Some of you may have heard of a writer named James Frey. He wrote a memoir about how he was such an insane violent criminal he made Tony Soprano look like Peace Pilgrim. Oh man he was a badass – he was like the Suge Knight of white boys. SO MANY THINGS touched people in that book, like how he became a Cherokee drug-mule for the Crips, and of course that made him an alcoholic and crack addict and I don’t what all, he was probably addicted to that crazy tea even, because it is HARD to be the only Cherokee left in Michigan, and as I understand the way one transports drugs for the Crips is also not pleasant. Then he went to prison where he read Dostevsky with his cellmate for, like, YEARS, which makes sense because Dostevsky isn’t easy. (His cellmate wasn’t ‘like that.’ No American History X for Running Bear Frey.) He even got this SUPER BADASS tattoo (just the initials) that reads: CTBSITTTD. Even looking at those letters makes me frightened. If I remember correctly the letters stand for Cut The Bullshit It’s Time To Throw Down. Now the first half is REALLY good advice, particularly for a memoirist, but the second part confuses me, as I’m not sure what I’m supposed to throw down. I’ve been using the really bouncy balls you get in machines at grocery stores, and they’re effective.
Now Frey has written a novel (which means it isn’t supposed to be ‘true,’ so much) and boy oh boy is it supposed to be GOOD. The New York Times review was all like JEBUS what a sober amazing awesome genius dude. But don’t think just because he is once again being treated like someone who can actually write publishable books (even after those first two) that he isn’t still the Normal Mailer/Kerouacky/Mike Tyson ear-biter of his generation. Because Frey is on a book tour, and anyone who reads author’s blogs or attends a reading periodically knows what a book tour is like. It’s like a trip to grandma’s really nice hotel, and then a crowd of six at a bookstore, and then an airplane, only you have 22 grandmothers and you have to visit another one every day. BUT NOT MON FREY. Because once you’re a Crip you don’t ever get out, and also he’s just too terrifying and awesome for a ‘book tour.’ Instead he’s appearing at rock venues, including the Whiskey A Go Go in L.A. (I hope with Motley Crue!) and at the Blender Theater in New York, and Slim’s in San Francisco. He will enter the venues flanked by bodyguards, the Secret Service, and the Texas Rangers. Oh and those Canadian Mounties who dress so smartly, AND they’ll be on horseback. He will be surrounded by hyenas. But seriously? His security will be handled by the Hell’s Angels, the same organization that stabbed a fan to death at a Rolling Stones concert in 1969. HEAVENS! I’m not suggesting Frey hopes one of his Hells Angels KILLS someone, because that would be publicity. I mean, god, that would be ART.
Frey’s marketing genius got me thinking: Why, I – Haven Kimmel – I am not safe at readings! I have a book tour coming up for IODINE and there are people who walk right up to me to say they too grew up in small towns. Right up to me. They ask me to sign their books. They talk about farm life. Obviously the template for public appearances has changed, and I’m following suit. For one thing, I will no longer wear long sleeves and cover up my own tattoo: PHSUINNT. (Please Hush Up It’s Nigh-Nights Time.) I decided to have my security handled by guerilla groups – you know, eco-terrorists, and the people who are VERY angry about the parking problem at Whole Foods – but I couldn’t find any who weren’t busy on my tour dates. So then I thought, I’m going for real gorillas. I found a group living in a secret enclave in the Duke Gardens and I approached their leader, Frances. (Not his real name. Okay, his real name is Frances.) He wouldn’t allow me to photograph his entire pod (the scientific name for a band of gorillas) but he would let me take a single photograph of him. He is an enormous animal, one of the most intimidating creatures I’ve met since I once stepped on an elevator with the entire Boston Celtics basketball team. (True story. What was my gracious, unthinking response? “Who ARE you people?”) Frances and the rest of his alpha males will be accompanying me to my readings, so if you’re allergic to the higher primates, please take an antihistamine. I will also be armed, and my readings will be followed by musical acts so nihilistic they have no names and you will not be able to actually see them. There will be large screens behind me (I’ll have to double-check with Tom Campbell at The Regulator in Durham about that), showing scenes of small animals being beheaded. Afterward you may buy prints (or the heads themselves) for $150.
Here is the photograph of Frances.
I included the bottle of Grey Goose for scale. Consider this a fair warning: You’ve seen him, you know what he is, you know what I am. Either suck it up and come buy a book, or PHSUINNT.