James Sullivan

My books start with an idea — a person, place or thing — that reveals something about the bigger picture. My first book, “Jeans: A Cultural History of An American Icon,” told the story of how a simple pair of pants became cultural shorthand for the American attitude — rebellious, adventuresome, youth-seeking, rock ‘n’ roll. “The Hardest Working Man: How James Brown Saved the Soul of America” recreated the moment when a volcanic soul singer realized his power of persuasion at the height of Black Power in America.

In my latest, “Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin,” I take a critical perspective on the eventful life and unparalleled career of the master of American stand-up comedy. Carlin alone spanned six decades of seismic shifts in comedy. He questioned everything, including every kind of authority, the validity of the American Dream and our collective hypocrisy when it comes to “dirty” language. Above all, George Carlin tirelessly demonstrated our fundamental need for laughter.

On working with Jeremy Cowan, James Sullivan assesses, “Jeremy puts all sorts of ingredients into his delicious beers, but the first one is always chutzpah. He sold the first cases of HE’BREW out of the trunk of his grandma’s Volvo, and now it’s available across the country. Same with Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah — he self-published, and now he’s got national distribution. Beer, perseverance and comedy: a very sessionable recipe.”

I’m drawn to the unusual and the extraordinary, especially when they spring unexpectedly from the commonplace. I’ve lived in Queens and Brooklyn, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. I’m a journalist (SF Chronicle, Boston Globe) and father of three nutty boys. I’m also a baseball fanatic, music nerd, Chuck Taylor’s connoisseur, dog lover and a very loud laughter. Thanks for reading.