Zioncheck for President

Zioncheck for President

A True Story of Idealism and Madness in American Politics

Book - 2005
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This offbeat true story is a comedy and a tragedy about politics, from anti-globalist protest to domestic turmoil. It's about idealism, obsession and failure in Seattle, a progressive city on the fringe of America's continent and consciousness. Grant Cogswell is a poet, a punk rock-fan, an anarchist, a grassroots activist, and one very temperamental character. He loves Seattle so much he has the city logo tattooed on his arm. In the summer of 2001 he decides to run for city council. He's so determined to win that he'll even wear a polar-bear suit to a city hall meeting. Phil Campbell, the author, is a burnt-out recently fired alt-weekly reporter, a manic depressive who sees few reasons to live. Inspired by his friend Grant's passion, and without anything better to do, he agrees to manage Grant's campaign. For eighteen weeks, Phil devotes himself to Grant's grassroots challenge--all the while fending an overzealous roommate challenging him for his position as manager of their shared house. Overshadowing the story is the tale of U.S. Rep. Marion Anthony Zioncheck, a legendary boozer and forgotten lefty radical from the 1930s. As Grant's campaign unfolds, so does the story of Zioncheck's tragedy -- his rise and fall from an energetic young politico to a madman who is sent to the insane asylum. The question: Is Zioncheck's tale a lesson already learned, or a prophecy waiting to be repeated?
Publisher: New York : Nation Books : Distributed by Publishers Group West, 2005.
ISBN: 9781560257509
Branch Call Number: 979.7772 CAMPBEL
Characteristics: xi, 288 p. ; 21 cm.


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I've been meaning to read this book since it came out over a decade ago. Written by Phil Campbell, a former reporter for The Stranger, ZIONCHECK FOR PRESIDENT chronicles the 2001 Seattle City Council campaign of Grant Cogswell, one of the architects of the ultimately aborted attempt to expand monorail as a citywide system of mass transportation. Campbell writes in the first person about his harrowing experience as Cogswell's campaign manager. But the book is also about Campbell's trials and tribulations as a building manager for a shared rental house on 23rd Avenue East, in particular his difficulties with one semi-psychotic piranha-breeding pistol-fondling alcoholic lodger. The stuff about Marion Zioncheck, the firebreathing Pinko Democrat who represented Seattle in Congress during FDR's first term, is almost all window dressing. Campbell uses little italicized biographical passages about Zioncheck to begin chapters. Mostly what I think ZIONCHECK FOR PRESIDENT does and does well is capture the vibe that was present in Seattle leading up to WTO and running up through 9/11. It was an exciting time, but one that seems like ancient history today.


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