The two young ne’er-do-wells who conceived of the T-shirt franchise are Ray Lemoine and Jeff Newman. They made a lot of money selling those souvenirs of the Red Sox–Yankees rivalry, and decided to travel the world. If you are a rich, young Red Sox fan, what constitutes the ultimate “Road Trip”? Their peregrinations led them eventually to
These hard-drinking sons of the counter culture offer their unique perspective on what they observed on the ground in
Their route to
“This experience was about as far away as a person could get from the
Ray and Jeff eventually made their way via
“The Green Zone was a constant reminder of 9/11, right down to the offices and desks of soldiers and civilians. Among them, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive: Bin Laden’ posters were the most popular. Jeff hung up a picture of Sox slugger Manny Ramirez to lighten the mood.” (Page 68)
A case of Manny being Mahdi!
The book is a loosely woven fabric that highlights massive confusion and bureaucratic gridlock interspersed with inspiring vignettes of individual courage, humanity and good will. Ray and Jeff at one point were responsible for overseeing the distribution of a warehouse full of items intended to help the Iraqi people to improve their quality of life. Their stories of adventure and quixotic misadventure in trying to find the right allies in setting up this distribution network are among the most entertaining and the most disturbing in the book. Their non-profit endeavors led them to the boiling cauldron that is Fallujah.
I will share their commentary on their experience of Fallujah as a way of summarizing their overall thesis for this book:
“In 1920, Fallujah had provided the spark in Iraq’s nationwide uprising against the British, with the initial fighting costing five hundred British lives and six thousand Iraqi ones, prompting Arabist T.E. Lawrence to later write:
‘The people of
If Lemoine and Neumann were to design a T-shirt that would succinctly offer their commentary of the mismanagement of resources they observed in
“YANKEE IMPERIALISM SUCKS”
We might not agree with their assessments, but through their sweat and months of volunteer activities on the ground in