May 30, 2012
LOS ANGELES, May 30 – I’ll be doing a reading & signing at L.A.’s prestigious Book Soup tonight, at 7PM. Directions are on my LIVE page.
If you haven’t been there before, it’s not actually a big cauldron full of steaming broth and ruined manuscripts and screaming people. Although that would be funny.
May 28, 2012
Dear Rabies Clinic,
Here’s the thing: your sign is written is blood. So I feel like that’s at least Strike One.
Seriously, why so many rules? If I get bored, how come I can’t just play touch football on the sun with W.C. Fields, or go inside a Bugs Bunny cartoon, or hang out with all the fish on the luminous ocean floor??
Dear Global Positioning System,
Could you at least try to act professional until Skynet arrives (August)? Jesus.
Dear Canteen Vending Service,
If I call your toll free number, it’s just going to be this guy laughing, right?
Me again. Why does this kind of thing only happen in my mind?
May 25, 2012
THE ZONE OF UNEASE, May 25 – Last month, in New York, I had a long chat with a friend about the music of the twenty tweens. “Nobody makes creepy music any more,” she said. With a jolt, I realized she was right. It’s as if one whole shade of the emotional spectrum has simply vanished from popular music. Unpopular music, too. Where has all the creepiness gone? Here are a few songs from its heyday:
1. “I Got You”
Remember that one guy in your high school? He’s the singer. And while his bandmates know how to dress the part, it’s clear that Red, Purple, Pink and Greeny have no real clue that Baby Blue actually did build that basement dungeon they all joke about at practice. Bonus: the sociopathically upbeat chorus.
2. “19th Nervous Breakdown”
Probably the best Rolling Stones cover ever recorded. Wait for the chorus at 3:01. Ouch.
I once complained to myself that this song is how I always wanted Bauhaus to sound. That was a stupid observation, and an unfair one. Bauhaus were plenty creepy in their own right. Check out the first few minutes of 1983′s “The Hunger”:
Even if it were possible to make this kind of movie now, the music would be either an overbearing film score or runway-decibel raprock. It’s a shame.
3. “Human Certainty”
Here’s a weird video someone made. The full song is even creepier, and sadder, once the vocals kick in. I used to listen to this song a lot in high school, which was an unhealthy choice.
Watching this spry young lady, I kind of expect the whole thing to morph into this:
4. “Hamburger Lady”
This is probably what the guy in the first video was listening to when he did those terrible things that got him into the paper.
May 23, 2012
THE INTERNET, May 23 – Despite what I just said in that last post, I forgot that I had another interview come out last week, on the New Orleans-based Room 220 blog.
This uses that terrible photo I let slip into the world, and one question is attributed to me that really belongs to the interviewer. But it’s an OK piece. I’m repeating myself in a lot of these things.
May 21, 2012
HOME, May 21 – I took a week off from thinking about my book tour. Even now, I’m not sure what lessons I should’ve learned. I had a good time. I sold some books. A lot of people were very nice to me. Going into this tour, many of my expectations were rooted in the experiences of a previous millennium. No livid skinheads or uppity lefties took the time to confront me. No one confronted me about anything.
My only antagonist was the wall of rejection. Going into the tour, I knew that indifference would be part of the deal. And small turnouts are far less harsh on a book tour—where you have the luxury of a motive—than on a band tour. But it’s still tough dealing with society’s cold shoulder night after night. As a freelancer, rejection comes in easily-dismissible form emails. On the road, it’s a physical presence, a volume of empty space in every room.
Jesus, here’s a sad photo:
On this trip, I remembered some things about touring I’d long forgotten:
- The colossal waste involved with driving from city to city, all those mounds of wrappers and coffee cups I found myself cramming into garbage cans day after day.
- That weird thing where at least one person, at every show, without exception, will apologize for their own city.
- How much stuff people give me at shows, sometimes as networking, sometimes as an offering. On this tour, there were dozens of fanzines and CDs and albums, and, in one case, a taxidermied tarantula. Some things I had to ship home.
- How very many of life’s opportunities and adventures I will forgo for a little extra sleep, just to clear my head of that constantly encroaching confusion.
To this list, I can add one new observation: blogging about a book tour requires frequent use of the words “I” and “me”. Too much. I’m not happy with how much me there’s been in this blog. My life isn’t yet exciting enough to warrant so much real-time autobiography. Hopefully now I’ll have time to start writing about other things.
May 10, 2012
AUSTIN, May 10 – I’ve had to cancel the remaining two weeks of this tour. My post-migraine photosensitivity has gotten bad enough to affect my driving. In the day I can kind of (not always) make do, with slip-on sunglasses over regular sunglasses. But night driving is impossible – you can’t look directly at oncoming cars – and, of course, I’m not sure if I’m due for more of these. Lack of sleep, a hallmark of all touring, is a big trigger with these things.
My pal Zack drives me to Houston today, for the final reading of the trip. It looks like the weather is going to be gray and crappy, which is both emotionally appropriate and easy on my eyeballs.
I searched my library of prepped blog graphics for the most appropriate image to accompany this post. Turns out it’s this:
If you live in any of the cities I was to cover, please know that I don’t make this decision lightly. I wish it were otherwise.
May 7, 2012
AIRPORTS, May 7 – I’m flying to Texas today. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: this country is far too big.
Also, the Austin Statesman gave me a nice writeup.
May 6, 2012
PACIFIC NORTHWEST, May 6 – I had another optical migraine last night, driving back to Olympia from Portland in my 2-day rental car. Once I have one attack, it apparently makes subsequent attacks more frequent. My eyes feel like an ancient Ms. Pac Man that has long since had all its levels and intermissions burned into the screen. Things that should be momentary distractions — flashbulbs, headlights — remain in my visual field as insistent purple blobs. This could be a real problem.
I’ve got 2 shows in Washington today, one in Olympia and one is Seattle. Details are on my LIVE page. If you see me strutting around in sunglasses, it’s not (just) because I think I’m a big shot. My eyes can’t take all this light.
Also, I filled in a gap on my blog from 4 days ago. It’s my blog, so I can totally do that.
May 5, 2012
PORTLAND, OR, May 5 – This is today, followed by an event at Reading Frenzy. Completely different things. You could go to one and hear one thing and then go to another and hear an entirely different thing. Look for links on my LIVE page.
For reasons I’ve never fully understood, Portland has always been my nemesis city. I’m going to try to get over that today.
Also? Bring cash. Important.
May 4, 2012
AIRPORTS, May 4 – I’m in transit today. No shows, but you can hear a pre-recorded interview I did yesterday on the Illogical Contraptions podcast tonight, at 10PM PST (or any time after).
Earlier today, at the San Francisco airport, bright, zigzaggy lights encroached into my visual field. It was a long overdue optical migraine. I’m sort of shocked this hasn’t happened earlier in the trip – all those glints off all those passing cars should’ve triggered it weeks ago. I’m grateful I wasn’t driving somewhere by myself. But it’s going to make some upcoming solo drives very difficult, both for the obvious danger, and the hyperphotosensitivity that usually follows these episodes.
I was distressed to read that Adam Yauch died. I’d spoken with him a few times – most recently last year, at the premier of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right Revisited” video. As I watched the short film on the big screen, I was stunned to realize that they’d turned their worst liability into an amazing asset. As someone with similar (but exponentially less visible) artistic skeletons in my own closet, it felt both inspiring and awesomely intimidating.
Later, at a low-key afterparty, I passed Yauch in a hallway and said, “good work.” I’d meant good work directing the video, but I now need to retroactively claim those two words to encompass everything: good work on your life. Thanks for being here.