The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot
Copyright © 2009 by Craig Ferguson. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced,transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books. Adobe Digital Edition July 2009 ISBN 978-0-06-195915-8 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Jacket photograph by AndrewEccles Photography, Inc. Jacket design by Archie Ferguson
For my parents I am a Scotsman which means I had to fight my way into the world.
-SIR WALTER SCOTT
I'm a Yankee doodle dandy.
-GEORGE M. COHAN
Contents Epigraph Preface 1 A Seat at the Table 2 Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor 3 The Attic 4 Astronaut 5 James the First 6 Brick House 7 Satori in Long Island 8 Running theGauntlet 9 Eldorado 10 The Filth and the Fury 11 The Real World 12 Love and Sex 13 Dreamboy 14 Art School 15 A Clever and Patient Monster 16 Tripping 17 Anne 18 New York 19 Adventures in the Big City 20 Setting the Tone 21 The Gong Show 22 The Rise of (Bing) Hitler 23 Edinburgh, 1986 24 On the Train 25 Jimmy's Wedding 26 The Aspirations of a Phony Englishman 27 The End of Daze 28 Rehab 29 Reboot 30Buying a Knife 31 Providence 32 Scottish Women 33 Dudley and Jadis 34 The Aspirations of a Phony Frenchman 35 The Fat Man, the Gay Man, Vampires, and Marriage 36 America the Beautiful 37 Success and Failure 38 Father 39 Crash 40 Between the Bridge and the River 41 Latecomer 42 Riding the Pass 43 Feeding the Beast 44 Settling Down 45 American on Purpose About the Author Other Books by Craig FergusonAbout the Publisher
Preface One of the greatest moments in American sports history was provided by Bobby Thomson, the "Staten Island Scot." Born in my hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1923, he hit the shot heard round the world that won the Giants the National League pennant in 1951. Had Bobby stayed in Glasgow he would never have played baseball, he would never have faced the fearsome BrooklynDodgers pitcher Ralph Branca in that championship game, and he would never have learned that if you can hit the ball three times out of ten you'll make it to the Hall of Fame. Today I watch my son at Little League games, his freckled Scottish face squinting in the California sunshine, the bat held high on his shoulder, waiting for his moment, and I rejoice that he loves this most American game. Hewill know from an early age that failure is not disgrace. It's just a pitch that you missed, and you'd better get ready for the next one. The next one might be the shot heard round the world. My son and I are Americans, we prepare for glory by failing until we don't. I wish I'd known all this earlier. It would have saved me a lot of trouble. In order to write this book I reached into the darknessfor my past and found to my surprise that most of it was still there, just as I had left it. Some of it, though, had grown and morphed into what now appears to be hideous and reprehensible selfishness. Some of it had crumbled into the ruins of former shame. This is not journalism. This is just my story. There are bound to be some lies here, but I've been telling them so long they've become truth,my truth, as close as I can get to what really happened. I left some tales out because to tell them would be excessively cruel to people who probably don't deserve it, and altered a few names for the same reason, but I believe I spared myself no blushes. I didn't flee a dictator or swim an ocean to be an American like some do. I just thought long and hard about it. I looked at the evidence of...