AMERICA IS MY NEIGHBORHOOD by Willard with Daniel Paisner Scott


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In traveling thousands of miles a year to exotic, outdoor broadcast locations, The Today Show weatherman Scott (The Joy of Living, Willard Scott's All-American Cookbook) befriends ordinary people of every size and make--although, as he shows in exuberant, short profiles, these people aren't so ordinary at all. Yes, Scott is corny, gushy and TV-simple--he's not content to let a heroic story tell itself but has to coach in a heavy-handed way on what to admire--but it's hard to resist his cheery enthusiasms combined with some unusual and uplifting tales. Scott offers a brief introduction to each of his different groupings: people with careers in all-American pastimes, such as Dr. William P. Foster, whose doctoral dissertation on marching-band pageantry became this activity's bible; working-class heroes, including a Brooklyn stove-repairman who has been profiled in The New Yorker; iron-strong, unusual marriages; people who have adjusted to severe handicaps, including a 90% blind visual artist; Christmas superstars (Scott himself plays Santa at the lighting of the tree on the White House lawn); radio broadcasters; people with severe phobias, such as a woman who didn't leave her apartment for four years; clowns, starting with Bozo, So-named, says his creator, because ""Bozo is Bozo in any language, English, French, Japanese, anything""; great social volunteers; immigrants; mayors (Scott got to know James D. Griffin of Buffalo by shoveling his driveway as an apology for a snide remark about the city's winters); and four people who have lived to 100, or close enough. The People-ization of America continues apace. A few writers, notably Bob Greene, are masters at these brief portraits, finding poignancy without the sappy fat. Scott seems a clumsy eager-beaver next to someone at that level. Still, where else can one go from an Agoraphobics in Motion support group to a Florida Clown College inside of one book?

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Simon & Schuster