White Plains, NY
I knew out of thirty attempts it was bound to happen, but of course, I didn't expect it to go down the way it did. I was set to have a "How to Fail" signing at the Thirsty Turtle in White Plains on Thanksgiving eve, but, just two days before the event, some shrill bitch at the Turtle named "Megan" called up my publicist, shrieking into the phone, to tell her that they would no longer be able to accommodate us unless we immediately guaranteed fifty heads at $10 a cover charge. No thanks. I wasn't going to treat any Failheads like that.
I hadn't wanted to do a signing at the Turtle any how. Their beer list is shit and the bar's clientele can barely read from what I've been told. But it's the top spot in town so I begrudgingly agreed when the tour was initially set up. Still, I didn't want to lose an event on one of the drunkest and free-spending nights of the year. Luckily, so many other White Plains' bars accepted us with open arms and vied for an AG appearance that we ended up replacing one crappy appearance with two amazing back to back events at Ron Blacks and the Brazen Fox.
We had wanted to have my signing in Westchester County on Thanksgiving eve because the kind of people that would be out would be right in "How to Fail"'s sweet spot: college educated (college kids home for the short break), rich with their parents' money, free-spenders looking to get loaded. My manager thought this would easily be our biggest night of the tour. Unfortunately, the abominable air hovering above my head and entering my lungs at the Motel 6 I'd stayed at the previous night had rendered me sick as a dog. I wanted nothing more than to be at home in front of the TV with some hot tea and an early turn in, but my manager fired me up and inspired me to man up. And, just like Napoleon always led his own troops into battle, not wanting to order anything of his underlings that he wouldn't do himself, I too knew I had to tough it out til last call, sickness be damned. It's what made Napoleon one of the greatest generals in history, and it's what would hopefully make me...an even more sickly writer with a few more book sales than expected?
Our first bar event at Ron Blacks was an unannounced "secret" event and, though it was only from 4-7 and amidst a more sophisticated and calm happy hour crowd who hadn't expected to see me and, most likely, knew nothing of me, it went quite well and we impressed enough to be essentially invited back any time we wish.
At 7 we quickly jetted next door to the Brazen Fox where a jam-packed crowd was all but guaranteed. Early on, before the lights dimmed and the drunken dance party begun, we made friends with everyone we met and sold tons of books. Most notably to a foursome of West Point students on a rare nightly leave. Also members of the school hockey team, this group must be the hardest working and most determined group of individuals I've met on the tour so far. Yet, they fucking loved "How to Fail," totally getting the concept and meaning of the book, loved our profane t-shirts, and spent most of the night milling around the signing table. A great bunch of guys I hope to see again.
Around 10:00 PM, the aforementioned lights dimmed and the aforementioned dance party begun (rich, drunken white people dancing will always be a universal failure of society, so I choose not to even consider that for my daily honors). It was somewhat hard to pitch books under the darkness, noise, abject drunkenness, and booty shaking sluts stalking the bar, but we still made tons of friends. Younger crowds always like me and even admire me for some reason.
We sold a ton of books and our most t-shirts ever (a much easier concept to grasp under such extreme party conditions), and I felt good about having manned up and stuck out such a great event.
FAIL OF THE DAY:
My assistant and driver heading home for Thanksgiving a little early, forcing my manager and I to oversee the entire event ourselves, which lead to us standing on a full-of-drunks White Plains street corner at 4:30 AM, trying to figure out how to move several hundred pounds of books, merchandise, and assorted other event materials to that night's sleeping locale a mile away sans automobile.
SUCCESS OF THE DAY:
Spinning one canceled booking into two great events in a matter of 48 hours.
DRINK OF THE DAY:
Mulled wine (pictured above). I'd never heard of this seasonally spiced, hot beverage, but it's apparently an Irish standard and it sounded like the perfect drink to help my sickness. It was. Delicious, boozy, and warming, though I probably could have done without the candy cane garnish that made me look highly eccentric as I sat in the corner scribbling my name into fans' books.