A year or two ago, <i>Vice</i> sent me around the country to promote my book, <i>Skinema</i>, and one of the stops was in Austin, Texas, at the largest bookstore in the state.
Dir: Aiden & Belladonna
A year or two ago, Vice sent me around the country to promote my book, Skinema, and one of the stops was in Austin, Texas, at the largest bookstore in the state. I think I might have told you about it before—it’s where that attractive store employee filed a complaint against me for sexual harassment. I remember walking up to the bookstore and seeing my name in huge letters on the marquee above the door. I was overtaken with emotion. I had never had my name in lights before. I had dreamed of it, of course. Typically, the dreams involved me being a seven-foot black professional basketball player, which, if you’ve ever met me, is not that great a stretch of the imagination. But that day in Texas was no basketball dream. It was a book dream. A nerd dream. There were hundreds, no thousands of people in line outside the store, wrapped around the building. “Holy shit,” I thought, “are all these people here to see little ol’ me?” But no, they were not. It just so happened that my appearance fell on the same day as the release of the newest Harry Potter book. Only about seven people were there to see me, and a few of them walked out within the first few minutes of me opening my mouth. (I had a slide show, and the first image was a photo of my passed-out drunk black friend in Portugal. I said, “Sorry if I bum out any of you Texans, but this is not a photo of a dead black man. I know how much youse guys love that shit down here.”)
This was rather indicative of how the entire trip would go: one letdown after another. Let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to have Vice put out a collection of your porn reviews and offer to send you on a book tour, pass on the opportunity. It was promoted much the same way I was when I worked for the Disney Corporation: It wasn’t. Most of the times, my book never arrived. So rather than sell any books, I had to apologize to people for being ill prepared. There was a bookstore in Atlanta that also had a coffee shop inside it, named Indie Coffee & Books. The owner, Ivy, was a very smiley, friendly Asian lady. She offered me a cup of coffee. Then I took some photos of her store to prove to my wife just what sort of “amazing” turnouts I was getting. Some Arab at a table starting yelling at me. Saying I stole his soul or some shit and that I had no permission to take his photo. I tried to explain to him how very little I gave a fuck if he was or wasn’t in my photo or in my life but he kept on saying, “Why do you want my identity? Who do you think I am? I am no terrorist!” Which was an odd thing to say since the only thing I had called him remotely sounding like “terrorist” was “asshole.” Things got so heated that little Ivy had to step in and throw him out. He snatched up his newspaper and laptop, threw a jihad on me, and then said he’d be back to settle it. I quickly called Vice owner Suroosh Alvi and asked him if he knew a guy in a turban and a beard. He said he did. But I wasn’t sure if he was just saying that to calm me down or not. So there I was, alone, in the bookstore. I’d run off their only customer. I decided it was best if I paid for the free coffee and left.
For more of Chris go to chrisnieratko.com or NJSkateshop.com.