Obama in Laos: an open letter to Barry of Speakeasy Recording Studios

Barry, Wow. You asked me to write about your experiences at Souphanouvong University  on September 7, the day that Obama hosted a town hall meeting that you almost attended. Although you have read a couple of my books, I don't think you know that the first book I wrote was about Obama. I started that book well before he was even nominated for the Presidency. When I went to Jakarta to research his childhood years there, no one knew he was. I had no idea he would become President, and to cover my bets, I started out writing a "safe" book, in which I used food as the basis for a biography. With an African father, a childhood in Hawaii, years in Indonesia and Chicago, as well as an awareness of gourmet food, the book would have attracted an audience even if his political  career flopped. The book was to be called Obama Jalan Jalan--I even had a cover made.stephen-black-obama-jalan-jalan-1 But then...Everything Happened. I felt that I had a chance--and an obligation, to use text to respond to one of the biggest, if not the biggest social vents in my lifetime. The food book became: Obama Search Words.osw-cover OSW was, most likely, the first ebook made in Singapore to be uploaded on Kindle. OSW is full of graphs and photos, which were "cutting edge" at the time, as 2008 Kindles were only set up for displaying text in greyscale. I have been lowly updating OSW  myself, meaning reformatting, which is now a pleasure thanks to Reedsy. I had been thinking of adding an afterword, something to conclude the book. I ended the book with an image of his Inauguration. So, to finally get to the point, your request has given me much to think about. Can't say too much more except that I am writing a little and thinking a lot. What is the deadline? Finally, this excerpt from Obama's speech leapt out at me: This is my 11th visit to Asia as President of the United States, but it's my first visit to Laos.  And in fact, I’m the first United States President ever to come here.  And with the kindness that you’ve shown me, I’m sure I will not be the last.  Other Presidents will want to come as well.  And I promise you I will come back when I'm no longer President.  (Applause.)  And the good thing about when I come back and I'm not President I won't have so much security.  (Laughter.)  And I can sit and relax and have some food, and I won't be so busy.    Thanks for asking me to write something Barry. May end up being two pieces, one for your newsletter, one to conclude the updated book.   Onward! SB PS..I do not know why the format of this is like it is... When I preview what I have written on this blog, it looks fine. Once I hit publish, however, all formatting seems to disappear. The photo used as a header for this post is from Reuters and is used without permission for noncommercial purposes. Barry Graham was in Laos doing sound recording for a movie project. The website for his company, Speakeasy, is here. Part of  the reason Barry was in Laos was because he worked on movies like this. And this.   <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/x08uLnSryXs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>  

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 6, 2016  



  In the morning, the President will tour the Cooperative Orthotic Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) Visitor Centre, where he will meet with unexploded ordnance clearance teams and survivors of UXO blasts  This tour will be pooled press.   Later in the morning, the President will deliver remarks at the COPE Visitor Centre.  These remarks will be pooled press.   Afterward, the President will depart Vientiane, Laos and travel to Luang Prabang, Laos. The departure from Wattay International Airport and the arrival at Luang Prabang International Airport will be open to pre-credentialed media.   In the afternoon, the President will tour Wat Xieng Thong Buddhist Temple.  This tour will be pooled press.   Later in the afternoon, the President will hold a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) town hall at the Souphanouvong University Auditorium in Luang Prabang, Laos. This town hall is open to pre-credentialed media.   Afterward, the President will depart Luang Prabang, Laos and travel to Vientiane, Laos. The departure from Luang Prabang International Airport and the arrival at Wattay International Airport will be open to pre-credentialed media.   In the evening, the President will participate in an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gala dinner hosted by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos.  There will be a pool spray at the top of this dinner.   The President will remain overnight in Laos.   Out-of-Town Travel Pool Wires: AP, Reuters, Bloomberg Wire Photos: AP, Reuters, AFP TV Corr & Crew: NBC Print: Wall Street Journal   ICT   10:20AM        THE PRESIDENT tours the COPE Visitor Centre Vientiane, Laos Pooled Press   10:50AM        THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks COPE Visitor Centre, Vientiane, Laos Pooled Press   11:20AM        THE PRESIDENT departs Vientiane, Laos en route Luang Prabang, Laos Wattay International Airport Open to Pre-Credentialed Media   12:05PM         THE PRESIDENT arrives Luang Prabang, Laos Luang Prabang International Airport Open to Pre-Credentialed Media   12:30PM         THE PRESIDENT tours Wat Xieng Thong Buddhist Temple Luang Prabang, Laos Pooled Press   2:35PM           THE PRESIDENT holds a YSEALI town hall Souphanouvong University, Luang Prabang, Laos Open to Pre-Credentialed Media   4:25PM           THE PRESIDENT departs Luang Prabang, Laos en route Vientiane, Laos Luang Prabang International Airport Open to Pre-Credentialed Media   5:10PM           THE PRESIDENT arrives Vientiane, Laos Wattay International Airport Open to Pre-Credentialed Media   8:00PM           THE PRESIDENT participates in an ASEAN gala dinner hosted by Prime Minister Sisoulith of Laos National Convention Centre, Vientiane, Laos Pool Spray at the Top  


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