(these feature more detail than you need but I’m not much of a picture taker, I’m a writer so I’m creating written souvenirs)
“Ah, there’s my favorite cab driver,” said the hotel porter, a sort of service-industry Mike Ditka. “I pay him with the Globe.” He gave the cabbie the newspaper, refused my tip and I got in.
“This is where I start my day. I get a free paper!” he said in, I think, a Boston-Pakistani accent. Ten minutes later, we were at the airport. I had gone out with friends the night before and that, combined with time zone maladjustment and knowing I had a 5:45 wake up call, meant I slept almost not at all. “Book tour…” I muttered while waiting for the commuter flight to DC.
Media escorts are good at finding the people they’re escorting. Long before you see the book they’re holding up, they’ve already found you. The Jefferson Hotel mercifully let me check in at 10 in the damn morning, though they didn’t have easy internet access, requiring me to use the lobby computer, a PC that was all cloodgy and weird. And you can check email but it seems weird to sit around reading Deadspin or The Onion or McSweeney’s there. I hung around the hotel for a couple of hours, never quite sleeping or doing much else.
The afternoon picked up a bit. Dropped in at a couple of local bookstores to sign stock copies. At one, I learned that Ol’ Man Hodgman would be appearing in Washington, the largest city in the whole District of Columbia, that same night. My interview with John Hodgman was the closest I’ve ever come to not being able to continue an interview due to laughter.
HIS APPEARANCE IN WASHINGTON WAS NOT PART OF SOME LARGER PLAN TO SEIZE CONTROL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, APPOINTING ME AS A SOULLESS YES-MAN AND CABINET TOADY. STOP ASKING.
Walking around that day, I realized I was nearby some of the places discussed in the book, including the Family Research Council and it’s attached gift shop, which, in the book, I mock. A lot. Not sure if they were still open but the shades were all drawn and they did not appear to be welcoming. Hmm. Maybe they knew I was coming.
I like all the people I’ve met in DC and it’s certainly fascinating. But man, it feels like a cold city to me. I mean, it’s built on power, politics, and trying to get re-elected/re-appointed. It’s tense.
That afternoon, I also had a chance to visit my co-worker Phyllis Fletcher who is temporarily stationed at NPR headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue. The building is featured briefly in my book (I wrote a book, have I told you?) when, after an awkward tea with “Jeff Gannon”, I stand outside longing to go in but not allowed to by my self-imposed rules. So I stand there humming the All Things Considered theme song.
But this time, I got to go in AND watch ATC being broadcast. Watched Robert Siegel and Melissa Block at their microphones doing the show. I’m a public radio veteran by this point but I was star struck. Here’s something you might want to know: Robert wears a suit—on the radio! Awesome! I also met a ton of producers, including some who I’ve been trying to get booked through. Here’s something else about NPR: their offices have cubicles with fabric walls just like yours. Don’t romanticize it too much, it’s a job.
Walked back to the hotel, stopping at Caribou Coffee to check email.
Reading that night at the Barnes & Noble in Georgetown to a pretty decent crowd. The crowd size was helped considerably by ringers: Jill’s two sisters, various of their friends, and my brother-in-law, a former Christian Coalition honcho and Bush appointee. Plus the requisite college hipster/McSweeney fans. Again, the eclectic crowd I’ve come to expect. Good questions, lively crowd, lots of books sold. I even signed a book for Ralph Reed, which blew my mind in about twelve directions.
I’ve been working in an anecdote about Charlie when I talk. The other night when I was in San Francisco, I talked to Jill on the phone at about 10. When I asked her how Charlie went to bed, she told me he was still up. “What’s he doing up at 10?” I asked.
“Oh,” she said, somewhat resigned, “Oprah was on and she was talking to Barack Obama. Now he’s all excited about Barack Obama and can’t go to sleep.” Obamamania has reached the Moe house.
When I got home, he told me, “Dad! Good news! Barack Obama is going to fix all the things Bush broke! Because Bush is the worst president but it’s going to be okay!” I love my son quite a lot.
TONIGHT'S SECRET PHRASE TO WIN A PRIZE (AT MAGERS & QUINN IN MINNEAPOLIS): "YOUR BOOK IS LIKE AN ORDER OF TERIYAKI WHERE THE CHICKEN IS THE INSIGHT AND THE SAUCE IS THE FUNNY". GOOD LUCK!