Below is a sample chapter for your enjoyment.
For The Love Of Long Shots is all about organizing and UP had a brave and smart organizer in the late great comedian Paul Ryan. Support the Kickstarter campaign and get a copy of the book and learn about Paul, his humor, and his willingness to ask.
To set the chapter up, one day Paul proposed that we should make an event, a “Night of a Thousand Votes,” during which a thousand disabled voters would come together and cast the first one thousand votes of the 1996 US Presidential election.
To be honest, this scared the hell out of me as, up to that point, the only place a thousand cripples had ever come together was in an institution. And most mind numbing, Paul wanted to pull this off in less than six weeks.
Paul Ryan’s belief in the improbable was a great source of his comedy. He sold jokes for a living. If you read For the Love of Long Shots you will learn more about him.
For now, this chapter tells you how he began to do what was unheard of.
Excerpt from For the Love of Long Shots – Chapter 62
By Shawn Casey O’Brien
Paul called me the next morning. Can I meet with him and the president of CBS Studios?
Can I? Hell yes!
The whole next day — until the ride back, in fact — I was thinking that Paul and the president of CBS must be friends from Paul’s old stand-up days.
They talked away the first half of the meeting like they were bosom buddies.
The President complimented Paul on a recent piece he had the L.A. Times, and asked if Leno was buying any more jokes. “I just fax them in, regardless,” Paul explained. “Then I watch the monologue to see if he uses anything. It’s like playing the lottery every day.”
They went on about this show and that; a good friend of Paul’s had a show on the lot, as well as a killer drug habit to go with it. The two of them discussed the more sensitive dimensions of that.
Finally, all too casually, Paul began to spell out his plans for the first ever Permanent Absentee Ballot party, his “Night of a Thousand Votes.” He explained how we needed vast amounts of unobstructed spaces “to pull off this ‘first,’ in a way that it won’t be our last,” he wisecracked.
I had to appreciate Paul’s keen sense of the grand gesture — and CBS Studios offered him that.
“All the world is a stage,” he liked to say, “if you can get up on it.”
I sat there silently and realized Paul was getting ready to storm the stage. Or should I say, the back lot? “With friends like this, no wonder he’s so damn cocky,” I thought to myself, “my pro boy!”
Paulie was truly remarkable. I said little ’cause once he started in on it, it took him less then five minutes to seal the deal. The president loved it. He saw the innate coolness of it.
“It’s very powerful,” the president said. And he meant it.
Unbeknownst to Paulie and me, the President had a son with a disability. He related. His experience with his child’s disability colored his world and made him very susceptible to our grand experiment in participatory democracy. He did not think it crazy at all.
“Taking power under those circumstances doesn’t sound so Machiavellian, does it?” he said with a well-read chuckle. He is right and he is effective.
“How can I help?” he asked.
One thousand disabled voters and their assorted hardware was no problem to him. He offered us one of the back lots. “Which one?” he asked, “New York City street scene, or The Old West?” Just like that. No hassle. No fuss. Happy to help.
Paul’s got good friends.
Both back lots had plenty of room and were mucho accessible. With all the heavy equipment that Hollywood has to lug around, they understand the magic of ramps. To give us an “on-site inspection” the prez himself drove us over to both. Me and the prez in a golf cart, Paul right behind us in his hard-working Amigo, hair blowing in the wind, looking every bit the Hollywood anti-hero he really was.
Tombstone was nice, but New York was better. A lot less sand. We took it as a sign when we saw Jerry Seinfeld out on his set at CBS. No question now. In honor of Jerry and that most democratic of cities…we picked New York.
When I told Paul on the drive back that I found it strange that NBC rented a studio and shot Seinfeld at CBS, he laughed. “Maybe that’s why this guy was president of CBS Studios,” Paul joked. “Let’s face it, if the top rated TV show on a opposition channel likes your studio facilities, what does that say about your studio?”
“If CBS was good enough for Jerry, it was good enough for me,” I told Paul.
Paul’s seriously tattooed driver was little impressed. A true black leather barbarian, he asked “Jerry who?”
“Jerry’s here to make shows,” Paul said enthusiastically. “We’re here to make history.”
And then almost as an afterthought he said: “And have some fun…some serious fun”
“Serious fun! What else is civics supposed to be about?” I asked him.
“Yeah, serious fun,” he cracked, “like making sure a thousand cripples don’t fall on each other. Talk about the domino effect.”
“At least you’re realistic,” I assured him, and myself. “So, how long you been friends with the President of CBS?” I asked.
“Friends?” he shouted, “I never saw that guy before today.” He began to laugh.
“But I thought you two were old friends.”
“Naw, man. If we were, I’d be working for CBS instead of for democracy.”
“How lucky for us,” I said, surprised. “But, how the hell did you get that meeting?”
His simplistic answer was, in fact, the most profound principal of good grassroots organizing. “I asked,” he said with all the understated grace of the truly heroic.
With that I stopped worrying.