To spread the word about my new bizarro book, The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, I hit the road for a mini reading tour. Jeff Arndt from Mommy Sez No came with and brought his guitar to play some tunes. My buddy Nick Hammer came along to keep things rowdy.
Day 1: Friday, April 19th
When I planned this tour, I didn’t expect that I would have to contend with a snowstorm at the end of April. But when I got in my rented car – really just a stack of aluminum cans on wheels – at 7:30, a half a foot of white goodness had already dropped. We drove through a sampler of Wisconsin weather: snow, sleet, rain, hail, sun, wind, deer corpses, poop-filled porta potties. I insisted on listening to Iron Maiden’s Powerslave on repeat most of the drive. When nobody argued against it, I knew I was with true road warriors.
Friday night’s shindig took place at the KnockBox Cafe, a sweet Chicago coffee shop that reminded me of a kindergarten classroom. The perfect place for half a dozen bizarro authors to converge. As the hyper-caffeinated crowd bounced back and forth between bright blue and green walls, host Kristin Ryan kicked off the evening with the funniest jokes about murderers, stepdads and Thin Lizzy ever created. Then:
- Andrea de Fonseca shaved a balloon and said something about a vagina in space.
- KaCee Hudson told a tale of the tribulations of customer service in a waxing salon.
- Michael Kazepis read a piece from his new chapbook, Wizened Youth.
- I yelled something about child abuse that scared at least one person in the crowd.
- Justin Grimbol wore a wig and made me laugh so hard I farted.
- Michael Allen Rose and Dahlia Fatale taught everyone about the tumultuous relationship between chickens and eggs.
Jeff Arndt played theme songs from bizarro books and acoustic versions of Mommy Sez No tunes. By the time it was over, the shattered eggs, spilled shaving cream and peanut butter, and exploded brains of crowd members coated the cafe.
Then we all went and ate tacos at a restaurant that smelled like sewage and the waitress bullied me into buying pineapple juice.
Day 2: Saturday, April 20th
I had tried to get a gig in Madison, but Madison is not ready for bizarro books. Instead, Nick and Jeff and I wandered around Chicago, fighting our way through record collectors, spice mongers and other unsavory types, with Slurpees in hand. Closed out the night at the Empty Bottle at the Wax Idols show.
Day 3: Sunday, April 21st
Ran into Mike Ditka at the Walgreens in downtown Chicago. He was wobbling in to get a prescription, presumably for de-wobbling meds. I tackled him and yelled, “This one’s for Green Bay!” Actually, I didn’t do that. I bought some juice and we hit the road for Milwaukee.
Sunday night’s show was in the newly remodeled back room of Milwaukee’s Sugar Maple, one of the premier craft beer bars in the country. We all felt pretty fancy, except for Jeff, who had to skip the show because he was barfing. I read some pig shit. Justin Grimbol compared his dick to a maypole around which his muse danced. Michael Allen Rose and Dahlia Fatale lit fires while discussing pornography. The crowd was riveted (bewildered).
Day 4: Monday, April 22nd
After the show and dinner, I arrived at my crash spot to find Jeff in very rough shape. I took him to the ER so they could revivify him. The revivification process took about five hours. While I lounged in the waiting room and thinking about bizarro fiction, I monitored the comings and goings of a deranged Michael Jackson fan (“Do you like Michael! I love Michael! I don’t want to be lonely.”), an ER nurse who rode around in a wheelchair playing bumper cars with empty chairs, and a variety of other weirdos. Mostly though, I just watched Law and Order and a movie with Meryl Streep and decided that she’s pretty cute.
Then Jeff got better, Nick met up with us and we drove home triumphant. Sleep is for fools!