Monster Trucks and Hair-in-a-Can: Who Says America Doesn't Make Anything Anymore?

Overview

From the Emmy Award-winning CBS correspondent and best-selling author of Little League Confidential comes a hilarious look at modern American entrepreneurship. For many years, Bill Geist has been exploring the quirks and glories of this country, and he's here to tell you: America is still the land of opportunity. That's right! Where else could Bob Chandler make a fortune by inventing that huge-wheeled, car-crushing, eardrum-blasting behemoth of the arena - the monster truck? Where else could Carlotta Robinson ...
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Overview

From the Emmy Award-winning CBS correspondent and best-selling author of Little League Confidential comes a hilarious look at modern American entrepreneurship. For many years, Bill Geist has been exploring the quirks and glories of this country, and he's here to tell you: America is still the land of opportunity. That's right! Where else could Bob Chandler make a fortune by inventing that huge-wheeled, car-crushing, eardrum-blasting behemoth of the arena - the monster truck? Where else could Carlotta Robinson become queen of the multimillion-dollar sport of. . . pig racing ("People eat it up")? Where else would you find Hardy Warren, dean of the dog-eat-dog California traffic school industry; Jim Reid, the Used Golf Ball King of Florida (and Therefore the World); bogologist Randy Spraggins; tourism virtuoso Gary Calvert; Hal Schlenger, inventor of the Fish Channel ("You have to understand the entertainment value of fish"); and of course, the legendary Ron Popeil, he of the Pocket Fisherman, Veg-O-Matic, and hair-in-a-can? Only here. These are entrepreneurial pioneers all, making their way in postindustrial America with ingenuity, individuality, and often just that dash of courage/craziness necessary for those who must step outside the corporate structure and do what they want to do. With wit and warmth, in a book of pure delight, Bill Geist proves that the American dream is alive and well and just a tad warped. Who says America doesn't make anything anymore?
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 19 profiles, Geist proves in a humorous way that Americans have not lost their entrepreneurial spirit. His collection of offbeat endeavors ranges from the king of infomercials (Ron Popeil) to the man who conceived the idea for the Houston Astrodome (Judge Roy Hofheinz). Geist (Little League Confidential) is at his best in relating the more unusual antics by the likes of the men who make a living diving for used golf balls or how the idea for a fish channel on cable television was developed (``fish niche''). No matter what the subject, Geist's touch is light, and he has the ability to come up with unusual facts, such as that the manicure market is a $4.5 billion industry. In his chapter on the evolution of talk shows, he elicits the response from the creator of several talk programs (Burt Dubrow, who discovered Sally Jesse Raphael) that the greatest influence on his work was Howdy Doody. Geist clearly admires those who have the guts to follow their dreams. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Geist, a commentator for CBS Sunday Morning and 48 Hours and the author of Little League Confidential (LJ 3/1/92), introduces readers to America's unsung entrepreneurial heroes in this collection of short profiles. His subjects include the legendary Ron Popeil (of Pocket Fisherman and Veg-O-Matic fame), as well as the creative minds behind cable television's surprise hit Fish Channel, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the book's titular monster trucks and spray-on hair products. Geist coaxes excellent comic mile-age out of this material, writing with an easy, entertaining flair. Fans of Dave Barry and Lewis Grizzard should enjoy Geist's brand of one-liner journalism. Recommended for mid- to large-sized general-interest collections.-Alex Wright, Harvard Coll. Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
Mike Tribby
As the U.S. economy slips ever further into the much-maligned service sector, economists and political pundits decry the fact that we just don't make anything anymore. Geist gives the lie to these whiners with a hilarious survey of the glitz, froth, and just plain crap made in the U.S.A. far more prolifically than in any other society--ever. Not only do we produce the stuff--we sell the bejesus out of it! It constitutes our most potent cultural currency. In chapters on the fingernail industry, professional bass fishing, and many other modern endeavors, Geist affords whirlwind tours of many facets of the vibrant American cultural marketplace. His chapter on Ron Popeil, the amazing and prolific inventor who developed the "infomercial" and marketed thousands ("millions"?) of Veg-o-matics and Pocket Fishermen, is worth the price of the book many times over; in fact, it ought to spawn further research and a book-length study.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399138836
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/9/1994
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.83 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Careers for the 21st Century 11
King of the Infomercials 17
All Fish All the Time 26
Traffic School 35
Monster Trucks 46
Geocentrism 64
The Used Golf Ball King of Florida (and therefore the world) 78
Shoji 89
Bassin' 99
Queen of the Pig Races 115
Blam! 124
Virtual Vision 133
Talk 142
Cowabunga! 159
Mary Hart's Legs 176
Phenomenails 185
American Gladiators 196
Lest We Forget 210
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