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June 06, 2005

Meanwhile, What Was Mrs. Beatrice Up To?

by Ron Hogan

"Although I used to work in the publishing industry before I became a lawyer, it's been a little over a decade since I left, so I suppose I'm now an official outsider—thus, I present you with an outsider's view of BEA.

"'Mr. Beatrice' and I arrived at the Javits Center at around 10 A.M. and decided to split up and meet at the MacAdam/Cage open bar at 4:30. Before we parted ways, Ron gave me some advice: Get a shopping bag or tote bag as soon as you can, and don't take every freebie that's offered because you actually have to lug that stuff around for the rest of the day and night. Turned out his advice was, as always, sage.

"I decided to go the fangirl route for a good part of the afternoon and waited on line to have a bunch of comics signed. First up was Thrilling Tom the Dancing Bug Stories by Ruben Bolling. I tried to give him the international 'I'm a lawyer' symbol, but shockingly enough, he didn't recognize it; nevertheless, we engaged in a little bit of shoptalk and he signed my book with a nice big "Res Ipsa Loquitur!" which I found inutterably charming.

"Next, I wandered over to the Slave Labor Graphics booth, where I was second in line to have Evan Dorkin sign Bill and Ted's Most Excellent Adventures. Evan was, I admit, far more affable than I expected him to be, which was a good thing--I'm such an admirer of his that I had slightly sweaty fangirl palms while I was waiting and I probably would have said something more silly than usual had he not made me feel quite comfortable. I asked him whether there was a slight chance that the Milk and Cheese drawing, which I bought on eBay a few years ago, was real, and he said that he highly doubted anyone was bootlegging him, especially back in 2000, so it was probably the real deal.

"I went down to the lower floor, where I was pleased to run into the Moleskine booth. I fingered and drooled over some of the newer models, like the reporters' notebook, which is bound on the short side and flips open on the top, but still has the familiar elastic around the bottom. The gentleman at the booth, who was probably stunned at my undisguised lust, told me to come back the next day, when they would be selling them. Knowing I was going to be reading through a trial record for work all day Sunday, I sighed a bit… but I was greatly cheered when Ron brought me one on his own.

"One lesson I learned for next year, should I be in attendance: do not stop for every single author of a self-published book who practically wrestles me to the ground, asking me whether I would like a signed book. In many of those cases I did not, in fact, want a signed book, but I agreed to take one anyway because the request was, well, so plaintive. I will confess that I did abandon one or two of those books at a large table near the crepe cart on the lower floor. (Someone else decided, inexplicably, to do the same thing with Peter Guralnick's biography of Sam Cooke, so I snagged that instead--a pretty good trade, if you ask me.)"

Other highlights and lowlights for Mrs. Beatrice included:

  • an incredibly bitchy publicist snarling at me because I accidentally didn't get on the end of the line of people waiting to get some book signed (fuck you very much, dear, and you win the award for most unpleasant person I've met all month, which is pretty amazing considering that I ride the subway two hours each way to go to work with lawyers all day)

  • me trying to look all blasé and not star-struck when I was introduced to Edie Falco at the Unbridled Books party

  • speaking with Bernadette Ford, the CEO of Color-Bridge Books, a very nice packager of multi-cultural books for children, which I discovered on my quest to find books for a friend who had requested children's books featuring kids of color

  • My back and neck being almost completely paralyzed from lugging around approximately 146 pounds of books and advance readers' editions--it was the sort of pain that was worth it, but still.

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