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Sarah Vowell

Jon and Sarah discuss her latest book 'Jesus Freaks' There is a nice profile of Sarah in today's Washington Post. (thanks to smartypnts for the link)



Thanks for posting this. Vowell is one of my very few heroes, and I was just about to send you this link to a nice profile of her in today's Washington Post:


Yay! Me, too. "I love elitism." That line should have gotten huge applause. It's nice when she has a book out because I know she'll be doing interviews. (I'm looking forward to the Wash. Post profile - thanks Smarytypants...)

What a delightful, bright, and adorable young woman.

One major difference between we "elitists" and the Bible-thumping rabble is that we elitists are much more self-deprecating and filled with doubts, as opposed to being arrogantly full of (ignorant)certainty and bravado like Governor Palin, George W. Bush, and all their fans.

I think the problem with elitism is, just like every other word in the Republican dictionary, neocons have decided it means something else. No American is a real fan of the original meaning of the word - there's a snobbery, a closed club quality that, in theory, is anathema to Americans. Their NEW meaning of elitism though is intellectualism. I think they are taking a page from modern day dictators who have always wanted to purge the intellectuals from society - Germany, Russia, China. The neocon Republicans want to purge them from government and to shut them up in society by calling it elitism - oh, you want the country run by people with a good education who can answer questions thoughtfully and analytically - how elitist of you. You think someone with small town government probably isn't ready for the global stage - how elitist of you. You think people should be chosen for their abilities and experience instead of their loyalty - elitism. And then, they decide that McCain and Bush - third generation and born into privilege - liking them is NOT elitism because they said so - no - these are mavericks, real people to hang out with. Too bad William F. Buckley isn't around anymore to tell us how down home he is.

Jon has been mentioning it a bit lately and I'm glad they made a strong point about the fact that so much of "middle America" wraps itself in 9-11 then craps on New Yorker, Washintonians and us Eastern Elites. As a decade long New Yorker from middle America few irrational fears piss me off more than small town folks who claim they care more about America's safety than I do.

My response usually is something along the lines of, "Terrorists aren't targeting your Wal-Mart, they're targeting my home. They've hit it twice. Go f*ck yourself."

America used to be known for the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and other symbols of opportunity, assimilation and freedom - now it's known for small town values like what? Revenge? Isolationism? Religious zealotry?

I moved to this city for the opportunities and it hasn't disappointed. I've been very fortunate to have a fascinating and challenging career in various creative fields doing what I love. In a small town my jobs consisted of assembly line work, dishwashing, fire prevention, auto body work... Sometimes I think the hatred by middle America for the Eastern elites is based more on jealousy than anything else.

NYC isn't perfect (Wall Street being the worst example), Washionton DC is deeply flawed, but that is the same with every place. We may call most of this country "fly-over land" and have our own bias but much of that comes from the fact many of us fled those places to come here. This city is a shining example of what America can be: prosperity, racial and ethnic harmony, cultural diversity and so much more.

My apologies for the rant, but like the Jon and Sarah, I'm truly sick of being condemned by so many in my country for actually having the courage to live the American dream.

My apologies for the rant, but like the Jon and Sarah, I'm truly sick of being condemned by so many in my country for actually having the courage to live the American dream.

No apology necessary. Good rant.

As a decade long New Yorker from middle America few irrational fears piss me off more than small town folks who claim they care more about America's safety than I do.

That's true...what do you think that's about?

That's true...what do you think that's about?

It's about a calculated political strategy designed to persuade small town and rural voters to support the political agenda of corporate America, as is well explained by Mr. Thomas Franks.

I mean - what are they really so afraid of?


"One of these nutjobs might actually take this to heart and feel he has to eliminate the terrorist threat"

(From forum)

Seriously, Mr. Obama may not be the second, (actually, third,) Roosevelt (after Teddy, and the real one) after all. He may have to be the next Lincoln, the good Lincoln, cleaning up after the mess, the lentivirus of the ancient times civil war. A (second) civil war could never happen here (exceptionalism). Unless it does.

"Beware the Black Swan" (Nicholas Nassim Taleb).


"mental giants"

Why so sarcastic?


Vowell is a consonant symphony.

I can only assume to know what it's about: Ignorance, political manipulation, jealousy, fear.

I agree with Stupid Git and Sarah that NYC is a great place to be. I don't mind where I live, but I've always enjoyed trips to the big apple and found people to be friendly there. Also, they are really easy to spar with verbally. F me? F you! Can be done in a friendly sort of way.

Hey Norm, hows come you say the book is titled "Jesus Freaks"? I thought maybe that was the subtitle, and I know it's the subtext. Jes curious. The Jesus Freak title made me think Sarah was making fun of these guys, which is part of the deal, but the "Wordy Shipmates" makes fun of today's Jesus Freak by comparison: the value of education and intelligence as the crux of the comparison, according to the interview.

I just found it amusing that Sarah said she'd written about these 17th century Jesus Freaks and so I offered that as an alternative title without explaining that was what I was doing. It was a little too cryptic I suppose. I downloaded the Kindle version today and have just started reading it. I love Sarah's books. Oh so many books so little time. I'm also reading Dicken's "Bleak House" and I'm having trouble putting it down. I need more hours in the day, and neither presidential candidate is offering any help, what's a boy to do.

I "read" Assassination Vacation as a book on tape - she read it (I like when the authors read their works) and had some guest narrators like Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brien (I couldn't really tell who it was - I just thought it was funny because of the parts they were doing.) It was great.

"Assassination Vacation" was my favorite Sarah Vowell book. I did read it, though I know what you mean about listening to an author read his/her own work. David Sedaris' books are much better when you listen to him reading them.

Thanks. Curiosity killed the cat; satisfaction...

Damned elitist reader! Don't you know how you're disassociating yourself from Joe six pack?? Stop now! That's what a boy's to do.

Both you and Jill are making me want to contribute to the economy by buying more books. Thanks again!

I suppose I should go through my recently read stack, those not on the Kindle, and have another giveaway.

The one thing I really like about the Kindle is that all the classics are free. My Kindle was a gift, but considering that I tend to buy rather than use my local library, I'll probably save money over the long run.

Where moose, I mean moss, grows.

"I tend to buy rather than use my local library"

I used to buy, used, for the moist part, and I only visited U n i v e r s i t y Libraries (with arched, gothic, brow), until... I acquired a house across the street from a Public (sniff) Library. And I moved in. Now, I keep all of "my" books, across the street, where(public) servants arrange them by subject, Dewey whatsit, and however. They also arrange informative displays of the newly publisheds, and of special interests (local, etc,). It is everything the overly-commercialized Border's and Barnes and Nobleses crap IS NOT.

Plus: I can order books from anywhere in the Metro area system. (Mixed) socialism is fantastic. The University Library is still filled with the produce of.... slightly more educated Sarah Palins and their ilk, who went to graduate school, and had to contribute some bogus thesis or dissertation about nothing, as did she, so they did so, talk about overproduction! The Darwinners of publish or perish driving/writing their intellectual SUVs.

The good ol' purchased books are great for sound-proofing though. And trade-in at Bookman's.

Jesus Freaks... Columbus Day. Manifest Density. Alaska question: the White Flag of Surrender?

The flag I'm wavin' is BLACK!

She seems to know what she's talking about. I'll vote for her! (I want the book).

As someone who doesn't live in the US, I find the whole idea of intellectualism being a bad quality, especially in a politician, to be very strange.

When I vote in our general election on November 8th, I'll be voting based on whether or not I believe the candidate and party will make good intelligent policy choices over the next 3 years. Whether or not I would like to have a beer with them will not enter into it at all.

I was so hoping you would say you were from Canada. Clearly you are not, but it's worth posting anyway. Where are you from? I'd be interested in finding out what kind of mental giants you will be choosing from.


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