I may be the only author in history to get more sleep on a book tour than usual. I get eight hours overnight, although when I wake at 7:30 a.m. my brain doesn’t seem to be working. For example, I look at a pair of tweezers in my bag and think, “Oh my God, I have tweezers, those are banned here!” I am confusing the United States with United Airlines.
I check my email and web site and am pleased to see no comments of the nature I feared, i.e. “Who gives a crap what you do all day? Spare us this rambling bullshit.” Excellent! So here’s some more.
After reading a funny and eerily appropriate Dilbert, I am driven by Jeff, my media escort, to a radio interview with “Marketplace Morning” on NPR. The host, Lisa, is kind and gentle and helps me get through it pretty well. This is the kind of interview where I talk for 10 minutes and they edit it down to three, which I love because it makes it sound as if I’m just constantly coming out with smart things to say. I wish my whole life was like that.
Jeff takes me past some classic L.A. monuments: the Disney Concert Center (giant metal flower, very cool), some cathedral with a carved door (not really sure what the fuss is about), and a playground with police tape all around it. Although that last one is not intentional. Jeff is a cool guy and we chat about all kinds of things, from the aggressiveness of Tasmanian Devils to David Hasselhoff. That is, the conversation ranges between those two topics. I don’t mean that Tasmanian Devils are aggressive to David Hasselhoff. Although could you blame them? I’m telling Jeff that David Hasselhoff is experiencing a bizarre resurgence in popularity in Australia, and Jeff mentions—just happens to mention—that he, Jeff, was in “Knight Rider.” Knight Rider! The coolest TV show of the 1980s! This is why I love L.A.; everyone has a filmography. Suddenly the car we’re driving doesn’t seem so great any more. I want Jeff to drive me in Kitt.
The next five hours are a series of drop-ins, where I turn up at a bookstore and say, “Hi, I’m an author, can I sign my own book?” They put AUTOGRAPHED COPY stickers on them. This can go either way: either the bookstore people are quite pleased to meet me and ask questions about how my tour is going, or, as in one store, the girl behind the counter is so utterly unimpressed that when Jeff says I’m an author, she doesn’t even bother to look up from her computer. But word from the stores is that early sales are quite strong—one has sold out all eight copies already—and that’s great news.
As we inch along freeways, it occurs to me that L.A.’s main industry isn’t film: it’s parking. Seriously, the amount of thought, money, and effort everybody puts into parking here, I can’t believe it’s not a billion-dollar industry. I also think L.A. needs some kind of mechanized freeway system, where as you approach an on-ramp, metal claws grab your car’s undercarriage and slot you into a perfectly-measured space on a conveyor-belt-like freeway. Then everyone gets hauled along at 90 miles per hour until you want to get off, at which point the machine spits you out an off-ramp and you regain control over your car. It’s good to know that if this novels thing doesn’t work out, I can fall back on urban planning.
For lunch I have a beef burrito at Farmer’s Market. I’m not very familiar with burritos, but from my observations they seem to bear a fairly loose relationship to beef. It seems more like a “beef” burrito than a beef burrito, if you get my drift.
The burrito goes down okay, but fights back when I drop in to see Brian, my film agent. I have to try to contain alarming burrito burps as I’m escorted through the hallowed halls of CAA, the world’s most feared talent agency. The thing that really amazes me about CAA is that it’s full of hot 20-year olds. Every assistant or secretary in the building is 20 and incredibly good-looking. I swear, the last time I visited, Brian’s assistant was so beautiful that I went temporarily blind. Now he has a guy, Alex, and look, I don’t want to get all Brokeback Mountain on you, but slap a cowboy hat on us both and who knows what could happen. But anyway, yes, barely pubescent assistants everywhere. There must be a giant incinerator out back where they throw them on their 25th birthday.
Brian has good news about both Jennifer Government and Company! Things seem to be developing on both counts. There has been a holdup with the Jennifer Government script development, but Section 8 is still very keen on the material and there could be an opportunity for me to get more involved.
On the way back to the hotel, Jeff says, “There goes James Woods,” but by the time I turn around all I’m looking at is his car’s tail lights. Still, a brush with celebrity! I make a mental note to bring this up later, to impress friends.
At the hotel I am stunned at how clean my room is. I left the place looking like downtown Baghdad and now it’s immaculate. All the crap I had strewn from one end of the bathroom bench top to the other is now arranged in a neat 3x4 grid. I’m so impressed I take a photo. They’ve also somehow lugged the giant table that I practically had a hernia moving over to the LAN port back to its original position. Those maids may look small, but boy, I’m sure not going to mess with them.
I practice the section I’ve chosen to read tonight, then Jeff picks me up to take me to BookSoup. I’m amazed: the place is already almost full. And people just keep coming in. By the time we start, it’s standing room only. Soon people are having trouble even getting into the store.
The event is simply awesome. BookSoup has donuts for everybody, it’s packed out, I’m excited, and everyone laughs in the right places. At the end, a huge line forms and I’m signing books for the next hour. I’m flabbergasted; the last time I was here about 15 people showed up. People have driven in from as far away as Las Vegas, and many of them want photos with me, as if I’m a rock star. What I’m feeling is part amazement and part pathetic gratitude.
As if this wasn’t already one of the best days of my life, the Fortress guys come over and say they adore my Syrup script. I mean, they rave about it. They were only lukewarm on the first draft, so this is a huge, unexpected thrill. We go out for drinks and they talk about all the people they want to take the script to and I have a sudden moment when I realize where I am and what I’m doing and it’s so absurd I could laugh. I am having a ridiculously good day.
I get home at midnight and immediately call Jen. She’s thrilled, and hearing her voice makes the day complete.
I should sleep—tomorrow’s a very busy day that starts early—but I want to get this written down tonight. Thanks so much to everyone today. Wow. Thank you. Wow.