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.
May 3, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO, May 3 – Travelling the US is frequently a low-grade bummer, in that everything more or less looks the same. Everyone shops at the same stores, has the same reference points, makes the same Star Wars jokes. Then you find yourself back in San Francisco, delighted that cities like this exist. I spent the morning on the BART, enjoying those cushy, bacterial seats, staring out the window and grinning wildly. Later, lumbering to the venue with my luggage, I registered all the ridiculously stern cyclists darting through intersections with Mt. Rushmore faces, willfully oblivious to the urban beauty surrounding them on all sides.
At Needles & Pens, I ran into Wendy, from the band Tits. She asked about her former bandmate and my book tour roadie John Michaels. I explained that John was back at my house, on the couch. She seemed perplexed, so I explained: John wasn’t with me because my tour finances could no longer support a roadie. I have to do the rest of the trip solo.
A benched roadie is just one casualty of this book tour’s increasingly bad math. On this stretch, I’ve had to jettison all sorts of amenities: rental car, motels, privacy, sleep. I’m not sure yet how it’s going to work. In SF, I found myself trundling up steep side streets with my rolling suitcase and merch. It was problematic.
I had a second show at Secret Alley, in a different part of the city. The proprietor had cast actual trees (Bronze Loquats?) in the streets of San Francisco, and then recreated the foliage of the real world inside his second-story art space. A functioning tree house overlooked stage left. Opposite this, a smaller, presumably fake club—complete with tiny, lit marquee—invited the audience to an even more exclusive aftershow. Fake leaves shrouded the facade, making it appear as it would on an actual street in an actual small town somewhere.
It had the feel of a pleasant, mildly spooky dream. Could the club have been real? I don’t know. I didn’t try the doors.
May 2, 2012
ENDLESS FUCKING BOOK TOUR, May 2 – The tour continues. I’ll be doing 2 shows in San Francisco tonight. Check my LIVE page for details. It should be good, in that you are going to show up on time, smile and clap at the appropriate moments, and leave with a freshly purchased book and art print under your arm. Here’s a nice write-up in the SF Bay Guardian.
Also, I made a promo video for this book:
Thanks to Tony & Nappy & Eddie, my next door neighbor. 17 stitches, but it was worth it.
May 1, 2012
I met Freight Train back when he was a freewheeling hobo hippie cat. We took him in, had most of his rotted teeth pulled, snipped off his ass dreads, and found he already had good house manners. He’d obviously lived with people before. But where? Had he been cast out? Lost? Was his old family massacred? Survival of the streets had not been entirely unkind: everyone on the block had their own nickname and meal plan for FT. When we met, he clocked in at 17 pounds. Picking him up was like lifting a small toddler.
By the time he finally died, yesterday afternoon, of prolonged kidney failure, he weighed less than my shoe. I returned from the first half of my book tour and realized just how small he’d gotten over the last two years of special foods and subcutaneous fluids. He’d taken up the new and unnerving habit of standing just beyond a door frame and peering into the next room, already a ghost.
Years ago, one of our other cats fell hard for Freight Train. For a half decade, FT had his own faithful boy servant, a groomer and sidekick and sleepmate. After he got sick, I wondered how many millions or billions of times this scenario had replayed itself throughout history, a younger animal befriending an older animal, only to have the elder grow sick and die. After one goes, how does the other react? (Today, the answer seems to be: waiting.)
He loved the ladies. By ladies I mean blankets, or any other soft, defenseless bedding or textile he made the object of his amorous desires. Someone had fixed him back in his old life, but it didn’t really take. His confused couplings were often amusing, until they grew unseemly. We had to be careful what fabrics we left out.
We buried him in his favorite blanket. It was both a shroud and the first member of what will hopefully be a vast harem, somewhere far away. Farewell, buddy.
April 27, 2012
THE GOLDEN STATE, April 27 – I’ve got 2 local shows coming up. Today I’ll be reading in Claremont at 6 PM, at the Claremont Forum. Tomorrow, I’ll be in LA, reading at Permanent Records at 6 PM. Check my LIVE page for details.
These are priceless opportunities to meet me in person and get a book signed. If you are reading this post a decade from now, you blew it. I’ll be surrounded by like 20 layers of bodyguards and lawyers by that point.
Also, Monday’s show at the Smell has been postponed. I think until June. OK.
April 22, 2012
TOUR, April 22 – On Friday, I returned to Richmond, VA. I had some bad times when I lived there 15 years ago. If you were to make a PowerPoint presentation of my bad times, you’d have to devote a good part of that presentation to my own, private mental bad times. Some of the blame, however, was Richmond’s. It was a scary town in the 1990’s. I heard a lot of shootings and dealt with a lot of crazies in the half decade I lived there. One friend died, and several other friends had some nasty things happen to them.
Panic attacks were a regular thing for me in Richmond. For years, I was scared I’d have a grand mal panic attack meltdown if I ever returned. Only after a regimen of hypnotherapy cured me of acute arachnophobia, last year, was I able to reassess all the other limitations I’d accrued over the decades. Many of these self-restraints, including Richmond, suddenly seemed trivial, and no longer worth maintaining.
The city looks great now. I saw lots of old friends, and they seemed healthy and happy. Many of them have refused to age. I did a reading at Chop Suey books, and a comedy set at Marty Key’s record store, Steady Sounds. One old friend arrived very pregnant. It was her due date, but instead of giving birth to a human being, she chose to see me tell jokes and read from my new novel. It was a nice night. Later, John Michaels drove us through brightly lit streets and I caught just a few, fleeting glimpses of the alleys and buildings that bordered my old life.
In the last three weeks, I’ve been through five cities I once lived in. I’ve inhabited California far longer than any of those cities—longer than anywhere I’ve ever lived—and yet I don’t think of myself as a Californian. I definitely didn’t expect to be so homesick for a state I still view as a novelty. Last week, in Kentucky, I grew glum at the sight of two decorative, waist-high, plastic palm trees. In Richmond, the indifferent store cat at Chop Suey books made me acutely aware of my own animals, far away. I’m looking forward to being home tomorrow night.
April 21, 2012
I have 2 things in DC tomorrow. This is the 2nd. Info on my LIVE page.