First off, the 2008 Eric Stone Drive By Book Tour of America is underway. So far I have delighted and confused audiences in Houston, Thousand Oaks and Westwood Village (Los Angeles). My quest to take pictures of everyone who buys one of my books and has me sign it at a book event, goes on. The evidence is here. There have been a few people who wouldn't let me immortalize them, and a few who I have missed. But the pictures will keep coming.
But now, before I return to the subject of my book touring, I want to say a little something about rock & roll.
Rock & roll and assigned seating are an oxymoron. I've mellowed, slightly. There was a time when I didn't think it was rock and roll unless at some point in the course of the proceedings, you began to get worried about what would happen if the place you were hearing it in caught fire. I still always check the fire exits when I first get into a place, but I rarely concern myself with them after that.
Saturday night I went with some friends to see Patti Smith at The Orpheum in downtown Los Angeles. It is a beautifully restored, magnificent theater from the 1920s. The sound was excellent. But there were assigned seats, narrow aisles and not much chance to wander around or dance or anything else of that nature.
I've seen Patti Smith, maybe five or six times over the years, the first time being in the early 1980s or late '70s. She's 61 now, on the ripe side for rock & roll and I was a bit concerned before the show, and if the truth be told, during its first half, that she was moving a bit beyond her sell by date. But in the end, she really cranked it up big for the best live versions I've ever heard her do of Horses, Gloria and then an encore of Rock & Roll Nigger. The woman can still rock with the best of them. (Gives us 56 year olds some hope.)
Still, it was a shame about those damn assigned seats.
In Houston I was at Murder By the Book, for the third time. It's a big store that has always been very supportive of me and they manage to turn out a good sized crowd. Thanks yet again. I'll be back.
Earlier in the day I was having a coffee with my pal Sheri, a Houston cop. She looked around the place and estimated that about eighty percent of the people there were armed. Now I don't worry one lick about Sheri packing heat. As a matter of fact I find it reassuring. She knows what she's doing. She's well trained in how to use, care for and store her guns, and my guess is she's a pretty good shot. But if something erupted in that coffee shop, I'd hate to have my life depend on the ability of all those other people to know what they're doing and to remain level headed enough under fire to not fill me full of holes by mistake. Guns are like any other tool, they're only as good as the person using them. The difference is that a fuckwit with a hammer can do a whole lot less damage than one with a pistol.
I came back to L.A. and on Saturday I had an event at Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks. It's a small, but nicely stocked, store with a very enthusiastic crowd of readers. I always get more people turning up there to see me than I expect, and it's always, as it was this time, a great audience. They were getting ready for Michael Connelly the next day. They were going to hold his event in the parking lot. Something for me to aspire to.
Sunday was my official West Coast Launch Party at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood Village (near UCLA.) The first job I ever had in my life was in a bookstore right across the street from where The Mystery Bookstore now is: Book Bargain Center, a mix of used bookstore, Leftist bookstore and headshop. So every time I have an event here, I feel like I'm coming home. They also tend to get my biggest crowds - 30 or more people at each event so far. Yesterday there were Indonesian snacks - from a great little Indonesian market and cafe on National Blvd. called Simpang Asia, as well as my show of Indonesian music and photos that seemed to be well received. FLIGHT OF THE HORNBILL is the store's Crime Club selection this month, for which I am very grateful.
I've now got a few days off to get some writing done. The next book, SHANGHAIED, is likely to come out next June, so I've got to get a cleanish manuscript to Alison my editor by the end of November. To work.