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.


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.


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


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




Mad at myself
for lacking ambition.

Mad at my alarm clock
for going off at 4:53 a.m., M-F.

Mad at sex.
More trouble than it’s worth. There’s always a price to be paid.

Mad at Lay’s potato chips
for being spiked with a mysterious addictive ingredient.

Mad at myself
for not jogging enough.

Mad at my sister-in-law
for how she treats my wife.

Mad at my wife
for [***redacted***].

Mad at my 12-year old daughter
for entering the argumentative/hyper-sensitive years.

Mad at Vladimir Putin
for fucking up Ukraine.

Mad at Uri Ariel
for fucking up Israel.

Mad at Nuri Kamal al-Maliki
for fucking up Iraq.

Mad at twitter
for posting ISIS taunts. Why do they do that?

Mad at wealthy people.
Because of them, I can’t afford concert tickets anymore.

Mad at myself
for being so jealous, jealous, jealous.

Mad at religion (ALL SECTS).
The source of the world’s misery.

Mad at the gay couple at the beach
for wearing bright, canary-yellow Speedos. My children don’t need to see your junk. A little discretion, please.

Mad at the woman who cuts my hair.
If you’re such a ‘Master Stylist,’ why are you working at Cheap Kuts?

Mad at my old job
for not hiring me on staff.

Mad at my new job
for mistakenly thinking I’m smarter than I am.

Mad at gas.
And I don’t mean gasoline.

Mad at my commuting bus pass
for costing $430/month.

Mad at my bus driver
for using the back of his hand to steer a bus full of suburban lemmings going 60 mph down the New Jersey Turnpike so he could text.

photo (2)

Mad at the dog
for acting like a dog.

Mad at Amazon
for blowing up bookstores. Bastards.

Mad at white people
for acid/techno/house music.

Mad at black people
for rap.

Mad at myself
for not attending college. (An oldie but a goodie.)

Mad at social media.
You don’t have 200 friends, okay? Stop it.

Mad at mobile phones.
A bigger threat to civility than Al-Qaeda.

Mad at this stupid blog
for yanking me out of bed at 3:25 a.m. to write this post.

Not mad at:

My 8-year old daughter.
Still so sweet and innocent.

New York City.
Shelter from the storm.

Generation Landslide

The summer intern season is winding down and it has left me melancholy, as usual. Only the best, brightest and well-connected are granted internships at the investment banks in Manhattan. They’re the fortunate sons and daughters of well-heeled parents. Many of them, through no fault of their own, are blissfully unaware that they were found under a golden cabbage leaf. This is not to imply they’re lazy. They are not. They’re hard working and dedicated. In order to land an internship, they have to prove their mettle. But since they’re selected from the best schools, that’s a foregone conclusion.

Because I work in an open-architecture environment, I am privy to their phone conversations and chats with fellow interns. Academia and success is all they’ve ever known. They’re too young to have lost a job or suffer a serious setback. It sounds like many of them haven’t even enjoyed a proper heartbreak yet. An intern assigned to our group is an NYU student (tuition is +/- $60,000/year). He spends his weekends in the Hamptons summer rental his father arranged for him—a reward for landing the internship. He’s not boastful or smug about it. He’s a good-looking kid (kid!) and seems to have an endless parade of pretty young things with flat stomachs visiting his desk trying to curry his favor.

The yellow brick road is stretched out before him. I’ve carved out a pretty decent life with the tools that were available, but the types of opportunities they take for granted are unimaginable to me. My future no longer carries an air of mystery or boundless possibility. They make me feel old and lacking in accomplishment.

He hath a certain beauty in his life
That makes mine ugly.

Wm. Shakespeare

Spent some time feeling inferior
Standing in front of my mirror

Every Picture Tells a Story
Rod Stewart

* * *

I’ll tell you one thing I don’t envy—their pathetic addiction to mobile phones. It’s the adult version of a sippy cup. While visiting the county fair in Ohio last week, I was watching The Daughters on the bumper cars. A kid was reading text messages while in the middle of his bumper car ride. Sounds ridiculous but here’s photographic proof:


He can’t disengage from his phone long enough to enjoy a proper bashing on the bumper cars. Do you know what’s even sadder? ANOTHER kid on the SAME ride who placed a phone call while driving the car!


They’ve always said that cell phones and driving are a hazardous mix but I suppose it’s irrelevant here. Last Sunday, my bride was in a minor fender bender. She was waiting for the light to change and in her rear view mirror, she saw the car behind her slowly creeping up. Its driver, a young girl, was yapping away on her phone. Bump. They got out of the car and she denied being on the phone. My bride gave her the old “don’t lie to me” and she immediately buckled and admitted fault. She got her driver’s license on Friday. It took her less than 48 hours to get in an accident because she was on the phone.

* * *

A boy und his mutt. Voof.


The latest from the Associated Press and my elevator

My office has elevator TV. Step into almost any lift in Manhattan and you’ll be greeted with a TV screen that broadcasts ads, news, sports and entertainment tidbits. They show pie charts from USA Today. I defy you to tear your eyes away from the screen as the car shoots up to your floor. You can’t. It’s insidious brilliance.

[Almost as insidious and brilliant as a cigarette campaign I saw at an ad agency I worked at many years ago. They went to local beaches and passed out rubber flip-flops for free. Embossed on the bottom were the Camel cigarette logo and image of Joe Camel (remember him?). People—kids—walked on the beach and left an impression in the sand. I saw photos of beaches COVERED with Camel logos and Joe Camel’s phallic face. They were called “Camel Tracks.”]

Elevator TV is broadcast by Captivate Network, which makes perfect sense because we’re captured like rats in a ticking trap. Cheeky bastards. They ran this news blip the other day from the AP wires:


It’s not funny. I’m not trying to imply it is. The man was murdered. But can you see how this all went down? A loudmouth American—a Texan, no less—drunkenly pushes his way onto the stage and wrestles the microphone away. Starts yelling into it. Feedback. The musicians, who probably take pride in their work, look on with contempt. One of them snaps, stab, stab, stab. Lights out. If you’re a guest in a foreign nation, mind your manners, pardner. Giddy up.

I wish I’d invented elevator TV. I wouldn’t be typing this from a coffee shop at 7:09 a.m. before facing the Captivate Network. I’d be typing it from a beach in Tahiti sometime after 2:00 p.m.

*     *     *

Speaking of coffee shops, just look at this poor bastard sitting next to me.


He was simultaneously juggling three—three—devices; a laptop, an iPad and an iPhone. Wasn’t the promise of new technology to set us free and simplify our lives? What a lie THAT turned out to be! After I watched this sorry show, I meditated on leaving my iPhone at home for one day. Going an entire 24 hours without touching it. Do you know what? I have a modicum of self-awareness and I don’t think I can do it! Could you? Seriously. Could you? We should all try it as an experiment. Verizon and AT&T won’t like this idea one bit.

*     *     *

Coco and some of her neighborhood pals. They really do enjoy each others company, all appearances to the contrary.

*     *     *

If you are an old man thinking of taking early retirement, you should read King Lear first. If you are a middle-aged man thinking of marrying a younger woman, consult Molière before-hand. If you are a young man and you think that love will last forever, you might wan to take a gander at Wuthering Heights before making any long-range plans.

Joe Queenan
One for the Books