Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  April 3, 2010 8:30am-9:00am EDT

8:30 am
left out most of the things about his hanging out in bars and his -- well, actually, twain apparently was fairly straight laced when it came to that. now when it came to the drinking and gambling and stock swindle, he was right if there with the best of them, but he kind of left that out of his book, so -- but i try to go back where i could and double check other people who were there at the time to see if he was as huckelberry finn said, selling a stretcher. there was enough truth in it that it wasn't a total lie. he was an fiction writer and he was sort of his own best
8:31 am
character. and in the beginning of "roughing it" he gives the impression -- i think he even says that his older brother got in this job and that he envied him because he had never been anywhere himself, never seen anything and by that time, sam clemens had already been on his own for about 10 or 12 years, as a printer, and of course a mississippi river boat pilot, so he would exaggerate, but it's more on -- it's always in the sense of making himself a comic character. one of of the things, somebody is asking me, what was surprising about twain and one of the things that surprised me was that he had absolutely no sense of humor about himself. he loved playing jokes on other people, but when he went back to
8:32 am
virginia city after his first speaking tour and got some fame, his old friends decided to turn the tables on him and they disguised themselves as road agents and held him up one night and took all his money and his gold watch, and left him in his underwear standing in literally dry gule much, and the next night, when they had a party and gave money and his gold watch back to him, he got so mad, he wait a second out, went all the way -- walked out, went all the way back to san francisco, so he had no sense of humor, except where other people were involved, which i think you could probably say for a lot of comedians and humorists. yes? >> i was trying to think of someone in the 20th century who might have been a mark twain and will rogers came to mind. he was probably the closest. in his humor and in his writings. >> right. yeah. i think you're totally right.
8:33 am
will rogers, of course, like mark twain, was a midwesterner, and kind of a westerner. as well. and yeah, he was -- they were very -- they were similar, although i think -- i'm trying to remember the quote that -- i can't remember it exactly, but i know that mark twain said that the united states had no native criminal class except for congress. and i know that -- i remember that will rogers said he didn't belong to an organized political party, he was a democrat. so in that sense, yeah. well thank you all for coming tonight. i really enjoyed this. [applause]
8:34 am
>> we're here at this year's conservative political action conference, talking to radio host, jerry doyle. temperature us about your new book. >> the title of the book is from like two standpoints "have you seen my country hately?" and then the other is, "have you
8:35 am
seen it" because if you've seen it, a lot of people would like to go back there, so it was kind of -- when i was writing it, it was hard to keep up with everything as fast as it was changing and you know, we hear about hope and change, but i think at a certain point, people go whoa, slow down, and the book and i think a lot of what talk radio is and what we're doing here is we're like the speed bumps, just get government to just slow down. i don't care if it's republicans or democrats, it's like slow down and let us know what you're doing and why you're doing it, and figure out what the unintended consequences of what you're doing might be. >> did you write it for your radio audience or is there a different audience you're trying to reach through the book? >> it's -- the radio audience is the book audience and the book is radio and it's really just a lot of -- what you and i do. we're in the business of information. and we have the luxury of spending our day reading and going through the trivia and the tidbits, most people don't. they're stuck on the freeway,
8:36 am
they're commuting, packing their kids' lunches, so we have an opportunity to take all of this information and compress it into a book or a three-hour radio show horwhat you guys do on c-span, and our job is to just give it to them. say here's what i saw today, what do you think? not how to think, but what do you think? and when i was writing the book, it was kind of like this catharsis of, wow, you look at this mosh pit political insanity and you're like going, where's the middle. how do i get my hands on this and it's just a way for people to kind of take a look at what we do every day and maybe in 240 pages or whatever it is, you know, just get an idea of what's going on. >> and you're an actor as well, so how did you get from acting to essentially political influence in a radio show? >> i had a tv series, battle on five, it was a science fiction show and the guy who syndicates my show, mark masters, is a huge science fiction fan and he contacted me through another radio host about trying to put
8:37 am
micermy series on the air and hd what do you think about talk radio and i said i love it, i listen to it all the time and he said did you ever think about it and i said no and through a process of three or four months, we started talking about talk radio and he gave me a fill-in slot on a saturday night and he said throe hours, you get to talk to america and i said ok, i'm going to -- this, i got to the studio, i was there two hours ahead time, at 12:00, you're off, 12:06 p.m. you're in and 3, 2, 1, you're live and i did my first 12 minutes and i looked at the clock in front of me and i had 2 hours and 40 minutes left and i had said everything i wanted to say about anything. i started to panic, and he backed me off and he goes, ok, you just did like five days of radio, you might want to slow down,, panned on that stuff a
8:38 am
little bit, and it was -- i got done and i was back in bed, in the fetal position, i was like the first puppy cold from the litter, he was like someone hold me and i loved it, and it was -- like when i was an actor, you have to have a therapist, you know, so i used to talk to a stranger about my problems and pay them every hour. now i get paid every hour to talk to strangers about my problems, and you know, if you can be that voice for the audience, if you can be the validation of what they want to say but they don't have the opportunity to say, and i think people like my show because i'm an quammen opportunity offender, it doesn't patter if it's republican or democrat, if you do something right or wrong, we're going to talk about it and people have a place to come by and just be like, there's someone that is like watching out for me. you know, there's someone that has my six, and it's interesting to kind of watch the media, because it's very agendaized,
8:39 am
whether it's fox or cnn or msnbc, you pretty much know what they're going to talk about and what they're going to say. on my program what i try to give people is just an opportunity to just have an exchange of ideas, front porch stuff, if you can peak it today, cool, if you can hang for three, cool, if you can't, i'll be here tomorrow and just kind of give people a little bit of insight in to not necessarily what's happening, but why it's happening, and what the ramifications of that are going to be. >> well, the obstacles that you met with you first started in radio, was there anything similar when you first started writing the book? >> well, you know, with any publisher, like shimon schuster, thankfully, they have their relationships and there are certain things that they don't want said, and in radio, there are certain things they don't want said and on tv, there are certain things they don't want said, so you have to find a way around it, and you have to kind of just do it in a way that's not obvious.
8:40 am
but they were viacom. they pretty much just gave me, you know, the option to write whatever i wanted to write about, and it was -- i have a whole new preexpect for writers, because we have a lot of people come on the program with their books and they wrote a book and i'm like wow you wrote a book, that's hard, because when i talk, i can always the text day or next hour say you know what i said the last hour, that was wave wrong. i just got this information that changes whatever, but when it's on the page, it's there for all time th. so what i did, i have 300 or 400 end notes in the book and i chronicle where i took everything from, so you can't dispute my facts. you can dispute my conclusions, but you can't dispute the facts, because they are what they are. >> do you want to write another one? >> not write now. no. no. really, no. it's -- it's an interesting process. i think in writing the book, i
8:41 am
kind of then tweaked my radio show based upon what i did with the book, because you slow it down a little bit and you go, what was really the book all about, what was the show all about, what is your show all about, and for me, it's about just trying to, you know, push the rock up the hill a hill bit more every day. i'm not here to tear down or to prop up, i'm not a cheerleader, which unfortunately, we see a lot of in books, and in tv, and in radio. everybody is like, success, you just dropped the football in the end zone. i think what we need more of in the media is coaches. you know, somebody who is going to smack you upside the head and go that is not good. we just loss the game. but a lot of what we have ideologically are cheerleaders, not challenging their own and i think that's where the best exchange of ideas take place is when people just go really, you believe that, why? you know, when i hear about these financial summits that they're having with obama and his administration, i go, dude,
8:42 am
let's have a meeting right now. i can tell you exactly what you need to do, stop spending. summit over. stop spending. but we're going to get all these learned minds and they're saying look at all these learned minds getting together to solve the deficit. stop spending. do it. you and i, we had to deleverage. a lot of people got crazy in 2006 and 2007, real estate. high always wanted an r.v., a boat, a quad, and so what we've done in the last year is reduce our spending by about 28%. and people are going, i had to do it, why don't they? you know, i look at the government just now signing $1.9 trillion increase in the deficit to 14.3 12 dollars and then i -- 14-point 3 trillion dollars and they say we're doing
8:43 am
this for our children's children and no, you're bankrupting the next generation. we need to make the camp ground better than how we find it and everyone is like obama is doubling the national debt. bush it the same thing, from 5 to $10 trillion and i listen to these guys going obama is spending. you did it. you did exactly the same thing under the guise of compassionate conservativism, which to me is redunn can't. conservativism by nature is compassionate. when you throw compassionate conservativism, we can spend a lot of money. the whole thing about helping out religion and government and how do we advance that agenda. i don't want to protect government from religion. i want to protect religion from government. because whoever write the checks, makes the agenda and i think, you know, people right now are just like, you know what, common sense, getting back to just common sense, stuff that we have to do every day, and hopefully i capture some of that in the radio show and hopefully i got it in the book.
8:44 am
>> thank you very much for your time. we appreciate it. >> ok. thanks a lot of. >> of after his book "invisible man" ralph ellison worked on but never published another novel. the sector of mr. ellison's literary estate and an english professor present a posthumous second novel from over 3,000 pages written by ellison. mcnally jackson books in new york city hosts the hour long book. >> my friendship with ralph ellison, indeed, my getting to meet him and know him is very much an american story. it goes back to 1977, 1978. well, as ellison, invisible man, goes way back behind that i suppose. i read invisible man when i was in college, actually the same age as -- i was the same age as adam bradley would be when he read "invisible man" and when i
8:45 am
showed him the boxes from the second novel, the boxes of analyst's computer printouts, and asked him if he would help me with this project in 1994. but i had wanted to write about ellison's work for a long time. and finally, in 1977, i wrote an essay on ellison, called "the historical frequencies of ralph waldseemuller dough ellison" and in this piece, i try to make the case that ellison's essays, and at that time, many others, some of them weren't published at all, and many of the most compelling essays hadn't made it into "shadow and act." ralph says, -- he used to say, society and morality in a novel, tell it like it is, baby, really, unbelievably superb in original essays, were rejected for inclusion in "shadow and act" if you can believe it and i
8:46 am
tracked these down and tried to make the case that "invisible man" his essays rather not only provided a way to read "invisible man" but also more broadly provided a way to read american literature, as a continuing kind of engagement with the imperfect union of the declaration of independence, and the constitution and the sacred document of abraham lincoln, and also, of the continuing struggle to perfect that union. so i wrote the he is safe and i -- essay and i was pleased with it when it came out. we -- i'm always pleased with the things we write when they're published. we get them and say yeah, i should have spent more time or maybe this one could have stayed in the box. but i was kind of pleased with it, and pleased enough to find ellison's address and send him the piece, little note, dear
8:47 am
mr. ellison, enclosed please find. that was the kind of texture of the note and rubbed my hands together, that's that. well, that wasn't that. about five weeks later, i got back a two page, single spaced letter from ellison, he had read the piece and he liked it very much and he wanted to write me about it and talk about it, and it was as if -- it was a warm letter, it was formal, ralph was a warm person, he knew what manners was all about, manners had to do with both privacy and generosity. in any case, he end of the letter he said if you're ever in new york, and have the time, mrs. ellison and i would be glad to see you. well, i restrained myself. i didn't go to the airport that night, i had the impulse to do it, i didn't do it, but i was in new york several months later and the ellisons invited me to come over and i wanted to tell a little bit about that meeting. it is so vivid in my mind, it
8:48 am
was in may of 1978, and i remember taking a cab up to broadway and -- 150th really and riverside drive and i a long the way, passing a lilac, a flower stand, and seeing these great burgeoning bunches of lilacs. ellisons loved lilacs, they had lilacs in their summer place in the berkshires, and of course, mrs. ellison beat ralph to the punch, lilac is the coolest -- april is the coolest month pulling lilacs out of the ground. i hadn't been thinking about that at all. in any case, they were warm and formal people. so ralph ushered me into the -- into his study, and the study had -- it was all kind of one big old room, kitchen connected
8:49 am
to the study connected to the kind of little living room that had a magnificent view of the hudson, and there was a very elegant italian marble table in the middle of the room, and there was a leather couch on either side of the table so ralph pointed out where -- the couch i was to sit and he sat across and we talked, 50 minutes or so, and you would never have known from this conversation that ralph ellison was a man, a jazz man of the vernacular from oklahoma, or that i was kind of a black irishman from up the line in new haven, connecticut. we talked as if they were inhabitants of one of the later novels of henry j., it was pretend husband and i glanced at my watch after a while, i was getting a little uncomfortable, if i'm honest with you, and why not be honest with you, so ralph
8:50 am
at precisely five minutes to 5:00 p.m., this and came down on the table, and he said, well, john, would you like a drink? i don't know about -- i needed a drink i think at that point, and -- but i was kind of dumber than "invisible man." that's kind of a hard thing to be, at least when we think about it, the invisible man in the early chapters. as i said, i said, why, yes, mister -- what? sure, ralph, and then he did what he did so often and so fetchingly and charmingly, he lapsed into this oklahoma drawl and he said that's better and he disappeared in the kitchen and emerged with a bottle of bourbon, i think it was jack daniels in a glass, and put it on his side of the table, and a bottle of irish. i think it was jamieson's in a glass and put it on mine.
8:51 am
and we were off and became very, very close friends and i said, people over the years, long before ralph passed away, he said, well, what did they say about the reinhardt character in invisible man, john, what did he say about the second novel, and i tried as best i could to explain to him, that wasn't what our relationship was about. it was a friendship, and it was a friendship and i think adam perhaps will talk about this. somehow, ralph has this pull on us all, whenever generation we're -- whatever generation we were from. it was a very controlled friendship. so you know, i wasn't there as a literally scholar at all. in any case, about 10 years later, after we'd become very close friends, i was up visiting the ellisons in the berkshires, and ralph and i were taking a little walk and showing me his tractor, he loved gadgets, machines, and i said, ralph, i'd
8:52 am
like to ask you something, i've been wondering about it since we met and he said why, yes. and i said, you know, i've always wondered about that damn irish whiskey that you brought out when we met, and he said, well, what, what are you wondering about, john? and i said i've always wondered what the hell you would have done with the irish whiskey if you hadn't liked me? and i thought that was pretty good, you know. i needed to draw a good card, but i thought i had a pair of jacks to at least open the poker game and ralph looked at me, had these piercing brown eyes that would light up with hazel sparks, and so he just looked at me and shook his head and said, with more than a hint of disappointment, i'm afraid, for god's sake, john, i like irish whiskey too. you could not get ralph ellison with any of that kind of identity, politics, nonsense,
8:53 am
you couldn't do it with those categories. that's not where the man lives. he lives in another place. so we ask will ralph ellison and that's what i would say, there's many other things to say as we go along. tonight. but he was a special kind of human being. he was a special kind of man. i've never met his like of about and i haven't met his like since. he had the most defiant imagination of anybody i've ever met, and mike spoke about this wonderful line of his, the true american is also somehow black, from ellison's "time" magazine essay in 1970 and i think i should say, this again -- ellison gave a whole new meaning to the term reversal. there's such a thing as an ellisonan reversal. "time" asked him to write an
8:54 am
essay on what america would be like without blacks, so what does ellison do? he absolutely turns it inside out like so many of the jazz musicians, like davis and the others do with "autumn leaves" a sentimental tune and they make a harrowing piece of work. well, ralph would do that over and over and over again. he would take one's expectations, he would take various american cliches and turn them inside out and bring us to a new place. ok? now, let me cut then to the novel and as mike pointed out, and you know, our adam and my editor, the modern library at random house, jonathan joll and i, we were all three very croup lust about this and i hope that unlike juneteenth, those who read and comment on three days
8:55 am
before the shooting will look at the title, because the title -- the subtitle of the book is "the unfinished second novel" and notice that first adjective. the unfinished second novel. that is in fact what we have published and we start from that, we make no apologies whatsoever about that. we try to turn that into a kind of opportunity. the opportunity that exists because of what ellison left behind, because he didn't finish the novel. :
8:56 am
i want you to help me decide what to do with ralph's novel. and she gave me her common-sense, very acute bottom line on it. beginning, middle and end. does it have a beginning, middle and end. that was the question that haunted me as i set to work on this novel and i thought for the longest time that i would find the fragments that would stitch together the various narrative is, the typescripts and computer printouts. and i looked and looked. i found dirty socks and
8:57 am
ellison's earlier stories that nobody knew existed. it was great. put it into a book. but i didn't find anything having to do with the second novel. it was all in fact down in the library of congress. the question was what to do and i won't rehearse -- simply say it seemed to me to be -- it was one of four principal narrative's end it seemed to me the narrative that was closest to the bone of his theme. the relationship between bliss, little boy growing up to be senator adams's son later and reverend alonzo hickman, jazz man turned preacher but it was very telescoped as the action
8:58 am
took place after the assassination, when he calls hickman to come to his bedside where he is fatally wounded and i knew from his notes that allison always intended to end the novel with the death of sun rader. on that basis talking with mrs. ellison as well aiken quoted the best thing to do for ellison's readers was to present the book as a fragment, a narrative fragment. it was a close run decision. these decisions are always close run decisions. there are pros and cons and we learned that. and number of posthumous editions that are in the works. so i said i will do that and we
8:59 am
have been working some on all of these manuscripts and narrative's and particularly we are puzzling over the computer -- the printouts and adam did lot of special and important work with the computers, the disks and research into what kind of computers ellison had and what the capacities were and so on. i did at times regret saying this in print, bringing out another edition of not the totality, there too many variants of too many episodes but bringing out the other narratives in a scholarly edition. that is what adam and i set out to do and that is what three days before the shooting is. it has six narrative is. part


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on