Frightening History Students With Seattleisms

Posted: November 10, 2011 in East Coast Events

Last night, West Chester University history professor Charles Hardy invited me to chat with some of his students about my book.  I received my master’s from WCU, and Dr. Hardy taught a class about historiography that had a profound impact upon me.  I could not have written my book without it.

I arrived at the University at 7 pm last night to present in front of about 25 students.  I would have to say, other than the Seattle Elliott Bay panel discussion last month, I enjoyed this event the most.  The students were engaged as I talked about my post-WCU career, writing The Strangest Tribe, getting it published, and the book’s content.

During my presentation, I offered up the notorious “Lexicon of Grunge” story, the Mr. Epp fake band/real band tale, and general examples of great music and the Seattle put-on sense of humor.  The biggest laughs came when I shared the Squirrels’ “Baby Cheevers” cabbage patch doll story… (from Chapter 2)

During a set [singer Rob] Morgan would hold Cheevers up in front of a microphone, and the doll appeared to talk to the audience.  Just a few feet away, [guitarist Joey] Kline would speak into a mike, shielding his mouth from the audience with his hat.  The world’s worst ventriloquism act worked quite well for the Squirrels.

Periodically, the band would play street fairs attended by families with their children.  Kids would look up at Morgan holding Baby Cheevers in front of the mike, not noticing Kline chatting in the baby voice a few feet away.  “And Joey’s just over there talking, you know what I mean?  So the kids are staring at me,” says Morgan.  “They’re like, ‘Whoa!  That thing’s talkin’!'”

The students asked some insightful questions about publishing and the book itself.  I think my favorite was when one person asked if I ever got stuck and frustrated.  I told him about one point back in ’08, where I wrote three chapters and gave them to my wife to review.  Irisa is a marketing manager who writes copy for a university health system.  She is, quite frankly, a better writer than I.  She looked at my content and immediately pointed out the lack of clarity and organization.  While it was difficult to hear the truth, she was right.  I went back and rewrote those chapters and they flowed much better.

I would like to offer a thank you to Professor Hardy and the students who came out last night…not to mention my wife.  You are all wonderful.

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