“Street Gang Activity”? What a terrible title for this article. It sounds like a rejected “Before and After” on Wheel of Fortune.

For years, the Muppet fan community has been hoping and praying and wishing and complaining and whining for an extensive, academic book encompassing the history of Sesame Street, along with lots of behind-the-scenes stories and photos. Man, did they listen or what!?!

Coming out this Christmas, “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street” will hit shelves. The book will contain information gathered from over 200 interviews conducted in the last 5 years, and will most likely mention Muppets once or twice in passing. Author Michael Davis has been kind enough to offer up some information to us at ToughPigs about the book and some events surrounding its release.

There will be a book tour soon after the release, which will hopefully have some Sesame faces attached. The last of the confirmed dates is the biggie: on January 30, at William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, Michael Davis will moderate a panel discussion with Kevin Clash, Caroll Spinney, Sonia Manzano, Bob McGrath, Marty Robinson, David Rudman, Tony Geiss, and the one and only Frank Oz. The evening will also include a tribute to Richard Hunt. Tickets are going fast, so reserve yours right now. Go! This article will wait for you while you enter your credit card information.

The other confirmed tour dates are:

Monday, January 5, 2009
Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble, New York City

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
National Press Club, Washington DC

Thursday, January 8, 2009
Harvard Coop, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Saturday, January 10, 2009
Greetings and Readings, Hunt Valley, Maryland

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
University of Pennsylvania Bookstore, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Gershman Y, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Friday, January 30, 2009
William Patterson University, Wayne, New Jersey

From what I hear, many people in this country don’t live on the east coast (s’matter with all of you?), so to make it up to the folks who won’t be able to attend any of the signings, Michael Davis will send a personalized, peel-and-stick bookplate that can be pasted into your book. All you’ll have to do is buy your book during the holiday season and you’ll get the signature for free! What a sport, that Davis guy is.

One book that I make sure to revisit often is Caroll Spinney’s “The Wisdom of Big Bird.” Partly because it’s a great book for a rainy day, but also because it’s one of the few books to actually share these great behind-the-scenes stories from the early days of Sesame Street. For some reason, Caroll never recorded an audio version of the book, but as luck would have it, he agreed to read the audio book for Street Gang. That’s a whopping 7 hours of Caroll in your head! Jim Dale, eat your heart out.

For more information, keep an eye on this space, as we’ll have a review of the book up next week. Also, in early January we’ll have an interview with Michael Davis himself. And there’s always Street Gang’s official website, which has the sole purpose of making us foam at the mouth in anticipation.
Click here for street talk on the ToughPigs forum!

joe.toughpigs@gmail.com

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