In the end, he emerged with his book, American OZ; An Astonishing Year Inside Traveling Carnivals at State Fairs & & Festivals: Hitchhiking From California to New York, Alaska to Mexico. And to speak to him, you get a sense that Michael Sean Comerford is not yet finished with his journeys.
My visitor this week is Michael Sean Comerford, who invested the very first part of his career as a journalist, moving from town to town. Turned out, life on the road was ideal preparation for what followed his paper profession, which was composing a book about carnival employees. He traveled with them, dealt with them, talked to them, lived among them.
Listen to My Interview with Michael Sean Comerford
empties of men every year, its a virtual ghost town for 9 months of the year. And those men go directly up North to taking a trip carnivals, whichs all they do. Therefore, I got to see the Mexican side, I got to see the consumer side, since I was going through America, just talking to individuals in their cars as I was driving along hitchhiking, and I got to see 10 carnivals in 10 states, from California to New York, from Alaska down to Florida. And in Florida, I remained in a freak show, but I wasnt on phase due to the fact that they didnt see the inner freak in me, Howard. Howard Lovy: But it wasnt all enjoyable. There were times he wasnt sure he might survive on the low salary, well listed below base pay. He went from being a flight jockey, an individual who runs
Michael Sean Comerford: So, hi Howard. My name is Michael Sean Comerford. Im a writer and an award-winning previous
Michael Sean Comerford: I had a Eurail pass and the farthest it went East was Budapest therefore, I stopped there.
relocated to the Chicago area. I always associated moving with wonder, with amazing individuals. I sort of felt a kinship to the taking a trip carnival individuals and their way of life. They are traveling continuously, and the next location has a sense of experience. Therefore, I grew up that method. And then I relocated to a great deal of locations, consisting of Washington DC and the Midwest, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and after that I went to Marquette for undergraduate. I went to Ireland for a junior year in Cork city. I went to Northwestern, eventually, to get my masters degree in journalism, and I worked for a variety of newspapers consisting of the Chicago Tribune and with them, or for them, the Tribune, the Sun Times, the New York Daily News, the Moscow Times, Budapest Sun, Budapest Business Journal. Ive had a long journalism career. Howard Lovy: Michael is especially keen on his time spent as a journalist in Budapest, simply after the fall of communism.
I liked the city; it was right after the fall of the communist empire. Ive constantly been very thinking about the Soviet Union and the whole communist age because part of the world, and in Eastern Europe. Therefore, I thought, well, if I ever get a possibility, Im going to come back here. I was jobless at some time and I saw an ad to come over and work for the Budapest Sun and the Budapest Business Journal, and I did, I worked for the excellent Mike Stone and we were there right after the fall of communism, and we were a start-up newspaper above a strip joint. It was called the Wild East at the time. Howard Lovy: And it truly was wild being a business press reporter, covering the unexpected lurch from communism to capitalism. He operated in Budapest. And after that in Moscow.
worldwide journalist whos worked in Chicago, New York, Budapest and Moscow. I bicycled three times throughout America, hitchhiked across America, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Ive ridden freight trains and assembled cattle out West. Ive studied Buddhism in the Himalayas. Ive won a heavyweight boxing champion in Ireland. I toured nearly a hundred countries. Ive swum the headwaters of the Nile, fought off a hippo attack, visited the eco-friendly hot spot of the Amazon. And now I live in the Chicago location, in order to be near my daughter, Grace, who figures plainly in my book, American Oz, and I guaranteed her I d remain closer to home for a while. Howard Lovy: But when Michael was growing up, staying near home meant a lot of taking a trip considering that his home moved every couple of years, and he continued to roam the world into their adult years. Its one factor he became drawn in to the way of lives of carnival workers. Michael Sean Comerford: My papa was a Navy officer, and I was born in San Diego, and we moved 10 times before we
On Inspirational Indie Authors, @howard_lovy features @mikecomerford, who lived amongst carnival workers to compose a remarkable, adventure-filled #memoir called American Oz. My guest this week is Michael Sean Comerford, who lived the first part of his profession as a journalist, moving from town to town. Turned out that life on the road was perfect preparation for what came after his paper career, which was composing a book about carnival employees.
Michael Sean Comerford: To be a company reporter was amazing at that time, and ultimately I went off to Moscow as a company reporter, and a pal of mine stated, hi, you
re not really a business press reporter in Moscow, youre a criminal offense reporter. And it was actually, it was during the Yeltsin age, and the kleptocracy was running on all, you understand, pistons, and when I returned I became a business press reporter again, and I worked for the 3rd
biggest paper in Illinois, the Daily Herald, which is suburban Chicago, but I covered all of Chicago service other than tech, and that was exceptionally fascinating in the nineties and early two thousands. So, I had a wide gambit. Howard Lovy: And then came the journalism apocalypse, people stopped checking out papers. Thats when he thought he d try to compose a book and carnival workers, or carnies, caught his attention. Michael Sean Comerford: There were great stories outlined life on the road, and I saw these carnies as fantastic secrets and fantastic stories to tell, and I wished to head out and inform them, and I discovered it and it ended up being
And to speak with him, you get a sense that Michael Sean Comerford is not yet finished with his journeys.
. And he stated, appearance, Mike, no ones got employ you. This is a dumb idea. You dont speak Spanish, half of individuals in a few of the biggest carnivals out here are Mexicans. So, youre not going to get the Mexican side, no ones going to hire you, the owners, this is a horrible concept, and youre fired. Heres 60 bucks, more than you had when you came. And I was near poverty-stricken, therefore I needed to make this work. I needed to make this year work, and that is where the entire book begins. And I changed, I changed from going from a year in one carnival, I chose, Im going to go to many carnivals, and ultimately I chose, in order to survive on carnival incomes, Im going to hitchhike between those various carnivals. And if I need to learn some Spanish along the method, Im going to get to know those Mexican carnies. What I did rather is I found out some Spanish, but I decreased to Mexico, to a little town in Mexico called inaudible in Veracruz state, that town
a book. Thus numerous others, like all the individuals that you talk to need to tell you, or a great deal of them, must inform you that the book started one method and wound up in a manner that they never ever expected. And I went out initially to mix it with journalism, be an immersion reporter and spend a year in a single carnival and cover earnings inequality. And so, the locations in America where thats the most significant is the Silicon Valley, where individuals are rich beyond anything in history, and they have the poorest people in history, not in history, in America. I believed, this terrific Silicon
chasm its called, go out there, see it from behind a Ferris wheel, and see what its like to be in a carnival and tell the carnival peopleIndividuals stories and so forth. And when I headed out there, the owner of the carnival, Classic Amusements, but he stated, before I came out, you can be a writer out here, everyone blogs, he was kind of condescending about it saying, well, you understand, youre from Chicago, Im from
San Francisco, everyone blogs out here. And I came out there, I stated, Im going to blog since thats what I did for the entire year. I had blog sites and videos. I was storytelling in every way I could, magazine articles, everything, however he fired me the second week
the flights, to whats called a jointy,
or someone who runs the video games, which made hi m adequate money to live from day to day. And there was some risk, but more notably, kid, did he prospered in meeting all various type of individuals. Michael Sean Comerford: There was difficulty with the cash.
It seemed like I was near a fight in every place I went, but everybody I met in those cars and trucks was a great Samaritan, and I fulfilled a lot of various kinds of individuals in those cars and trucks. Now their house is gone since thats where they live 9 months of the year, and often an entire year, however also for us as Americans, state fairs attract millions of people, suicide rates are going up and this function in society is going up, all I believe, in part, since of our seclusion from each other. One of the things I desire individuals to take away is that youll never see another
carnival or state fair reasonable same exact same, because due to the fact that people individuals run these things, youll see them as real people individuals not just as someone whos putting you on a ride trip someone thats running your game.
I thought, this terrific Silicon
chasm its called, go out there, see it from behind a Ferris wheel, and see what its like to be in a carnival and tell the carnival peopleIndividuals stories and so forth. Youre not going to get the Mexican side, no ones going to hire you, the owners, this is a terrible idea, and youre fired. And I switched, I changed from going from a year in one carnival, I chose, Im going to go to many carnivals, and eventually I chose, in order to live on carnival salaries, Im going to hitchhike in between those various carnivals. And so, I got to see the Mexican side, I got to see the client side, due to the fact that I was going through America, just talking to individuals in their cars and trucks as I was driving along hitchhiking, and I got to see 10 carnivals in 10 states, from California to New York, from Alaska down to Florida. Now their home is gone because thats where they live nine months of the year, and often a whole year, but also for us as Americans, state fairs bring in millions of people, suicide rates are going up and this function in society is going up, all I think, in part, due to the fact that of our seclusion from each other.