James and Lois Cowan's Blog

James and Lois Cowan

James and Lois Cowan
Key West, Florida, USA
July 07
The paramedic and writing team of James and Lois Cowan lives and works on a tramp steamer in Key West and in the summer off the coast of Maine. Advice columnists and authors of some dozen titles, they're at work on "Naked Love" and "The Fiend in the Cellar"—a nonfiction mystery that unfolded in Boston in 1849. They are the ghosts for Touchstone Press's book by Levi Johnston: "Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin's Crosshairs."


OCTOBER 24, 2011 5:31PM

SpongeBob SquarePants and Alaska: Toying With Cartography

Rate: 1 Flag

It’s curious how Levi Johnston, a son of the North Star and known for his connection with the Palin family, describes his home state. We, ghostwriters for his coming-of-age book, were intrigued when he told us to visualize Alaska as a roundish-squarish giant blob, with two dangling peninsulas at the bottom corners.



photo credit: Zach Cordner


Think,” he told us, “SpongeBob SquarePants,”—a toy his and Bristol Palin’s child Tripp likes almost as much as Levi does. 

Juneau, the capitol, Levi says, “is the kneecap on Bob’s left-leg piece of trailing coast”—a land fractured by fjords, glaciers, mountains running down to the edge of the sea. 

The Aleutian Islands form Bob’s other leg that splays to the west.

Anchorage is below, in the crotch. 

Wasilla is SpongeBob’s bellybutton. It's in a valley called Matanuska-Susitna.

This Mat-Su Valley is penned in by the Chugach, Talkeetna, and Alaska mountain ranges. 

Four Alaskan highways go through the Mat-Su. There aren't many more main roads than that.

The valley’s biggest community is Levi’s hometown of Wasilla—with a population of 7800. Even so, it’s the fourth largest municipality in the state. “You can drive,” says Levi, “from my home to half the state’s population in an hour.”

“Everyone is massed in a small piece of Alaska. There is plenty more emptiness out there,” says Levi, standing in front of a scene like no other in the United States.

He looks around as if seeing it for the first time.

“This is my state,” he concludes, "and my son's." Alaska.

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Hi! I read your book about Levi awhile back and found it fascinating for a couple reasons.
1. I was one of the few who started "obsessively" digging around into the teens' lives via social networking and I even contacted a few Alaskans for some insight into their state back in 2008. Those experiences I have with Alaska in no way match up to what you wrote. What you wrote also doesn't match with things Levi himself has said in the past OR even in his book tour interviews.

Now, I am in the publishing world. I understand the mentality of people who write memoirs. Very few are going to write every little detail and even fewer are going to be honest about their lives. I've met no one who lives completely publicly and I hope I never do. EVERYONE deserves privacy, which is why Levi was widely maligned when we became a media ahole. What concerns me is that YOU ask, "what'd he do wrong?" Well, if you can't recognize the real wrongness in his actions then I don't know what to think about you. This is an immature boy who chose to date the Governor's daughter. This is a boy who chose this girl over his family twice. This is a boy who himself took the media offers to trash his "inlaws," during a time when his ex was living privately, not talking about him, and working a decent job. This is a boy who took monetary advantage of the most stressful time in a woman's life when he couldn't accept thefailure of his rocky from the start relationship. Levi once admitted he cheated. He once admitted he never cared about school. That is in print.

So, it boggles the mind that there are passages in your book that rewrite his life. I respect him for being somewhat honest about his hard-living life and playboy mentality. Though it's entertaining that you tried to imply he once said things like "making love." Still laughing at that. This is a boy who was/is full redneck, said things like "nig" and "fag" and got into tons of trouble in school when he attended. In short, he was a boy every former churchgoing good girl falls for.

Some confusing parts of the book:
-complete quotes are plagiarized and taken out of context. The original source in which these quotes were printed were written by people Levi's probably never heard of.
-the beginning part where you write that Levi would sit for some time and chat with Sarah. This could only be during 2006, a time when they were all in the middle of a campaign and a time when Levi was dating many other girls (proof). also a time when Bristol was dating Gabe G, the boy she dated BEFORE Levi. What you wrote about these chats were things she'd never chat with him about or really anyone. Everyone knows Sarah isn't one to sit down and chat and she's really not one who becomes close with kids' friends, though her kids' friends like her.
-You write that Bristol spent summer of 07 (after her time in Juneau) in Wasilla. Did Levi mention when she went to Dillingham with her family? Did he mention when she attended a gala with her family in early Aug? I knowhe told you he doesn't remember shit like that.
- Did he mention her family going to Mexico before Bristol's Jr year started?
-Did he mention Track's army party and Bristol and her cousins helping with it?
-Did he mention Bristol's participation in powderpuff football and her family's time spent watching her? Did he attend too? I believe this is hunting season
-Did he mention the threats Sadie's friends made against Bristol asking if Jenny was actually serious about beating Bristol up for
despite Levi's choice to cheat on Lanesia after his soph year. The threats were talked about DURING the kids' Jr year. Levi dated Lanesia during his soph year.
- Did Levi mention that a couple days after those threats were discussed, Bristol and her mom went to NYC where Bristol attended a MTV taping.
-Did Levi mention the Palin's trip to Hawaii in Nov, 3 mos after their mexico trip? He once said Hawaii was the only trip he recalled them taking. Did he just forget about mexico or were he and BRistol not a couple?
-Did he mention when Bristol and her family went to Juneau in mid-dec 07, just before she went to Anch?
-Did Levi mention he and B breaking up for a short time when she was in Anch?
-Did Levi mention how Bristol started telling her friends at WHS she was pregnant, before she told him in early May?
-did Levi mention Bristol talking about her mom's baby shower for Trig May 4th, the day the teens allegedly told her parents about the pregnancy as well?
-Did Levi talk about what he did all the times Bristol was out of Wasilla during the summer she was pregnant? Did he mention her family's philly trip, Juneau trips? how bristol spent a lot of time in her mom's office? the state fair (though I think by August Levi was working, no?
-was Levi honest with you about reasons why Bristol didn't trust his family or sister and wanted him to think abouthis commitment to her over them? The way you wrote that Levi wished they could all go back to just before tho election was sad. Bristol's relationship with his family was never good and at that time was nonexistent. The way he tossed his family aside easily is sad. But when you're joining a family like the palins who, by his admission, helped him out a lot despite never being close to him, I can see why it was easy to just join his gf's family.
-During the campaign, was Levi honest with you about the constant fighting and him walking out due to frustration? Was he honest about how much of a doormat he was, that Bristol always wore the pants, always had to show him things.
-Another inaccuracy is that you wrote that Bristol got her condo in early 09 and talked about her facebook then. She didn't get facebook until summer 2010 and her condo was purchased with the help of her friends in Feb 2010. The address in your book is also wrong, but that isn't a bad thing.

-I'm a little sad he fabricated the birth of his son in his book. There was no way quiet, doormat Levi was proactive, esp with Sarah a foot away. This is a boy who, the few times he was amongst her whole family in her late pregnancy, said few words and did nothing but sit/stand there.

-it's also sad that he fabricated those gun stories. Sarah grew up with guns and shooting animals for food given their poverty. She also visits ranges semi-often. It's sad that he, in an effort to prove he's the master of the forest, had to manipulate things. People easily forget that he started dating Bristol WHILE her mom was Governor. OBVIOUSLY Sarah had little time to spend recreationally. And why would he even try to compare himself to others? that's pretty insecure of him. Just because Todd has more of a life besides moose hunting doesn't mean he's not a hunter. He hunts in the fall for food for the winter. Just because Levi defines himself solely by hunting doesn't undercut other people. DITH is insulting to people in general.
The book reads like 2 partisan hacks read a bunch of gossip blogs and hit pieces, combined all that in literal quotes, stuck in a few personal hunting stories and capped it off with their ignorant oursider's opinion. How else would one explain the inaccuracies, the superficiality and the fiction within it?

One more question: Referencing Levi and Bristol's engagement, did Levi have any inkling that Bristol's entire family (parents, siblings, ext relatives on both sides) disapproved of her new development in relationshipland? Did he know that that spring, she hated him and wanted nothing to do with him? I know he was actually serious about the marriage this time, but did he consider how Bristol was able to go from hating him to getting married in less than a month? And that's not even factoring in all the time she spent with her family. 1 months before Tank's USweekly engagement article hit the stands, Bristol was on a Tx roadtrip with her family. DAYS after they returned to Alaska, Sarah found out about Levi. That is when the family turned on her out of disapproval? How'd you feel if the boy who caused YOUR daughter a lot of heartache texted her randomly to say "I miss you I love you." Tough situation. This is a time when Bristol friended everyone who requested her on facebook since she had newly created an account. After USweekly hit, every friend and relative expressed shocked and concern. One aunt (palin side) wrote "stat true B. You know the most important people in your life and you know how to make it right. recognize the crazies."
She replied "oh I do recognize them but thank you. tripp and I miss your family. we saw michael at the store today."

By the way, her book tells the real story concerning her re-engagement. My objective opinion: when trust has never been present in a relationship, it never will be. How fair is it to Bristol to stay with her son's father after he cheated on her admittedly, after he betrayed her family for money and to avoid growing up and being a mature father.

These are things "johnston supporters" don't think about. They are the biggest bullies of all. Levi's new wife is no acception, for she LAUGHED at the idea of someone beating another person up, WHILE she was pregnant. Mature. But then again, Levi's sister spent 3 years acting like her nephew was her own and buying his 36 gifts for every occasion with grifted money. Is it any wonder she lost friends to Bristol and her last boyfriend too? She made her last bf buy her expensive things after knowing him 6 days

That's all proven from his mouth. It's one thing to comment on Bristol's response to Levi's ridiculousness. But it's hypocritical to support people who prove themselves liars with every statement as Sadie has done, and Levi as well.

There are THREE different stories from the Johnstons concerning HOW Sherry found out about Bristol's pregnancy. Levi's told 2 different ones and Sadie's told one. The one similarity is that she found out in early May.

It boggles the mind that you refuse to see a mask of lies in Levi and his family. I don't begrudge him for it. He was young and stupid. But not taking responsibility for the pregnancy is insane. HE knew she wasn't on BC because Bristol's never been on BC. That was established in 09 and changed by her to make things look better, something Levi's been doing since then as well.

When all is said and done, both NAOL and DITH rewrite certain things. Both whitewash certain and omit others. Both are guilty of whitewashing to falsely paint the other party in a worse way.When all is said and done, neither book should ever reach the child's hands. Tripp will be confused that Levi lied about what Sarah Palin wants her grandmotherly name to be and will be confused about the lies regarding his mother's family. I think the unfortunate thing for Tripp is, he might find out that her father's family refused to create their own lives and better themselves for 3 long years, that his father's family made money off lies and immaturity, that his mother was trying t live privately while his dad was trashing her and them, and him by relation. Levi was an adult and made bad decisions. He proved he had no parenting. The ironic thing is that he desperately tried to prove his family was good and the Palins were inattentive. He proved in words the opposite. He depicted his mother as someone who was nonchalant about Levi's teenage behavior and didn't care about what he did, while Todd and Sarah were actively trying to monitor their kids. But in the end, a teen will do what they want to do.
I think the sickest thing of all from Levi was when he said with a smirk the "retarded" comment. Levi know all the Palins feel hurt when people use that word. And interesting to note the story slightly changed. But his smirk got me. If it were true and he was actually upset about it, he wouldn't smirk and stumble over talking about it. AND his own family members probably wouldn't use the word as well. I know several Alaskans and relatives of Sarah who lost all respect for Levi when he falsely accused Sarah of this. The smirk tells all though.