I'm a big fan of Whitney Matheson's Pop Candy blog on the USA Today site, so it was cool to see her critiquing yet perpetuating the King Dork buzz over there the other day. When they're comparing your book to Paris Hilton in the nation's top newspaper, you know you have (a) done something right; or (b) done something very, very wrong indeed.
The Entertainment Weekly review of King Dork is now on-line.
Here's a review from Aversion.
This is kind of cool: I found out yesterday that they're doing a second printing. That's pretty soon for something like that, I think. And when you're in the position where you're still kind of shocked that there was even a first printing, well, it seems like a pretty big deal.
In the greater blogosphere, virtual tour manager Andrew Krucoff examines the shifting sands of the Amazon ranking system, comparing KD to other books released around the same time. KD seems to be doing all right in the Ama-teen horse race: it's no Official SAT Study Guide, but then, few things are. Kendra accidentally ended up with a few more King Dorks than she needs, and she's going to have a contest of some kind, so watch her space if that interests you. And here are comments from Kelly, Holy Chow, and Joe.
As you can see, I crashed the Lane Smith party yesterday at Copperfields in Petaluma. Lane read some stories, made some underwear jokes, and wore a wig; there was also a "John, Paul, George and Ben" sing-along and a bit of the Chicken Dance. I've never done a gig like that before - it was fun. It was actually rather similar to playing for my usual sort of teen-something audience, the only real difference being that most of the kids were a couple of feet shorter. There are more photos over at Lane's terrific new website.
After the show we went around to various bookstores and signed books and had drinks and so forth. All on "the Mouse." It was a good time.
There was a scheduling SNAFU, and it turns out that the appearance in San Jose that was originally scheduled for Tuesday is actually happening on Wednesday. Sorry about that.
So for Wednesday, April 26, the Lane Smith show featuring Dr. Frank and Big Lou will be at:
Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA; 415 927 0960 x 239. 10 AM.
Hickelbees, 1378 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose CA; 408 292 8880. 2 - 4:30 PM.
If you're in the market for an autographed copy of King Dork and you can't make any of my upcoming appearances, you might consider web-ordering one from Little Type. I hung out with Pat and Erika the other day and signed their "stock" while we were at it. If you give them money, they will send one to you.
I don't know if you've noticed it, but, believe it or not there's an amazingly prominent review of King Dork in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, with this huge-ass photo of me (taken by my friend Paige O'Donoghue.) I got an "A," too. (Simon Schama only got a "B+")
Remember that time when a review of one of my band's records almost made it into Rolling Stone, but not quite? Rumors that Rolling Stone had relaxed its stringent rules forbidding Dr. Frank-related content turned out to be greatly exaggerated in the event. Well, I wouldn't have been at all surprised if the EW people had Rolling Stoned me this time. Believe me, I'm used to the Rolling Stone treatment by now. But no, it turns out I didn't get Rolling Stoned at all: the issue came out and the review was in there! They already printed 1.8 million copies, too, so they can't take it back. Sweet. EW reviews do get posted on line, but I can't find mine yet, so no link. Just go to a magazine rack somewhere, pick one up, and open it to the Books section in the back. Stand there staring in wonderment at the general atmosphere of surreality, giggling slightly. That's what I did.
Also, Larry Livermore refused to allow Punk Planet to Rolling Stone me either, and devoted his entire column to the book in the latest issue. I love the anecdote about Larry's sixteen year old cousin who hates Catcher in the Rye and asked his mom to buy King Dork for him on the basis of the defaced CitR cover. Result!
It's not on line either, but you could do the newsrack operation described above if it's of any interest.
Here's a kind assessment by our own Wes Biggs. Thanks, man!
The Teen Lit Website Teens Read Too has this review, and this Q&A with me. If you have ever found yourself wondering what color I would want to be, if I could be any color I liked, you will find the answer there.
My buddy Lane Smith is on tour now, and he snapped this photo at a Barnes & Noble in St. Paul, Minn. This was the first evidence I'd seen of my book being in an actual store, and it was kind of thrilling.
People "in the know" recommend that authors visit local bookstores and offer to sign their stock. It's fun for you (the author) and the booksellers allegedly like it because people like to buy signed books. There's a sort of Machiavellian reason, as well: stores can't return the signed copies.
Now, I am the front man of a sort of rock band. I have done thousands of rock and roll shows over the years, standing on a stage jumping up and down screaming and acting like an idiot time after time. I have played to crowds of over 10,000 people; and to crowds of, say, four people, which is in many ways more embarrassing. But I'll tell you this: I have never had a case of stage fright as bad as what I felt when I walked up to the guy at the Berkeley Barnes and Noble and asked if they would let me sign my books. I almost chickened out. But in the end I took a deep breath and went for it. Machiavelli would have been proud.
The guy was British, which was extra intimidating, because I always assume that people with British accents are automatically smarter than me. And when confronted with such an accent, for some reason, I tend to slip into a kind of extreme Californiaism. Like I'm a male valley girl or something. I guess it's because I'm nervous. You'd probably be surprised at how often, for instance, the word "awesome" comes out of my mouth when I'm talking to my British university professor father-in-law. I even tell myself silently beforehand as I'm psyching myself up for it: "self, try to get through this one without any awesomes. You can do it!" But I can rarely do it.
"This is quite a good beaujolais, I should have thought. Don't you think?"
"Uh, totally. Totally. One of the best, like, you know, um, what's it called? Bo Derek? Beau Brummel? Beau Geste? Dude. Awesome. Crazy awesome." Damn! Bummmer...
The Barnes & Noble clerk turned out to be pretty nice about the whole thing. He also turned out to be the English translator of Jean-François Revel's Anti-Americanism, believe it or not. This came up because I mentioned how weird it was to see my book in a store, and he said that he knew the feeling. It was nice to be able to tell him that I'd read the book. Broke the ice a bit.
"Oh, so you're familiar with it?" he said. "Sold rather well."
He didn't check for ID or anything, though he did look at the picture. So I guess anyone who looks kind of like how I do in the robot picture on the book jacket could go in and do it on my behalf. People have said Jello Biafra looks like me. If that's still the case he could go around signing my books and no one would be the wiser. I could do the same for his books, if he has any. (He probably has a book or two, doesn't he? You'd think.) That way we could cover twice the return-prevention territory. (For that matter, I didn't ask the Barnes & Noble guy to prove he was really the translator of Jean-François Revel's Anti-Americanism. I didn't doubt him for a moment, though. It's hard to describe, but he had that air of being the sort of person who was extremely likely to have been the translator of Jean-François Revel's Anti-Americanism.)
There were two books on the table by the graphic novels and two on the Teen Lit shelf. I gathered them and signed them at the counter. He put these peel-off-able "signed by author" stickers on them. We put them back on the table, and face-out on the shelf.
So it didn't go too badly in the end. And they're not gonna be returning those suckers. Awesome.
The Flowerpot Men and White Plains pop up in King Dork, but I had never seen the film clips for these songs till now.
The guy who posted them has all sorts of great clips up there on YouTube, including a couple of groovy Edison Lighthouse tunes, Iron Butterfly, Harper's Bizarre, the Lemon Pipers, Pilot, the Seeds, the Beach Boys, the Move, the Electric Prunes, and much, much more.
(via - and God bless - the Bubblegum Fink.)
Today we'll be at Jane Magazine on-line. Our reading is about high school jazz band and the song is "Thinking of Suicide." The Q&A has Qs as well as some corresponding As.
Thanks for stopping by. If you missed any of the previous stops on the virtual tour, here they were, or rather, I guess I should say here they are in Mon. thru Fri. order:
And now, Jane.
And here's Krucoff's King Dork trailer.
I think that about sums it up.
Take your time. They will be there till our daddy takes our internets away.
There have been some suggestions of some scattered future virtual touring down the road, so watch this space. In the meantime, thanks to Andrew, our five hosts, and to everyone who stopped by.
4/5ths of the way through the tour. The tension is building. Tempers start to fray. The drummer is sulking in the back of the van. You're getting slightly tired of the Supersize Me diet. Sausage McMuffins for breakfast, chicken nuggets for lunch, beer and Jim Beam for dinner - even that can get old. You haven't bothered to show up for a soundcheck for several shows now. No one's gonna come to the show anyway. Except possibly this scary ex-girlfriend who has been txt-stalking you ever since your cell # was posted on somebody's blog. "DRNK UR BLOOD". What's she getting at? Your booking agent's number has been mysteriously disconnected. A fourteen year old kid just told you he used to like you when he was young, and that seeing you play was a great nostalgia trip for him "Why don't you play any Rancid songs?" asks another. A kinda cute girl comes up to you at the bar and says "you don't know me, but you used to date my mom."
Not really. These virtual tours are soooo much easier to than the real thing. It's just like living in space.
In my book, there's a scene where Tom Henderson watches Rosemary's Baby with a Black Sabbath soundtrack. When asked about this, I realized that I had never actually tried it myself. So I performed the operation, took notes, and reached a rather startling conclusion about the message hidden within the heavy grooves of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
Today's reading is about Little Big Tom, Tom's step-father. The song today is "Gooey Glasses." You know, the polite thing to do is to face the stage while I'm playing. Wait, there's no stage. I mean, the polite thing to do is to face the weird, grimy corner of the room where I'm standing with no monitors. Can you at least turn the TV off during the set? Or, down...
Hey, thanks to everyone who came out to the Cody's party on Tuesday. I don't know about you, but I had a good time.
Here a few more things coming up:
Saturday, April 15, I'll be on the Drinks with Tony show on Pirate Cat Radio. 6pm - 8pm, San Francisco and Los Angeles, 87.9 FM. Streamed online here.And remember how I wrote and recorded a theme song for Lane Smith's new book John, Paul, George & Ben? Well, I'm going to be tagging along at a couple of his appearances in the Bay Area to play a song or two. It's Lane's show, not mine - I'm just a guest. But if you feel like stopping by, by all means do so. It's a great book, and it should be fun. It'll be like the Bicentennial all over again.
Monday, April 24th, Copperfields Books, 140 Kentucky St., Petaluma, CA. 10 AM. Lane Smith signing, with slight Dr. Frank presence.
Tuesday, April 25th. Hickelbees, 1378 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, CA. 2-4:30 PM. Lane Smith signing, plus Dr. Frank cameo.
Friday, April 28, Annie's Social Club, 917 Folsom St. @ 5th St., San Francisco. 8 PM. (This is the old C.W. Saloon.) Pirate Cat Radio 10th Anniversary Party.
Acoustic set. With the Insaints, the Deep Eynde, the Graves Bros. Deluxe, Barney the Theremin Wizard, Lynnee Breedlove. MC'd by Karla Lavey of the First Satanic Church. I'll be playing in the middle of the five band bill, though I'm not yet sure what time that'll be.
I'll also be doing a couple of booky appearance things in May:
Thursday, May 11th. Books, Inc. in Laurel Village, 3515 California St., San Francisco, CA. 7PM. This is for Not Your Mother's Book Club, which is a book club for teens, but this event is also open to the public. I'm going to play some songs and talk about the book and so forth.
Friday, May 12th. Copperfields, 140 Kentucky St., Petaluma, CA. 7PM. I'm going to play some songs and talk about King Dork. There will be "snacks like popcorn."
For Day Three of the Litzkrieg Bop virtual book tour, we're stopping by Largehearted Boy's place. This is one of my all-time favorite music/culture blogs and I read it religiously (if religiously, as Bertram might say, is the word I want): so it's an honor that he let us crash his party.
For this installment, we consult the iPod shuffle oracle on Tom Henderson's behalf, using a playlist of his favorite songs. The notion of using a high tech Magic 8 Ball to look into the soul of a fictional character has a lot going for it compared to other schools of literary criticism. Nonetheless, there were decidedly mixed results this time around. But if it causes just one person to dig out "Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo" or "Wild Tiger Woman" it will all have been worth it. Won't it?
The song of the day is an acoustic version of "King Dork." Go ahead and heckle if you want because I'm all the way over here on the Other Side of the internets and nothing can touch me all that bad.
Dr. Robin says these books are dangerous in many ways. "[They] are defining for girls who they are, making them think they're choosing it, and then profiting off of the demise of a whole generation of girls and women," she says.
"Dr. Robin" is talking about teen chick lit, following Naomi Wolf's lead.
First off, what, precisely, are the Cather In The Rye generation(s)? Seems to me like another arbitrary nickname of an era(s) used to bolster one's own argument. And anyone who brags about the amount of debauchery that appears in their work has almost certainly spent more time authenticating disgusting/bizarre sex acts than actually writing their story. The tone of the interview with the author is - like most interviews with authors - nauseatingly self-impressed. There's such a close identification with Salinger's work, it makes you wonder how much originality this guy has. Maybe the book is pretty good - there has been a lot of good (albeit relatively anonymous ) buzz about it - but then, JT Leroy had her work read and championed by Lou Reed, and it turned out to be fabricated bullshit.
UPDATE: Sadly, this guy has now corrected his original typo, so the post no longer alludes to "Cather in the Rye," effectively short-circuiting all of our Willa Cather jokes. (He doesn't think too much of Willa, either, as it turns out.)
Nevertheless Cather in the Rye is still an excellent band name. Or a good stage name: Catherine the Rye.
So day Two of the Litzkrieg Bop Blog Book Tour has officially begun.
Today we'll stopping by Stereogum, doing a reading about sadistic PE classes, and playing the song "I'm Still Not Done Loving You, Mama."
And by the way, if you're in the Bay Area and want to see the non-digital version, the book launch party at Cato's is tonight. It will be as far from digital as possible, believe me. (I just finished making a CD of Chi-Mo-ey songs to play before or after, and it's pretty great if I do say so myself. That kid has pretty good taste.)
...to this post. It was a twin of the post above, an my haunted cgi won't let me delete it.
What do you do if you can't afford a book tour? Answer: you do it on the internet:
New York media maven and mp3 blogger Andy Krucoff has organized this kind of "virtual book tour" for the week of King Dork's release. He calls it the "Litzkrieg Bop Blog Book Tour," and the idea is to mimic what it might be like if I actually were coming to your town to help you party down and so forth. Each a day, a different blog will feature an mp3 of me reading a chunk of the book; a song; and a Q & A or other type of hastily thrown-together content. He even made a little trailer to advertise the whole thing. It is almost just like real life, except fuzzier and less expensive.
Day one (Monday) is at Gawker, featuring the song "I Wanna Ramone You."
Wednesday: Largehearted Boy
Thursday: Brooklyn Vegan.
Click, friend, and enter.
I am about halfway through Brendan Halpin's newish rock and roll novel A Long Way Back, and I'm really enjoying it. I probably would be further along in the book if I didn't keep pausing to read his blog, which is also great and really funny. He knows a lot about rock and roll music, yet somehow had managed to miss the magic of the Sweet until my book's narrator's relentless Sweet-plugging persuaded him to check them out:
And whoa Nelly did the folks who wrote the Rocky Horror songs rip off Sweet in an almost criminal fashion. It's too bad, because, coming late to the Sweet party, I listen to the songs and half expect to get hit with toast or have some drunken guy in fishnet hose yell "Where's your neck?!!" from a few rows behind me.
And while I'm at it here's another Halpinism from a ways back that's still cracking me up after all these weeks:
Kiss, if you believe Gene Simmons... has been a completely cynical moneymaking machine from day one. But this doesn't dim the brilliance of, say, "Deuce." I mean, "get up and get your grandma outta here." No idea what that song is about, but they had me at get your grandma outta here.Me too.
Regular readers will be familiar with this blog's occasional Google-ympics feature: various search strings through which people have reached this site are categorized and set against each other. At the end, a winner is selected. To great fanfare. Or something like that.
I haven't included these particular searches in the Google-ympics before, but taken together they are among the most frequently asked questions that turn up in my referral logs:
is tre cool gay
is billie joe gay
is billie joel gay
is blake gay
is tim armstrong gay
Oh yes, I almost forgot. The winner is, of course:
is that dr frank guy gay
People who find it tiresome when a guy aggregates stuff about his book and posts it on his blog are probably not going to be too happy with Dr. Frank's What's-It for the next couple of weeks. I'm afraid it can't be helped. I never had a book before, you know?
So, here's some more aggregation, with apologies to those mentioned above:
"King Dork" will appeal to adults, too, and not only those who like to read "Gravity's Rainbow" while listening to Sabbath and being flogged.--Jan Richman in SF Gate's "epicks," referring to that VOYA review.
I have totally been there.
Speaking of defaced books, DJ Cayenne over at Baby Got Books posts a terrific punkified high school Hamlet cover:
Scroll down the post for a distressing anecdote about a Barnes & Noble clerk who tries to discourage a customer from buying Markus Zusak's The Book Thief because "that book is for teenagers." Well, I found it distressing.
I used to love music, back when it had melody and chords and lyrics. But now it has no melody and no chords, just thwack-thwacking, and they even seem to be cutting back on the thwack-thwacking, so now it’s sometimes just thwa, and, as far as lyrics, do you consider these lyrics?
Hump my hump,
My stumpy lumpy hump!
Hump my dump, you lumpy slumpy dump!
I’ll dump your hump, and then just hump your dump,
You lumpy frumply clump.
I’m sorry. To me? Those are not lyrics. In my day, lyrics were used to express real emotion, like the emotion of being totally stoned and trying to talk this totally stoned chick into sleeping with you in the name of love, which lasted forever, if only you held on to your dreams.
-- George Saunders in The New Yorker, via Bookslut
Well, I may not be "voice-of-a-generation good," but at least I'm better than "I'm-published-in-Ploughshares good." So says the SF Weekly, anyway, in a Night and Day blurb for the King Dork book release event at Cato's.
Leila admits to having a "weird half-crush on Tom's best friend Sam Hellerman," which isn't too surprising, as he's a genius.
Naomi Wolf is quoted in this Newsday piece on racy teen lit, calling for warning or rating labels for YA books.
Let's hear it for those on the left who dismiss a man they don't like by calling him "gay," and who take a woman down a couple of notches by throwing around the word "whore" and labeling her ugly, old and desperate. No wonder they hate Senor's Republican ties so much; Republicans are mean and intolerant people.