Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sarah Vowell

Buffy's high school was built on top of a vortex of evil, the Hellmouth. And whose wasn't?"
Sarah Vowell (The Partly Cloudy Patriot)

"However, displayed right alongside all the Confederate flag paraphernalia is a bunch of American flag merch – American flag place mats, patriotic “body crystals,” flag stickers you attach to your skin. Personally, I’m small-minded and literal enough that I see the two symbols as contradictory, especially in a time of war. But I fear that the consumer who buys a Confederate flag coffee cup, which she will then put on her American flag place mat, is the sort of sophisticated thinker who is open-minded enough that she is capable of hating blacks and Arabs at the same time."
Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation)

"There are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who alphabetize their record collections, and the kind who don't."
Sarah Vowell (The Partly Cloudy Patriot)

"Until that moment, I hadn’t realized that I embarked on the project of touring historic sites and monuments having to do with the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley right around the time my country iffily went off to war, which is to say right around the time my resentment of the current president cranked up into contempt. Not that I want the current president killed. Like that director, I will, for the record (and for the FBI agent assigned to read this and make sure I mean no harm – hello there), clearly state that while I am obsessed with death, I am against it."
Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation)

I eased in slow to my adoration of Sarah Vowell. First it was just little clips on This American Life. Then I read (listened to on my ipod) The Partly Cloudy Patriot...and the next thing you know I'd also read Assassination Vacation and The Wordy Shipmates. Three books in 2 weeks- my audible subscription is dangerous. Granted she's not for everyone but if you have even a smidge of gothic nerd somewhere deep down in you I totally recommend checking them out. Sarah's insight into which historical/political assassin is the hottest or her ability to tie her fundamentalist midwest upbringing in to her adoration of The Cure and foreign films... weaves a view of America that seems both true and rarely seen. The Partly Cloudy Patriot takes on Clinton, Bush, religion, and patriotism...with nods to Tom Cruise, the trail of tears, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more. Assassination Vacation is more of a road trip tale where the road trip revolves around the lives of assassinated presidents and the men who shot them. Now, if you want to seriously geek out go for The Wordy Shipmates, a tale of the American puritans. This was especially appropriate for me because:

1. In 5th grade I joined my town's historical society so I could go on tours of old houses....at the time I considered the revolutionary war one of my "interests".

2. Much of the Wordy Shipmates has to do with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe. Among other run ins, I attended my senior prom at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum where nude wax native women rowed fake canoes across the dance floor.

3. The real mover and shaker in The Wordy Shipmates is Roger Williams and so I was glad to learn that he was actually pretty awesome.... he believed in treating the Native Americans with respect and camaraderie and preached that anyone should be allowed to worship how they believe- muslims, jews, pagans,,,, catholics(gasp!). I felt close to his story line since I hold Providence dear to my heart and since my pre-graduation ceremony took place in his original church.

4. Sarah is dark and morbid and loves cemeteries and duels and assassinations. Once when I was in high school my mom picked me up from school with a "special surprise" in store. The surprise was that she had found a really old cemetery behind a McDonald's. This might have created a soft spot for cemeteries since my first date with Sam was in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence- home of H.P. Lovecraft's corpse and still one of my favorite spots.

Anyhow, if you aren't the kind of person who enjoys historical tours or who once had a locket with Alexander Hamilton in it (thanks brent!) you might want to check out Sarah's first book Take the Canolli which is more about guns, goths, and The Godfather.
Here's Jon Stewart interviewing Sarah Vowell a few days ago.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sarah Vowell
Daily Show
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Political HumorRon Paul Interview

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