylube. Oh do come on.
The Gwyneth Paltrow Transatlantic Understanding Award for Maintaining the Grand Traditions of British Culture
*Bob Bratchenthurst, a Greyhound bus driver from Kansas, for the following conversation:
Bob: “I could really use one of those, what is it you guys call it, a ‘pint’?”
Dan and Tom: “That’s right, a ‘pint’.”
[Bob smiles and wags his finger]
Bob: “Ah you see, I keep up with my literature. I’ve seen Shrek 3.”
Best Quote Of This Or Any Election In The History Of Democracy
*Mike Huckabee, being challenged on his lagging in the delegate count:
“I know people say that the math doesn’t work out. Folks, I didn’t major in math. I majored in miracles, and I still believe in those too.”
The Going-Out-On-A-Limb Award For Taking A Controversial Position In A TV Debate
“I’m against illegal guns” – Hillary Clinton, Nevada Democratic Debate
Best Bumper Sticker
*Vote or get run over! (Berkeley Campus, on the front of a badly-driven, speeding golf cart)
*Still voting Democrat? You’re stuck on stupid! (Louisiana)
*John Kerry ’04 (I can’t remember where I saw this but it made me laugh)
The Onion Award For A Brilliantly Mundane Local News Headline:
*‘Senior Center Has Free Bus Service’ – The Deming Headlight (New Mexico)
Best Road Sign
*We need to talk -God (Oregon)
*Normans Kill (upstate New York)
*Peace good war bad (California)
*World famous date shakes!
*South Fork Coyote Wash
*Prison facilities nearby, don’t pick up hitchhikers (all either Arizona or New Mexico)
The Okay, I Concede Award For Proving That American Food Is Unequivocally Better Than British Food
*An unassuming highway-stop-off lunch, consisting of a melting, collapsing Reuben sandwich (pastrami, sauerkraut, melted cheese, amazing), served with a bowl of creamy, meaty, peppery clam chowder in a small, sunny town in California that will forever be known as Hill Valley, partly because of its similarity to Marty McFly’s home in Back To The Future, partly because we don’t remember the real name.
*Perfectly cooked crepes in Houston, clam chowder in Pismo Beach, seafood gumbo in Mobile, Alabama, bagels and cream cheese everywhere, steak, eggs and hash browns for breakfast in Iowa City, an ice cream dessert in Boston that would have taken ten people to finish (really), the burgers pretty much everywhere, a pastrami on rye from Katz’s Deli in New York that melted like butter, superb, eye-poppingly substantial quantities of Tex-Mex food throughout the south-west, served with awesome Margeritas… man I’m hungry.
The I-Can-Feel-My-Arteries-Trembling-Like-Leaves Award For Fatal Extravagance
*Monte Cristo Egg Rolls in Bennigans (Chicago). Here’s how the menu describes them:
“[a] delicious combination of turkey, ham, Swiss and American cheeses wrapped in a crispy shell and fried until golden. Dusted with powdered sugar and served with red raspberry preserves for dipping.”
So yeah, that’s sugary deep-fried ham and cheese with jam, basically. I ate four and felt quite unwell.
The Aw-Bless-Him-For-Trying Award For Desperate Defence Of The Iraq War’s Legitimacy In The Face Of Overwhelming Evidence To The Contrary
*Senator John Warner of Virginia, speaking at a John McCain event in Tallahassee, emphasised that the United States was not alone in its struggle in Iraq, as there were twelve countries currently fighting in the coalition. He didn’t say what they were, but it’s probably worth mentioning that the third most committed, in terms of personnel, after the US and UK, is Georgia. Looking at Wikipedia, the military giants El Salvador and Albania would make it into Sen. Warner’s Big Twelve as well.
The If-Lawn-Signs-Were-Votes American Presidential Election Equivalency Award
*Obama narrowly sneaks it past Clinton and Edwards in the Democratic Lawn Sign Primary. Ron Paul routs everyone in the Republican field and then routs Obama in the general election, with lawn signs on every highway, back street, traffic bridge, and swamp-based tree (this happened!) in every state. If lawn signs were votes, Ron Paul would win 90% without breaking a sweat. Remember we’ve been through 24 different states since December 30, so we know what’s out there.
Tags: Too close to call
February 14th, 2008 · 8 Comments
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois
After three relaxing days exploring, imbibing and dreaming at waterfalls in Portland, we parted ways with Rachael, our native guide and superstar driver, to catch the ‘Empire Builder’ train back to Chicago. It’s been emotional. And tiring. Mostly tiring. 50 hours in transit does funny things to your brain.
Our cab to Portland’s train station was driven by someone who looked just too much like Hunter S Thompson: the shaved head, the shades, the almost clinically sober expression borne of one too many bygone drug frenzies. That’s not guesswork either: this guy was, to his chagrin, banned from voting for a drugs felony. Caught with 3.2g of cocaine and $400, he escaped the threat of serious jail time – after one month in the “disgusting” state prison – in exchange for 200 hours community service. But now he’s not even allowed to cross the river into Washington state, and he can’t vote in the Democratic primary, which he seems pissed about. Hunter would’ve been livid.
Thanks to melting snow flooding the tracks east of Portland we’re shoved onto a grotty replacement bus for the first part of our journey. In Britain this would’ve been cause for some pretty hardcore grumbling, but the passengers are all merrily laissez faire about it. The gallows humour is as rich as blue cheese dressing as we wander hopefully off into the dark in search of a train. It’s like if ‘Lost’ was a light-hearted comedy rather than a Serial Confuseathon: people from all walks of life thrown together by circumstance, mucking in and happily teasing one another. A mouthy young punk boy, a middle-aged massage therapist, two good ol’ boys in their 60s with military eyes, a young hispanic family.. modern America in all its glory.
The massage therapist is for Hillary. “Just because she cares” she says to me. Her new friend, a short 30 year old woman with a midwestern waistline, is not shy about confronting her on this: “she does NOT care. My children are both diabetic, and we were at this event for diabetic children which Hillary came to, and she went a long way out of her way to avoid talking to any of them.” “Oh” said the masseuse, before returning to her banter with the punk boy.
Eventually, at some point in a night of fitful naps, sporadic grazing, and weary bag-dragging, we boarded the train that would take us the remaining, ahem, 44 hours to Chicago. We talked politics with a lot of great people during that time.
Gail, a Democrat whose husband is half-Blackfoot Indian, told us how upset she was with Bush, how her husband would argue that his ancestors had been fighting terrorism since the 1500s. Maurice and his wife were both excited about Obama and Clinton, just hopeful that one of them can beat McCain. There was Antonio, the dining car waiter and unofficial train jester – “who do you want to get assassinated first, the woman or the black guy?”. Young New Yorker Josh, who spent 18 months serving in an artillery unit in Iraq (”what was it like?” “it was real“), voted Hillary for no particular reason he can think of: “they make you vote in the army; it’s seen as a duty. I don’t really mind who’s President, as long as they do their job properly.”
And now we’ve come full circle back to Chicago, ready to fly back to London and let the jet-lag turn our insides out. There’s a hell of a lot more to come, from us and this election: so keep checking back.
Tags: Barack Obama · Democrats · John McCain · On the road · Republicans · Weather
February 14th, 2008 · 3 Comments
DATELINE: Portland, Oregon
Tags: On the road