@MayorEmanuel in his own words

The 2011 Chicago mayoral race featured an usual player in the famously political city: a Twitter account that was a parody of Rahm Emanuel.

Followers wondered who ran the anonymous account, which took advantage of Emanuel’s vulgar reputation to offer some witty (and obscenity-laced) commentary on the race.

Even the real Rahm Emanuel got into the action, offering to make a charitable donation if the author identified himself. 

Dan Sinker, a former tech journalist, eventually revealed he was behind the @MayorEmanuel Twitter feed.

Now, he turned the tweets into a book, The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel. It’s is a compilation of all the tweets from the account with accompanying context. Because the account was part satire of Emanuel, part pulp-fiction story, the book works as an exaggerated parallel reality of the mayoral race.

Sinker talked to The Hill about why he started the account and the book that resulted from it:

Q: Is this somewhat surreal for you? 

The whole thing has been surreal. It really started as a pure lark, as pure a lark as pure larks can be, then every step along the way. I mean, it garnered so much more attention than I thought it would when nobody knew who was writing it, and then I figured, “This will all blow over when my identity comes out” and that, in fact, just exploded even larger than I would think. And then Emanuel himself kind of inserting himself in is just bizarre, and the whole thing is — surreal is a good word for it, and ironic, because so much of the story is surreal. So the reality is surreal as well.

Q: You met Rahm Emanuel for the first time after the rise of the Twitter account. If you had met him before, do you think the account would have been different?

That’s a good question. I feel like I was the only person in Chicago that did not end up shaking his hand because he ended up somewhere that you were. I mean, there are plenty of people that did. I know that some of the “El stop”-related humor in the feed was very much related to the fact that all of my friends were just constantly tweeting out, “Rahm Emanuel is at my El stop again,” but in terms of had he been at my restaurant, I don’t know.

Q: How did you decide to turn the Twitter feed into a book in this format?

The original idea in my head, actually that, “Oh, this maybe could be a book” actually came from the replies in the original feed. As Election Day approached the storylines that I was writing kept getting far more elaborate, far more surreal. The characters were getting deeper and deeper and more fully realized and people began to reply saying, “God, I really wish this was a book, because it’s a pain in the ass to go back and read things that I’ve missed” … or any number of other things. It was really kind of seeing that that made me say, “Wait a minute, could this be a book?”

Q: Why did you found the @MayorEmanuel Twitter feed in the first place?

I think I was bored and inspired. I mean, to give you a little background, I do a lot of experiments on the Web. Not all of them are funny — some of them are very serious projects, some of them are more humorous — all of them are really about, What happens if this happens? 

Q: Do you miss writing a fake Twitter?

I think that I’ve doomed myself for the next decade — any fake Twitter handle will have somebody sending me an email asking if it’s me. I don’t have a career of repeating myself very often, so I don’t expect that to be my next cultural output. But I mean, in terms of missing it, I think there are definitely times, there are definitely times where your finger starts itching. 


The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel

By Dan Sinker

Scribner, September 2011

256 pages, $12