Way to check those facts, Helen.

Posted by @ 2:24 pm on April 29th, 2010

My buddy Travis (who has a new novel called Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder out now, and a fancy new piece on Book Notes at the Largehearted Boy blog) made a silly, offhand statement on Twitter. It read: “I think we should all also boycott Arizona Iced Tea because it is the drink of fascists.” He was kidding. What happened next is not entirely easy to follow, timeline-wise. Travis—as you will read in the following interview—believes the quote was grabbed by someone on a forum. Most of the links I’ve found by looking up “Travis Nichols” and “Drink of fascists” seem to lead back to an article on the NY Daily News site written by a Helen Kennedy. Hard to say where she first saw it. (I was considering trying to get ahold of Ms. Kennedy, but on Thursdays I pretend to be a cowboy, not a journalist.)

Then Rush Limbaugh found it. And then so did some other people. Hilarity ensued.

A reporter from the New York Times actually contacted Travis, and wrote about the little dust up here.

I interviewed Travis. It’s after the jump.

Travis Nichols, why do you hate America?

I like her voice in How to Train Your Dragon, but there’s something about Ugly Betty that I just can’t get into. I’m not sure. I wouldn’t say I hate America . . . we’re more like frenemies.

Was it the Daily News who picked up your tweet first? Did Helen Kennedy contact you at some point?

No, I think it was either on Rush Limbaugh or somewhere in the wilds of the Sean Hannity discussion forum where it first appeared. Helen Kennedy has yet to get in touch. But I mean, I did have a pretty massive following of like 60 people on Twitter, so it was inevitable that it would become what Tina Brown once told me over shots of Don Julio is known in the media world as “The Conversation.”

I guess I can see some anonymous person on a forum cherry picking a quote or taking something meant in jest as sincere. I can see a radio gasbag like Limbaugh trying to fill his many hours of broadcasting by picking up something like that and not spending any time researching it when it made for good radio. What I can’t see is someone who purports to be a journalist writing—heck, even “just” blogging—it without some followup. Are Twitter and online forums just quote mines for journalists too lazy to actually talk to people?

But then again, in or out of context, you did say that Arizona Iced Tea is the drink of fascists. Isn’t this really your fault, Travis?

I can’t really say if it is the preferred drink of fascists or not. I know they are very picky about their consumer products, but I’m just not totally square on their gas station beverage of choice. I’ll have to do some research. What I have seen, which is remarkable, is that now seen that certain Tea Party enthusiasts are saying that they are going to saturate themselves with Arizona Iced Tea beverages just to stymie me and my liberal agenda. So it may in fact turn out to be the drink of fascists after all.

What’s next for Travis Nichols, eh? What crazy statements will you be making for journalists and political pundits to pick up, disseminate, and use to bash away at their straw man enemies? Care to give readers a sneak peak?

I’m trying to get undocumented workers to use foursquare. I think it will give them and their friends new ways of exploring their cities. They can also earn points & unlock badges for discovering new things.

Sounds exciting slash progressive slash communist! Anything else to add?

I’m continuing to gather data on the preferred products of the fascist community, so I encourage “fellow travelers” to keep me informed via #thedrinkoffascists on Twitter. I would also like to put forth my endorsement of Arizona Jeans, especially if we can all manage to tight roll them like we used to back in the golden age of America when we had a government shutdown and Timothy McVeigh rocking the buzz cut. Those days were as American as a Hostess Apple Fruit Pie and I miss them.

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Travis Nichols, now massive.

Follow Travis on Twitter, and maybe add your own #thedrinkoffascists selections.

Buy his new novel.

Buy his book of prose poems, Iowa.

Check out the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Blog.

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