Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Akashic West Coast Book Tour: The REAL Story

By James Greer

I don’t know Mark Gluth (Glith? Glüth? Gloth? Rhymes with sloth? Got me), nor have I ever met him. He might be a really nice guy, for all I know, or he may be a serial killer. I’d say it’s an even bet either way. And I can’t read his inscrutable Calibri 11 point summary above (I have bad eyes), so I can’t really comment on its many inaccuracies. Although I did quickly scan the pictures to see if there were any of me. And there were! Thanks, Mork! Oh, wait... were you the guy with the really cool wife who can’t parallel park? Now I remember. Milk was the dude who kept going up to the podium after I was done and reading from some dead lady’s book. I’m like, “Can’t you write something of your own?” I think it was called The Late Work of Marge Simpson, which is doubly ridiculous, because Marge Simpson isn’t even dead. Get a TV, Murk. I must say, though, I was kind of stunned after security forced me to sit down and listen: Marge Simpson can write, people! I mean, her book was amazing. I admit I did not understand half of what I was hearing, because I’m stupid. But. Fantastic stuff, and not at all what I would expect coming from the brain of a cartoon.

This was in Los Angeles, at a place called Book Soup, which features nothing I could recognize as soup, and Moby. Dennis Cooper, the famous American smoker, was there, too. Man, the ego on that guy. ”I’m Dennis Fucking Cooper.” That’s practically all he said, ever. I thought I was through with rock star egos after Guided By Voices toured in Germany with Tocotronic, from Hamburg, who basically refused to speak English, or pretended they couldn’t, same thing. As you can imagine, the car ride to San Francisco was a real blast. “I’m Dennis Fucking Cooper. Where’s my gold-plated food?” “I’m Murk Goth. I stole Marge Simpson’s life work.” I put on my iPod, which I had found in the seat next to me at Book Soup, to drown out the chatter, only to find that the only music on it was Rush’s 2112, which I recently discovered has a lot of Ayn Rand references on it. She didn’t believe in God, so I hate her.

[Note to Akashic: please insert a picture of the banned Beatles cover with the chopped up baby parts here to illustrate my point. Thanks.]

Next stop: San Francisco. The Windy City. Home of the Blues.. Some guy with a clearly fake moustache calling himself “John Waters,” (like that’s a real name) would NOT stop talking to me. He asked if I owned two pairs of underwear, which is the only normal question I heard the entire book tour. We read at a place called City Lights, I guess named after that one Journey song, and I’d like to tell you how it went but “John Waters” slipped me a roofie and I blacked out until the next morning, when I woke up in the bathroom of a guy named Michael Karo, who was staring at me, which I found unnerving. Dennis Fucking Cooper bailed on us, mumbling something about being “allergic to Portland,” and I got violently carsick several times before we even left the city. By this time I was starting to really get into 2112. Who is John Galt, anyway? Seems like a decent kid.

[Note to Akashic: please insert a picture of John Galt here.]

So. Portland. Here’s what I remember about Portland: a lot of angry alcoholics and some kind of vegan tiramisu that tasted like twice-chewed cardboard. Other than that, we found ourselves in a mysterious city whose only residents seemed to be books. This is a picture of Portland that I took with my mind:

Exactly. Onwards to Seattle, which is situated near the Arctic Circle, as anyone with a third grade education (like me) knows. Oh, what times we had in Seattle! Not on this tour, but on previous visits. This time, no one would let me climb Mount Saint Helens, nor would they let me search the forests for Bigfoot, who is a personal friend and will likely take my failure to visit him as an insult and come to Los Angeles and eat me. Instead, we ended up in some weird cabaret space, like the one from the movie Cabaret except without Joel Grey (also a personal friend, and also inhumanly hungry, for obvious reasons). I had to read from my book, and then this Goth guy got up and stumbled over literally every word in not-his book in front of what I’m told was his entire family, who were much better looking than him so I’m not buying it.

[Note to Akashic: please insert a picture of some ridiculously good-looking people here to illustrate the difference between Merk and his so-called family.]

Afterwards we ended up in some kind of diner, or bar, or both, and as usual I ended up paying for everything because, well, everyone else left and I was stuck with the bill. Somehow I made it back to the Bates Motel, where I did not take a shower, because a) I’m not that stupid, and b) who takes showers?

Jeez Louise, who am I kidding? This was maybe the best book tour in the history of book tours, and if you missed it I feel really sorry for you in a fleeting way. Mark’s book The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis is much better than my book The Failure, although they are both worth paying any amount to purchase, and Dennis Cooper was a supernally gracious host and, as everyone knows, maybe the best living American writer. It was both an honor and a pleasure to spend time in his company. My thanks to Mark, his wife Erin, to everyone at Akashic who worked to make this happen. and of course to Dennis, and my apologies to anyone who I might have offended by my boorish book tour hijinks. I had every intention of behaving myself on our brief trip, but we all know the road to hell is paved with my behavior. I’ll be in the Midwest and the East Coast in May, sadly without Mark, Erin, or Dennis, but because video evidence of our City Lights appearance seems to be making the internet rounds, maybe you can watch that and when you come to my reading pretend it’s just as interesting. That, at any rate, is the hope.