I knew I wouldn’t want to make this appearance when my publicist Stanley Ashenbach scheduled it. Despite good intentions, I always eat and drink too much on Thanksgiving. The following day sees me wandering around the house like a disabled person, robe untied, temper unhinged, slamming shot after shot of Pepto-Bismol while chewing handfuls of prescription anxiety medication to counter the hangover. Generally scaring the shit out of my family. Today was no different. Fuck you, Stan.
Doghair the likes of three mimosas (sans the OJ) and a bloody mary (sans the blood) permitted me to function in a socially acceptable manner, i.e., I adapted. I always adapt. Sometimes it takes awhile. Sometimes I must be coerced, if not forced under the threat of psychological and/or physical violence against my person, ideally by another person, but frequently by my person itself. The point is, I am not incapable of change. Every day presents a fresh opportunity to fuck things up again, albeit in creative and dynamic ways.
Grindhouse Bookstore is kind of a shithole. I’d like to say it’s a shithole with character, but even that’s pushing the truth. Basically it’s a long, thin room with crooked shelves nailed to the walls containing almost entirely used mass market paperback pulp science fiction and horror novels and a lot of John Grisham hardcovers. Dust and dirt everywhere; when I stepped on the floor, plumes of soot wafted up from my bootsoles. The guy who owns the place looks like Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future, with a wild white Einsteinian afro and a mouth that looks like a tear in his face, only older, older than Lloyd is now, well into his 90s. He couldn’t really talk or walk and I think he’s quite blind. He staggered around like a thoroughbred zombie, dragassing up and down aisles, groaning at customers, sometimes crying out. Once he knocked over a bookshelf. He didn’t pick anything up. A few of the books were seventeenth century collectibles – they crumbled into ash and powder . . . The owner called himself Marshall Glumm. “Two Ls, two Ms,” he griped. His demeanor changed, however, whenever he rung up customers, at which point be became highly articulate, welcoming, and downright functional, and in the warmest of ways, the sort of grandfatherly old codger anybody of any age would want to read them a bedtime story.
I didn’t do a reading this time and not that many people came into the bookstore aside from beggars and volunteers who worked at the soup kitchen next door. Marshall sat me near the cash register behind a small foldout table on which I artfully positioned copies of Codename Prague and They Had Goat Heads. I only sold signed and sold about 30 copies, most of them at discount prices because I felt like crap. Everybody seemed so helpless and old and gloomy and depressed. Apropos I became very depressed and had to drink a pint of Irish whiskey in order to cope with the goddamned blight. Kettering is a suburb of Dayton, a city I can’t recommend visiting; it’s like a small, shitty version of Cleveland. If you have the chance to visit Yellow Springs, though, just 20 miles east of the city, do it. It’s a quaint, arty town with lots of trees and shops that sell incense and brightly colored bongs. Dave Chappelle lives there, too, and can often be seen wandering around the streets, cracking jokes and reminiscing about the old days.
(DISCLAIMER: Grindhouse Bookstore has no relation to Grindhouse Press, which, coincidentally, is also based in the Dayton area.)