[19 May 2009]
The unsinkable Mike Edison — former High Times Publisher, Screw editor, Hustler correspondent, and professional wrestler of no small repute — is hitting the road to promote the new paperback of his outrageous memoir, I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World.
Next week he begins his “I Have Fun in Brooklyn Tour”, a five-neighborhood odyssey that he promises will be “more fun than the circus”. He’ll be blogging his adventures here. (See below for dates.) This is his first entry, a tune-up of sorts.
Of Swimming Pools and Strip Clubs, Oh How Publishing Has Changed
Last year, when the hardcover of I Have Fun came out, my Big Time New York Publisher sent me to the West Coast on an author’s tour. The first stop was Los Angeles. I had offered to crash at a friend’s house to save a few bucks, which I figured could be put to good use, but they insisted I stay in a rock star hotel on Sunset Boulevard, the rationale being so they would “know where I was”.
I was never more than ten digits away, and as far as anyone knew, I was tucked in and watching Jon Stewart, resting up for my big morning radio interviews. More likely I was in the swimming pool (open till 3 a.m.) drinking zombies with the models who infested the place like a breed of really good-looking lice.
For the record, I never charged the drinks in the swimming pool to my expense account. I am an honest guy like that and was taught better than to take advantage, lest they cut you off for good the next time around. You know, “for three rounds of over-priced cocktails the battle was won, but for a $400 bar tab the war was lost”. Now I realize they would not have batted an eye.
I did charge both rounds of breakfast to them — the first being my usual beer in the shower — although I don’t usually snarf an 11-buck bottle of Dutch lager from the mini bar (it’s Budweiser for me, cans only, for safety reasons) — and the second, a $30 plate of B and E, the cheapest thing on the menu. (It did, however, come with a free copy of the New York Times. No City Section, though.)
The other reason I was being afforded such swank accommodations was that they were worried about me getting up in the morning. I told then it was easy. Before I go to sleep I set my cell phone to vibrate and then duct tape it to my head. Never fails.
This is how I put the “punk” in “punctual”.
They weren’t going for it. Instead we relied on the hotel’s concierge service and they sent a professional “author handler” for me — a retired old codger who drove New Yorkers around LA for a living. He picked me up every morning and shuttled me across the street.
I think the LA trip must have cost them about 1,600 bucks, mostly so that they could keep track of me while I did three radio shows and a reading at Book Soup. But I did have my first In and Out Burger (sorry, not impressed) and toned up my arms in the swimming pool, which is why I look so buff in pictures from that trip.
Mike Edison with Jon Spencer and the Rocket Train Delta Science Arkestra
“GG Allin Died Last Night” [MP3] from the CD and book I Have Fun Everywhere I Go
This went on for a week, all the way up the coast to Portland.
I traveled by plane and hired car. In San Francisco I got a little tipsy with the Malaysian cultural attaché, also staying at my hotel. In Seattle, I nearly drowned in my Japanese boutique hotel, in a bathtub big enough for me and my model friends from LA. (I was alone save for an exceptional 375 ml. of sake from the maxi-bar.) In Portland I spent an hour after the gig talking wrestling with the great Richard Meltzer (who knew that Roddy Piper had a transmission shop there?) before spending the rest of the evening in Mary’s Strip Club, famous as being the Rose City’s first. I had a great time.
For what it cost to do that tour I could have taken six months off from my day job and written another book.
But such is Big Time publishing.
Eight months later my BTNYP laid-off 80 people (including my immensely talented editor). They said spending was out of control. No one was buying books. Something had to be done.
The New York Times was lousy with sob stories. No more shrimp cocktails at lunch. No more editor’s retreats to Bermuda. No more car services. No more six-figure advances. (Except for Tina Fey.)
So this year, what with the recession-priced paperback of I Have Fun coming out, I proposed something new. A tour of Brooklyn, by subway and cab.
Let’s face it, this wasn’t as much out of economic necessity as it was a page from the Willie Sutton playbook.
Willie isn’t as popular as he used to be. He was a famous bank robber, and when a smart-ass G-man asked him “Why do you keep robbing banks?” Willie said “because that’s where the money is.”
Why tour Brooklyn? Because that’s where the people are. There are more young, hip, literate people in Brooklyn than in LA, Seattle, and Portland combined, notwithstanding the fact that Portland is America’s most literate city and has more bookstores per capita than pretty much anywhere. Good town.
Last year I had some of our best gigs in the County of Kings, and I slept at home (in Manhattan) every night. I never paid more than six bucks for my bacon and eggs, and I never even came close to drowning. Admittedly I did not get to show off my breast stroke to a pool filled with models, but such is the low-brow life of a New York writer.
Anyway, I figured, why not do an entire tour of Brooklyn? So we pegged five neighborhoods and set up five shows. They will all be different, I promise. (And they are all free.)
I’m starting next Tuesday May 26 with a relatively low-key gig at Book Court in Cobble Hill, although I do have the Insterstellar Groove Machine ready to go. It’s an electric organ spray-painted gold, with a tape loop generator and theremin velcroed to it for convenience. This is what I use when I can’t bring my band – the Rocket Train Delta Science Arkestra — which right now is up to six people including my collaborator Jon Spencer. The Arkestra will be playing two shows with us. Every night I’ll be telling different stories about life in the porn trade, professional wrestling, and my aborted career as an astronaut. I’ll spill the beans about the dope-infested High Times office. I will name names. Someone is going to get hurt, you can count on it.
Out in Redhook at Freebird books I have promised to read while flipping burgers on a grill. My old editor has promised to help out with mustard and ketchup, even though she has a swell new job. The world needs more editors like her, who really stand with their writers.
# # #
Stay tuned for the next thrilling adventure… The next gig is TUES, MAY 26 at BOOK COURT in Cobble Hill. For complete details, more MP3s, to read an excerpt from I Have Fun, dig some comics, and check out the infamous bong guitar, please visit him at www.mikeedison.com.
I HAVE FUN IN BROOKLYN TOUR DATES
>> TUES MAY 26th, 7 pm, Book Court (Cobble Hill), featuring the Interstellar Groove Machine
>> SAT JUNE 6th, 7 pm, Pete’s Candy Store (Williamsburg), with the Delta Science Arkestra featuring Jon Spencer and Heavy Friends, with Special Guests
>> WED JUNE 10th, 7 pm, Frank’s Cocktail Lounge (Ft. Greene) with the Delta Science Arkestra featuring Jon Spencer and Heavy Friends, with Special Guests
>> SAT JUNE 13th, 3 pm, Freebird Books (Redhook) — Afternoon cookout with the Rocket Train All-Stars!
>> SAT JUNE 20th, 3 pm, Roberta’s restaurant (Bushwick) End of tour party, broadcast live!
>> FULL DETAILS AT www.mikeedison.com
TEXAS WRESTLING AND THE BIG BEAT: Edison warms up the Interstellar Groove Machine at Book Soup in LA.