(Some of you may have noticed the new Long Awkward Pause badge off to the right. Go ahead and look… See? And although I would have put it there simply because it looks cool, it actually means I’ve become a regular contributor there beginning today. What follows is a snippet from my first hard-hitting assignment, which included driving to North Carolina to interview Clay Aiken. Here’s a snippet along with a link to the post at LAP. And I promise to never again say “snippet” and “link” together in the same sentence…)
RALEIGH, N.C. — My interview with singer and 2003 American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken began with a tour of North Carolina’s second Congressional district. As I sat on the back of his bedazzled Vespa motor scooter, Aiken seemed to take pride in his city, as well as take corners so sharply I had to squeeze his waist. Though he formally announced his bid for Congress a week ago, Aiken told me more than once that he’s no politician.
“I’m no politician!” he shouted over his shoulder, then swerved to avoid a cloud of mosquitoes. “Woooo! Shields down!”
Some speculate that his run against Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers is a publicity stunt aimed at putting him back in the spotlight for the release of his next album, Aiken for Change, which coincidentally happens to be his campaign slogan. When asked about this, the American Idol star abruptly brought the scooter to a stop in a rundown South Raleigh neighborhood known for its high crime rate and low employment. He removed his helmet and raised a finger, prepared to reply with a well-thought rebuttal, then quickly put his helmet back on.
“Oh darn,” he whispered. “I didn’t mean to stop in THIS neighborhood!” (More here at LAP)