tv Panel Discussion with Dave Barry CSPAN December 22, 2013 2:00am-2:46am EST
three writers are gifts to the english language. this morning, the first author that i will be introducing non-other than dave barry. let's give him a round of applause before he comes out. [applause] >> we all know that you cannot do justice to his talents and there he is. [applause] >> you just can't do justice by reading has lengthy biography or saying that his new work, "insane city", his first adult novel in more than a decade. he is an individual for over 25 years have appeared in 25 newspapers, winner of the pulitzer prize and it's pretty cool. like every other kid in the 305, i grew up relishing reading him and today we are hearing from a hometown favorite in dave barry.
in our next author is roy blount. come on out and let's give him a round of applause. [applause] >> a master of language and the humorist to boot. he has authored 22 books in a wide range from robert ely to the pittsburgh steelers if you are an npr nerd, and you may also know him as a regular panelist on wait, wait don't tell me. [laughter] and is a contributing editor of atlantic monthly. today he comes to us with his newest work, "alphabetter juice" or "the joy of text." the book for anyone who loves to get physical with words. let's give him another round of applause. [applause] and finally our last author is
brad meltzer. and he is a hometown hero who has made a career out of helping all the trim others see the hero within them. he brings us work based upon the popular history channel show in his latest book is the "history decoded: the 10 greatest conspiracies of all time" ended his knew his work, he asks questions in what is going on in area 51 and did john wilkes booth really get away? brad meltzer is the number one best-selling author of the inner circle, as well as a slew of other best-selling books. i would be remiss to say that he and his wife are the leaders who founded and brought this to miami. his latest book just may build bestsellers list and without
further ado, i want to have that although biology would never reveal it, he is also my bigger brother. >> same haircut. [laughter] >> over to you gentlemen now. >> i am brad's father. [laughter] >> go ahead. >> go for it. >> make you all, ladies and gentlemen. >> so your last name means arabic for sword. so when you go by something like sword, anyway, it's wonderful. thank you all for coming out on saturday morning to the miami book fair, which is the best one in the united states. [applause] and i just want to know one thing. when i am in a band called the
rock bottom remainders. and we have formally disbanded, but we're still going to play because it turns out it doesn't matter. [laughter] the we will be playing at 6:00 o'clock today and the whole band will be talking and a lot of people probably never heard us perform. anyway, we are going to be playing and i won't be there because he doesn't have a lot of talent. [laughter] so i will talk a little bit about my book and it is a novel called "insane city." miami is called the insane city. it's about thing about miami -- and carl pointed this out, that you really can't make anything up about miami that is weirder than miami itself turns out to be. my book is about a wedding that
goes wrong. a couple comes here for a destination wedding and the groom lines up with refugees living in his room suite at the hotel and that is and even the beginning of his real problem. he loses his wedding ring to an orangutan named trevor. that probably sounds like a far-fetched tuition. but considering a couple of things that actually happened in miami. first, i will go back a couple of years and hopefully to illustrate my point. if you're writing about the city come he can't get weirder than the city itself. but the first one goes back again and try to picture someone writing a novel in this happened in homestead when the chief of police was a guy named kurt iv and has chief of police, he was asked to speak at the inaugural meeting of his citizens crimewatch group and it was a
pleasant evening and so they held a meeting on the patio at someone's house. as the chief of police, he explained how the crimewatch is supposed to work and it was pretty well right up to the point where he is a almost it on the head by 75-pound bale of cocaine falling from the sky. and that actually did happen. a smugglers plane was coming from the bahamas and was intercepted that was going to force them down and so the smugglers are leaving before they were forced down in naples and they threw out 20 bales of cocaine and did like a treasure hunt the next a pair day. but my point is if you wrote a novel, and you see a chief of police almost hit, the critics would say, come on. the other one is more recent. one of my favorite things to
happen in our neck of the woods happened in february, the python challenge. it made national news and for those of you here in florida, we have a problem with pythons in south florida. they are not supposed to be here, they're supposed to be in burma. [laughter] whatever that is. and they were brought here as pets and why anyone would want to have one of these widgets to be 20 feet long and is carnivorous, i just don't know. the people brought a lot of them here and at some point, they ran out of crack. and it's like, okay, so they let the pythons go for escape and they turned out to really like south florida and, like the
people from new york. it is like to hear it come in their comfortable here. and they reproduce like crazy. they use no form of protection. and they have no natural enemies all. nothing can really kill them and they are now in the hundreds of thousands and so the state of florida, our state motto. you cannot spell it without duh. so they came up with this idea. [laughter] the python challenge. which again made national news for me basically invited anyone to come down from anyone who wanted to come down and kill her pythons. although we did make them pay a
25-dollar fee and that rules out your lightweights. and you have to take a short online course and i hope the website is still up. and you can ask anybody who has ever made a living killing dangerous game. a short online courses what they will tell you how they were to do that. [laughter] cited and take the course, but i did read what they said. and they said that harry's was to kill the python. i thought you just whacked it and nazi like that was the legacy this way. but that was not the correct way to do it. you're supposed to do it humanely. [laughter] and the key is you have to destroy the brain because if you don't, you just cut off his
head, according to the python challenge, they keep on thinking. maybe along the lines of holy [bleep], where is the rest of my body. [laughter] >> 1700 people paid $25 to participate in the python challenge. we had hundreds of thousands out there and this went on through the entire month of february and the total number of pythons killed was 68. i am not a biologist, but i'm willing to bet that at some point during the month of february, a mother python laid some eggs and probably a lot more than 68. so the pythons one. they beat us. we if we are going to win, we are going to have to challenge them like humanities. no, come on.
although i did have a plan for saving the manatees. nobody picked up on it. the problem we have is that they are not the brightest and they are not the nuclear physicist of animals. voters keep running into them. because it's kind of like how we drive on the highway. everyone drives a special way according to their country of origin. [laughter] and so for decades not, they have been trying to get them to slow down and stop hitting amenities and i came up with an idea. let's speed the manatees up if you can't get the votes to slow them down. let's put motors on the manatees. get it up to 50 or 60 miles an hour and then we will see who wins. [laughter]
so the big worry that i have, i'm sure you have as well, is what happens if the pythons get hold of the cocaine. and my point is that this is the world's easiest city to write novels in and that is why i live here. and why ended up writing about florida, which is this insane city, to wrap around to the beginning. so i'm going to now introduced to you roy blount. [applause] >> thank you, dave. i'm not from miami. so we had just little snakes in massachusetts and are not fun at all. but i've written two books now about the words called
"alphabetter juice" and "the joy of text." i was reading a textbook of linguistics and the connection between words and meaning as arbitrary. which doesn't make any sense to me. that would mean that splurge and spit could mean the same thing. and i think that words have a lot to do -- not all, but the best words have to do with this. giving an example, how they move through your body. it has rss [bleep], so that is because there was a python body behind him. and so, okay.
so it came from from the latin word to urinate. that is the literary latin word in the street latin use a different form, which is how we got our work. the etymologist went on to say that obviously this captures the sound and i said, this is my kind of work. first welcome all the best words come from the street and then they also sound like this. but then it hit me that this doesn't sound like that.
it actually starts out and then it becomes a very bodily world. but that is technically more fun to read about than to talk about. so going off into the stories about writing that i have done. i wrote a story with wilt chamberlain who has been gone for quite a few years now, but he was a huge man and he was going to announce his retirement from basketball and i was standing next to him in the elevator once and he said something and i turned to answer him i was looking right at his elbow and there was as much room above is below. he was great to work with. i don't want to shatter any illusions here, but not every athlete is all that literate.
[laughter] >> someone was interviewing key roads and said how many books have you read in your life. and he said he gave it considerable thought and said that i've never read a book. and so the guy said, you've written two. [laughter] but i guess even count those. okay, so he was well spoken and it was just my job to write down what he said so look good on paper. and we got along just fine. he was a great basketball player and he wrote a memoir in which he claimed to have slept with 20,000 women and he said, we are
doing the math here. [laughter] and he said, yes, there was one big birthday party. [laughter] at any rate, he lived in this house in bel air had feelings about the height of these which was commensurate with his stature. he also had an armed element of the quarter, which was wolf muscles, you know the fur from eight wolf muscles so together and he had this carpeting and upholstery and it was striking to be surrounded by so many wolf muscles and he was surrounded by
friends. he had done a story before and he thought that they had misrepresented him in the headline. so he had to approve every word in the story and his friend was there to protect him and they were as big as he was, but they were big enough to be his friend and they were just kind of standing around like this is if i was going to attack them at any moment. so went fine and the main headline came in and said my impact will be everlasting, which he had said was a word and he proved it at the time. then, however, the subhead came through in these days it's all
mojo machines. we didn't have laptops, you'd you would see this and copied into this thing and it would gradually reduce it to another and at the end was a tight copy. so i pulled the subhead out of the machine and i was afraid we were going to have a problem because it's a dominant force in basketball announces his retirement and i handed it to him to read and he took it and said that a dominant force. and i said, well, i think the operative donna and force here. and his friends started saying, oh, man, and i said that i can
see that this is not going to fit. as i can just place it right there. so i called back to sports illustrated in new york and unfortunately the editor had left the office and then we had this great miraculous telephone operator back then you could find anyone anywhere and she found -- i was afraid she was going to find him at a chinese restaurant and every fourth drink was free. so i didn't pay to have a drink if you really think about it. this editor was in about a six or seven.
we have dysentery is individual who had a phone, and it rang and she picked it up and if everyone in the building ring the receiver, i would have separated surgery. so he never did that again. but she found it and he had had several drinks and she said i don't know, i just don't know. people were yelling and the chinese waiter would break in and say, what do you want. [laughter] and i would say that i was here with well and we were always
friends and it was just like. [laughter] and the wolf muscles. i was sitting on his couch and i could feel this sort of bristling up underneath. so i said i need to hand the phone off to you. i've never been made about this or that necessarily. but to my astonishment, i saw him mollified and he said who the hell is mariel. [laughter] [applause] [laughter]
[applause] >> what i love about miami is that only miami thinks that what goes great with these wilt chamberlain stories and killing animals in florida is dead presidents. that seems like the logical next step for us and i will tell you that i grew up here in south florida and i went to the highland oaks middle school and take you to the one person for the pity clap. go panthers. [laughter] you know, in 11th grade, my teacher wheels and a tv card with the tv on and when you're in 11th grade, you know what that means, it means you're seeing a movie that day and that's the best day of school, free movie, no learning, movie. which puts him in front of us, instead of the educational film, she puts on a jfk conspiracy film. it was in a kooky ones that is 500 people doing this or that there is one that says the
driver of the lemieux turned around and shot him. seems like it was really going to faster we would miss him but she pulls this out and it really does ask the hard questions and how does jack ruby get past all the police officers were there guarding this man and what is lee harvey oswald doing for two years unaccounted for. my parents were like pete rose. they had those reading habits. my mom read the inquirer and the star and those were the books in my house. because that's where the real news came from. one of his favorite movies was all the presidents men and lisa watch it over and over and he didn't care about nixon anything else. he loved dustin hoffman and robert redford. the watching this jfk movie when i was in 11th grade in florida was just one of those movies
that blake kicked into the foundation of my brain. nixon was big, but this was bigger and how do you pull off killing a president? was my love of history that was really in that moment. two years later and became a history major in college. i thought english is pretty useless, but history is really useless as a degree. but there's nothing -- there's nothing that could be more useless. so i went right for that. [laughter] and what happened is i've been very lucky. over the years. when you write books like i do, no one gets crazier than me, no one gets sent more proof that abraham lincoln has given me. it's like me and jesse ventura. when you find something crazy come you don't send it to the white house can from he said it to me or jesse ventura and here is george washington's cousin had.
who would want this? [laughter] and this is true. john wilkes booth, years ago, his family famously shoot abraham lincoln, who dies in a barn 12 days later. every history book will tell you that he dies and then i get a phone call and minutes from the lawyer that represents john wilkes booth in the family also tell you a story and the story is that their relatives never died upon that day he actually lived and he escaped he took on a new identity and he's not the one buried in the a coffin. you won't hear the story. so yes, i want to hear that story. right? i mean, i'm busy dealing with abraham lincoln's gayness. i'd love to hear the story. [applause] >> it's an amazing story, one of the best is a lot of parts of the family insists that he -- that he escaped and one of the aliases he took on was john
wilkes. now if your name is john wilkes booth and your alias is john b. wilks, you're the worst alias maker of all time. there is one point where the american public is paying real money they mummified the body, it said. people go to the carnival and pay money to see this mummified body of him. it is said mummy and john wilkes booth and the play, i love this. so i have been lucky enough to see these stories and investigative stories and what we did was we did this book, "history decoded: the 10 greatest conspiracies of all time." i need a volunteer from the audience. does anyone have a copy? this is a test for you. this is a test to see your love for me. the best part is my relatives
are in this audience and their they're like, please don't call me. [laughter] sumac not one copy. okay. i'll take a copy of "history decoded: the 10 greatest conspiracies of all time" and okay, bring it on. and so this is my wife, everyone. [laughter] so this is where i get a volunteer from an audience. so we know that people like pete rose love to read and we also know people like him exist. what we did with the book is open us up in every chapter has a little secret compartment and you get to pull out the documents this is actually the letter he left behind after he killed abraham lincoln and that's no joke.
every document is different and you can pull it out yourself. what i love about that is you get to see the evidence. i was in the treasure vault a couple of years ago and for me that's like the playboy mansion. i love that and that's where i go and they have these documents of an oath of allegiance that people use to sign. into this state you must in the military, we make you raise your hand and take an oath of allegiance thing that you won't kill us and we are unreasonable like that. this oath that they had signed by a guy named benedict donald and that's awesome. thing is that he's like a curse word today. but in in this moment when a handy this document, i can picture him with a pen in his hand signing this and they had a
number. i think number five was benedict arnold. it wasn't just some boring thing in a the history book, but you have this document and out comes alive. and that's what we really wanted to do in the book. so of course we put in the good crazy stuff in wiki the actual document that the government used to asked to fill out if you saw a ufo. if you think you're doing useful stuff now -- i mean there is a whole department trying to figure out what the question should be in the pulpit document that says if the fo has blinking lights, check yes or no. i mean, god bless america. there is a whole department saying, good question. i like the blinking lights and now you're working. and of course we count them down and insisted it anniversary and
we all know, if you don't have a heart heartbeat, you miss the footage yesterday that it was the 50th anniversary of the death of jfk and that's the greatest conspiracy of all time. this book is dedicated to my history teacher ellen sherman. when she showed me when i was in 11th grade and i'm still just with that. when you look at the story, i went across the country and every question is like some guy who blinked a lot and was like i want to ask you about this and you know this and then i get to dallas and it takes me to dallas, texas. the motherland of the crazy. and i will tell you was the only place where the first question was not jfk. because if i wanted to know about lincoln's money. so when you look at him, we all know that it is a great conspiracy. one of the greatest of all time and we all know that when you look at it and you plant the seed of doubt in someone's head,
it's almost impossible to onerous. you look at the warren commission 50 years ago and they looked at this and said that lee harvey oswald acted alone. in a decade later, the house house committee looks at the evidence and say that that's wrong and we didn't find three shots were fired, we found four. so i went there for the first time, which is was a fantastic trip, take your kids. the best part is i get there and of course i'm taking pictures and making a funny face and having fun. and then a minute later i'm walking and there's a family there with her cute little twin girls and if you can picture them same smile. of course -- i love judging other people. in the play, you people are taking pictures at a murder
scene. i go there and it's believed to be where that fourth shot was fired not because anyone saw something and there was a footprint. because there was an audio tape in the sky, these two men are experts and you get the drift. no one in virginia gets that joke. in virginia, they're like, i don't get it. i don't get it at all. and they say that it's a gunshot. and no one knows that three years later, 10 of the top experts in the country who do audio forensics come in and save these say that these guys were wrong, they were completely
wrong. they say it was a motorcycle backfiring, okay, but the amazing part of it is that whatever they think was fired was actually a minute after jfk was killed and so his limo was all the way unweighted hospital. so once that seed of doubt is planted, that is a farce that is the grassy knoll. and there are great stories about him and of course, you do have to ask the hard questions and you do want to know where oswald was when he was in russia and what he was doing her and one of the things we put in the book is when you get to the chapter, you actually get the state department saying that when he renounced his u.s. citizenship. and he basically said that i'm a marine i don't want to be an american anyone am going to
russia. can see this guy is dangerous and you have to look at him and we look at the date and you pull out of the book, you'll see that it's dated halloween of 1959 and four years before he shot jfk and they were watching him. and that is when history is most amazing three. so when you look at the story, we all focus on the death in these things and this is so interesting. they snuck in and got him in the only reason that he was able to kill him is because in that moment he says he's cold and before he's about to leave, he said he is cold and need needs a sweater and now it takes them like 10 minutes to get a sweater and he is particular about the size or color. and he gets a sweater and he waits for it and not slightly gets shot.
so the amazing moment of history and those moments are fantastic to find and to look at. i think the real question is, and we look at so much information out there, we have so much misinformation. he did a great disservice to this country when in his movie he purposely mixed fact and fiction so completely and he says -- he calls this a tarmac. in the play, i've been watching a movie and saying, this is real. and they said that no one has been able to re-create that shot. and i thought, well, if no one is able to re-create it, logic tells me that there must have been another shooter and no one has been able to do that.
and so cbs news had 11 different sharpshooters make that certainly we all watched that movie and yesterday they were showing it again and they think that is the real story of jfk and honestly it's not. and i think it is important for us to reclaim our history and i love that. and you thought you're just going to learn something at the book fair, but here it is. in the 60s, they thought it was at the height of the cold war. in the 70s, we thought it was her own government that killed
him and then in the 80s, the prosecutions go forward and who killed jfk? the mob, the mock layout. decade by decade, it's whoever america's most afraid of is that moment in time and that is the real legacy of jfk. here's the president who took hopes to the greatest heights and then in his death reveals our greatest fears. it's a reflection of what we are afraid of and you have proof and who did a? our own government did it to us. if you open up the newspaper, i don't need to explain to why america you why america is suddenly so afraid of our own government and why we must trust ourselves. you show me a conspiracy and i will show you who you are and i will show you what you're afraid of. and that is what all conspiracies are, they are a mirror reflection of our fears and the moment with that said, i know that there will be questions or you can please ask
them. [applause] >> we have about 10 minutes were some questions. so let's get some good ones here. >> you can yell them out, or there is a microphone right here. >> my husband and i came in from texas for this book fair. and i'm one of them. i would like to say something about the python story, which i think is fascinating. they invite people to come shoot it in with the python i can imagine texans coming in to want to be part of this shooting or however they kill the python because i see it as boots and
belts and wallets because they sell this kind of stuff and it's a comment and not so much a question. >> i certainly hope not. [laughter] you're welcome to come down and shooter pythons. we could just drive on in and run into your borders. [laughter] >> which i rented buildings out here or anything. >> the problem with them is if you run into them, they are huge. >> we are not afraid of your borders. [laughter] >> they are tearing up farmland and they are dangerous if you run into them on the highway. >> send a python. [laughter] >> they are dangerous if you run into them in a dark alley as
well. >> james ford had this come out a few years ago as well but it was probably the only conspiracy book that has an intersection between thomas martin and the writings of jfk. so i am curious as to what your opinion of the book is and whether you notice anything or any issues and where you basically stand. >> i believe this question is for dave. >> there's nothing i love more than commenting on books i haven't read. so the best part is it after the book "history decoded: the 10 greatest conspiracies of all time", all it shows me is how many jfk books i haven't read and i do think that there are great books out there and i figure there's a lot of theories out there as well and i'm sure this author is a genius and a nice person. >> are you the author?
>> okay. [laughter] >> him isolated, yes. okay, i love his next book. what is it coming out and they are like, we know he is due. and we got it. so the one thing that i always challenge anyone to do is actually, there is this thing that i personally like, which is called facts and evidence and i'm picky like that. i was just in dallas and i've never actually seen the book of order was. there's too exes on the ground and they actually just took him away and we decided that this would be a good week to be paved the road. the play, okay, no people were tripping over this all the time. but when you see this book depository, the guy says, you know, this is what it doesn't explain.
why did he not make this shot when jfk was coming at him instead of from behind. straight down. and that is like asking why do you like chocolate were then been a lot. but until i got there that you realize that it is like shooting ducks in a gallery. it's a long shot with nothing to protect them on either side and that is a simple shot. as to why he didn't take it, i think what a lot of people tend to do is say, what about this and not and i can say that what about the fact that obj was suddenly the president. that is a good question. show me the proof. because i think it's easy to ask questions. i think the real answer is why no one knows is because a man named