Would you autograph your book for me?

I was perusing the fall author appearance schedule at the 5th Avenue and Union Square Barnes & Nobel. I like getting signed first editions. I have shelves full of them. Sara Bareilles is coming in October and I had absolutely no idea who she was so I clicked on the More Information link. To wit:

Special Instructions

  • Wristband event
  • No memorabilia
  • No posed photography
  • Two books per person limit
  • Purchases starting 9:00AM the day of the event and join the signing line outside the front of the store.

Sara Bareilles will only be signing her new title Sounds Like Me. Event guidelines are subject to change. Please follow instructions given by the events team. In advance, the courtesy of your cooperation is appreciated.

Please follow instructions. In other words, to borrow a famous New York Daily News headline:

Sara Bareilles To Fans: DROP DEAD

Carrie Brownstein will also hit the road this fall to shill her memoir. I’ll bet it’s thrilling. A New York Times fluff piece said:

…she’s relieved that book tours are generally not as extensive as music tours. “As much as I wanted to have a stop in Indianapolis.”

Carrie Brownstein To Indianapolis: DROP DEAD

Are book tours really so arduous? Is meeting your readers such sublime torture? Don’t these frail, delicate, l’artistes realize they’ve won the lottery? I can’t stand it when people turn unimaginable success into a crushing burden.

I’ve been to PLENTY of author meet-and-greets and, for the most part, they’ve been satisfying experiences. Michael Chabon is always engaging. Sherman Alexie is the best reader out there. At one reading, I asked Nick Hornby if I could publish one of his essays in a chapbook and without blinking, he said yes. Most authors seem genuinely appreciative of their audience. But some are tormented by us.

I went to a David Foster Wallace reading. I brought three older titles with me that I wanted him to sign. When I got to the table, he sat there with his arms crossed, looking straight ahead. Not at me. The Barnes & Nobel rep said, “Mr. Wallace will only sign one old book for every new book purchased.” He looked mortified saying it.

I felt stupid and small. I tucked my tail between my legs, got out of line, bought three more new books and went to the back of the line. He then, grudgingly, signed the old titles. In hindsight, what I should have done, was chuck the new book at his stupid bandanna and told him to jam it up his ass. Christ. He’s lucky to HAVE old titles.

Look, I know getting a book autographed is trite. I’ve meditated on it and I can’t figure out its appeal. But it’s something I like to do. It’s an innocent hobby and Dear Dead David made me feel ashamed for it. He took that small joy away from me. It would’ve cost him NOTHING to just sign the fucking books and send me on my merry way.

If I’m ever lucky enough to be published and I’m sent on an author tour, here’s what you can expect from me:

  • A detailed, passionate inscription thanking you for reading my book.
  • A vigorous handshake. I might yank your arm out of its socket.
  • Two books per person limit? Feh. How many can you carry?
  • An invitation. Can I buy you a drink? Are you hungry?
  • Do your feet hurt? Can I give you a foot rub?

To all the tortured souls with impending book tours this fall, especially Carrie Brownstein and Sara Bareilles (I’m still not sure who she is), that’s how it’s done, you ingrates.

I’m on a roll. What’s my other favorite red button issue? Oh, yeah.


phone_piss

Awwwww…C’MON PEOPLE! SERIOUSLY?! Is this what we’ve come to? Are we, as a society, so addicted to mobile phones that we can’t even put the damn things down long enough to take a piss? Man, are we soft. China is going to dink our milkshake. The phone did not, despite my pleadings and offerings to the various Gods and Goddesses, slip out of his hand, drop onto the urinal cake and get pissed on.

Oh, yes I did, take that picture.


Summer is over and these two are none too happy about it.

beach

It was a good season. Lots of sun and beach time. If this is global warming, I’ll have some more, please.

wheel

Summer is over for my little translucent, black-eyed friend, too.

fish

 

The death of interpersonal relationships

Monday through Friday my days couldn’t be more urban. I spend my daytime hours and, courtesy of an understand wife, many evenings in Manhattan. I consider myself damn lucky that way. On Saturday mornings, however, I do what a lot of suburban dads do; I take my kid to basketball. It’s not my favorite activity but it’s important to my 7-Year Old that I be there so I go without complaining [too much].

One afternoon, she came off the court for some water and said, “Dad…you didn’t see me make a basket. You were looking at your phone.” Don’t you hate when someone holds a mirror up and you don’t like what you see? I was actually pretty crushed. I made a vow. From the time she goes on the court until the final buzzer, my phone stays in my pocket. It’s not easy when I feel it vibrate, but I haven’t cracked yet.

Last week, a mom parked her stroller next to me. While one daughter ran onto the court, she handed an iPad to the tyke in the stroller. The little one donned a set of pink earphones, adroitly plugged in, and zoned out.

mobile3

She spent the rest of her time playing idiot games while mom, what else?, got on her smart phone to text and peruse Facebook. Neither of them looked up once to see her daughter/sister play. They couldn’t have cared less.

mobile4

After the game, daughter the first came over and sat on the bench. Mom took the iPad away from daughter the second and you should have heard the blood-curdling scream she let out. You wouldn’t think such a banshee wail could come from such a little peanut. The only way to silence her was to stick another gadget in her hand. The three of them sat there ignoring each other.

mobile2

Do you know how you’re supposed to be all humble and not think you’re better than anyone? That you shouldn’t judge someone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes? That you’re not supposed to feel superior? Well, sometimes it’s really hard to not do that.

I see episodes like this all the time. Children will never know what it’s like to just sit and enjoy the quiet. They’ll never learn how to connect with flesh and bone. If we’re not careful, all of our most important relationships will exist on the internet. That can’t be healthy.

~~~~~~~~~~

halfking

The Half King. W. 23rd/10th Ave. 12:20 p.m. Saturday, January 11th

~~~~~~~~~~

My 12-Year Old daughter has a friend whom I adore. She’s intelligent, polite and can stand her ground in a conversation. Not all 12-year olds can do that. She’s an excellent influence. The kind of kid you’d want your kid to spend her time with. Her father’s a hell of a nice guy, too. He’s a successful investment banker. My daughter extended an invitation on Saturday but it was declined because her friend was away skiing in Vermont.

Skiing is an activity for wealthy, white people. I’m doing okay, but not take-my-family-to-Vermont-for-the-long-weekend okay. This is where my daughter will start to learn what the term economic disparity means. As they get older, my daughter and her friend will start to move in different circles. Their friendship might dissipate like vapor under the weight of their different lifestyles.

I try to teach both daughters that wealth is a lousy barometer for happiness and that of all the unhealthy emotions, envy is the one that will rot your soul the quickest. But it’s hard to practice what you preach sometimes. This being a family-provider stuff can really fuck with your head.