by KEVIN TAYLOR & r & Babylon by Bus
by Jeff Neumann and Ray Lemoine
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & o in Baghdad you had the Baath Party and then the after-Baath aftermath party that attracted crazy revelers from all around the world to surreal disco parties in an occupied city.
The A-list included two hardcore Red Sox fans who made a sketchy living selling "Yankees Suck" T-shirts outside of Fenway Park. If they could go toe-to-toe with the Hated Yankees and their dictatorial owner -- so the two fans' fuzzy, alcohol-soaked logic went -- Iraq would be cake.
Thus an adventure was born in the dark moments after the Red Sox themselves sucked in the 2003 playoffs and our friends Jeff and Ray decided to trade the Green Monster for the Green Zone. They planned to help bring democracy to Iraq.
L. Paul Bremer got a Presidential Medal of Freedom for less.
Yes, we will call them "our friends Jeff and Ray" because this breezy, chatty book is mostly about hanging out with your best buds -- who do crazy things like walk around Baghdad looking for a good chicken restaurant or a smoke shop, and who hail taxis and even get into cars with Iraqis they don't know for drives around Sadr City so they can distribute clothing to poor kids.
Jeff and Ray just showed up one day at the Rashid Gate, stumbled through some checkpoints to get inside the Green Zone and volunteered to help rebuild a country.
Through the eyes of these innocents abroad, we confront a crazy, mixed-up, messed-up operation run largely by shameless GOP party hacks who had little clue about what was happening in Iraq or how to fix it and who aped Bremer's style of khakis and combat boots with dress shirts. Jeff and Ray mercilessly call them the Bremer Youth.
We meet Iraqis and journalists and fixers -- overburdened soldiers whose Herculean task is to try and keep a broken country together. And every night, this crazy assemblage shows up at this hotel or that network's suite for some boozy, drugged-out partying.
Babylon by Bus is quite the ride.