Trailer Trash by Angie Cavallari

Trailer Trash

Call it a mobile home or trailer, there is a history of exploitation or desire for an 8 Mile escape among many past, current, and future residents. Trailer parks are “a great investment” for the rich seeking real estate paid for by desperate people. The future looks great or bleak, depending on who you ask. As the divide widens, who will survive? Will society itself collapse into a shootout between gated communities and roving bands of bunker survivalists? Angie Cavallari is an assiduous writer that has been hammering away at the craft for over 20 years. She has authored thousands of blogs and articles with some of her work featured in Huffington Post, Healthline, The Reset, SF Bay Reader, among others. A transplant to a plethora of U.S cities including her current home, Denver, Angie grew up in Florida, then moved to NYC where she picked up her husband in a bar. In spite of her propensity for wanderlust, she managed to settle down long enough to have two extraordinary kids and build a solid life with her husband of 16 years. Angie Cavallari her pen/maiden name and Angie Walker her married name as co-founder of Retro Publishing, LLC. She joined forces with a fellow book nerd and Gen X’er that had always wanted to be an indie publisher. Her new book is not fiction, and there are others too in both fiction and non, all eye-or-ear openers.

Jonathan Lowe:  What made you want to write TRAILER TRASH and open up stories about your life in a memoir?
Angie Cavallari:  Let me start by saying that I have always been a writer but the idea of making any money—even a pittance—as a writer was not something I was encouraged to do at any age. Instead, I would read, then write, rinse and repeat with a measure of spirits thrown in for courage. I have boxes of unfinished manuscripts and embarrassing journals dating back to when I was nine-years-old, but what I confess prompted me to write and complete my first book was that I longed to live through the stories of my youth again. To revisit these stories and memories be it good or bad. I am estranged from my family and many of those in my book like so many that we have lost in our lives are magnified like a rear-view mirror when they are gone. It’s my belief that this truth is at the heart of every author that has ever written a memoir. 
JL: What was it like growing up in a trailer park and attending private schools with friends that lived in normal or typical neighborhoods?
AC: It was befogging. I remember always being aware of the social divide even from a very young age. My friends didn’t have neighbors that were openly intoxicated before noon or homes with dark, particle board walls and a roach problem. One thing I can tell you about living in a trailer—no matter how much you weigh or your age, when someone is walking down the hall it sounds like a herd of elephants approaching you. However, even as inhospitable as it sounds, I have a deep appreciation for the community that I lived in and the people that lived there. Unlike a typical suburb (which I live in today), these people are as real as it gets—they don’t put on airs and are working too hard or living too hard to bother. 
JL: Do you have a favorite tenant or neighbor from your childhood? 
AC: They were all so colorful but I would say, Florence. In fact, my favorite chapter to write and share during a reading is Chapter 3: The Tenants. Here is an excerpt from Trailer Trash: an ’80s Memoir. 
“Perhaps the most memorable tenant I knew was Florence. And we were warned never to call her “Flo” or risk a backhand to the head. Her lot sat smack dab on the south side of our yard, and, during the eight years that she lived there, I never saw her sober. She always seemed to be coming and going from her many trips to and from the liquor store or the local watering holes, much to my father’s chagrin. You may have not heard her leave, but you always heard her return because she would take out the metal trash cans and stray cats with her 1970s pale-blue, rusted- out Cadillac. On many occasions, my father decided to perform a more subtle intervention by filling her gas tank with water while she slept off the Colt 45. Florence held a strange fascination for me and my sister. For starters, I could never figure out her age. She may have been in only her early sixties, but I would place her around seventy-eight in booze years. And she wasn’t the kind of sweet old lady who wanted to connect with children or keep butterscotch candies in a faux crystal jar for younger guests. Most days Florence would proudly sport a halter top sans a brassiere and briskly march across her yard in crudely trimmed cut-off jeans—her cheap flip flops flailing off her feet and her sagging breasts bouncing in cadence to her determination to find escape through a good time.”
JL: Do you listen to audiobooks?
AC: I prefer to listen most books on audio, but classics such as Pride and Prejudice I prefer to read in print. Currently, I am recording my book from the privacy of my closet and an expensive microphone. I hope to have it finished in the next two months but it will need finessing by a professional so stay tuned! 
JL: I have an upcoming story collection, including scifi and satire based on The Rockford Files. Do you think your book will reach a wide audience?
AC: That is my hope as an author. But even if a reader cannot relate to trailer park living, or even spending sticky summers in Florida, they can certainly connect to ’80s nostalgia. Believe it or not, I have many millennials that love learning about the ’80s and are fascinated by a time when they were not tethered to technology—I think we are all longing for that time as well.
JL: Indeed. It’s all about money, now, maybe even to Eminem. Thanks, Angie.

Trailer Trash tells the story of Angie Cavallari, your typical girl growing up in the 1980s who finds herself cradled in an arm of a society that would be considered anything but your paradigmatic suburban neighborhood. In 1980, Angie and her two siblings are dropped into a world of the poorest tenements during a decade where material wealth was worshipped. But these are not your usual run-of-the-mill Florida retirement occupants—these are tenants with issues that Angie soon realizes are the same that can happen anywhere—even under her own roof. Her place in society is further confused by the fact that she doesn’t live in a trailer but nonetheless, shares a postage-sized backyard with a less-desired community by societal standards and attends a prestigious private school more than 45 minutes from her cinderblock castle. After spending a decade living in a world of indiscernible differences, Angie’s family decides it’s time to pull up stakes, sell the trailer park and buy a double-wide trailer of their own in the Carnie Capital of World, Gibsonton, Florida. Funny at times, nostalgic throughout, Trailer Trash hits on some serious notes and undertones about societal differences and the trials of surviving childhood in any decade and any environment. 

 

Horse Racing with Barry Abrams

Barry Abrams

Jonathan Lowe) There is a Barry Abrams horse trainer from Belarus who retired with throat cancer, and an article I saw said, “he was barely audible.” Like Audible. How did you start as a Voice actor? Was it a transition from horse race announcing? Which came first—the voiceover egg or the jockey? 

Barry Abrams) I started doing the horse racing podcast, “In The Gate” for 2 reasons. First, as a marketing tool. In researching the voice-over industry, I found that several name voice artists did podcasts of some kind. It didn’t necessarily matter what the topic was, as long as it was sustainable and presented reasonably intelligently.  I settled on thoroughbred racing since I know a lot about it, and I am fortunate that my day job employer allows me to post the shows on their world-renowned website. The second reason I started the show was to get built-in mic time each week… practice. I also learned better ways to edit my own stuff, since that is now part and parcel of the job. I actually had the trainer, Barry Abrams, on the podcast, but he really didn’t get the joke. Opportunity wasted.  Nice man, though. First-generation immigrant. Hope he recovers completely. 

Lowe) I once interviewed Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand, who loved the horse, as did so many at the time due to the horse being an underdog that people in the Great Depression identified with. What do the numbers say about the greatest horses of all time, like Secretariat, and what horse is your personal favorite? 

Abrams) In terms of numbers, Man O’War has the longest stride of any horse ever measured – something like 28’, a good 2-3 more than most, so he was gaining on you just by running your speed. Secretariat had a heart twice the size of a normal equine heart, and a third larger than any ever previously measured. He had a bigger engine and could pump more blood so his muscles recovered faster.  

Lowe) Lance Armstrong had similar advantage. A physically big heart.

Abrams) Well, they are arguably the two best American thoroughbreds ever, and now you know why. My favorite, though, is a female named Rachel Alexandra. In 2009 as a 3-year old, she beat males 3x including a Triple Crown race – the Preakness. Her win against older males, which very rarely happens in American racing, in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Check it out on YouTube. 

Lowe) The Letterman incident where he got you to repeat the phrase “He shoots, he scores!” Were you surprised to see him sitting there at your internship interview at NBC?

Abrams) The date was Monday, April 13th, 1990. As I reached the spring of my first year at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications, I went to NBC to apply for a summer internship. Rob Burnett, still a budding producer at that time, came into the waiting area to announce that Letterman wanted to do a gag where he pretended to be personnel director. We in the waiting area were assured we would also get a real interview afterword for the internships we wanted. I called my mother, since I was to be home at 12:30 in order to vacuum the house for that night’s first Passover seder. That’s why I was back at home that day, and the internship interview made sense to do while home. My mother didn’t know or care about Letterman, and she said, “When are they doing this?” “Now (10am),” I replied. She said, “be home by 12:30pm.”  

Lowe) Some titles you’ve narrated include The Well-Tempered City, The Four Things That Matter Most, Watching Smarter Baseball, The Umpire Has No Clothes, Scienceblind, Whiskey Business, Brady vs Manning, This Narrow Space, and Destination Earth. Mostly non-fiction. Favs? 

Abrams) I enjoy primarily non-fiction. Since I am a journalist by trade, I am wired to want to learn about the actual world around us, not necessarily a made-up world. I mean, I enjoy a good story or a good movie as much as anybody, but the publishers I service figured out, without my even having to tell them, that I perform non-fiction well. Of all the titles I have done so far, I really enjoyed This Narrow Space. It is about a pediatric oncologist who moves from New York to Israel to try to set up a pediatric palliative care unit at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Hearing from an American perspective about the cultural differences between the two places was fascinating. The timing was coincidentally perfect, also – I traveled to the Holy Land about two weeks after completing the book, and it all hit home for me.

Lowe) Fav books you haven’t narrated?

Abrams) To Kill a Mockingbird, and the Torah.

Lowe) You recorded the title Vitamin N. How can listening to audiobooks while hiking get one more attuned to nature, with a capital N? 

Abrams) Vitamin N is a perfect book to which to listen while walking around. Wear small earbuds, though – not big cans that block out the natural sound. Walking around while listening to Vitamin N is like talking a guided tour of a historical location. You’ll start to notice so many little things that your eyes and mind would normally just pass right over. Even though you’ll be using an electronic device to get there, you’ll start to unplug and learn to appreciate the simple but wonderful gifts of nature..

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