The United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories from American History

The United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories from American History

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399578755
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 05/09/2017
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 118,093
Product dimensions: 6.74(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.61(d)

About the Author

DAVE ANTHONY is a stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and podcaster. Beside co-hosting The Dollop, he's been seen as a stand up on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Late Show, and on Comedy Central. He is a writer/actor on Maron on IFC. In 2015, he was named Comedian to Watch by L.A. Weekly.

GARETH REYNOLDS is a writer/comedian who has written for shows on Comedy Central, Fox, TBS, and MTV. He has executive produced shows like MTV's Failosophy and the Travel Channel's Mancations.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Warning: This book will change the way you look at America. By opening this book, you agree with and understand this fact and are okay with it.

With that said, welcome! Hi. Thank you for buying this book. (Or are you reading this at the book store, like a creep? Being all Hmmmmm what is this . . . I’ll just have a free read. Freeloader.) This book’s about history, but not the type you are used to encountering. Sure, you may have heard of one or two of these stories, but by the end of this book, you will have a different perspective on America. Probably a conflicted one.

Now for our history. For us, the discovery of America’s hilariously absurd past started with our podcast: The Dollop. For those of you who don’t know what a podcast is, it’s like a radio show that you can . . . oh, just Google it. We, Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds, met in Los Angeles on a mutual friend’s podcast (you should have Googled what podcasts are by now) and didn’t talk for a year after that. When Dave had the idea of doing an American history podcast, he knew exactly who to call: Chris Rock. Dave didn’t know Chris personally, but he was a big fan. Chris had done so many things Dave admired. Unfortunately, Chris’s busy schedule wouldn’t permit his joining such an undertaking. Dave then talked to Sarah Silverman, but she was on location with a film. Next was Louis C.K., but that was a reach. Dave Chappelle, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, the guy who sells Flex Seal on TV, Ira Glass, Amy Schumer . . . they were all really busy. Dave then turned to Gareth, who was ready and available. And The Dollop was born! We began meeting to discuss tales from United States history that were apeshit.

We quickly discovered that not only were these tales interesting to us, but others were drawn to the information as well. We started to build a following whose members all wanted to know the same thing: How have I never heard of this shit before?!? In a way, American history is like report cards. The good ones go on the fridge to be boasted over; the bad get tossed in the trash and we pretend like they never happened. Regardless, these tales will not only show you how insane American history is, but also reveal how much this country loves alcohol. God, we love alcohol. So much. Like at a crazy level. The anecdotes ahead contain the stuff they should have taught you in history class. If class consisted of a teacher telling you how we discovered the lobotomy or learned how stomach acids work, or about the time a lady lived with a dolphin, just how Elvis became a federal agent, or even why meat rained down from the skies in Kentucky one day, school would have been way less terrible. America has been fucked up since Christopher Columbus set foot on this occupied land and claimed he discovered it. Yes, we really have a fascinating past, but for some reason we don’t discuss it. So let’s!

With this book, we’ve got two aims: (1) winning a Pulitzer Prize and (2) sharing this absurdity with you. While one of these goals may be lofty, we think the Pulitzer is a slam dunk. No way we don’t win that. Anyway, enjoy the book and discovering that you do actually enjoy history. Or just put it down already if you’re still reading it at the bookstore. Seriously. This isn’t a library, pal.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS 

Great American Characters • 5
Michael Malloy • 7 
Lobster Boy • 11
Oofty Goofty • 15
David Hahn • 19
Elvis and Nixon • 23
 
The Best of American Sports • 27
Rainbow Man • 29
Rube Waddell • 33
Lenny Dykstra • 37
Tim “Doc” Anderson • 41
Ten-Cent Beer Night • 47

Great American Medical Breakthroughs • 51
John R. Brinkley • 53
Henry Heimlich • 57
Freeman’s Lobotomies • 61
The Stomach Men • 65
Resurrection Men • 69

Very Bad American Ideas • 73
The Flying Pinto • 75
Action Park • 79
Jackson Cheese • 83
Radium Girls • 87
The Straw Hat Riot • 91

When Americans Go Wrong • 95
Eggnog Riot • 97
Newport Sex Scandal • 101
The Vampire Panic • 105
The Death of George Washington • 109

American Tails • 113
The Dolphin • 115
Mike the Chicken • 119
The Hippo Bill • 123
George Spencer • 127
Kentucky Meat Shower • 131

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